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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can Human Activity Cause Earthquakes?

The north side of the damaged reactor building of Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.  (AP)

The north side of the damaged reactor building of Unit one at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP)

For the first time since Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, workers have entered one of the damaged reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, said workers are attempting to ventilate reactor one in an operation expected to take four or five days.

Meanwhile, efforts are still underway to replace electricity lost when Fukushima and other energy suppliers were disabled by the earthquake and tsunami. But experts warn that developing some renewable energy sources, or natural gas, could lead to earthquakes or tsunamis.

Seismic shocks associated with the development of energy projects are usually small, but, experts say they could become dangerous if they put additional strain on large geological faults. We talk with Peter Fairley, energy editor with IEEE Spectrum magazine, he also writes the blog “Carbon Nation.”


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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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