A lot of news is breaking on Fukushima Daiichi. While many sources point out worst-case scenarios, some of the pictures painted are clearly exaggerated. Even if the worst-case scenario plays out, it will not be the end of life on the planet, as some in the blogosphere have claimed. Humanity has survived the release of large volumes of nuclear radiation into the atmosphere during the days of nuclear weapons testing, and during the Chernobyl event. Still, there is a lot of reason for concern, and things can go wrong and get worse if not given proper timely attention.
How much damage this event will create in the biological world will be debated for some time. See related Chernobylʻs legacy recorded in trees. But stemming the tide of radioactive water into the ocean, stabilizing the spent fuel pools and reactor cores will allow everyone to breathe easier, and build trust so that affected communities can feel secure.
The situation at Fukushima Daiichi has become critical in a number of ways, and clearly needs intervention. Prime Minister Abe has committed Japanʻs Government to action. We wish him luck, and hope he will solicit and receive support from knowledgeable people inside and outside Japan. Japan is clearly now beginning to think “outside the box” in the proposed endeavor to freeze the soil around the plant to stop the migration of groundwater into the facility. It is certainly a time to think outside the box, and to take all precautions necessary to stabilize the situation. Planning and preparing to deal with the worse case scenarios rapidly could prevent the worst case scenario from occurring. This is important for Japan and the people of Fukushima. Ultimately we all have a stake in the outcome.
Here are a couple of recent articles that summarize and present viewpoints on the current situation around Fukushima Daiichi:
PBS: Six Telling Figures
National Geographic: What You Should Know
Bloomberg (personal account): Japanʻs Nuclear Nightmare