An explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan today raised fears of a nuclear meltdown.
Although nuclear disasters are rare, the few that have occurred echo in the public consciousness. Below are brief summaries of two of the most well-known, with supporting links to more information about the incidents.
Three Mile Island, March 1979
A partial reactor meltdown at this Pennsylvania power plant caused a release of radioactive material. Despite the leak, no deaths resulted in the incident, although the cleanup took years. A website created by Dickinson College offers a history of the Three Mile Island emergency at threemileisland.org.
Chernobyl, April 1986
Twenty five years ago, an explosion at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant caused possibly the worst disaster in the nuclear power industry’s history.
The accident destroyed a reactor at the plant, resulting in the deaths of about 30 people who worked at the facility or responded to the incident. More than a hundred others suffered from high levels of radiation.
The effects of Chernobyl lasted long after the initial explosion. Officials evacuated more than 220,000 residents from Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine. More than 6,000 incidents of thyroid cancer were measured in children and adolescents exposed from those three areas, according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
As bad as Chernobyl was, there are signs of slow healing at the site. The Ukrainian government announced it plans to reopen the 30-mile radius that was sealed around the Chernobyl plant to visitors this year.
Godzilla doesn’t make the most of its monsters, but Million Dollar Arm is a baseball crowd-pleaser says PEOPLE’s movie critic.
Here’s what to see and what to skip in theaters this weekend.
Skip This – Even Though We Both Know You Won’t
Godzilla He may still stride the narrow world like a colossus, but Godzilla’s 60th anniversary update doesn’t give him much of anywhere to go. Bloated and often boring, the movie largely exists as an excuse to lay waste to a few cities – not an inherently bad thing for your big-budget summer action dollar – but then it cuts the monster fighting cruelly short. Isn’t behemoth-on-behemoth action the whole reason to buy a ticket?
Granted, everything starts well enough, with the crackly tension of an accident at a nuclear plant in Japan. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is a respected scientist who notices suspicious seismic activity increasing near the plant. He warns the higher ups to shut ‘er down before things go, well, nuclear, but he’s too late. The day comes at enormous personal cost to the husband and father, as it transforms him from a leader in his field into a pariah, spouting conspiracy theories about a government cover-up, even years later.
You know Joe is a kook because even his own son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), doesn’t want to deal with him anymore. To placate the old man (because really, how many times can you hear the same nonsense?), Ford goes with his father back to their ruined Japanese home, near the accident site. Naturally, they get arrested. Illogically, they’re taken directly into the plant itself, a site that supposedly houses the greatest secret the world has ever known, but apparently is open willy-nilly to random Americans stumbling around the Japanese Chernobyl.
It’s then that something awakens at the plant. No, not Godzilla – he’s off in the ocean, waiting to bring the fight to somebody his own size. But it’s something monstery and spoilery, and it’s exciting, because it means Joe is right. He isn’t a kook! Our faith in him wasn’t misplaced! Oh, but it’s too bad that we got invested, because the movie sidelines our guy almost immediately, sticking us with the bland, blank Ford instead.
It’s then that director Gareth Edwards starts to play Candyland with Navy bomb tech Ford, moving him like a plastic doll from the Peppermint Forest, through the Gumdrop Mountains and into the Molasses Swamp, on a quest to get home to his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen).
Meanwhile, the beast that awoke in Japan is also on the go, and so is Godzilla, following its signal and preparing for a showdown. But what should we tiny humans do while we wait? Kill the new beast and Godzilla? Nay, says Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), a scientist who’s ostensibly in charge of all the world’s prehistoric menaces, and inherently knows that nature demands a monster battle. “Let them fight!”
Fight they shall, and you will love it. You will want more. You won’t get more. Just like the fantastically gifted Olsen won’t get to do much besides look worried. Just like the amiable Taylor-Johnson won’t register on screen, even when he’s doing something vaguely valiant. Just like playing an adorably irritating kids’ game isn’t the same as providing an audience with a plot.
Godzilla is a withholder. If you have a principled stance on the matter, you might consider withholding your ticket dollars. But we all know you want to see a fat dinosaur kaiju kick some enemy monster butt, no matter how lacking the rest of the movie.
See This, Though
Million Dollar Arm Like boy bands and Doritos Locos Tacos, the fact that Million Dollar Arm is cynically engineered to bring joy to a mass audience doesn’t detract from its likeability.
The baseball comedy/drama stars Jon Hamm as J.B. Bernstein, a former sports super agent who’s now barely eking out an existence with his business partner, Ash (The Daily Show‘s Aasif Mandvi). They need a big idea and they need it fast, so here it is: They’ll go to India, find a phenomenally talented cricket bowler or two, and turn them into major-league baseball pitchers practically overnight. Oh, and they’ll film the search as a reality show. (At this point I need to inform you that the movie is based on a true story.)
