Radiation threat in Japan

I’m trying to get some concrete information about what’s going on with the plant in Fukushima. I live about 250 miles north of the plant. I’ve been trying to sort through the articles about danger of future radiation exposure, but I can’t seem to get a bead on it all. Are things getting better or worse? What are the chances of a containment-rod meltdown at this point? Basically, is there a good chance radiation will spew into the air and contaminate half the country?

My parents are extremely concerned and want me home yesterday, but I can’t tell if that’s the American media hyping things, or if I should actually get out of the country.

Can someone help me make a decision?

If you live 250 miles north of the plant and the wind isnt blowing your way (which I don’t think it is), your pretty damn safe IMO. Radioactive material spewed into the atmosphere (IF it is doing so) is not magically going to spread upwind or significantly sideways to the wind. For that matter, unless things get REALLY bad (and even then probably not), being that far directly downwind wouldnt be much of a risk.

At the moment, the wind is blowing in the best possible direction. That is supposed to change on Saturday.

Also there are conflicting reports that all workers have now left the affected nuclear plant. Reactor 4 appears to be on fire. Possibly in an area that contains spent fuel rods that are stored outside of the containment vessel. Reactors 1,2, and 3 are believed to have endured at least partial meltdowns. The containment vessel at Reactor 2 may have been damaged and/or breached.

Things appear to be getting worse, and at least one analyst on CNN looked to be visibly shaken at the news of them pulling all workers out of the plant. I tend to be a pessimist by nature, so I’m expecting really bad things to happen over the next few days. IF you were my relative, I’d be urging you to leave. Now.

Oakminster summed it up.

The available information is usually vague and sometimes contradictory. Hard to say for sure what’s going on and harder still to predict what might happen as time goes on.

In theory, even a complete meltdown should be contained within the containment vessels… but now there are unclear reports on whether reactor 2’s containment was breached or whether it was just the non-critical outer shell that was damaged, and they’re not sure if reactor 3’s is intact either.

And then there’s the question of the spent fuel pool which periodically catches on fire and emits radioactive steam(?).

They had to temporarily evacuate the plant of all workers due to dangerous radiation levels, but some workers are now back there.

There is, of course, the possibility that the company and/or government are being less-than-forthcoming with information to avoid widespread panic, but there’s no way to tell whether that’s just a conspiracy theory until after the fact.

Wikipedia has a detailed summary of the news and it’s likely to be continually edited as things progress.

I suppose it basically comes down to how much you’re willing to trust the authorities.

As of right now, everything seems fine. I am staying, as well as everyone else in my office. The radiation is very low, and, while spreading, has not caused any health problems.

I can’t sum it up any better than the following three articles:

I use this site to keep an eye on the levels near Tokyo.
There was a small spike on Tuesday afternoon, but right now it seems normal.

I decided to stay in Tokyo at least for now, based on the FCCJ statements by Masashi Goto.
That was one of the more informative segments that I have seen till now.
You can watch it here:

It has english translations too. The woman in the video (Kamisawa?) sounds suspiciously panicky in Japanese, but the translator kinda soothes it out. Don’t know if thats her natural speaking voice.

The U.S. is now advising its citizens to evacuate within 50 miles of the plant–breaking with the Japanese government recommendation. Warnings of “extremely high” radiation levels in the area, speculation that spent fuel rods are exposed and containment breached. Again, if it was me or mine, I’d be getting the hell out of there.