Monday, December 31, 2007

Aberfan has stopped killing people ; Chernobyl will go on and on...

This morning the Today programme (edited by a scientist) reminded me of the Liberal Conference's rejection of nuclear power twenty years ago. During the debate one of the defenders of nuclear power pointed out (rightly) that all forms of energy production involve risk and cited the Aberfan disaster. In my summing-up I contrasted the degree of risk with the above phrase. It was my first and probably my last soundbite. The clip was played on the early evening news on all four TV channels and Peter Snow interviewed me on Newsnight, thus providing my 15 minutes of fame, as promised by Andy Warhol.

Today interviewed two scientists who said that the effects of the Chernobyl disaster had been exaggerated and only about 3,000 people had died. I looked up the subject and found this summary. It turns out that a body called the Chernobyl Forum originally said that up to 4,000 people would die but they revised it to 9,000 and they were only looking at the three closest countries whereas an alternative report looking at the whole of Europe estimated 30,000 to 60,000 deaths. A Professor Mousseau concludes "We really won't have a good idea of the death toll from Chernobyl for at least another 20, 30 or even 40 years". So that's all right then.

144 people died in Aberfan and that number won't change however long we wait.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Yet Chernobyl could not happen at a British reactor. Especially not a modern one.

Chernobyl is a great reason not to use that design and to ensure people don't experiment with it, not a reason to abandon nuclear power.