Tuesday, 25 October 2011

the nuclear power crisis

Radioactivity still leaks from the stricken Japanese nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, almost six months after the humanitarian disaster of the massive earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. It will be at least January 2012 before the leaks can be stopped. The scrapped nuclear reactors, still highly radioactive and toxic, will take many years and vast expense to decontaminate, monuments to the folly of power generation from nuclear fission.

The Tokyo nuclear power company held back vital information, and failed to divulge failures in safety standards. Japanese public opinion has turned decisively against nuclear power. On 6 August, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan marked the 66th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing * in 1945 by declaring that ‘I will reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power, aiming at creating a society that will not rely on atomic power generation.’ Before the Fukushima disaster Japan had planned to raise nuclear generation from about 30% to 53% by 2030.

After mass anti-nuclear protests across Germany, all German nuclear power plants will be phased-out by 2022.

In the UK, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority announced in early August the closure of the Mox plutonium recycling plant at Sellafield in Cumbria, due to events in Japan. This business depended on the shipment of weapons-usable material from Japan, always a crazy concept open to piracy and terrorism long before Fukushima.

The nuclear-convert environmentalist Mark Lynas spent two years researching a book **, published in July, praising nuclear power, ridiculing greens who oppose nuclear, implying that even Chernobyl was hardly more than a harmless picnic. Inconveniently for Lynas, the Fukushima nuclear disaster struck a few months before his book publication date. Unfazed, Lynas hastily included his anodyne assessment that Fukushima changed nothing; a gratuitous evidence-free conclusion made long before any rigorous scientific analysis is available.

Continuing to invest in nuclear power is totally irresponsible.

* ‘Children of the Ashes’, Robert Jungk, Pelican 1963
** ‘The God Species’, Mark Lynas, Fourth Estate 2011

(An abridged version of the above article was first published  in 'The Watermelon' Autumn/Winter 11/12)

Sunday, 23 October 2011


The nearest to the London Stock Exchange that protesters were able to set up their camp was a paved public area close by, just outside the main entrance to St Paul's cathedral in London.  The aim of the protesters is to highlight corporate greed and inequality. The camp is now in its ninth day.
The cathedral authorities have closed St Paul's to visitors, church worshippers and pilgrims, on account of health and safety concerns, and have asked the protesters to move peacefully. The protesters have set up a second camp in Finsbury Square, also in the city of London area. The church is said to be losing between £16,000 and £20,000 each day.
The protest on its own doorsteps has put the church in an awkward situation.