Radiation from Japan not likely to harm North America

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:53 PM GMT on March 14, 2011

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Radiation from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been detected 100 miles to the northeast, over the Pacific Ocean, by the U.S. military. Westerly to southwesterly winds have predominated over Japan the past few days, carrying most of the radiation eastwards out to sea. The latest forecast for Sendai, Japan, located about 40 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, calls for winds with a westerly component to dominate for the remainder of the week, with the exception of a 6-hour period on Tuesday. Thus, any radiation released by the nuclear plant will primarily affect Japan or blow out to sea. A good tool to predict the radiation cloud's path is NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model. The model uses the GFS model's winds to track the movement of a hypothetical release of a substance into the atmosphere. One can specify the altitude of the release as well as the location, and follow the trajectory for up to two weeks. However, given the highly chaotic nature of the atmosphere's winds, trajectories beyond about 3 days have huge uncertainties.One can get only a general idea of where a plume is headed beyond 3 days. I've been performing a number of runs of HYSPLIT over past few days, and so far great majority of these runs have taken plumes of radioactivity emitted from Japan's east coast eastwards over the Pacific, with the plumes staying over water for at least 5 days. Some of the plumes move over eastern Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 5 - 7 days. Such a long time spent over water will mean that the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle out of the atmosphere or get caught up in precipitation and rained out. It is highly unlikely that any radiation capable of causing harm to people will be left in atmosphere after seven days and 2000+ miles of travel distance. Even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which had a far more serious release of radioactivity, was unable to spread significant contamination more than about 1000 miles.


Figure 1. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Saturday, March 12, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Sunday, March 13, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Monday, March 14, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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The one point everyone seems to be missing is this: a Fukushima disaster doesn't have to be identical to the Chernobyl disaster to do a lot of damage. In other words, it's not an either/or thing, where we see either a Chernobyl-like INES Level 7 nuclear incident, or everything is just fine. A Level 4 incident, as the Fukushima situation is now, is worrisome enough; if things keep going downhill--as, optimism and positive thoughts aside, is exactly where this seems to be headed at the moment--this could easily escalate into a Level 5 or even a Level 6 event. That is, not as bad as Chernobyl--but a disaster nonetheless.

(FWIW, by way of comparison, TMI was a Level 5 event.)

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13568
Meltdown threat rises at Japanese nuclear plant
By ERIC TALMADGE and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press Eric Talmadge And Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press 9 mins ago

SOMA, Japan %u2013 Water levels dropped precipitously Monday inside a stricken Japanese nuclear reactor, twice leaving the uranium fuel rods completely exposed and raising the threat of a meltdown, hours after a hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing a different reactor.

Water levels were restored after the first decrease but the rods remained exposed late Monday night after the second episode, increasing the risk of the spread of radiation and the potential for an eventual meltdown....

Link
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The trajectory maps would be more helpful if they showed elapsed time in the air and the decay percentages of the various species in the plume.

Fission Products not all of which are or could be present in the plume.

From Chernobyl
Iodine 131 half life 8 days
Iodine 132 lifetime 198 minutes
Caesium 137 half life 30 years (beta emitter)
Caesium 134 3 hours
Strontium 89 half life 50 days
Strontium 90 half life 28 years (beta emitter)


This is another call for development of Molten Salt Reactors. They don't have melt down issues, don't have pressure issues, don't use Uranium and produce far less waste.

MSRE
Molten Salt Reactors
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It was reactor #4 that had the melt down, don't know how many total.
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Quoting srada:
Thanks everyone for your answers..I just have to wonder why we had nuclear plants in a highly risk earthquake zone? California is also in a high risk zone..are there plants in the same situation as japan in California?

In short, no.

US plants generally use different reactor designs, are built to different standards, and also not located in areas that can be impacted by both a tsunami and earthquake. In addition, this quake is much stronger than what would be experienced by much of California - many geologists believe the San Andreas (and related faults) is only capable of an 8.0 or so maximum. Quakes over an 8 are generally reserved for subduction zones, like Japan or Alaska.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886
A piece of good news for those who worry about the animals. This is about a place called 'Cat Island' near the epicenter.

Link
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Post 101

San Onofre.... Southern Calif.... right by the Pacific Ocean....
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102. Skyepony (Mod)
More homes are under threat from rising water levels in Western Australia's Kimberley region after the town of Warmun was inundated on Sunday.

People in Wyndham, Kununurra and Halls Creek, including outlying communities in the Ord and Fitzroy River catchments, have been told to remain vigilant after significant flooding at Warmun in East Kimberley over the weekend.

