Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor
2011-03-30 0:00

From: guardian.co.uk


Highly radioactive water is now being detected outside the containment area at Fukushima, experts have warned.


Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

'Fukushima plutonium leak comparable to Chernobyl disaster'


Video from: RT

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it reacts with the concrete floor of the drywell underneath, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Lahey said: "It won't come out as one big glob; it'll come out like lava, and that is good because it's easier to cool."

The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this.

"The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core," Lahey added. "It's not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it's not going to be good news for the environment."

The radiation level at a pool of water in the turbine room of reactor two was measured recently at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. At that level, workers could remain in the area for just 15 minutes, under current exposure guidelines.

A less serious core meltdown happened at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. During that incident, engineers managed to cool the molten fuel before it penetrated the steel pressure vessel. The task is a race against time, because as the fuel melts it forms a blob that becomes increasingly difficult to cool.

In the light of the Fukushima crisis, Lahey said all countries with nuclear power stations should have "Swat teams" of nuclear reactor safety experts on standby to give swift advice to the authorities in times of emergency, with international groups co-ordinated by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, in 1986, has met Japanese cabinet ministers to discuss establishing an independent committee charged with taking radiation data from the site and translating it into clear public health advice.

"What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it's suddenly safe to drink. People don't know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue," said Gale.

"My recommendation is they should consider establishing a small commission to independently convert the data into comprehensible units of risk for the public so people know what they are dealing with and can take sensible decisions," he added.

Source: guardian.co.uk



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Minister of Migration attacked by asylum seeker with fire extinguisher
2015-03-27 2:12
Sweden’s Minister of Justice & Migration also known as Morgan “only 1%” Johansson, has been attacked with a fire extinguisher when he visited an asylum home for future Swedes. Regional newspaper, Kristiandstadsbladet reported that a man who had been living at the home for a couple of weeks grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed foam all over the minister who didn’t ...
Hollywood agents: Difficult for white actors to find work now that shows required ‘to go ethnic’
2015-03-27 1:51
According to an article by Nellie Andreeva published yesterday at Deadline Hollywood, the television landscape has shifted so much this season that white actors are finding it increasingly difficult to find roles. In addition to new hit shows with mostly minority casts — Black-ish, Empire, Fresh Off the Boat, and How to Get Away with Murder — shows that were originally ...
Congratulations Pussy Porters!
2015-03-26 18:52
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school. On International Women’s day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which I’ve translated but prior to reading it I’d like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes. First and foremost “pussy porter” and “penis porter” are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately – prosecutor
2015-03-26 18:08
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldn’t let the captain inside the cabin, with the “intension to destroy” the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference. Follow RT’s live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz. The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary
2015-03-25 19:38
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced. “Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because ...
More News