Fukushima's nuclear disaster: Worse than Japan thought?May 28, 2011
New York – Power company Tepco announces that three out of six reactors almost certainly suffered serious meltdowns after the deadly earthquake and tsunami
A new report from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) paints a surprisingly dire picture of the damage at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Just how bad is the situation, and what is Japan going to do about it? Here, a brief guide:
What does Tepco's report say?It's now clear that three of the six reactors (not just one, as originally thought) experienced at least a partial meltdown — and odds seem high that, in each reactor, molten fuel rods breached the containment vessel, letting radiation leak into the environment.
How much radiation has leaked out?It's not clear yet. But if the containment vessels were breached, even partially, more radiation could leak from Fukushima than Chernobyl. Still, a worse-than-Chernobyl leak remains unlikely, says Tepco general manager Junichi Matsumoto. Most, but not all, of the molten fuel is believed to have stayed inside the containment vessels. And in Reactors 2 and 3, the rods remained under water, which should reduce the damage.
Where does this information come from?
It is based on Tepco's recently completed computer simulations of the disaster — the plants are still too dangerous to enter. (The reactors got as hot as 3,000 degrees Celsius — 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit — at one point, but they are now at a stable 100-170 degrees C, and slowly dropping.) Several outside experts have also come to similar conclusions.
What happens next?A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tokyo Tuesday to conduct an investigation into what went wrong at the Fukushima plant and what lessons can be drawn to make nuclear plants in Japan and elsewhere safer. Japan also approved its own independent investigation into the government's handling of the disaster. That inquiry will be headed by Yotaro Hatamura, an engineering professor who has made his name studying failure.
Sources: New York Times, Bloomberg, Wall St. Journal, Daily Yomiuri, Washington Post
May 18, 2011
Professor Christopher Busby, who sits on the European Committee on Radiation Risks, told RT yesterday that the reactors at Fukushima are a raging nuclear inferno and he believes at least one of the reactors is now outside its containment structure and emitting vast amounts of radiation into the atmosphere.
The Japanese newspaper Asahi reports today that data reveals meltdowns occurred at the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors. Goshi Hosono, special adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, acknowledged the likelihood of meltdowns. “We have to assume that meltdowns have taken place,” Hosono said at a news conference May 16.
Infowars.com and other alternative news sources reported the probability of a nuclear meltdown at the plant, but this was virtually ignored by the corporate media.
Soon after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant, nuclear experts said meltdowns occurred at all three reactors. TEPCO and the corporate media downplayed the possibility of nuclear meltdown. On April 17, TEPCO released a schedule to reach a cold shutdown at the Fukushima plant within six to nine months, but eventually had to revise the schedule.
Nuclear experts indicate more than a decade will be required to remove the melted fuel, eliminate the contamination, and dismantle the reactors.
Public release of data on the situation at the plant, which had been kept at the central control room, was delayed because it took time to restore power and remove radioactive materials attached to the papers, according to TEPCO. According to the data, the pressure in the pressure vessel of the No. 2 reactor dropped at 6:43 p.m. on March 15. A similar drop in pressure also took place at the No. 3 reactor at 11:50 p.m. on March 16.
“We have yet to be able to grasp the entire situation at the plant,” a TEPCO official said on May 16.
Radioactive technetium was discovered in water in the No. 3 reactor building. The discovery raised speculation that the melted nuclear fuel has breached the pressure vessel and landed in the containment vessel. Technetium is produced when nuclear fuel rods are damaged.
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