Classmate's family lives 130 miles from Japanese Nuclear Plant

and they refuse to leave. My classmate is beside herself with anxiety and unable to sleep. I have told her that the US State Department has only recommended evacuation up to 50 miles away.

What say the Dopers in the know? Is she being overly worrysome or is this something that could easily spiral out of control and endanger someone living that far away?

The U.S. State Department is being more aggressive than the Japanese at the assessment of the situation so I would trust their opinion. The biggest threat would be logistical rather than one of immediate threat to health. They aren’t in any immediate danger in the long or the short term at this point. The main risk if if things turn much worse quickly. Again, that wouldn’t be a health problem but it could result in getting flights out of their area. There is no reason for a loved one to lose sleep over it that far away. The worst case at that distance is needing to pack up and leave quickly and the hassles associated with that but they aren’t in physical danger. The facilities won’t ever blow up like a bomb. The most they can do is contaminate and they are far enough away so that they have time to make their own decisions if things get worse.