Three years ago, I wrote a commentary opposing nuclear power due to concerns about nuclear plant safety and waste disposal.
Three months later, Fukushima experienced a major earthquake and tsunami that caused three of the six Fukushima Daiichi reactors to lose power and melt down, including Reactor 3 that utilizes MOX fuel containing highly-toxic plutonium. A fourth reactor’s fuel pool is in danger of collapse if hit by another major earthquake. Although Fukushima, like Chernobyl, is classified as a Category 7 nuclear disaster (on the International Nuclear Event Scale), Fukushima remains a far greater threat than Chernobyl. Chernobyl was largely contained six months after the disaster. Fukushima may never be largely contained.
Fukushima’s initial release of radiation was not as acute as Chernobyl’s. Unfortunately, the Fukushima complex was constructed on an ancient riverbed on the coast. Since TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is continuously cooling the reactors by injecting seawater into the three reactors in meltdown, Fukushima continues to release hundreds of tons of highly radioactive fluids (millions of times higher than the safe limit for ingestion) into groundwater and into the ocean every day. A resulting plume of seawater and debris is devastating sea life in the Pacific Ocean as it moves east. Because this plume contains Strontium 90, whole fish populations in the Pacific could become unfit for human consumption. Strontium 90 bio-accumulates and behaves like calcium, building up in bone tissue causing leukemia. Note that this plume is due to hit the West Coast in late 2014.