March 16, 2011

Lessons from Japan

Events in Japan are both terrifying and heart wrenching. We know Canadians will do what they can to help during this crisis and our thoughts are with the Japanese people.

But while this tragedy is still unfolding, we can already glean some important lessons about reliance on nuclear power:

  • No system is failsafe: The Japanese are among the most prepared people on Earth for earthquakes and tsunamis, yet systems failed at all levels – from tsunami protection to backup power systems to containment buildings.
  • We think we are better prepared than we are: Backup generators were knocked out almost immediately and battery power was available for only eight hours – far too short a period to keep reactor cores cool. Double redundancy was not enough to stave off a serious emergency.
  • We need to rethink: Simply telling ourselves that “it can’t happen here” is a dangerous cop out. What Japan has shown is that it is very difficult to predict the exact series of events that can trigger a loss of control of the most dangerous energy system on Earth.

We don’t know what will happen next with Japan’s nuclear plants, but we do know this: New and existing nuclear plants are going to require a serious safety review, and safety standards and equipment are likely to require significant improvement. That means that already costly nuclear plants are going to become even more costly – and uncompetitive with energy efficiency, Made-in-Ontario green power, water power imports from Quebec and combined heat and power. Is it worth the risk when we have so many safer and more affordable alternatives? We don’t think so.

Feeling powerless? Come out to our Nuclear in the Spotlight event in Toronto on Wed. March 30th to help us turn Ontario away from nuclear and toward safer options. Check out our Facebook Event Page for more details. We will be dedicating some ticket funds and taking up a collection at the event for Japanese relief efforts.

Hope to see you there. And until then, our thoughts and prayers extend to the Japanese people and all those who will be affected by this disaster, now and into the future.

Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 246
Clean Air Alliance
Ontario’s Green Future
No Nukes News
Health Power