By James Thompson
As the catastrophe unfolds as a result of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a question emerges about the ownership of nuclear power plants in particular and utility companies in general. Given the as yet unknown horrors which will undoubtedly result from the damage to the three nuclear reactors near the giant metropolis of Tokyo, the world must consider the wisdom of such dangerous enterprises being under the control of privately held companies. The nuclear reactors in question are owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
The TEPCO corporate overview statement written before the present calamity makes note that one of their power stations remains closed since it was damaged in 2007. The statement also complains that market competition has made it difficult for the company to operate.
Anyone in their right mind knows that nuclear reactors are not toys with which to play. Gambling on humanity’s future and the survival of people living in the vicinity of such facilities is a crime against humanity. Many anti-nuclear activists argue that reactors are too dangerous to be reliable sources of energy for human beings. This incident proves their point.
It is outrageous for such facilities to be in the hands of corporations whose primary goal is not the safety of people, but the amassing of continually expanding profits. As profits fall during times of crisis, corporations cut more and more corners by reducing personnel and slashing safety standards in order to increase profits.
Reports also indicate that the reactors were designed by the multinational corporation General Electric. Again, a private company designing such a facility is truly frightening. As corporations compete with each other for lucrative contracts, the company that can undercut all the others is likely to win. This means lowering safety standards, reducing staff, etc. to increase the profit margin.
We are seeing a lot of global catastrophes these days as a result of this privatization of energy companies and their Hell-bent drive for profits. The BP catastrophes in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas City are two such examples. It is reported that there have been upwards of 800 earthquakes in North Central Arkansas over the last six months which some experts attribute to unbridled natural gas companies’ explorations there.
The safety of human beings and other inhabitants of the world should take precedence over corporate profits. Also, it should be remembered that many humans invest their life savings in such corporate monsters. When catastrophes like the ones mentioned above occur, those people who have invested their money find themselves in poverty after a life of hard work, a frugal lifestyle and careful investing in powerful corporations.
What is needed is a mass movement for the nationalization of utility and energy companies on an international scale. UN oversight and regulation should be implemented to ensure the safest possible conditions for humans and other species living on our very fragile globe. Maximum safety regulations and enforcement of such dangerous industries should be maintained as well as funding for research for the development of such industries and the development of alternative sources of fuel and conservation.
How many more BP, TEPCO, GE and other corporate madness inspired apocalypses will be necessary to put humanity on a sane path to a safe, clean environment? How many more disasters can we, as global residents, survive? What will it take to break the stranglehold that corporations have on our lives and the lives of our children? Fightback must begin now and on a global scale if humanity is to survive the ravages of capitalism!
- Japanese Communist Party statement on the nuclear disaster
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- Boycott Shell Oil Company!