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Japan: Earthquake, Tsunami + Nuclear Disasters

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Anyone know of any online resources plotting the spread of the radiation from Fukushima or even any projected spread model output out there in cyberspace? Bit macabre i know, sorry, just something we are doing at school as part of my current teacher training project placement...

Thanks

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Things going from bad to worse, latest in the Guardian:

Fukushima workers evacuate after radiation spikes

The workers were ordered to leave the facility after the level of radiation at the plant soared to 10 millisievert per hour - above the level considered harmful to human health

Workers battling to prevent nuclear meltdown at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant were temporarily evacuated on Wednesday morning after radiation levels became too dangerous for them to remain.

The withdrawal hampered efforts to secure the safety at the atomic power plant and avert a major radiation leak.

Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] said it was considering using helicopters to spray the crippled No. 4 reactor with water and boric acid – a fire retardant – in an attempt to prevent more radiation leaks.

The 50 or so engineers, working around the clock in harsh conditions, spent the morning trying to put out a fire at one reactor and to cool others at risk of overheating and reaching criticality.

The government's chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, said Japan was considering seeking help from the US military.

All six of the plants reactors are experiencing problems following last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, in which an estimated 10,000 people have died.

The workers were ordered to leave the facility after the level of radiation at the plant soared to 10 millisievert per hour - above the level considered harmful to human health – possibly as a result of radioactive substances being emitted from the No. 2 reactor. The reading later fell to around 6 millisievert per hour, reports said.

The evacuation followed another day of crisis at the plant, which has become the focus of the world's attention, even as rescue workers sift through the damage caused by the tsunami along a vast stretch of Japan's northeast coast.

Earlier, officials from the nuclear and industrial safety agency said that 70% of fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor had been significantly damaged, as well as 33% of rods at the No. 2 reactor. The cores of both reactors are believed to have partially melted, Kyodo news agency said.

"We don't know the nature of the damage," said Minoru Ohgoda, spokesman for the country's nuclear safety agency. "It could be either melting, or there might be some holes in them."

Before they were moved to safety the workers had been trying to cool spent nuclear fuel pools at the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, where temperatures have risen above normal levels.

To compound the workers' problems, a fire broke out at the No. 3 reactor, where a fuel storage pool has overheated and may have let off radioactive steam. Live TV footage showing a large cloud of light grey smoke rising above the plant.

Edano said that there was "a possibility that the No. 3 reactor's containment vessel is damaged".

A blaze also broke out again at the No. 4 reactor, which was already feared to be at risk of leaking radioactivity. The nuclear safety agency reported that flames and smoke were no longer visible half an hour later, but were unable to confirm that the fire had been extinguished.

The No. 4 reactor is an increasing cause for concern. Tepco believes that the storage pool may be boiling, raising the possibility that exposed rods will reach criticality. "The possibility of re-criticality is not zero," a Tepco spokesman said.

Yesterday the government ordered 140,000 people living within a 30-kilometre radius of the plant to remain indoors after a spike in radiation levels. A further 70,000 residents had already been moved to safe distances. The government said it had no immediate plans to widen the evacuation zone.

The crisis unfolding in Fukushima continued to raise anxiety levels in Tokyo, 150 kilometres to the south. Radiation levels in the capital was 10 times higher than normal on Tuesday evening, but posed no health hazard, the government said.

The meteorological agency said winds near the power plant would blow from the northwest and out into the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday. The winds were expected to strengthen in the afternoon, the agency added.

Guardian link

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Workers were withdrawn for safety reasons overnight. Seems nobody has noticed that the container was reported yesterday as damaged. The so called media hype has been closer to the mark than the steady lets play it down from the authorities.

Doesn't help when experts disagree with each other. The registry article well the title is nonsense for a start. An earthquake proof plant fails cannot be considered a success I'm afraid.

People are now beginning to panic which won't help rescue attempts.

After shocks continue but are slowly getting less often.

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Based on news this morning, I believe the Uk government should be advising nationals to leave Japan immediately, or relocate to the south of the country.

It appears some were right to be synical of the drip drip news from the plant owners.

