This piece gives an analysis of the situation in a way that yields insight into the nature of the task facing us — I say “us” because I don’t think this will fall on the shoulders of Japan alone. The reason: How this accident impacts other countries depends on how this unforgiving situation located on the island of Japan is handled. Handling this situation is like walking a tightrope, not for an hour, or a day, or a few weeks, but for at least a few years. Reuters says it might even be a few decades, and they may be right about that.
In my last post on the topic of Japan’s nuclear crisis, I wrote about the information vacuum and the enforcement vacuum in which the crisis was taking place. By now, enough has become clear that, whatever the details, the nature of the task ahead is such that there are competing goals (a desire to use lots of water to ensure adequate cooling, a desire to minimize the amount of radioactive effluent that is produced), and the magnitude of the task can only be described as incomprehensible at the moment.
The URL for the article is here: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/31/us-japan-nuclear-idUSTRE72U04N20110331
The tasks ahead are extremely demanding and, on top of being demanding, many of the them need to be done from within a no-win situation.
The obvious question arises: what if there was a terrible nuclear accident requiring constant vigilance for years — and nobody wanted to tend the dangerous mess left behind? Suppose nobody wanted to go there anymore. What would happen then?