“Bad nuke” closes in North Korea; “good nuke” leaks radiation in Japan

International inspectors July 15 confirmed that North Korea had shut down the nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon research facility, the fruit of a painstaking diplomatic effort in which the DPRK will immediately start receiving oil aid from South Korea. (WP, Reuters, July 12) The following day, a 6.8 earthquake in Niigata prefecture, Japan, caused a fire and leak of radioactive water into the sea at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, run by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), is the world's largest commercial nuclear plant. Japan has a fast-growing nuclear industry, with 55 plants operating and another 11 planned. Nuclear power currently provides a third of the country's energy, but Tokyo plans to boost this to 40%. The plans are opposed by environmentalists and local residents who say the government is inviting disaster by building so many reactors in a seismically unstable country. (The Independent, Reuters, July 17)

This juxtaposition of news stories indicates the absurdity of dividing the world's reactors into "good nukes" and "bad nukes." As unfashionable as it may be today, we stand by the old slogan of the '70s anti-nuclear movement: SHUT 'EM DOWN!

See our last posts on North Korea, Japan, and nuclear fear.

  1. Japanese nuclear leak bigger than first reported
    From CBC, July 18:

    A leak of radioactive water from a Japanese nuclear power plant was 50 per cent larger than first reported, but remains below dangerous levels, the company that operates the plant said Wednesday…

    In a statement, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it had initially misreported the amount of radiation in the 1,200 litres of water that leaked, but said it was still “one-billionth of Japan’s legal limit.”

    “We made a mistake in calculating the amount that leaked into the ocean. We apologize and make correction,” the statement said.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, called on Japan to hold a thorough probe into the leak.

    “It’s clear that this earthquake, as TEPCO, the operating company, indicated, was stronger than what the reactor was designed for,” IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.