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Monday, March 14, 2011

Reactor "container" damaged at Fukushima

The third active nuclear reactor at Fukushima has had its hydrogen explosion -- just like the other two -- and there is now no serious question but that at least some fuel inside all three reactors is melting down. The latest report from Kyodo News is that the "reactor container" has been "damaged" in that third unit.

The problem is being described as a "defect" in the "suppression pool," which as best we can tell sits right beneath the reactor core.

Without cooling water on the rods inside the cores, they will reach temperatures high enough to melt steel. If superheated nuclear fuel pours out of the core, it will melt through everything it touches. Will there be fires? Will it melt all the way down to the core of the earth, as they told us in "The China Syndrome"? At the very least, the groundwater will be poisoned forever.

Another thing to think about are the spent fuel pools in the reactors. This is nuclear waste -- old fuel rods -- that's being kept in pools of water so that it doesn't overheat or start an unwanted nuclear chain reaction. The pools are in the same buildings as the crippled reactors, apparently on an upper floor. What's going to happen to those waste pools if the four to six inches of steel in the reactor core wall gives way, and the meltdown starts wiping out the concrete and earth below? It's anybody's guess.

UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.: Here's an interesting graphic. That's us off to the right of your screen.

Comments (9)

But it is OK Jack...the gubbmit and the nuke makers say so.
This is all so sad and awful and I don't know what to say to those who keep saying that nukepower is clean and safe.

These same people will also tell you "Don't worry, it's just like getting a chest X-ray. You get more radiation flying on an airplane." And on and on.

Don't recall where I read it, but even in Japan the government has been far less than transparent over the years about incidents at their various nuclear power plants.

I suspect a significant part of the problem is that few can even get to the plants. Between the quake and the tsunami, it appears many of the roads are impassable; harbors are destroyed; airfields are covered with debris. Whatever "solutions" are being proposed for the plants, few can get there to take action. Plus, as other commenters have noted, no one really knows what's happening inside the containment vessels, since monitoring systems no longer function.

The Goddess help those people in Japan. They may lose a signifcant portion of their island for as long as humankind exists.

At a certain point, you won't be able to get close enough to do anything, even if the roads and seas are open, because of the radiation. There may not be enough folks willing to sign up for a suicide mission.

If you're not irritated enough from the corporate suck-ups who are breathlessly lining up to advocate for more "clean, safe nuclear power" in America consider this:
The industry has gotten its servants in the federal government to have the taxpayers guarantee the loans for any new reactors. That's right: It's that same pattern of socializing losses and privatizing profits all over again.
If any future reactor goes the way of this little number in Japan, the energy company walks away from the debt and we pay for it. Meanwhile, if it's a financial winner, the profits go to them.
Of course, that completely changes any incentive to build these things as safe as possible as that just cuts into profits. If it goes boom let the taxpayers pick up the tab.
It's fascinating watching these right-wing clowns bow down to Wall Street and big business in general, even as they spout their phony allegiance to capitalism and the free markets. Hell hath no fury like a programmed corporate zombie.

At some tipping point, or trigger point, the old-century, past-sale-date 'obstructionists' (anti-change politicos of both the D and R stripes) are going to have to be run roughshod over, by humankind, in order for humankind to manage surviving on this planet.

First thing, we line-item kill all the military budget. Reduced to as minimal as it was before atom bombs and Nuclear Macho began ... mushrooming, in the nihilistic (apocalyptic, self-denying) mind.

And don't forget the Price-Anderson Act -- when the nuke blows over here and people die, the utilities won't be held liable beyond a laughable amount.

Here's an interesting future graphic. Wind animation model for the next 5 days.


Japanese Prime Minister warns of high radiation levels:


TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that there is a high risk of elevated levels of radiation from a reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant where an explosion occurred earlier in the day, and urged people within 30 kilometers of the plant to stay indoors.

"Substantial amounts of radiation are leaking in the area," Mr. Kan said on television at 11 a.m. in Tokyo. "We are making utmost efforts to prevent further explosions or the release of radioactive materials," he said.

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