If the public can be led to believe that foreign aid and earmarks are big drivers of the national debt, I suppose they can be led to believe that the Fukushima crisis “proves” nuclear power is too dangerous to handle. Which side’s going to take the lead on pushing that message on them, though? Conservatives have been lamenting the moratorium on new nuke plants after Three Mile Island for decades, and liberals are too invested in using clean energy to mitigate global warming to give up on nuclear power after one scary setback. Greenpeace and the rest of the hardcore environmentalist lobby will do their best to exploit this, but even Obama has refused thus far to suspend any nuclear energy projects in the works. So how, exactly, will the “no nukes” movement gain traction? Especially now that Japan’s nuclear situation “is on the verge of stabilizing” and stories like this are starting to appear:
ProPublica spoke with seven top nuclear engineers and scientists to at least establish some boundaries for the disaster’s potential health and environmental impacts.
The rough consensus: The long-term and most severe effects from radiation at the plant, where four of six reactors are in crisis and hundreds of tons of spent fuel is a risk, will be largely contained to the area around the plant, affect a relatively limited population and will likely not spread outside Japan…
Experts interviewed by ProPublica said that even if a meltdown scenario unfolded unabated, the contamination would likely remain localized and would not affect a large population because evacuations have already been ordered. There remains uncertainty about whether worst-case contamination could reach as far as Tokyo, about 150 miles from the Fukushima plant, but few believe there is any chance of dangerous levels of contamination spreading offshore.
Follow the link and read down to the very end of that piece for your quote of the day. The plant is 40 years old, used containment vessels of questionable integrity, was hit with an earthquake and tsunami of Biblical proportions, and it still didn’t produce a worst-case-scenario of total meltdown in the reactor or among the spent fuel rods. Emphasizing that point together with the many upgrades in nuclear safety since Fukushima was built, including the advent of pebble-bed reactors, will reassure plenty of nuke skeptics, especially if Democrats and Republicans push the idea jointly. Bipartisanship fever — catch it!
After you watch the Krauthammer clip, be sure to have a look at this nifty graphic representation of radiation levels from XKCD. As you’ll see, in one very specific spot northwest of Fukushima, the radiation dosage lit up the green box. Most everywhere else, though, the radiation spike was negligible. Click the image to watch.