My anti-nuclear friends are having a field day debunking my myopic view that a modest nuclear power plant would sensibly take care of New Zealand's energy needs for the next 100 years.

The evolving catastrophe in Japan has effectively squashed any such idea.

Indeed, even international nuclear hard-liners are starting to gulp nervously at the unfolding drama of reactor vessels failing, adding potentially untold misery to the Japanese population.

While meekly bowing my head to the anti-nuke brigade, that's no excuse for the hysterical doomsday blogs now flooding the internet, mixing up a potpourri of predictions involving the Mayan calendar, lunar disturbances and nuclear annihilation.

It was inevitable that cybernuts would resurrect the "China Syndrome", recalling the wacky premise that molten reactor core material could penetrate the Earth's crust from any meltdown mishap in the Americas and potentially end up reaching China.

The theory for this possibility was first suggested by a group of nuclear physicists in 1967. The conclusion surrounding this over-stretched hypothesis was later made into a popular film in 1979, in which a reporter and cameraman discover safety cover-ups in a nuclear power plant. As films go, it's not a bad thriller, the spooky irony being that the film was released only 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Pennsylvania. Spooker yet, a scientist in the movie gravely states that the "China Syndrome" would render an area the size of Pennsylvania permanently uninhabitable.

In reality, even in a severe accident - where a reactor potentially reaches the highest level of criticality and melts through the support infrastructure - it is unlikely to sink more than a few meters, due to the natural passive safety of the Earth, which would absorb and disperse radioactive material in the same manner as testing nuclear weapons underground.

Even if a renegade nuclear core managed to bore its way through to the centre of the Earth, gravity alone would stop any progress beyond that point.

This basic information - found in any reputable scientific journal on nuclear physics - may be dispiriting to those who relish publishing exaggerated spine-chilling blogs, but the consequences of the "China Syndrome" actually happening could be even more traumatic.

For example, a core from a disabled Spanish nuclear power plant boring through the Earth's surface would reappear somewhere around earthquake-ravaged Christchurch.

Just imagine how that would add to the country's woes and heartache.