Skip to content
Subscriber Only
The Editors

Abe’s Nuclear Imperative Starts at Fukushima

Like the hundreds of tons of radioactive water now streaming daily into the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese coast, the bad news from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant just keeps coming. Stanching the flow and getting the Fukushima cleanup on track are critical not only to health and safety, but also to the future of nuclear energy in Japan and elsewhere, and to the credibility of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government.

The came last week, with the announcement that 300 tons of highly contaminated water had leaked from one of more than 1,000 storage tanks near the shoreline. On Aug. 21, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority raised its estimation of the seriousness of the incident from a 1 to a 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and original 2011 meltdown of three reactors at Fukushima both ranked at 7, the scale’s highest level). With more than 300,000 tons of contaminated water already in storage, and 400 tons of groundwater being added every day, the authority sees the threat of more leaky tanks as its biggest concern.