Did nuclear power kill any Germans prior to the announcement last week of their plans to phase out nuclear power? No.
But Germans are dying now and it’s a safe bet that the cause will not be phased out. It probably won’t even be identified in a generic way, let alone named and shamed and prosecuted. Is it cucumbers? Or cabbage or lettuce or bean sprouts?
“Death toll from E-coli cucumber outbreak reaches 16.” shouted the Sydney Morning Herald over a picture of goats chomping on a mountain of dumped cucumber.
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The Paydirt 2011 Uranium Conference was held at the Adelaide Hilton on Monday and Tuesday. Bad timing.
The image of uranium industry executives sipping cocktails at the Hilton as the Fukushima crisis entered its second week could hardly win the public’s hearts and minds.
Likewise, Paladin CEO John Borshoff’s description of the Fukushima crisis as a “sideshow” will do nothing to quell public concern.
Efforts to cool the nuclear reactor cores have met with mixed success; there have been deliberate and uncontrolled radiation releases and several explosions; 200,000 people were evacuated and the exclusion zone was repeatedly widened; a fire led to spent nuclear fuel releasing radiation directly to the environment; radiation monitors detected alarming jumps near the reactors and low levels of radiation have been detected in Tokyo and beyond; and food restrictions are being implemented because of radioactive contamination.
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The situation at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors seems to be improving, but the long-term fallout remains unclear. The Punch spoke to Associate Professor Haydon Manning - head of politics and public policy at Flinders University and a man with a particular interest in nuclear power - and asked him what it means for the political future of nuclear.
What’s the history of nuclear fear in Australia?
In the Australian community we’ve never had to confront the stark reality - like the French, the Japanese and South Korea have - of real energy shortage. Given our abundance of coal and gas we’ve never had to focus on any of the positive arguments for nuclear power as the answer to a problem or energy security.
Rather, we associated nuclear power with weapons. This is certainly true of someone like me, who as a student marched on the streets in opposition to Olympic Dam in the late 70s. Then in 1979 we had the ‘icing on the anti nuclear cake’ when Three Mile Island had its minor meltdown.
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Clean coal is in essence, an oxymoron. Much like ``friendly fire’’ or Kevin Rudd’s ``tough and hardline but humane’’ asylum seeker policy dubbed ``compassionate brutality’’ by one wag recently.
Of course, in the case of ``clean coal’‘, the term is used to suggest that it actually exists. Yet it doesn’t - least not yet.
Doubtless, it is a fine aspiration, especially given the world’s heavy reliance on coal, and it’s central part in global warming. But an aspiration is pretty much all it is.
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