"...Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people."
"Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted that the disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing 'several radiation deaths' by the UN International Atomic Energy."
"It is now officially on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. Only the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986 has topped the scale."
Uh...Three Mile Island didn't kill anyone, not even statistically. So shouldn't Three Mile Island be classified as a "level 4" instead?
Even should this event actually end with people getting lethal doses of radiation, it still probably won't be as bad as Chernobyl was.
The relative danger of power sources. Coal is the A-number-one king.
Status of Fukushima Dai-ichi on March 15. The most worrisome part is the legend "(no info)" by "spent fuel integrity" for reactors 1-3. That's where the majority of the contamination will be coming from.
Reportedly #4's spent fuel pool has "boiled dry"; if you've got spent fuel exposed to air, that's BAD.
Okay: standing next to a spent fuel rod will kill you dead in seconds if it's fresh from the reactor. Even after they've had time to cool down they're deadly. You can't send a person up there to turn a valve or hump a hose in, because he'll die before he gets anywhere near the thing.
I mean, he'll die, just kind of choke and slump over dead, as surely as if someone had put a bullet into his skull. No heroic struggle, no valiant attempt to crawl that last couple feet and shove the hose into the pond before collapsing.
At that point, there's exactly one thing you can do: bury the shit in concrete. And getting the concrete there will involve the use of helicopters, which themselves will have to be scrapped afterwards because of contamination.
* * *
Chernobyl was a disaster. The reactor was a graphite-moderated reactor housed in a metal shed. The graphite caught fire and that's why the radioactivity spread so far. It was the worst nuclear disaster in history, and it killed 57 people.
But we don't use graphite moderated reactors for commercial power generation. We use light water reactors. So it was relatively easy to explain to the almost totally non-scientific US public that Chernobyl can't happen here.
But the Fukushima plant is composed of light water reactors, and worse there are plenty of the same model reactors in use in the US. The American public won't accept that what happened at Fukushima is a one in a billion shot, particularly not with the mainstream media being anti-nuclear power and reporting the Fukushima event as if the entire contents of five nuclear reactors had been airlifted into downtown Tokyo.
The disaster in Japan--unlikely though it may have been--is enough "proof" for the anti-nuke crowd that nuclear power is unsafe. Forget the fact that there are no radiation deaths (not yet, at any rate) and forget that the release of radioactivity is nowhere near Chernobyl levels, and won't be. Forget the fact that coal mining has killed many hundreds of times the number of people that nuclear power ever killed. Those facts don't matter.
What matters is stories like these: Radioactive iodine in water! and Radioative contamination of milk and spinach! The contamination is minimal, but that doesn't matter; what matters is that it's above the natural background, and that means THE NUKES ARE KILLING PEOPLE LIKE THEY ALWAYS INEVITABLY DO!!!!!!
That's how the media is playing it; that's the message the uninformed will take from what the media solons are telling them.
Whatever work is being done on building new reactors will grind to a halt as eco-nazis and NIMBYs file lawsuits and orchestrate protests. Old reactors will be allowed to complete their operational lives, but new operating licenses will not be issued and plants will be decommissioned.
So pretty much, I think that's it for nuclear power in the United States.