Nuclear Power seemed to be back in mix in recent years; Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were distant memories. The nuclear industry had learned from these tragedies and modern plants were built with safe guards to prevent this type of disaster from happening again. In addition, nuclear waste recycling was making the source of energy seem less threatening and if radioactive waste could be reduced or eliminated nuclear could be seen as safe. Many countries were banking on this safe and clean source of energy to fuel their economies and move into a new generation free from fossil fuels. But then Fukushima happened and once again nuclear power is suspect and the populous of the world is skeptical.
In a recent assessment of the future of the nuclear industry by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) it was found that while nuclear power facility forecasts have been downgraded, there is still global demand for nuclear and plans throughout the world to build additional plants. The IAEA also reported that work is still underway to bring the Fukushima plant to a “cold shutdown condition” and found that food contamination in the surrounding areas was above regulation values. According to a November 12th article in the Huffington Post “tens of thousands of the plants former neighbors may never be able to go home” and reported that “a preliminary government report released this month predicted it will take 30 years or more to safely decommission Fukushima Dai-ichi. Like Chernobyl, it will probably be encased in a concrete and steel “sarcophagus.”
Fukushima has clearly had a negative impact on the future of nuclear energy throughout the world. Though the next generation of nuclear plants is predicted to be much safer and less susceptible to disasters like Fukushima, nuclear energy is once again viewed as an unsafe and unreliable source of energy. Just as it took decades to for the memories of the disasters at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island to fade, the disaster at Fukushima will darken the forecast for nuclear energy for decades to come.