Posts Tagged ‘China Syndrome


The China syndrome

Do you remember the movie “The China syndrome”? As the IMDB explains, the title refers to the concept that, if an American nuclear plant melts down, the core will melt through the Earth until it reaches China. China is simply a popular metaphor, as the opposite side of the globe from the USA is actually the Indian Ocean.

Apart from movie memorabilia today the Italian press is as usual in polemics top gear and does not provide information. The New York Times tries to explain the foggy issues surrounding Fukushima’s nuclear power station and at least illustrates how a reactor of that type is constructed. In Germany the debate is going strong too. We will see how the elections will reflect that in a few months. We keep on following the Japanese developments on IAEA and In the meantime it is not clear if the Japanese government is minimizing the risks. Banks, lawyer firms are already planning to move staff to Continental Asia.

In these days I’m living compounded memories of two disasters which hit North Eastern Italy. The 1976 earthquake. We were kids and the scare was such that for a whole year, throughout the chilly winter, we kept doors wide opened at our school because all pupils were still scared and claustrophobic and could not concentrated with closed doors. Leaves and dust storming into the classroom.

And Chernobyl. Ten years later, April 1986, preparing the matura. In Friuli the authorities took radical measures from day 2. Milk, greens, dairy products, fruit were immediately forbidden. Citizens were recommended to always have an umbrella ready. We were scared of rain. For one year we ate only vegetables growing underground such as carrots and potatoes, the only cheeses on sale were parmigiano and seasoned cheeses, made with pre-Chernobyl milk. And nevertheless, now thyroid problems score high in our region. Still all the prevention which could be done, was enforced.

Preparedness is never enough. And nuclear reactors can hit also thousands of kilometers away from the core. The China syndrome is closer that you think.

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