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Japan Nuclear Plant Meltdown?

Following Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan is now waiting with bated breath to see whether or not the nuclear power station at Fukushima is going to go into meltdown. This video shows the dramatic moment when gases inside the reactor exploded under a combination of heat and pressure – causing the authorities to widen the exclusion zone around the plant to 12 miles.

Attempts to stabilise the temperature in the core by pumping in sea water are apparently failing and the core temperature continues to rise. This site offers perhaps the best detailed guide to the mechanisms that operate the power plant and the challenges faced by the engineers.

By best estimates, the danger posed by this plant – even in the case of a meltdown – is actually minimal to the outside world. The US 7th Fleet has moved further offshire in response to increased readings in background radiation, but even these higher levels are less than a typical routine X-Ray. But Japan is, for historical reasons, highly sensitive to the matter of radiation, and even these small amounts will be enough to raise alarm in a country where over 30% of power comes from nuclear stations.

Japan’s nuclear power stations have been constructed to perhaps higher standards of safety than anywhere else in the world precisely because of the country’s position along some of the world’s most active earthquake zones. Nonetheless, the world will look on with great concern, especially seeing as nuclear power is being touted as a potential saviour in the search to replace oil and coal.

VIDEO: The Dramatic Moment when the Fukushima Plant First Exploded

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