Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Breaking: Fukushima Daiichi Plant Heating Up

Japanese broadcaster NHK reports: "Attempts to cool the temperature in the #2 reactor of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have only partially succeeded despite the injection of more cooling water."  And last night the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had to inject boric acid into the site to prevent a nuclear reaction.  The temperature in #2 reactor has risen from 45 C to above 70 C in the past 4 days.  TEPCO began pumping more water into the reactor at around 1:30 AM on Monday, but says that the flow of water in the reactor is no longer able to properly cool down the melted down nuclear fuel.  Radioactive xenon has not been detected, they say.  However last night increased levels of radiation were detected in a high school parking lot in Tokyo.  The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency wants to know whether the reactor is in a state of cold shutdown, ie. safe - or not.  TEPCO has admitted that they don't know.  Temperatures in reactors 3 and 5 are rising too, and reactor 4 is "very unstable and dangerous” according to the company.  Steam is rising from the complex, and helicopters are checking for increased releases. The temperature in the spent fuel pool at reactor 3 is up 70%.  AP points out: "The structural integrity of the damaged #4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns."  Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, who used to build spent fuel pools, says that if the fuel pool at reactor 4 collapses people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside.  Fuel pool #4 is not in great shape, and there have been a plethora of earthquakes nearby since the Big One almost a year ago.  The spent fuel pool at reactor 4 alone (which has lost all of its water) has 3/4 as much nuclear fuel as at all of Chernobyl.  "However, the real numbers are even worse. Specifically, TEPCO very recently transferred many more radioactive spent fuel rods into the storage pools. According to Associated Press, there were – at the time of the earthquake and tsunami – 3,400 tons of fuel in seven spent fuel pools plus 877 tons of active fuel in the cores of the reactors. That totals 4,277 tons of nuclear fuel at Fukushima. Which means that there is almost 24 times more nuclear fuel at Fukushima than Chernobyl." (Gizmodo)  With Chernobyl, people, the fallout drifted and contaminated eastern Europe.  This time we're east of Japan.  This needs to be watched carefully!