I was probably too hasty in saying that the situation in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors was going to be less severe than Three Mile Island. In my defense, I was working on the available information at the time, that suggested that seawater was being used successfully to cool the reactor cores.
It seems now that those efforts have been less successful than originally suggested and that significant damage has resulted. Given the state of devastation in Japan, this is understandable. Imagine if the entire state of Pennsylvania had been devastated before Three Mile Island. Thinking of it that way puts the failures in perspective, I think.
It is one of the many tragedies about this situation that we continue to be more fascinated and absorbed by a terrible but as yet non-fatal situation than the devastation that has killed so many thousands all around. Although the risk of a serious incident has increased, we should not be bandying about terms like disaster and catastrophe: Japan has already suffered those. For continuing coverage, I recommend Brave New Climate.