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Nuclear Power Plants
Without electrical power, the cooling units in Japan's nuclear power plants will not work. Without the cooling units, the reactors will become overheated, which could result in a nuclear meltdown that would release radioactive materials into the environment. More information on this topic can be found in the links below.
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Japan Earthquake, Pacific Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster
An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, occured off the eastern coast of Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011. The quake altered the coastline of Japan by 8 feet and shifted the earth's axis. The tremors caused widespread damage, and were quickly followed by a massive tsunami that swept away everything in its path.
AP Photo/Kyodo News)
AP Photo: Tsunami tidal wave in northern Japan
Waves from the tsunami hit the islands of Hawaii, the coast of California, and Russia.
NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Image of maximum tsunami wave amplitude after the Japan earthquake of March 11, 2011
The earthquake, tsunami and resulting loss of electrical power have created emergency situations at Japan's nuclear power plants, where hydrogen explosions and rising radiation levels have raised fears of a major nuclear accident.
Getty images: Video from Japan's NHK Monday March 14th shows the moment of a hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power station's number three reactor.
On April 2nd, workers discovered an 8-inch crack in a concrete channel at reactor No. 2 where radioactive water had been accumulating after it had been sprayed onto the reactor to cool it. Contaminated water is leaking into the ocean, causing high levels of radioactivity in the ocean water around the plant.
By April 19, 2011, the death toll has climbed to nearly 14,000, with an additional 14,000 missing and 136,000 displaced. Radiation levels around the Fukushima nuclear plant are higher than normal, forcing evacuation of residents in a 20-km (12.5-mile) radius around the plant.
Police in radiation-proof suits on Sunday search for the missing in Namie, Japan, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. AP/Getty Images
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