Has enough time passed since the nuclear disaster in Japan for the world to resume nuclear plant building? Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a construction permit for the first nuclear power plant to be built in the United States since 1978. According to this editorial from Japan’s Shimpo Hebei Shimbun, in Japan and the U.S., voices calling for a ‘nuclear renaissance’ are way ahead of themselves, since the world has yet to process the causes – and the lessons – of last year’s devastating nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The United States has issued the go-ahead for a new nuclear power plant without a detailed accounting of what happened at Fukushima. It has been 34 years since the Three-Mile Island nuclear accident and the completion of the last U.S.-based nuclear plant, both occurring in 1978. Toshiba is heading up the design of the new plant, and will export any additional equipment needed for the project.
German publication Der Spiegel dubbed this, “The beginning of a nuclear power renaissance.” But this time around, the world is far better informed.
After the accident at Fukushima, the Noda Administration stated time-and-again that Japan “would cease its dependence on nuclear energy.” On the other hand, Prime Minister Noda made clear his intention to export nuclear technology, announcing last October that a deal with Vietnam had been concluded.
Anti-nuclear groups have criticized the strategy, calling it “double-dealing” – and rightfully so.
There is a theory that the Fukushima accident was more of a natural disaster and less of a man-made one, and therefore, in order to improve the balance of trade, Japan should without hesitation continue to export nuclear power.
It is obvious from the investigations that have already been carried out that the accident at Fukushima was not only due to an unprecedented natural disaster. What is needed now is a more complete disclosure of information and a far more thorough investigation into the causes of the disaster.
Talk of a “nuclear renaissance” is far too hasty.
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