Summary of Fukushima

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Nuclear energy experts David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists offer an important chronicle of the unanticipated events that led to the calamity at Fukushima, one of history’s worst nuclear disasters. In this detailed account, an unlikely series of natural and manufactured events unfold, threatening to contaminate Tokyo with radiation. The authors’ account debunks the idea that nuclear power is safe. Their compelling granular descriptions may slow the story and blunt some main points, such as the US’s nuclear safety shortcomings. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this vivid account to environmentalists, and the opponents and proponents of nuclear power and alternative energy.

About the Authors

David Lochbaum wrote Nuclear Waste Disposal and heads the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project. Edwin Lyman is a senior scientist in the organization’s Global Security Program. Susan Q. Stranahan is the author of Susquehanna: River of Dreams.

 

Summary

Nurturing Fallacies

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster began with an earthquake north of Tokyo on March 11, 2011. It resulted from an unlikely combination of natural disaster and human error, and threatened to pollute Tokyo, the world’s largest urban center, with radiation. Another threat came as Fukushima’s nuclear rods neared their melting points, coming close to a catastrophe. The disaster exposed the fallacies in the idea that nuclear power is safe, a position that had helped the nuclear industry achieve reduced safety standards worldwide. Fukushima exposed regulatory and safety lapses in both Japan and the United States, since US nuclear rules have international impact.

The disaster began with a 2:49 p.m. earthquake, initially estimated at 7.9, about 80 miles off Japan. Two plates of the Earth’s crust shifted approximately 100 to 130 feet along a break running for some 180 miles. The Tohoku-Oki quake lasted for about three minutes. Scientists eventually rated its magnitude at 9.0 – Japan’s most powerful quake, and one of the world’s five most powerful since observers began keeping records in 1900. The quake pushed Japan’s longest island...


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