Posted Friday, March 18, 2011, at 4:12 PM ET
Japan's nuclear safety agency now considers the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to be a five on a seven-point disaster scale, placing it in the company of Three Mile Island and a 1957 fire at a reactor in the United Kingdom. At this point, Chernobyl—a seven—and the 1957 explosion at a Russian waste tank—a six—are the only disasters thought to have released more radiation. Efforts to cool reactor cores and spent fuel rods with seawater have failed to control the situation. Engineers are also working on a new power line that would restore electricity to the cooling systems.
The crisis has demolished confidence that nuclear power plants are safe when multiple safety mechanisms are in place. The scattered response and contradictory statements by plant and safety officials have underscored how unlikely this sort of disaster was thought to be.
Slate wants your ideas on what can be done to contain radiation at the damaged plant. We realize that this isn't the sort of question that naturally calls out for wisdom-of-the-crowds treatment. But for every hour thatactual nuclear engineers are unable to put an end to the crisis—or at least keep it from getting worse—creative and unconventional solutions look more attractive. At the end of this Hive Mind project, we'll consult nuclear experts on the viability of the most popular ideas. In addition to sharing your suggestions, be sure to vote and comment on others' proposals. The forum closes at 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 22.