Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan's meltdown risk is low, but naysayers will jump on it

The practical risk of a Chernobyl style meldown catastrophe at the Fuskushima #1 nuclear reactor, damaged by the earthquake off the Japanese coast, is very low. Media reports today talk about using sea water to cool the reactor components, replacing the water lost. But some release of radioactivity may happen. And some of that includes cesium, not just iodine, that can’t be treated with medication.



I recall back in the 1970s, when I ran an “Understanding” unit in New York City, that one particular activist wanted to devote all of her energy to opposing nuclear power.  Then in 1979, I had moved to Dallas and was on a day trip near Glen Rose when I picked up a newspaper headline that talked of a possible meltdown horror at Three Mile Island. That did not happen. In 1982, while on a Sierra Club trip (ironically), I visited the Glen Rose Nuclear Plant while under construction. In 1988, I interviewed for a computer programming job with a consulting company that would have involved travel to the plant.  
Update: March 14

Michio Kaku warns that Japanese officials are making up their response as the go along, and we are "out of the textbooks."

Later today, the situation seemed to worsen.  There is a theoretical risk of fallout on the US West Coast.  The problem is that the generators didn't have strong enough backup "batteries" to shut down properly.

I hope we won't be waiting "On the Beach" with "Waltzing Matilda" playing. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Experts worry about contradictory statements:
reactor may melt down this night:
http://bit.ly/gAuxRm

Japan requests help from diplomatic partners. Most rescue workers come from Russia and China:
http://bit.ly/dKnnza