The Science Of Japan's Nuclear CrisisThe nuclear crisis unfolding in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan is complex. Here, a collection of stories that explain the science of what's going on at the nuclear power reactors.
The Science Of Japan's Nuclear Crisis
A summary of the science of what's going on at the nuclear power reactors.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says American nuclear plants need to be better prepared for the sudden and continued loss of electric power. Above, the Limerick Generating Station, a nuclear power plant in Pottstown, Pa.
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Workers at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant spray a substance to help reduce dust on April 1. Experts say it's likely that workers at the plant could have reduced the severity of the accident if they had made different decisions during the crisis.
This March 24 aerial photo shows the extent of damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The 40-foot-tall tsunami destroyed the electrical and cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns at some of the reactors.
Air Photo Service/AP
Manholes poke out from the ground in Urayasu, Japan, due to the liquefaction triggered by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The phenomenon, which allows sand and water to rise following ground shaking, was particularly pronounced in this area as a result of the long duration of the March 11 quake.
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In November 1940, just months after its completion, a large section of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge crashed into Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. The bridge collapsed under high winds — a failure that shocked engineers at the time.
Japan Self-Defense Force officers in radiation protection suits hold a blue sheet over patients who were exposed to high levels of radiation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on March 25. A team of experts at Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences have helped treat injured workers.
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The facilities at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were designed to withstand strong earthquakes and tsunamis, but not to the strength and size experienced on March 11.
Air Photo Service/AP
Japanese Buddhist monk Tanaka Tokuun, who was evacuated from Fukushima prefecture, looks over an instrument measuring radiation levels at a hotel on March 17.
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Many of the sensors and cameras at the nuclear power plant were disabled by explosions, so plant operators are turning to highly maneuverable robots to get a better idea of what's going on in areas where it's far too radioactive for workers to venture.