UPDATE: More Problems at Quake-hit Nuclear Plant

Critics say plant design regulations are too weak, predict future catastrophe

3 min read

25 July 2007—Ten days after a deadly earthquake damaged the world’s most powerful nuclear complex, the list of incidents and shut down has risen to 63 from the 50 known last week, and the Japanese government is receiving strong criticism. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwafacility—located about 200 kilometers northwest of Tokyo—is closed indefinitely following a magnitude-6.8 earthquake and the discovery that the plant may be sitting on an extension of a major fault line.

Critics say the government was lax in its inspection of the fault line in the seabed near to where the 7-reactor, 8.21-gigawatt plant was constructed. Bowing to the rising criticism, Akira Amari, minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), told the Japanese press, Tuesday: ”Asked whether [we] took insufficient measures, I can’t help but say yes.” And in an about-face, the government announced it would now allow a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the damage at the facilities.

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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid

The rules of the Internet can also balance electricity supply and demand

13 min read
How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid
Dan Page

Bad things happen when demand outstrips supply. We learned that lesson too well at the start of the pandemic, when demand for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, masks, and ventilators outstripped the available supply. Today, chip shortages continue to disrupt the consumer electronics, automobile, and other sectors. Clearly, balancing the supply and demand of goods is critical for a stable, normal, functional society.

That need for balance is true of electric power grids, too. We got a heartrending reminder of this fact in February 2021, when Texas experienced an unprecedented and deadly winter freeze. Spiking demand for electric heat collided with supply problems created by frozen natural-gas equipment and below-average wind-power production. The resulting imbalance left more than 2 million households without power for days, caused at least 210 deaths, and led to economic losses of up to US $130 billion.

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