Press Release from Nuclear Energy Information Service Regarding Japan’s Earthquakes

For PDF version, click Japan earthquake accident at Fukushima 3-11-11 (PDF).

Nuclear Energy Information Service
Illinois’ Nuclear Power Watchdog since 1981
Office and Mail: 3411 W. Diversey Avenue, #16, Chicago, IL 60647-1245 (773)342-7650; -7655 fax;;


For immediate release: March 11, 2011
Contact: Dave Kraft, (773)505-3550 Skype: davekhamburg

Japanese nuclear emergency – implications for Illinois, Nuclear Renaissance
Current accidents conditions worsening; residents around stricken reactor evacuated

CHICAGO—The record-setting 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan this morning has resulted in the shutdown of 10 reactors, fires at two and an ongoing state of emergency at one old reactor. The implications – like the resulting tsunami itself — ripple far beyond the borders of Japan: they have serious consequences for the US and international nuclear industry as well, says an Illinois nuclear-power watchdog organization.

“These reactors are the same type and roughly the same vintage as the two Dresden and two Quad Cities reactors operating in Illinois,” notes Dave Kraft, director of the Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service. “We are getting a rough idea of how these reactors would respond to, say, the New Madrid fault should it go off,” Kraft points out.

The Fukushima-1 reactors are all GE Mark-1 and Mark-2 containment designs. This is the same design employed at Dresden 2 & 3, and Quad Cities 1 & 2. They came on line in the 1970s, just after the Dresden and Quad Cities reactors came online. The accident scenarios playing out in Japan mirror problems and concerns that nuclear critics have been concerned about at U.S. reactors, including:

  • Concerns about reactor containment: these reactor designs have been criticized before as being incapable of holding in radioactivity in the event of accidents with pressures and forces equivalent to those calculated at the Chernobyl-4 reactor site, whose 25th anniversary is this April. One of the current problems at Fukushima-1 Reactor 2 is in fact a build up in pressure, now reported to be twice normal. Effort to vent radioactively contaminated gases to release the pressure have been thwarted ironically by lack of onsite electrical power;
  • Concerns about the “spent” fuel pools: at Fukushima sites the spent fuel pools are outside of the reactor containment buildings. At Dresden and Quad Cities, they are not only outside the containments, they are positioned on the 2nd floor of the buildings, meaning that a pipe break on the lines feeding cooling water to the pools would result in the pools draining, the fuel overheating and ultimately melting and causing an uncontrollable fire. “This is not as inconceivable as it sounds,” notes Kraft. “These Illinois reactors could be seriously affected by the New Madrid fault, or by a serious airliner crash, since they are not in the most protected areas of the reactor site,” Kraft points out.
  • Consequences for electricity production: Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has already stated that the earthquake will result in power shortages for a rime, as reactors are repaired and inspected. “The same thing happened a mere 4 years ago, and 7 reactors were out of commission for over a year,” notes Kraft. “Nuclear power in seismically active areas are going to be extremely vulnerable to this kind of major disruption,” says Kraft. “That’s not even looking possible future effects from tsunamis resulting from the earthquakes,” he continues. “Whatever has already happened must clearly be possible. Japan failed to learn this lesson in creating a rigid reliance on nuclear power. Nations in high-seismic areas will continue to be prone to both these kinds of disruptions in service, and also increased risks from major accidents and possible radiation releases. There IS a better way to get electrons,” Kraft notes.
  • False sense of complacency and minimization of effects: in the press statements from both the Japanese and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the standard public pronouncements about the public not being in danger have already been promulgated.

    “This stands in contradiction to some of the news reported already, “ Kraft points out. “Japanese press accounts speak of the need to release radioactive gas with ‘the radioactive element in the vapor that…would not effect the environment or human health.’ Other reports present contradictory information about the operability of the radiation monitors, some accounts saying they are working, others that they are not. These statements are not consistent, not fully accurate.

    “While the Japanese to their credit deserve praise for the decision to conduct an early evacuation of residents around the stricken reactor, anticipating the need for vent radioactive gases, they are in no position yet to make such glib comments about contents and effects of those releases,”
    according to Kraft.

  • Consequences for the Nuclear ‘Renaissance’: “As nations watch the costly and disruptive effects of the second major shutdown of Japanese reactors in 4 years, they would be wise to learn the lessons that nuclear power is an inflexible, dangerous, costly and unnecessary energy resource moving into the 21st Century,“ says Kraft. “Yet, even in the U.S. we have the President and Congressional nuclear allies prepared to squander tens-of-billions of dollars on loans and loan guarantees for new nuclear plants that already will provide power at rates higher than solar energy. Why?” Kraft asks.

