China, Russia stand by nuclear power despite Europe's backtracking
China, Russia and the US are still solidly behind nuclear power, but European officials are asking if they can meet their energy needs without fission.
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Even France, the most pro-nuclear power country out there, seems to be showing some cracks in its support, The Christian Science Monitor reported. About 75 percent of its power is nuclear and the public debate that has defined the nuclear energy industry in Germany has been largely absent in France – until now.Skip to next paragraph
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Fukushima is “changing the discussion in France,” says Bruno Chareyon of a nonpartisan group that monitors radiation levels. “Nuclear questions have never been discussed and [looking at Japan] the people want to discuss it like anywhere else in the world. Nuclear plants are not designed to handle all kinds of problems, like a plane crash. They can resist earthquakes but not the biggest quakes.”
Strangely, Russia and Belarus publicly finalized a deal Tuesday to build a Russian-designed nuclear plant in Belarus that would become operational in 2016. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin defended the plan, saying that the plant would be built with the latest technology and would therefore be safer than the plants causing problems in Japan.
Making the decision even more surprising is the fact that Belarus suffered more than any other former Soviet satellite after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in 1986 and some of its territory is still marked as off-limits radioactive zones.
Perhaps the move most indicative of the mounting fear about nuclear power is China’s decision to halt approval of any new nuclear projects. China has the world’s most ambitious nuclear program, according to the Washington Post – it has 13 reactors in operation, 26 under construction, and many more in the planning stages.
When the nuclear crisis first started unfolding, Chinese officials said it would prompt no changes to their plans – but the Chinese public has since been watching Japan with increasing anxiety and debating for the first time the country’s decision to use nuclear power to address its burgeoning energy needs.