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Japan marks twin disaster anniversary - Asia-Pacific - Al Jazeera English

Japan is marking the first anniversary of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in the northeastern part of the country, which triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

More than 19,000 people died or went missing in the March 11 twin natural disasters, which also destroyed more than 370,000 houses.

At 05:46 GMT, the precise moment when the earthquake struck one year ago, a moment of silence was observed across the country.

Speaking at a ceremony in Tokyo, Yoshihiko Noda, Japan prime minister, pledged "to speed up ... the reconstruction of the affected areas " and to strengthen nationwide natural disaster measures. He also thanked the volunteers, both foreign and Japanese, who helped with the reconstruction work.

"Predecessors who led Japan's prosperity said that crisis is sometimes necessary in order to grow. We need to support the people who were affected by the earthquake and reconstruct Japan from this historic disaster. And that is my mission," he said.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:18:46 PM EST
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How Safe Are U.S. Nuclear Reactors? Lessons from Fukushima: Scientific American

The meltdown started when water to cool the reactors fell to dangerously low levels four hours after the fourth-largest recorded earthquake rattled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Five out of six of its reactors lost electricity when a 14-meter tall tsunami swept in 40 minutes later. Backup diesel generators lost their fuel tanks and died. Cooling water pumps failed. Nuclear fuel rods began melting and volatile hydrogen gas built up. Subsequent explosions and fire spewed 15,000 terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137 alone, enough so that officials created an "exclusion zone" of 20 kilometers around the plant that persists today. (A becquerel is a unit of the rate of radioactive decay--or radiation emitted by a substance.) As a result, the emergency at Fukushima Daiichi that began on March 11, 2011, is only the second nuclear accident to merit the most severe international crisis rating, joining the reactor that exploded at the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear facility in Ukraine April 1986.

But the disaster was no surprise given the type of reactors at Fukushima. In fact, nuclear power experts, computer models and other analyses have consistently shown for decades that a problem in the older boiling-water reactors employed at Fukushima Daiichi would become disastrous because of a flawed safety system that houses the nuclear fuel, known as the Mark I containment. It is "the worst one of all the containments we have"--and in a complete blackout, "you're going to lose containment," noted U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Deputy Regional Administrator Charles Casto on March 16, 2011, who was in Japan to assist, according to transcripts of internal meetings released by the NRC. "There's no doubt about it."

The U.S. has 23 reactors with the same kind of safety systems--and the same risky placement of pools for spent nuclear fuel, namely, alongside the main reactor in the top of the reactor building. Would U.S. reactors perform any better than Japan's in a crisis? And what lessons does Fukushima hold for reactor safety worldwide?



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 11th, 2012 at 03:19:06 PM EST
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by dvx - Jul 23
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