Inside Opinion

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Tag: Japan


West Coast needs federal help with tsunami debris

A worker burns debris off a dock torn loose by the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The dock, covered with several invasive species, washed up June 5 on Agate Beach near Newport, Ore. (Oregon Parks and Recreation/The Associated Press)

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

West Coast states have been bracing for debris from Japan’s devastating March 2011 tsunami, and the vanguard is starting to arrive.

Objects ranging from soccer balls to a 65-foot-long floating dock have begun fetching up on beaches from Alaska to California. Just this week, kayakers looking for debris say they believe they found part of a Japanese house on an Olympic Peninsula beach.

It’s just the beginning. The main debris field is still far offshore, and flotsam is expected to keep washing up for years. Japanese officials estimate that 1.5 million tons of debris is floating in the Pacific Ocean; although some it will sink, much of it will end up on West Coast beaches. Read more »


Fukushima threat: 1 part real, 10 parts psychological

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Maybe radioactivity needs a better PR firm. The radioactive particles leaking from Japan’s stricken nuclear plants are dangerous, but not remotely as dangerous as many people think they are.

Terror of nuclear fallout is rampant in Japan – which is understandable, given that it’s the only country to suffer a nuclear attack. Americans have less reason for panicking over the radioactive releases from the Fukushima reactors.

Every competent scientific authority in the United States has been assuring the public that those releases pose absolutely no threat to the health of anyone this side of the Pacific Ocean.

People up and down the West Coast have still cleaned out retailers’ supplies of potassium iodide pills, desperately trying to protect themselves against a nonexistent threat – thyroid cancer from Japanese radiation.

The pills themselves are potentially harmful to a few people, which makes them a bigger danger in this country than the Fukushima reactors.
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After Japan, U.S. nuclear plants need a hard look

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

This is not a good week to be the nuclear industry.

Multiple nuclear power plants have exploded and leaked radiation in Japan in a horror show that matches some Hollywood disaster movies.

The visceral fear of radioactivity is such that the spectacle of burning reactor complexes has sometimes overshadowed the vastly greater devastation and loss of life wrought directly by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.

Many Americans are now understandably nervous about this country’s 104 nuclear plants – including the Columbia Generating Station at Hanford, which is very similar in design to the stricken Japanese reactors.

The crisis is good reason to step back and look at the way America is re-licensing its oldest reactors, some of which have been operating for 40 years. It’s not a good reason to fly into a panic about nuclear energy in general.
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