Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Meltdown and Radiation Alerts, 2nd Japanese Nuclear Plant Explodes, partially melted down, 3rd, 4th Followed -

....High Levels of Radiation Being Released.....


Hydrogen Explosion At Fukushima Number 3 Reactor (March 14)

March 15, 2011: A new explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power plant at the number 3 and 4 reactors.


Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 3 explosion on March 14, 2011

The large explosion in reactor unit 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Japan), following offshore earthquakes in the region.
This is the second explosion recorded at the power plant in days.

Related Links: TRACK RADIATION - Radiation Network - U.S. & Canada Map

U.S. Jetstream Forecasts

Carrier Reagan passes through radioactive 'cloud' off Japan - photos

Primer: Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Radioactivity Detected 60 Miles From Fukushima Power Plant

The latest in an endless escalation of bad news comes from Seattle Times: "Pentagon officials reported Sunday that helicopters flying 60 miles from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant picked up small amounts of radioactive particulates — still being analyzed, but presumed to include cesium-137 and iodine-121 — suggesting widening environmental contamination. The detection of the highly radioactive elements heralds the beginning of an ecological and human tragedy. The two radioactive isotopes can mean only one thing: One or more of the reactor cores is badly damaged and at least partially melted down...."

It just got worse. ....:

Japanese officials say the nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three of the most troubled nuclear reactors....

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Monday: "Although we cannot directly check it, it's highly likely happening."

Some experts would consider that a partial meltdown of the reactor. Others, though, reserve that term for times when nuclear fuel melts through a reactor's innermost chamber but not through the outer containment shell.


Full Core Meltdown In Japan Will Send Radiation Over United States

VIDEO: How close is Japan to a nuclear meltdown?

CBS News Washington bureau chief Christopher Isham spoke Monday with Sharon Squassoni, a nuclear expert and fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, on how serious the threat of a nuclear meltdown is in Japan and if the disaster at Chernobyl could be repeated....


High Levels of Radiation Being Released.....

Kyodo News noted earlier that Reactor Number 4 has caught fire:

The Herald Sun reported:

RADIATION levels near a quake-stricken nuclear plant are now harmful to human health, Japan's government says after explosions and a fire at the facility.

"There is no doubt that unlike in the past, the figures are the level at which human health can be affected," said chief government spokesman Yukio Edano.


Although the number-four reactor was shut for maintenance when the quake and tsunami struck last Friday, "spent nuclear fuel in the reactor heated up, creating hydrogen and triggered a hydrogen explosion".

He said radioactive substances were leaked along with the hydrogen.

"Please keep in mind that what is burning is not nuclear fuel itself," Mr Edano said. "We'll do our best to put out or control the fire as soon as possible."

AP now says the fire has now been put out, although the Japanese government says that high levels of radiation are being released:

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation has spread from four reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima province, one of the hardest-hit in Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that has killed more than 10,000 people. "The level seems very high, and there is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out,"


The fire was put out. Even though it was unoperational, the fourth reactor was believed to be the source of the elevated radiation release because of the hydrogen release that triggered the fire.


"It is likely that the level of radiation increased sharply due to a fire at Unit 4," Edano said. "Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health.

Hopefully, Edano is right, and the high levels of radiation were due to a temporary fire, which has been put out.

However, high radiation levels were reported before the fire, when reactor number 2 exploded earlier today, and the government said that its containment core had been breached.

The Christian Science Monitor notes that a design feature of the Fukushima reactors may mean that spent fuel rods release far more radiation than the reactors themselves:

A particular feature of the 40-year old General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor model – such as the six reactors at the Fukushima site – is that each reactor has a separate spent-fuel pool. These sit near the top of each reactor and adjacent to it, so that cranes can remove spent fuel from the reactor and deposit it in a swimming-pool-like concrete structure near the top of the reactor vessel, inside each reactor building.

If the hydrogen explosions damaged those pools – or systems needed to keep them cool – they could become a big problem. Keeping spent-fuel pools cool is critical and could potentially be an even more severe problem than a reactor meltdown, some experts say. If water drains out, the spent fuel could produce a fire that would release vast amounts of radioactivity, nuclear experts and anti-nuclear activists warn.

"There should be much more attention paid to the spent-fuel pools," says Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer and president of the anti-nuclear power Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. "If there's a complete loss of containment [and thus the water inside], it can catch fire. There's a huge amount of radioactivity inside – far more than is inside the reactors. The damaged reactors are less likely to spread the same vast amounts of radiation that Chernobyl did, but a spent-fuel pool fire could very well produce damage similar to or even greater than Chernobyl."

But another scientist said while the spent-fuel pools have capacity for high volumes of radioactive material, the amount of fuel currently in the spent-fuel pool might be less than widely believed, based on data he has seen showing only about as much spent fuel in the vulnerable pool as contained in the reactor.

"The inventory numbers I've seen for the spent-fuel pool [that was losing coolant] is well below capacity," said Edwin Lyman, a physicist with UCS, which describes itself as neither pro- nor anti-nuclear power, but which says nuclear safeguards today are not adequate. "That could limit the damage."

