In the End, Fukushima a Gift to the Nuclear Energy Industry?

At Pro Publica, in an article titled Even In Worst Case, Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Will Have Limited Reach Abrahm Lustgarten

. . . spoke with seven top nuclear engineers and scientists to at least establish some boundaries for the disaster’s potential health and environmental impacts. The rough consensus: The long-term and most severe effects from radiation at the plant, where four of six reactors are in crisis and hundreds of tons of spent fuel is a risk, will be largely contained to the area around the plant, affect a relatively limited population and will likely not spread outside Japan.

So what, as Reuters reports, if the

. . . unprecedented multiple crisis will cost the world’s third largest economy nearly $200 billion and require Japan’s biggest reconstruction push since post-World War II.

Uncovered by insurance because it was an act of God (however Old Testament)? No problem.

The highly specialized German Nuclear Reactor Insurance Association (DKVG) partially insured Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant to the tune of tens of millions of euros. But the Cologne-based insurer won’t be paying anything.

“We do have a stake in the risks in Japan, generally speaking. But the property insurance and liability insurance policies exclude damages from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions,” DKVG chief executive Dirk Harbrücker told Deutsche Welle.

Never mind that when it comes to building new reactors, the Independent reports that “some estimates suggest extra safety will add at least another 10 per cent.”

The case will be made that the Fukushima reactors, despite how old they were, survived both an earthquake and tsunami with attendant explosions, fires, and loss of water to spent fuel rods with minimal (by some standards, anyway) leakage of radiation into the atmosphere. Fukushima could turn into the gift that keeps on giving for nuclear energy advocates.

Except for one small stumbling block: because neither Fukushima’s nor any other reactors have been attacked by terrorists, it remains to be seen how one would stand up to subversion from within, assault by ground troops, or a plane loaded with explosives crashing into it.

First posted at the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

1 comment on this post.
  1. Renewable:

    Our society was based on fossil fuels, and fossil fuels are still dominant sources of energy. There are two main reasons why alternative energy sources are getting so much attention in the last few years- the fact that fossil fuels are limited resources that will eventually become depleted and also the fact that fossil fuels burning create massive damage to our environment, particularly in form of climate change.