“The nuclear “renaissance’ is more a relapse than anything else. It’s the nuclear industry willing to push the ratepayer’s and taxpayer’s faces a fraction of an inch away from the fan blades, betting using ratepayer money that nothing will go wrong, with only their verbal assurances that ‘the public was never in any danger.’ The situation in Japan demonstrates WHY the public has a right to some healthy skepticism. The current situation in Japan begs the obvious question: Is this trip REALLY necessary, moving forward?” Kraft says.

NEIS will be monitoring the situation in Japan for the rest of the night, and will be posting periodic updates to its website at : Feel free to contact us for clarifications and current information.

Due to current AT&T phone and internet problems, our normal office number is not in service. We can be reached at: (773)342-7650 (cell phone); and also by Skype at: davekhamburg

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10 Responses to Press Release from Nuclear Energy Information Service Regarding Japan’s Earthquakes

  1. Gloria Smith says:

    I just became an advocate against nuclear engery!! Thank you for you informative article.

  2. Russ says:

    Newer reactors do not have these issues. We need to regulate older designs and ensure they are updated and move to newer designs. There is a major fear of nuclear but keep in mind the only issues have been in Russia. Ignoring nuclear while we continue to burn fossil fuels is simply ignoring what you cant see that we are already doing.

  3. Sally Davis says:

    checking on this page: –I found maps, but what’s missing is a map showing radiation plume trajectories– both over Japan and further west, and across the Pacific to the east.
    The only issues have not been just in Russia.
    There have been many issues with nuclear power plants in the USA–Davis Besse is one; another is the Yankee reactor in Vermont. Many others have occurred, but I’m not listing them here because the information is available online via
    The claim that nuclear is clean and green is preposterous spin. From the start with uranium mining, on to creating MOX fuel, on to lack of safe storage of spent fuel–the not clean and not green issues are enormous.
    Another aspect is that the financial risks of insuring these plants are so extreme that major insurance companies refuse to take them on. Instead, the industry works hard to force us taxpayers to support insuring them plus to take on the burden of loans to finance these companies.
    The citizens of our country are fed upwith paying the bills of major corporations to save their bottom lines and CEO bonuses via our taxes, while the corporations get away with low taxes, multiple tax breaks, and illegal offshore tax-free banking as well.

  4. Prabir DasGupta says:

    Thank you very much for this informative article.
    It now proves that there is nothing we as human being can do if the mother nature decides otherwise- irrespective of the fact whether the country is nuclear powered or not. Now it is proving beyond doubt that the safeguards taken by Japan were not enough in the event of such a catastrophe. It seems that the Chernobyl disaster in Russia was not enough to teach us any lessons at all.
    Do we really need to go nuclear even if it is for peaceful purpose? I think NO !!

  5. Sally Davis says:

    Here is a hypotheical UN Fukushima fallout plume projection:

    Unfortunately it does not show the further trajectory across the USA.

  6. Thank You Mr. David Kraft for the great service you are providing to the American people and the Planet. Saw you tonight, March 26, 2011, on Jesse Jackson’s television program on The Word Channel.
    Before my father died after the Braidwood Plant was built, he told my mother just one thing, “If I die, sell the house and get out of here. He died and she did!”
    Nuclear Power makes coal look clean.

    I am writing, not to proseletize you in any way, but to invite you to enter my website, and look at my article on the page that immediately comes up. It is about the possibility that US nuclear problems could be worse than Japans. The reason I hope you will read it is because it has quite a few scriptures and prophecies concerning these days we are living in! When our president and nuclear plant operators say “nothing like what is happening in Japan could happen in our country,” they base this on a world view that assumes 300 years from now we will still be shopping at Wallmart, spraying crops with toxic poisons, and hunting rhino in Africa.


  7. Pingback: The Atomic Age » Welcome to the Atomic Age Website / アトミック・エイジのサイトへようこそ

  8. Sanjit Dua says:

    Thank you for posting this. This helped with a large amount of doubts that I had.

  9. It’s going to be really interesting to see how this impacts nuclear energy going forward, especially here in the U.S.

    It seems inevitable that nuclear will continue to play a role in our energy here. Now the question is how much will go into future nuclear plant design to try and reduce possible issues during times of natural disaster or war.

  10. The Japan nuclear accident due to the earthquake and tsunami should give us a message that this nuclear energy is not safe for us at all . I think the we should really think twice before we go further with the nuclear energy in our country.

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