It is stunning that the reactors were so poorly designed.

reports (scroll down on left side):
Japanese engineer Masashi Goto, who helped design the containment vessel for Fukushima's reactor core, says the design was not enough to withstand earthquakes or tsunami ...
Goto was speaking about the reactor core. I'm certain he would say the same thing about the spent-fuel pool.

As MSNBC notes, there are
23 virtually-identical reactors in the U.S.

There has now been an explosion at Fukushima reactor number 2 (reactors number 1 and 3 experienced explosions previously).

NHK reports:

The sound of a blast was heard Tuesday morning at the troubled No. 2 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government said.

The incident occurred at 6:10 a.m. and is feared to have damaged the reactor's pressure-suppression system, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said, citing a report from the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

MSN notes:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters that "damage appears on the suppression pool" -- the bottom part of the container, which contains water used to cool down the reactor and control air pressure inside.

"But we have not recorded any sudden jump in radiation indicators," Edano said without elaborating.

If confirmed, it will be the first direct damage to the reactor since a massive earthquake and tsunami battered Japan's northeast coast on Friday, knocking out nuclear plants in Fukushima, north of Tokyo.

Kyodo News is reporting higher radiation levels North of Tokyo after the blast.

The Fukushima I and Fukushima 3 nuclear reactors have both previously experienced explosions, and are in some stage of meltdown.

Today, Kyodo News reports:

Fuel rods at the quake-hit Fukushima ... No. 2 reactor were fully exposed at one point after its cooling functions failed, the plant operator said Monday, indicating the critical situation of the reactor's core beginning to melt due to overheating.


The utility firm said a hydrogen explosion at the nearby No. 3 reactor that occurred Monday morning may have caused a glitch in the cooling system of the No. 2 reactor.

Similar cooling down efforts have been taken at the plant's No. 1 and No. 3 reactors and explosions occurred at both reactors in the process, blowing away the roofs and walls of the buildings that house the reactors.

It is feared that the No. 2 reactor will follow the same path. To prevent a possible hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO said it will look into opening a hole in the wall of the building that houses the reactor to release hydrogen.

And see this.

There are problems at a total of 6 Japanese nuclear power plants.

Update: There has now been an explosion at reactor number 2. As NHK reports:

The sound of a blast was heard Tuesday morning at the troubled No. 2 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government said.

The incident occurred at 6:10 a.m. and is feared to have damaged the reactor's pressure-suppression system, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said, citing a report from the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.


Thousands have been killed, the economic damage is deep, and the after-effects of the nuclear disaster that is presently unfolding has yet to be determined .... but in the end .... the Japanese will survive. While they are preparing for the worse, they have also suffered far worse in the past .... and just like what they did in the past .... they will rebuild and they will continue with their lives....

Beware the Ides of March....

The proper way to decontaminate is to use a high-pressure drench shower unit. Drench showers include floor mounted, wall mounted, horizontal or vertical units. They are standard for NBC decontamination on nuclear powered Navy ships and nuke power plants. Exposed clothing has to be discarded. Mobile units also exist for civil emergency situations. Radiation levels in some parts of Tokyo are now being reported at 30 times normal levels. Brushing off clothes, hair, and shoes doesn't do it....
I feel a tremendous empathy for the people of Japan. It is almost unfathomable what they are facing. They have been hit by the worst twin natural disasters in their history and the third blow, the nuclear crisis, is still unfolding. How does it feel in the group-think consciousness of people who endured horrific nuclear Armageddon half a century ago who have relatives who remember it to live with this worst kind of nuclear annihilation threat again? Many are outdoors and temps are near freezing in some areas. Day 3 of no food or water for many. Homes, families, businesses lost, their lives disappeared in a matter of minutes. That leaves praying for them and that is not such a small thing. Let's hope and pray that this does not get much, much worse.

After this, Japan will need us for a long time to come. It is time we become a good global neighbor and rise to this occasion. We as people have it in us to do the right thing, from helping those in distress more efficiently to rethinking our politics, nuclear follies and direction in which we are taking the planet - a direction into which we led the nation of Japan with these nukes we sold them.....

The nuclear reactor situation in Japan has deteriorated significantly. Two more explosions occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 15.

The first occurred at 6:10 a.m. local time at reactor No. 2, which had seen nuclear fuel rods exposed for several hours after dropping water levels due to mishaps in the emergency cooling efforts. Within three hours the amount of radiation at the plant rose to 163 times the previously recorded level, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Elsewhere, radiation levels were said to have reached 400 times the ‘annual legal limit’ at reactor No. 3. Authorities differed on whether the reactor pressure vessel at reactor No. 2 was damaged after the explosion, but said the reactor’s pressure-suppression system may have been damaged possibly allowing a radiation leak. After this, a fire erupted at reactor No. 4 and was subsequently extinguished, according to Kyodo. Kyodo also reported the government has ordered a no-fly zone 30 kilometers around the reactor, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has expanded to 30 kilometers the range within which citizens should remain indoors and warned that further leaks are possible.

