Nuclear power has always been a topic of great concern throughout the world’s history. The Cold War, which instilled fear in millions of people, consisted of proxy wars, economic tension following World War II, and of course, a nuclear power struggle that put nations across the world on the edge of their seats. This attempt by many national governments, especially between the United States and the USSR, to keep reactor research under strict government classification caused this rush of fear not knowing what the other country had or how powerful they really were. The Cold War era was a nerve-racking time that brought about many concerns with nuclear weapons and the issues involved with their production. Today, the subject of nuclear power has still continued to make headline news stories in most major newspapers, televisions stations, and Internet blogs.
The March 11, 2011 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the unsuspecting country of Japan has brought the dangers of nuclear power back to breaking news within the last month. The world is watching closely with how Japan is handling their situation. The leaking nuclear power plants are not only a serious threat to the people of Japan, but also the water and other countries surrounding the country. Although an earthquake is a natural disaster that people do not have any control over, the world is looking at their own systems in place and how they can improve in case of a national emergency similar to this.
One of the issues at hand is the fact that Japan is “bucking the global standard and their Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has two distinct and often competing roles: regulating the nuclear power industry, and promoting Japanese nuclear technology at home and abroad.” This latest disaster in Japan has caused many questions to arise. How will the issues with the Fukushima Daiichi accident affect the economy and trade throughout the world? How can the United States, and states on the coast with nuclear power plants in particular, prepare for such a disaster?
With the insecurities of many people, especially the citizens of Japan, the Nuclear Safety Commission is concerned with the fact that they “can no longer maintain people’s support for nuclear power without changing the regulatory structure,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The most recent discovery, the higher radiation levels in Japanese waters, has instilled even more worrying in Japan’s residents. California residents have also shown more concern over whether or not the state is prepared for an incident much like Japan’s, as the state is due for an earthquake the size of Japan’s or possibly larger sometime in the near future.
Environmentalists are also extremely concerned with the situation in Japan. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “The pooling radioactive water raises pressing new questions for the government and Tepco about how to dispose of it. Draining the water into the nearby Pacific Ocean, where spots close to Fukushima Daiichi have already shown elevated radiation reading, is out of the question because its high radioactivity would likely damage the environment.” With these obstacles at hand, the nuclear power industry has a lot of improvements to make and in a timely matter.