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《经济学人》:核能,烟雾消散之后

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The Fukushima crisis will slow the growth of nuclear power. Might it reverse it?
福岛危机将减缓核能的增长,但它是否会扭转其发展势头?

FEAR and uncertainty spread faster and farther than any nuclear fallout. To date the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, laid low by the tsunami of March 11th, seems to have done little if any long-term damage to the environment beyond the plant’s immediate vicinity or to public health. In fits and starts, and with various reverses, the situation at the plant has come closer to being under control.

与任何核辐射相比,恐惧与惶惑的传播速度更快,范围更远。迄今为止,因311海啸而陷入瘫痪的日本福岛第一核电站,看起来并没有对除电厂毗邻区域以外的环境和公众健康造成(甚至没有造成)多大的长期伤害。伴随着事态的种种反复,福岛核电站的状况已在曲折中更加趋于受控。

But the immediate crisis is far from over. The temperature of the three reactors with damaged central cores still fluctuates and water systems for the spent-fuel pools are jury-rigged at best. Contaminated food has been found a disconcertingly long way away, although it seems to be being kept out of the food chain. There are worries about tap water in distant Tokyo.

不过,眼下的危机远未结束。三座堆芯中心受损的反应堆的温度仍起伏不定,而乏燃料池供水系统也顶多只是被应急修复而已。人们在远方发现了受污染的食物,其与核电站相距之远令人不安,不过这些食物看起来被排除在了食物链以外。而遥远的东京也出现了对自来水的担忧。

There will certainly be more durable effects too. Years of clean-up will drag into decades. A permanent exclusion zone could end up stretching beyond the plant’s perimeter. Seriously exposed workers may be at increased risk of cancers for the rest of their lives (which may nevertheless be long). A concern for the long term, like uncertainty and fear, is one of the things that nuclear power invariably brings to discussions of future energy.

更加持久的影响也必将出现。数年的清理工作将会延长为数十年;永久无人区的范围可能最终将超出核电站厂区之外;受到严重辐射的工人们在其(或许仍然漫长的)余生中罹患癌症的几率可能会更高。在关于未来能源的讨论中,诸如惶惑以及恐惧等长期顾虑也是核能必然引入的事项之一。

To a lot of environmentalists, the priority is to get nuclear power out of those discussions once and for all. Simply put, you can’t trust the stuff. Somewhere, eventually, reactors will get out of control. One did at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. One did at Chernobyl in 1986. Now three have done so again, and an argument that had seemed to be running short of puff (Chernobyl’s 25th anniversary comes up in April) is revived. Though this disaster has been nothing like as bad as Chernobyl, it is in some ways a lot worse than Three Mile Island—a bit like three Three Mile Islands in a row, with added damage in the spent-fuel stores.

对于众多环保主义者而言,其首要考虑是将核能一劳永逸地排除在这些讨论之外。简而言之,人们不能相信核能。总归会有某处的反应堆将要失控。1979年,宾夕法尼亚州三里岛有一座反应堆失控;1986年,切尔诺贝利有一座反应堆失控;如今,又有三座重蹈覆辙,而且一种曾经似已偃旗息鼓的说法(到4月份,切尔诺贝利事故便已发生25周年了),如今又重获生机。尽管此次灾难迄今为止,还根本不像切尔诺贝利事故那样恶劣,但从某些意义上说,它却远远糟于三里岛核事故——它有些类似于连续发生三次的三里岛事故,外加乏燃料贮存池所受的损害。

Fukushima Dai-ichi, it is true, was swamped by a natural catastrophe of biblical proportions. But this argument cuts both ways. Nuclear planners clearly did not appreciate how bad things could get on a low-lying coast in a seismic zone; and poor planning is part of the problem. One reason why Japanese confidence in nuclear power had been growing in recent years was that past scandals led to resignations and the prospect of reform among planners, power companies and regulators. Whereas in 2005 only a quarter of people felt nuclear energy was safe, by last year more than 40% did, according to a survey by Japan’s Cabinet Office. Finding sites for new reactors was not proving easy—and old reactors stayed online as a result—but it did not seem impossible.

的确,福岛第一核电站灭顶之灾的元凶是一场规模极为宏大的自然灾难。不过这种说法却是双刃剑。核能规划者们显然未能认识到在震区地势低洼的海岸边,情况能够变得多糟;而拙劣的设计正是问题的一部分。近年来,日本人对核能的信心之所以越发高涨,其原因之一在于往日的丑闻以辞职收场,并带来了规划者、电力公司和监管者进行改革的前景。根据日本内阁府的调查,2005年时仅有四分之一的民众认为核能是安全的,而去年持此观点者已超过四成。为新反应堆选址虽并不容易(这导致旧反应堆仍在入网发电),但看起来也并非毫无可能。

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