Regardless the ongoing environmental impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear event in March 2011, which no doubt remain significant, the forced evacuation of more than a hundred thousand people in the region proximate to the power plant was an unmitigated disaster. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, there are a possible 194 excess cancers among the Fukushima population, while 1,600 persons died from the forced evacuation. That’s a terrible cost benefit ratio.
In fact, this was a policy mistake; only by government design were 130,000 people moved from their homes. To be sure, these measures were taken in the grip of hysteria. But that’s the point: hysteria seemingly always carries the day when it comes to policies that pertain to nuclear radiation, not just in Japan, but everywhere. According to Reason’s Jon Utley, “Irrational fear of radiation permeates Washington’s civil defense and nuclear regulatory guidelines.”
Utley recently wrote an informative post about the extent to which unfounded alarmism permeates U.S. nuclear policy. In it, he elaborates on the costs of this misplaced fear. He also identifies environmentalist special interests as a key conduit through which is disseminated misinformation about the dangers of radiation. Of course, it will come as no shock to readers of this blog that green groups manufacture alarm as a means of expanding their own influence (See: Warming, Global). Read Utley’s entire, excellent post here.