nuclear energy isn't anything to be afraid of if done safely and securely, as most plants are, ESPECIALLY since Chernobyl. The IAEA, and in Canada the CNSC, are constantly monitoring everything. The number of security procedures that my co-workers and I go through on a daily basis, including monitoring for any radiation, is amazing - and we work in the cafeteria, no where near the reactors!
Between security in terms of big guys with big guns (and yes, ladies - I honestly mean guns) who have, for the past few years, won the US National SWAT Championship (http://www.nationalswatchampionships.com/results.php Bruce Power, Canada, is where I am) and the radiation and explosives monitors that we have to go through on a daily basis if we are working within the plant itself, safety is paramount. The big guys with big guns keep the bad guys out so they can't damage the reactors. And yes, I torment them. I'm insane. I torment big guys with guns. But they're nice to me. Because after 3pm I stand between them and their coffee bwahahahahaha.
Our plant is so safety conscious that, well, you know the hand held monitors you're seeing them use? Even I, a lowly cafeteria employee, is trained yearly using them and is actually tested in using them to the point if you don't pass the test, you don't keep your quals and can loose your job - and they don't care whether or not you work for them, or a contractor (like I do) and can loose your job without your quals.
I know there is a lot of info on nuclear plants out there right now. And I know there are the reactionaries, and I know there are the anti-nuclear people (there's one that moved in LESS THAN A MILE from Bruce Power, started an organic sheep farm and now complains that there's a nuclear plant by his farm! Like, DUH!!! They built that plant in the late 60s-early 70s and you moved in in the 90s. Did you not notice the HUGE reactor buildings there??) But the vast, vast majority, especially in the west, are incredibly safe and are safely managed. The magnitude of the earthquake plus the size of the tsunami were factors that could never be figured in. They were an extreme "what if". I mean, if someone told you three weeks ago Japan is going to have a 9.0 earthquake followed by a massive tsunami and possibly tens of thousands dead, what would you have said? Not likely??
I'm not an advocate of nuclear power. What I am an advocate of is education. And I'm just getting sick of the anti-nuclear brigade tearing down something that can actually be, in the right hands, very safe. The water around the plants are monitored. The air around the plants are monitored (it looks like metal sticks off fence posts with a marshmellow on the end). About every three or four months they test all the sirens - fortunately they send out fliers first so we all know!) and every 18-24 months they do a full drill involving all the emergency services in the area, including the local hospital.
When I see those guys that stayed behind that are in the full suits, I see friends and aquaintances I see at work every day. I don't see Japanese guys in those suits, I see the guys that come through my line up at work. I see the guys that I joke around with when I'm serving them their Tim Horton's coffee (yes, our nuclear plant has a Tim Horton's in the cafeteria) at the end of their shifts. I see the dads of some of my sons' friends. So this whole thing is hitting very close to home.
I know you're already doing it, but please keep those workers in your prayers. Chances are, their rad levels are going to make them very, very sick. They've risked their lives to help protect the rest of us. They may have known going in that if something should happen that that would be their job, but honestly, I can tell you that not one of them thought that something actually WOULD happen. Please keep in your prayers their families, and the hope that they get the job done that they need to do - even at risk to their own lives.