Nuclear plants at risk

The earthquake-and-tsunami nuclear crisis in Japan has raised concerns about the risks posed by earthquakes to nuclear plants worldwide. Many nuclear reactors, like those in Japan, exist in earthquake-prone areas.

Analysis shows, however, the real issue is the extreme risk at the imperiled Fukushima site, whose two plants and 10 reactors make the largest nuclear complex in the world.

Worldwide, most of the 201 nuclear complexes have not been within 100 miles of a magnitude five or higher earthquake since 2003. Another 29 percent experienced up to 100. But Japan and Taiwan were home to all 12 complexes shaken by more than 100 significant earthquakes.

SOURCE: U.S. Geological Survey, World Nuclear Association, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology.

GRAPHIC: Dan Keating and Cristina Rivero - The Washington Post. Published March 16, 2011.