Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Japan Nuclear Plant Withstands Earthquake

One of the world's largest nuclear facilities, owned by Tokyo Electric Power, withstood a 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Japan's northwest coast, but lost about 2 quarts of water from the spent fuel rod pool, which leaked into another supply of water and 315 gallons of that water were pumped into the sea. A fire also broke out at an electrical transformer at the site. All-in-all it appears that the facility was more than robust enough to withstand a powerful earthquake. Just as in the case of Three Mile Island, the design features worked. Nobody was killed or injured. Of course, because Tokyo Electric Power has a history of inaccurate or delayed reporting, we will probably have to wait to get the full picture. Nine people were killed and about 900 were killed in other parts of Northwest Japan due to the earthquake.

The Center takes any leak of radioactive material from nuclear plants very seriously. This facility should be thoroughly assessed and any damage repaired. Japan, like the U.S. should accelerate its program to resolve the spent fuel issue. The USA has Yucca and Japan reprocesses some of its spent fuel. The good news is that nuclear plants in Japan and the USA, and in other countries around the world, are built to withstand earthquakes. Japan has 53 nuclear power plants that provide between 30 and 40 percent of that country's electricity. The Nuclear Safety Commission and Japan Nuclear Safety Organization (JNES) oversee nuclear safety in Japan . The Japan Atomic Energy Agency is the central nuclear energy research organization. (The Washington Post) Photo: AP

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