NRC Aims to Meet Japan-like Challenge

Scientists are working to find out how U.S. nuclear plants would fare during a disaster.

Months before the nuclear disaster started to unfold in earthquake- and tsunami-ravaged Japan , scientists in the U.S. started a project using the latest computing technology and complex modeling software to better determine potential consequences of such calamities at nuclear plants in this country.

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11 caused heavy damage at multiple Japanese nuclear plants, and fires and explosions led to the release of radiation into the atmosphere, forcing the government to expand evacuation areas and prepare to deal with thousands of potential victims.

Concerns escalated sharply last week as engineers in a country known for its expertise in nuclear technology scrambled to avert full-scale meltdowns in power plants near the quake's epicenter.

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