Sunday, September 2, 2012

News and links, week 35

In 2011, 57% of Belgium's power came from its two
nuclear power stations in Doel (pictured) and Tihange.


  1. As many communists, I too propose nationalisation of energy markets amongst others. I am far from the only communist taking this opinion. Something as vital as energy providing should be done by the state, not by a competitive privitased market. Because the risk of the latter is that security measures are not done properly because they want to limit expenses, and extra security measures are usually one of the first things they'll cut the budget for.

    The thought of a nuclear plant severely damaged in the back yard, is very eerie. Also, since Belgium is in the heart of Europe, several neighbouring countries would be severely affected too if anything goes wrong. I am amazed the problem has been kept quiet for so long. I have been in Doel several times (which I highly recommend given the very special sentiments you experience in the town, thanks to its admirable struggle to survive) and the cooling towers are visable not only everywhere in Doel but far beyond the village. Antwerp is right next to the town, and it is impossible to evacuate 600000 people rapidly in case something would go wrong. A serious nuclear disaster would reach the UK, France, Holland, Luxembourg and Germany at minimum, and make Belgium a dangerous zone for years to come. POliticians should take things in hands before it is too late: nationalise the energy market and put safety as priority. Even if this includes lower production of energy, this is still a whole lot better than the idea a dangerous nuclear plant is in the back yard of millions of citizens.

    I have witnessed several documentaries on Chernobyl. Even after 35 years the whole are (20 square kilometers or so) is a no go zone because of the radioactivity being so high. The zone affected by the disaster was so radioactive that still a lot of children with genetic problems are born. Shortly after the disaster, the radioactivity reached as far as the west coast of England. I am not saying Doel is close to anything like that, nor is Tihange. But it will eventually be if security is not considered top priority right now. Even if we have a lower energy production, for gods sake, put the health of citizens first and resolve this issue as a core priority!

    PS: this reminds me of the Levellers' song Belaruse, which is about the Chernobyl disaster and with very spot on lyrics. It seems however people tend to forget such disasters rapidly until it will happen again...

    "Belarus no longer feels the sun, but it's under the skin of everyone
    Belarus, forgotten by the blind, that is until the next time...
    Remember all your yesterdays in the deep blue
    Before the world came and rested there on you"

    another very touching line is "When you can't walk in the field, feel the water in your hand, you've been touched by the doubt of men"

    PS sidenote: I highly recommend a visit to Doel. It is not an idyllic or chearful place but it leaves a deep impression and makes you think really deeply. The strength of those who stayed behind, their determination to save their town, is admirable. Meanwhile the breakdown of several badly maintained squats and the countless political graffiti confrontates you with a truth that is hard to swallow: the fact that a government would even wash away a town from the map for the sake of profit. You won't have a fun day in Doel, but it will give you a deep impression and a lot of theme for thought. I recommend this to anyone.

  2. I'm still conflicted on the issue of nuclear power. Chernobyl and Fukushima are stark proof of its risks, but there are calculated risks involved in almost every great innovation and undertaking. Tens of thousands of people lose their lives on the roads every year, but nobody's talking about shutting down the highways. Why? The answer's the same as for why we still have nuclear power: to many, the alternative is even worse.

    I need to see proof that the entire world can sustain itself on green energy before I decide that nuclear power is unnecessary.