Txernobil: anniversary in crisis

Carton Virto, Eider

Elhuyar Zientzia eta Teknologia aldizkariaren zuzendaria

Today is March 17. And now that I'm writing this prologue we don't know how the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident will end. The situation has worsened steadily since Saturday, with problems in all reactors of the plant and radioactive spill. It is clear that the situation is very serious, from there everything is a whirlwind.

But without knowing the magnitude of the Fukushima nuclear accident, what is happening in Japan has inevitably reminded Chernobyl, on the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the tragedy. On 26 April 1986 the most serious accident in the history of nuclear power took place in Ukraine and destroyed the lives of thousands of people forever. Immediately after the comparison, the nuclear industry has denied that Fukushima and Chernobyl are comparable. And no, Fukushima is not Txernobil. The characteristics of the plant are not the same, nor the characteristics of the accident, nor the behaviors of those responsible for the accident.

Some nuclear advocates have dared to go further and considered Fukushima as an example of solidity and security in the face of an incredible earthquake and tsunami, with security measures. On the stock market they have seen it differently and soon renewables have increased. The authorities undertake to review all security protocols.

In the heat of the crisis, and beyond the value of what was said out of fear, it is about to see the consequences of the accident in the development of the nuclear industry. Presented as an alternative source of energy without a greenhouse effect, the nuclear industry had been flooded, but the Fukushima plant has shown its gross face of danger and has reinforced the debate on the energy model.

Although Fukushima and Chernobyl are different, we have been led to discuss the same issues. What energy model do we want to develop? How much energy do we need? What are the risks? What risks are we willing to take? Who makes the decisions? What is security? Now it's time to face the crisis, but when the situation is resolved (hopefully so) the old questions to be resolved will continue to wait.

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