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Issue April 2012
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Fukushima – and Fukushima again
2011 was an eventful year. Things began in March with an incident that drew the attention of the whole world to Japan: on top of the combined natural disasters of the earthquake and tsunami, and triggered by them, came the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Core melt occurred in three standard reactors, in an advanced industrialised country – a fact that many people found deeply troubling and that ultimately spurred German politicians into action. In Germany we are now seeing a shift in how the risks of nuclear energy are assessed and a transition in energy policy.
The ways in which the energy policy landscape has changed in Germany since Fukushima has been described in previous issues of eco@work. There is still much to be done to make the transition to sustainable energy a reality, but more about that in future issues.
One year on, the current issue that you have in your hands again focuses on events in Fukushima. What happened in the reactor blocks of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant? What new information about the radiological situation in the area around the plants have the experts acquired since then? What challenges face those responsible for making the damaged plants safe, recovering the nuclear fuel and dismantling the ruined buildings?
In the wake of Fukushima, Germany amended its Atomic Energy Act nearly a year ago, specifying a shorter life span for its nine newer nuclear power plants and the rapid shutdown of eight older plants. This is because a tsunami is not the only event that could trigger a major core melt accident. Other major incidents involving flood, earthquake or a plane crash could result in core melt at any reactor, as could unnoticed maintenance errors or design faults or complete failure of the power supply to the nuclear power plant’s safety systems.
A glance at other countries shows that they have responded in different ways. Some are phasing out nuclear energy, although more slowly than we are; others intend to continue as though nothing had happened. All plants are undergoing a “stress test”, but what does that mean? This edition of eco@work sheds light on these and other matters.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue and look forward to your questions and feedback.
Imprinteco@work – April 2012
Katja Kukatz (kk)
Michael Sailer, Gerhard Schmidt, Mandy Schossig, Christiane Weihe (cw)
Tobias Binnig, www.gestalter.de
Wilhelm Innovative Medien
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