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Analysis and Comment (28)

India’s nuclear power industry is rapidly becoming more transparent. India’s nuclear power industry is rapidly becoming more transparent. Flickr/IAEA Imagebank

Australian uranium deal could make Indian nuclear power safer

Australia’s prime minister Tony Abbott is set to sign a deal with India that will allow the export of uranium to the country. There are concerns that some of the uranium will be used to produce nuclear…
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (red helmet) is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (red helmet) is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono. EPA/Sankei Shimbun Pool

The case for Mark Willacy’s Fukushima

Many readers will know the name Mark Willacy, an Australian journalist who was the ABC’s North Asian correspondent for five years. On March 11, 2011, he would witness events that would redefine Japan as…
Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. Fishing boats stranded by the 2011 tsunami, with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Book review: Fukushima

Three years ago today, Japan was hit by the strongest earthquake ever measured in that country – and Fukushima became an international by-word for disaster. Now, as Japan tries to put its past behind it…
It’s better to plan for disaster than have to plan a clean up after one. It’s better to plan for disaster than have to plan a clean up after one. IAEA Imagebank

What is ‘acceptable risk’ when planning a nuclear power plant?

Modern safety engineering follows the aphorism, “there is no such thing as zero risk, only acceptable risk”. However, calculating chances and risk is a finicky process, especially when played out against…
Concerns over nuclear energy mean Japan is moving back to fossil fuels. Concerns over nuclear energy mean Japan is moving back to fossil fuels. EPA/TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA

Climate targets are the fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster

Japan has announced it is significantly reducing its greenhouse gas reduction target. It now aims to achieve a 3.8% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 versus 2005 levels. The new target amounts to…
You can try and control it, but radiation is everywhere. You can try and control it, but radiation is everywhere. John Von Radowitz /PA

Explainer: How much radiation is harmful to health?

Radiation is everywhere. We catch it from the sun’s rays in the sky, and from the rocks beneath our feet. It comes from television sets, radios and mobile phones. We absorb it from certain fruits, vegetables…
Does the complexity of nuclear reactors mean they will never be safe? Does the complexity of nuclear reactors mean they will never be safe? EPA/TEPCO

Is Fukushima the new normal for nuclear reactors?

Last week’s crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan saw radioactive water leak again from the crippled facility, raising fears that groundwater flowing into the Pacific Ocean could be contaminated…
Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Tim Ireland/PA

Fukushima’s positive legacy

Just over two years after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in eastern Japan in March 2011, public attitudes worldwide remain hardened against nuclear power. It may have fallen from the…
Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment is strong, but it’s losing out to the desire for cheap electricity. Japanese anti-nuclear sentiment is strong, but it’s losing out to the desire for cheap electricity. Magnus von Koeller

Japan can’t afford to leave nuclear power switched off

Recent data shows Japan posted a record high trade deficit of ¥6.93tn (A$73.16bn) in 2012. Japan is struggling with rising imports as it tries to replace the energy lost when it shut down of most of its…
In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is phasing out nuclear power. In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is phasing out nuclear power. EPA/Julien Warnand

Is Japan’s nuclear-free pathway an environmentally friendly choice?

On 14 September 2012, the Japanese Government considered a new policy that excited many self-proclaimed environmentalists and anti-nuclear power protestors. Following intense political wrangling, they…
Exporting elephants from Laos to Japan could be the end of this Asian elephant population. Exporting elephants from Laos to Japan could be the end of this Asian elephant population. ElefantAsia

Really Laos, you shouldn’t have: giving elephants to Japan is a bad idea

The 2011 tsunami that devastated Japan was undeniably a tragedy on many scales. Thousands killed, tainted agriculture, disappearing tourism and overall economic gloom. It’s little wonder the Japanese government…
Protesters in Seoul are right to be sceptical about the prospect of nuclear security. Protesters in Seoul are right to be sceptical about the prospect of nuclear security. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

The apocalyptic promises of the Seoul nuclear security summit

It could all be a fanciful face lift, a matter of pure appearance. Behind the pretty face of a regulated nuclear world, the somewhat more lethal effects of meltdown and its associated dangers are concealed…
The true health costs of Fukushima’s radiation leaks won’t be known for decades. The true health costs of Fukushima’s radiation leaks won’t be known for decades. AAP

