Jonathan Schell was a strong activist who gained great popularity in the 80’s discussing the unfortunate lack of danger behind the world use of nuclear weapons and the idea of using atomic energy as a replacement for coal, oil and natural gas. Recently, he has been interviewed around the world for his thoughts on the recent nuclear failures at the Fukushima plant in Japan.
He says exactly my thoughts – here is his answer from the excellent Spiegel interview:
SPIEGEL: You say that dealing with nuclear energy is like gambling with “Mother Nature’s power.” Why is it so totally different from other sources of energy?
Schell: Because it’s so colossally more powerful. Comparable energy can be found, at best, in the center of stars. It’s basically not found on earth naturally, and it’s only through our own scientific brilliance that we’ve been able to introduce it into the terrestrial setting. But, unfortunately, we’re not as advanced morally, practically and politically as we are scientifically, so we are not prepared to control this force properly. The most dangerous illusion we have concerning nuclear energy is that we can control it.
This is such a perfect response – and one that seems to kept off the US Press headlines – which is a statement about today’s US press. Look how the idea of nuclear energy was represented when Obama was elected. Look how the Press, that reported so much corruption in the past surrounding nuclear facilities – and look now it was ignored during the administration – until the disaster in Japan.
Nuclear energy as an alternative is too dangerous because there is no room for mistakes in the deal. One minor mistake can lead to another Three Mile Island. Mistakes that lead to Three Mile Island and the eventual death of Karen Silkwood – she was trying to expose the failures of the Kerr-McGee nuclear plant and was killed for trying to go around the union and expose that the plant was leaking over 400 times the acceptable range of plutonium exposure. A book discussing the circumstances around her situation and death draw lines is available in paperback.
The issues are not as much if nuclear power could be helpful alternative energy. The concept is terrific. The used fuel disposal and the overall potential for corruption during the planning, bidding, building and operation of the sites are what make nuclear energy unrealistic.
For any current Obama approved nuclear power plant, there are billions of dollars tied to each recently Obama approved nuclear plant contract. Everyone wants to get paid, no one is willing to ‘blow the whistle’ on anyone else if they were to cut corners. Karen Skilwood was exposing the practice of altering safety monitoring photos at her local Kerr McGee plant, and was killed for trying to expose this. (The pictures had shown cracks in the protection chamber and her efforts threatened the reputation and operation of the power plant. Her mysterious death is often tied to her investigation.