Tuesday, 15 March 2011


Don't be convinced by these experts who keep telling us that the nuclear breakdown in Japan "can't possibly become as bad as Chernobyl". They are cooling the stricken reactors with seawater, but everybody knows that if you evaporate seawater you are left with salt, so what happens when the pressure vessel is full of salt (melting point about 800 Celsius)? I doubt whether anybody knows the answer; the experiment has never been tried.

The amazing thing is that a nuclear energy plant was built at all in an area subject to earthquake and tsunami. It would be interesting to know what the experts said at the time the site was selected. Did they reassure the public that the safety systems were so good that failure was virtually impossible? Did they even feel it was necessary to tell the public anything?

The Japanese plant was run by a private company, so decisions were presumably governed by considerations of profit. This seems to be one more case that justifies public ownership of power generation. Free-marketeers argue for competition, but there can be no real competition when there is only one mains cable per household. You end up with the electric companies selling gas and the gas companies selling electricity and all trying to poach each other's customers with promises of short-term savings, and all that to maximize shareholders' dividends.

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