Re: Earthquake and Tsunami hit Japan - comments?
This is a real tragedy. The remarkable thing about the Japanese infrastructure is that an earthquake of this magnitude resulted in so little loss of life and damage to property. That would have flattened most countries.
Unfortunately, the tsunami it triggered did flatten cities and has resulted in tremendous loss of life. We've all seen those remarkable images, but there hasn't been a lot of the human element on the news. The BBC had a brief interview with a man looking for his wife and daughters and the way he was struggling to contain his composure just about broke my heart.
I don't know how much tsunami warning systems can be improved. Supposedly, the warning sirens did fire, but there's little one can do that close to the epicentre. The warnings certainly helped Hawaii where the government managed to evacuate the coast in time, even though the damage is negligible in comparison.
I've spent some time reading about this and as far as I can ascertain, a Chernobyl type event is extremely unlikely. However, it should be noted that the Fukushima 1 reactor is based on very old technology and doesn't even have a concrete dome (now mandatory). Cruelly, the reactor was supposed to be closed sometime this month which makes the timing of the earthquake even sadder.
It seems that the worst case is slightly worse than Three Mile Island (I hope). Ms. Fonda and others were very vocal about that event, but overall it released a trivial amount of radiation. For comparison, the radiation found in milk after that event was comparable to the 1/75th of the radiation found in a common banana
Countries are already re-considering nuclear because of this (Germany and Switzerland have already made announcements) which is unfortunate. Nuclear doesn't seem to be the problem. It's those old nuclear plants using outdated technology. New plants pose very little risk (and produce much less nuclear waste), but most countries are reluctant to build them because of the negative way nuclear energy is perceived.