What risks does Japan face as a result of radiation leakage from the nuclear power plant hit by the recent earthquake and tsunami?
Nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France Image: Wikimedia Commons, Stefan Kuhn
Technicians in Japan struggle to contain breeches in cooling and containment apparatuses at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor in eastern Japan, which was hit by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11th. Though considerable uncertainty remains concerning the exact amount of radioactive material that has leaked from the facility thus far, low level radiation has turned up in crops grown in the vicinity of the plant, and the danger of a widespread catastrophe lingers. This week, __The Scientist__ examines the latest research on the effects of radiation and explores some of the worst-case-scenario health and environmental effects of a nuclear disaster in Japan.The acute effects of radiationLate last week, a skeleton crew of about 50 workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was urgently attempting to cool the reactor core, as specially-fitted helicopters tried (and failed)...