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) says water levels are rising quickly in local rivers and streams, and creeks are also expected to be fast-flowing.
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Warmun was hit by flood waters when up to 400mm of rain fell, causing flooding and major structural damage.

The town has is uninhabitable and remains without power, FESA says.

The sewerage system has also broken and the air strip is no longer accessible.

Up to 300 people have been evacuated to the Warmun Roadhouse.

FESA has warned residents to be careful, especially at water crossings, and to never walk, swim or play in flood waters. more here
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101. srada
Thanks everyone for your answers..I just have to wonder why we had nuclear plants in a highly risk earthquake zone? California is also in a high risk zone..are there plants in the same situation as japan in California?
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On another note about Chernobyl... Everything happened within the reactor in the matter of a few hours. As Cat5 and others have said, we've had 4 days since it started, without the same level of impact.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886
Hope this can be controlled, else they're in a more dangerous situation than Three mile island...

2.18am Japanese officials say that nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three nuclear reactors. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: "Although we cannot directly check it, it's highly likely happening.'' Some experts would consider that a partial meltdown of the reactor. Others, though, reserve that term for times when nuclear fuel melts through a reactor's innermost chamber but not through the outer containment shell.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/magnitude-quake-strik es-japan/story-e6frfkyi-1226019903430#ixzz1Gam4T18 t
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As many as 2,000 bodies found as Japan crisis worsens

CTV.ca News Staff
As many as 2,000 bodies washed up on Japan's shores on Monday as officials struggled to deal with the dead, hospitals ran out of medicine and entire communities in the hardest-hit areas remained completely silent.

The destruction from Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami was so widespread that millions of people were still without shelter, food, water or heat on Monday, heading into their fourth night in near-zero degree temperatures.
So far the official death toll is at 2,800, but on Sunday Japanese officials predicted that number would rise to around 10,000.

On Monday morning Japan's Kyodo News reported the grim discovery of 2,000 bodies on two shorelines in Miyagi prefecture.

About 1,000 of the bodies were observed in the town of Minamisanriku -- where roughly 10,000 people are said to be unaccounted for.

In Minamisanriku, 785 bodies had been recovered by noon local time on Monday, local police told Kyodo News.

Rescue workers were trying to recover up to 300 bodies in Sendai, the capital of Miyagi.

Another 8,000 people in Otsuchi, in Iwate prefecture, are said to be unaccounted for.

However, there was some confusion about the total number of bodies found Monday, with The Associated Press citing an official who said 1,000 bodies had washed up on shore, not 2,000.

Casey Calamusa, of World Vision, said the organization is attempting to get basic survival necessities into the hardest-hit regions.

"Some of the greatest needs are food and water, temporary shelter, and World Vision will also be focusing on children and the psychological toll that this earthquake has had by setting up child-friendly spaces for them," he told CTV News Channel from Tokyo.

Japan's ambassador to Canada, Kaoru Ishikawa, said Monday the devastation is so broad that it will be difficult for foreign relief teams to help.

Normally in a disaster situation, local municipalities welcome international aid teams and help them reach the hardest-hit areas. But several days after the disaster, he said, there are still many areas where local officials have been completely silent, suggesting entire communities were obliterated.

"Even the local authorities unfortunately are gone, and local inhabitants as well. So this is a very unusual situation which not many countries have ever seen, certainly not one my country has ever seen before," the ambassador told CTV's Canada AM from Ottawa.

CTV's Tom Walters said it has been difficult for officials to accurately estimate the number of dead.

"There are concerns the death toll is going to be very much greater than what has been officially stated at this point and I think there's just a general sense that there is no calculation yet of the terrible human cost of this tragedy," Walters told CTV News Channel from Tokyo.

Recovery efforts continued across Japan Monday but agencies were struggling with myriad challenges.

Power rationing is in place in some areas, there are ongoing nuclear concerns, and damaged hospitals are struggling with the sheer volume of patients waiting to be treated.

In addition, Japan's stock market plummeted on Monday. On the first business day after last week's catastrophe, the Nikkei Index dropped 6.2 per cent, or 634 points, its lowest point in months.

Northeastern Japan, the region hardest hit by the quake and tsunami, has experienced more than 150 aftershocks since the initial temblor.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54479
Quoting JRRP:


If that forecast is right,it means Weak El Nino trying to appear by late Summer and Fall?
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Quoting cat5hurricane:

Even a full meltdown with all three reactors along with the fuels rods being fully exposed DOES NOT necessarily equate to a nuclear catastrophe on a global or large regional scale similar to Chernobyl. As long as there is no significant breach of the steel casing of the containment vessel housing the core. At this point the authorities do not believe there is.

