Friday, March 11, 2011

Meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

It's not looking good, actually.

See LAT, "
Post-quake events at Japan nuclear plant raise concerns":

A portion of Japan's nuclear reactors have been shut down in the wake of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, but officials are worried about the Fukushima plant, where the emergency cooling system is problematic.

About 18% of Japan's 33 nuclear reactors have been shut down in the wake of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck offshore Friday and triggered a massive tsunami, but officials are particularly troubled by events at one of them — the 480-megawatt Fukushima No. 1 plant in Fukushima Prefecture, where the emergency cooling system has not been functioning properly.

Emergency authorities have ordered the evacuation of all civilians in a two-mile radius around the power plant, a total of about 3,000 people, and are planning to vent slightly radioactive steam from the plant, which is located about 160 miles north of Tokyo. Those within a six-mile radius were warned to stay in their homes.
See also NYT, "Quake and Tsunami Leaves Wake of Destruction Across Northern Japan." And "Japan Orders Evacuation Near 2nd Nuclear Plant" (via Memeorandum).

RELATED: At Scientific American, "
How to Cool a Nuclear Reactor."


Hal Jordan said...

The news media is blowing this all out of proportion. As the Russian reporter said, the Fukushima event is nothing like what happened at Chernobyl. Speculating on how much of Russia or China could be contaminated is ridiculous. When the operators say it's "slightly radioactive" steam, they mean just that, steam with almost undetectable amounts of radioactivity in it. Reactor coolant is normally very low in radioactivity, safe to drink if the chemical additives were removed. Venting steam cools down the water just like taking the lid off of a boiling pot of water causes pressure to be relieved so it doesn't boil so fast. The news media normally has a hard time talking rationally about nuclear power, but this kind of sensationalism is inexcusable.