Anti-nuclear energy groups are not letting the crisis in Japan go to waste.
It helps that they appear to be on the speed dial of every reporter who is covering the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Lou Dolinar at The Corner has a piece about how anti-nuclear groups such as the Institute for Policy Studies and Ploughshares (can we beat our ploughshares back into swords if we are attacked?) are steering reporters to material that alarms without informing. Charlie Martin at Pajamas Media also has a good piece on how the media “experts” quoted are often anti- nuclear activists. In particular, Martin notes that four people are quoted again and again. Googling them reveals that they are all in the thick of the anti-nuclear movement, something you would not know their media taglines.
By allowing the events at Fukushima to be used by activists, the media is doing a huge disservice to the public. Nuclear energy, properly developed, can be a great boon for mankind. What should we be learning about Fukushima? The press should be trying to report the situation as it unfolds, not bringing us PSA’s from the anti-nuke community.
No one can tell you that there will absolutely not be a catastrophic failure – really catastrophic, like Chernobyl or worse – at one or more of the Fukushima reactors. At the absolutely worst case, some combination of accidents and failures could break through all three major containments and release a large amount of radiation through the “China Syndrome” or something like it.
It’s very likely that there has been at least a partial meltdown in one or more of the reactors – but “meltdown” doesn’t mean “catastrophic release.” The reactor would not just have to melt down, but also penetrate both the still containment vessel and the concrete outer layer, and both were designed explicitly to keep that from happening.
What we can say is that it’s not very likely to be a catastrophic accident, and gets less likely with every minute. The Japanese are cooling the reactors down, and adding boron, which “poisons” the nuclear reaction by absorbing neutrons, the “sparks” that make the reaction go.
The amount of radiation that has been released is, so far, actually very minor. Instead of being “another Chernobyl,” which the IAEA put at INES level 7, this is INES level 4 – and Three Mile Island was level 5. So far, Fukushima is not just not another Chernobyl, it’s not even another Three Mile Island.
And finally, when you hear someone in the media giving one of these catastrophic predictions, check who it is. So far, the catastrophic predictions are consistently coming from people who have been professionally and personally committed to shutting down nuclear weapons and nuclear power for decades.