Thursday 2 August 2012

Hearings on Energy Policy

A few weeks ago the government announced it was going to hold a series of hearings around the country to debate the role of nuclear in future energy policy. Speakers were to be decided by ballot and speak for one of three options:
'In 2030, should nuclear provide 0% of Japan's energy, 15%, or 20-25%? '
The zero option means no new nuclear plants. The 15% option requires building 2 new plants to replace Fukushima and other older plants,  and the 20-25% option requires more new ones. (Before the accident, nuclear provided 27% of the nation's energy needs and the plan was to increase this to 50% by 2030.)

The hearings didn't start well. Some speaking for the 20-25% option turned out to be electricity company staff and there were allegations of the hearings being rigged. (Or maybe these were the only people who volunteered to speak for that option since 70% of the general population is in favour of the zero option?)

Anyway, yesterday the hearing came to Fukushima. The number of speakers was increased from 9 to 30, and 28 of these were in favour of the zero option, 2 for the 15% option. Here are some of their comments (from this morning's Fukushima Minpo):

How can other nuclear plants be reopened when there hasn't yet been a full investigation into the causes of the accident?
How can they open other plants when they haven't cleaned this one up yet?
No one's decided how to deal with spent fuel and nuclear waste. It's irresponsible to reopen the plants without dealing with this.
In theory, I would accept 20-25% but looking at the way Tepco works, zero is the only option.
We learnt that there are some things we can't control. There needs to  be more research into seismic activity in Japan. The results need to be made public and only then should we have these discussions.
We need power, and renewable sources can't provide enough right now. Each electric company should be allowed to operate just one nuclear plant but for a limited period only.
This issue should not be decided this way. Each consumer should be able to decide where to buy their electricity.
The same mistake should never be repeated. All nuclear plants should be decommissioned.
Once an accident happens, you can't restore things to how they were. People suffer health problems and families get separated. We need to find ways to make the zero option feasible.
Nuclear is not a clean option. It pollutes water, the sea and the environment. Japan should take the lead in not using nuclear.
The clean up is not making progress and our children are being exposed to radiation. Don't wait until 2030. Start now to take responsiblity for our children's future.

When the hearings were announced, everyone was cynical. They were to be completed in one month and people felt they were an attempt to rubber stamp government policy. It's still not clear how the opinions expressed in these hearings will be reflected in determining Japan's energy strategy. The Prime Minister has so far avoided comment.

Did you see the quay washed up on the Oregon shore? A football was fun but this is getting expensive! The Japanese government apparently considering helping with demolition costs. 
Still very, very hot here. Matsuri starts tomorrow.

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