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Can the nuclear industry survive?
As South Korea hosts a nuclear industry summit, we ask what lessons have been learned from the Fukushima disaster.
Last Modified: 25 Mar 2012 12:01

On Friday, South Korea hosted a nuclear industry summit with more than 200 chief executives of nuclear power companies. Delegates will discuss the issue of nuclear safety after the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant last year and it comes just days ahead of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.

"In a situation where the world population is increasing and the resources are becoming more and more scarce, I personally think that nuclear power continues to have a major role to play in energy production woldwide...you learn from your mistakes and the nuclear industry is getting safer."

Paddy Reegan, a professor of nuclear physics

The continuing problems at the Fukushima plant have prompted full closures of 13 reactors including four units at the site itself and eight in Germany, a number considered the highest since 1990.

However, South Korea is forging ahead with its nuclear energy ambitions. By 2030, it wants to double domestic capacity to nearly 60 per cent of the energy produced, and to become of the world's top three nuclear power exporters.

Can the nuclear industry survive? What are the risks versus economic advantages? Why is South Korea placing so much faith into nuclear power?  And can we afford to move on without nuclear power?

Joining us to discuss these issues are Jan Beranek, the head of the nuclear energy campaign for Greenpeace, who was also head of Czech Republic's green party and the co-founder of Friends of the Earth Czech Republic; Paddy Reegan a professor of nuclear physics at University of Surrey who runs the master's course at Surrey on radiation and environment protection; and Imad Khadduri, a nuclear scientist and author of the book Iraq's nuclear mirage.

"Fukushima has happened despite we were told nothing like that is possible. In Fukushima it's the government that has been protecting the nuclear industry and its profits, and it terribly failed to protect the people...There is no future for nuclear power, because it's not only unsafe, but it's also very fragile...It is a dream that failed."

Jan Beranek, Greenpeace


NUCLEAR POWER:

  • Japan's Fukushima power plant was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011
  • Japan's nuclear severity rating was raised to 7, the highest level
  • The Fukushima disaster had reached the same level as the Chernobyl meltdown
  • The 1986 Chernobyl disaster is believed to be the worst nuclear accident 
  • The crisis at Fukushima prompted anti-nuclear protests in Germany
  • The full closure of reactors was prompted by Japan's nuclear crisis
  • Germany has 17 nuclear reactors, eight are offline
  • Belgium and Switzerland plan to decrease the use of nuclear power
  • Japan has currently two reactors of 54 operating
  • China is building 26 new reactors and 51 are planned
  • Russia has 10 reactors under construction
  • India has seven reactors and South Korea three reactors under construction
  • The UK is likely to build four to 10 new reactors soon
  • The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran are still eager to pursue nuclear power programmes
Source:
Al Jazeera
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