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What are we learning as we watch another massive energy disaster impact our coasts?

April 14 2011 | Coastal development, Blue Water Task Force,

I wrote a piece last week titled using the ocean as a dump. This week, the Japanese government has now raised the level of the accident to a Level 7 - Major accident.


Level 7 - Major accident is...

a) the highest level (there isn't a Level 8)

b) defined as "impact on people and environment (major release of radio­active ­material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended ­countermeasures)."


The logical question at this point, beyond wrestling with "how can the impact of the largest-scale nuclear disaster be minimized?" is... "what are we learning?"

I'm writing about this issue from an environmental protection perspective. The only time Surfrider engages with energy issues is when they impact our oceans, waves and beaches. This disaster has already dumped radioactive materials into the oceans but people should know that prior to the tsunami it was common practice for Japanese reactors to dump radioactive material into the ocean. This has been Surfrider Japan's single largest fight for years. So the impact of energy production on coasts isn't new.

But what are we learning? What will we do differently? What would things look like if this happened in US nuclear plants near earthquake zones and also on the coasts?

I can't help but think of last year... we watched another massive (nothing larger) energy meltdown.

Last year we watched the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The explosion killed 11 people and went on to spill 205,800,000 million gallons of crude oil. A year later we're still getting photos of dead dolphin washing up on Gulf shores at ten times the normal rate.

We thought FOR SURE that ten weeks of leading news coverage would shake us a bit... help us understand that we need to lessen our oil use.

So I ask you, what are we learning as we watch another energy disaster impact our coasts?

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