Chernobyl released 200 times more radiation than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, combined. As far away as Scotland, the radiation rose to 10,000 times the norm. Frighteningly, the Fukushima reactors are said to be more dangerous than Chernobyl (used U-235) for two reasons: more enriched uranium, and Fukushima #3 uses plutonium.
Everyone seems to fear the specter of plutonium, which is a by-product of U-235 nuclear reactors. I do, for one, you can make more bombs, and the Cold War is why the USA decided to use uranium instead of thorium in the '50's. However, it is reported that you can actually hold plutonium and your skin will protect you from the radiation. A key matter is that radioactivity danger is inversely proportional to the half-life of the material. Thus, a chunk of P-239, with a half-life of 24,000 years, should not be a health concern. Apparently, you can even eat it, and you should survive. In fine particles in your lung, plutonium can cause cancer.
Other radioactive products of these nuclear reactors are isotopes of iodine and cesium. Iodine-131 is particularly mentioned, because it has a half-life of 8 days, and therefore very radioactive. In the sea, though, much of this material loses potency quickly, so in a hundred days, it should become safe. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years, so it can be sub-optimally dangerous, for the radioactivity is high, and safety comes only after 300 years, the time when Chernobyl is supposed to become good for human habitation.
An area the size of Switzerland for 300 years is the case of Chernobyl. You DON'T want to click on The Children of Chernobyl. It is reported that 330,000 had to be relocated. While Fukushima will not cause as much damage if the reactors are controlled, residents within a few miles will probably never be able to return home. This liability of nuclear fission facilities could well be the conclusive reason why there will be no new plants into the long-term future. This is why we should be afraid of Fukushima and any nuclear facility.
hundreds of billions of dollars. This was greater than the revenues gained from all the nuclear power plants in those countries from the beginning of operation in 1954 to when the accident occurred. The cost of Hurricane Katrina was about $125 billion, but what can we do about hurricanes? (Actually, the Blue Revolution has a possible answer.) Something similar to Chernobyl will be true for Fukushima (above left), as the estimated cost of damage will exceed $300 billion. When you realize that Tokyo Electric Power Company reported a net income of about $1.3 billion last year, you got to wonder.
124 foot tsunami and three partial nuclear meltdowns at the same location might not happen again. But consider that many nuclear facilities are located at the coastline in the path of a possible 200 mile/hour hurricane, and you should be worried. This is unbelievable, and really not a sensible comparison, but the energy yield of Little Boy and Fat Man combined is one-fourth the energy released by an average hurricane in ONE SECOND.
Further, there are 436 nuclear plants. What if a terrorist organization or two or more, say a decade ago, managed to have one of their members hired. By now perhaps there could be several terrorists plotting to cause maximum damage as insiders. There is no way to prevent these types of orchestrated mission, and the impact will be catastrophic if this reactor happened to be in the vicinity of a large population, as no doubt will be within the planning strategy of these organizations. If a Muslim, such a suicidal effort will allegedly get you and your family to Heaven, and there could be that psychotic environmentalist.
Oh, oh...another aftershock at 9:47PM Tokyo time.