As the situation at Japan’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility continues to worsen, policymakers in the United States are taking the opportunity to review the safety policies for our aging nuclear reactors.
Japan’s recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it caused together killed 9,737 people and left an additional 16,501 missing. The destruction left millions homeless and caused almost $200 billion in damage.
These natural disasters caused severe damaged to 4 of the 6 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leaving them without functioning primary, secondary, or tertiary cooling systems. The resulting partial meltdown of the core at one reactor and of a waste fuel rod storage tank in another has resulted in the release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, soil, and water, forcing the evacuation of what was at first a 12-mile radius and now a 19-mile radius surrounding the facility.