The genie trying to get out of this particular bottle is a very nasty genie indeed.
Reactor #3 at Fukushima Daiichi is fueled by rods with 6% plutonium, obtained from spent fuel rods. (This is recycling we could do without.) It’s hotter and inflames more easily, which means…
that in the event of a core meltdown, a Mark 1’s containment vessel has a 42% chance of failing—a whole lot closer to a coin flip than you want with something like a nuclear reactor.
You do not want to be near the genie, for a very long time.
when plutonium is dispersed into the wind you want to be pretty much anywhere else. As I reported last week, there are four kidns of carcinogenic isotopes released when a nuke plant blows: iodine-131, cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239. Plutonium is not only the most lethal of the four (“extrordinarily toxic” is how Dr. Ira Helfand, a board member for Physicians for Social Responsibility, describes it), it also hangs around the longest. It’s half life is a whopping 24,000 years, and since radioactive contamination is dangerous for 10 to 20 times the length of the isotope’s half.life, that means plutonium emitted in Fukushima today will still be around in close to half a million years.