|Nuclear PR machine must support Japan|
As Japanese officials struggle to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, PR execs in the UK Atomic Energy industry will be shaking their heads.
For the public backlash on the back of this incident is likely to be severe and badly dent the future prospects for next generation reactors in this country.
The emergency appears be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago and opponents are sure to use it to try and kill off nuclear as a viable energy source as being too dangerous. Scaremongering tactics are so effective in manipulating a public that so easily wants to believe the worst that they could well succeed
People fear what they don’t understand and this is the perennial problem for the industry that’s just about to get a whole lot worse.
The only way they can counter this is through facts. The industry must keep it simple, no fancy messaging just get the facts out there using every channel possible:
• The crippled reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles north of Tokyo have not exploded and the risk of a nuclear explosion are zero. It just could not happen.
• No one has died
• Eleven people have been injured.
• The radiation that has been release to relieve pressure in the chamber is only twice as much as government guidelines allow.
• All possible precautions have been taken to protect local people no food to be eaten that is grown with a 20 mile radius of the plant. Protective iodine tablets given to the local populace as a precaution.
• Action taken is working this is not Chernobyl and will never get to that stage
Comparisons with Chernobyl will undoubtedly be made by industry opponents but they spurious. Chernobyl was the result of a catalogue of human error and flawed technology. This resulted in the entire power station blowing up sending radioactive material 200 times more concentrated than so far released in Japan miles up into he atmosphere.
This is one of the most powerful earthquakes ever to hit Japan and these power stations have held up with no great risk to public health. A local increase in radiation is unfortunate, but no disaster.
Opponents who say this proves that nuclear power is dangerous and Britain shouldn’t be dabbling in it cannot be allowed to tug on the emotions of a public generally ignorant about nuclear power. Britain has one of the most over engineered and regulated nuclear industries in the world and it does not lie on a geophysical fault line. As I said this just could not happen here.
This is only the third major nuclear incident in 50 years of producing electricity. It is statistically the safest way to produce affordable 24 hour power on tap.
It is up to the industry to educate. Unfortunately in this industry it’s not always the facts that get believed.