Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fukushima update 3/15/11 - Situation Critical


Japan earthquake: live
Here are the latest minute-by-minute updates on the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami amid fears of a nuclear disaster
from The Telegraph


NHK WORLD English (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk)
GOOGLE RSS FEED FOR "Fukushima + nuclear"

Check Democracy Now! for excellent reporting.

SEE ALSO: FALLOUT ALERT (includes info on radiation remedies)


Japan nuclear plant disaster: warning of an 'apocalypse’ as fallout hits danger levels
The Telegraph: Japan's ongoing nuclear emergency was compared to an "apocalypse" by the European Union's energy commissioner last night as dangerous levels of radiation were detected around the crippled power plant.
Günther Oettinger, Europe's energy commissioner, said: "There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen. Practically everything is out of control. I cannot exclude the worst in the hours and days to come."

Yesterday's explosion has evidently caused a containment breach - no catastrophic meltdown is reported - extremely dangerous Radiation levels rise and fall - 3 partial meltdowns are suspected - facility fires reported today may involve spent fuel which can also melt down - many workers evacuated due to high radiation levels - smoke seen rising from the site is assumed to be radioactive - winds have been mostly favorable, blowing contamination out to sea and away from population centers, but Tokyo reports radiation detected - Pacific Storm track can bring fallout to North America, but the severity of that could be slight (so far, and acknowledging that no amount is good).

Crews are frantically trying to keep the troubled reactors from melting down by flooding them with seawater (this is not "in the manual" -- we are talking last-ditch efforts to prevent catastrophic meltdowns). Many workers evacuated due to extreme local levels of radiation.

The explosions so far are described as a hydrogen explosions - NOT nuclear explosions or Chernobyl type meltdowns. Smoke rising from fires at the plant may be radioactive.

High levels of radiation around the reactors have hampered efforts; the fire at #4 reactor is said to have "gone out on its own." That reactor was not operating at the time of the earthquake and tsunami - the concern is the spent fuel that is stored in a pool but has become exposed and could melt down.

Anti-Nuclear Activist Aileen Mioko Smith & Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen: Democracy Now! March 15

Iodine therapy unnecessary: B.C. officials
CBC NEWS Canada (cbc.ca): "The consumption of iodide tablets is not a necessary precaution as there is no current risk of radiological I131 exposure. Even if radiation from Japan ever made it to British Columbia, our prediction based on current information is that it would not pose any significant health risk." - provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall

-- NOTE: (9:00 PM 2100 TUESDAY MARCH 15) At this point rad levels on the North American West Coast (since there have been no full-blown meltdowns reported) may not warrant Iodine therapy - however: should a full-blown meltdown (or 4) become the reality, it would be wise to consider. I will continue to post updates as I can.
-- Click here to visit the Radiation Remedies portion of the fallout alert page.

The Wall Street Journal | Japan Realtime
Japanese officials have confirmed that smoke at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant came from reactor No. 3, but are unable to check the cause of the smoke because radiation levels are too high... Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said radiation at the plant increased at 0100 GMT but has since started to fall...
White plumes of smoke were rising from a quake-hit nuclear reactor at 0100 GMT Wednesday, and an official at Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said the possibility of radiation in the smoke could not be ruled out. (published 0207 GMT)
A fire that broke out early Wednesday morning at the No. 4 reactor of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, northern Japan, appeared to be out as of 2115 GMT, a company official said. (published 0102 GMT)

Democracy Now! - Harvey Wasserman on Japan's Nuclear Crisis: "The worst case scenario is a possibility." 1 of 2 | Harvey Wasserman on Japan's Nuclear Crisis: "The worst case scenario is a possibility." 2 of 2

SEE ALSO: fallout alert (including info on radiation remedies)

StormSurf weather animation >Click for current Wave Model - North Pacific Surface Pressure and Wind (180 hr. loop)

Workers abandon Japan plant after radiation surge
Mail & Guardian Online, TOKYO, JAPAN - Mar 16 2011 06:18: Workers were ordered to withdraw briefly from a stricken Japanese nuclear power plant on Wednesday after radiation levels surged, Kyodo news reported, a development that suggested the crisis was spiralling out of control... Just hours earlier another fire broke out at the earthquake-crippled plant, which has sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo in the past 24 hours, triggering both fear in the capital and international alarm... The workers were allowed back into the plant after almost an hour when the radiation levels had fallen.

