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Friday, March 18, 2011

Japan Raises Severity Rating Of Country’s Nuclear Crisis

A satellite image shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan. (AP/DigitalGlobe)

A satellite image shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan. (AP/DigitalGlobe)

The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. government nuclear experts believe there’s now a hole or crack in the wall of the spent fuel rod storage pool in Unit 4 of the crippled Fukushima power plant, a problem the Union of Concerned Scientists says “has no precedent.”

USA Today reports that in essence there are three outcomes. In the best case scenario, the plant is ruined, but high radiation releases are avoided. Under option two, a significant amount of radiation is released from spent fuel ponds, but contamination is limited to the area around the plant. The third and worst case scenario is a full meltdown, where the nuclear fuel pellets melt through all of the containment structures at the reactor and release radioactive materials into the earth and possibly the atmosphere.

We speak with nuclear power critic Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.


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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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