Japan was extraordinarily well-prepared for an earthquake disaster such as the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that just hit. Even so, this incidence exposes one of the major risks that arises from nuclear energy. The Union of Concerned Scientists write that there are at least 2 nuclear plans in Japan that could catastrophically fail after the earthquake.
More worryingly, the latest news from Japan is there has been an explosion close to one of the nuclear plants. This is a dangerous sign because truly catastrophic failures are ones that build ontop of other systemic failures. Significant failures compounding into new even more disastrous failures are truly the stuff of nightmares. Hopefully, any remaining fail-safe mechanisms on hand will hold even more catastrophic disaster at bay.