There are three nuclear power plants (NPPs) that were damaged or disrupted during Friday’s 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. One of these, Fukushima Daiichi, is still having some issues, while the other two seems to have stabilized.
Much of the information coming out about the problems at this plant seems contradictory, out of date, or simply wrong. Many of the US cable channels seem to think that we are on the verge of a Chernobyl type of event, but the reality is much more sedate than that. Yes, there is a serious problem at the Daiichi plant. Yes, there have been radiation releases into the atmosphere. Yes, there have been fires and hydrogen explosions. They still haven’t lost primary containment, and most likely will not – at least not on the scale of Chernobyl. When Chernobyl overheated and exploded, bits of the reactor cores were scattered around the facility, exposing first responders by the dozens with lethal doses of radiation. Nothing like this has occurred in Japan.
If you really want to know what’s happening (radiation wise) in Japan head over to the IAEA page. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html
In the meantime, consider that the other effects of the earthquake and tsunami pose a more immediate risk to human life than the NPP issues.