The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Print Edition> Business
UPDATED: April 2, 2011 NO. 14 APRIL 7, 2011
Japan's Crisis Goes Global
Radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant will have long-lasting global implications

Lasting influence

RADIOACTIVE TEST: A baby receives a radioactive test in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture on March 15 (XINHUA/KYODO)

Qu pointed out nuclear fuel is released into the air in three forms: particulate matter, inert gases and aerogel. Radioactive substances released with steam generally exist as aerogel around the power plant, while particulate matters and inert gases spread with wind. As of March 31, China, the Republic of Korea and the United States had detected radioactive isotopes of iodine-131 in the air around their respective territories. Experts in these countries called on people to stay calm because the current levels would not damage an individual's health.

But the nuclear leaks definitely will have a negative impact on the environment, said Alexei Yablokov, head of the Green Russia faction of Russia's Yabloko Party.

"There's never been an instance in nuclear power history of several reactors exploding in one accident," he said. "There may be no direct danger for now, but the negative effects of this disaster could appear in five or maybe 10 years."

He suggested nearby countries, including China, Russia and the Republic of Korea, get their helicopters ready to spray water on airflow with radioactive substances. If the situation does spiral out of control, these countries must do everything they can to divert radioactive materials into the ocean before they reach their lands, Yablokov said.

"The radiation will pollute the sea water and harm sea life, but it's the best we can do," he said.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on March 28 residents living within the 20-km evacuation zone around the stricken nuclear facility should not return home for the time being.

Yablokov said Japan can work with Russia on treating diseases caused by the leaks and develop methods to reuse contaminated ground.

The Chernobyl disaster that occurred in 1986 in Ukraine, part of the Soviet Union at the time, is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history and is the only Level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The World Health Organization said in 2005 that 56 people were directly killed in the Chernobyl disaster, while nearly 600,000 people were exposed to large amounts of radioactive substances. It is predicted about 4,000 people will die of cancer caused by nuclear radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in the long run.

Alexander Kislov, a professor with Moscow State University and a weather and climate specialist, said according to the direction of airflow, within one month the polluted air will be far from the Eurasian continent. The winds will blow certain amounts of radioactive substances to Alaska, Canada and the United States. But when summer winds come, the airflow will be directed toward Eurasia.

Seeking alternatives

Radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have resulted in cries for nuclear plants the world over to be shut down. On March 14, Germany announced it would thoroughly inspect its 17 nuclear power plants. China's Central Government also required all nuclear power-related programs to conduct safety inspections on March 16.

Nuclear power is still considered one of the cleanest, most efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources in the world. Countries are not likely to completely stop using nuclear power any time soon. In the wake of the Fukushima incident, experts, however, have suggested countries explore other clean and renewable energy sources.

"Nuclear power accounts for only about 5 percent of the current energy production in the world. The proportion is small, but the price of a leak is huge. So why do we use nuclear power?" said Chupkov. For example, he said, even after Germany closed seven of its nuclear reactors, there was no energy supply shortage.

Wind power, solar power and geothermal power can all serve as alternatives. Although the earthquake shut down all of Japan's nuclear plants, its wind power plants continued to work fine, Chupkov said. Japan may even become completely dependent on wind power supply in 10 to 20 years since the country has mastered sophisticated technology necessary to effectively harness the power of the wind. Surrounded by seas and an ocean, the country can catch wind from different directions, he said.

Solar energy is also a good energy resource, said Chupkov. For example, Japan and Germany have been working on solar energy projects, accounting for about 60 percent of the world's solar energy exploration.

Yablokov said since Japan has volcanoes on its islands, geothermal power could be another source of energy in the future. Utilizing sea tides is another option, among many, that countries around the world should take to improve energy efficiency to avert future nuclear disasters.

   Previous   1   2  

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved