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Fukushima accident raises concerns over nuke power for future generations: Study

May 6, 2011 - Washington

In the wake of the recent accident in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following an earthquake-cum-tsunami in Japan and reports that many countries are considering the future of nuclear power in their regions, a Delft University of Technology study has highlighted the various possible nuclear power production methods from an ethical perspective.

The study by Dr. Behnam Taebi, which is published online in the Springer journal Philosophy and Technology, reflects on the fact that while nuclear power has serious disadvantages: accident risks (the unfolding disaster in Japan speaks for itself), security concerns in relation to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the problem of long-lived waste, it has the power to produce large amounts of energy from small amounts of fuel, while emitting very low amounts of greenhouse gases. They also reduce countries' reliance on fossil fuel for their energy provision.

In an attempt to assist the public and political decision-makers in understanding what is at stake when they opt for a specific kind of nuclear production method, and making technically and ethically informed choices, the author compares different nuclear energy production methods on the basis of moral arguments.

"Discussions on nuclear power usually end up in a yes/no dichotomy. Meanwhile the production of nuclear power is rapidly growing. Before we can reflect on the desirability of nuclear power, we should first distinguish between its production methods and their divergent ethical issues," Dr. Taebi writes.

"We must then clearly state, if we want to continue on the nuclear path, which technology we deem desirable from a moral perspective. Then we can compare nuclear with other energy systems. The state of the art in nuclear technology provides us with many more complicated moral dilemmas than people sometimes think," he added.


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