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In the Wake of Fukushima via The New York Times

After the devastating accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, many Americans have asked whether something just as horrible could happen here.

The odds are remote that this country will confront a similarly powerful earthquake followed by an even more destructive tsunami — the twin blows that disabled Fukushima. But the possibility that something equally unexpected and unplanned for could exceed current defenses at American plants cannot be discounted.

If nuclear power is to have a future in this country, Americans have to have confidence that regulators and the industry are learning the lessons of Fukushima and taking all steps necessary to ensure safety.

The Japanese plant was first hit by the shocks from one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded, which knocked out connections with the electrical grid. Soon after, a 45-foot-high tsunami wave inundated the plant and knocked out its backup diesel generators, leaving insufficient emergency power to keep cooling water flowing through the reactor cores. The exposed fuel was partially damaged, and there were explosions of hydrogen.

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