Last Friday, the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that shook up Japan also produced a huge tsunami. This natural disaster wiped out many villages and affected the shores of many countries in the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes, and hundreds did not survive these catastrophic natural disasters.
However, the crisis in Japan is still ongoing. In the last week, the Fukushima Nuclear power plant meltdown began to hit the presses. The earthquake destroyed the electricity supply and back up generators for the cooling system in the nuclear power plant. Three reactors had partial meltdowns improper submersion of nuclear fuel rods in water, which can cause heat and pressure build up and has surmounted to explosions.
Helicopters and fire trucks are continuously dumping ocean water on the power plant in an effort to cool down the nuclear fuel rods. Low levels of radiation have been detected 140 miles away from the plant, and extremely high levels of radiation exist in the immediate area of the plant. For any residents near the plant, a 50-mile evacuation radius has been enforced.
The west coast of the US and Canada will receive low levels of radiation, since wind currents travel over Japan and are brought to our continent. There is panic in the media coverage about the nuclear meltdown in Japan; about how it might become similar to Chenobyl or Three Mile Island, but is the possibility of these serious accidents enough to put us off from using nuclear energy in the future?
Nuclear energy provides the ability to produce electricity in the large amounts needed for our energy-demanding society today. However, high levels of maintenance are required for basic operation of the facility, and there is always the danger of a nuclear meltdown, which can have catastrophic consequences. Many instances throughout history have shown nuclear power plants as ‘monsters to society’, but I personally believe that nuclear energy holds great importance. Without it, we would not be able to meet our growing energy needs. Governments need to invest more research into other sustainable energy resources that will not have such serious consequences. I think that we are capable of finding a newer technology, but it will take a lot of money and time. Until then, nuclear energy will have to do.