Today, many outlets report that it’s very likely that the #2 reactor at Daiichi is in full meltdown. There is a strong possibility that rising radiation levels from other sources (such as a pool of spent nuclear fuel rods that is heating up) will force the 50 remaining workers at the plant to evacuate. That would lead to full meltdown of the three previously operational reactors.
Pro-nuclear bon vivant William Tucker is suddenly quite popular on the print version of the lecture circuit, and he argues that Japan does not face another Chernobyl. His thesis hinges on the fact that none of the reactor cores were breached at the time, but oops, that was yesterday! The Register says the same thing, and seems no less foolish for it, in light of recent events.
Many nuclear power plants are located along the coast, and that’s the real problem, says The Guardian:
Many nuclear-power plants are located along coastlines, because they are highly water-intensive. Yet natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis are becoming more common, owing to climate change, which will also cause a rise in ocean levels, making seaside reactors even more vulnerable.
Nuclear power is expensive and risky, and that’s why Wall Street won’t touch it, says Friends of the Earth:
“This is yet another example of how a multi-billion dollar investment can turn into a multi-billion dollar liability within minutes. The only way that new reactors will be built in the United States is if the economic risk is put upon the taxpayer through federal loan guarantees and/or upon ratepayers through advanced cost recovery,” says Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School.
For another take on these events, check out what proponents of nuclear power are saying.
“Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl,” Wall Street Journal
“Fukushima is a triumph for nuke power: Build more reactors now!,” The Register
“Fukushima blast shows nuclear is not the answer,” The Guardian
“Experts Comment on U.S. Implications of Japanese Reactor Crisis,” Friends of the Earth