Nuclear fears intensify in Japan

Fears of a nuclear disaster in Japan grow as a third explosion at Fukushima Daiichi power station released radiation into the atmosphere.

The Japanese government has said radiation has reached dangerous levels and has ordered people in the 20km exclusion zone around the plant to leave the area.

People living within 20km and 30km are advised to stay indoors and keep windows closed.

The debate over nuclear power will intensify although David Cameron dismissed any parallels between Japan's situation and the UK's.

He said: "This is clearly a fast moving and rapidly changing picture, and the Japanese Government are doing everything they can to manage the situation they are facing. We are in close touch with the Japanese authorities and have offered our nuclear expertise to help manage this very serious incident.

"The Energy Secretary has asked Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr. Mike Weightman, for a thorough report on the implications of the situation in Japan.

"The UK does not have reactors of the design of those in Fukushima and nor does it plan any. Nor are we in a seismically sensitive zone. But if there are lessons to learn, then we will learn them."

Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP said she welcomed this report and the European Green Party's call for an EU-level inquiry.

She said: "This must assess the safety of nuclear reactors in general, and in earthquake situations in particular, looking at reactors in the EU and neighbouring countries.

"It appears that the Fukushima Daiichi complex was affected not by the quake per se, but the failure of grid electricity and back-up diesel electricity supply for cooling, and that could easily happen elsewhere.

"Nuclear power carries inherent risks, and is particularly vulnerable to the potentially deadly combination of human error, design failure, and natural disaster.

"Given that there are cheaper, quicker, and crucially safer, ways of meeting our energy needs and emisson reduction targets, it is particularly perverse here in the UK to launch the building of a fleet of new nuclear power stations."

Join in the debate with edie at Luke's blog. Alison Brown


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