Scientific American had a recent article: “What You Should and Shouldn’t Worry about after the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdowns.”
The article was both reassuring and upsetting. It reported that
Nor is this plume of steam—sometimes visible, sometimes not—only apparent in winter. When the atmospheric conditions are right, with relatively low temperature and high humidity, the steam is visible even in summer, as happened in July 2013. It is fortunate that physics suggests such steam is nothing to worry about, because it is impossible to check firsthand. Due to the meltdown in that reactor, radiation levels are too high for any human to enter without receiving an unacceptable dose.
Bottom line: until Fukushima has a sarcophagus entombing it or all the nuclear fuel has been carted away expect periodic reports of steam for years to come. But don’t worry about it reaching the U.S. As the NRC’s McIntyre notes: “Advice for people on the west coast to buy radiation suits because of this steam is simply irresponsible.”
The steam is not a problem, but the area is too toxic. The steam is not a problem, but maybe the area should be completely entombed. It may be outlandish to recommend radiation suits, but would ignoring the problem and telling people that there are no dangers be a reasonable recommendation?
It is of some interest that the same author reported on March 18, 2011 that
Fukushima-Daiichi is unlikely to return to generating electricity via fission. Instead, it may become a memorial like Chernobyl, an entombed emblem of a terrible nuclear accident.
Am I to conclude that this is a terrible nuclear accident that does not effect us?