Despite media hype about the radiation dangers, the Fukushima nuclear crisis won’t end like Chernobyl, Alexander Sich tells The Diplomat…
(Alexander Sich is an associate professor of physics at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Sich was the first American researcher to investigate the Chernobyl reactor meltdown on site. The views expressed are his own.)

 So, you’d say it was unfair to draw parallels between Fukushima and Chernobyl?
Is the kind of massive radiation release that occurred with Chernobyl possible at the Fukushima plant?

No, it can’t have that kind of massive release. It simply can’t do that…

In the Light Water Reactor core, apart from the fuel itself, it’s virtually all metal. You have the fuel contained in a special kind of zirconium alloy, there’s the stainless steel vessel, and the super structure is metal. In the Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) that you find at Fukushima, you have a reactor pressure vessel that’s approximately six inches thick steel—it’s basically a big kettle that contains the core. In the Chernobyl reactor, there was no pressure vessel. So right there, there are two very big differences—the BWR is contained in a very robust pressure vessel, the Chernobyl reactor was not. The BWR reactor is a singular metallic vessel, while the Chernobyl reactor is approximately 1700 individual pressure tubes. Those are very big differences.

via Why Fukushima Isn’t Like Chernobyl | The Diplomat.

Sich has some interesting things to say about what he calls Chernobyl myths, about irresponsible media hyperbole, and, for once, qualified praise and support for the Japanese. This is rare and as someone who lives here, I welcome it and I’m sure the Japanese would, too.

Sich is particularly angry at a theoretical physicist named Michio Kaku for making some “irresponsible” recommendations that bear a startling similarity to what Hirose Takashi was saying in his March 17th interview on Japanese tv. Which one spoke first, I wonder? Update: It was Michio Kaku, March 12. Wow, he really poured it on: Chernobyl, China Syndrome, meltdown… he even mentioned Hiroshima (tho, to be fair, he did say “We’re not talking Hiroshima here…”). I’ve underlined the parts that are similar to what Hirose said.

Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist from the City College of New York who studies string theory, is also out of his depth when it comes to nuclear reactors. He’s not a nuclear engineer, and yet that hasn’t stopped him making borderline hysterical statements during interviews. Kaku claimed, for example, that a ‘China Syndrome’ was imminent, that the ‘(Chernobyl) vessel and roof blew out simultaneously’—factually incorrect on both counts: Chernobyl-type RBMK reactors have no reactor pressure vessel.

Also, without providing a shred of evidence, Kaku asserted ‘We’re still seeing people dying of that (Chernobyl) reactor accident.’ He’s no doctor nor health physicist. Kaku also claimed the situation ‘had gone from bad to worse…the reactor is in free fall, and you have three simultaneous meltdowns, and a raging spent fuel pond that could explode.’ Most troubling was Kaku’s careless recommendation, ‘If I had the ear of the Japanese prime minister I would recommend the Chernobyl option (dumping materials from helicopters).’ In fact, dropping tons of materials from helicopters high in the air onto debris and inner reactor building structures might well compromise the integrity of structures designed to contain releases in the first place.