Here
and
Now

opinions

What's behind our conflicted feelings on nuclear power?

27 Comments
By Seth Borenstein

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
Login to comment

"He estimates the risk of a disaster at a given plant at 1 in 100,000 — about the same as your chance of being killed by lightning over your lifetime."

The likelihood of a magnitude 9 earthquake or a giant tidal wave is also small. And yet, here we are. I wonder if they'll revise any of the risk statistics...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that until we find anything better and efficient as nuclear generated power, we need nuclear power plants. Face it. Wind turbines or solar panels for example, you need a lot of them to match the power generated by a NPP and you have to rely on wind or sun. I believe some smart people around the globe will improve the current technology and develop new one. So, yes, for now, we have to bear with nuclear wastes and risks. For the people that say the risks are so low, it is affordable, they are partially right but when a disaster happen such as Fukushima, people are going to pay the consequences for a very long time. If it is not health, it might be their livelihood. As some people on JT "we are still in a learning process, just bad luck", TEPCO knew the risks. My wife's parents are living next to Omaezaki city. In Omaezaki is the Hamaoka NPP. Her family has been farming this land way before electricity was discovered. Hamaoka is a time bomb that will face the same Fukushima NPP destiny during the great Tokai earthquake (if it has to happen). We have to make sure that they know what they are doing but with TEPCO, we found that it wasn't the case. Remember Fantasia? Hamaoka is considered the more dangerous NPP in Japan. Hamaoka has to close.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My feelings on nuclear power aren't conflicted at all, never have been. It is not a cheap form of energy, it is not a safe form of energy, it is not a clean form of energy. Those scoffin' boffins who claim there's no more risk than there is of being struck by lightning - would they make a practice of standing on an open hill in a thunderstorm, holding up a golf club (aka as 'building a nuclear plant on a seismic fault in tsunami alley')?

Without 'cheap' energy from nuclear plants, necessity being the mother of invention, we would have by now have developed alternative sources of energy and/or found ways of making our lives comfortable without the profligate and petty use of energy we have come to take for granted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Directly related to the fears of nuclear disasters is the song "dancing with tears in my eyes" from Ultravox. Probably the middle aged generation knows this song and remembers the context: a nuclear disaster by a nuclear plant nearby.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not conflicted here either. I have never liked the concept of nuclear power. (Thorium does sound somewhat better than uranium and plutonium or MOX, however.)

The debate on how to get rid of nuclear waste has never been resolved. Decommissioning has turned out to be an expensive nightmare. The by-products can be used for nuclear weapons. Touted as 'safe', there have been countless accidents, not surprisingly, as humans are fallible and whenever things can go wrong they will go wrong. When safety systems are overwhelmed we are then told that this can only lead on to better systems. Dream on.

Definitely not a risk worth taking, IMHO.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nuclear power is about greed, pure and simple. The energy companies want to sell you subsidized energy which btw itself is a relic of the Cold War. What are the uses of spend uranium rods? Absolutely zip all except to give us a problem for the next thousand years or so. I cannot believe all the short sighted fools who still think nuke power is still a viable option for us. NO, IT"S NOT. If you think it is, I'll like to buy you a one way ticket to Fukushima, if you nuke advocates still want nuke power, contact me, and I'll buy you a ticket to close to FK and you can stay there with your SAFE radiation alongside the survivors of the earthquake/tsunami. People in Japan, especially those afraid of the dark like conbini stores and pachinko parlors need to tone down their usage as well as regular folks. You don't really need warmed toilet seats. Last time I checked, your bum turning a tad cold on the throne hasn't killed anybody. And a few less lights on the streets of the big cities is not gonna cause anybody to get lost between say, Shibuya station and the shopping malls directly across. I could go on and on and on, but I know some of your nuclear trolls would try to flame me. But let's not do that, let me buy you a ticket to Fukushima from anywhere in the world, I'm serious, any takers. Btw, I do have ways to make sure you stay there when you get there, so no jokes here even though it's the Fool's day.

Moderator: Please tone down your rhetoric and refrain from calling anyone fools. It reflects badly on yourself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regarding the experts vs. non-experts in the Slovic study: yes, the experts rated nuclear power as 20th in a list of most dangerous activities. But for the anti-nuclear people out there, you can take comfort that nuclear power is indeed more dangerous than: food colouring; home appliances; hunting; prescription antibiotics; vaccinations; spray cans; high school/college football; power mowers; mountain climbing; and skiing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All those above ground nuclear tests the US did had a huge effect on cancer rates. Cancer was a relative unknown, but now it is a big moneymaker for the medical community. =Nuclear energy/cancer is a great way to endebt the populace and control thru terror.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

imomofo,

Nuclear Power? Cold War? Pleeeease! stop posting rubbish. Let me ask you this: how much do you hate environment and polar bears that you oppose nuclear energy to such extent?

Mod, nice comment!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Btw, I do have ways to make sure you stay there when you get there

"Is it safe?"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A Pew Research Center poll after the Japanese nuclear crisis found support for increased nuclear power melting down.

