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The View On The Streets: Nuclear Power

21.17

The View On The Streets: Nuclear Power

WORLDbytes reporters hit the streets to investigate what the British public think about nuclear power after media scares of a Fukushima meltdown in Japan. Their findings are salutary and a lesson in never underestimating the public or treating their views with contempt. Savvy citizens may worry about waste but few have completely swallowed the nuclear doom mongering now evident in Germany. Eloquent insights on the press preoccupation with Fukushima where no one died, versus the horrific death and destruction caused by the Tsunami abound. For some, fear of climate catastrophe is pitted against nuclear catastrophe and nuclear power has become the ‘lesser evil.’ Perhaps a bigger problem is the idea we should settle for less energy in general.

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Related topics: Debates, International, Science & Progress

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Randolph Ferry said:

I’m with Timothy on the main points and find it surprising how some of the other commentators are playing loose with the known facts to try to support their anti-nuclear views. Nuclear power seems to me to be the best way to generate plentiful energy for people n many circumstances and should be available to every country as part of their energy generation policies. There have been thankfully few accidents or fatalities involving nuclear plants over the whole period of their use. Try comparing this with the safety record of coalmining over the same period. Nothing can ever be made somehow ‘absolutely’ safe however but improved plant designs and working procedures will tend towards reducing risk incrementally. The nuclear-panickers should just chill out.

Zippy the Pinhead Clown said:

@Linda Gunter, where exactly did you get the “data” suggesting that up to 1 million people have died from Chernobyl?? This is absolute rubbish and a good example of the kind of lies, exageration, and baseless nonsense spewed by foaming-at-the-mouth anti-nuclear campaigners. This is similar and just as irresponsible as the many so-called “experts” who are trotted out on the major media outlets and claim that plutonium is the “most dangerous sustance known to man”. Utter nonsense and you are simply preying on the ignorance of the general public to push your agenda through fear mongering, just as the major media did with Fukushima to increase and hold onto viewer ratings. Is the media still covering the largest oil spill in history? It’s only been one year. Where is the follow up to that disaster? What about the huge amounts of mercury and radionuclides emitted every second from coal-burning power plants? I never hear anything about that in the media, nor from so-called concerned citizens groups. In the end, you will believe what you want to believe, and no amount of scientific evidence or reason will change your opinion.

Timothy Tabaaro said:

I Think people afraid because of what they have heard in the media and seen in movies. Nuclear is good if managed well and the waste disposed off well.

Nuclear has been associated with bomb making and people seem forget about the other uses of nuclear power.

My view is use it but don’t misuse it.

Timothy

Vanessa said:

I don’t think that nuclear power is a safe and clean power source and therefor can’t be the final answer for the challenge of climate warming. But I do agree that the Media’s switch from reporting about the natural disaster in Japan towards focusing on the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima is inappropriate. The question in this nuclear debate after the events in Fukushima is, do we want to take the risk of a nuclear meltdown and radioactive contamination but have cheap energy, or do we prefer to feel safe and are we ready to pay more for clean power? In this context, with regards to the blurb we maybe should also not underestimate the public in Germany and realise that there has been a long tradition of treating the nuclear problem and a big anti-nuclear movement for a long time. Furthermore has the social democratic-green government under Schröder been elected in 1998 amongst others because of their promise to realise the nuclear phase-out, and in the following years the government has decided the execution of these plans until 2016. The conservative Government under Merkel has revoked these plans, and after Fukushima had to recant. From this point of view the German plans to stop using nuclear energy are not just an overreaction of that medial description, but the meltdown in Japan was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back, so that a democratic decision about pull-out from nuclear energy , which has already been made under the social democratic-green government could be reinforced under public pressure. Other nations have of cours the right to decide differently. But from my point of view, if there are alternatives to nuclear power possible, they should be preferred. Regarding the Iran issue I would say, that every country should have the right to use nuclear power peacefully, therefor the International Atom Energy Agency is there, to help exchange technological knowledge and to ensure that nuclear power is used for civilian goals. The Iran’s nuclear Program would not be criticised, if peaceful use of nuclear power would be their intention and the Iran’s government would let the IAEA visit their atomic plant.

Bruno said:

Bravo for your excellent reportage with this film “The view on the streets” http://www.worldbytes.org/the-view-on-the-streets-nuclear-power/ showing how English citizens haven’t bought into the media hype on the said-to-be dramatic consequences of the FUKUSHIMA nuclear accident.

When we now look into the detailed facts, of course FUKUSHIMA is a major nuclear accident. It is the second worse after Tchernobyl in 50 years of nuclear history.

