“Maximum Alert” Japan Nuclear Reactor Core Breach Leaking Plutonium – “3 Raging Nuclear Meltdowns In Progress”
Nuclear Reactor Core Breached – “3 Raging Nuclear Meltdowns In Progress”
Japan’s Top Official puts declares “Maximum Alert” after a nuclear reactor core breach is leaking plutonium outside the plant. A top nuclear expert declares there are “3 Raging Nuclear Meltdowns In Progress”.
Radiation levels outside the plant are now so high they are lethal within 4 hours and insiders say there is a huge crack in the nuclear reactor that will prevent the nuclear fallout from ever being contained.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said his government is in a state of maximum alert over the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Plutonium has been detected in soil at the facility and highly radioactive water has leaked from a reactor building.
Officials say the priority remains injecting water to cool the fuel rods.
Mr Kan told parliament the situation at the quake-hit plant “continues to be unpredictable”.
apanese officials and international experts have said they believe there’s been a partial meltdown at three of the plant’s six reactors, and Edano reported Monday that the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel may be leaking.
“The high radiation levels on site seem to support that idea. There is no visual proof yet, but it’s increasingly likely there was partial fuel melting,” said Gary Was, a nuclear engineering expert at the University of Michigan.
The discovery of plutonium, a nuclear fission byproduct as well as a component of the fuel in the No. 3 reactor, among the contaminants on the plant grounds bolsters the suspicion of a meltdown, Walsh said. Though low levels of plutonium can be found worldwide — a legacy of previous decades of aboveground nuclear tests — at least some of the contamination likely came from the plant, Edano said Tuesday.
“If we detect higher levels of plutonium, we have to take additional measures, so our intention for now is to carry on with the monitoring on-site,” he said.
The element can be a serious health hazard if inhaled or ingested, but external exposure poses little health risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The now 19-day-old crisis at the plant has spread radioactive contamination across much of northern Japan. But Tokyo Electric said the discovery of plutonium would not change efforts to bring an end to the disaster, an aftereffect of the magnitude-9 earthquake that struck the region March 11.
The water found in the Unit 2 maintenance tunnel remained radioactive enough to pose an immediate hazard, authorities reported Monday afternoon. The 1,000-millisievert per hour reading was more than 330 times the dose an average person in a developed country receives per year and can result in vomiting and up to a 30% higher risk of cancer, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The level is also four times the top dose Japan’s Health Ministry has set for emergency workers.
Radiation levels that can prove fatal were detected outside reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, signaling a partial fuel meltdown and complicating efforts to contain the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Water in a tunnel outside the No. 2 reactor had radiation levels exceeding 1 sievert an hour, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told reporters yesterday. Exposure to that dose for 30 minutes would trigger nausea and four hours might lead to death, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A partial meltdown of fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor probably caused a jump in the readings, Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. Preventing the contaminated water from leaking into the ground or air is key to containing the spread of radiation beyond the plant.
“There’s not much good news right now,” said Gennady Pshakin, a former official with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Questions of how much fuel will leak, what isotopes will be carried and how quickly they will settle mean “it’s becoming less predictable.”
Elevated radiation levels have been detected in crops grown near the stricken plant as well as the water supply in Tokyo, 220 kilometers to the south, and other regions.
Plutonium-239, a byproduct of fission used in nuclear weapons, was found in soil samples taken on the plant site March 21 and March 22, Tokyo Electric said in a statement today. Two of the five samples contained more plutonium than known to have been deposited by atmospheric nuclear-bomb fallout and probably came from the damaged plant, according to the statement.
The amount found shouldn’t be enough to affect human health, Sakae Muto, a Tokyo Electric vice president, said at a press conference yesterday.
“The high radiation levels seem to have come from fuel rods that partially melted down and came into contact with water used to cool the reactor,” Edano said at a briefing in Tokyo, citing a draft report from Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission. “We’re trying to contain the whole situation while preventing the health impact from spreading.”
From KATO News:
PORTLAND, Ore. – A physicist who’s been on national news talking about the Japanese nuclear crisis said Friday the word “breach” is one of the most frightening words known to nuclear engineers.
Michio Kaku’s comments came after news that Japanese nuclear experts said they suspect there has been a possible breach at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.
