An explosion occurred at the Fukushima nuclear plant around 3:30 PM in Japan Saturday.
Here’s the latest on the nuclear situation.
The explosion was not in the reactor’s container and it didn’t cause a major radiation leak. In fact, the amount of radioactive elements actually decreased after the explosion, and radiation levels are not rising, according to JibTV, a Japanese TV station with live coverage of the event.
However the the two most recent nuclear explosions, 3 Mile Island in the U.S. in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, were rated a 5 and a 7 on the INES (Interntional Nuclear Event) scale, and the Japanese nuclear agency has rated Fukushima a 4, according to Reuters, which is live-blogging the disaster. (A reminder of what happened during Three Mile and Chernobyl is below.)
Iodine and cesium, two byproducts of the nuclear fission process that occurs in nuclear plants, were detected around the area. In addition, radiation levels of 1,015 micro sievert have been found outside the plant, which is the equivalent to receiving the maximum amount of healthy exposure someone can get in one year, in one day, according to JibTV and the WSJ.
A team of doctors, nurses and experts on radioactive measurement is on standby in case of a radioactive disaster.
The reactor, which the ECCS (emergency core cooling system made up of a series of sysems designed to shutdown the reactor in emergency systems) is meant to cool and can’t because the power is out and the generators are not working, is not exploded yet, but it is still in danger.
Under normal conditions, the ECCS provides cooling water that keeps the reactor at a stable temperature. Water is removed from condenses steam and feeds it back through the reactor and through a core which keeps the reactor at a stable temperature.
Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonprofit think tank, told Newsmax magazine what happens next at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant and how it’s similar to the Three Mile INES and could escalate to a situation like Chernobyl.
“The Japanese situation appears to be roughly analogous to the Three Mile Island incident in the United States, where authorities struggled for days to contain an improperly cooled reactor core but were able to avert a widespread release of nuclear material.
“We were in a situation as I recall then very similar to where we are now, where we were told by news media in 1979 that there was a core melt accident unfolding, we didn’t know how serious it would become, and what would happen.”
“At least one of the reactors in Japan, and perhaps more, ” are on the path of a core-melt accident. It’s called a loss of coolant accident. . . . And it’s up to the Japanese authorities, together with the industries in that country, to find a way to stem this problem.”
Hibbs on what might happen:
“After a while, with the heat building up in there, and lack of coolant, you’re going to see damage in your fuel, the cladding, the metal container around the nuclear material, begins to buckle or balloon or break, and after a little while you’ll get a situation where the fuel falls apart, melts, and falls into the core, and then you’ve got a classical core melt accident like you had in Three Mile Island that you had in the United States in ’79.”
Hibbs spoke with Japanese government officials who told him the force of the tsunami was so severe that the water may have flooded the reactors, power generators, and cooling mechanisms, disabling the equipment. “Which means they have to resort to basically a military-type exercise, to rush in to the devastated site equipment that they can quickly hook up to the reactor to get power in there and start this emergency equipment, to get cooling water into that core and prevent that fuel from overheating.
“And if they can’t do that,” he told Newsmax, “then you’re going to have this meltdown.
At least three people near the plant have radioactive exposure, but there’s no confirmation that it came from the explosion. JiBTV said they discovered the 3 exposed people when they randomly tested three out of 90 people (and they all had been exposed to radiation) the hospital. Apparently they have no health problems.
People have been asked to evacuate from a 20km radius around the plant.
The death toll is said to be expected to reach 1700. Over 680 have been found dead and number of people found dead is rising hourly as more people are found.
Approximately 4,000 people were killed in Chernobyl.
We’ve been covering the event since it happened. Click here to see how the events unfolded.
Hat tip Zerohedge
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