The recent tragedy in Japan, where an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 injured 47 people and killed 9, sparks another debate about the use of nuclear materials in our world. In the earthquake two nuclear energy plants, owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), were near the epicenter and were damaged during the event. The following are excerpts from a Guardian Article describing the damage to these 2 facilities: 50 cases of malfunctioning and trouble have been found since the quake Monday.
In 5 reactors major exhaust pipes were knocked out of place and TEPCO was investigating whether they had leaked radioactive materials.
100 drums containing low-level nuclear waste feel at the plant. Some were found with their lids wide open.
Small amounts of radioactive materials, cobalt-60 and chromium-51, have been emitted into the atmosphere from an exhaust stack.
A small fire caused a leak of water containing radioactive material.
While TEPCO insists that no significant damage was done to the environment and they claim there are no health concerns as yet. Japanese Prime Minister took a less flippant view of the outcome saying, “They raised the alert too later. I have sent them stern instructions that such alerts must be raised seriously and swiftly. Those involved should repent for their actions.”
The effects of leaked nuclear materials are clear from the incidences at 3-mile Island and Chernobyl. The environmental and human causalities are devastating. In Ukraine birth defects and cancer are common even 21 years later.
Despite this, and the obviously catastrophic implications of a nuclear bomb, there are still people who refuse to support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is beyond time for the U.S. to take a leadership role in nuclear abolition.
The future of our world is dependant on our outrage. Each time these poisons enter our water and air systems we jeopardize the health and safety of the next generation. We must remind our leaders that there is never a nuclear option.