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Countries around the world have been monitoring the Japanese nuclear disaster, while many are concerned about the safety of nuclear plants and the dangers they impose.
Press TV interviewed Professor William Beeman who is with the University of Minnesota regarding the Fukushima plant nuclear disaster and how the aftermath will affect the population on earth.
Press TV: I would just like to pick up on a point that was made by Japan's Energy Secretary earlier. He said what we are seeing right now is not a slow meltdown. The situation is coming under control?
Beeman: Well, I'm not a nuclear scientist and I have no way of verifying this, but I would agree that the Japanese public has generally been skeptical about what the government has said about these things. The Japanese government is very cautious of trying to save face in the international community. This is an unprecedented disaster of course. Probably no one could have foreseen what was actually going on.
But it's the tendency of the Japanese government to deny something that would make them look incompetent until the situation is under control. In which case they will then come back, and claim this has been gotten under control. It is an extremely difficult and unprecedented situation. Nobody had the foresight to deal with something of this great magnitude. Nevertheless, the government wants to appear to be confident.
Press TV: Professor, after Chernobyl you would think governments around the world would have learned. At the end of the day the people are the ones left to suffer the aftereffects of this disaster in the making. As far as keeping up appearances in the international community, the government is not even accepting to extend their evacuation zones' radius as per calls made by various international organizations.
Beeman: To extend the radius of evacuation would be to admit that the situation is worse than the government is claiming that it is. It's very hard for them to retreat to that more severe position after they declared what was considered to be legitimate before. This is very hard. So I think there is a great deal of skepticism on the part of the Japanese people, and there probably should be on the part of the international community as to the government's ability to actually control these things.
The engineering just really isn't there to control this kind of disaster. I mean the radioactive water that was found near one of the nuclear plants. How do you dispose of highly radioactive water? It's really a problem that no one has had to confront to this degree.
Press TV: This lack of planning not only on the part of TEPGO but the government. Isn't it a little alarming for you?
Beeman: Of course it is and this is one of the reasons why any country that has nuclear facilities around the world is now begun to think very seriously about what would happen if they had a disaster of that magnitude. Here in the United States we have a major nuclear plant right near New York City.
There has been a lot of discussion in the United States about what would happen if there was some disaster that caused a meltdown at that plant. Millions of people would be affected. So it is a real wake up call for everyone who has a nuclear facility anyplace where there might be the possibility of some kind of disaster.
Press TV: So how long do you think the government can keep up this façade of calm and control as this continues to spiral out of control?
Beeman: Well, they probably can keep it up for awhile until people start getting sick. When you see people getting sick from radiation poisoning, then there will be no denying the government's responsibility in this case, and also no denying that they may have withheld information that they knew to be true. I want to point out to you that the Japanese government has not been very good with regard to environmental disasters. There's been a stream of them over the years.
From mercury poisoning to other kinds of environmental endangerment, and the government in every single case denied probability and even protected the industries which had been involved in polluting and environmental endangerment of the population. So it is a wakeup call not only for the nuclear energy but also for the government. They are really going to have to be much more responsible for the lack of foresight and planning, and emergency preparedness.
Press TV: Mr. Beeman, we do know that the French and US officials are there to help with this crisis. Are we going to see much of the same?
Beeman: I think it will continue. I think the French and American officials really have a responsibility to inform the rest of the world about the seriousness of this matter. I'm hoping as reputable scientists and engineers they will in fact make the seriousness of the entire situation known as they confront the situation and try to deal with it.
But as we have heard the nuclear industry throughout the world including companies like G&E, which is the largest industrial company in the United States and has a huge financial stake in nuclear energy. If the world becomes afraid of nuclear energy, and we start closing down plants, or try to do a lot of extensive work to make them safer, it's the industrial base that will have to pay. They don't want to pay. They really want to continue to make as much money as they possibly can and even if people are hurt.
Press TV: Professor Beeman, do you think this disaster is going to escalate to a point where we will have global repercussions?
Beeman: I think it already has. We know that the atmosphere over the United States contains radioactive material from Fukushima. It isn't of a deadly nature yet, but we know that it's there. It's going to eventually poison the atmosphere and the entire world. Now as I say, we are subject to radiation from all sorts of sources. It's not just this particular plant. There is radon in the soil so it's not as if we are not getting radiation from a whole lot of places.
But we certainly don't need more of it. There is no question about that. I think that as this crisis continues there is no question in my mind that the radiation levels throughout the world in the atmosphere, and possibly in the water is going to increase. We simply have to throw a lot of energy into trying to find ways to contain this before it really does affect every person on the planet.
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