• Eugene, Oregon

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Tune into Asian news on PBS in the United States on any given weekday morning and the chances are that the lead story will be about the March 11 tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster.

The problem the Japanese face is whether to treat nuclear power as a necessity compared with many other parts of the world, where there are options of using nuclear or hydroelectric power.

Those like me who follow the design and construction of high-rise skyscrapers in Japanese cities are familiar with the spring-loaded engineering common at the base of most Japanese skyscrapers. So, imagine, if you will, a cylinder half sunk into the ground to represent a nuclear reactor. The interior of the cylinder is built to withstand and hold nuclear material or radioactive waste.

Now imagine a second cylinder inside the first cylinder with a spacing of two meters, bottom and sides.

Imagine the second cylinder mounted to the first cylinder with springs mounted on the base of the first cylinder — as in the construction of a skyscraper — with double capacity to withstand leakage. The purpose of the springs is to withstand the effects of earthquakes. Japanese engineers will have to imagine or simulate the worst-case scenario for a tsunami, using computers. New reactors would have to be built inland five kilometers.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

jairus godeka

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