Q. What is your view about the Fukushima disaster and Japanese evacuation policy?
In the course of making Pandora’s Promise I traveled into the Fukushima exclusion zone and saw for myself what has transpired there. As someone who favors nuclear energy as an essential component of our efforts to avert a climate catastrophe, visiting Fukushima was deeply disturbing. Simply put, it should never have happened and there’s no excuse for the human error that led to it, namely an inadequate sea wall and the placing of the back-up generators in the basement.
Moving forward, it must be remembered that every reactor in Japan survived the most violent earthquake in over 1,000 years without a problem.
Only this one power station suffered a disaster after being overwhelmed by a tsunami. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Commission on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (the latter of which has studied the health of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for nearly 70 years) have both concluded that no one has suffered any negative health impact from their exposure to the radiation release at Fukushima and it’s highly unlikely that any negative health impact will ever be detected among those exposed.
Anti-nuclear groups will dispute these findings of course because they contradict the narrative they have woven for 40 years that nuclear accidents, if they occur, are apocalyptic events.
This claim is at the heart of their opposition to nuclear energy and so they will never accept scientific evidence that contradicts it. In order to succeed in their political objective they need to make people terrified of nuclear energy. In Japan they have succeeded to the point where much of the nation is terrified of elevated radiation levels, however miniscule.
I visited a town just outside the exclusion zone where parents refused to let their children play outdoors –EVER. The radiation levels there were lower than the background radiation levels in many parts of the world. But the parents were terrified for their children’s health because of what they’d heard from anti-nuclear groups and the media.