Needless to say, the situation with the nuclear plants in Japan seems to be degrading by the day. I was one of the many people who linked to the letter by Dr. Josef Oehmen explaining how the containment systems for the nuclear plants in Japan work and that we needn’t worry about radiation releases from those plants. What we know now is that there is cause to worry. This has prompted Justin Elliott at Salon to publish a piece “debunking” Oehmen’s letter.
I don’t really think that’s fair. Oehman’s piece was published on Monday in the middle of a rapidly changing situation, and it appears as though things were significantly worse on Monday than was reported. Oehmen should perhaps have been more skeptical of the news out of Japan, but his letter provided a very useful framework for understanding subsequent news reports on the severity of the situation. Had I not read it, I’d still be having trouble making sense of the news from Japan.
I would strongly encourage people to follow the All Things Nuclear blog from the Union of Concerned Scientists for up to date news on developments with Japan’s nuclear disaster. MIT has also created MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub to report on developments at the Fukushima plant. If you’re interested in this issue, I’d encourage you to stay up to date. The situation continues to change rapidly and the news keeps getting worse, and news stories and blog posts that are even a day or two old are no longer useful, except as background.