The press continually uses insufficient terminology such as this one today by AP, saying that there’s an
urgent mission to stop the plant from leaking radiation
True enough, but what’s happening is that particles containing radioisotopes are being emitted from the plant. It’s emission of pollutants of the radioactive kind (radioisotopes).
Depending on many factors, these particles fall to earth, sooner or later. The larger, denser particles will fall quite soon close to nuclear plant site, and that’s why people are being evacuated, and why they are detecting radiation in food and water. The smaller, less dense particles go up into the sky and are wafted by air currents, some even carrying these particles to the US and beyond, and that’s why we’re keeping an eye out here.
Another example is in today’s NYTimes:
radiation from the mox fuel in the reactor — a combination of uranium and plutonium — could be released.
OK, radiation could be released…. but are they talking about uranium and plutonium being the radioisopes being released? Or some other radioisotopes? We need to know the answer to that. A lot of plutonium in the atmosphere could be ruinous to those nearby and to those farther away.
These news outfits should be hiring and sending in people with basic degrees in chemistry and other fields and have them do the questioning and reporting. People with scientific training will ask more cogent questions, helping us better understand what is going on, and the ramifications of same. I suppose these observations are reflective of how journalism can and should evolve in the internet age.