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Japan Crisis Raises Nuclear Plant Safety Issues Worldwide

The risk of multiple nuclear meltdowns in Japan triggered by Friday’s massive earthquake have highlighted calls for a safety review into nuclear plants around the world. How good are safety procedures? How quick are evacuation plans?

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered an emergency safety check at all Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations. After a crisis meeting of top ministers in Berlin, Merkel said the events in Japan marked a “decisive moment” for the world, and promised that nuclear safety remained her highest priority. “Everything else must submit to that,” she said.

In India: "The safety features of Indian nuclear plants have to be rechecked to assess whether they can tackle inoperable situations," says former Atomic Energy Commission chairman and its current member, M R Srinivasan, who has visited the Fukushima, Japan plant.

In Taiwan, the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union said that Taiwanese plants are safe due to base locations and because of multiple backup measures to ensure cooling, even in the event that power is lost, but it was still looking at safety controls.

In the UK, where plans are well-advanced to build up to 11 new reactors over the next 15 years, the government on Sunday announced it has asked its chief nuclear inspector, Dr Mike Weightman, to prepare a report on the implications of the situation in Japan and any lessons that can be learnt from the disaster.
In Canda, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued a statement saying the country's nuclear plants "are among the most robust designs in the world" in the world. It says they have tools in place to prevent damage in the case of a quake. A spokeswoman for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the country's nuclear energy research program, said reactor sites in Canada are built on sturdy ground. Robin Forbes said the sites have been "geologically screened to make sure that they are built in a location that is seismically stable."
In the US, Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman called for a temporary moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants in the U.S. in the aftermath of Japan's disaster.  "The reality is that we're watching something unfold," he said in an interview for CBS' "Face the Nation." "We don't know where it's going with regard to the nuclear power plants in Japan right now. I think it calls on us here in the U.S. - naturally not to stop building nuclear power plants, but to put the brakes on right now until we understand the ramifications of what's happened in Japan."



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