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Fukushima Disaster: From Bad to Worse

September 13, 2013

Over two years after the earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, the situation at the reactors remains toxic and dangerous to public health as PSR and others warned.  TEPCO's patchwork fixes to cool the severely damaged reactors are starting to give way, and thousands of gallons of irradiated water are leaking, prompting Japan's nuclear regulator to declare the current state of affairs at Fukushima a Level 3 serious incident, which IAEA defines as "severe contamination."  Radioactive water readings are at their highest levels since the onset of the disaster. 

Japan's interior minister is referring to the TEPCO stopgap measures as a "game of Whack-a-mole." The seriousness of these latest incidents cannot be overstated, though sadly, it would be difficult to say these problems are unexpected. TEPCO and the Japanese government have consistently obfuscated and denied the seriousness of the disaster from the get-go, and dealt with the myriad problems with band-aid fixes. 

Nuclear reactors present a serious public health risk even when they are operating normally, and incidents like Fukushima only compound the public health case against nuclear reactors. It is time we get wise to these grave dangers and start the transition away from nuclear power in the US. Entergy's latest decision to close Vermont Yankee, which has the same Mark I reactor design as the Fukushima reactors, is definitely a step in the right direction, but we must make a sustained commitment to transition to a clean energy economy in the coming years.

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