The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Saturday afternoon that a nuclear meltdown was suspected at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant's No. 1 reactor...., 3 huge explosions so far..., 12 reactors shut down, six other reactors are in trouble....
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan, the Government of Japan and especially our friends and colleagues with the Washington bureaus of Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Nikkei, and other news bureaus, as well as the Japanese embassies Worldwide....
Agency officials said a team of National Institute of Radiological Sciences detected cesium, a radioactive substance contained in nuclear fuel rods, near the No. 1 reactor of the No. 1 nuclear plant, leading them to suspect nuclear fuel rods in the reactor began melting amid the high temperatures...http://countercurrents.org/lendman130311.htm.
The nuclear safety agency said in the afternoon that the level of cooling water in the No. 1 reactor likely had dropped to 1.7 meters below the top of nuclear fuel rods, leading officials to suspect that about half of the rods' length had been exposed. -- Daily Yomiuri Online
"If the water level remains at this level, the reactor core might be damaged, but we are now pouring water into the reactor to prevent it from happening," a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. told Dow Jones Newswires....
If coolant isn't restored, extreme heat can melt through the reactor vessel and result in a radioactive release. -- Nikkei.com
Temperatures of the coolant water in that plant's reactors soared to above 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported, an indication that the cooling system wasn't working. -- CNN
The Western United States should be on alert for possible radioactive impact within 36 hours. (See potential fallout map below.)
Japan quake live blog: People being tested for radiation exposure
[1:20 p.m. ET, 3:20 a.m. Tokyo] Authorities have begun radiation exposure testing around Fukushima prefecture where three people - randomly selected out of a group of 90 - have tested positive for radiation poisoning, according to Japan's government broadcaster, NHK.
"Everyone wants to get out of the town, but the roads are terrible," said Reiko Takagi, a middle-aged woman, standing outside a taxi company. "It is too dangerous to go anywhere. But we are afraid that winds may change and bring radiation towards us."
Footage of Explosion at Japanese Nuclear Plant
A March 12 explosion at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, appears to have caused a reactor meltdown.
Fears of Nuclear Meltdown in Japan - Physicist Dr. Michio Kaku discusses the dangers posed by the nuclear plant. [link works in US]
"This could be a Chernobyl in the making." -- Michio Kaku
Agence-France Presse notes:
California is closely monitoring efforts to contain leaks from a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant, a spokesman said Saturday, as experts said radiation could be blown out across the Pacific.
"At present there is no danger to California. However we are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our federal partners," Michael Sicilia, spokesman for California Department of Public Health, told AFP.
"California does have radioactivity monitoring systems in place for air, water and the food supply and can enhance that monitoring if a danger exists," he added.
Experts have suggested that, if there were a reactor meltdown or major leak at Fukushima, the radioactive cloud would likely be blown out east across the Pacific, towards the US West Coast.
"The wind direction for the time being seems to point the (nuclear) pollution towards the Pacific," said Andre-Claude Lacoste of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, briefing journalists in Paris on the Japanese crisis.
Earlier the NRC said it was "examining all available information as part of the effort to analyze the event and understand its implications both for Japan and the United States."
The winds could shift at any time, blowing radiation into Tokyo or other parts of Japan.
However, even if the prevailing winds remain off-shore - towards California and Washington - those American states are still a long way away. As AFP notes:
But while the great distances make the risk of radiation exposure to Californians and Washingtonians small, it is not zero.
While US nuclear experts acknowledged the seriousness of Japan's reactor crisis, some stressed that taking steps in the United States such as distributing iodine tablets -- which prevent iodine 131 from being absorbed into the body -- would be "vastly premature."
"It's a big ocean. These (radiation) releases are essentially going to be at ground level," said Ken Bergeron, a physicist who has worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation.
"We should not confuse it with health issues in the United States."
Japan is roughly 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from the US West Coast.
