Monday, August 23, 2004

Despite accidents Japan pushes ahead with Nuclear Power

Tokaimura Accident (1999)

Japan currently generates about a third of its electricity from nuclear power.

There are plans to construct a fast-breeder reactor which would use plutonium instead of uranium. This type of reactor recycles the plutonium as well as creating weapons grade plutonium (a quality that is more likely to make this type of reactor popular in North Korea).

Japan's worst nuclear accident occurred at Tokaimura, near Tokyo, in September 1999. Two workers at the plant died when they disregarded safety procedures and dumped a large quantity of uranium into a settling basin. The uranium reached critical mass, causing an explosion. Tens of thousands of people in the area were quarantined and checked for radiation.

Some nuclear power supporters claim that the problem is not that nuclear is power is inherently unsafe but the companies which run the nuclear power stations in Japan are poorly managed. Nuclear power stations in the U.K. have been more carefully regulated but this has made them extremely expensive.

The most commented on post so far on the Alternative Energy Blog is an opinion piece on nuclear power. You can join the debate here:

Guardian article on Japanese nuclear power:,7369,1288266,00.html