The RBMK design reactor, used in the Chernobyl nuclear accident, lacked proper containment, which allowed the radioactive material to escape into the environment. Plus, the uranium-graphite-water type is inherently unstable. No other reactor would never have been certified ANYWHERE else. Also, Chernobyl's reactor was operating at full steam prior to and during the explosion, whereas these were automatically scrammed immediately following the quake.

I'm not trying to say a full catastrophe isn't out of the equation, but I don't believe we are anywhere near being there at this point...and may not ever be. This appears to be similar to the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, since some levels of radiation were being emitted in conjunction with both blasts at reactor #'s 1 & 3, as indicated by confirmation of a U.S. ship vessel 100 east of the plant. Number two appears to be undergoing the same process.

As each hour goes by without any serious breach of the containment vessel as I have gathered from most reports, the situation more than likely will improve I think. We're now into the fourth day, which could indicate that the chemical reactions inside the reactor are probably not moving quickly toward a complete meltdown.

Just my two cents though.

Exactly. Chernobyl strikes a chord with many people not familiar with nuclear physics, but it is like comparing a gasoline tanker fire with a 5-gallon gas can fire. Both are bad, and both use the same fuel, but one is under a lot more control than the other.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886
Quoting cat5hurricane:

Even a full meltdown with all three reactors along with the fuels rods being fully exposed DOES NOT necessarily equate to a nuclear catastrophe on a global or large regional scale similar to Chernobyl. As long as there is no significant breach of the steel casing of the containment vessel housing the core. At this point the authorities do not believe there is.

The RBMK design reactor, used in the Chernobyl nuclear accident, lacked proper containment, which allowed the radioactive material to escape into the environment. Plus, the uranium-graphite-water type is inherently unstable. No other reactor would never have been certified ANYWHERE else. Also, Chernobyl's reactor was operating at full steam prior to and during the explosion, whereas these were automatically scrammed immediately following the quake.

I'm not trying to say a full catastrophe isn't out of the equation, but I don't believe we are anywhere near being there at this point...and may not ever be. This appears to be similar to the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, since some levels of radiation were being emitted in conjunction with both blasts at reactor #'s 1 & 3, as indicated by confirmation of a U.S. ship vessel 100 east of the plant. Number two appears to be undergoing the same process.

As each hour goes by without any serious breach of the containment vessel as I have gathered from most reports, the situation more than likely will improve I think. We're now into the fourth day, which could indicate that the chemical reactions inside the reactor are probably not moving quickly toward a complete meltdown.

Just my two cents though.


Very well stated.
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Quoting srada:


how many reactors were at Chernobyl?


consisted of four reactors of type RBMK-1000, each capable of producing 1000 megawatts of electric power (3.2 GW of thermal power), and the four together produced about 10% of Ukraine's electricity at the time of the accident.
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Quoting RecordSeason:
I think they did the wrong thing by venting the steam in the reactors.

When you vent the steam, it reduces the pressure, but the problem with this is that when you lower the air pressure inside the reactor it then makes it easier for more of the water to boil away.

The problem with this is that steam does not conduct heat as easily as liquid water, which would make it harder and harder to cool the reactor, because the water will boil faster and faster. Additionally, now they are saying that the valve is stuck in the open position, and that the fuel rods are exposed again.

What they should have done is leave the valve closed, which would keep most of the water in the reactor as a liquid due to the pressure, and then flood the entire building, letting the reactor cool by dissipating the heat into a much larger body of water.


Think about a pressure cooker which has been over-heated. If you pull the weighted plug on top of it, all of the water will quickly convert to steam and escape. This is similar, except you have an out of control heat source which keeps making more and more heat whether or not you have water there. So to me, venting the steam was a bad idea, since they knew the reactor was lost anyway. They need to flood the entire building and submerge the whole thing. Maybe even drag the reactor out into the ocean or something. It's going to be a bad deal either way, but at least if it was drowned permanently in water, it might stop a full meltdown.

What they are doing right now with a fire pump and sea water is about like pissing on a forest fire. It's not going to make much difference.