“This is huge. For the first time, they’re using that dreaded word, ‘breach,’ Kaku said during an interview at KATU’s studios. “Plutonium is the most toxic chemical known to science. A speck of plutonium, a millionth of a gram, could cause cancer.”
Via Poor Richards Blog:
Conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are deteriorating and the doomsday scenario is beginning to unfold. On Sunday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials reported that the levels of radiation leaking into seawater at the Unit 2 reactor were 100,000 times above normal, and the airborne radiation measured 4-times higher than government limits. As a result, emergency workers were evacuated from the plant and rushed to safe location. The prospect of a full-core meltdown or an environmental catastrophe of incalculable magnitude now looms larger than ever. The crisis is getting worse.
If spent fuel rods catch fire from lack of coolant, the intense heat will lift radiation plumes high into the atmosphere that will drift around the world. That’s the nightmare scenario, clouds of radioactive material showering the planet with lethal toxins for months on end. And, according to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna, that deadly process has already begun. The group told New Scientist that:
“Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl. (“New Scientist”, March 24 —thanks to Michael Collins “They said it wasn’t like Chernobyl and they were wrong”)
So, volatile radioactive elements are already being lofted into the jet stream and spread across continents. What’s different here is that the quantities are much larger than they were at Chernobyl, thus, the dangers are far greater. According to the same group of scientists “the Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site” (while) “the Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes.” The troubles at one nuclear facility now pose a direct threat to humans and other species everywhere. Is this what Obama meant when he called nuclear power, “Safe and green?”
This from CNN:
“Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.”
And this from the New York Times:
“A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said….
“There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large,” he said. “The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.” (Thanks to Washington’s Blog)
So, there’s a breach in the containment vessel and radioactive material is being released into the sea killing fish and marine life and turning the coastal waters into a nuclear wasteland.
This is from the Kyodo News:
“Adding to the woes is the increasing level of contamination in the sea near the plant….Radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration 1,850.5 times the legal limit was detected in a seawater sample taken Saturday around 330 meters south of the plant, near a drainage outlet of the four troubled reactors, compared with 1,250.8 times the limit found Friday, the agency said.
Nishiyama told a press conference in the morning that he cannot deny the possibility that radioactive materials are continuing to be released into the sea. He said later that the water found at the basement of the turbine buildings is unlikely to have flowed into the sea, causing contamination.” (“Woes deepen over radioactive water at nuke plant”, Kyodo News)
Predictably, the media has switched into full “BP Oil Spill-mode”, making every effort to minimize the disaster and to soothe the public with half-truths and disinformation. The goal is to conceal the scale of the catastrophe and protect the nuclear industry. It’s another case of profits over people. Still, the truth is available for those who are willing to sift through the lies. Radiation has turned up in the Tokyo water supply, imports of milk, vegetable and fruit from four prefectures in the vicinity of Fukushima have been banned, and the evacuation zone around the plant has widened to an 18 mile radius.
Also, monitors have detected tiny radioactive particles which have spread from the reactor site across the Pacific to North America, the Atlantic and Europe…According to Reuters: “It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere,” said Andrea Stahl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research.”
Here’s more from Brian Moench, MD:
“Administration spokespeople continuously claim “no threat” from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle “Don’t worry, be happy” in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.
That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn’t as comforting as it seems…. Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.” (Washington’s Blog)
The smoldering Fukushima hulk is a perpetual death machine poisoning everything around it–sea, sky and soil. Here’s a clip from the Collin’s article:
“…The soil contamination is really high. Soil found 40 kilometers away…. the levels on the soil were very high—in fact, a thousand times iodine, 4,000 times the cesium standard. And we just got a report from the Kyoto Research Reactor Institute, Dr. Tetsuji Imanaka, that said that—he had to look a little bit more into the sampling of the Japanese government, but depending on how the sampling was done, this level of contamination in the soil could be twice the amount that was compulsory evacuation for Chernobyl. Aileen Mioko Smith, March 24 (thanks to Michael Collins “They said it wasn’t like Chernobyl and they were wrong”)
Twice as high as Chernobyl already, and the disaster is likely to persist for months to come. Things are getting worse, much worse.
The Japanese government has been downplaying the crisis to make it look like they have matters under control, but it’s all a sham. They control nothing. The rescue mission has been a flop from the get-go and now things are at a boiling point. The emergency effort has been overtaken by events and now it’s a matter of “wait and see”. We’re approaching zero hour.
