Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant damage have done more than reduce shipments of popular automobiles and car parts to the United States. Damage from the March disaster at Japanese chemical plants that produce raw materials for the electronics components, although modest in itself, has had some of the most severe impacts in history on the global electronics industry. That’s the message from one story in a package of status reports on the disaster in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly newsmagazine.
In the articles, C&EN staffers – Jean-Franåois Tremblay and Jyllian Kemsley – present a comprehensive status report and update on how the disaster affected Japan’s chemical industry and scientific research infrastructure at universities and other sites. An additional story by C&EN’s Glenn Hess focuses on how lessons learned in Japan are helping governments in the U.S. and other countries review and strengthen their own nuclear safety policies.
C&EN points out that the Japanese chemical industry did not, on the whole, suffer heavy damage. Plants in Kashima, the chemical production site that sustained the most damage, are bouncing back fast and should be back in operation by the end of May. Energy shortages resulting from the shut-down of nuclear power plants, however, may hamper production of many chemicals in the months ahead, raising global concerns on when the electronic materials supply chain will be fully rehabilitated.