One of the western traditions as New Year’s approaches is to make resolutions, to be kept over the course of the following 365 days. Here are a few nuclear energy resolutions I suggest for Japan…
For the Nuclear Regulatory Authority – (a) Create the new safety regulations based on scientific understanding, and avoid being swayed by political expediency, news media rhetoric, a minority of politically-active voices, or apocalyptic fantasies spawned by international prophets of nuclear energy doom. (b) Make “what is” the critical regulatory criteria, and shun all what-if scenarios predicated on exaggeration and confabulation. (c) Avoid drawing conclusions based on a lack of evidence. Just because one cannot prove something is not happening is no reason to assume that it is happening.
For the new Tokyo government – (a) Allow the NRA to do their job and treat them as the independent body of experts they are supposed to be. (b) Cease the continual lowering of national radiation exposure standards just to soothe the radiophobic fears of a minority of your people. International standards are necessarily set at least an order of magnitude below any level that has actually hurt anyone. Making Japan’s exposure standards as much two to ten times lower than the rest of the world does not make it safer for your public. It only serves to give political credibility to Japan’s radiophobic minority and makes tsunami recovery outside of Fukushima Prefecture unnecessarily difficult.
For the Japanese people – Demand full, unbiased education on the realities of exposure to low levels of ionizing radiation. We exist in a naturally radioactive universe. Millions of people world-wide live long, healthy lives in naturally-occurring radiation fields 50 to 100 times higher than the politically-expedient, fear-soothing one millisievert per year exposure standard arbitrarily set by Tokyo. Your government has intentionally kept you in the dark about the realities of radiation since World War II. You have never been provided with an education about radiation exposure in any way, shape or form. All you have been allowed to know concerns the fallout caused by nuclear weapon’s explosions, which is not radiation itself. Exercise your right to know about radiation. Make being educated about radiation a public mandate. If those in office won’t do it, vote them out of office and vote in those who will.
For the Japanese Press – (a) Curtail the practice of incessantly summarizing the Fukushima accident in all articles about Fukushima Daiichi or related to F. Daiichi. The Japanese Press incessantly reiterates how the accident happened in each and every article they post concerning F. Daiichi, radiation, tsunami debris disposal, and just about any other issue they can connect the accident to. The public already knows the scenario, for crying out loud. Does the Press think their readers are stupid? This uncompromising behavior has reached the point of insulting the Japanese public at large. If something new and important emerges about the accident itself, then re-iterating the accident scenario might make sense. In all other cases, leave it at the door! (b) Instead, focus heavily on the continuing lack of success with the disposal of tsunami debris in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures due to fear of the possibility of detectable levels of radiation. The inaction with tsunami debris disposal condoned by the former government in Tokyo should be exchanged for positive action, and the Press should trumpet this issue loud and long. Anything less is a moral disservice to the more than 200,000 people in the two prefectures who remain displaced because of Tokyo’s failure to act.