Upcoming anniversaries of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters should focus minds as countries roll out plans for new nuclear power. As the economic case for new nuclear power has become increasingly flimsy, the ever-present safety concerns related to the sector were articulated last week in chilling detail by Nato Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. Speaking to a gathering of UK MPs and the general public at the Houses of Parliament, Kan retold the sequence of events that led to the meltdown of one of Japan’s biggest nuclear power stations after a huge earthquake and Tsunami disabled its cooling systems. In addition to the heroic work of emergency workers and nuclear engineers, Kan said “lots of lucky coincidences” helped prevent one or more reactors exploding, an outcome that could have forced the evacuation of an estimated 50 million people in densely-populated Japan, including residents of greater Tokyo. In this worst case scenario, lethal levels of radioactive material would have been blasted over a wide radius, rendering large swaths of the country uninhabitable.
China Dialogue 1st Feb 2016 read more »