Trump’s Energy Secretary Tours Site Of Nuclear Disaster


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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Energy Sec. Rick Perry toured the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant in Japan, just six years after one of the worst reactor meltdowns in history.

Perry visited the crippled nuclear reactor Sunday as part of his first trip to Asia as head of the Energy Department. Perry will talk to Japanese officials about the country’s energy future and cleanup efforts at the Fukushima plant.

“A truly eye-opening experience,” Perry said. “The U.S. is committed to our partnership with Japan on this cleanup and our shared vision for a clean environment and brighter future.”

The Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and then a tsunami in 2011, causing a meltdown and subsequent radiation leaks. No deaths from radiation sickness were reported, but 100,000 citizens were evacuated from the area, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Prior to the disaster, the Japanese government planned to build enough reactors to provide 50 percent of the country’s electricity. Officials promised to replace nuclear power with wind or solar after the reactor meltdown, but the switch caused the price of electricity to rise by 20 percent.

Japan aims to restart at least 32 of the 54 reactors shut down following the Fukushima disaster. Officials aim to use nuclear power to meet 20 percent of Japan’s electricity needs by 2030.

Nuclear power provided 29 percent of Japan’s total electricity before 2011, but will decline to 13.6 percent by 2023 and 1.2 percent by 2040, according to reports. Japan got 24 percent of its electricity from coal in 2010 and the country plans to get more than a third of its power from coal by 2040.

Nuclear power, even accounting for high-profile nuclear accidents, is statistically the safest way of generating electricity. Coal power kills 280,000 people for every trillion kilowatt hours it produces. Rooftop solar kills 440 for the same amount of electricity. Nuclear energy only kills 90, by this measure, including deaths from disasters.

Deaths from nuclear power are very rare relative to deaths from industrial accidents, mining accidents or pollution.

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