A cloud of nuclear mistrust spreads around the world.
After decades of lies, nuclear reassurances now fall on deaf ears
Special report for The Independent of London by Michael McCarthy
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
It is unprecedented: four atomic reactors in dire trouble at once, three threatening meltdown from overheating, and a fourth hit by a fire in its storage pond for radioactive spent fuel.
All day yesterday, dire reports continued to circulate about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, faced with disaster after Japan’s tsunami knocked out its cooling systems. Some turned out to be false: for example, a rumour, disseminated by text message, that radiation from the plant had been spreading across Asia. Others were true: that radiation at about 20 times normal levels had been detected in Tokyo; that Chinese airlines had cancelled flights to the Japanese capital; that Austria had moved it embassy from Tokyo to Osaka; that a 24-hour general store in Tokyo’s Roppongi district had sold out of radios, torches, candles and sleeping bags.
But perhaps the most alarming thing was that although Naoto Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister, once again appealed for calm, there are many – in Japan and beyond – who are no longer prepared to be reassured.
And first palpable direct result – see Germany closes seven of its oldest reactors.
- Workers temporarily retreat from Japan nuclear plant
- Thousands flee Tokyo as experts try to calm contamination fears
- No hysterical outbursts, just an endless stream of quiet grief
- Huhne orders checks on nuclear power station safety systems
- Christina Patterson: What do we do with tragedy like the one in Japan?
- Thousands told to stay inside as plant leaks radiation
- Jeremy Laurance: The scale of the disaster will be revealed in radiation sickness
- Germany closes seven of its oldest reactors
- Japan: Triumph of the spirit
- The clean-up crews who risk everything
- Panic over Japan triggers market turmoil
- Fed policy unchanged despite global shocks
- Hamish McRae: This tragedy will have an impact far beyond Japan
- David Prosser: The stock market is a poor guide to the consequences of Japan