Fukushima, Europe, and the Authoritarian Nature of Nuclear Technology

Uekoetter, Frank
April 2012
Environmental History;Apr2012, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p277
Academic Journal
European nations reacted more vigorously to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi than other regions of the world, with policies shifting notably against nuclear power. The article situates this reaction in the atomic history of Europe, arguing that Fukushima merely accelerates Europe's long farewell to nuclear power. Rather than being a stab in the back, the Japanese disaster highlighted the nuclear lobby's failure to find a convincing rationale. With nuclear utopias long abandoned, military uses pointless, and the continent's future energy needs in doubt, nuclear energy was essentially a solution in search of a problem. While Europe's reactors are aging, utilities were timid at best with new projects, and Fukushima is poised to make them even more difficult. In the European context, the crucial challenges are now to assure the safety of the shrinking pool of reactors and to find solutions for enduring challenges like nuclear waste. At the same time, the botched history of nuclear technology provides valuable lessons now that Europe has embarked on the promotion of renewable energy sources.


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