Foreign Policy Blogs

The Tsunami and Nuclear Power

This explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is just one part of the nightmare that visited Japan Friday.  There is an ongoing effort now to cool the reactor.  Bloomberg reports here that the engineers are trying to avoid damage to the radioactive core of the reactor.

Anti-nuclear group in Japan says emergency was predicted is the headline this morning from MSNBC.  In the aftermath of the horrific tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi plant in particular was in danger of irradiating a significant area nearby.  Evacuation orders were issued, initially for a 10 kilometer radius around the plant, then to 20.  Many tens of thousands of people live within that zone.  According to CNN here, ten reactors at three nuclear facilities were shutdown as a consequence of the quake.

From the NY Times comes this succinct ending to their story on the explosion and release of radioactivity at Fukushima Daiichi.  “Japan relies heavily on nuclear power, which generates just over one-third of the country’s electricity. Its plants are designed to withstand earthquakes, which are common, but experts have long expressed concerns about safety standards, particularly if a major quake hits close to a reactor.”

Here is a map from the NYT of the earthquake zone and the proximity of a number of nuclear power plants to the area of the quake and tsunami.

When I was reading the news last night, I was praying that we would have another Three Mile Island, not another Chernobyl.  In either event, there needs to be a long-overdue push back on the dangerous, expensive, bizarre industry that is nuclear power.  The Germans get it.  The bankers get it.  (See the third paragraph of my post here.)  Lots of people understand the dangers of nuclear power.  This particular agony of the Japanese nightmare should be a further wake-up call to people, all around the planet, that nuclear power is not worth another dime of investment and needs to be phased out just as fast as renewables and the rest of the clean tech energy economy can be phased in.  We are getting there, but we need to continue to make the transition, remembering all the time:  Nuclear power is not clean!



  1. […] it’s been six months since the tsunami hit Japan and set off the horrific events at the Fukushima Daiichi complex.  I’ve written quite a lot about nuclear power, before and since.  The bottom line is […]

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Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change


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