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Japan crisis refuels debate over nuclear energy

The disaster in Japan has driven the issue of nuclear energy to the front of national debates around the world. From Germany to the US and South Africa, DW readers express their concern about the dangers of this energy.

Radiation warning sign

Radiation levels haven't risen outside Japan, but people are still worried

The following comments, from Deutsche Welle's Facebook page, reflect the views of DW-WORLD.DE readers. Not all reader comments have been published. DW-WORLD.DE reserves the right to edit for length and appropriateness of content.

Anyone who defends the safety of nuclear power - experts, laymen, industry mouthpieces, or politicians - should volunteer right now to suit up and get over to Japan to help monitor the radiation levels, test residents for exposure, distribute iodine to children, and clean up the power plant locations. All of the unfolding aftermath is considered by the nuclear industry and its defenders to be acceptable losses, in terms of financial impact and any human casualties. Everything we are seeing is considered the "small price to pay" for all the "low-cost" power that society now enjoys. Is it really? Call me ignorant if you like - I don't care. I don't have to be an expert to know nuclear energy is never going to be worth the price to be paid when nuclear "accidents" occur. I don't have to be well-educated to understand the lethal effects of nuclear waste left behind for future human beings to deal with. I don't have to be able to win a debate with anyone about scientific points, economics, or the merits versus the dangers. I don't have to write brilliant arguments against any of it. All I have to do is say "no more nuclear," to elected officials, to friends, to family. That's all any of us has to do, no matter how old or young or smart or scared we are. Just say no. Just call or write our government representatives and say "no more, please." - Alan, US

There is no way that nuclear can ever be safer than coal. That being said, coal is so dirty that it should be a back-up after modalities such as solar and wind. - Doris, US

I am amazed that the world in general has so willingly accepted the use of nuclear power. Perhaps now the world will finally realize how truly dangerous this is, and to build these plants in areas such earthquake prone areas is utterly unacceptable. - Karen, US

Japan is sadly confirming that instead of pumping billions into an unsafe and expensive technology like nuclear power, we (the world) should put all efforts and financial means into the development and expansion of alternative energy sources. Now! - Olivia, Germany

Should the world ditch nuclear energy? Either we ditch it, or it will ditch us. Our choice. How many more nuclear disasters have to happen before we 'see the light'? The first step should be to get politicians out of the back-pockets of the nuclear industry. The second step should be to finally have the courage to stand up to an industry that cares only about profits and not about the damage it does to life on this planet. Perhaps what is happening in Japan is the silver lining in the atomic cloud: no more nuclear anything. - Vera, Germany

Getting rid of nuclear power plants in Germany sounds like a good idea. Assuming that there is no catastrophic evident in the operation of the facilities, they are still exceedingly expensive to build, maintain and raise the challenge of dealing with nuclear waste material. I wonder though, what does Germany plan to replace their aging nuclear power plants with? Is there any plan at all other than the status quo? Of course the status quo being electric generating facilities that burn fossil fuels. If you are merely going to replace nuclear with fossil fuels then I am not really sure that you are securing your future energy needs any more than you are securing the health and wellbeing of your general population. This is certainly a position shared by Germany with the rest of the world contemplating the pros and cons of a future with nuclear energy. Despite the decades old calls for wind, solar and geothermal energy production, there is no modern industrialized nation getting the majority of their energy needs from such renewable sources is there? It seems as if we all have left ourselves with very few real alternatives. - Hurst, US

Germany shuts down nuclear plants

Germany can examine its navel and pursue its green dream, but note that renewables will never provide baseload power or remove the need for nuclear or fossil energy. In this stance Germany will be alone and irrelevant - China, India and other Asian economies will carry on with nuclear expansion plans. If only anyone in German politics had the guts to stand up and tell it how it is. - Gary, UK

Thank you to the German citizens who are protesting the operation of nuclear facilities. I believe that all nuclear plants worldwide should be shut down. I hope that similar protests will begin to echo around the world. - Norma, US

Thank you to Germany for reconsidering the consequences of using outdated nuclear energy. Hopefully one day you will abolish it. I'm becoming more and more embarrassed to admit I'm a US citizen. Our politicians are genuine crooks. - Joseph, US

An international issue

The debate is long overdue. We in Cape Town are situated two kilometers as the crow flies from a nuclear power station and there are constantly problems about which we are never properly informed. - Ingrid, South Africa

After what happened in Japan, we in India also express similar opinions that there is NO taker for nuclear energy. That's why in India there is now louder protest for opposition to nuclear plants being proposed at Jaitapur in Konkan Belt of India. - Terrence, India

Nuclear reactors should never have been built in Japan period, since the entire country is located in a major earthquake zone. Perhaps they would have had to sacrifice some economic growth, but they could have made do with alternative energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, wind power, solar energy and fossil fuels. South Korea has a handful of nuclear reactors and unlike Japan is not in a heavy earthquake zone (it experiences mild tremors at worst). However, what would happen to the reactors if another Korean War were to break out? All nations really need to rethink this reliance on such a potentially dangerous energy source. - Brian, South Korea

Nuclear reactors are very expensive to build--10 billion dollars for each plant, and the money comes from the government. I think the American people should raise their voices and ask for that money to be invested in safe energy - wind, solar and hydro-power - rather than see their tax money go into a potentially self-destructive nuclear power plant/internal bomb that could blow up in their backyards. The health effects of radioactivity linger in the atmosphere and environment for a very long time. The arrogance of scientists who believe they can tame this technology has been proven wrong - catastrophically wrong time and again. Also the rest of the world looks to the US for direction. If the US refuses to give up its nuclear program, so will Iran, India and Pakistan, China and North Korea. - Sushma, Nepal

Already the conservative/corporate powers of the USA are busy telling us how we have to use nuclear energy. Because you know coal and gas are dirty and kill people. Ironic, since these same people will deny vehemently the risks of fossil fuels in any other context. Wind, solar, biomass, conservation are all pooh-poohed as too expensive and too limited. Doesn't that sound like the sulky whine of a spoiled 13 year old- "It's too hard"? Nuclear energy was never based on good science - it was based on money and blind faith that the future would solve the problems. Decades later we have no solutions. It is time to stop. - Debra, US

Compiled by Petra Kusserow
Editor: Kristin Zeier

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