Recently UK Prime Minister David Cameron has signed an agreement with France to have nuclear power plants built throughout the United Kingdom.
* Update: Over recent controversy many companies have now pulled out of the deal.
It is argued that clean nuclear fission is safe, despite recent (and not so recent) events proving the direct opposite. With the amount of earthquakes, psunamis and natural disasters that Earth is currently being hit with, plus the fact that fracking is now taking place in the UK, setting up nuclear power plants is an irresponsible and ridiculously bad idea.
The fact is that our planet is in a bad enough state already. See Earth's Magnetosphere, 2012, The Solar Storm & Heliosphere.
On 11th March 2011, the worst nuclear disaster to happen since Chernobyl in 1986 occurred at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as a result of the Tohoko earthquake and psunami. The phenomena resulted in a series of equipment failure, nuclear meltdowns and dispersing of radioactivity. After the earthquake, the psunami flooded the rooms containing the emergency generators causing them to cease working.
This caused a loss of power to the pumps that circulate coolant water in the reactor - the pumps stopped working causing the reactor to overheat. Over the following days which ensured, reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown. As employees attempted to shut down the reactors many hydrogen-air chemical explosions occurred. The government ordered that seawater be used to cool down the reactors and they became entirely ruined.
Although some international agencies believe it should have been rated higher, Japan officials estimated the incident as being Level 4 on the INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) and so the level was raised to 5, then again to level 7 (the highest). The Japanese government estimates that the amount of radioactivity to be released was the equivelant to 10% of that released by the Chernobyl disaster (still a dangerous amount).
Although there were no deaths caused by direct radiation exposure, several workers were severely injured and at least six employees had been exposed to more than the lifetime legal limit for radiation and over 300 of them recieved significant doses of radiation.
The estimated number of deaths to be caused by cancer as a result of the incident are between 0 - 100 although some people argue it could be as many as 1,000. Even more shocking is the fact that it we take a look at Japan's history in the nuclear power industry it actually proves to be quite worrying:
1967: In the papers originally submitted in 1966 for government approval, the piping systems for two units in the isolation condenser were seperated but in October 1967 the plans were changed by TEPCO and the piping systems were connected outside the reactor. The changes were not reported (a violation of the legal guidelines).
1976: GE Designer, Dale Bridenbaugh, testified that General Electric was warned about flaws in 1976 resulting in the resignation of several designer's who protested General Electric's negligence. In 2002 TEPCO admitted that it had falsified safety records at the number 1 Fukushima reactor which resulted in the company shutting down all 17 of it's nuclear reactors. Another two important points are that a power board distributing electricity to a reactor's temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years and inspections did not cover devices related to cooling systems, such as water pump motors and diesel generators.
1991: In October of 1991 seawater used for the cooling of reactor no. 1 leaked into the turbine building from a corroded pipe flooding the basement of the reactor buildings causing reactor no. 1 to fail. According to an engineer, he informed his superiors about the accident and pointed out how a psunami could inflict damage to the generators in the turbine-buildings which are close to the sea. Rather than moving the generators to a higher ground level, TEPCO installed door to prevent water leaks into the generator room.
2006: In 2006 a court order was opposed by the Japanese government to close down a nuclear power plant due to doubts as to whether the power plant could withstand an earthquake. The Japanese government opposed the court order and refused to shut down the plant claiming that their security analysis was sufficient.
2007: An in-house study carried out at the Fukushima power plant in 2008 pointed out that there was an immediate need to improve protection from flooding by seawater with the study mentioning the potential of a psunami. Company officials insisted that such a risk was unrealistic and didn't take it seriously.
2008: At the G8's Nuclear Safety and Security Group meeting in Tokyo an IAEA expert warned that an earthquake with a magnitude above 7.0 could prove to be a "serious problem" for Japan's nuclear power plants.
High radiation levels after the Fukushima incident were detected as far away as the United Kingdom.
In 1986 a catastrophic nuclear accident occured in Ukraine. Large quantities of radioactive contamination were released into the atmosphere after an explosion and a fire. The Chernobyl disaster is considered to be the worst accident yet to happen in the nuclear power industry and was also classified as a Level 7 event on the INES. There was a gigantic battle involving over 500,000 workers in an attempt to contain the radiation. Although it has been disputed, the official count of deaths is 31 although long-term effects such as cancer and deformities are still being considered.
The most significant result of the Chernobyl disaster is the exclusion zone which makes up an area extending 19 miles from the power plant in all directions. Ukranian officials estimate that the area will not be safe for human life for another 20,000 years!!
Rather fascinatingly, rain was artificially seeded over the Belorussian SSR by the Soviet Air Force in order to remove radioactive particles from clouds that were headed for highly populated areas. However, studies show that over 1,000,000 people may have been affected by the radiation.
In total 237 people suffered from Acute Radiation Sickness (ARS) whilst 31 people died within three months. Most of these workers were people who were desperately trying to bring the situation under control. ARS was found to be the cause of death of at least 28 people. 216 non-cancer deaths between 1991 - 1998 are also believed to be a result of the incident.
In 2005, the Chernobyl Forum released a report claiming that thyroid cancer amongst children was once of the main implications of the accident with over 4,000 cases reported. The report also claimed that there was an increase in psychological problems amongst the affected population.
According to UNSCEAR, up to 2005 over 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer were reported in children and teenagers that had been exposed after the incident with those numbers expected to rise. UNSCEAR reported 15 deaths from thyroid cancer in 2011. UNSCEAR also pointed out the potential of long-term genetic defects, directing attention to a doubling of radiation-induced mini-satellite mutations amongst children born in 1994.
There is much further research, investigation and speculation regarding the Chernobyl disaster. It seems that the industrial revolution may have been both the best and worst thing that happened to us.
The Final Note
Is this really what our leaders want for Mother Earth? A planet contaminated with pollution not just from fossil fuels but also from radiation? As the Chernobyl disaster indicates, building nuclear power plants over the world could result in the entire planet being left unsafe for humans for 20,000 years or more.
Could our leaders plans really be any more idiotic?
C E Clark from North Texas on December 19, 2012:
Agree that while we have the knowledge to create this power we still haven' t learned how to manage it and therefore we are less than intelligent to build so many reactors that we can't control. We have no idea of what to do to prevent a meltdown or to manage one that we can't prevent and then people die, or they become horribly sick and then die. I think more resources and research should be put into wind and solar energy to make it better and used more often.
This little town of 130,000 people where I live boasts that 40% of it's energy comes from wind. I think that's pretty good. Imagine if every city across the country could say that.
Voted up, AUI, and will share!