The true scope of the devastation in Japan caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami are still unknown. While the official death toll has surpassed 1,000, the police chief of the Miyagi Prefecture said Sunday there is “no question” that at least 10,000 people have died in just his region alone. Japan has mobilized 100,000 troops for rescue missions, and at least three U.S. Navy ships of the USS Ronald Reagan strike group are assisting in relief efforts. Yet, despite the gravity of the situation, some on the left in this country are already politicizing the disaster to score points against the nuclear power industry.
Representative Edward Markey (D–MA) released a statement Saturday comparing the current situation in Japan to Chernobyl and called on the Obama Administration to impose a moratorium on all new nuclear reactors. What is happening in Japan right now is nothing like Chernobyl, and imposing a moratorium on the nuclear industry would be as big a policy blunder as the Obama Administration’s offshore drilling moratorium after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
The cable news networks and newspapers are filled with frightening headlines like “Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months” that will aid Markey’s anti-nuclear crusade. But the reality is far removed from the hype. Here are some cold hard facts to keep in mind as news continues to come in from Japan:
* -The low levels of radiation currently being released will likely have no biological or environmental impact. Humans are constantly exposed to background radiation that likely exceeds that being released.
* -The Chernobyl disaster was caused by an inherent design problem and communist operator error that is not present at any of the nuclear plants in Japan.
* -There were no health impacts from any of the radiation exposure at Three Mile Island.
* -The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not need to regulate more in response to this. It already regulates enough.
* -The plant in trouble in Japan is over 40 years old. Today’s designs are far more advanced.
* -No one has ever been injured, much less killed, as a result of commercial nuclear power in the U.S.