While Tokyo is running out of bottled water Americans are thinking twice about nuclear power

Black smoke is billowing out of unit three of the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and the Japanese government has advised that infants not drink water in Tokyo after radiation tests showed levels twice the safe level yesterday, the Associated Press has reported.

The crisis in Japan has caused many Americans to think twice about nuclear power according to Reuters:

A poll of 814 U.S. adults released on Tuesday by the Civil Society Institute, which has been critical of nuclear energy, found that less than half of those questioned — 46 percent — said they support more nuclear power reactors in the United States and 44 percent oppose new reactors.

Furthermore, the AP quoted recently revised estimates from the Japanese government regarding the cost of the disaster:

The crisis is emerging as the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record, likely to cost up to $309 billion, according to a new government estimate. The death toll continued to rise, with more than 9,400 bodies counted and more than 14,700 people listed as missing.

As Public Citizen was quick to point out when some called the push for renewed debate on nuclear in the U.S. following the tragedy in Japan, if a nuclear accident were to happen here, the cost of cleanup could be crippling to our already overstretched economy. Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, blogged about corporate liability parallels between the disaster in the Gulf, which victims have still not been adequately compensated for, and a catastrophe like Fukushima in the U.S.:

[T]the nuclear industry has a liability cap of $12.6 billion, thanks to the Price-Anderson Act. An individual corporation must pay only $375 million of that, with the balance shared by the industry. The nuclear industry likely will not voluntarily contribute additional money, as was the case with the BP escrow fund. After all, major oil companies like BP are far larger than even the biggest U.S. nuclear utility; in 2010, BP had revenues of $309 billion compared to $18.6 billion for Exelon, America’s largest operator of commercial nuclear reactors.

To read more from Tyson Slocum on this issue, please visit Truthout.

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