The world has been debating what to do with nuclear power plants since the disaster in Fukushima. Even before that, there was the complete meltdown in Chernobyl, in present-day Ukraine. But the thing that I find most perplexing is that a lot of people on both sides of the argument are extreme. One side wants to ban nuclear power from further use. The other wants to push things forward and export the technology to developing countries. This is all wrong.
Banning this enormous power source would be a huge loss and probably be more detrimental to the environment in the end. Taking this technology and giving it to other countries would be extremely irresponsible. There has to be a discussion about how to make this technology safer.
Take cars for example. When automobiles first came out and people were crashing all the time, you didn’t see a large proportion of people run out and say that people are dying from car accidents so we have to ban them. You saw the government require that automakers make safer vehicles for consumers. It didn’t happen overnight, but it got done for the most part. Seatbelts in cars became mandatory. Air bags became required by law as well.
It seems like nuclear power plants should experience a similar kind of process. We all feel that nuclear power is not safe at this point in time. That is evident from the aforementioned disasters. But the technology that is used to operate these plants is obviously outdated.
I don’t understand why it is impossible or even implausible to consider the option of updating nuclear power plants and how they produce power. Governments and the private sector should be looking at new ways to make nuclear power safe. Bill Gates is right. The problems associated with today’s reactors “can be solved through innovation.”
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.