Segue publicação do comentário/epístola do nosso vizinho Bob Merkin:
Fantasma … I wish it were a fantasma. Unfortunately nuclear power and nuclear weapons are Alive and Strong and Healthy (for their industry and warriors, not healthy for the rest of us).
The trouble with nuclear power is that it was invented by Nobel Prize physicists, men of magnificent, even heroic intellects — Fermi, Bohr, Szilard, Oppenheimer, Teller, Feynman, etc.
But then the technology was transferred to businessmen, financiers, bureaucrats, apparatchiks, kommisars, politicians …
And in the Control Room on the night shift, the nuclear power plant is designed to be operated by not very well educated or intelligent people with a very primitive and limited industrial “training,” just enough to earn a government “certificate.”
Every night, the lives of 200,000 people who live closest to the nuclear reactor depend on Homer Simpson. (In one USA nuclear plant near Philadelphia, government inspectors regularly found employees sleeping while on duty in the control room.)
The routine test that triggered Chernobyl was conducted by the Night Shift — the “B Team” — because they didn’t want to interrupt the flow of power during the day. In the middle of the night, most people don’t notice brownouts or brief blackouts. But the Night Team responsible for the routine test were considerably less senior and less experienced than the Day Team.
With a fission or a fusion bomb, usually everything works just fine: You want a huge explosion, and you get the huge explosion you want almost every time.
But a nuclear power plant is a bizarrely complicated, subtle dynamic system. We KNOW 1000 things that can go wrong at any moment — but the things that trigger the crises at Chernobyl (the word is Ukrainian for the foxglove flower) or Three Mile Island are things no engineer or designer ever imagined or anticipated.
“Oh, that could never happen” is the motto of the nuclear power industry. This is a Very Bad Way to evolve an industrial technology: Learning By Disaster.
At this miserably sad 20th anniversary, may I suggest to you and your readers that you Google just one word:
and learn with horror the details of ignorance and arrogance about one of nuclear power’s first disasters.
For the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I wrote a post you might also find interesting (this).
One optimistic note: It seems that at this moment, the people of France are finally organizing in huge numbers to Say No to the huge, aggressive and largely secret French nuclear power program.
Some years ago, the voters of Sweden passed a moratorium on nuclear power, so that no new nuclear plants could ever be built in Sweden. But I don’t know if the moratorium has held and is still politically ironclad.
Economic prosperity in a modern western nation depends so fundamentally on huge volumes of electricity, and nuclear power is the world’s most seductive shortcut.
Rapid, aggressive growth in electricity production was always the economic and political centerpiece of the Soviet Union. In Stalin’s day, of course, this meant Hydro dams. Hydro … well, the worst disaster is that the huge dam bursts. But you don’t have to hold a 20th anniversary in a pediatrics cancer word of the hospital. When hydro kills, it kills quickly, mercifully, and a day later, it stops killing.
In the USA, there was never a popular hobby of gathering wild mushrooms to cook and eat. But in Europe, I have been told this wonderfully thrilling and delicious hobby (one writer calls it “An Adventure in Eating”) was wiped out overnight by the Chernobyl disaster, because people believe mushrooms are the first food plants to soak up and concentrate atmospheric radioisotopes.
A radioactive industry that depends every night on Homer Simpson’s vigilance and intelligence …
Still dreaming of my first trip to Portugal … I’ll meet you in Barro Alto and we’ll drink Absinthe and toast Liberdad!
Bob / Massachusetts USA