The devastating 9.0 earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, together with the following massive tsunami, completely destroyed the picturesque northeast coast of Japan’s main island, taking potentially tens of thousands of lives and creating hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Along this stretch of utter destruction sit four nuclear power stations, comprising a total of 15 reactors, within a distance of about 200 kilometers. Of these, the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power station, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), is the largest, comprising six nuclear reactors. Until now, TEPCO, Japan’s largest power company, proudly boasted of the robustness of the containment vessels of these reactors, claiming that they were made utilizing the same technology originally developed to produce the main battery of the world-largest naval artillery ever produced, mounted on the gigantic battleship, Yamato, the pride of the Japanese Imperial Navy, which U.S. forces destroyed toward the end of the Asia-Pacific War. TEPCO claimed that the nuclear reactors would safely stop, then automatically cool down and tightly contain the radiation in the event of an earthquake, and that there would therefore be no danger that earthquakes would cause any serious nuclear accident. The vulnerability of nuclear reactors to earthquakes was already evident, however, when TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant on Japan’s northwest coast caused several malfunctions, including a fire in a transformer, and a small quantity of radiation leaked into the ocean and the atmosphere following a magnitude 6.8 earthquake that hit this region in July 2007. Despite this serious accident, TEPCO officials still arrogantly boasted of their “world-best nuclear power technology.”
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