After a series of posts about Germany and its decision to keep its nuclear plants open while transitioning to renewable energy sources– and good luck on that! – it was time to move on to other subjects, however much the Germans had turned that overly tortured episode into an amusing soap opera.
However, a soap opera needs a villain to keep the pot boiling and one has to admit that the German effort didn’t have a very clearly defined antagonist. Until now:
Chernobyl-like disasters at Germany's most vulnerable reactors could render parts of the country uninhabitable for decades, Greenpeace has warned.
For a Chernobyl-like disaster, you’d need, at a minimum, an RBMK reactor, which Germany does not have. (The design is banned in the U.S.) But let’s allow that Greenpeace means this metaphorically – since it’s not going to make distinctions, any energy plant with nuclear on its mailbox is a potential Chernobyl.
In the case of a Chernobyl-like disaster at Kruemmel, a reactor south of Hamburg, unfavorable weather conditions could render large parts of northeastern Germany, including Berlin, uninhabitable for decades, the group warned.
"An estimated 4.7 million people would have to be resettled in this scenario," Greenpeace writes in a news release.
It’s a very amusing article, based on no evidence whatever that Germany’s nuclear plants are rickety buckets of bolts ready to start flinging fuel rods out the windows. Greenpeace is just annoyed at the German decision and is firing off its guns like Yosemite Sam at Bugs Bunny – that is, loudly yet ineffectively.
To be fair, the article does include this:
Yet while the International Atomic Energy Agency rates German reactors as among the safest in the world, they're certainly not immune to possible problems.
That’s called risk, which is countered by safety standards. That’s as true of any energy source (or, really, human endeavor). Even if the plants themselves are highly unlikely to create a disaster, operators are continuously developing ways to turn a vanishing small risk to an even smaller one. Risk assessment is a huge subject – start here if you want to learn more about it (as it relates to nuclear plants.)
In the end analysis, if this is our villain, maybe there still really isn’t one in this story. Short, ornery and voluble Greenpeace may be in this instance, fair and honest not so much.
Created in 1945 by Friz Frelang to bedevil Bugs Bunny and anyone else he came across, Yosemite Sam proved to be the second most durable gun-toting character in the Warner Bros. cartoon repertory (Elmer Fudd will always be number one.) Though modern parents may think twice about how often cartoon characters get blasted with no ill effect, Yosemite Sam does allow kids a zone where they can be bad-tempered, loud, and obnoxious without driving the folks crazy. Plus, he’s hapless if indomitable, which kids also know a lot about.