This is not a drill: soldiers with anti-radiation gear look for evacuees

from Otama village near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Two

meltdowns are believed to have occurred in that plant alone.

 

 

Asahi Shimbun, Japan

Quake-Prone Japan Must Reconsider Use of Nuclear Power

 

"Because of its scarce natural resources, Japan has made nuclear power a pillar of its energy policy. And Japan has persisted on this path, even after the Three Mile Island accident led the U.S. to suspend new plant construction we have to return to square one and delve into such fundamental questions as how far, in this quake-prone country, the safety of nuclear power plants can ever be secured.'

 

By Senior Staff Writer Keiji Takeuchi

 

March 14, 2011

 

Japan - Asahi Shimbun - Original Article (English)

A woman evacuated from near the Fukushima nuclear facility is checked for radiation, March 13.

 

NHK NEWS VIDEO: Live coverage of the aftermath of yesterday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake, from Japanese broadcaster NHKRealVideo

The massive earthquake that ravaged the Tohoku region on Friday has resulted in Japan's first state of emergency issued for nuclear plants, which included the evacuation of a neighborhood. The situation is a fresh reminder of the latent danger nuclear power stations pose, and shatters assurances we have heard that because they are carefully designed, nuclear power plants are safe. In the wake of the earthquake, the nuclear plant failures raise a fundamental question: How can earthquake-prone Japan coexist with nuclear power?

 

The emergency core cooling system (ECCS), which, in case of accident, pours cooling water into the nuclear core, was considered central to safety systems on these types of reactors. When an earthquake hits, reactors automatically shut down. But that alone doesn't prevent an accident, since the nuclear fuel continues to emit heat. If the core isn't properly cooled, it could melt the fuel and trigger a disastrous explosion.

Posted by WORLDMEETS.US

 

In 1979, so much cooling water poured out of the core of the Three Mile Island plant in the United States that it almost triggered a catastrophe. The situation at Japan's reactors is now approaching that situation.

 

Since nuclear power generators were first developed, the question of safety has revolved around the reliability of the ECCS. In Japan, a nation very advanced in the field of nuclear power generation, the ECCS failed - and at more than one reactor. Those failures were caused by a power outage.

 

Nuclear power stations generate electricity, but when power is cut during an accident, everything in the plant stops. The reason they are equipped with multiple emergency power generators is to make sure that one way or another, the ECCS continues to function.

 

The current crisis demonstrated the need to change this design concept.

 

Since the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the area in and around Kobe in 1995, the government has taken positive steps to strengthen nuclear plant quake-resistance standards. Later on, steps to further enhance this resistance were taken, but this was apparently insufficient.

 

Japan confronts unimaginable destruction after a 9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami.

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:

Daily Mail, U.K.: Chilling Echoes of Hiroshima in Images of Tsunami's Aftermath
Der Spiegel, Germany: Nuclear Disaster 'Will Have Political Impact of Sept. 11'

Guardian. U.K.: The World's Nuclear Fate Rests in Japan

The Japan Times, Japan: Nuclear Power Industry is in Disarray

 

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While the structure of these plants may be sturdy, the process they use to generate power involves a complicated facility that depends on a tremendous number of parts and components. It's very hard to predict the kind of damage a huge earthquake will inflict on these nuclear structures, and it's impossible to forecast when and where such a huge tremor will hit.

 

Because of its scarce natural resources, Japan has made nuclear power a pillar of its energy policy. And Japan has persisted on this path, even after the Three Mile Island accident led the U.S. to suspend new plant construction, and the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union led Europe to end its reliance on nuclear power in 1986.

 

In the meantime, Japan has been slow to boost its use of natural renewable energy sources.

 

Revisions to the country's Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy are currently being studied, but the likelihood is that Japan will likely adhere to its current policies.

 

Friday's earthquake halted operations at many nuclear plants and it will take some time for them to resume. We should be aware that ironically, our reliance on nuclear power has created a risk to our energy supply.

 

In preparing for the danger of earthquakes, we must be humble. In our discussions on these issues, we have to return to square one and delve into such fundamental questions as how far, in this quake-prone country, we should count on nuclear power, and whether the safety of nuclear power plants can ever be secured.

 

Unless we do this, after enduring fear of radiation and the devastation triggered by the killer jolt, many people will question our dependence on nuclear energy.

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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March 14, 5:35pm]

 






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