So why the cover up? Why is the media trying to soft-peddle the real effects of a nuclear cataclysm? Does the Japanese government really believe they can make things better by tweaking their public relations strategy? They should focus on saving lives and abandon “perception management” altogether. This is from the Union of Concerned Scientists website:
“Our assessment is that the Japanese government is squandering the opportunity to initiate an orderly evacuation from larger areas around the site–especially of sensitive populations, like children and pregnant women. It is potentially wasting valuable time by not undertaking a larger scale evacuation at this time.”
The Japanese government is trying to protect the powerful nuclear lobby. The same is true of Obama, who continues to promote nuclear energy even while radiation belches from battered Fukushima. He’s not thinking about the public; he’s thinking about the deep pocket constituents who fill his campaign coffers.
Japanese workers are putting their lives on the line to regain control of the broken facility, but with little success. The probability of another fire, another monstrous explosion, or a full-core meltdown increases by the day. The Fukushima fiasco is gaining pace putting tens of thousands of people at risk of thyroid cancer, childhood leukemia and other life-threatening ailments.
On Saturday, Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, said the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was ”serious”. That might be the understatement of the century.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
From Energy News:
Radiation detected in B.C. seaweed and rainwater not dangerous: researchers, Vancouver Sun, March 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm EDT:
A research team has detected an increased level of radiation in seaweed and rainwater samples gathered in B.C., and attribute the rise to the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex in Japan.
Nuclear physicist Kris Starosta of Simon Fraser University said… “As of now, the levels we’re seeing are not harmful to humans. … [W]e have not reached levels of elevated risk [of cancer].”
A press release sent by the university says that radiation from Japan is being carried to North America on the jet stream, but the most harmful radioactivity was scattered in the atmosphere. What radioactivity remains falls into the Pacific, and falls to land in the form of rain.
Via The Washington Post:
TOKYO — In normal times, Masataka Shimizu lives in The Tower, a luxury high-rise in the same upscale Tokyo district as the U.S. Embassy. But he hasn’t been there for more than two weeks, according to a doorman.
The Japanese public hasn’t seen much of him recently either. Shimizu, the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, the company that owns a haywire nuclear power plant 150 miles from the capital, is the most invisible — and most reviled — chief executive in Japan.
Amid rumors that Shimizu had fled the country, checked into a hospital or committed suicide, company officials said Monday that their boss had suffered an unspecified “small illness” because of overwork after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake sent a tsunami crashing onto his company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
After a short break to recuperate, they said, Shimizu, 66, is back at work directing an emergency command center on the second floor of Tepco’s central Tokyo headquarters.
Still, company officials are vague about whether they have actually seen their boss: “I’ll have to check on that,” said spokesman Ryo Shimitsu. Another staffer, Hiro Hasegawa, said he’d seen the president regularly but couldn’t provide details.
Vanishing in times of crisis is something of a tradition among Japan’s industrial and political elite. During Toyota’s recall debacle last year, the carmaker’s chief also went AWOL. “It is very, very sad, but this is normal in Japan,” said Yasushi Hirai, the chief editor of Shyukan Kinyobi, a weekly news magazine.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Groundwater, reservoirs and sea water around Japan’s earthquake damaged nuclear plant face “significant contamination” from the high levels of radiation leaking from the plant, a worrying development that heightens potential health risks in the region.
Nuclear and environmental scientists in the United States darkened their assessment of the risks markedly on Monday after operators at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant said that highly radioactive water has entered underground concrete tunnels extending beyond the reactor.
Sea water and fresh water used to cool the reactors, critically damaged by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and spent fuel pools at the plant have been put in storage tanks there. But reports indicate these tanks are full or over-flowing with tainted water, experts said.
“It’s just hard to see how this won’t result in significant contamination of, certainly, sea water,” said Edwin Lyman, a physicist and expert on nuclear plant design at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
“There will be dilution, some of that will be reconcentrated, but I don’t think this can be sugar-coated at this point.”
Via Piccasso Dreams:
Crane collapses on fuel rods at Fukushima
At 1:45, the newscaster states that a crane collapsed onto the fuel rods. This is MOX fuel, meaning they damaged rods that contained plutonium.