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Shore Coal

Many Fife coastlines bear the marks of past coal mining. A ribbon of coal particles can be found on Kirkcaldy and Burntisland beaches, whether washed there from mines or eroded from rocks I don’t know..

At Lower Largo the deposits are larger. Here are some seen through the shore barrier.

And these are lumps.

The industrial landscape of Methil can be seen from Lower Largo beach, wind turbines, oil rigs and all.

Three Small Explosions. No-one Dies.

Not a very catchy headline, is it?

Yet this is exactly what has happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan – an event which has now apparently overshadowed the many thousands of deaths from the tsunami which followed the earthquake; a tragedy of enormous scale, very difficult to get your head round, and virtually unbloggable.

Yes, it was stupid to site the plant by the sea-shore in a quake-prone region subject to tsunami inundation. Yes, there should have been thought put to the likelihood of a tsunami stopping the cooling system’s pumps from working. Yes, there should have been back-up cooling systems in place.

But…

No-one has died yet.

Of course any unnecesssary deaths are to be deplored but any deaths will be microscopic in number compared to the natural disaster.

And there are deaths associated with the extraction of coal and oil/gas for burning to make electricity. Even hydro-electricity has its drawbacks.

There are catches to alternative power generation methods too.

No power generation technology will be free of them.

It’s a question of risk, and nuclear generation has quite small ones really. (The waste is a different issue.)

I wouldn’t want a nuclear power plant in my backyard, though.

What’s that? Torness is only a relatively few miles away (as the wind blows) on the Berwickshire coast?

Hmm. So it is.

But then I grew up between Glasgow and Faslane; two prime targets in the event of the Cold War becoming hot, with a third – Holy Loch – not much further away, and barely gave it a thought.

Mind you, thermonuclear immolation would be a damn sight quicker than radiation poisoning.

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