Andrzej Strupczewski, Chairman of Nuclear Safety Commission at National Centre for Nuclear Research, Poland: Fear is dominating practically every discussion on consequences of the Fukushima accident. The largest earthquake ever noted in Japan’s history followed by a disastrous tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Both these calamites destroyed the entire province, moved Japan isles by 4 metres (!) and killed almost 20,000 people. Reports of UN agencies (including World Health Organization and the UNSCEAR Scientific Committee) unanimously state that no health consequences have been or will ever be detected – even within Fukushima neighbourhoods most exposed to the radiation.
Kristin Zaitz, Civil Engineer, Project Manager at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, Heather Matteson, Materials Scientist, Nuclear Reactor Operator, Environmentalist, Co-Founders of Mothers for Nuclear: Our freedom of thought is one of our most valuable treasures, but we should all understand the impact our beliefs and opinions have on others. We don’t fault those who make decisions they feel are “conservative” when lacking information, but the behavior we’d like to see us all adopt is a willingness to change our minds when presented with better information instead of digging in our heels and turning to fringe websites and discredited sources to confirm our original opinions.
Andres Daniels, Writer about ultra-modern history: nuclear power, radiation, post-Cold War (1989-), Rwanda, modern Afghanistan, and Japan: The discovery of fission created a new kind of fear, not simply a new iteration of the previous responses to new technology. This new fear was profound, disquieting and all encompassing. By the time nuclear power was introduced, anxiety and concern about nuclear weapons had already fostered perceptions that left a long-lasting legacy that would taint nuclear power for decades. It is time to overcome the general aversion to learning about this important energy source, and to understand this key technology. In an age of rising air pollution, it has never been more crucial.
David R. Grimes,physicist and cancer researcher at Oxford University. Thirty years has passed since events in Chernobyl, while Japan marks the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. We need more than ever to have a reasoned discussion on the issues. It is important also to see these disasters in the wider context of energy production: when the Banqiao hydroelectric dam failed in China in 1975 it led to at least 171000 deaths and displaced 11 million people. Our reliance on fossil fuels is particularly costly, not only to the environment but to human health; each year, at least 1.3 million people are estimated to die from air pollution. Shutdown of the plants in Japan has led to not only increased pollution, but rolling blackouts and protests. By contrast, France has for decades produced 75% of its energy through nuclear, and enjoys the cleanest air and among the lowest carbon emissions of any industrialised nature.