WesternEye takes a look at the events surrounding the earthquake in Japan, and finds that not all is as it seems
10 March. Following their drop in session at UWE on 15 February, ‘nucleargraduates’, a recruitment campaign for the UK’s nuclear industry invite a happy few to a “movie premiere” with popcorn at a “top secret venue” (the Ministry of Defence, 100 meters behind Frenchay). Nucleargraduates.com: “The UK’s nuclear industry is facing its biggest challenge in decades. Existing power stations near the end of their working lives are ready to be decommissioned, while a new wave of plants has been given the go ahead. Nuclear is back on the agenda.”
12 March. The screen pours images of a city blasted by a massive wave, black torrents of debris engulfing houses, roads and cars, boats crashing onto bridges, fields of ruins and buses on rooftops. The voice says that the number of victims could reach one thousand. Sadness. Awe. Wait. One thousand victims? Have I not just seen a whole city being swallowed?
14 March. The interviewer asks: “Would you say that we are witnessing a nuclear catastrophe?” Anne Lauvergeon, CEO of AREVA (the number one multinational of nuclear energy): “No, not a catastrophe because today, I hope, that is the positive version, I think that we will avoid the nuclear catastrophe”.
16 March. Anne Lauvergeon is interviewed by members of the French parliament: “We are indeed in a catastrophe”. After the audience, she talks to journalists: “If there would be EPRs [AREVA’s latest product: a new ‘generation’ of nuclear reactors] in Fukashima, there would be no leakages in the environment”.
16 March. Guided by students, children admire the aerodynamic shapes of UWE’s star project. The so-called “Bloodhound SSC” is “a car designed to take the land speed record to over 1000mph/Mach 1.4”. It is co-funded by the MoD. On my way to my books in the corridors, I notice that there are still posters asking if U+WE minus languages is still UWE.
17 March. I am thanked by email for “bringing to [the student union’s] attention that some the web pages under the Student Rep section were not displaying any information”. I had earlier stressed that no update had been published there since October 2010. I also argued that this revealed deep problems in the rep process but they must have missed that part because there’s nothing about it in the message. My related argument that, devoid of any info about the rep process, UWESU’s website could largely be thought as a promotion platform for Colin Offler that provided him an unfair advantage during the elections isn’t receivable because a rule says that I should have submitted my complaint before the election.
18 March. Snow is falling in Japan. The journalist interviews a woman: “Yes, I am less than 20km away from Fukashima and my house is destroyed but I’m staying here because I don’t know where to go”. Could this be a new ‘generation’ of ‘natural-artificial’ disasters? As far as I can remember, until today, I knew about natural or industrial disasters. Earthquakes and tsunamis were devastating but you could at least rebuild on the ruins afterwards.
19 March. Equipped with lead overalls and helmets, stockholders of TEPCO (the multinational company operating several nuclear plants in Japan, including that of Fukashima) are working to reduce radioactive leakages and cool down damaged reactors. A voice shouts that they must do a minute of work for each share they own. Alarm going off.