A pun in bad taste or just a very poor choice of words?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To me, nuclear power plants are WMDs. Just like their rogue WMDs which are connected to terrorism and wars, both are no different to being mass killers. The only difference between these two, is that one is embraced by governments of the world, the other is condemned as killers.

It is our greed of wanting more and more (electricity) that caused us to develop nuclear power plants to feed our greed. If countries were to cut the way we live according to the amount of energy supply we could safely generate, well perhaps, we need not have to contend to see more accidents like that of Fukushima in future. Anything that is man-made will not be 100% perfect. Nuclear power plants are man-made. Accidents are bound to happen, if not today, sometime somewhere in the future. And when this happens, let's hope that not many in different countries happen simultaneously. Let's hope they will take turns to malfunction around the world. Otherwise, there will not be any pockets of safe zones left for humankind to hide.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Another bought "expert." Except this is an especially condescending and silly-clever "expert."

Why does nuclear radiation give us "the creeps." The reasons are perfectly rational, contrary to the subtext of this piece. It's power of destruction transcends localized catastrophe and can quickly become global, as in the case of Chernobyl and Fukushima (though as this point to a lesser extent). Chernobyl's meltdown's explosions were two-fold. First was the steam explosion and the second was an "excursion," that is an explosion caused by a nuclear reaction. Germany's radioactive boars are a legacy, 25 years after the fact. As I write, Fukushima's Tepoc nuclear facility is leaking radioactive water into the sea.

Nuclear power is dirty and difficult, if not ultimately impossible, to contain. Nuclear plants take a long to set up and have a short life, leaving tons of radioactive garbage to dispose of somewhere.

These are a fee of the reasons nuclear radiation gives us "the creeps."

This is also why Seth Borenstein gives me" the creeps."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who's conflicted? Nuclear energy is the cheap, clean, safe form of energy for our future.

And our lobbies will ensure it continues to get built.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who's conflicted? Nuclear energy is the cheap, clean, safe form of energy for our future.

And our lobbies will ensure it continues to get built.

Best April fools joke of the day!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bogart, not an April Fools joke at all. 100% serious mate, nuclear energy is the future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People need to scale their power use way back. We lived just fine for eons before the nightmare of nuclear energy. This way we live now is unsustainable. Part of the world lives like royalty, wasting resources as fast possible, while the rest of the world struggles to get by on two dollars a day.

The economies of the world are not what is important. It is not the stock exchange that is important. What is important is living lightly on the earth so our great-grandchildren won't be breathing, eating, and drinking toxins, and be covered with tumors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the liberals didn't insist on spoon-feeding the useless from our taxes, human survival rate would have been a lotlower. if there were only a couple of billion of us on the planet, maybe we wouldn't have need all those nuclar plants anyway.

but since you choose to take our taxes and help the useless reproduce beyond control, it just happens that they need electricity and all other resources as well. So there, we have to satisfy everybody's needs and build nuke plants.

Liberals, and tree huggers, here is a paradox for you: if you want to preserve natural resources and stop nuclear power, here is a message: DON'T FEED THE BIRDS!! Go and think about it!

Meanwhile we do have nuclear plants, and they are the best form of energy generation now. it has been scientifically proven, yet liberals just choose to push their agenda, which is based on NOTHING! For Pete's sake, can someone pass the law indicating that morons can't affect decisions on infrastructure?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's all about money. Change the money aspect and the science will change - fast.

War is a great stimulus too - look at the development of technology (plane speed etc) during WW2. But money is the other. And they usually go hand in hand. Combine legislation with financial reward and we would probably be amazed at the high speed of scientific advances in technologies both under development and not even thought of.

Nuclear power probably is a great idea - when nothing goes wrong. But, the problem is when things go wrong. Like parachuting. Difference is that I can decide not to go parachuting and when things go wrong it doesn't usually affect me, and the results aren't around for decades.

I'm sure that in a 100 years kids in elementary school history class will be looking at as now and think "What were they thinking?" Then again, they will no doubt have their own problems.

Cleo, you just made the perfect post back there. If I were a Limbaugh fan I would have said "mega dittoes".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kinda reminds me of my Goth friends when I was about 20. They used to swear blue murder whenever they passed a branch of Macdonalds -- those burgers were so evil and toxic and killing-death-poisonous. But when I pointed out that the vast quantities of amphetamines, tobacco and scrumpy they consumed were not particularly healthy, they daggered me with their eyes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

they are the best form of energy generation now. it has been scientifically proven

At the moment it's being scientifically proven otherwise in Fukushima and surrounding areas.

liberals just choose to push their agenda, which is based on NOTHING!

Er....have you read a newspaper or watched the news anytime in the past three weeks? 'Nothing' has crippled a large stretch of land, contaminated a wide stretch of ocean, made milk, meat and veggies inedible and sent mothers hundreds of miles away searching for untainted water for their babies.

