“There are few independent nuclear experts in the world. Everyone either works in the industry or used to and are now regulators.”
Canadian Government fired chief regulator for trying to improve safety standards — Greenpeace
By Stephen Leahy*
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 23, 2011 (Tierramérica)
As Japan struggles to confront a nuclear disaster that could be the worst in history, it seems clear that any discussion about the safety of nuclear energy should address the independence of regulatory agencies.
On Apr. 26, 1986 a series of explosions and fires at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine released radioactive fallout that spread over eastern and western Europe, particularly affecting Ukraine itself, Byelorussia (now Belarus) and Russia, all Soviet republics at the time.
Twenty-five years later, Chernobyl’s reactor number 4 continues to emit high levels of radioactivity even though it is buried under a thick but decaying layer of concrete.
Europe and the United States are trying to raise more than two billion dollars to build a permanent sarcophagus to contain the radiation.
The Chernobyl disaster is usually attributed to obsolete technology and the secrecy characteristic of the Soviet regime.
The accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was triggered by the damage resulting from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on Mar. 11.
But “TEPCO doesn’t have the best record for safety or disclosure of information,” said Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear policy analyst who also works in Japan.