Workers pulled from nuclear plant as crisis worsens << WATCH THIS CTV.ca News Staff Date: Wed. Mar. 16 2011 12:46 AM ET The remaining workers desperately seeking to stop a meltdown at a stricken Japanese nuclear plant have been pulled from the site Wednesday because of the radiation risk as the crisis seems to be slipping out of control.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on attempting to cool the reactors at the damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant with sea water has been disrupted by the withdrawal... Radiation levels spiked to 1,000 millisieverts Wednesday before coming down to the 600-800 range... "So the workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Edano said. "Because of the radiation risk, we are on standby."

SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Japan fought to avert nuclear catastrophe Wednesday, as a new fire and reports of a breach of one reactor’s containment system at the stricken Fukushima power plan renewed fears that the crisis was spiraling out of control. - A fire broke out at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Wednesday morning, according to reports. That was soon followed by news of smoke or steam rising from reactor No. 3.
“The problem is that fuel pools don’t have a containment structure on them. A fire in that particular area is really a very critical thing as, really, you don’t have anything containing the flames and the smoke and carrying it up to the atmosphere,” said San Diego State University professor Murray Jennex.

Fresh nuclear concerns hit Japan March 16 2011 06:15
The Financial Times Ltd (ft.com): Tokyo Electric Power has ordered its remaining staff to temporarily move away from reactors inside the plant after radiation levels jumped at around 10am Japan time. The rise was detected after plumes of white vapour were seen pouring from what authorities identified as the station’s No 3 reactor.
Tepco and nuclear safety authorities said part of the reactor’s reinforced containment vessel may have been damaged, but technicians were unable to determine first-hand the exact source of the vapour leak. On Tuesday, vapour escaped from the plant’s No 2 reactor after an explosion in a water tank under its containment unit....Authorities said peak radiation doses of 6,400 micro-sieverts per hour – around 10,000 times normal background radiation – had been detected inside the plant. The reading fell back to about a third of that level within 20 to 30 minutes... Tepco said an estimated 70 per cent of the nuclear fuel rods had been damaged in the No 1 reactor and 33 per cent at the No 2 reactor... In yet another setback earlier on Wednesday, fire broke out for a second time at the building housing the No 4 reactor, which had been off-line when a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck the area on Friday. Spent uranium fuel stored in a water tank in the building was feared to have been exposed, releasing more radioactive particles into the air.

Japan radiation risk to California is downplayed
LA Times: Health officials say there is no threat at this time because of the distance nuclear radiation would have to travel. But that is not stopping some from taking their own precautions... Within days, nuclear radiation released from Japan's damaged Fukushima reactors could reach California, but experts say the amount that makes its way across the ocean should pose no danger...
Tony VanCuren, an atmospheric scientist with the California Air Resources Board in Sacramento, said it would take a "catastrophic release" of radiation to carry dangerous levels across the ocean, and even then it would take five to 15 days for particles to reach California. - Bill Patzert, a climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, contrasted the problems at Fukushima with the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in the Ukraine, where a massive blast drove radioactive debris into the air and around the globe. "If we had multiple Chernobyl-type failures and it did go five to eight miles into the atmosphere and get into the jet stream, it could definitely impact the West Coast of the United States and Canada," Patzert said. "But we're not there yet."


Japan earthquake: residents flee as quake fears spread
telegraph.co.uk: Radioactive fuel rods in one of the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactors, the official spokesman admitted, were now "fully exposed", at risk of meltdown, and radiation had escaped into the atmosphere. Ninety per cent of the plant's own staff were evacuated, leaving only a skeleton team fighting off catastrophe. Most serious of all, an explosion the previous day – the plant's third – might have damaged a reactor containment vessel.

Euronews: UN atomic chief sees more core damage in Japan

Continuing problems raise fears of greater radiation threat
CNN: second fire was discovered Wednesday in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the latest in a series of setbacks at the stricken plant that has heightened fears that the incidents could lead to widespread radiation contamination.
The fire followed an explosion Tuesday at the plant's No. 2 reactor and a fire in a storage pond used for spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor. Radiation levels at the plant increased to about 167 times the average dose during that fire, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency...(on) Monday, an explosion in the building housing the plant's No. 3 reactor apparently damaged both a water-filled chamber at the base of the reactor and the reactor containment unit itself, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told reporters Tuesday. Damage to the core involved about 5% of the core's nuclear fuel, Amano said. It was unclear how much radioactive material may have been emitted, what kind of health threat that could pose or when the danger would end. The central concern Tuesday seemed to be the storage pool for spent nuclear fuel that caught fire, as well as others like it...
Japan's quake-stricken nuke plant caught fire again Tuesday as a handful of heroic workers risked their lives inside to avert a full-scale nuclear meltdown.

Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant on fire; radiation levels too high for firefighters to combat blaze
nydailynews.com: Flames and smoke shot into the air over the Fukushima plant's No. 4 reactor, fueling fears about the worsening situation... Radiation levels were too high for firefighters to get close enough to douse the blaze, said state broadcaster NHK... Reactor No. 4 was idled for maintenance before Friday's earthquake and tsunami, but spent fuel rods stored there were overheating. The fire was seen near the spent fuel storage.

Even before the new fire, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Tokyo appeared to be losing control of the crisis... "There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen," he said after an emergency meeting of nuclear experts in Brussels... The disaster was upgraded to a six on the seven-point international scale for nuclear accidents, ranking the accident worse than Three Mile Island and second only to the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl.

SEE ALSO: fallout alert

StormSurf weather animation >Click for current Wave Model - North Pacific Surface Pressure and Wind (180 hr. loop)


“This Could Become Chernobyl on Steroids”: Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen on Japan’s Growing Nuclear Crisis
Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen on Japan’s Growing Nuclear Crisis
democracynow.org: Japan is on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe after a third explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was heavily damaged by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The blast seriously damaged the plant’s Number Two reactor’s steel containment structure, causing nearby radiation levels to rise to 100 times the legal limit for exposure in a year. Plant workers “were manually opening valves into these containments to keep the pressure from building up,” says our guest Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer. “I would suspect that a lot of those efforts have been abandoned because of the high radiation levels.” [includes rush transcript] - Filed under "Nuclear Power, Japan Disaster"

Japan's nuclear situation nearing severity of Chernobyl
(CNN) -- The explosion Tuesday at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has elevated the situation there to a "serious accident" on a level just below Chernobyl, a French nuclear official said, referring to an international scale that rates the severity of such incidents.

The crisis at an earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan continued Tuesday, as radiation levels rose to dangerous levels following an explosion at a third overheating reactor.

Japan crisis: residents flee nuclear zone as reactor casing 'breached'
telegraph.co.uk: Here are the latest minute-by-minute updates on the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, amid fears of a nuclear disaster.
• Radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear site after explosion and fire
• Concrete shell of reactor 'no longer sealed'
Tokyo Electric Power has given out a press release confirming that an explosion did take place inside reactor four at 6am local time damaging the roof top of the unit. That means four explosions within four days.
- Report from the BBC's Chris Hogg in Tokyo who says there are now believed to have been four blasts at Fukushima. The fourth reportedly occured in reactor four, where spent fuel rods are stored, he says.
At approximately 6:00am, a loud explosion was heard from within the power station. Afterwards, it was confirmed that the 4th floor rooftop area of the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building had sustained damage...TEPCO, along with other involved organizations, is doing its best to contain the situation... Air monitoring equipment on the US Navy's aircraft carrier George Washington found low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as the carrier sat in dock at Yokosuka naval base.

Efforts to cool Fukushima reactors continue
Radiation levels rise south of nuclear plant
Edano: radiation level falling
Govt to gather,release nationwide radiation data
How to minimize exposure to radioactive substances

BBC: Radiation falls at Japanese plant
Radiation levels fall at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant after a third explosion and a fire, officials say

for more see yesterday's updates at:

See also:

SECOND Fukushima Explosion: Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked By Hydrogen Explosion (this blog 3/13/11)

FALLOUT ALERT (this blog, 3/13/11) - includes info on POTASSIUM IODIDE radiation treatment

Japan nuclear power plant - blast, partial meltdown (this blog, 3/12/11)

Nuclear Power Kills; here's how (this blog, 3/12/11)

Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: Lessons for the U.S. (this blog, 3/12/13)

All Things Nuclear - UCS Factsheet: “Nuclear Accident ABCs”

All Things Nuclear - "Reactor Core Cooling"


NHK WORLD English (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)
GOOGLE RSS FEED FOR "Fukushima + nuclear"

Also check Democracy Now! for excellent reporting.


See also:
• other Fukushima updates for background info and links -
Deepak Chopra homebase: Fukushima ~ Indian Point, NY
Fukushima a "Ticking Time Bomb"
Nuclear Catastrophe in Japan “Not Equal to Chernobyl, But Way Worse”
Nuclear Power = Crime Against Humanity
Obama: No Money for Nukes!
Pacifica Nuclear Teach-in | The Code Killers by Ace Hoffman
Nuclear Obama, Radioactive Boars & Frogs of Fukushima
fukushima plutonium
Fukushima still fuming - nuclear catastrophe update
March archive

news feeds on right, and links at top of previous posts
more news feeds below

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