General Electric designed the Fukushima Daiichi reactors 40 years ago. Here’s what the company said last week:
"Coincident long-term loss of both on-site and off-site power for an extended period of time is a beyond-design-basis event for the primary containment on any operating nuclear power plant."
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), a private utility, sold the electricity from these plants for decades at a profit.
No corporate insurance or assurance can ever cover the financial costs of this disaster. Why are GE and TEPCO allowed to keep their profits while Japan, its people and businesses will suffer for many years to come?
This is not a free market mechanism, it’s the privatization of profits and the public assumption of losses. In an additional example of profit manipulation, GE actually did not pay any taxes in 2010.
In the case of Fukushima, there is a clear causality between corporate polluters and catastrophic damage. We already know that nuclear and all fossil fuel energies cause grave and irreparable harm to the environment, whether in the case of creeping climate change or the dramatic BP oil spill. And yet we continue with business as usual.
When next you hear a lobbyist or a politician proclaim that "we cannot afford renewables," please respond with certainty "we cannot afford to postpone renewables for one more day." If we count the true costs of dirty energy, then renewables are actually cheaper or cost-comparable to all other energy sources.
Government regulations do not yet require corporations to pay for the real cost of their goods and services. This must change. Pollution can no longer be free.
And President Obama is proposing a $36 billion loan guarantee for new nuclear power plants in the U.S. This is folly. Write to President Obama to tell him, “Taxpayers should NOT take on the risk of building new nuclear plants.”
The above image: Radiation experts at work in Japan