Couple of items:

- if you don't vent the pressure, you could break the containment vessel, and then you would have a catastrophic meltdown, with the rods exposed to the open air.
- They aren't just pumping in seawater. They are pumping in seawater mixed with Boronic acid. Boron is an excellent neutron damper, which means it "shuts off" nuclear reactions.
- You can't flood the containment buildings, since the walls are not necessarily waterproof containers, and there is also the slight fact that the walls pretty much don't exist due to hydrogen gas explosions.
- You can't just treat the symptoms of a meltdown, since the heat is being maintained from within. Even if you cool the reactor containment vessel, the reactor itself is still heating up.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886

The little system is fightin, but it looks like the storm is losing its tropical characteristics
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Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



That has never happened before, it's uncharted territory and rather scary to tell you the truth.
kinda like nightmare to tell ya the truth
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54479
Quoting CyclonicVoyage:



That has never happened before, it's uncharted territory and rather scary to tell you the truth.


Very scary to hear it..I think if we are looking at something like this, our govt should be ready and prep for a situation that could happen in Japan..winds changed from day to day so why not prep our side of the world if/when it comes here? (and please Im not trying to be political)
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Update Page Link

2.18am Japanese officials say that nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three nuclear reactors. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said: "Although we cannot directly check it, it's highly likely happening.'' Some experts would consider that a partial meltdown of the reactor. Others, though, reserve that term for times when nuclear fuel melts through a reactor's innermost chamber but not through the outer containment shell.

2.11am US President Barack Obama reiterated the US's offer of assistance to Japan saying he was "heartbroken" by the scenes of devastation emerging from the area.

"We will stand with Japan in the difficult days ahead," US President Barack Obama

2.07am Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he considered it his country's "moral responsibility" to help Japan and ordered the government to increase energy supplies to the country. Russia said yesterday that it was ready to divert some 6000 megawatts of electricity from its operations to help Japan deal with their power shortfall.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/magnitude-quake-strik es-japan/story-e6frfkyi-1226019903430#ixzz1GajNHQ0 0
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You know its FUBAR when they start to send in Helicopters dumping Cement. they have NOT done that yet...so I would say they have not breached a core.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting srada:
I hope someone can answer this question, but I always felt like the media was thinking one of the nuclear reactors having a full meltdown and the worst case scenario happened but what does if all three nuclear reactors had a full meltdown, wouldnt those effects be three X's the results and create not just a situation in japan but effect most of Europe and possibly the US?




Most experts aren't expecting a reprise of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, which killed 32 plant workers and firefighters in the former Soviet Union and at least 4,000 others from cancers tied to radioactive material released by the plant. The Japanese plants are designed differently, including a series of protections aimed at preventing leakage in the event of a disaster.

Analysts said Japan's crisis is unique.

"This is unprecedented," said Stephanie Cooke, the author of "In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age." "You've never had a situation with multiple reactors at risk."
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Quoting srada:
I hope someone can answer this question, but I always felt like the media was thinking one of the nuclear reactors having a full meltdown and the worst case scenario happened but what does if all three nuclear reactors had a full meltdown, wouldnt those effects be three X's the results and create not just a situation in japan but effect most of Europe and possibly the US?
Kinda.

3x the potential results (especially locally), but for impact here, there just isn't enough info to really know. It depends on how high the radioactive particles get, what those radioactive particles are (radioactive Nitrogen, Iodine, Cesium, Strontium, Uranium, Plutonium, etc.), and wind profiles at the time of release (and the following several weeks)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886
#
1611: Another four aftershocks in quick succession, measuring 5.1 and 5.2 magnitude, have again rattled the north-east coast of Japan, the US Geological Survey reports.
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80. Skyepony (Mod)
At least 10 people have been killed in floods in southern Brazilian states and over 21,000 evacuated, civil defense officials reported. Torrential rains caused floods and landslides and destroyed roads in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana. Two people are missing. Overall, up to 60,000 residents of the South American country's south have been affected.
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Quoting srada:
I hope someone can answer this question, but I always felt like the media was thinking one of the nuclear reactors having a full meltdown and the worst case scenario happened but what does if all three nuclear reactors had a full meltdown, wouldnt those effects be three X's the results and create not just a situation in japan but effect most of Europe and possibly the US?



That has never happened before, it's uncharted territory and rather scary to tell you the truth.
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I hope someone can answer this question, but I always felt like the media was thinking one of the nuclear reactors having a full meltdown and the worst case scenario happened but what does if all three nuclear reactors had a full meltdown, wouldnt those effects be three X's the results and create not just a situation in japan but effect most of Europe and possibly the US?
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The No.3 nuclear reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant at Minamisoma is seen burning after a blast following an earthquake and tsunami in this handout satellite image taken March 14, 2011. REUTERS/Digital Globe/Handout


Some comments here:
Link
There is no water covering the fuel rods, which means they heat up much faster and radiation increases.

