Panel explores nuclear energy risks

Panel explores nuclear energy risks

 

By Barbara Richards, The Dartmouth Staff  
Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

 

Kevin Kamps, a specialist for an advocacy group that opposes nuclear energy, discussed the harmful effects of nuclear disasters at a panel on Tuesday.

Kevin Kamps, a specialist for an advocacy group that opposes nuclear energy, discussed the harmful effects of nuclear disasters at a panel on Tuesday.

Maggie Rowland / The Dartmouth Staff

The nuclear reactor tragedies at Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, as well as the unfolding disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, demonstrate that the number of nuclear reactors and reliance on nuclear energy in the United States needs to be scaled back, Kevin Kamps, a specialist at Beyond Nuclear — an advocacy group that opposes nuclear energy — said in a panel discussion at the Haldeman Center on Tuesday.

“In the United States there are 20 reactors that are designed in a similar way to Fukushima, including Vermont Yankee in the area,” Kamps said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

Kamps highlighted how national governments — whether American, Belarusian or Japanese — have tried to downplay the dangers of nuclear power in response to nuclear disasters.

“In 30 years we can phase out carbon and nuclear power and maximize energy efficiency using renewable resources,” Kamps said in an interview. “Germany has already decided to not only stop building new plants but to decommission their old plants.”

Nuclear power plants are not only expensive but also dangerous, according to Kamps.

“If we’re going to solve the climate crisis, nuclear is not an option,” he said in an interview.

The March 11 accidents in three units of the Fukushima Daiichi plant caused three simultaneous partial meltdowns, leading to damage to two containers and one fire in a pool of radioactive waste, according to Kamps.

“Although Chernobyl released radioactive waste into the Kiev River, it was situated in a rural area,” Kamps said during the panel. “Fukushima is situated in a area with a high population density, with Tokyo nearby.”

On the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, the Fukushima nuclear emergency ranks a seven, and should be classified as a “major accident” just like Chernobyl, Kamps said.

“Fukashima reached this level on March 15,” he said. “Yet, this was not officially announced by the Japanese government until April 12.”

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