On March 14, 2011, a tidal wave swept through the Japanese fishing community of Fukushima, destroying homes, businesses, the fishing fleet, and drowning 15,000 people.
The nuclear power plant at Fukushima-Daiichi did what it was supposed to. It shut itself down, but the mountain of water washed away its ability to cool the reactor. What happened next will surprise you.
Dr. Kelvin Kemm is a South African nuclear physicist. He is a brilliant scientist and tireless advocate for African energy. When Dr. Kemm speaks, attention must be paid.
Dr. Kemm posted a gripping blow-by-blow account of what really happened at Fukushima to CFACT.org.
After taking us from the earthquake, to the tidal wave, to the loss of electricity, cooling and ventilation, Dr. Kemm comes to the moment when a buildup of hydrogen gas exploded and blew the roof off the reactor building. It wasn’t really that bad, but it was dramatic. Further tragedy followed, not from radiation, but media-driven panic.
Authorities were desperate to show the world some positive action.
They progressively ordered the evacuation of 160,000 people living around the Fukushima neighbourhood. That was a mistake. As days and weeks passed, it materialized that not one single person was killed by nuclear radiation. Not one single person was even injured by nuclear radiation, either. Even today, a decade later, there is still no sign of any longer-term radiation harm to any person or animal. Sadly, however, people did die during the forced evacuation.
Kemm explains that two thousand frail elderly and hospitalized patients prematurely died when they were forced out of their care during the evacuation.
The world is starving for safe, affordable, abundant, clean energy. Nuclear power is one of the best ways to generate it. Unfortunately the danger vests not in nuclear science, but anti-energy ideology.
A decade later, we can contemplate the cumulative lessons learned. Above all, they are that nuclear power is far safer than anyone had thought. Even when dreaded core meltdowns occurred, and although reactors were wrecked, resulting in a financial disaster for the owners, no people were harmed by radiation.
We also learned that, for local residents, it would have been far safer to stay indoors in a house than to join the forced evacuation. We also learned that governments and authorities must listen to the nuclear professionals, and not overreact, even though the television news cameras look awfully close.
As happens all too often, the media-driven narrative and reality stand completely at odds. When this occurs, scientists and engineers can’t help but be frustrated.
In 1979, America experienced the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Everyone was safe there as well. Environmentalist Michael Shellenberger wrote in Forbes, “Time Magazine ran a cover story that superimposed a glowing headline, ‘Nuclear Nightmare,’ over an image of the plant. Nightmare? More like a dream. What other major industrial technology can suffer a catastrophic failure and not kill anyone?”
Nuclear power is safe and vital. New technologies are making nuclear better every day.
If only we can save ourselves from the madness of crowds.
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