Skip to content

This is it: the ultimate trial by fire

Last updated on March 1, 2013

At time of writing we are watching news footage of the explosion at the Fukushima I nuclear power plant.

From the looks of it, it is the northernmost building affected by the explosion, and without doubt the containment building has been been seriously damaged.

Fukushima I, before and after (image source: BBC/NHK)
Fukushima I, before and after (image source: BBC/NHK)

So this is it: the ultimate trial by fire. Either the containment structure within the building and the reactor has withstood the explosion, in which case this once and for all vindicates the claim that lightwater reactors cannot harm human beings, even in cases of extreme emergencies.

Alternatively, if the contaimment structure has failed and the reactor tank has ruptured… then we were wrong. Then we have to rethink the way we look at nuclear power and say no to pressurized lightwater reactors.

We are holding our breaths waiting for the result.

Looking at the big picture…

One thing needs to be concidered here and that is the big picture: 1200 to 1600 people are reported dead in the tsunami. Oil refiners are ablaze… infrastructure and roads have been destroyed… tens of thousands of people have been injured, had their homes and lives seriously upturned.

But around Fukushima I, the area is and is being further evacuated. No matter what happens there – even if it is the worst of all possible scenarios – we are looking at mainly economic damage. The safety measures have protected that which matters the most: the people. In that aspect, the safety measures worked because they protected the people.

Published inCommentaryEnglishFukushima