Can it really be over a year since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster? How quickly time passes. In the past year we’ve seen a lot of debate on nuclear energy and (perhaps surprisingly) the wider discourse hasn’t seen the kind of avowedly anti-nuclear strand that was so manifest in earlier decades, when car bumper stickers like this were on the verge of ubiquity:
One of the leading green voices in support of nuclear power over the past 12 months has been George Monbiot – who, in March 2011, stated this: “As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.”
Monbiot’s words may have come as a surprise given his espousal of the ecological cause. Although, as his statement shows – he’s not partisan in respect of green energy, looking instead for the most practical ways to produce safe, low carbon power.
And Japan today, in April 2012?
Well, it’s a different place in terms of energy production – the government obviously had to take every step possible in order to ensure the safety of the Japanese people. This meant carrying out ‘stress tests’ on the country’s nuclear reactors to ensure that they’d be strong enough to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and other ‘act of God’ type natural disaster scenarios.
The result is that only one nuclear reactor in the country (out of a total of 54) is currently operating. And that solitary reactor is due to be closed down for stress testing soon, meaning that Japan is more or less certain to experience its first nuclear power-free day since 1970. According to the Reuters, Tokyo report, “a looming summertime power crunch is a headache throughout Japan” – to the extent that Japan has consequently had to make big increases to its LNG and other fossil fuel imports – keeping the worrying possibility of a power crunch and darkened, powerless towns and cities at bay.
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