Friday, April 21, 2006

Nuclear Winter - RTE's new policy of fear and scare

I watched Duncan Stewart's programme on from Chernobyl last night and it was powerful stuff, it really seems that its a forgotten tragedy even to the local authorities and the government. Poor healthcare and poverty I can understand not agree with but understand. The fact that the sarcophagus or cement containment shell is failing and the government there seems quite slow to address the issue which is something I can't. Charities like the Chernobyl Children's Project can highlight and speed the addressing of healthcare issues but the lads in Minsk should really get a grip and provide a final solution to the containment problem once and for all.

RTE is of course pushing its own political agenda given its programme schedule yesterday also included a Orson Wells War Of The Worlds type intro to the Pat Kenny morning radio show with a explosion at Sellafield rather than Martian invaders being the hoax subject. Following hot on the heels of these programs will be a docu-drama TV show called Fallout on Sunday and Monday dramatising again on the theme of a Sellafield disaster (lads & ladies for those of you based in Dublin, well ...). Highlighting Ireland's lack of disaster readyiness is to be applauded but then I'm sure if anyone has read articles by Tom Clonan (Morning Ireland Interview on the issue) you'd already know how unprepared we are in Ireland. My beef is that I come from a scientific / engineering background and whilst Nuclear energy is dangerous I've got to agree with a letter in the Irish Times from another Limerick based engineer Duncan Martin who points out that all energy technologies are dangerous even if the dangers are more akin to maintenance or construction dangers. Looking to my own research field that being Interaction Design and Human Computer Interaction as well as work by Kim Vincente on Human Factors as well as the drive towards safety design by Fadier et al (both inspired by amongst others, Rasmussen on Risk Management) and basing in Liam's human-centred perspective where design is predicated on a understanding of human activity in the world, I argue that even something I dislike like Nuclear power can be built and used safely in Ireland if we consider a activity based design paradigm to address some of the major concerns with a technology such as fission based Nuclear power plants. Making technology, any technology an evil bogey man is not the answer - questioning its use and appropriateness for the situation in a reasoned fashion is only common sense but picking a worst case scenario as a four horsemen of the Apocalypse type standard bearer is just ridiculous.

Another major problem I have with this program, is that RTE have refused to allow the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland to be involved in the drama (consulting, technical advice and ensuring factual accuracies) and as such there is a very large question over whether the scenario being depicated is realistic in any fashion (I'll add it is probably true, given Tom Clonan's comments on the radio this morning plus the minister's weak replies). Following a doctrine of fear and scare mongering is beneath our national broadcaster and instead it should focus more on sponsoring more programs like Eco Eye and showing the positive directions we can take to improve our nation. Overtly following any particular national agenda by the state broadcaster is a murky and dirty path that courts trouble, maybe not on this issue but what about the next one ....


  • I agree that with what you said that it was scarmongering however Ireland going nuclear would be idotic on some many levels

    By Blogger Simon, at 8:11 p.m.  

  • I don't agree with Ireland going Nuclear but that isn't to say its an option and it shouldn't be dropped simply due to fearmongering. I think that Wave (look to last weekends Sunday Times for a piece on a 1MWh generator), Wind and maybe some micro Hydro would suit Ireland better but all the options should be weighted with a balanced hand.

    By Blogger Eoin Brazil, at 10:51 a.m.  

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