The earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a horror on its own, but the effects on several nuclear reactors has added to the emergency. There has almost certainly been a partial “meltdown” in two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi and there may be more. This is still unlikely to lead to a catastrophic failure and release of a large plume of radioactive material, but even a small chance multiplied by the potential for thousands more deaths makes the situation very tense.
There will be some “fallout” from this event no matter what – at least in terms of our interest in expanding or even maintaining our nuclear plants. There is likely to be another tense event here in Minnesota in the next few weeks that will face a lot of scrutiny. What has happened in Japan, and can it happen here?