April 2, 2011

Nuclear Morons

Don't we live in a fine European democracy? You know what the European Parliament decided last weekend? They decided to raise the E.U. radiation norms for Japanese import. Meaning that previously irradiated food that would have been automatically rejected can now enter the European zone unrestricted. In fact the European radiation standard is higher than the Japanese. In Japan the food available for consumption will contain less radiation than what the European consumer will get. I really have to ask; 'how stupid can you be as a member of the European Parliament?'

It's funny how strict laws can be bend by those in power. The latest example here is of course done for economical reasons. They decided to give Japanese exports a break and by default their economy. Otherwise no country in the world would import any kind of Japanese food (or other products) that could possibly contain radioactive materials. The elected officials, in their infinite wisdom, decided once again that economics have to prevail over public health because suddenly we are allowed more of the nasty stuff. What would a Japanese manufacturer do? Dispose of his contaminated product or ship it overseas for profit?

Now I don't want to sound too heartless. Clearly Japan got a bum deal with the earthquake and tsunami, and the failing nuclear plant at Fukushima. My sympathies to those who lost loved ones. I also feel for the workers at the nuclear plant who worked non-stop at the problems and risk their lives for a triple salary. Once again the fault must go to the ones who ultimately made the decision to build nuclear reactors at such a dangerous place and for keeping the plant running even though it was already beyond its 40 year warranty. Economical decisions are to blame.

Sadly enough I saw a lot of commentary on a Dutch newspaper website just after the earthquake and where not much was still known about the radioactive contamination at Fukushima. Many people kept supporting nuclear energy because it's relatively cheap and less polluting than coal/oil/bio-matter. Until something goes very wrong that is. That in itself is strange because I thought that people had learned from Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Fukushima seems to be latest reminder of how dangerous nuclear energy in fact is.

I recall reading a newspaper article a few years back and it was about what would happen to all the buildings and constructions the human race has made if we were to disappear one day. How long would it take for all the evidence that shows that we were here to erode away? Wood rots away in hundreds of year. Concrete and metal takes thousands of years. You know what that article mentioned as the last measurable proof that we humans ever inhabited this Earth? The nuclear reactor cores would still be emitting radiation and therefore be detectable after a hundred thousand years. If that's a testament to our ingenuity I don't know.

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