On March 11, 2011, people from around the world watched in horrified fascination as one disaster after another struck Japan. An earthquake that measured an astonishing 9.0 on the Richter scale triggered a 14-meter high tsunami, which in turn led to a nuclear crisis unmatched since Chernobyl. Three of six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered meltdowns while spent fuel rods at another reactor caught fire, releasing radioactive material directly into the atmosphere. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant's operator, reported that molten nuclear fuel may have bored more than 2 feet into the floor of one of the reactors, getting within a foot of a critical steel barrier above a concrete basement. This was “the...

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