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Tuesday
Jun072011

Can multiple disasters at the same time be prepared for?

NHK public broadcasting in Japan has reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency has found, to no one's surprise, that the March 11th earthquake and tsunami greatly complicated emergency response at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Examples included blocked roads, destroyed communications systems, and government officials distracted by the competing demands of the natural disaster. Of course, it is fair to say that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe diverted vitally needed resources from rescue and recovery efforts in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami as well -- as true on March 11th as it still is now, three months later. Not mentioned in the news report, but very significant: the possibility of multiple, simultaneous nuclear disasters at the same plant site, and the complications created by radioactivity releases from one reactor unit or high-level radioactive waste storage pool for efforts to maintain adequate cooling on other reactors and pools, to prevent yet more radioactivity releases.