Japan's meltdown and the future of nuclear power

Mar 29, 2011

There's no end in sight to Japan's nuclear crisis. More radioactive water is leaking from Japan's crippled nuclear complex, and traces of plutonium have been detected in soil outside the plant. Tokyo Electric Power says the amount is small and isn't a danger to public health.

Our technology commentator, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson, is keeping a close eye on the situation in Japan. He tells KPLU's Dave Meyer it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and this crisis is a major setback for the future of nuclear power.

Mark's assessment:

  • There appears to be a large crack in unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, allowing plutonium and uranium to escape the reactor.
  • The nuclear fuel rod storage pond at unit 4 seems to have had a partial meltdown, causing a fissure which allows radioactive wastewater to leak into the environment.
  • This crisis has yet to reach Chernobyl proportions, but will take much longer to resolve and has the potential to get much worse.
  • Modern reactor designs are safer than the older ones failing in Japan. But expect the public to be increasingly skeptical about plans for expanding the use of nuclear power.