Nuclear Energy Industry Re-Energizing after Fukushima
By Igor Alexeev
The Fukushima incident has contributed to the lay belief that nuclear energy is a risk not worth taking. Although, according to the data of the non-profit World Nuclear Association only a very limited number of accidents occurred in over 14,500 cumulative reactor-years of commercial nuclear power operation in 32 countries. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima are the most notorious examples of “Houston, we have a problem” crisis situations. Is it possible to find balance between reasonable public concerns and nuclear generation crucial for economic growth? Russian experience in the reconstruction of global nuclear confidence can offer some interesting solutions in post-Fukishima world.
Nuclear energy use goes hand in hand with irrational fears especially in so-called developed countries. A popular genre of post-apocalyptic drama has been thrilling Western consumers with pictures of polluted wastelands and toxic rains for several decades. No wonder Fukushima triggered the downfall of atomic industry in the EU: Germany adopted a total ban, Switzerland and Spain banned the construction of new reactors. Independent data analysis shows that the roots of these radical decisions lie in the sphere of crowd psychology – politicians influenced by the green lobby had to stop the atomic panic. However, all energy specialists know: the impact of potential human errors in the nuclear sector has considerably decreased. According to the OECD report on risk statistics, natural gas and the nuclear industry appear to be the safest energy sources. The contrast is especially striking in comparison with other realistic energy options (see a timeline by The Guardian Datablog). “Of those we have identified, six accidents in the US and five in Japan. The UK and Russia have had three apiece”, – Simon Rogers wrote counting accidents with nuclear reactors after the Japanese tragedy in 2011.
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