Malcolm Grimston, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Imperial College, London: In physical terms Fukushima was a middle-ranking industrial accident of the kind that happens perhaps eight to ten times each year round the world. The response, and especially the irrational prevention of people from returning to their homes in areas where there was hardly any contamination, turned it into a serious human tragedy.
Andrzej Strupczewski, Chairman of Nuclear Safety Commission at National Centre for Nuclear Research, Poland: Fear is dominating practically every discussion on consequences of the Fukushima accident. The largest earthquake ever noted in Japan’s history followed by a disastrous tsunami hit on March 11, 2011. Both these calamites destroyed the entire province, moved Japan isles by 4 metres (!) and killed almost 20,000 people. Reports of UN agencies (including World Health Organization and the UNSCEAR Scientific Committee) unanimously state that no health consequences have been or will ever be detected – even within Fukushima neighbourhoods most exposed to the radiation.
Kristin Zaitz, Civil Engineer, Project Manager at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, Heather Matteson, Materials Scientist, Nuclear Reactor Operator, Environmentalist, Co-Founders of Mothers for Nuclear: Our freedom of thought is one of our most valuable treasures, but we should all understand the impact our beliefs and opinions have on others. We don’t fault those who make decisions they feel are “conservative” when lacking information, but the behavior we’d like to see us all adopt is a willingness to change our minds when presented with better information instead of digging in our heels and turning to fringe websites and discredited sources to confirm our original opinions.
Andres Daniels, Writer about ultra-modern history: nuclear power, radiation, post-Cold War (1989-), Rwanda, modern Afghanistan, and Japan: The discovery of fission created a new kind of fear, not simply a new iteration of the previous responses to new technology. This new fear was profound, disquieting and all encompassing. By the time nuclear power was introduced, anxiety and concern about nuclear weapons had already fostered perceptions that left a long-lasting legacy that would taint nuclear power for decades. It is time to overcome the general aversion to learning about this important energy source, and to understand this key technology. In an age of rising air pollution, it has never been more crucial.