Quake Triggers Wave of Nuke Plant Fears

Japanese disaster boosts movement for tighter control of power sources
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2007 5:42 AM CDT
Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture (State) is seen from helicopter Tuesday, July 17, 2007. The power plant suffered burst pipes, water leaks and radioactive waste spillage...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – New fears about the safety of nuclear power are rattling Japan after radioactive material leaked from a reactor damaged in this week's magnitude 6.8 earthquake. Plants must be built to withstand a 6.5, but stronger quakes are common on the Pacific Rim, and this year all 12 of the nation's power companies admitted to shirking safety regulations, the BBC reports.

Because it has no oil or coal, Japan has relied on nuclear power since the 1950s; it now operates more reactors than any other country except the US and France. But concern about plant safety has been building for years in the wake of a string of serious accidents and coverups, with the latest trouble adding to the growing controversy.