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Questions and Answers about the Unfolding Nuclear Emergency in Japan
The unfolding nuclear emergency in Japan has raised questions in our own communities. We have prepared this factsheet to attempt to provide answers where information is available.
UPDATE MAY 2011 -- While the disaster at the Fukishima Daiichi reactor remains uncontrolled, the crisis is no longer making front-page news. We will continue to blog about nuclear policy in the United States, but we do not plan to further update the posts below.
Questions about the situation in Japan:
- What are the main threats posed by the crisis at Fukushima? - Overheating spent fuel pools and compromised reactor vessels
- What do the radiation levels reported in the media mean?
- What level of radiation exposure is "safe"?
- How are other countries advising their citizens to react to the Fukushima disaster?
- What is Japan's long-term policy response to the disaster?
Questions about nuclear industry safety in the United States:
- Could a similar nuclear crisis happen in the United States?
- How many U.S. nuclear plants are located near earthquake faults?
- How large of an earthquake could U.S. nuclear plants withstand?
- Which U.S. reactors have the same design as the reactors that suffered cooling system failures in Japan?
- How many people live within 50 miles of a U.S. nuclear plant? (See a map here, and download the data here.)
- What are the risks of spent fuel pools at U.S. nuclear reactors?
- What are other people saying about the unfolding emergency?
- When has the door been open for potential nuclear accidents in the United States?
Questions about alternatives to nuclear power in the United States:
- Do we need nuclear power to keep the lights on?
- Isn't nuclear power cheap?
- Do we really need nuclear power for "baseload" electricity?
See the links to the above blog posts for our most current answers to these questions.
This resource has been prepared and will be maintained by Travis Madsen, Tony Dutzik, and other members of Frontier Group, which is hosting the same material on its website. Frontier Group, a member of the Public Interest Network family of organizations and a frequent partner of PIRGIM, conducts research and policy analysis to support a cleaner, healthier and more democratic society. Our mission is to inject accurate information and compelling ideas into public policy debates at the local, state and federal levels.
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