After an exhaustive search, J.B. and his scout, Ray (Alan Arkin), find a couple of promising kids, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal). Only things don’t go quite so well in America, as the boys have trouble adjusting, while J.B. merely barks orders and treats them like commodities.
But you already know this, because the edge-free Arm is also bereft of surprises, telegraphing every twist in the game. The curiosity is that you won’t really mind. Sharma and Mittal are so likable and Hamm so darned Hammish that it works. Add in Lake Bell as J.B.’s tenant, a doctor named Brenda who serves as his conscience in her spare time, and the (mostly) family friendly film comes together nicely. It’s an easy pitch, so go ahead, take a swing.
Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts walked their boys Sasha, 6, and Kai, 4, to school in New York City on Monday (November 25).
Later on at night the couple attended the Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl’s Children At Heart Auction And Gala Dinner held at Chelsea Piers.
The Ray Donovan star has explained why he signed up to be in the series.
He told Vulture, “Theater is consistent. You ride your bike to work. You get most of the day off so you can see your kids. My problem is that after three months I go mad. One of the reasons I never thought I could do a TV show is that I hate doing the same thing over and over again. Part of me always feels like things should be hard.”
France’s Areva SA, largest provider
of nuclear equipment and services, fell the most in more than
two years after an earthquake and explosions at Japanese atomic
power plants raised concerns about expansion in the industry.
French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet
backed the nation’s reliance on nuclear power. Lawmakers and
industry executives in nations including India, the U.S.,
Germany and the U.K. have called for reviews of atomic safety
procedures as Japan deals with the worst nuclear accident since
the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.
France has 58 reactors, more than any country other than
the U.S. There are 442 reactors supplying about 15 percent of
the world’s electricity, according to the London-based World
Nuclear Association. There are plans to build more than 155
reactors, mainly in Asia. Sixty five reactors are under
construction, the association said on its website. Japan
accounted for 7 percent of Areva’s revenue in 2010, and 4.7
percent of its backlog, Areva spokeswoman Patrica Marie said.
“The group could be severely impacted by a shift in
momentum in the nuclear industry,” Alex Barnett, an analyst at
Jefferies International Ltd., wrote in a research note today.
“The severe nuclear incident in Japan has put a global nuclear
renaissance into question.”
Investment certificates for Paris-based Areva, in which the
state holds 85.7 percent, fell as much as 10.4 percent, the
biggest drop since November 2008. The non-voting shares were
down 3.12 euros, or 9 percent, to 31.73 euros at 12:22 p.m. in
Paris trading. Electricite de France SA, the world’s largest
operator of reactors, slumped to its lowest in almost two years.
Areva is trying to complete the sale of two reactors plus
nuclear fuel to India, and of two other reactors in China. The
Paris-based company is providing equipment for four reactors
being built in France, Finland and China, and is competing to
sell as many as 10 reactors in the U.K., which plans to start
replacing old plants in the next decade. The company is also
bidding for nuclear business in countries including Italy.
India, which had been planning to increase its nuclear
power generation, will reconsider its expansion in the wake of
the Japanese accident, Nuclear Power Corp. of India said.
“This event may be a big dampener for our program,”
Shreyans Kumar Jain, chairman of India’s state-run monopoly
producer, said by phone from Mumbai yesterday.
In December Areva and NPCIL signed a preliminary agreement
for the construction of two reactors, the first of a series of
six at Jaitapur in western India.
“Areva could see some delays in orders” including
Jaitapur, Louis Boujard, an analyst at Aurel-BGC in Paris, wrote
in a note today.
China may also weigh the effects of the accident as it
completes its energy plans, Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the
National Development and Reform Commission, said in Beijing
yesterday. China plans to triple its number of reactors,
according to the World Nuclear Association.
The pace of the country’s nuclear development won’t be
affected by events in Japan, China National Nuclear Corp.
President Sun Qin said in an interview in Beijing today.
France will continue to rely on nuclear power, Kosciusko-
Morizet told Europe 1 radio today.
“We can’t switch to renewables overnight,” Kosciusko-
Morizet said. “For the foreseeable future, we will need
nuclear.” EDF is building its 59th reactor and plans a 60th in
The U.S., where Areva is building a nuclear-fuel recycling
plant and has a joint venture to build reactor parts, should
slow construction of new plants until officials can assess
whether the Japan situation signals a need for more safety
measures, said Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, an
independent who heads the Homeland Security Committee.