Level 1 | Level 2 | Level 3 | Answers

Japan has a problem. In 2011, there was a huge earthquake in Japan that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The power plant is in Fukushima, which is north of Tokyo. The damage from the earthquake and tsunami was massive. Many houses and buildings were destroyed and over 20,000 people were killed or missing. The huge damage meant that the power plant went into meltdown. A meltdown is when a nuclear power plant core overheats and fails. This can then cause radiation to leak out of the power plant. The Japanese government had to work hard to stop radiation from leaking from the power plant. Water has been used to keep the power plant cool for 10 years now. After the water is used, it is stored in giant tanks. The water in the tanks is radioactive because of where it has been in the power plant. Space is now running out to store the water and there will be no more space by 2022.

The Japanese government has said that they will start releasing the water into the ocean in 2022. This has upset many people. People are scared of radiation and they think that the water will damage the environment. They are also nervous about whether the radioactive water will be dangerous to humans. Scientists say that this is because people don’t completely understand radiation. There is radiation in almost everything. Radiation is around us everywhere we go. However, the misunderstanding comes from people not knowing how much radiation is actually harmful to people. Before the Japanese government releases any of the water into the ocean, they will dilute it. This will make it less radioactive than regular drinking water. The water will then also be released into the ocean incredibly slowly. It will take about 30 years to release the stored water into the ocean.

Misunderstandings about radiation and nuclear power have stopped it from becoming used in more countries. Nuclear power is very safe and very good for the environment. However, people are scared of nuclear power because they think it is very dangerous. The words “radiation” and “radioactive” have become feared despite people not understanding what they mean. 1L of the water that Japan will release into the ocean will have similar radioactivity to four bananas. Pro-nuclear power campaigners argue that the misunderstandings are holding humanity back. They want to start using more nuclear power plants to help the environment. Many people believe that nuclear power is the answer to the global climate emergency but convincing everyone else is a big hurdle.

Difficult Words

Nuclear (adj): A type of energy made from nuclear fission.

Meltdown (n): A disastrous collapse or breakdown.

Radiation (n): High-energy coming from a certain place.

Dilute (v): To lessen the strength of something by mixing it with something else.

Campaigner (n): A person who tries or promote a certain cause.

Hurdle (n): An issue or problem.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Meltdown A. Lessen
2. Radiation B. Problem
3. Dilute C. Promoter
4. Campaigner D. Collapse
5. Hurdle E. High-energy

True or False?

1. There was a massive tornado in Japan in 2011. T / F

2. Over 20,000 people were killed or missing from the earthquake. T / F

3. Wind has been used to keep the Fukushima power plant cool for 10 years. T / F

4. The Japanese government plan to release the water immediately. T / F

5. Many people misunderstand radiation and nuclear power. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. there / was / 2011, / in / a / In / huge / earthquake / Japan

2. then / leak / can / to / radiation / cause / This / out

3. in / is / almost / There / everything / radiation

4. to / take / about / It / release / will / the / water / stored / 30 years

5. to / They / plants / more / nuclear / want / using / power / start

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

American English: Coming Soon!

MisunderstandingsRegularEnvironment
DamagedHumanityTanks

Japan has a problem. In 2011, there was a huge earthquake in Japan that (1)__________ the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The power plant is in Fukushima, which is north of Tokyo. The damage from the earthquake and tsunami was massive. Many houses and buildings were destroyed and over 20,000 people were killed or missing. The huge damage meant that the power plant went into meltdown. A meltdown is when a nuclear power plant core overheats and fails. This can then cause radiation to leak out of the power plant. The Japanese government had to work hard to stop radiation from leaking from the power plant. Water has been used to keep the power plant cool for 10 years now. After the water is used, it is stored in giant (2)________. The water in the tanks is radioactive because of where it has been in the power plant. Space is now running out to store the water and there will be no more space by 2022.

The Japanese government has said that they will start releasing the water into the ocean in 2022. This has upset many people. People are scared of radiation and they think that the water will damage the (3)_____________. They are also nervous about whether the radioactive water will be dangerous to humans. Scientists say that this is because people don’t completely understand radiation. There is radiation in almost everything. Radiation is around us everywhere we go. However, the misunderstanding comes from people not knowing how much radiation is actually harmful to people. Before the Japanese government releases any of the water into the ocean, they will dilute it. This will make it less radioactive than (4)___________ drinking water. The water will then also be released into the ocean incredibly slowly. It will take about 30 years to release the stored water into the ocean.

(5)_________________ about radiation and nuclear power have stopped it from becoming used in more countries. Nuclear power is very safe and very good for the environment. However, people are scared of nuclear power because they think it is very dangerous. The words “radiation” and “radioactive” have become feared despite people not understanding what they mean. 1L of the water that Japan will release into the ocean will have similar radioactivity to four bananas. Pro-nuclear power campaigners argue that the misunderstandings are holding (6)___________ back. They want to start using more nuclear power plants to help the environment. Many people believe that nuclear power is the answer to the global climate emergency but convincing everyone else is a big hurdle.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What is your opinion about nuclear energy?
5. What source of energy does your country use the most?
6. Is it possible to make people less fearful of nuclear energy?
7. Do you think every country should be using nuclear energy?
8. Should the Japanese government dump the water into the ocean?
9. Should students learn about radiation in school?
10. What is the general opinion about nuclear energy in your country?
11. Do you think it’s understandable that people are nervous about Japan’s plan?
12. Is your country doing anything to change to greener sources of energy?
13. What do you think about the Chinese spokesman’s request to the Deputy Prime Minister of Japan?
14. Can you think of any other ways for Japan to get rid of the water?
15. How can people be educated about the safety of nuclear energy?
16. Do you think nuclear energy could be the answer to climate change?
17. Is climate change often discussed in your country?
18. Has your country had any disasters like the Fukushima power plant meltdown before?
19. Would you live close to a nuclear power plant?
20. What do you think about Tepco being hesitant to put more safety measures in place because of public opinion?