Japan’s Earthquake and Nuclear Power

In the hours after Japan’s 8.9 earthquake the widespread destruction is coming to light. There are now more than 1,000 feared dead in Japan’s northeast.

Most troubling in the news is the pending meltdown at two of Japan’s nuclear plants where five nuclear reactors have lost their cooling ability and widespread evacuations have been ordered because radiation levels have surged.

Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes nuclear energy, told msnbc.com that TEPCO was facing a potential catastrophe.

“It’s just as bad as it sounds,” he said. “What they have not been able to do is restore cooling of the radioactive core to prevent overheating and that’s causing a variety of problems, including a rise in temperature and pressure with the containment (buildings).

“What’s critical is, are they able to restore cooling and prevent fuel damage? If the fuel starts to get damaged, eventually it will melt through the reactor vessel and drop to the floor of the containment building,” raising the odds that highly radioactive materials could be released into the environment.

It’s time, long past time to say no to nuclear power and take the steps to close down any nuclear reactors along fault lines in the United States.

NIRS.org sent this out today:

March 11, 2011; 7:00 pm

Dear Friends,

As you can probably imagine, we have been closely monitoring the situation with Japan’s nuclear reactors all day, staying in close contact with our colleagues in Japan, trying to separate fact from rumor and providing accurate information to the media, to many, many callers, on Facebook and on our website.

We produced and have updated several times a factsheet on the Fukushima reactors and the ongoing concerns about what appears to be becoming a very serious situation. We will continue updating this factsheet through the evening and weekend as events warrant and we obtain reliable information. This factsheet is available here. We encourage you to use it, check periodically for updates and refer your local media to it.

This serves as a reminder that natural disasters can happen anytime, and when those disasters affect nuclear power reactors, the consequences can be catastrophic. We, of course, hope that such a catastrophe still will be averted in Japan.

This also serves as a reminder of the importance of ending taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactors in the U.S. Every reactor is vulnerable to a wide variety of natural disasters, as well as to operator error and mechanical failure. Even if nuclear reactors were cheap, and they’re not, there are better, cleaner and safer ways of generating our electricity.

We hope you’ll remind your Congressmembers now, as they are continuing to consider the federal budget, that nuclear loans must end.

Please feel free to e-mail us with your questions about the Japanese situation. We will respond to as many individual questions as we humanly can. Please check our website and Facebook pages regularly for updated information.

And please consider making a contribution to support our work; your help is needed now more than ever.

Thank you so much for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Clearly this did not happen in Japan: “How Nuclear Power Plants Save Themselves from Earthquake-Related Meltdowns.” Because… there is no way to save nuclear plants from themselves.

And now, it’s “Time to shut down this nation’s nuclear energy program.”

The “Big One” is long overdue for the west coast. When I left Los Angeles 2 1/2 years ago, that was part of my reasoning… to get out before it struck. Well, we’ve seen today that nuclear power plants can not save themselves from earthquake related meltdowns and we can’t take any more chances with the nuclear power plants in California and on other fault line areas.


UPDATE: Via DipNote — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on Japan’s earthquake and tsunami and “Information for U.S. citizens needing assistance in Japan can be found on travel.state.gov.”

UPDATE 2: If you think oil prices are high now… hold on… Japan’s earthquake may push oil prices even higher.

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