Month: December 2007

Nuclear safeguards for a new nuclear age

Nuclear safeguards for a new nuclear age

The commercial nuclear age started on December 2, 1957, when the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania began operating–the first use of a nuclear power plant dedicated solely to peaceful purposes. Five months earlier, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was founded with a dual mandate–promote the peaceful uses of atomic energy and prevent its military uses. Ever since, the tension inherent in this mission has strained and constrained the application and evolution of IAEA safeguards.

The scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

The scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Ever since Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have kept simple cuts, scratches, and abrasions from becoming severely infected and prevented diseases such as pneumonia, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis from becoming a death sentence. However, antibiotics contain a serious downside: Their overuse and misuse has contributed to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE), and extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-Tb).

Nuclear safety lessons from Japan’s summer earthquake

Nuclear safety lessons from Japan’s summer earthquake

On July 16, 2007, an earthquake with a magnitude of somewhere between 6.6 and 6.8 struck Japan. Its epicenter was about 16 kilometers north of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP), the biggest such plant in the world. The known results of the earthquake include a fire and leaks of radioactivity. However, news of damage to the reactors continues to emerge, the most recent being the discovery of a jammed control rod in Unit-7.