Japan: New meltdown fears at second reactor; how much radiation has been released in Fukushima crisis?


21 Responses to “Japan: New meltdown fears at second reactor; how much radiation has been released in Fukushima crisis?”

  1. vmaldia says:

    a 8.9 is like 1000x stronger than a 7.9 (correct me if i’m wrong) so here’s the headline you’ll never see

    “reactor survives quake 1100x above its design limit”

  2. james4765 says:

    Things are definitely bad, but not a disaster. I’m really getting sick and tired of nimrod reporters calling it another Chernobyl – BECAUSE IT AIN’T. I know nuclear scientists, my father was a nuclear engineer, I’ve spent a lot of time with amateur fusion experimenters, and they know a bit about the subject.

    It is fundamentally impossible for a Chernobyl-level event to happen. Chernobyl had *no* containment whatsoever, and a design that would get hotter if the cooling system failed. Even though the Fukushima #1 reactor is 40 years old, it has the containment to keep it from turning into the Soviet catastrophe. There will be venting of radioisotopes – there is no avoidance of that, at this stage. Every day after shutdown, however, the cores will get cooler and cooler, and the danger level of a full core melt goes down.

    Look, people – if they were going to go Chernobyl, they would have already! The introduction of seawater means they’re writing off any further use of the reactor, since there is no way in hell you can get a reactor vessel recertified after doing that. Too much corrosion. Worst case scenario now is that the cores melt and settle in the bottom of the containment vessel. You then put a concrete cap on it and clean it up in 40 years when the radiation has gone down to just above background – like the Windscale fire – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire – which is just about completely decontaminated. 50 years later.

    The biggest problem with nuclear power is the fear of cancer – “OMG a leak will kill everyone with cancer!!!”. Although a real concern, short of a truly idiotic series of events, the risk of a massive release of radioactive material into the environment is minute. And everyone who works with nukes work with an abundance of caution. Is it nasty? Yes. Maybe we should be more aware of the dangers of living our highly electrified life, and the toxic industrial waste we have to generate to keep our houses brightly lit and perfectly climate controlled.

    P. S. – every coal plant in the country emits more radioactive material in its smokestack than nukes do. But don’t let that get in the way of the fearmongering.

  3. k7aay says:

    How much radiation has been released? Well, when Japan releases the numbers, we will know: See http://www.bousai.ne.jp/eng/ and look for the numbers from Fukushima.

  4. frijole says:

    uh… “A third reactor at the Fukushima #1 power plant in Japan has lost its emergency cooling functionality.” vs TFA: “The utility supplier notified the government early Sunday morning that the No. 3 reactor at the No. 1 Fukushima plant had lost the ability to cool the reactor core… The disaster raised fears over radioactive leaks from the plants after cooling systems there were hampered, most seriously at the No. 1 reactor.”

    I didn’t see mention of any reactor other than #1 having a cooling issue, the #3 reactor seems to be the *second* reactor to lose cooling at the Fukushima #1 power plant.

    • Xeni Jardin says:


      “Another nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 facility in Japan has lost its emergency cooling capacity, according to the Associated Press, bringing to three the number of reactors at that facility to fall prey to Friday’s magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. Added to failure of three reactors at Fukushima No. 2, the count is now six overall.”

      LA Times synopsis of most recent AP reports.

      • HarveyBoing says:


        6 reactors have lost cooling capabilities so far
        2 reactors have begun venting (radioactive) steam as a result of excessive temperatures

        All are worrisome, but the latter much more so than the former, as shutdowns had been initiated at all reactors and so in theory would eventually cool down on their own. The need to vent steam indicates the rate of slowdown of reaction isn’t keeping up with the accumulation of heat, which would be the real problem. If the reaction in a reactor is slowing down quickly enough that heat doesn’t build too much, the lack of active cooling shouldn’t be a major issue.

        Again, that’s all as I understand the news reports and other sources (including Maggie’s very informative article). I’m not a nuclear scientist. :p

  5. Anonymous says:

    For non-sensationalized news on the status of the reactors, visit the American Nuclear Society’s webpage which has links to very informative facts.

