We are gathered here today, at the Henry Moore Statue to Atomic Energy, site of the birthplace of the Nuclear Age in 1942, to pay our respects and recall the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred 25 years ago today, to the minute, at 4:23 our time. Little did we know when we planned today's memorial that we would also need to be mourning yet a second time for nuclear victims in Japan those suffering the effects of the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Together, these two nuclear catastrophes are ample evidence for the need to end the Nuclear Age now.
Both of these nuclear tragedies tell us a Chernobyl or Fukushima anywhere becomes a Chernobyl or Fukushima everywhere. Radiation knows no national borders. It is an equal opportunity indiscriminate killer, yet, preferentially assaulting women, children, fetuses, the aged, those malnourished or with weak immune systems.
These tragedies are often referred to as "accidents." They are anything BUT accidents. They MIGHT have been considered "accidental", had not Windscale, England occurred in early 1957; or the Chelyabink/Mayak radioactive waste site explosion in fall of 1957. Or the partial meltdown of Fermi-1 outside of Detroit in 1966, or the Three Mile Island Unit-2 reactor in 1979. Or the Tokaimura criticality accident in 1999. They might have been accidental had we not experienced the dozens of near-misses at nuclear reactors, such as the $200 million fire at the Browns Ferry reactors in Alabama in 1975; or the $600 million near-popping of the David-Besse reactor vessel head in 2002. Or if somehow we could ignore the 2007, 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan which closed 8 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site for over a year, damaged one, and released radioactive materials into the ocean.
But we can't ignore those. They all happened. And whatever has already happened must therefore be possible. And each time, our rulers, the nuclear industry, and its cheerleaders would say, "Who would have thought! This couldn't have been predicted. And we'll learn the lessons."
And then the next disaster would strike, and the new thrill-parade of excuses would be launched.
Fool me once,....No, these are not "accidents"; they are "intentionals". When you get that many warnings, and you still continue to do the same thing, you run the risk of fulfilling Einstein's admonition, that "Insanity is the doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results."
Today, we dedicate our selves to begin The End of the Nuclear Age, at the very site where it began in 1942. That Age began under circumstances of desperation; its ending does also. The world simply cannot afford another nuclear disaster of any kind, "peaceful" or not. The resources, money, time, talent, environment, and health wasted on perpetuating the failed project to play God, could have given us a clean, sustainable renewable energy future by now many times over. Instead, like addicted gamblers, we put our chips on 13-nuclear-black, and lost again.
The world's 443 nuclear reactors were not built overnight. They will not be replaced overnight. But they will, and must be replaced with greater energy efficiency, and sustainable renewables that are already available, but just not being built and used.
The failed Nuclear Age is over. Get over it. As St. Paul once said, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought as a child. But when I became an adult, I put away childish things."
President Obama; Senators and Congressmen; governors; nuclear executives it's long past the time you grew up, and gave the world a safe, sustainable energy future without any more Chornobyl's or Fukushima's!