What have we learned, if anything from the near meltdown at Fukushima?
The Germans learned something. They decided last week to close seven of its 17 nuclear plants. According to BBC, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that all reactors operational before 1980 would be taken offline, and safety checks carried out on the remaining plants.
Then there’s Russia. According to The New York Times, the Russian nuclear industry has profited handsomely by selling reactors abroad, mostly to developing countries. That includes China and India â€” whose insatiable energy appetites are keeping them wedded to nuclear power.
But here’s the kicker. Russiaâ€™s state-owned nuclear power company, Rosatom, markets its reactors as safe â€” not despite Chernobyl, but because of it. Lessons learned and and all that jazz.
The safety pitch seems to be working. Russian prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, himself flew to Belarus last week to sign the contract to build a plant in that country, worth $9 billion.
â€œI want to stress that we possess a whole arsenal of advanced technical resources to ensure stable, accident-free performance for nuclear plants,â€ Mr. Putin told journalists in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.
What about us? Have we learned anything here at home? ‘Fraid not. According to Bloomberg, even as the administration reviews all U.S. reactors following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered radiation leaks from a crippled Japanese plant, Obama last week called nuclear power an â€œimportant partâ€ of his energy agenda.
Obamaâ€™s 2012 budget calls for an additional $36 billion in U.S. loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.
â€œThe administrationâ€™s energy priorities are based solely on how best to build a 21st century, clean energy economy,â€ White House spokesman Clark Stevens said. â€œThat policy is not about picking one energy source over another.â€
In other words, Americans who “hoped” Obama was somehow different are now painfully aware of the bill of goods they were sold in 2008. It’s business as usual in America and it will remain that way until we do something about it, and by doing something I don’t mean placing false hopes on a candidate. We, as citizens must do the heavy lifting, which begins with energy conservation. Nuclear supplies 20% of the nation’s power. The best way to minimize this insane threat is to reduce our power usage by 20% right now, today and everyday.