Shane Maddock on the Ongoing Delusion of Nuclear Safety

Shane Maddock, author of Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for American Atomic Supremacy from World War II to the Present, blogs for SHAFR (the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations) and has guest blogged here about North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions and about Obama’s nuclear initiatives.

In his most recent post at the SHAFR blog, he addresses the recent disaster in Japan. He begins:

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 has once again cast nuclear power in a negative light. Fukushima Dai-Ichi has now joined Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl as warnings of an even-more devastating nuclear disaster that could lie in our future. In each instance, the public received assurance that the accident was simply an aberration. Nuclear power’s defenders assure all who will listen that most reactors are safe and nuclear accidents are rare. Pressed to respond to the U.S. public’s fears about radiation expelled from the damaged Japanese reactors, President Obama has reiterated his administration’s commitment to building new nuclear plants both to help the United States lessen its dependence on foreign sources of energy and to reduce the production of greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change. New regulations and safety procedures, he assured, would prevent Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushimi Dai-Ichi from reoccurring. The president seems to have learned little from his embarrassing assertions about the safety of deep-water oil drilling in 2010 just days before the BP oil rig disaster began in the Gulf of Mexico.

There would be no nuclear industry in the U.S. if it weren’t for government funding, says Maddock:

In 2007, renewable energy development attracted $71 billion in private investment while nuclear power received nothing. If not for government aid, the nuclear power industry would already be just a memory in the United States.

And why don’t private companies want to fund nuclear power? Two words: radioactive waste.

Maddock goes further to explore national security risks and how Obama’s insistence to keep funding nuclear power undermines America’s policy of limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

Read Maddock’s full post, “Time to End the Nuclear Power Delusion.”

One Comment

  1. One of the interesting things about modern nuclear power in the US is that few really understand how it works day to day, and I include in that bin most scientists and journalists who are commenting to the media on the topic. It’s kind of treated as a black box from which occasionally spews toxic goo. While not necessarily leading to incorrect assumptions, this is perhaps not the best way to look at any of our potential energy supplies if we are to make better decisions about them in the future. Hundreds of nuclear workers are busy every day at every reactor. What are they doing?

    I’ve worked in the US nuclear industry for 25 years. My novel “Rad Decision” culminates in an event very similar to the Japanese tragedy. (Same reactor type, same initial problem – a station blackout with scram.) The book is an excellent source of perspective for the lay person — as I’ve been hearing from readers. The novel is free online at the moment at . (No adverts, nobody makes money off this site.) Reader reviews are in the homepage comments.

    Unfortunately, my media presence consists of this little-known website, so I’m not an acknowledged “expert”. I just do the nuclear stuff for a living. And I think I have explained it well in a non-yawn-producing manner. But it’s a bit of a tree falling in a forest………

    I believe there isn’t a perfect energy solution – just options – each with their good and bad points. And we’ll make better choices about our future if we first understand our energy present.

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