But the nuclear accident in FUKUSHIMA Daiichi nuclear power plant, as spectacular as it may have been with the two major hydrogen explosions we all saw on television and the internet, has yet killed no one, whether through these spectacular explosions (the workers had moved back as it was known there was a risk) neither through radiation exposure ! The simple fact that such an accident, caused by a natural catastrophy (earthquake+tsunami of historic magnitude) and yet kills no one with radiation and injures only a few dozen workers in such a worse-case scenario clearly demonstrates how safe the nuclear industry is. The civilian populations around the plant were luckily evacuated in time shortly after the accident (bravo to Japanese authorities for taking this decision rapidly) before the massive environmental releases of radiation started on the morning of March 15th. Therefore nobody outside the plant was exposed to a dangerous dose of radiation. Only a small number of rescue workers of the plant were exposed above authorized limits, yet even in their case not to the point their health is in danger. No radiation-related illness or symptoms have been seen up to date except two cases of leg-burns (who have entirely recovered). There are of course a few cases of symptom-free irradiation above authorized limits. This is not in proportion with the worldwide media coverage of the events at FUKUSHIMA since 3 months. The 25 000 deaths from the tsunami for non-nuclear reasons are almost forgotten while the nuclear accident has killed no one by radiation exposure. The hype and media-exagerrations around FUKUSHIMA are indecent in regard to respect due to the real victims of this natural catastrophy. The environmental radiation in and around the FUKUSHIMA nuclear plant was due mostly to Iodine 131 until now and it has now decreased by a factor of about 4000 just 3 months after the accident (12 weeks = 12 half-lives). This makes it possible for the courageous and highly skilled japanese nuclear workers to now reenter the accidented reactor buildings for a limited amount of time, to get a better control of the situation. Bravo for showing on the online citizen TV channel WORLDbytes that the English citizens keep a clear mind on these events, don’t buy into the media-hype and that many English citizens still welcome clean nuclear energy respectful of the environment for the future. Continue your good work !

Sarah Kelly said:

This is well done and does seem to reflect the UK polls which suggest people in Britain are 50 50 on the nuclear energy issue. I totally disagree with the woman below who seems to have missed the point anyway in the immediate aftermath of Fukushima when so many Japanese people were in a terrible state and so many dead the news shifted entirely to the nuclear issue with Apocolypse now headlines in UK papers foreign nationals fleeing Japan and fears of radiation affecting our shores – total fear mongering and fear is dangerous. Hyped up irrational fears justified the war in Iraq- the unseen WMD’s. Playing up fears not based on fact to justify other energy forms or to push us to consume less seems equally disasterous. We will never get to a better society by terrifying people.

Linda Gunter said:

And as for Sophie Knight’s ridiculous article, as a former journalist and editor I’d have “spiked” that kind of unfounded babble instantly. The site where it appears is aptly named!

Linda Gunter said:

Thanks for sending us the link to your film. I have some issues with the language in your intro (see notes below) and the framing of your questions.

“media scares of a Fukushima meltdown in Japan.” This is really nonsense.
There have been three actual meltdowns in Japan – this is not a “media scare.” This is a fact – which was suppressed by Japanese authorities until media attention had waned. We now know Unit 1 melted down completely in the first 5 hours of the accident on March 11.

There is no “doom-mongering” in Germany. There is a politically and economically pragmatic decision to switch course to renewables.

The “no one died” perspective re: Fukushima is irrelevant as radiation exposure – except in very high doses – does not kill instantly but over time. That’s why the death total for Chernobyl has only now exceeded more than one million. If you just look at the immediate deaths you are only counting early liquidators.

I think your first interview subject answers a lot of this in his response.

Far from over-playing the story, if anything the media has underplayed it, especially now that the really big news is finally emerging (meltdowns and possible worse melt-throughs, the upgrading of how much radiation has been released etc). So the headline grabbing news – which is really what is now being revealed, barely makes news.

Glenn Carroll said:

Thank you for contacting us to review the video. I am anti-nuclear organizer in Georgia in U.S. No nuclear power reactors have been ordered since Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979. The first U.S. nuclear start-up is focused on international private energy giant Southern Company, a Georgia utility, which seeks to build two (still unlicensed) Westinghouse nuclear reactors with ratepayer and taxpayer money. The corporation has built-in assurances that private stockholders will be 100% shielded from financial risk.

The “new, improved” reactor is hung up with regulators and remains unlicensed because they have done away with the all-important “containment building” and seek, for cost-cutting reasons, to replace with a “shield building.” Unfortunately the shield building would not only NOT contain radiation in case of an accident, but would promote radioactive releases to the environment. You can find the report on our website.

