This has been a bad year for human suffering and natural disasters, the latest in Japan leaves us all in a state of shock. A wealth of good will and wishes goes to our Japanese friends who are dealing with a horrendous natural disaster, the largest Earthquake ever recorded at 8.9 on the Richter scale.
From a truly enormous human catastrophe and the strains that even a rich and well developed country like Japan will have to endure, the situation has now turned potentially more serious with an explosion at a nuclear power station.
The Power Plant at Fukushima is an old style nuclear plant, built in 1971. Initially a plume of smoke rising was denied as being an “explosion”, however within 30 minutes it was being described as an “energetic explosion” and video pictures were shown showing clearly an explosion took place.
It is feared that inside the plant radioactivity is 1000 times the safety levels and outside 8 times. The latest news though is that they are hopeful that this is not going to be a catastrophic core breach. Only time will tell.
Over 1,300 people are feared dead at present due to the Earthquake and Tsunami that followed it. The pictures that have come out of Japan are shocking, showing the power of nature.
It is many peoples worse nightmare that a natural disaster could cause further catastrophe by damaging nuclear installations. This is often under played by government and scientists, and is often used by those campaigning against nuclear power to show its inherent dangers.
Nevertheless, the nuclear aspect of this story is most concerning but could go 2 ways. It could re-assure the public of the robustness of even the oldest type of nuclear power plant, or it could realise the worst fears of many and worn against proceding with any type of civil nuclear programs.
For the sake of Japan, lets hope it is the former rather than the latter.
A further explosion has occurred in the nuclear facility at Fukushima, on reactor no 3. Japanese Nuclear experts are insisting that there is no possiblity of a massive amount of radiation leak. The BBC is reporting that maybe 160 people have been contaminated, although the extent of this contamination has not been stated.
Meanwhile, the estimated death toll has sadly increased to over 10,000. Devastating for Japan and this morning there were more aftershocks and a Tsunami warning, thankfully a false alarm.
FURTHER UPDATE 15/3/2011
A third explosion and a separate fire has occurred at Fukushima. It is clear now that the confidence in nuclear is falling through the floor and quips from experts and nuclear advocates alike are using terms like “well its not as bad as Chernobyl”, in a way that is supposed to give the Japanese and world community some crumb of comfort.
Investors are voting with their feet away from Japan at the moment both economically and physically as the nuclear crisis continues exacerbating an already awful situation. Not only that but money and confidence is now flowing into the renewables industry which is another knee jerk reaction.
And while a no fly zone is debated at the UN, one is already in situ in Japan for 20 miles around the power plant. One element of genuine good news is that despite a further earthquake of 6 on the Richter scale this morning, the nuclear power plant at Fukushima is emitting far less radiation now and the radiation that is leaking is being blown out to sea.
All thoughts are with the people of Japan.