Geoff Russell: Falls from solar rooftop a bigger danger than Fukushima?
Geoff Russell, Extract from Submission to the South Australian Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission “……The Royal Commission is uniquely placed to learn from the past, but it will need to deal with the drivers of nuclear fear in the community. To build confidence in the community, the Commission’s report will need to convince both sides of politics to speak with one voice about the misinformation that drove (and drives) the Fukushima evacuation.
Appeasement, in the form of more and more levels of safeguards and protocols to attempt to say that “it can’t happen here” isn’t the answer. There will always be accidents despite every effort to avoid them. Planes still crash, but people understand the relative risks and board them regardless of personal fear.
They understand that fear is their personal problem and not a function of the objective facts. So it’s time to put nuclear accidents into perspective and stop treating them as something fundamentally different.
The fear and irrationality at Fukushima saw people die to avoid a trivial risk. Governments are supposed to protect people from nutters, not act on their behalf.
All energy sources have risks and in a rational world they’d be compared according to proper measures of suffering and disability; the simple trigger sequence logic (“nuclear -> cancer -> end of civilisation”) of decades past shouldn’t be allowed to influence decision making in 2015.
In Australia in 2010-11 there were 7730 Worker’s45 Compensation claims for serious injury resulting from falls from a height. How many were associated with rooftop solar panels? As far as I can see, nobody is even counting, but a million solar rooftops means more people on ladders; many of them amateurs. This is real danger, the kind that can put you in a wheel chair for the rest of your life. A proper comparison of nuclear risks with those of other energy sources will measure and include such risks along with the considerable risks associated with not avoiding continued climate destabilisation because we acted too slowly. We need safe clean energy and climate scientists say we need it fast. The Royal Commission will need to break with past traditions and confront nuclear fear head on and call it for what it is.
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