Was Fukushima Too Big to Fail?

When George Bush started bailing out corporations and Barack Obama continued we were told that those corporations were too big to fail. The dangers of massive corporations dragging down all of us were noted, they were bailed out, and were they then downsized? Nope. What is up with that?

Fukushima was out of the control of the Japanese government. It was big and the tsunami was bigger. It failed. So, put up your hand if you learned anything from that. Germany? Yes, we see you learned. Japan? We hope so! The US? No hand?

We have just been told today that the economy is tanking again in part because of Fukushima. A Japanese disaster is an American disaster these days. We have 110 nuclear reactors in the US. How many could suffer massive damage like Fukushima before we wreck our economy for many years to come? “Only” four of these plants are in similar earthquake and tsunami zones? Well, what else might surprise us? What if a nuclear power plant gets hit by a massive tornado? Lucky thing there was no nuke in Joplin, Missouri. How many 200 mph trucks flying through the air would it take to breach a reactor? What happens when floods overwhelm a nuke on the Mississippi River? Can’t happen? Right. Neither could Fukushima. I’ve been to the Prairie Island nuclear power plants and on-site storage of massive amounts of high-level nuclear waste. They are smack in the floodplain of the biggest river in North America. The potential exists there to poison that river for generations. All it takes is one bad hand from Mother Nature, one demented terrorist in a small airplane loaded with explosives, one human operator error.

The reality is that nuclear power has always been for too risky, so it cannot exist without government exemption from liability. The risks are just plain stupid.

And, of course, the nuclear executives and p.r. people are quick to claim that it’s 70 percent of the emissions-free base load. Well, it’s 100 percent of the radioactive baseload. Baseload? Bonneville Power Administration literally cannot even give away electric power right now, the hydro base is so rampant. Shut down the nukes and buy it cheap from BPA! No hydro, wind or solar disasters can come close to a nuclear disaster. Insurance companies will happily handle solar and wind without government shields.

If our economy and our ecology–in the long run, they are the same–are too big to fail we should stop using nuclear power.

Tom H. Hastings is Director of PeaceVoice in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at: pcwtom@gmail.com.






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Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

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