Sunday, March 3, 2013

Italian Physicist Antonino Zichichi: "Nuclear Technology Is the Safest Technology That Exists, Anti-Nuclear Movement Is Meaningless"

and the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident happened because of human errors.

(Uh... A M.9.0 earthquake and over 30 feet tsunami hitting the nuclear power plant right on the coast, didn't they have something to do with the accident?)

Italian nuclear physicist Antonino Zichichi was interviewed by Jiji Tsushin in February at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

From Jiji Tsushin in the series on the second anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disaster (3/3/2013):


Two years since the disaster: Italian nuclear physicist says anti-nuclear movement is "meaningless", focus on safety measures and eliminate human errors.


Dr. Antonino Zichichi (age 83), one of the most prominent particle and nuclear physicists in Italy and professor emeritus at University of Bologna, spoke with Jiji Tsushin. Dr. Zichichi said the nuclear technology was "the safest human invention", and declared anti-nuclear movement was "totally meaningless". According to his understanding, the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident was caused by human errors, and safety measures developed by knowledgeable experts would be indispensable.


On nuclear energy, Dr. Zichichi said, "Suppose we could buy one sandwich with one euro, using the conventional technology. (Using nuclear energy,) we could buy one million sandwiches [with one euro]", emphasizing the utility value of nuclear energy as an efficient source of energy while renewable energy hasn't been established as superior energy.


He asserted that "it is because of contribution of nuclear energy that the world population of 7 billion can live the way they live now". He said it would be "impossible" to maintain the current standard of living without relying on nuclear energy, and was critical of the movement away from nuclear energy in Germany and Switzerland and other parts of Europe after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


As to the safety measures for nuclear power plants, nuclear accidents such as the US Three Mile Island accident were caused by mistakes of workers who did not possess knowledge, he said. He emphasized that it would be possible to enhance safety infinitely but that we should recognize where human error could occur. Nuclear technology, he said, "needs to be managed by scientists with high levels of special knowledge".

I wonder if Jiji's reporter dared (or bothered) to ask him about nuclear waste management and disaster cleanup cost. I suppose not. His strange calculation of 1 euro one sandwich doesn't make any sense to me. And to have him say that the nuclear accidents are caused by lowly workers not scientists.

If anything, lowly workers are the ones who intimately know how a plant works and has technical knowledge and expertise, and that was the case in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. A renowned nuclear scientist who happened to be the chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission at the time of the accident panicked, and admitted nearly one year later that he couldn't sleep and didn't even remember what was going on in the first week of the nuclear accident.

I don't believe there is any technology that is immune to human errors, but to a nuclear physicist like him, errors are for mere mortals. If only people like him were in charge, there would be no accident.

Mere mortal Italians showed infinite wisdom, in the eyes of many in the world, when they rejected the restart of nuclear projects in Italy in the national referendum in June 2011.

They also showed wisdom as they booted out the unelected Goldman Sachs technocrat from their government.


Anonymous said...

Antonio Zichichi is quite right. The existence of accidents (most can be easily prevented using today's standards) doesn't change the fact that it is one of the technologies with the lowest associated mortality per energy unit produced, together with wind and hydro.
However people may panic about it, far less people will die from Fukushima than from the fossil fuels that are now used to replace nuclear plants in Japan (not to speak of the much worse stuff wafting over from China). The infinite wisdom of Italians and Germans likewise means more fossil fuels, including the worst stuff there is, lignite.
Nuclear accidents may involve operator errors, but the severe consequences are usually due to stupid corner-cutting by managers.
The consequences of TMI led to filtered vents in Europe, but oddly not in the USA or Japan. Maybe the fact nuclear operators are mainly public utilities in Europe has something to do with it…

Anonymous said...

>He asserted that "it is because of contribution of nuclear energy that the world population of 7 billion can live the way they live now". He said it would be "impossible" to maintain the current standard of living without relying on nuclear energy.

So in addition to everything else we can thank nuclear energy for overpopulation too?

kintaman said...

Dr. Zichichi please send your grandchildren to live in Fukushima.

Anonymous said...

Nuke industry is out in force lately, huh? Spewing their typical propaganda talking points.

The old fossil had no idea that Fukushima was a ticking time bomb since the day construction began because he is only a nuclear physicist and not aware of the realities of life. His nuke industry is still using humans to experiment on, that's progress and doesn't bother him one bit.

If we only had an 'OFF' switch for nuclear chain reactions, that would be a start then we wouldn't have to worry about nuclear waste, right? Minor details.

Anonymous said...

>However people may panic about it, far less people will die from Fukushima than from the fossil fuels that are now used to replace nuclear plants in Japan

I've heard that one before, but is there any data behind that claim? How many people would die because of the increased use of fossil fuels in Japan?

Anonymous said...

One thing common among the PhDs, politicians, bankers, and CEOs of the world: Too much hubris... which will also be their downfall.

'The meek shall inherit the Earth...'

Anonymous said...