For Pete's sake, can someone pass the law indicating that morons can't affect decisions on infrastructure?

Here I agree with you. If they'd done that 40 years ago we wouldn't be in this mess now.

if there were only a couple of billion of us on the planet, maybe we wouldn't have need all those nuclar plants anyway. but since you choose to take our taxes and help the useless reproduce beyond control, it just happens that they need electricity and all other resources as well. So there, we have to satisfy everybody's needs and build nuke plants.

Oh dear. We do have issues, don't we. You realise that of the 4 billion-plus 'useless' people you'd like to remove from the earth, some 1.6 billion - a quarter of all humanity - use no electricity at all? Even in the emerging countries of China and India, over half the population depends on biomass - burning wood and animal dung - for their energy needs, not electricity and certainly not nuclear energy.

It's in the rich countries that use of electricity is profligate, and it's the rich countries that have nuclear power plants. The world's richest 20% consume over three-quarters of the world's resources, including energy. TEPCO promised us rolling blackouts because of high demand; people started turning useless lights out and waddayaknow, we have days together when we don't need the blackouts. It isn't the 'spoon-fed useless billions' who are using all the electricity. It's us. So get off your high electrically-powered hobby-horse and pull the plug out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Because the average person is an idiot. Any mention of radiation is equated with permanent nuclear fallout, mutants, and desolate wasteland until the end of time.

Newsflash: none of the measurements made so far indicate any kind of lasting effect except in the plant itself. Food radiation levels are not "inedible", they're simply abstaining from precaution. Know the difference? Radioactive particles measured in air and ocean are miniscule especially when spread out over the Earth. I.e. no effect on human health whatsoever. So far NO ONE has died from the radiation at Fukushima, and it's unlikely any significant number will. The same could not be said of coal pollution.

India is building 9 nuclear power plants, as well as other developing countries like Turkey and Brazil for cheap, safe power. China is constructing 26 plants right now, the most in the world. Cleo is a know nothing sycophant spewing off about things he knows nothing about.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sorry Cleo, but you have failed to back up your arguments with facts. You remarks do not have any credibility. you just proved my argument. liberal agenda is based on what you mentioned in your post: wood and animal dung.

To get back on subject: Fukushima is not indicator of bad technology. it's an indicator of poor execution. There were 5 plants which got struck and 2 in fukushima are in trouble. One other plant is actually a shelter now. because everything else got wiped out and it's still standing.

Bottom line, there is technology out there to make these plants safer and more efficient. Cooling systems can be more robust, there are many more fail safe systems they can implement, and finally thorium is a material that can be used instead of plutonium for its efficiency and inability to melt down.

We should all do some reading and try to understand what's good or not, instead of just running around yapping about stuff we know nothing about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

nisegaijin - No, you just don't want to acknowledge the facts that shoot down your rant about nuclear power being needed to cater to the 'useless' billions. The argument that we need nuclear because there simply is no alternative holds no water.

xuanzhang -

So far NO ONE has died from the radiation....The same could not be said of coal pollution.

Everything's fine, so long as people don't drop dead on the spot? Or if only an 'insignificant' number do? How many is insignificant? We have no idea yet what the long-term effects of this mess will be. We don't even know that we're being given the facts about the current situation. What we do know is that hundreds of thousands of people who escaped the earthquake and the tsunami have been forced to leave their homes because of the radiation and have no idea when or if they will be able to return: the agricultural economies of several prefectures have been damaged due to potentially tainted food; and parents of young children throughout eastern Japan will for years to come worry - rationally or not - about whether and how their babies have been affected.

As for the comparison with coal - if you bothered to read what people write instead of going off on a blind rant about how people who disagree with you are idiots and know-nothing sycophants (do you even know the meaning of the word? Who do you imagine I am servilely flattering? Surely that term is more appropriately applied to those who bleat the nuclear power industry's line about there being no alternative...) you'd see that I'm not suggesting a regression to fossil fuels.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fact is that those lucky to be born into families with connections are forgiven many mistakes in life—those born on the wrong side are punished severely for each mistake. Yet, those with capital must have the sweat and blood of the working stiffs—this is a simple economic principle—the rich and the poor need each other. It is better that the poor think well of the rich, or you have what we have in other parts of the globe—civil wars. Best advice for those lucky enough to be lucky—respect the weak and the helpless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The risks from nuclear power is minimal and has already been worth far more than it has killed. Wanna try living in the real world sometime? It hasn't even been a month yet and most food warnings have been dropped. All were precautionary to begin with. This isn't even Three Mile Island. Core containment is intact. Iodine has a half life of only 8 days. Cesium is localized. Plutonium in irrelevant quantities. Even if every single drop of waste water leaked into the Pacific the local dispersal alone would make the quantity insignificant to human health, that's taking food chain accumulation into account.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"The risks from nuclear power is minimal"

Absolutely, what's a little radiation poisoning and death, lol.

"the tiny risk of having a few dead people"

Heck, what's a few dead people, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites