Top News: Our thoughts remain with people of Japan today as the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached another critical phase. Radiation is feared to have leaked after apparent hydrogen blasts at two more reactors. The Japanese government urged people living between 20 and 30 kilometers of the plant to stay indoors, after radiation was detected equivalent to 400 times the level to which people can safely be exposed in one year.

Japan

Copyright Greenpeace International

#Earthquake/nukes: Japan’s nuclear crisis reigniting the nuclear debate throughout the world. In Europe, ministers of energy convened to discuss Europe’s nuclear safety and preparedness, which continues today. However, some European leaders have been vocal about their position:

Germany’s and Switzerland’s decision to reassess the safety of their own reactors and possibly reduce their reliance on them.

• Italy, which abandoned nuclear power in 1987, had planned to return but is now in doubt.

• There is a strong debate about extending the lifetime of Belgium nuclear power plants.

• Poland has announced "a discussion" about their nuclear plans.

• The French Minister however, is not too receptive on the “stress test” plan put forward by the Austrian environmental minister. France has engaged in a campaign for the inclusion of nuclear as "low-carbon energy source" in the EU Strategy against the warming (Although, I have a feeling their stance might change with the current events).

The debate has extended to other countries with nuclear power plants:

• China said it would be more cautious in their plans to triple the number of nuclear reactors, however, vice minister of environment Zhang Lijun, said that Japan’s difficulties would not deter his nation’s nuclear rollout. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said that his country would review all safety systems at India’s nuclear plants.

• Across the Middle East, as demand for energy increases, countries have been racing to build up nuclear power. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the project’s developer, is “closely monitoring the situation in Japan,” a spokesman said Monday, although no reassessment of the effort is under way. Read full story on emerging economies move towards nuclear power here.

• In Chile, the crisis in Japan revived the criticism of the recent government plan to use nuclear power as a source of energy in the midst of economic development in a country prone to seismic activity.

• In the United States, Senator of Massachusetts Edward J. Markey, sent a letter to President Obama calling for a moratorium on new nuclear plants. The president has yet to comment on the ongoing debate of nuclear power resulting from the situation in Japan. For a better understanding on U.S nuclear industry, click here.

• Throughout Latin America, revision of nuclear plants and emergency plans in case of disasters are being revised in countries like Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina, all of whom are preparing to develop nuclear power plants.

 

#Climate: Unusually low temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer have recently initiated massive ozone depletion. The Arctic appears to be heading for a record loss of this trace gas that protects the Earth’s surface against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This result has been found by measurements carried out by an international network of over 30 ozone sounding stations spread all over the Arctic and Subarctic and coordinated by the (AWI) in Germany.