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Monday, 14 March 2011

Nuclear debate

The nuclear problem in Japan is being endlessly discussed on TV at present. I suppose it has provided the perfect opportunity for the anti-nuclear brigade to trot out all their usual misinformation and prejudice. Though my command of the language is, as yet, imperfect, I can't overlook some of the attempts to claim that what has happened in Japan "could happen here" which I find annoying.

Why annoying? Put simply, this is a case of not comparing "apples with apples." The media interviewers keep making reference to Chernobyl, but what has happened in Japan is nothing like what happened in Chernobyl and it is, in my view, a blatant attempt to stir up fear and promote the anti-nuclear campaign. None of the nuclear plants in Europe are likely to face the same combination of problems as the Japanese plant - for one thing none are near major earthquake faults. The plant in Japan faced a near "million to one" combination of disasters. First, the earthquake was way in excess of what any building has yet been planned to withstand. (The Richter Scale operates on a logarithmic progression so a single "point" difference makes a huge difference in forces unleashed.) Secondly, the quake triggered the safety systems, damping out the fuel rods, but it also triggered the shutdown of power right across the region, so the coolant pumps for the reactor had to draw on the back-up power, diesel generators - which were then swamped by the massive tidal wave. The quake also damaged the coolant pumps for one reactor, preventing them from operating, but the remainder continued to function on the third back-up, battery power. The trouble is, the batteries can only do this for a maximum period and no one seems to have been able to bring in more generators to support them.

The chances of this happening in Europe in a like sequence are extremely remote.

What is concerning me is that this emergency - and it is an emergency - will now be used to prevent the renewal of existing nuclear plants and the building of the new ones we need. Despite the hype, neither wind nor solar can or will deliver the levels of energy demand Europe needs if it is to continue to support the lifestyles, development and technology we need to remain competitive in the emerging world we live in.

What we need is more truth, less hype and prejudice and a lot more honesty from the "Green" lobby, whose demands, policies and downright lies will lead inexorably to our permanent impoverishment and dependence on less paranoid and less "ethical" peoples and nations in the not too distant future.

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