Christian Parenti: The Nuclear Crisis in Japan is out of Control

Three reactors are in partial meltdown, two are leaking radiation, at least one pool full of eighty tons of "spent" uranium fuel rods may be burning, two other such pools are getting very hot. Three major explosions have destroyed much of the Fukushima plant's basic infrastructure, like cranes, monitors and mechanical controls. Japanese officials have prevaricated, fumbled and have now largely retreated; the distressed plant is just too hot. Their understanding of the crisis is fragmentary. What they tell the public is even more limited. In total desperation they bombed the site with water dropped from helicopters but aborted that plan when radiation exposure proved too dangerous. Radioactive fallout is already sickening people, and this is just the beginning. Fukushima is a grave warning. The message is clear: Systems fail, the unthinkable happens. Yet even in the face of this catastrophe, a gang of pro-nuclear zealots, like Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California, are saying the crisis will actually be good for the much-hyped but elusive "nuclear renaissance." Nunes wants the United States to build 200 new nuclear plants! But that figure, while stunning, is largely meaningless. Why not call for 301 or 517 new plants?

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