Japan: The Land of the Setting Sun of nuclear atom?
On March 11th, the world marked a somber anniversary. Two years ago, a powerful earthquake struck Japan, causing an accident at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. The tragedy claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 people, devastated the Japanese economy and the reputation of the nuclear industry. The world began to criticize nuclear power, but could not say no to it.
The debate about the need to use nuclear power and the possible refusal from nuclear power plants still continues. The strongest natural disaster happened in the Land of the Rising Sun on March 11, 2011. A nine-magnitude earthquake occurred in the north-west of the island of Honshu, sending giant tsunami waves to the coast. The disaster caused Japan's economy hundreds of billions of dollars of losses.
The earthquake and tsunami led to the accident at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture. It became the largest nuclear disaster since 1986, when an explosion ripped through the fourth unit of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The events at Fukushima-1 evolved differently. The disaster deactivated external power supply systems and back-up diesel generators. As a result, the cooling systems were unable to function, which caused a meltdown of the reactor core in the first three units.
The release of radiation at the Japanese nuclear power plant made many other countries, especially Japan's neighbors, shower nuclear power with criticism. A wave of protests rolled across Japan. As a result, on May 5, 2012 all nuclear reactors in the country stopped working. However, Japan could not live without nuclear power country for long. The nation's economy could barely stay afloat. The Japanese energy system could not cope with the energy burden after NPPs were disabled. It also increased the demand for fuel for thermal power plants, which was also hazardous for the environment. One has to give credit to the Government of Japan: in the absence of nuclear power, the country could live normally for almost two months, while nuclear plants provided up to a third of Japan's need for electricity. On July 1, 2012, the first reactor of Ooi nuclear power was reactivated. Within a month, the station went back to normal operation.
Traditional protests against nuclear power were held in Japan two years after the tragedy. According to Reuters, the day before the anniversary of the terrible disaster, many people took to the streets to protest against the use of nuclear power. The participants of the march demanded all nuclear power plants operating in the country be shut down. The people did not have anything against life in power saving mode. It is possible that the opponents of the "peaceful atom" will reach their goal. In September 2012, the country announced plans to close all nuclear power plants in the country by 2040 and reduce the consumption of nuclear energy to zero, Agence France-Presse reported six months ago.
Thus, in a few decades Japan will be on a par with Italy, Switzerland and Germany - the countries that renounced the use of nuclear energy after the industrial disaster in Japan. Thus, the German authorities promised to shut down its 17 reactors by 2022. In Switzerland, nuclear power plants will stop working in 2034. Instead of the "peaceful atom," Switzerland and Germany will switch to alternative energy. But since the refusal from nuclear energy strikes a significant blow on the budget, not every state can afford reviewing its policy in this field. By contrast, nuclear power in a number of other Asian countries has been prospering. First and foremost, it goes about India and China. Also, Russia is going to build a nuclear power plant in Vietnam.
Obviously, the disaster in Japan left a significant mark in the history of mankind. Indeed, the nuclear method of production of electricity is extremely flawed and dangerous. Nuclear power plants turn a natural disaster into a major industrial catastrophe very quickly, which is much more dangerous than the rage of nature. Can the world refuse from the use of nuclear power today? We asked this question to doctor of physical and mathematical sciences, chief scientific secretary of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Nikolai Rusakovich.
"The attitude to nuclear power in the world changed after the Chernobyl disaster, not after Fukushima. Fukushima has seen nearly the same, but nevertheless, I think that the main ideological change in the world occurred after Chernobyl. Can people live without it? In general, people live differently. There are countries that have large hydrocarbon reserves, and they can live without nuclear energy. There are countries that do not have enough hydrocarbons, and they gradually return to the idea of creating nuclear reactors to produce electricity. One can not give a universal answer to this question.
"Uranium reserves are not unlimited on the planet either, so the era of nuclear power will come to an end someday as well. But still, the industry will be developing for hundreds of years to come. The correct answer is that nuclear energy is evolving and will continue to evolve. Some countries will decide either not to build or shut down existing NPPs. But some countries will not be able to live without nuclear power, because everyone needs electricity. The consumption of electricity has been growing in the world constantly. All other types of power, such as solar or wind power, are incapable of producing electricity for the whole world. Maybe it will happen sometime, but not now."