Vital nuclear energy

Vital nuclear energy

July 7th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

It's mighty easy to demonstrate in favor of ending nuclear power, as tens of thousands of Japanese have shown in recent days and weeks.

It's not quite so easy to meet a nation's energy needs when you shut down an entire industry, as Japanese leaders have discovered.

After an earthquake and tsunami badly damaged some Japanese nuclear facilities in March 2011, hysteria and public pressure led to the shutdown of all 50 of Japan's nuclear plants.

But while we are still waiting for the first radiation-related death from the disaster, Japan's leaders could not wait for impractical wind and solar power to make up for the massive loss of power generation when the nuclear plants were shuttered.

Officials feared the serious consequences if blackouts swept portions of Japan during the miserably hot summer. For comparison, think how many elderly or isolated Tennesseans might have died in the recent 100-degree-plus temperatures if blackouts had struck at the same time.

Japan did not have the luxury of permanently giving in to pressure from anti-nuclear activists at the expense of generating critical energy.

And so it didn't. It recently restarted the first reactor since the shutdowns were carried out. Others will almost certainly follow.

Which is good news for the Japanese people.

If the one-two punch of a tsunami and massive quake wasn't enough to turn the activists' '50s-style paranoia into some kind of deadly reality, it's hard to imagine what could. Japan is right to allow the resumption of nuclear power production.

And the United States should be wary of high-decibel predictions of nuclear power-related catastrophe here. Nuclear power is an important part of our nation's energy picture. It has a fine safety record, and it should not be derailed based on panic and strained theorizing about nuclear dangers.