The Fukushima nuclear power plant is in critical condition for certain. Yet other details about Fukushima are hard to sort out. If this is indeed a very serious situation, then everyone will need to know as much as possible. But the consensus is that Japanese experts and officials have been less than clear on things, if not downright untruthful. As such, the crisis is even more likely to spread wide spread panic, whether it is warranted or not.
Panic could be necessary given the bleak reports that have come out in the last few days. The crisis is now at a level six emergency, as fuel rods are falling dangerously short of water. Even dropping water from helicopters may not have done much to slow it down.
When the nuclear power plant first began to leak radiation, officials stated that it was unlikely to spawn a Chernobyl-like crisis. But Chernobyl was a level seven, and this current situation is one level away from reaching those heights.
If the absolute worst happens, it is hard to say right now just how disastrous it can get, and whether it can do anything close to Chernobyl. The people will need the right information about it so they can make the best preparations when/if the time comes.
However, the confusion around the crisis has done little to reassure them. A spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company utility stated that their fuel pool was stable. But over in America, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko claimed that the plant has lost a significant amount of water.
Even Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan reportedly had to ask executives “what the hell is going on?” Right now, he and much of the nation don’t have a clear answer – both on how close a meltdown might be and what might really happen if it does come.
If there is a deeper meltdown, massive fear is likely to spread throughout Japan. After already suffering through an earthquake and tsunami, the country is on edge enough as it is. Yet even if a greater radiation leak occurs, the consensus continues to be that it won’t cause the same damage as Chernobyl.
But since there are disputes on how truthful officials have been in Japan, people may not know what to believe. Back in Chernobyl, workers were put in more danger when the Soviet Union wasn’t completely truthful. Even today, there is no official count on just how many died from the leaks.
Whatever happens at Fukushima will make some kind of dramatic impact. But If there’s no consensus or clarity on how dramatic it can be, or will be, then few will know what to think in this uncertain time.
NPR- “Nuclear Information Gap Spreads Doubt, Fear”
ABC News- “Japan Nuclear Crisis: Helicopter Operation Suspended”
Forbes- “Japan Radiation Fears May Outstrip The Real Health Dangers”