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The Fukushima Power Plant in Japan had three safety measures in place to make sure the fuel rods inside the nuclear reactor do not overheat. For various reasons attributed to the earthquake that triggered a tsunami, the measures failed. (flickr)

The Nuclear Reactor Problem, Explained

by John Asante
Mar 17, 2011

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John Asante

I'll keep this short, as I'm sure you're following the reporting on the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last week as much as we are. As news rolls in from thousands of miles away, there are new developments regarding the state of the reactors and the potential amount of radiation the Japanese people may be exposed to. All of this information, more or less, will be updated and changed in the coming weeks.

For those of us still trying to understand what caused the nuclear reactor problems at Fukushima Power Plant, perhaps this video from CNN will help a bit. In addition to providing diagrams on how nuclear reactors work, there's footage of power plant workers servicing reactors on a daily basis.

And if you're anything like me — when it comes to learning something new in the field of science — words only do so much. The combination of audio and video can provide a further look into the problem at hand.

Perhaps the most informative part was hearing a voice straight from the source. Professor Akira Omoto of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, who was involved in construction of the Fukushima Plants, offers an explanation as to why the nuclear reactor failed.

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