NOTE: The Map above depicts the locations of U.S. nuclear power facilities in gray, and locations of seismic activity in yellow. Data from the USGS and the International Nuclear Safety Center.
Following the devastation of last week’s 9.0 scale earthquake and tsunami, Japanese citizens face new realities and threats stemming from damage to nuclear power plant facilities. The quake damaged five nuclear reactors, three of which are facing potential meltdowns due to coolant loss. The human and environmental cost of such an event could be cataclysmic.
This catastrophe in Japan should serve as a lesson to the United States as well as Japan, argued Joe Romm, editor of Climate Progress, and CAPAF policy analyst Richard Caperton in this CNN article.
The featured map illustrates just how vulnerable we could be: many of the United States’s 104 nuclear facilities are located near areas of seismic activity. We need to make sure that we are taking steps to secure our aging nuclear infrastructure against earthquakes and other environmental disasters and that the risks of potential accidents are fairly bone not just by tax payers, but by those who profit from producing nuclear power. Specifically, Romm and Caperton make four suggestions to policymakers moving forward:
Update: The magnitude of the quake was recently revised upwards by the U.S. Geological Survey to a 9.0. The change has been made in the text.
Update: Since publishing this feature, another explosion at Japans Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Facility has caused further damage, resulting in the evacuation of rescue workers and increased risk of a catastrophic meltdown. The New York Times has the story.
Climate Progress with data from USGS
By Science Progress
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