Letters to the Editor | The Economist
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Ten years later
Coverage of the Fukushima disaster tends to confuse two key facts (“Lessons from Fukushima,” March 6). The first is that Fukushima has the lowest seawall elevation of any Pacific-facing nuclear reactor site in Japan, making it considerably more vulnerable to tsunami risk. A higher location with backup power and cooling systems would have avoided disaster. Despite doubts about its low position, the choice of site was dictated by politics. Obtaining the approval of local voters is a clear requirement for nuclear operations in Japan compared to other considerations.
The second key factor is the design. All reactors in the Pacific on the afternoon of March 11, 2011, including Fukushima, safely initiated emergency shutdown sequences in response to the earthquake, a testament to the strong safety record of the Japanese nuclear industry.
It was not the earthquake that caused the disaster, but an abnormal tsunami, combined with the inability of the Japanese nuclear industry and the population to debate the risks. Nuclear revival can be safe even in earthquake-prone Japan, and is essential if the country is to achieve carbon-neutral energy.
Nuclear fuel team
Japanese General Trading Company “Sogo-Shosha”, 2010-14
West Linn, Oregon
The new generation of advanced modular reactors being developed in Japan, the United States and Canada addresses all of the issues you raised. Japan, for example, has a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor that is inherently safe, is 45% more efficient than a pressurized water reactor, and can be factory built in three to four years, rather than 15. years. It complements intermittent renewables as part of any reliable energy portfolio.
the HTGR also produces 75% less waste than current reactors. As some of the new advanced reactors can reuse spent fuel, Britain’s legacy waste becomes an asset with intrinsic value, not a liability. And how much better to manage this under the watchful eye of the British regulator.
University of Newcastle
A “high level of regulation” is only a necessary condition to achieve, as you claim, a “very low” risk of failure. In order to make nuclear energy safer, we must pay equal attention to building a strong safety culture within our nuclear energy utilities. A culture of safety is analogous to the human body’s immune system which protects it against pathogens and repels disease. A safety culture based on trust, transparency and accountability is key to the safe operation of nuclear reactors; it must also be the basis of relationships and interactions between reactor suppliers, operators and regulators.
PROFESSOR NAJMEDIN MESHKATI
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Southern California
Nuclear power has had its day. Its construction cost is now prohibitive. Britain’s Hinkley Point C reactor was licensed in 2012 and is not expected to be operational until 2026. It will have cost £ 23 billion ($ 32 billion). As for small modular reactors, the NuScale reactor project in America is scheduled for 2029.
The US government has not been able to prove that buried nuclear waste will be dealt with effectively. Yucca Mountain in Nevada was selected as the least unsatisfactory location only because Nevada has a small population and large remote areas.
DAVID CALVIN GOGERTY
A forgotten atrocity
There are other candidates to compete with Hitler as the “worst racist in history” (“Nazi parties”, March 6). “The Kaiser’s Holocaust” by David Olusoga and Casper Erichsen sheds light on a chapter from the past that few of us know: the genocide of the Herero and Nama peoples of Namibia. Their massacre served as a model for the Nazis in many ways. General Lothar von Trotha’s name may not be well known outside of Germany and Namibia, but he is on a par with Hitler.
Lopez Island, Washington
A minimum minimum wage
Uber may have accepted the Supreme Court’s decision in Britain to treat its drivers like employees (“Move fast and fix things,” March 20). But he won’t pay minimum wage until a driver accepts a reservation. The drivers claimed that up to half of their time is spent waiting for errands, and that should rightly be considered part of their working hours. Would it be okay to only pay supermarket workers when they scan items?
The justice of real life
You suggested that the decision to host the trial of Andrea Sahouri, journalist, at Drake University Law School was bizarre (“Press Freedom Under Pressure”, March 13). On the contrary, the selection of the case for our annual trial internship was an invaluable learning experience for our students, and also helped to shine the international spotlight on this pursuit.
Remarkably, the vast majority of American law students can graduate without ever having seen a trial, let alone participated in one. This does not happen with Drake Law; we are suspending regular classes for a week so that first-year law students can attend a real trial from jury selection to verdict. Students have the opportunity to discuss tactical rulings and decisions with attorneys and judges, and in most years, once the jury has rendered their verdict, they are able to speak to jurors about their views on the evidence.
The real nature of the case makes it a much more meaningful experience than the typical simulation of a law school. Seeing an accused handcuffed at the end of a murder trial, as the students witnessed many years ago, is something they will never forget, recalling the dramatic power of the justice system over life and justice. people’s freedom.
Professor of Law
Drake University Law School
Des Moines, Iowa
Support your local pub
One of the greatest opportunities offered by the separation of Great Britain from the EU (“Growing apart”, March 13) is a differentiated excise tax. Allowing UK pubs to benefit from a lower level of tax on draft beer, for example, was illegal under EU rules. Lowering the tax would boost a popular industry.
Continuing Dylan’s meme
“Shelter from the Storm” (March 6) showcased welfare initiatives to beat the silly wind. The pandemic left us tangled in the blue and was no fluke. We are together throughout life but mourn the fallen angels. And yes, we want another side, more freewheeling. I just got my first AstraZeneca love shot, leaving me stunned loaded. Oh please. A new morning.
This article appeared in the Letters section of the print edition under the title “On Nuclear Power, Namibia, Uber, Jury Trials, Beer, Bob Dylan”