Japan Declares ‘State of Nuclear Emergency’

Japan has declared its first-ever state of nuclear emergency after two of its nuclear power plants suffered major failures in the wake of a violent earthquake and a 23-foot tsunami. One reactor lost its cooling system and the other had a fire in its turbine hall. People within a two-mile radius have been evacuated. Both events were disastrous enough to be reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, though the Japanese government says the evacuations are precautionary and that no radiation has been released. The emergency will probably speed up plans to make Japan's nuclear power stations more resistant to seismic risks; an effort was already under way after a July 2007 earthquake damaged a power station in Niigata.