Amsterdam?s Nuclear Power Plant

Japan / Fukushima Should the Dutch opt for more nuclear power? I think the discussion about nuclear power is abstract and not about people. I would like to take you on a thought experiment about “The nuclear power plant of Amsterdam” and introduce the human aspect in the discussion.
If I hear about nuclear energy it seems that there are only advocates on one side, and opponents on the other. The discussion is “black” and ?white?. There are as many arguments pro as con. I understand all the arguments, pro and con, but they are often (too) abstract.
The discussion is abstract, mostly about technique and not about people. Technology is great, but we all know, things go wrong. Man is capable of technological miracles, but is unable to foresee the incalculable. We try to control our lack of power with abstractions. We try to be in control with risk management, with sophisticated computer models, with built-in safety systems, and rigorous environmental permits. Still, things go wrong!
I am trained as a technician and I like technique. I like the technique of drilling the Amsterdam Subway; the technique of deep-sea drilling and a twelve-cylinder engine. Actually, I think I like the technique of nuclear power too. In Amsterdam, houses collapse while building the subway. In the Gulf, a blow-out preventer malfunctions. In Fukushima a tsunami washes away the backup power generators. It’s not foreseen, not calculated and not included in the permits. Why do we take risks we can?t control?
Energy companies want to sell electricity and won?t tell the whole story. Scientists are on one side or the other, and they won?t either. They think they know it all, and that risk management is a solution. What can we expect from our politicians? Politicians should try to avoid any doubt because doubt is a political sin. Politicians paint a bright future because they can?t tell, and don?t know the whole story.
I suggest that, if we want to know more about nuclear energy, we have to listen to Japanese people. They have experience with failing risk management, failing safety systems and a bright future. But more important, only they have experience with the (awful) impact of failure on their lives. Only they have the real experience, not the abstract. And if you look carefully you see that in the end it is not about technique or politics but about people. The drawing aside, is from a Japanese movement to protect children from the hazard of radiation. This is their new reality: protecting their children from harm and getting them out of radiation zones. They know that this was not foreseen, was not supposed to happen, and not calculated.
A nuclear power plant in Amsterdam? It’s getting simple. Techniques will fail, risk management is not a solution and politicians talk. They don?t know the whole story. You only know it all, if it goes wrong. And if it goes wrong, it’s even simpler: ?Get away and never come back!? Think of Amsterdam as a ghost town like Fukushima or Pripyat and you know.

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