2011-03-18

Nations revise nuclear program after Japan’s crisis

The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. (Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)/Handout/Reuters)

The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex was torn apart by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week. (Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)/Handout/Reuters)

By César Morales Colón for Infosurhoy.com – 18/03/2011

WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A – The catastrophic earthquake in Japan and the nuclear crisis that ensued have prompted countries all over the world, from Turkey to Venezuela, to revise the security and viability of their nuclear programs.

Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and China are among the countries that have revised their nuclear programs at some level after the Japan disaster, according to a statement by environmental watch dog Greenpeace.

“The images from Japan show us that nothing, even the worst, is unthinkable,” Guenther Oettinger, Energy Commissioner of the European Union said to a German radio station.

Germany was one of the first countries to act, officially suspending for three months a decision that would extend the life of its nuclear plants, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reporters in Berlin.

Merkel’s administration reversed a decision to shut down all 17 nuclear plants in Germany, extending their operation for 12 years.

In Latin America, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera said that a new nuclear pact to be signed with the United States will strengthen the security of the two reactors in the country.

New advancements in nuclear safety technology will make the reactors “absolutely earthquake-proof in terms of security,” he said during a visit to the Japanese embassy in Santiago to express his condolences for those killed in the earthquake.

The nuclear pact with the U.S. “is pro-security, in favor of life and the protection of the health of all Chileans.”

“[The pact] highlights research, human-resource training, and achieving higher standards of security in radioactive residue disposal of the two experimental reactors we have in Chile,” Piñera said.

“And that's why we are studying this option, because Chile can't categorically reject any alternative in energy generation,” he said.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announced the suspension of his country’s nuclear program, citing the crisis in Japan as a factor.

“[The Japanese nuclear crisis] and is going to alter dramatically the nuclear energy development plans in the world,” Chávez said in a televised speech.

Chávez and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin signed a nuclear development deal in April of 2010, during Putin’s visit to Caracas.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos hailed the Venezuelan government’s decision, calling it “a gesture of timely precaution.”

“We salute the announcement of President Hugo Chávez to freeze the program to build a nuclear plant in Venezuela,” he added.

In Mexico, officials inspected Laguna Verde, the country’s sole nuclear power facility, located near the coastal city of Veracruz, in the Caribbean coast.

“After completing a thorough inspection of the Laguna Verde nuclear power plant, we can say that it is safe,” Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte posted on his Twitter account.

“We have full guarantees from the federal government, the Energy Secretariat and the Federal Electricity Commission that Laguna Verde is in top operating condition,” Duarte told reporters after a tour of the facility.

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