In the late eighties while in Milan I had the opportunity to go through an exhibit of photographs from Chernobyl – the meltdown was still raw, the human cost untallied, and the images were shocking and graphic.
Growing up in southern Utah I was always aware of the damage possible, that comes with the territory of being a downwinder, which is to say a person or descendant of people exposed to the radioactive fallout from the open air nuclear tests during the fifties and sixties.
Seeing the results of a real meltdown puts things into a different perspective. The Independent has a photo sideshow showing Chernobyl 24 years later. Very different images than the ones I saw over 20 years ago, but just as tragic and in a way just as disturbing. The damage to human life will go on for generations.
Despite it all, I’m not anti nuclear per se – we have energy needs, and nuclear energy is used worldwide to provide power without the fossil fuel pollution we take for granted in so much of the US. But safety protocols exist for a reason, and you can’t cheat them long term without mother nature coming back for payment. And we in the US need to get a better handle on dealing with spent fuel. Europe recycles. So should we.