(CBS/AP) SOMA, Japan – A Japanese spokesman says a fourth reactor at a quake-damaged nuclear plant is on fire following an earlier explosion, and radiation is now spewing from it. The radiation level is now elevated to a point that may damage health, the spokesman said. – New explosion leads to spewing radiation

The third explosion in four days has now occurred, with the worst feared.

The New York Times‘ headline above on their latest story is enough to freak anyone out.

“It’s way past Three Mile Island already,” said Frank von Hippel, a physicist and professor at Princeton. “The biggest risk now is that the core really melts down and you have a steam explosion.” – The New York Times

The 12-mile contamination warnings seem tremendously optimistic if you’re listening to experts across news channels, no matter the station. Via Twitter around 11 pm EST last night, news organizations were evacuating the area around the Fukushima plant.

As for giving to Japan, don’t and here’s why, unless you want to give specifically to an organization like Doctors Without Borders.

…and whatever you do stay away from the quackery of the Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry” blog, which is writing the stuff of fiction and fantasy about radiation contamination in order to seemingly try to bolster the nuclear industry.

I’ve been tough on people talking about “context” and claiming nuclear is “safe” for many reasons, but mostly because we don’t know what we don’t know right now. The Guardian makes the case that there may be a cover up underway, which I put at the high end of probable.

Nuclear experts have thrown doubt on the accuracy of official information issued about the Fukushima nuclear accident, saying that it followed a pattern of secrecy and cover-ups employed in other nuclear accidents. “It’s impossible to get any radiation readings,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer who has worked for the UK government and been commissioned to report on the accident for Greenpeace International.

“The actions of the Japanese government are completely contrary to their words. They have evacuated 180,000 people but say there is no radiation. They are certain to have readings but we are being told nothing.” He said a radiation release was suspected “but at the moment it is impossible to know. It was the same at Chernobyl, where they said there was a bit of a problem and only later did the full extent emerge.”

According to some reports, 17 helicopter crewmen helping in rescue efforts were contaminated with low-level radiation, but Japanese officials declined to comment.

The country’s government has previously been accused of covering up nuclear accidents and hampering the development of alternative energy.

In a newly released diplomatic cable obtained by WikiLeaks, politician Taro Kono, a high-profile member of Japan’s lower house, tells US diplomats that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry “” the Japanese government department responsible for nuclear energy “” has been “covering up nuclear accidents and obscuring the true costs and problems associated with the nuclear industry”. [..]

Now that’s context.