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Germany and Switzerland freeze development of nuclear reactors

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, March 14, 2011 15:56 EDT
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JAPAN-QUAKE-NUCLEAR-BLAST
 
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Germany and Switzerland said Monday that they would be the first industrialized nations to freeze development of nuclear power facilities while they reassess safety procedures, in the wake of Japan’s ongoing nuclear crisis following last week’s devastating earthquake.

Despite assurances, six of their reactors are said to be melting down or in near-meltdown status at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, following last week’s massive earthquake and tsunami. All of the reactors were constructed in the 1970s.

As a result, the Swiss said they would suspend three forthcoming nuclear sites and launch an in-depth study of how Japan’s crisis was created and whether their own reactors posed a similar threat.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that a three month moratorium would be imposed while the government studies the potential safety risks of its own nuclear power program.

The probe, she reportedly said, was to have “no taboos.” Merkel also said that two older nuclear plants would also be taken off the grid for thorough safety evaluations. Her administration has previously pushed for greater output and extended commissions for most of the country’s nuclear facilities.

U.S. authorities have not said they were considering a similar a move.

The Swiss have five nuclear reactors. Germany has 17.

Swiss voters just last month narrowly approved approved the construction of one new nuclear site, according to Reuters.

The reactors in Japan that were thought to be on the verge of melting down have 23 sister-sites in the U.S. There are 104 nuclear power sites across the U.S.

Japan has 54 nuclear reactor sites, 11 of which were offline after the earthquake. As a result, people in Tokyo were seeing rolling blackouts and at least 300,000 structures were without power in the city by mid-Monday.

Some experts warned that if the three failing nuclear reactors went into complete meltdown and the rods were to fuse and rupture the containment structures, it could send radiation as far as California and across the US west coast.

“Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere,” one expert recently told Fox News. “It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens.”

Image: A devastating blast rocks a Japanese nuclear facility/ via Japanese state TV.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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