Don’t hold your breath for Fukushima’s radiation toll

A year can be a long time in politics. But for the radioactive particles released from Fukushima’s damaged nuclear reactor, a year is just a moment in their life of hundreds or thousands of years. So…
The more we understand about earthquakes, the more we can do to reduce their impact. The more we understand about earthquakes, the more we can do to reduce their impact. EPA/Kimimasa Mayama

Underground sounds: why we should listen to earthquakes

The magnitude 9.0 Tōhoku-Oki earthquake of March 11 last year was the largest earthquake in Japan’s modern history. In fact, it was the fourth-largest earthquake anywhere in the world since 1900. The earthquake…
Nuclear power’s unpopularity is deserved. Nuclear power’s unpopularity is deserved. AAP

Fukushima anniversary reminds us there are better options than nuclear

It is a year since the Fukushima reactor was swamped by a tsunami, knocking out the cooling systems and causing a series of explosions. A large area is still off-limits to the local people, with about…
The carpet of sludge and debris left by 2011’s tsunami wreaked havoc on paddyfields. The carpet of sludge and debris left by 2011’s tsunami wreaked havoc on paddyfields. AAP

Swamped with saltwater: what a tsunami does to rice farmers

Japan’s tsunami of March 11 2011 brought a wall of water laden with debris up to 5 kilometres inland from the sea. After the surge receded, the surrounding farming area was left covered in debris and a…
We should be investigating all options if we’re serious about reducing emissions. We should be investigating all options if we’re serious about reducing emissions. saturdave/Flickr

Don’t dismiss nuclear, whatever the political difficulties

Australia aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (compared with 2000 levels). This will be achieved by substituting renewable energy and gas for coal and adopting carbon capture…
We know how much damage tsunamis can cause, we need to know more about when and where they come from. We know how much damage tsunamis can cause, we need to know more about when and where they come from. AAP

We should have been prepared for the Fukushima tsunami

A year ago yesterday the Tōhoku-Oki earthquake and resultant tsunami hit the Japanese coastline, triggering the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster. A year on, many questions are being asked about how bad…
Japan has lost its taste for nuclear, which means higher emissions and less energy security. Japan has lost its taste for nuclear, which means higher emissions and less energy security. AAP

Powering Japan after Fukushima

Recently, Jenny Corbett, Executive Director of the Australia-Japan Research School at ANU, sat down with Tatsuo Hatta, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University and a former President of the Japanese Economic…
New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda faces major challanges. AAP

Japanese PM: is Yoshihiko Noda a new beginning or just more of the same?

Former Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda has become Japan’s sixth prime minister in five years after winning a leadership vote in the parliamentary wing of his Democratic Party of Japan. Noda replaces Naoto…
Despite the clear benefits, Japan’s agricultural sector seems resistent to an FTA with Australia. Despite the clear benefits, Japan’s agricultural sector seems resistent to an FTA with Australia. AAP

After the disasters, can we revive a free trade agreement with Japan?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was one of the first world leaders to visit Japan after the nation was stricken on 3 March by the earthquake-tsunami-radiation triple disaster. But the Australian government…
The last 10 years have seen three of the seven biggest earthquakes ever recorded. The last 10 years have seen three of the seven biggest earthquakes ever recorded. Tubbi/Wikimedia Commons

Are we living through an earthquake cluster?

Since the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, there have been several major events, and a large number of magnitude-8 earthquakes – a cluster, it could be said, of large earthquakes. The last time we saw this was…
Is earthquake prediction even possible? Is earthquake prediction even possible? Soe Than WIN/AFP

Revealing cracks in seismology

Why have so many lives been lost in Japan and New Zealand recently? And why have so many survivors – the so-called “lucky ones” – had their livelihoods and homes destroyed? As a seismologist, I ask myself…
Is the nuclear industry facing unfair criticism? Is the nuclear industry facing unfair criticism? AFP Photo/Don Emmert

Nuclear will survive, because it has to

Japan relies on nuclear power for about 30% of its electricity. It has few natural resources and imports large quantities of coal, gas and oil at an ever increasing cost. Some Japanese people are not in…
Should we be able to better “manage” extreme events? Should we be able to better “manage” extreme events? Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Learning from the Japan tsunami

What lessons can we learn from the March 11 Japan earthquake and tsunami? Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing. We can, of course, question the wisdom of placing nuclear power plants in coastal locations…

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