Japan Should Not have Nuclear Power

612 words | 3 page(s)

The recent coverage in the world press of leakage from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has reignited debate about the viability of nuclear power program in Japan as well as the modification of existing nuclear power plants throughout the world.

Civil nuclear programs started in the 1970s in China, India and Japan where the U.S government promoted this initiative under the banner “atoms for peace”. However the 3 mile accident in the U.S. combined with the poor nuclear economics coupled with the option of other sources of energy halted this program.

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The area of the Fukushima Dachii plant underwent a 9.0 magnitude seismatic event, which caused a tsunami. The plant, online since 1971, based their particular specs, which were designed by America based firm GE, on a seismatic event that took place in 1952. GE submitted plans that were modified, and with the benefit of hindsight, proved detrimental. The original plans assigned a height of 35 meters but was reduced by 25 meters upon completion of the plant. There was a great confidence in the 10 meter walls along with the cooling system (which involved boiling-water, producing steam that would actually slow significantly any uncontrolled reaction) as buffers against seismatic events as well as the possibility tsunamis cresting the barriers.

It has been discovered that the Tokyo Electrical Power Company did not submit timely reports and even omitted several safety inspections from their schedules. TEPCO is charged with submitting falsified documentation and shows a keen ability to ignore or go around established international laws concerning nuclear safety. It has been argues that TEPCO has been the recipient of Anzam Shinwa or “ the myth of absolute safety”. Culturally TEPCO would have engaged in the culturally accepted face saving tactic of not pushing forward with forward safety measures as the public would have become suspicious and distrustful.

If TEPCO is guilty of non-compliance with established as well as developing standards,it was not without the aid of the Japanese national mass media lack of checks and balances. According to a study of the major national newspapers in Japan, post 2011 incident, they have all put forth the need for greater nuclear safety but none have offered any plan or suggestions nor have they discussed decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant. This disaster does not exist in a vacuum. Japan has witnessed and simultaneously had nuclear incidents occur : 1974 Matsu Radiation Incident, 1979 Three Mile Island, 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the Tokaimura Criticality Accident (Abe, 2013). The mass media has long been thought to have too cozy a relationship with nuclear industry and rarely reported concerns of the citizens and most political and legal action taken by them. The irony should not be lost that a country on the receiving end of atomic bombings should so strongly advocate for peaceful nuclear power. Prior to 1973 Japan received 2.6% of its power from nuclear energy. After the oil embargo of the 1970’s nuclear power usage has climbed to 30% of all power used by Japan. Clearly Japan has created a problem that may have only benefited to the lack of safety measures as their demand for cost effective power increased.

TEPCO defended its planning. TEPCO believed the model used to measure an event such as tsunami did not have the appropriate predicting system since it had never tested a wave pattern for a tsunami of the magnitude experienced at the Fukushima Dachii plant. It is information such as this that had the Japanese government unwilling to release funds to TEPCO for cleanup activities and Japan is now stuck in crisis mode two years later. Japan’s inability or obstinacy in adhering to established safety practices coupled with the landscape make nuclear power incompatible with Japan at this current time.

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