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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

From Hiroshima 1945 to Fukushima 2011 – it is “Cukooshima!”

Let me start by saying that this posting is not an expression of any arrow shooting at Japanese that acted for all those years against their best interests. Yes – but sorry – it was Cukoo.

It all started with Japan believing it can stop US expansion in East Asia, and Japan picking the losing side in WWII. This led to the dropping of two nuclear bombs over Japan. Then Japan decided to compete with the US economy and went the way of nuclear energy for peaceful use. Now we see that this was as disastrous as their first encounter with nuclear technology – but this time by their own choice.

We love Japan. For one – I spent three weeks in Kyoto in 1997 with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting that gave birth to the failed Kyoto Protocol. At that time I got to know the Kyoto – Nara – Osaka triangle. But this was not my only encounter with the Japanese. In effect, with my family, we spent two weeks staying with Japanese in their homes thanks to the Ryokan hospitality system, and we exchanged our time-share at the Krystal Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week at the Resorpia Hakone Japanese Business Class Resort at Hakone, at the foot of the Fiji Mountain. We got to know two different levels which sandwich the Japanese society.

With this said – let me add that I write now from Vienna and that the Austrian people have voted down the opening of an atomic plant as they understood the terrible danger of living with an atomic monster-plant in your backyard. Austria has not even one nuclear plant but gets part of its electricity from the European grid that includes nuclear plants. The Austrians are thus not clean of nuclear energy either – this unless they disengage from the European grid and run their own separate grid for which they have enough hydro-power to provide over 80% of electricity need and could easily supply the remaining part with biomass, biofuels, solar and wind energy. Clearly no real need for nuclear power and the possibility to achieve this without empty posturing based on the truth that once in the past they voted down the opening of the Zwentendorf nuclear plant.

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The Donella Meadows Archive – Voice of a Global Citizen – wrote:
Zwentendorf, a Nuclear Plant That Will Never Be Turned on.

On the bank of the Danube 20 miles northwest of Vienna stands a
completed nuclear power plant, loaded with fuel, ready to start up. It
has stood there, just so, for 9 years, while the Austrians argue about
what to do with it. The most popular plan is to turn it into a museum
for obsolete technology.

The plant, called Zwentendorf, was intended to be the first of six
Austrian nuclear plants. It was begun in 1970 and completed in 1978 at
a cost of 8 billion Austrian schillings — at present value about a
billion dollars. It is rated at 700 megawatts, about two-thirds the
size of Seabrook and Shoreham, two American nuclear plants that are
also ready to go and hotly contested.

“When Zwentendorf began, we didn’t know anything,” an Austrian
environmentalist told me. “Nuclear power sounded better to us than a
coal plant or another hydropower dam on the Danube. If only we had
known then what we know now.”

They know now that two of the four German plants with the same design
as Zwentendorf have been shut down permanently by mechanical problems.
They know now that Zwentendorf is located squarely on an earthquake
fault zone. And during a Danube flood, water seeped into its
containment vessel, so now they know that the groundwater is not
protected from contamination in case of a meltdown.

Furthermore Austria, like every other country with nuclear power, has
no plan for the disposal of nuclear waste. The original idea had been
to bury it in deep granite under the Alps. But the villages at the
chosen site vehemently rejected this plan, and by Austrian law a
locality cannot be forced to accept such an imposition from the
federal government. The Austrians offered the waste to Hungary, Egypt,
and China, but all refused. The Shah of Iran was eager to have it, but
then he fell from power. The Ayatullah wasn’t interested.

By the time Zwentendorf was finished, so many doubts had been raised
that the government was forced to hold a referendum to decide whether
to start the plant. During the weeks preceding the vote, the argument
raged — the same one that polarizes every country that permits public
discussion of nuclear power. People were told they had to choose
between progress and safety, between jobs and the environment, between
present brownouts and future contamination. Bruno Kreisky, then
Chancellor, declared Zwentendorf a top priority and appealed for a yes
vote. Austrians still do not agree whether he caused more
anti-Zwentendorf pro-Kreisky people to vote yes than he did
pro-Zwentendorf anti-Kreisky people to vote no.

At any rate, on November 5, l978, 50.5% of the voters said no to
Zwentendorf. The Austrian nuclear power program came to a halt.

This is part of an article from The Donella Meadows Archive, for
further information please contact Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden
Road, Hartland, VT 05048

Today – that is in 2011 – the Zwentendorf  facility serves as a source
of spare parts for the five German atomic power plant of the same
design, and is used for training purposes. Visits are possible only in
exceptional cases.

————————-

Austrians understand the pain of Japan and the papers are full with articles and letters regarding the nuclear events unfolding in Japan.

The PolitikHeute page of the popular free-of-charge Vienna Heute daily, March 18, 2011, has two out of the three letters from readers, dealing with the EU “Stress Tests for EU Nuclear plants, or the EU and the Atomic Power Plants (the German word AKW):

H. Fruhwirth from Hoenbach reminds us that it is Austrian Environment Minister Nikolas Berlakovich who suggested the stress-tests for all EU AKWs and thinks that had one done so with the Fukushima plants perhaps they would have been stopped before disaster stroke. The mentioned stress tests have already led Germany to announce the non renewal of the operating licenses for as many as 12 plants – this to take effect in a month or two.

Further, the letter points out that politicians, and those that favor nuclear power, finally were driven by what happened in Japan to the realization that humanity is helpless before environmental inputs.

S. Hauer writes a short note asking why the EU deals with crooked bananas and crooked cucumbers, but has no decisions regarding the AKWs, airplane accidents, acts of terror, earth-quakes – even though it is clear that 100% safety does not exist?

On the following page there is an article titled ANSWERS, by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.

The Cardinal announces  that tonight, Friday March 18th, 7 pm, he will hold at the Stephansdom (clearly most important Cathedral in Austria) – a special service for Japan.

The Cardinal writes that the Fukushima events made him think these last days of his friend, a Chemist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, Professor Max Thuerkauf, who lost his position at the university because of his criticism of the technological insufficiencies of our times and warned of dangers even of the peaceful uses of nuclear power.  His words sound prophetic these days.

Back in 1984 he was saying that the nuclear power plants were just the tip of an iceberg – the development of technologies that were unsustainable. No engine is safe he was saying to those that argued that nuclear power plants are safe. He was noting that men build them, and use them, and we know that even the impossible can happen.

Thuerkauf  said that atomic energy is a fire that cannot be extinguished – surely not by closing a faucet. There is no material that can extinguish a fire that burns a thousand time brighter then the sun – the artificially created radioactivity.  Science has no means to bottle up this artificially created radioactivity will be here for eternity,  and the Cardinal calls us to reconsider what we are doing and look at what price the poor Japanese will pay for these activities.

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But I cannot leave it at this only. I feel I must make a further comment regarding the Japanese culture that bred the reality of people committing harakiri for some National purpose. Obviously, we had no admiration for those that sacrificed themselves for their emperor and we do not admire a Prime Minister who makes now an official visit to the shrine that sort off deifies their memory, but look now at the 50 workers that still busy themselves in the pit left by the explosions at the dying reactors of Fukushima. These people know they have little chance to survive. The head of the Japanese nuclear authority did not go to inspect the disaster – right on location. He must have had years ofd good pay and it is those workers that will be his sacrificial lambs. He is no better then the US bank-directors that raked in the profits  from the financial collapse in the US or the BP officials who watched the fouling up of the US Gulf. Neigh – the Japanese energy leaders might actually prove to be much worse then these other self-gratifiers.

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