Japan Shuts Down All Nuclear Reactors for the First Time in Almost Half a Century

 

Japan has shut down all of the country’s nuclear reactors as a result of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Thus, the country is without nuclear power for the first time in over forty years.

Before the earthquake and tsunami, which killed over 15,000 people and led to the Fuskushima meltdown, over 30% of Japan’s energy was produced by nuclear power stations. The country even had plans to increase it to over 50%. Now, oil, gas and other sources of energy will have to compensate for the loss.

 

Although all nuclear reactors in Japan were tested in the aftermath of Fukushima, the government has decided to shut down all of them. Whether or not they will go back online is uncertain and depends on a number of stress tests that are to be performed in the next years. With over 60% of the population against nuclear energy, returning online seems unlikely.

Japan is already the world’s biggest gas importer and has bought large quantities of oil and natural gas on the world’s markets last year. Power companies fear that not producing enough energy will lead to electricity shortages and possibly raise energy prices. Last year Japan witnessed its first trade deficit in over 30 years.

Environmental organizations are following Japan’s decision with great interest. On one side, with its high-tech industries, the country may become a leader in developing new, alternative energy sources, which currently provide only 10% of the country’s energy. On the other side green organizations fear that burning more oil and gas will lead to an increase in global warming.

 

Around the world, governments seem to be rethinking their nuclear energy policy. While a number of European countries are moving away from nuclear energy, the United States and India plan to increase it.

 

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Words

  • aftermath = the time after an event
  • although = while
  • compensate = replace
  • currently = right now
  • develop = plan, build up
  • disaster = catastrophe
  • earthquake = when the crust of the earth suddenly shakes
  • environment = the world around us
  • global warming = the rising of the temperature in the Earth’s atmosphere because of greenhouse gases
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • increase = go up
  • loss = having less than before
  • meltdown = when material inside a nuclear reactor burns through its container and allows radioactive material to escape
  • natural gas = gas in liquid form used for lighting and heating and taken out of the Earth
  • nuclear reactor = large machine that produces electricity by splitting atoms
  • perform = do
  • policy = the way of doing something
  • quantity = amount
  • raise = to go up
  • rethink = consider, change
  • shortage = not enough of
  • shut down = close
  • source = type
  • stresstest = here: to check everything very carefully and see how a reactor behaves under full pressure
  • thus = that is why
  • trade deficit = if a country buys more that what it sells to other countries
  • tsunami = very large wave, often caused by an earthquake, that can cause a lot of damage when it reaches land
  • uncertain = not clear
  • unlikely = probably not
  • witness = experience, observe