Time for pronuclear advocacy groups to be humble

While observing the anniversary of the accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant, pronuclear advocacy groups must be humble; they must be receptive to the concerns of public.

It may be possible to explain away the sequence of events at Fukushima. But the fact remains that the plant was ill equipped to handle the situation created by the simultaneous occurrence of a gigantic earthquake and a devastating tsunami.

Every country operating nuclear power plants has lessons to learn from the event. Since, at the current stage of development, nuclear technology is an unforgiving technology, nuclear operators must be vigilant. This is particularly so for countries such as France and USA which have been operating nuclear power plants safely for several decades. Complacency may set in.

In an interview he gave to me in May 1999, Dr Vishnevskiy, former Chairman, Federal Nuclear and Radiation Safety Authority of Russia revealed that nobody could understand that such an accident can happen. He was referring to the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station.

He clarified that the Chernobyl power station performed well.

“Today we may say that complacency was one of the reasons for the disaster. The operators were skilled specialists. Production of power was their mail goal”.

The accident gave an invaluable opportunity to all stakeholders to evaluate the impact of the accident. Many prominent news papers and media outlets behaved responsibly. After the initial shock, they analyzed the event objectively. There was discernible criticism of actions taken by Germany; these were taken under political compulsions.

Operators of nuclear power stations learnt many lessons. Detailed reviews revealed many deficiencies. All countries decided to implement short term and long term measures.

Dozens of articles published just now, exactly a year after the accident revealed that the safety concerns of the public on  nuclear power are yet to be addressed. Communication strategies must change. Carpet-bombing with facts is only just one aspect.

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About ksparthasarathy

I am a former Secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. I am a former Raja Ramanna Fellow in the Department of Atomic Energy. Free lance journalism is my hobby
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