Michael Conley’s Jan. 5 letter, “New paradigm for nuclear energy,” perpetuates misinformation regarding thorium nuclear reactors. Conley insinuates that certain technologies were fully developed but somehow put aside because of some U.S. “Cold War strategy.” In fact, a number of countries globally have tried for decades to develop thorium-based nuclear reactors and failed miserably, most notably India. There is not one functioning thorium reactor in the world and it will be decades before any are developed — if ever.
In reality, the thorium fuel cycle and various reactor types such as the [liquid fluoride thorium reactor] mentioned by Conley have proven to be just as dangerous and expensive to develop as other pie-in-the-sky “electricity-too-cheap-to-meter” fantasies. To develop them will waste more decades and cost trillions of yen, similar to Japan’s experience with the failed Monju project.
Nuclear fantasies such as the thorium iteration that Conley is attempting to sell are what led Japan to be hypnotized by the nuclear power “safety myth” and, ultimately, to the catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Japan and other countries would be well served to cautiously examine any of the nuclear lobby’s “new” claims for a better future with a skeptical eye.
Moving forward, Japan and the world need to aggressively move toward a safe energy future. Japan is gifted with enormous amounts of renewable energy resources as well as the technological and manufacturing wherewithal to realize its potential. I hope that we do not get fooled again by the atomic industry propaganda that has led us down the path to the folly of the Fukushima catastrophe.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.