Ongoing nuclear nightmares | The Jackal

20 Mar 2012

Ongoing nuclear nightmares

Yesterday, there were more reports of Radioactive cesium levels rising sharply in Fukushima and last week there were a couple of serious nuclear accidents in Canada and South Korea that went largely unreported.

The worlds second largest nuclear power plant located 250 kilometers northwest of Toronto leaked an undisclosed amount of heavy water and a power cut at the Gori-1 nuclear power plant 50 kilometers south of Seoul caused a suspension of operations.

Like previous accidents, the Koreans initially tried to keep the incident secret with both countries playing down the serious nature of the close calls.

This raises interesting questions for John Keys Saturday junket to the South Korean Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, the very area that could have been experiencing a meltdown of the old Gori-1 nuclear reactor.

Although the US initiative is aimed at reducing the global threat of nuclear terrorism, incidents such as Fukushima have motivated the people of South Korea to pressure their representatives to move away from nuclear power generation, which has proven to be completely unsafe.

On Sunday, The Korea Herald reported:

In an increasingly volatile race for parliament, nuclear power is creeping up the political agenda as opposition lawmakers seek to exploit growing safety jitters to retake power in next month’s vote.

Concerns about the safety of the nuclear industry are rife after news broke last week that plant operators had attempted to cover up a power cut at a reactor in Busan for over a month.


Scrambling to win more seats, Han Myeong-sook, chairperson of the main opposition Democratic United Party, promised to curb the country’s reliance on nuclear energy if her party comes to power.

“The government may have been able to avoid overheating the reactor, but failed to avert a meltdown of public trust and the principles of truth and responsibility,” the former prime minister said Friday.

A poll released on March 6 showed that more than six out of 10 Koreans are against the government’s plans to boost the use of nuclear power. Nearly 80 percent of 1,100 respondents said they oppose extending old reactors’ lifespan.

North Korea is one of the stalwarts of the outdated and dangerous nuclear age that has largely resisted reductions in their nuclear programs. Withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, they became a fully fledged nuclear power in 2009 and have tested two nuclear weapons.

In comparison the United States maintains a ban on enriched plutonium being supplied to South Korea which has effectively meant they have not developed their nuclear weapons capability.

In 2000, revelations that scientists in South Korea had engaged in clandestine uranium enrichment emerged at a time when Seoul was playing a leading role in efforts to end North Korea's nuclear weapons drive. However they still have plenty of chemical and biological weapons to ensure mutual destruction in the advent of all out war.

I wonder if Key will come back glowing?