Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Updated on 3/19: Fukushima As Bad As or Worse Than Chernobyl

Updated 3/19

The Japanese officials continue to equate Fukushima with Three Mile Island and that alone destroys their credibility.  The loss of credibility by Japanese officials may or may not be a problem within Japan.  But it makes this unfolding disaster more difficult for the rest of the world.

Maintaining credibility is vital for US officials and this week NRC officials did a good job of diplomatically breaking with the Japanese official narrative.  Maintaining US credibility is not easy due to a lack of information; diplomatic relationships with Japan; and understandable, very human impulses to reassure.

Here are the straight, basic facts:

Fukushima has had multiple uncontrolled, large releases of radiation.  Fukushima has had three hydrogen explosions that have done major damages to 3 reactor buildings and possibly compromised the containment systems for 1 or 2 reactors. Fukushima has had 3 partial core meltdowns almost certainly.

Fukushima has had two fuel rod cooling ponds in crisis, with one catching fire and emitting to the environment large radiation doses that would be fatal within close proximity. 

Hundreds of first responders have been exposed to substantial doses of radiation.  Workers and first responders have been injured by explosions and reports have indicated fatalities as well as workers missing.

The 12 mile evacuation area around the plant, at the very least, has received significant, unsafe doses of radiation that will compromise much of that land for a long period of time.

To equate what has happened and is still happening at Fukushima with Three Mile Island is absurd and has been false now for a full week.

The recent progress in bringing electric power back to portions of the site is good news.  But it is not clear at all how much of the damaged infrastructure and operation systems at the multiple parts of the Fukushima site is in a condition to operate even with power restored.

3/16 Original Posting:

Fukushima is as bad as Chernobyl and may yet become worse.  Four nuclear units are in total crisis, with two more in trouble.

Uncontrolled releases of radiation are taking place.  The US government has advised Americans to evacuate within 50 miles of the plant.  Japanese population has not been evacuated from distances further than 12 miles.  Press reports indicate 5 workers at the plants have died and two are missing.

Thousands will suffer serious health consequences. It is beyond a worst case scenario.  It is a nightmare scenario.

Japanese official statements about Fukushima have had little credibility since at least saturday, March 12th when this situation following the first explosion was then clearly worse than Three Mile Island.

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