Monday, 14 March 2011

On Fukushima...

Reading the TT at the park this morning, I spent most of my eye-time on the Japan disaster coverage. Calls to halt the construction of Taiwan's Longmen plant and to review the other three existing plants. An unsigned editorial containing very serious yet unsubstantiated factual claims which all too easily fit a certain bias:
" least one nuclear reactor exploded in Fukushima Prefecture, setting off a partial meltdown..."
A reactor itself exploded? A partial meltdown? I haven't seen such claims reported anywhere else, but I have seen reports contradicting both of these claims - in the headline to today's Guardian for example: a wall at the reactor building collapsed, not the reactor itself. There were two explosions - at Reactor building no1 and Reactor building no3 and in both cases it seems a section of the building wall collapsed, but neither of the two reactors themselves exploded (this can be verified by watching video). Of course whether the reactors at Fukushima will remain intact given overheating and the liklihood of very large aftershocks today and tommorow is an unknown.

It's too early to be assessing the damage, but nonetheless the Reuters report included in the TT's World News section was suitably cool-headed. Long on information and context, short on panic and over-reaction; the quote from a professor at the University of Surrey was apt:
“We must remember that there are 55 reactors in Japan and this was a huge earthquake... As a test of the resilience and robustness of nuclear plants, it seems they have withstood the effects very well.”
Well, let's hope the Fukushima reactors don't go off.

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