The Fukushima - Daiichi Disaster and the Earth Sciences

An entire issue of the journal “Elements” (June 2012) is devoted to the Fukushima – Daiichi nuclear tragedy in Japan in the wake of the 9.0 – Magnitude 11 March 2011 Tohuku   earthquake with Takashi Murakami (Department of Earth and Planetary sciences of the University of Tokyo) and Rodney C. Ewing (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan, USA) as guest editors. In a very thought provoking write‐up worth reading by all earth scientists and also nuclear engineers, Allison Macfarlane (Department of Environmental Science and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virgima    and the presidential nominee as the next chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) explores the “disconnect between Geology and Nuclear Engineering”. In her analysis she highlights the differences in the approach of geologists and engineers as follows : “geologists try to understand a dynamic complex earth with all its attendant processes, while engineers consider a given system over a specified period of time – but one that must work within that complex Earth System”.

All earth‐scientists interested in the environmental impact of the Fukushima tragedy in terms of atmospheric dispersion and deposition of radio nucliides from the plant, land‐surface contamination, oceanic dispersion and interaction between nuclear fuel and water at the reactor sites, should pursue this special issue that provides a concise survey by Japanese and other international scientist‐groups of great value.

The debate about the future of nuclear power not only in Japan but also around the world after the Fukushima – Daiichi event has to necessarily delve also on the dynamics of geological processes in risk assessment.

MSR/1 Aug 2012

Source: Elements, Jan 2012, v.8, No.3, pp.163‐240, Guest Editors: Takashi Murakami and Rodney C. Ewing (Issue devoted to Fukushima – Daiichi)