Indeed, that is the question.
I am very much buffeted by the news that the Japanese prepared for this type of disaster by building reactors that do not leak significant amounts of radiation. I mean, if this is true holy cow, I am impressed to the very max. If these catastrophic accidents at three (3) nuclear power plants end up to be, well, a teeny bit of radioactive material, I am so going to be ecstatic.
And in many ways I wouldn't be surprised it would be the Japanese who could outwit a disaster like this; heaven knows, they've dealt with disasters, and they have shown time and again they are a resilient, strong, resolute, determined, and exacting people. Hiroshima and Nagasaki speak to their resilience; Toyota, Honda, Panasonic, JVC, Pentax, and on and on ad infinitum speak to their ingenuity and high standards for designing and manufacturing top-notch products.
I am sure those who designed and constructed the plants at Fukushima are brilliant, too, brilliant souls who thought hard about preventing disaster, anticipating even the worst of all possible sequence of events--for instance, an earthquake/tsunami/extended power outage scenario like the one unfolding right now.
And I hope so much that the "key differences" between Fukushima and Chernobyl are indeed key, that boiling water reactors, do have "elaborate systems of containment designed to constrain radioactive leakage." Oh, how do I hope and hope.
I am waiting for the newsflash that states All Three Fukishima Nuclear Reactors Completely Shut off and Cooled Down. Amount of Radiation Released Kinda Like What You'd Receive from Having a CT Scan
Until then, I am here in Seattle--grief-stricken, horrified, and wide-eyed as I re-vision the images and stories of Japan and its people I heard and saw last night on my television. Like everyone else, I don't want to see any more people hurt or killed.