Tag Archives: Chongqing
One day in a nuclear age
They may understand our rage
They build machines that they can’t control
And bury the waste in a great big hole
Power was to become cheap and clean
Grimy faces were never seen
But deadly for 12,000 years is carbon 14…
The above lyrics – taken from the prescient 1985 Sting composition We Work the Black Seam Together - powerfully capture the assessment of many towards nuclear power; the catastrophe unfolding at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Japan will doubtless reinforce those with reservations about this method of deriving energy.
However, regardless of one’s opinion on the value of nuclear power generation, and even at this early stage of evaluating the impact of events in Okuma, one lesson from the Japanese nuclear crisis should already be abundantly clear: the imperative of not placing nuclear power plants in earthquake zones. As this blog noted on 14th March 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that a full 20% of all the world’s nuclear reactors are in areas of significant seismic activity; quite literally, these are nuclear accidents waiting to happen. These range from Californian nuclear plants dating from the 1980s to the Bushehr reactor in Iran, a 2010 establishment.
Moreover, several countries are planning to construct new reactors on or near fault lines: these include Turkey, at Akkuyu near Adana, and India, at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. A proposed Chinese nuclear plant at Chongqinq – under 500km from the epicentre of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and in a municipality containing over 31 million people, the world’s largest by population – is paradigmatic in this regard.
If this trend continues, the future of the regions and countries where these reactors are located will be one of public health cataclysms, vast swathes of contaminated land and restless populaces; another great artifact of popular culture, the computer-generated nuclear misadventures in the Maxis modern classic Sim City 4 (pictured), may also be prophetic. The time for action – through a combination of relocation of nuclear facilities presently located in earthquake zones, cancellation of proposed projects in analogous areas, and installation of non-nuclear renewable power plants – is now.