The trouble with the nuclear industry is it is widely believed to lie.
The news from Fukushima tends to support that belief as the evacuation zone gets larger and larger, the situation in the reactors gets worse, yet the official statements seem aimed at reducing anxiety rather than stating the plain truth.
The Governor of Pennsylvania, at the time of the Three Mile Island disaster, recalls how he found it so difficult to get the truth from the plant’s operators that he had to ask US President Jimmy Carter to find someone who could honestly assess the situation and report frankly to him.
Sellafield, which constantly assures people it is safe, lied about its stores of foreign radioactive material which it said were for reprocessing and return to the country of origin, but which were actually being stored at Sellafield. In 2005 a report by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate found that radioactive liquid had been leaking undetected for over eight months. Radioactive material was being stored in 21 tanks above ground which could have exploded, said the report. If they had exploded, then the material from each tank was enough to kill 210,000 people from cancer.
About ten years ago nuclear material was spilt from a bucket in a nuclear processing plant in Tokaimura in Japan. It was kept secret. Then a worker got radiation poisoning and died. People were told everything was safe. More people got poisoned and, after two days, the government evacuated the neigbourhood.
With the nuclear industry currently lobbying governments to be allowed to build new nuclear power plants, it is imperative that the nuclear industry’s veracity must be subject to the closest examination.
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