The accidents that have occurred at the Fukushima I power plant in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Japan have gripped the attention of the world and the media. The memories of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster are still a haunting image and world fears of anything similar. Fukushima may be the closest disaster we have come to close to a disaster since Chernobyl but no major release of radioactivity of a similar scale has occurred.
Many, like myself, thought at first the Japanese government was downplaying the disaster as they were wary of the inevitable international backlash. As the situation has continued, such doubts have been confirmed but the British media have taken over and is exaggerating how bad the situation is. So, how does one tell how bad is the situation really is in Fukushima? Enter, some factual data!
According to our friends at the Guardian Data Blog, reactors 1-3 are the worst hit, with the fourth coming in soon after. They have all sustained significant damage and are unlikely to be rescued. However, they do not appear to have affected the wider environment. The other two on the site on the site are completely fine, minus small releases of radiation to keen them stable. You can see them on a map courtsey of CNN below:
With the announcement today that reactors 1-4 will be scrapped, there has been discussion (with local residents) whether the undamaged reactors 5-6 will be kept in operation. Despite the radioactivity in the area of the plants, there appears to be no reason to shut them down. Neither the design of the plant was at fault but such a natural disaster may occur again, so due preparation would be a good idea.
This story is a great example of how readers can be empowered by data and allowing you for to look beyond the spin and analyse the situation for yourself. As an example, the INES levels confirm there is nothing to be worried about for us in the UK , the situation has not reached a critical level and looks unlikely to do so.