Triumph? Pyrrhus would be proud.
Balance is not just supporting an contrary extreme (ask Monty Python). Yes, the usual suspects are being overly hysterical about the radiation danger but just waving all the concerns and real issues away is not balance, merely another form of extremism. And that is the part that continues to get up my nose about Page's articles.
'The reactors involved are a 40-year-old design and much less safe than modern ones.'
What is the ratio of older 'less safe' reactors to 'modern ones' in the world today anyway?
'It now appears that despite all this they have not and will not harm a hair on anyone's head radiologically.'
More by luck than judgement Mr Page. I fail to understand how you can assess this situation as 'no harm, no foul'. If a passenger jet runs out of fuel but crash-lands without killing anyone people seldom walk away saying, 'Oh well, no harm done. Where's my luggage?'
Statements like "The charge of the Light Brigade was an enormous success! They reached the guns they were told to attack, huzzah!", kind of ignore the bigger picture.
Fukushima Daiichi was designed to withstand a peak ground acceleration [Ref 1] of 0.18g. Checking the 'Notable earthquakes' section of the relevant Wikipedia article [Ref 1] indicates that the best guess currently for the 2011 earthquake may have hit 2.7g, well above Fukushima Daiichi's designed limit. Please note the difference in impact between deep and far vs shallow and near earthquakes, Christchurch (6.3 Mag) has almost the same peak ground acceleration recorded as for Tohoku (Japan 2011). In fact, there is almost no notable earthquke listed with a peak ground acceleration [Ref 1] of *less* than 0.18g.
Looking at highlights of Japan's earthquake history [Ref 2] shows that this scale of peak ground acceleration is probably not entirely unexpected. A brief survey of the list indicates that earthquakes greater than magnitude 6 that are close to, or even on, shore are pretty common in Japan. Of particular interest are the 2005 Miyagi quake [Ref 3] and the 869AD Sanriku quake [Ref 4].
It looks to me like Fukushima Daiichi's design brief was woefully inadequate in the first place and that no effort has been made in the last forty years to improve the situation. I'm not sure how poor planning and inadequate risk mitigation can be spun as a success for the nuclear industry.
Let me be completely clear, the Fukushima Daiichi plant failed completely in the wake of the 2011 quake and tsunami. *All* of the on-site safeguards and infrastructure totally failed to prevent reactor meltdown and eventual catastrophe. *Only* the emergency scrambling of ad-hoc resources and the willingness of emergency workers to take significant risks prevented the entire Fukushima Daiichi plant from collapsing into an uncontrolled disaster. Yes, the Japanese pulled the grenade out of the fire but it wasn't part of some hugely successful master plan on the part of the nuclear power industry.
The absence of a nuclear disaster in this case does *not* imply that the chance of a nuclear disaster occurring was nil. Can we put this mindless contrarianism to bed now?
[Ref 1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_ground_acceleration
[Ref 2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Japan
[Ref 3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Miyagi_earthquake
[Ref 4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/869_Sanriku_earthquake_and_tsunami