Japan Restarts its Nuclear Reactors (in the shadow of Fukushima and Hiroshima)

  • Published on August 11th, 2015

By Jeremy Bloom

In the wake of the Fukushima meltdown, Japan shut down ALL its nuclear plants. It just seemed like a Simpsons_nuclear_fantasydamn good idea.

Now, four years later – and in the shadow of the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombings that ended World War II – Japan is restarting those nuclear plants. And that’s a damn shame.

  • Yes, those plants are surely more modern, better built and safer than the equivalent plant in the US – aging, low-bidder supplied, and questionably run. Surely.
  • Yes, those plants have been thoroughly inspected and vetted. And surely TEPCO and Kyushu Electric Power have learned their lesson from the LAST time shit hit the fan, and will be monitoring safety closely. Surely.
  • And yes, it’s true that by shutting down the nukes and replacing the country’s power generation with fossil fuels, Japan has added to its local pollution problem as well as contributing more greenhouse gasses. Surely this will be better for the climate in the long term. Surely.

And yet, questions remain. Which is why Japanese protesters at the restarted Sendai plant included Naoto Kan, the Japanese prime minister when Fukushima melted down. He doesn’t believe nuclear power makes sense under ANY circumstances, and neither do we.

  • We still don’t have SAFE nuclear plants. And when things go SERIOUSLY wrong – as they do – we STILL don’t have any real way of dealing with it other than hiding and praying. Just ask the folks who are STILL trying to contain Fukushima, and don’t have any real horizon for full containment.
  • We still don’t have companies that treat nuclear power as any different from making toothpaste. When toothpaste companies cut corners, a few workers might get injured. When Nuclear Energy companies cut corners, territory becomes uninhabitable and food chains become contaminated with deadly poisons that last for thousands of years.
  • We DO have the answer to replacing fossil fuels. It’s true that 20 years ago solar and wind were infant industries, not yet ready to shoulder the burden of lighting and powering the world. No more. Denmark now gets ALL of its power from wind, and is even exporting the excess. Solar power is cheaper than coal.

Would it be better if Japan had crash-invested in clean energy instead of dithering and now restarting its nukes?

Surely.

Hopefully this is the last time.

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.