    • Ipo says:

      Non-sensationalized maybe. Unbiased? Obviously not.
      This incident is horrible, terrible, sad, scary, all sorts of things.
      But it definitely also is sensational.

      My senses tell me so.

  6. a_user says:

    1125: Worrying news, this: The operators of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant say it’s possible that cooling water at one of the reactors has evaporated, Reuters reports. The company says it can’t rule out the possibility that the nuclear fuel rods in Number 2 reactor were now exposed and could be at risk of meltdown.

    BBC live

    time stamp 20:38 Japan time

  7. Anonymous says:

    Time for the calvary! They are NEST! Nuclear Emergency Support Team.

    • LazLong says:

      The NEST team isn’t for this type of nuclear emergency. They are for events involving terrorist weapons, improvised or otherwise, on U.S. territory. Or do I misunderstand you, and you believe these aren’t really reactors but rather terrorist weapons, and that the FBI has jurisdiction in Japan so therefore could call for a NEST team?

      You might read the following document to clear up your misunderstandings.


  8. lakelady says:

    ironically at least one of the reactors was scheduled to be shut down this month.(according to wikipedia). What I’d like to know is what happens to the seawater that they’re using to cool these reactors. Does it turn into steam? does it go back to the ocean? into the ground? I’m assuming it becomes radioactive but just how radioactive?

  9. awjtawjt says:

    At what point does minimizing the events, as each piece unfolds, become flat-out lying?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it’s just my inner evil overlord talking, but why aren’t nuclear plants dug into mountains or at least buried underground? Obviously, there’s the cost issue, but even if they just put an artificial hill over it, it’d make the whole thing a lot harder for radioactivity to get out of.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good thing nuke plants are immune to earthquakes. Just place them far enough inland and you then solve the tsunami problem too. For some great quotes on how safe nuclear energy is try reading this.

    • Ipo says:

      FTA: “100 times .01 is still less than smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.”
      Yes, 100 times .01 is 1.0 What does that have to do with anything? We’re having a 2000.0 ,or so, issue.
      Do you nuke fans live in an alternate reality?

  12. Anonymous says:

    It’s all about decay heat removal. That is the one term no one is using. Nuclear fission, or the splitting of uranium atoms in this case, produes lighter, more often then not, unstable isotopes of every day elements. These elements undergo various beta minus, alpha, and beta plus decays, giving off heat in the process. A reactor will continue to generate heat long after it is shut down, with the fissioning at a minimum but a large percentage of decay heat produced at some fraction of the highest power reached of its total power output. I work on reactors daily, and the levels of radiation here are low, such that you probably get more exposure handling fertilizer all day then you would standing next to the reactor containment. But really, it is Decay Heat of the fission products and everyone is trying to get Decay Heat removal methods working, and seawater is definitely a last resort. The water used in a reactor plant has to be of certain pH, conductivity, certain concentrations of certain compounds, etc. It is very pure water, and to add seawater, with all the ions and stuff in seawater, it is the worse kind of water to put into a plant, built with exotic metals and materials that are rarely seen outside of these applications. I would be worried that the ions in the seawater will be activated, producing more contaminated water. But no, this water should not be dumped back out in to the ocean. If anything, stuff like this is dumped >50 nautical miles out, “Dilution is the solution.”

  13. Anonymous says:

    I’m getting increasingly frustrated with all this talk of “radioactivity” escaping. That’s an abstract noun… I’d much rather be told which radioisotopes have escaped, because this makes an enourmous difference to how serious this is, how long things will remain contaminated and what is actually happening in the reactor.

    I’m especially confused about them giving doses of iodine. This is usually done to avoid radioiodine collecting in the body, by making sure the body has more than enough iodine already. As far as I can see, the vented steam should not contain radioiodine, since it’s supposed to be composed exclusively of the products of neutron-activated water. I-131 is a uranium fission product. If these people really need iodine supplements, they’ve been exposed to material from the fuel rods.

    I hope it’s just somebody’s knee-jerk “iodine treats radiation” response.

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