Four years ago, on March 11, 2011, Japan faced the combined forces of nature and physics. A powerful earthquake and the tsunami that followed not only devastated the region surrounding the Fukushima Daichi atomic power plant, but also led to a nuclear disaster. The ensuing social and environmental crisis would turn the global focus on the risks associated with nuclear energy. Before the disaster struck, Japan used to rely on nuclear power for 30 percent of its electricity needs. In the wake of the catastrophe, however, Japan halted operations at all 48 of its reactors. The disaster’s impact on nuclear power generation was also felt beyond the nation’s borders, with Germany announcing plans to denuclearize the country by 2022. Nevertheless, the government of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to reopen the reactors closed in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, and there are even plans to build new ones in the future. Several nuclear plants are expected to restart this year after meeting stricter rules introduced after the incident. Against this backdrop, Charles Casto, former leader of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) efforts in Japan during the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, says that Japanese nuclear plants now better… Read full this story
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