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RE: [cdn-nucl-l] Winnipeg Free Press Editorial, Oct 3 1999
Thanks for your posting, Morgan.
...just a note on a couple of interesting items that have come up since the
Tokaimura accident - the first is that the (so far) non-lethal accident in
Japan totally eclipsed an Oct. 3 worker fatality at EDF's Flammanville NPP,
which was NOT radiation-related (Nucleonics Week, Oct. 7, 1999), and the
second is someone's observation that none of the 30-or-so world-wide
historical criticality accidents involved nuclear fuel with less than 5%
enrichment (typically, they involved chemical processing of HEU). This
latter is significant in the W-Pu MOX disposition issue, where G. Edwards
immediately seized on the Tokaimura accident as another reason for rejecting
the scheme ("Say no to plutonium imports," Letters, Montreal Gazette, Oct.
> From: Brown, Morgan[SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Friday, October 15, 1999 12:49 PM
> To: 'cdn-nucl-l'
> Subject: [cdn-nucl-l] Winnipeg Free Press Editorial, Oct 3 1999
> The Winnipeg Free Press ran an editorial on Sunday Oct 3 (after the
> Tokaimura accident was over). It was in favour (in a reluctant sort of
> way) of the continued use of nuclear power. Here are some snip-its:
> <BEGIN QUOTE>
> Genie in the nuclear bottle
> The nuclear accident at Tokaimura, Japan has put a sharp point on one of
> tough questions of the 21st century: Where will mankind find the power to
> drive economic expansion? If the nuclear industry cannot find safe and
> trustworthy means of operating nuclear reactors, then acceptable power
> sources are not available.
> The leading way to meet those [Kyoto greenhouse gass emission] targets is
> burn less coal and petroleum products. Canada has steadily increased its
> coal and oil consumption, in part because Ontario Hydro closed some of its
> nuclear power stations and made up the difference by burning coal.
> Canada is gambling that it can evade its Kyoto commitments because the
> United States will never agree to scale back greenhouse gas emissions and
> Canada can shelter behind the U.S. example. But public intolerance of bad
> air must eventually force some effort to produce power in ways that do not
> provoke asthma attacks or envelop cities in brown clouds of industrial
> The nuclear industry welcomed the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas
> emissions as a first step toward recognition that, with all its faults,
> nuclear power does less harm than thermal power. Nuclear advocates point
> the vast numbers of coal miners and respiratory disease patients who have
> fallen vicitm to coal and the relatively small numbers of people killled
> far by nuclear power. Yet the concentrated power of nuclear fuel is so
> awesome that the North American public continues to prefer the grime from
> lump of coal to the eerie glow of nuclear fuel, whose terrifying power
> be kept locked up in containment buildings for fear of the damage it can
> to mortal human flesh.
> That is why the industrial accident at Tokaimura touches a nerve in the
> millenial consciousness. The genie that was unleashed over Hiroshima and
> Nagasaki at the end of the war has been kept bottled up most of the time
> since then. While it remains bottled up, it offers the potential for
> enormous benefits, especially for countries whose energy supplies and
> standards still lag far behind Canada's. Every now and then, the demon
> breaks free - at Chernobyl, now at Tokaimura - and starts to fulfill the
> worst fears of those who thrilled to Jane Fonda's anti-nuclear message in
> the film The China Syndrome.
> The Candu reactor design that Canada pioneered and still offers the world
> has yet to produce an accident on the scale of Chernobyl or Tokaimura.
> Ontario Hydro had to shut down its Candu plants because its management and
> operation fell short of international safety norms, but that showed that
> those Candus were mismanaged, not that Candu reactors are inherently
> North America has deferred the nuclear question by damming rivers and
> poisoning the air. Eventually, North Americans may have to follow the
> example of other countries and turn again to the genie in the bottle. The
> Tokaimura accident indicates the need for a better bottle.
> <END QUOTE>
> There was a letter to the editor of the WFP two days ago, by a Manitoban
> anti-nuclear activist, that decried the editorial. Amongst several wrong
> statements, the author of the letter wrote that the gov't of Japan had
> that the Tokaimura accident was over (i.e. the criticality had finished)
> several hours before it actually was over. Is there any truth to this
> Morgan Brown
> My thoughts alone.
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