01 April 2011

To Fukushima With Love!

[A guest post by Satya Sagar]

Here is an idea, which not too far into the future will rank as perhaps the finest to emerge in the entire 21st Century. And not just because this is going to be the shortest Century the human species ever enjoyed on this planet, thanks to Fukushima.  The idea is to send all the supporters of nuclear power from around the globe to the stricken Japanese nuclear complex to help plug the great leak from the sputtering reactors there.

Now isn’t that a sparkling thought – all the champions of nuclear power marching off to help clean up the holy mess created by their beloved industry? A hundred thousand beaming pro-nukes working shoulder to shoulder, pumping water into the reactor core, shifting the spent fuel with their brave and bare hands, absorbing the radiation that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and from there around the globe.

Come on guys, don’t say ‘no thanks’. This is the moment you have all been waiting for. Your moment under the sun, the sun of course now covered by a lovely cloud of radioactive iodine, caesium and plutonium. Finally you seem to have achieved your dream of deep frying the entire planet and its population with a technology you never tired of calling both ‘safe’, ‘clean’ and in recent times ‘green’ too.

Here is the chance to prove that your love for everything nuclear was not just loose, armchair talk. Here is also the time to finally nail the canard that nuclear power always meant the electricity went to the elites while some poor indigenous folk somewhere had to deal with disposal of the radioactive wastes generated.

You can show the world that you are made of sterner stuff- that your heart is clad with zirconium stronger than the one that seems to have cracked at the Dai-ichi plant. That the wonderful engineering you promoted for decades may have once again proved to be flawed but the science behind it is still very sound. As we see now, unfortunately it is very heat and light too.

What a grand spectacle it would make – the scores of nuclear industry enthusiasts: Russian, Chinese, American, Indian, Japanese, whatever – saving the world from cataclysm by putting their well-paid lives on the line.  What are a few gamma rays after all –  equivalent perhaps to having a CT scan done every half a second – think of the great photo opportunity? Imagine the fantastic see-through images we can hang on our walls after it is all over and your profession will finally be hailed as the most transparent on our planet.

You are damn right – those fifty-odd underpaid Japanese contract workers trying to stop the meltdown in Fukushima know nothing at all. Imagine walking straight into radioactive water with slippers on!  They are just some dumb blokes suckered into becoming the latest kamikaze at the service of the Japanese industrial empire. Sure, they are being hailed as ‘heroes’ for what they are doing but if they are allowed to continue like this the rest of us are going to be zeroes anyway!

What is really required in their place now is the urgent presence of all those highly qualified professors, scientists, engineers and pro-nuke media plugs from around the globe at Fukushima. The events in Japan call for the direct involvement of all those who have made a nice living out of peddling nuclear power as the solution to everything from global poverty to galloping climate change.

It is time for all of them to leave the safe confinements of the television talk shows they keep appearing on and catch the earliest flight to Japan. They need not be coy about showing up without Japanese visas too – undoubtedly the lonely guys at the Tokyo Electric Power Company would not mind some like-minded company these days. You can all collectively rejoice at the idea that while you were unable to supply nuclear power to all citizens on Earth you have now succeeded in allocating to each one an appropriately deadly dose of user-friendly radiation. And future generations will surely thank you for the ample Becquerels you have now bequeathed them. (I can picture you guys glowing with pride!)

Pro-nukes who still refuse to go to Fukushima after all these compelling arguments I have made above, should consider disappearing into a suitable hole where the rest of us can never find them any more. If we do, then the fission that is bound to happen will release energies before which even a typical nuclear blast will look like a mere firecracker.

Satya Sagar is a writer,  journalist and public health worker based in New Delhi.

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