For example, pollution from Chinese coal factories routinely hits California. For example, Mongabay noted in 2008:
Previous studies have documented that dust from Asia — especially from deserts and industrial regions of China — routinely crosses the Pacific Ocean on prevailing winds to sully the air over the western U.S.And see this and this.
As as the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wrote last December:
About a third of the airborne lead particles recently collected at two sites in the San Francisco Bay Area came from Asia, a finding that underscores the far-flung impacts of air pollution and heralds a new way to learn more about its journey across vast distances.
In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the California Air Resources Board tracked variations in the amount of lead transported across the Pacific over time.
It’s well known that particles and other aerosols cover long distances through the Earth’s atmosphere. But the details of this transport, such as that of the lead particles’ 7,000-mile journey from the smokestacks of China to the west coast of North America, are largely unknown....
And see this.
Now, MSNBC reports:
A partial meltdown is likely under way at second quake-stricken nuclear reactor [the Fukushima III reactor], Japan's top government spokesman said Sunday.
Fuel rods were briefly exposed and radiation levels briefly rose above the legal limit at the nuclear plant where both reactors are located, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
His statement came after Japan's largest electric utility started releasing steam Sunday at the second nuclear reactor while trying to stop a meltdown that began a day earlier in another.
BBC points out that a meltdown at number 3 could be more serious than number 1, because it uses plutonium as well as uranium:
The plant’s operator says pressure is rising inside reactor No. 3 after it lost its emergency cooling system.
A similar problem led to a blast at the plant’s No. 1 reactor on Saturday. …
But the BBC’s Chris Hogg in Tokyo says the second reactor is a different type which uses MOX (plutonium plus uranium) fuel and the consequences of a problem there are potentially more severe.
Hopefully, the problems at the 4 other troubled Japanese nuclear reactors will be contained.
Many experts have said the disaster is not as bad as Chernobyl. But Forbes' William Pentland notes, nuclear expert Kevin Kamp says:
"Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”
And the Telegraph writes:
Tokyo, at least, appeared to have got away without the scale of casualties seen in other parts of Japan. That was before news of an explosion, and warnings of a possible "meltdown", at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. As the evening turned to night, the world's second-largest metropolis was still waiting to know whether it had been exposed to what would be perhaps the world's worst nuclear disaster...
This could well be a Chernobyl because the plant is very old: it was built in 1966, 11 years before Chernobyl, and has no visible dome (like Chernobyl).
"Following a high-level meeting called by the lame-duck prime minister, Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top. The censorship is being carried out following the imposition of the Article 15 Emergency Law. Official silencing of bad news is a polite way of reassuring the public."
Can you still trust mainstream media(i.e. CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, BBC, NYT, WAPO, WSJ, ) and how they are covering the ongoing events in Japan? Don't trust them all.
NISA has declared that the explosion could only happen because of the reactor (the hydrogen buildup story may be a lie). There are, it seems, other three reactors in other plants also experiencing cooldown issues.
It is, I understand, Chernobyl multiplied....
Because of the fear that the radiation from the Japanese nuclear meltdowns will hit the Western United states (see this), potassium iodide has sold out in most health food and supplement stores in many California, Oregon and Washington locations.
People know that it's good to take potassium iodide to protect against radiation, to help protect against thyroid cancer (potassium iodide does not protect any other organs).
But taking potassium iodide when there is no radiation can actually damage the thyroid gland ... at least in some individuals. A doctor told me that potassium iodide is given to people with hyperthyroid disease in order to partially kill the thyroid - i.e. to lower thyroid function.
Indeed, the New York Times notes:
Experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.
You can't take potassium iodide for months on end.
Ideally, buy potassium iodide now, and monitor radiation levels by looking at real-time monitoring networks such as this and this. Don't take iodide unless and until elevated radiation levels hit your area.
- 130 milligrams for adults
- 65 milligrams for children
Each 24 hours that one is exposed to radiation.
Sees this for further details.
Wikipedia: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant