Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Power Plants

Dr. Toshiro Yakashuma -- the father of the Japanese nuclear power program -- seen in this file photo from the 1950s, posing with the first iteration of a Japanese nuclear power plant.

Known as "The Smiling Nuclear Power Plant," the robot-sized prototype, itself, was never a viable source of nuclear energy, but the research that went into it proved invaluable, later, in the creation of the Japanese nuclear power industry.

The Smiling Nuclear Power Plant was, however, a hit with school children across Japan when it was taken on subsequent PR road trips to promote the Japanese nuclear power program.

In 1983, The Smiling Nuclear Power Plant was found to have been leaking plutonium the entire time it was in public relations use.

Today, in the wake of massive earthquakes and a devastating tsunami, Japanese nuclear engineers are scrambling to gain control over reactors that are dangerously close to melting down.

Dr. Ito Tashuminuni, spokesman for the board of engineers who selected the locations where the nuclear power plants were built, took questions at a press conference.

"Dr. Tashuminuni," Rose Shire of the International Herald Tribune said, "why were the nuclear facilities built in these particular regions?"

"Because the ground there was very hard and the region would never be affected by an earthquake."

"But it has been," Ms. Shire followed up.

"It wasn't supposed to be."

"But it was."

"It should not have been," Dr. Tashuminuni said. "Nature is in error, not us."

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