• Question: Is there anyway to destroy the nuclear energy that is being held completely so that if any natural disasters, such as the one in Japan, ever happens again we would be able to stop it from harming the thousands of people that it is?

    Asked by lauramaacd to David, Luna, Mark, Melanie, Probash on 24 Mar 2011 in Categories: .
    • Photo: David Pyle

      David Pyle answered on 24 Mar 2011:

      No – the nuclear materials can’t be destroyed, and they will continue to decay and release radiation for as long it takes, depending on their halflives. What we can do, though, is to work out ways of storing the nuclear materials in a form that minimises the chance of any radioactivity being released to the environment. For the small amounts of radioactivity that have been released into the environment, the best tactics are to monitor food products, and avoid eating anything that has been contaminated. In time, the radioactive caesium and iodine will become diluted and will also decay away, so the problem will slowly recede. The iodine released is probably the isotope I-131: this has a half life of only about 8 days.

      We shouldn’t panic, though – guidelines for ‘safe’ levels of radioactive contamination in food are very stringent, and the absolute levels of contamination are small. It is very unlikely that anyone in the general population of Japan will be significantly harmed by the radiation released so far.

    • Photo: Luna Munoz

      Luna Munoz answered on 24 Mar 2011:

      I think the answer is in science helping to contain this energy in case of problems like the one in Japan. I think they avoided a big disaster in Japan and I think they were well prepared. We need to devote money, as a society, to preparation for likely disasters. I lived in New Orleans before the flood and they were poorly prepared.