There are five fire pumps doing the pumping, but that four were damaged, likely when unit 3 blew up. The one that remains is working on unit 2, but units 1 and 3 still need cooling water. The implication is that there is plenty of ocean but not enough pump capacity to move the cooling water into the reactors which will lead to continued melting of the zirconium rods. That in turn could allow the fuel to go critical again, producing more heat.
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Japan's nuclear reactor problems mount

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I can understand our troops being over there because this a call of duty and from what I heard on the news this morning, the USS Ronald Regan had to relocate because they detected radiation levels, but the journalists who are trying to report a story are unneccesarily exposing themselves..Diane Sawyer called herself flying over the nuclear plant in a helicopter but they had to change course because the radiation levels were too high..and if they are exposed and come back to the mainland, wouldnt their families have issues with radiation exposure too?
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The South Atlantic System(near bottom right of map)
Looks to be emerging into the ocean...
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Quoting ParkerPark:


Now this is scary. Where did you see this?



Japanese officials say the nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three of the most troubled nuclearreactors - AP
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Quoting SQUAWK:
Japanese officials say the nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three of the most troubled reactors


Now this is scary. Where did you see this?
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Breaking News

Fuel rods in earthquake-damaged Japanese nuclear reactor have become exposed again, Kyodo News agency reports.
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Japanese officials say the nuclear fuel rods appear to be melting inside all three of the most troubled reactors
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Re Posting the 2nd Explosion, for analysis....

Notice there is sound and you can hear various detonations (seems like 3 det.).... There is also a fireball, different from the 1rst. blast...
Yesterday the detection of radiation by US military was only a rumor.... Today thats real....
There is radiation 60 miles NE. So the truth is being distorted... We can't trust much of what is being said...
So, make your own analisys...

My opinion is that People living closer to Japan, in all the Pacific islands, Hawaii, West US coast, Canada, Alaska, should get their own ways to monitor radiation. You can't trust what is being said...


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Quoting Neapolitan:
Radiation twice the maximum seen previously has now been detected at Fukushima nuclear plant (TEPCO)

(Sarcasm on)That's just what NE Japan needs right now. a lttile radiation...
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Radiation twice the maximum seen previously has now been detected at Fukushima nuclear plant (TEPCO)
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Morning all, I see Japan has survived to see another day...
11,000 and counting dead/Millions without supplies
6 Nuclear plants in danger of meltdown...
1 Nation in ruins


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TEPCO:Fuel rods exposed at Fukushima reactor

Tokyo Electric Power Company is battling to cool a reactor to prevent another explosion at its nuclear power plant in quake-hit Fukushima Prefecture.

The utility firm said on Monday afternoon that fuel rods are exposed at the Number Two reactor of its Fukushima Number One plant after the level of coolant water dropped. At around 6:20pm, the power company began pumping in seawater.

Tokyo Electric says it had to halt the process due to fuel loss for the pumping system, possibly leaving the fuel rods in the reactor exposed. The firm says a core meltdown might have occurred.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that pumping seawater into the reactor is working now.

Earlier in the day, the firm told the government that the reactor had lost all cooling capability due to a failure of the emergency power system.

Since then, the company has tried to circulate the coolant by steam instead of electricity. But attempts to lower the temperature inside the reactor chamber have not worked well.

The company is also considering opening a hole in the reactor housing building to release hydrogen generated by the exposed fuel rods.

Accumulated hydrogen has caused blasts at two other reactors at the plant.

Monday, March 14, 2011 20:36 +0900 (JST)
Video Quality
Low (256K)High (512K).
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Quoting hcubed:


I've got ESPN, is that close?

ESPN doesn't work for women. Sometimes works for my wife, but only during football season.
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5886

1535: Just to recap for you: We're getting reports that water levels in reactor 2 at Fukushima have fallen sharply, leaving the nuclear fuel rods fully exposed and raising fears of a meltdown. More as it comes in.



1531: Japanese broadcaster NHK is saying that pressure inside reactor 2 at Fukushima rose suddenly when the air flow gauge was "accidentally" turned off. That blocked the flow of water into the reactor leading to full exposure of the rods, it says. That report has not been confirmed.
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Quoting jeffs713:

I'd settle for ESP.


I've got ESPN, is that close?
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Houston storms are pinging at 65dbz
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.