After what now looks like significant foot-dragging, for fully one month, Japanese authorities have finally admitted the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is undergoing a level 7 nuclear emergency, the worst possible. There is still an effort to slow-walk this news, with repeated claims the radiation release has not been as significant as Chernobyl, also a level 7, but the Fukushima disaster involves 6 reactors, with at least 4 considered to be at ongoing risk of meltdown.
Last week, radiation levels in water leaking from the plant were found to be at 7.5 MILLION times the legal limit, and it was acknowledged that officials had been deliberately dumping highly radioactive water directly into the Pacific Ocean. The news that, on day one of this emergency, there may have been as much as 10% of the Chernobyl event’s radiation released suggests the still mounting crisis is far from contained, and the evacuation area should be expanded.
Last Thursday, Citizens Climate Lobby's Villanova group held a meeting to discuss the nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan and how this impacts future energy policy in the United States. The Villanova group leader also explained the usefulness of personal testimony in letters to Congress, in support of the Million Letter March.
The question of how nuclear power, or its deep fallibility, will affect the clean energy future is crucial, because the conventional policy response to a reduction in nuclear power investment is the expansion of interest in carbon intensive fossil fuels. We now have the technology to shift to a clean energy economy, and the responsibility to move our nation’s policy in that direction.