The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is not a cause for panic but rather an opportunity to improve safety worldwide.
Month: March 2011
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that shook northern Japan on March 11, combined with the giant tsunami that followed, is one of the worst natural disasters that any country has had to bear in recent times. As of today, Japan’s National Police Agency reports 27,652 people dead or missing. The gravity of the disaster has been matched only by the stoic and disciplined response of the Japanese public to this massive tragedy.
The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is a sobering reminder that nuclear power relies on the most dangerous technology on Earth. Though we do not yet know what the total effects of this nuclear tragedy will be, we do know that plant workers are suffering from radiation exposure, that lowered water levels have partially exposed fuel rods causing irremediable damage, and that the release of radioactive materials has displaced thousands of residents and contaminated tap water and some food supplies.
The origins of civilian nuclear power positioned our society, and the nuclear industry, to favor military needs and financial gain over public understanding. Until this approach is changed, history will continue to repeat itself in devastating ways.
The crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, has brought the past tragedies at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island into the spotlight again. To offer a more thorough understanding of Chernobyl, the Bulletin has compiled this reading list from its archives. Dating from 1945 to 1998 and 1998 to present, the Bulletin's archives are a valuable resource for those interested in additional materials.
The US public health system has serious vulnerabilities, and one major problem is identifying and responding to public health crimes.
Over the past two weeks, the monitoring system put in place under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has proved useful in helping the international community weather the effects of Japan’s massive 9.0 earthquake. Designed to detect nuclear weapons tests, the CTBT’s network of global monitoring stations has enabled the international community to track Fukushima’s radioactive plume, which reached the West Coast of the United States last week.
On March 11, when the first foreshock struck, my colleague Jeffrey Lewis and I were having lunch with senior industry officials at Japan’s controversial Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. That facility both enriches uranium and reprocesses spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium, two processes that can also be used to make nuclear weapons. We were in the country to tour its nuclear facilities — an arrangement designed to show how far Japan was prepared to go to convince the international community that its facilities were only for peaceful purposes.