Reports from Japanese media currently tell of rising radiation levels in the areas south and southwest of the troubled plant due to a change in wind direction toward the southwest. Ibaraki prefecture, immediately south of Fukushima, was reported to have higher than normal levels. Chiba prefecture, to the east of Tokyo and connected to the metropolitan area, saw levels reportedly two to four times above the ‘normal’ level. Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, reported radiation at 33 times the normal level measured there. Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo, reported radiation at up to nine times the normal level. Finally, a higher than normal amount was reported in Tokyo. The government says radiation levels have reached levels hazardous to human health. Wind direction, temperature, and topography all play a crucial factor in the spread of radioactive materials as well as their diffusion, and wind direction is not easily predictable and constantly shifting, with reports saying it could shift west and then back eastward to sea within the next day. It is impossible to know how reliable these preliminary readings are but they suggest a dramatic worsening as well as a wider spread than at any time since the emergency began....

Corporate journalists-Media cannot be trusted to report on disasters in Japan or anywhere else.
March 15, 2010 -- Beware the Ides of March and the corporate media on disaster reporting....
Corporate journalists cannot be trusted to report on disasters involving the people who pay them....

The powerful nuclear power lobby, which has the firm backing of one of its largest recipients of campaign cash donation, Barack CIA Obama, in its corner, is conducting a full court press to mask over the seriousness of the latest nuclear disaster in Japan.

General Electric, which is a part owner of NBC and MS-NBC, is ensuring that the full dangers posed by the multiple fires and explosions at the Fukushima reactors it supplied to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) are soft-pedaled at best.

Moreover, as GE-Hitachi, the joint nuclear power venture between GE and Hitachi, evacuates its American employees from the Fukushima plant to the United States, Gary Jackzo, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is doing his best to downplay the Japanese nuclear disaster, which is now seeing radiation levels spike as high as 40 percent over normal levels in some parts of the Tokyo region. That is because on March 9, the day before the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami resulted in a major nuclear disaster, including hydrogen gas explosions and nuclear fuel meltdowns and fires at the GE-supplied reactors, Jackzo announced the NRC's approval for GE-Hitachi's new Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR).

As with other federal regulatory agencies, the NRC has become a virtual rubber stamp for the industry it is mandated to regulate. The Obama administration, which puts the interests of corporations ahead of any other consideration, avidly backs the building of more nuclear power plants, with Obama asking for $38 billion in federally-guaranteed loans for the nuclear power industry in his 2012 budget request. Obama also counts GE chief executive officer Jeffrey Immelt as his competitiveness and jobs panel chairman. Immelt is also a major donor to Obama's political coffers.

GE-Hitachi President and CEO Caroline Reda also participated in a U.S. government trade mission to India last month. Led by outgoing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the tirade mission's top priority was cementing a deal for GE-Hitachi to provide two ESBWR reactors for India's Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat states. Obama signed a nuclear cooperation pact with India last year during his state visit to the nation.

Obama's loan guarantees are helping in the building of a joint GE, Hitachi, and Toshiba developed Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) reactor in south Texas. TEPCO, which operates the crippled Fukushima Number 1 and 2 reactor complexes, has a significant stake in the south Texas reactor project.

With Obama hell-bent on nuclear plant expansion in the United States, he finds himself backed by the corporate-owned media, including the conflicted reporters, editors, and producers at partly-GE owned NBC and MS-NBC. Even "progressive" talking heads like Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and others realize that they cannot go far beyond the "radical centrism" of White House policy wonk boiler room operations like the George Soros-funded/CIA Center for American Progress, in criticizing nuclear energy. Their paychecks depend on obedience to the corporate line.

The corporate shills at The Washington Post have also weighed in today with stories cautioning against too much fear over the nuclear situation in Japan and promoting GE's nuclear reactor designs. As one long-time Washington journalist put it, in commenting on the tripe that passes for news in the Post, "the paper has the look of The Wailing Wall Street Journal and the content of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Disney, which owns ABC News, is more concerned about seeing the turnstiles move once again at Tokyo Disneyland, even as international airlines suspend service to Tokyo, than in having its news network report on the actual nuclear emergency in Japan.

Nuclear energy supporters have also been active on the Internet, with actual and virtual posters beating the drums for nuclear energy and criticizing those who cite the dangers of the Fukushima disaster as uninformed alarmists. The same situation existed after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last year when offshore oil drilling supporters championed the process falsely citing a past relatively pristine safety record. The disaster in the Gulf was preceded by Obama's claim that offshore drilling was safe.

As the Geiger counters register high levels of radioactivity in Tokyo and people along the Gulf continue to get sick and even die from the effects of the oil disaster, it can safely be said that anyone who puts their health and security in the hands of Obama and his cronies is making a huge mistake, an error in judgment that could cost them their very lives. Obama will cut a deal with his corporate backers faster than it takes for him to pull down his zipper in a Chicago limousine for a "guy quickie."

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