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Uranium processing plant in Tokai - Essay Example

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The Tokai nuclear plant is a uranium processing centre owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Company which is situated in the Tokai village…
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Uranium processing plant in Tokai
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Add (Add Nuclear Accident in Tokai, Japan The Tokai nuclear accident of September 20, 1999 was the largest nuclear disaster in Japan prior to the Fukushima accident in March 2011. The Tokai nuclear plant is a uranium processing centre owned by Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Company which is situated in the Tokai village in Naka district of Japan, and the accident resulted in the death of two persons. The portal of World Nuclear Association describes the cause of accident as follows: “The accident was caused by bringing together of too much uranium enriched to a relatively high level, causing a criticality (a limited uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction), which continued intermittently for 20 hours.” IAEA remarked the cause as “human error and serious breaches of security principles” (World Nuclear Association)
The accident took place when three workers were fabricating fuel for the JOYO experimental fast breeder reactor. It contained 18.8 percent enriched uranium. Then it was for the first time in three years that this reactor was fuelled and it was also found out that these workers were not professionally qualified and trained for operating such a reactor. The concentration of uranium was in excess inside the reactor which led to the accident and eventually, radioactive products were set out in the building. The workers who were near to the reactor showed symptoms like breathing trouble, nausea etc soon after the incident. The urgency lasted for around 20 hours. The sole cause of the accident was a critical error from the workers, that is, they filled a wrong concentration of uranium nitrate in the tank.
The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 which is known as world’s largest nuclear disaster is also said to have occurred due to human errors. A commission of the USSR state committee attributed the flaws to the unscientific design and management of the power plant. The direct cause was similar to that of the Tokai accident. This accident also happened when some inexperienced hands involved in the maintenance of the reactor IV in the power plant. The Three Mile Island disaster which took place in 1979 was also an aftermath of human errors (The Japan Times). Blemishes in the user interface engineering were cited as the cardinal cause for the disaster. This directed to an incorrect understanding of the valve status. This provided another entry to the list of nuclear disasters.
In all these cases, it can be noticed that human errors turned out to be the paramount antecedent for the mishaps. It is a known fact that tiny glitches can lead to behemoth holocausts in the context of nuclear accidents. The destructions brought about by these disasters to the life and environment is prodigious. The only advantage of nuclear energy is that a vast quantity of energy can be created out of comparatively small amounts of fuel. But we must realize that we are setting the whole earth on a big risk when we make more nuclear power houses. A single accident can destroy the whole world by its enormous radioactive emissions. Its impact may be our death or laying us bedridden for the rest of our life. It’s so strong that they affect even our genes. We have seen how radiation have ruined the health and fertility our forthcoming generations. Therefore it is time for us to think about safer and productive sources of energy for a secure ulterior of our planet. We must develop a strategy to make use of the complete potential of sources like solar energy, tidal energy, geothermal energy etc. It is a good sign that many of the industrially advanced countries are taking appreciable efforts in this regard.
Works Cited
The Japan Times Online. Web 13 May 2012 World Nuclear Association. “Tokaimura Criticality Accident.” (1999). Web. 13 May 2012. Read More
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