@4:41AM : It's a difficult question to answer, because you'd need transparent info from the energy operators (nice dream…) about their emissions and pollution abatement technology, especially for coal and oil. Modern combined-cycle gas plants are quite clean.
For coal, one maybe can take the US case for analogy, but extrapolating to Japan will be difficult (more dense, different winds, maybe a bit different technology) - anyway, the toll is most likely quite high:
Of course, whatever Japan chooses will have little impact if the winds blow from China, where everything is much worse.

Anonymous said...

The Toll vs the Troll.
Now on air.

Anonymous said...

@anon at 11:19: I guess it really doesn't matter much to the person whose life or livelihood is destroyed by a nuclear accident whether is corner-cutting management or worker error that caused it. Maybe the technology is theoretical available to make it technically safe, but human error (on management or worker level) simply cannot be eliminated.

Even if burning fossil fuels is just as bad or worse, that's not a valid argument for nuclear power either.

Maybe its time to not focus or hold onto two bad options, but instead focus on developing a better option, e.g., renewables.

Anonymous said...

Wow, how can an old geezer who is so smart be so dumb? Remember the old Japanese saying--The Bigger The Front, The Bigger The Back.

@ 11:19 PM Yeah, yeah...nobody died from the Fuku incident. Shut up already with that done-to-death drivel.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a long reply and it was all lost. Figures. Rewritten differently:

Just because he's a physicist doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about. Credentials are not relevant. Obama being president doesn't mean he's a super hero or a genius, or even that he's good at what he does. It proves nothing.

Most humans cannot be reasoned with if it involves conflicting with their "comfort zone" of feeling happy, secure and confident. They simply lack the mental ability to ascend that limitation. Old people, academics, scientists and the like tend to be especially stubborn and unwilling to accept new concepts. They enjoy feeling like they are "smart" and "know everything". Take these things into consideration the next time you hear those kinds of people making statements.

Unlike what that physicist seems to think, human error is always a significant factor and MUST be taken into consideration as long as humans are involved. Yes, embrace the fact that humans are flawed and imperfect. The first step to overcoming a problem is to be aware of and accept that there is a problem. People who are too busy getting high from deluding themselves are incapable of even achieving that first step. Technology that is discovered, built and maintained by humans are all susceptible to human error. Even if we built robots to do things for us, as long as those robots are still built and maintained by humans, they are susceptible to human error. It is unavoidable.

Everything we know can only be based on what is around us. Because of this, people cannot imagine how everything might have been otherwise. To them, "nuclear energy is a necessary evil and it can't be any other way", because they are incapable of seeing it any other way. It doesn't mean that there aren't better alternatives.

@1st Anon at 11:19 PM
You're trying to justify a flawed technology because it has historically and publicly killed less than other methods? That is not adequate justification in my mind.
In actuality, nuclear energy still kills plenty of people and other living things, just not as obviously or immediately. As long as those deaths can't be clearly linked to nuclear energy, it will always seem like "less".

Your statement sounds like you are unable to imagine alternative methods than what's known or available. In reality, the problem is that nuclear industry and certain interests are unwilling to explore other options because they enjoy swimming in piles of money.
That kind of selfish profiteering attitude is what will end up destroying us all. There are those of us who still care about what will happen, even if it doesn't happen in our own life times.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, wanted to say one more thing...

Humans are incapable of maintenance over long periods. They're too "temporal"; their life and attention spans are too short. Memories and important knowledge aren't reliably passed on or even communicated between humans.

Also, when no noticeable accidents occur over a long period, humans tend to let their guard down. Couple that with how humans have a habit of sweeping everything under the carpet ("out of sight, out of mind") and you have a recipe for disaster.

These are some of the primary reasons why I am absolutely certain that humans are incapable of responsibly wielding technology like nuclear energy.

Anonymous said...

↑ James, is that you?

Keen said...

Let Zichichi design and implement the clean up of Hanford and let 11:19 raise the funds for it. This should be no sweat for such great minds.

Or would they just say that it is not a problem and it does not need to be dealt with.

I think they should be sent back to school so they can learn how to add.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Mafia running renewable energy in Sicily will duke it out with this guy.

Anonymous said...

Old people and the stupid stuff they say...just like toddlers.

Anonymous said...

To be precise, Italian citizens rejected nuclear technology twice, in 1987 and in 2011.
Their choice prevented the country from having a nuclear plant (Caorso) operating in the vicinity of the recently occourred Emilia earthquake. Caorso was supposed not to be a seismic area: apparently citizens knew better than the so called experts.
I do not know where mr. Zichichi got the idea that nuclear energy costs one millionth of other sources; the Japanese government estimated it to be slightly cheaper than fossil *provided that costs of waste storage are not taken into account*.
According to wikipedia Zichichi seems to be connected to politicians like Giulio Andreotti, who has been convicted for having entertained a relationship with Italian mafia; Nobel prize Hans Bethe reportedly said that Zichichi is an excellent organizer but a mediocre physicist. Overall one gets the idea that he is a politician more than a physicist.
My take is that this time Zichichi is just up to a propaganda stunt to protect the nuclear community of which he is a member; no need to pay too much attention.
At last, it is not clear to me why Jiji has choosen to interview Zichichi; if an Italian physicist had to be, Nobel prize Carlo Rubbia would have been a more decent choice.

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