Nuclear power has failed already because of its financial risk. But the environmental risk from nuclear is a whole other thing. It is absolutely dismaying that the majority of interviewees seemed unable to express personal knowledge of nuclear issues, but were well versed in the nuclear industry’s international public relations campaign. Some bright spots for me were a young woman who was aware of Chernobyl, a young woman spoke of ionizing radiation and particles, another young woman was aware of the danger of X-rays. Loved the woman who transcended the whole debate with her observation of the spiritual illness of man’s dissatisfaction! Another spot-on observation was that we should stop wasting energy.

This is my first visit to your site. I assumed the interviewers were political radicals from their youth and appearance although their questions and comments sounded increasingly suggestive of nuclear power advocacy. Baiting questions like “70% of the global population is in the dark” (like that’s bad) (and like nuclear is a practical way to power the African bush). Other language surrounding this piece “German nuclear doom mongering” … “media scares of a Fukushima meltfdown in Japan” (you DO know that we are having multiple metldowns and it is truly scary, RIGHT?) leave me convinced of an editorial bias in the film. The neighborhood where the interviews were conducted appeared to be an affluent college community and many of the speakers seemed the intellectual victims of nuclear’s twisted PR logic. “Efficient and cheap,” were ignorant observations from an otherwise very intelligent seeming and well spoken person. And yet efficient and cheap are definitely not appropriate adjectives for nuclear. “Why can’t Iran have nuclear power?” ahhh, he doesn’t know that every single nuclear weapon on earth began in a nuclear reactor!

I hope the Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free Future message will penetrate to the street! The facts that renewables contributed more to the global energy pool than nuclear in 2010. That solar power became cost-competitive with (heavily subsidized) nuclear power in 2010. That solar and wind can be online in weeks or months where nuclear takes decades! No evacuations (forever), no poisons, no radioactive wastes! You can find the Carbon-Free Nuclear-Free study and many more reports and studies on our website.

The piece seems dated. Was it filmed in the immediate aftermath of the BEGINNING of the ONGOING nuclear meltdown PLUS containment failure at Fukushima? Yes, it is hard to wrap the mind around the heretofore unexperienced wholesale release of radioactivity from not one, not two, not three, but four nuclear reactors melting down on the shores of the Paciic Ocean. And a nuclear fuel pool fire, maybe worse than the others combined. It would be interesting to continue to sample the public’s views and even more so if you can develop objectivity towards the subject.

BTW … I AM NOT purely objective!! We studied it and are totally anti-nuclear! Please visit our website http://www.nuclearwatchsouth.org . You will find facts there. They are selective facts which emphasize the dangers of nuclear and the benefits of alternatives and conservation because we believe overall that the risk of the contents of one reactor reaching the environment outweighs the benefits of all the electric power in the world. It’s like the lady in film said, “When they mess up, they mess up big.” Too big. Too big for the surface of our one and only planetary home.

The good news is that the natural forces of this fantastic planet, the wind, solar, geothermal, waves, can more than meet all our energy needs. It is hard to change corporate momentum, but an informed public will help. Keep studying the nuke. It will be with us forever even if we shut them all down now.

Lluisa V said:

I found this program very interesting with a lot of different points of view about the nuclear power issue. I agree with all the interviewers who talk about how the press has focused on the topic in an inappropriate way. The media had exaggerated the nuclear accident to grab attention of the public. The fear has gripped people and those who are against nuclear power have used this accident to active the debate. Perhaps it isn’t a completely safety energy but it is the best option which we have until the moment to generate the enough among of energy that we need. The debate has to be about, how we can reduce our energy needing and which other ways we can find to produce energy.

rachel said:

I found this program interesting. The varying levels of knowledge on nuclear power were great and many people knew much more than I thought the average person understood. I found the questions concerning Fukushima particularly interesting. No matter how educated each individual was, it seemed that the incident there and the news reports covering the incident had some affect on people’s ideas about the safety of Nuclear Power plants. It highlighted the importance of the media on people’s ideas. Even those who, for the most part, seemed to support Nuclear power were a little hesitant to say they think introducing more power plants in Britain was a great idea.

Ke said:

Like the other Views On the Streets that I have seen, I really liked how this video showed a spectrum of views and gave time for each person to complete their thought.

Maybe it is me being too optimistic, but instead of “lesser evil,” I like to believe that nuclear power could also be seen as an “imperfect good.” I think that calling the process an evil can bring about a sense of helplessness. Yes, nuclear power plants may have a risk of a meltdown; yes, the residue cannot be fully processed, but just because the technology is imperfect, it doesn’t mean that scientists shouldn’t take it as a challenge to make it even better.