I’ve been a “nuke watcher” for over 40 years. This means I’ve attended numerous conferences and workshops, met with government officials and talked with experts in the field. Some try to reassure me. Everything, they say, contains a degree of risk, but nuclear power is safer and more sustainable than most. Our nuclear arsenal is the most secure in the world
Others tell me the planet itself is in danger.
Recently, I met with one of Rep. Doug Collins’ staff, a man of the first type — ex-military, very experienced and a thoroughly right-wing Republican. We addressed close calls at several nuclear power plants and a few heart-stopping incidents involving our nuclear launch system. We talked about accidents: Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima. We discussed the nuclear bomb that was dropped on North Carolina and the accidental launch of a Titan missile in Arkansas.
In each case, the man pointed out that as scary as these incidents were, nothing awful actually happened. (Only one man died in Arkansas.) There will always be accidents, he said. “Nothing is perfect,” were his exact words, but when we are talking about nuclear security, we can’t afford to not be perfect.
At this point in human history, a single mistake, a single miscalculation, can spell worldwide disaster. I’m a senior citizen. I can afford to be fatalistic, but I have a grandchild and I care deeply about the future for her sake, for the sake of all our children.
If we don’t rise up now and begin thinking about security in broader terms, we will be responsible for what happens, and may God have mercy on us.
Joan O. King