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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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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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