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Not encouraging news this morning:

Not sure what effect this is all going to have on foreign aid and the relief effort which seems to have taken a back page of the worlds attention.

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Not encouraging news this morning:

Not sure what effect this is all going to have on foreign aid and the relief effort which seems to have taken a back page of the worlds attention.

I heard a little while ago on BBC news that the workers are back in the plant again - it was only abandoned for an hour or so. It is hard to get a clear picture what is going on, though.

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Freezing weather is forecast over the coming days in Japan, making things even tougher for those made homeless by the earthquake and tsunami. Temperatures have already plunged to 0C in many of the affected areas.

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I see they are now employing the

helicopters to drop water on the reactors.

Can I ask ..

If the 80" concrete and steel protective walls are

intact how does that have any effect ?

Sorry if that's a daft question.

B.

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If true, this is atrocious!

Japan earthquake: UK rescue team 'foiled by red tape'

A UK rescue team says they were forced to leave Japan because they could not secure the necessary paperwork from the British embassy in Tokyo. The International Rescue Corps said they were not given permission to work in Japan because it would have made the embassy legally responsible for them. A spokesman for the team said it was "gut-wrenching" to be stopped from helping by "your own country". The Foreign Office said it helped them as much as they could. A spokesman said it was a matter for the Japanese government as it is responsible for the rescue and humanitarian operations in the country.

Willie McMartin, operations director at Scotland-based International Rescue Corps (IRC), said: "The team has had excellent help from the Japanese embassy in London and the authorities in Tokyo but it broke down when they couldn't get the relevant paperwork from the British embassy in Tokyo. "This was the 32nd world disaster we have been to and we've only had problems twice before with host governments in China and Afghanistan. "We have never encountered the position where the British embassy, our own country, came up with a show-stopper."

Mr McMartin said the team had permission from the Japanese embassy in London but they could not get a letter of authorisation from British officials in Japan stating that they were a bona fide organisation. They needed this so they could move around the country and buy fuel. The team arrived in Tokyo on Monday night and caught a flight home at 1300 local time on Wednesday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12756366

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I see they are now employing the

helicopters to drop water on the reactors.

Can I ask ..

If the 80" concrete and steel protective walls are

intact how does that have any effect ?

Sorry if that's a daft question.

B.

0901: Army has aborted an operation to spray water on the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan's NHK TV reports

It seems as if they have changed their minds in the last hour, not sure why !

0806: Japan's NHK TV reports that a helicopter that is to drop water over Reactor Three will pass over the reactor many times. It says the helicopter can't stay too long over the plant because of the risk of radiation to the crew.

EDIT: Change of plan, no reasons for this have been given.

0913: Chief cabinet secretary Edano says preparations are being made to inject water from the ground into Reactor Four at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Edited by MKsnowangel

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0901: Army has aborted an operation to spray water on the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan's NHK TV reports

It seems as if they have changed their minds in the last hour, not sure why !

0806: Japan's NHK TV reports that a helicopter that is to drop water over Reactor Three will pass over the reactor many times. It says the helicopter can't stay too long over the plant because of the risk of radiation to the crew.

EDIT: Change of plan, no reasons for this have been given.

0913: Chief cabinet secretary Edano says preparations are being made to inject water from the ground into Reactor Four at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Maybe the radiation is currently too high and so too much risk? :cc_confused:

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From the New York Times

"The workers are being asked to make escalating — and perhaps existential — sacrifices that so far are being only implicitly acknowledged: Japan’s Health Ministry said Tuesday it was raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each worker could be exposed, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16workers.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2

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Maybe the radiation is currently too high and so too much risk? :cc_confused:

0956: Water is being poured into Reactors Five and Six at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Reuters reports, quoting the operating company.

10:10: More on the current nuclear situation from chief cabinet secretary Edano. He says those outside a 20km exclusion zone around the troubled plant are not in any immediate danger, and that at 4pm local time the level of radiation at the plant was stable at about 1.5 millisieverts.

Those within 20km of the Fukushima Daiichi plant have been evacuated, while those within 20-30km have been advised to stay indoors.

The governor of Japan's Fukushima prefecture says the level of worry and anger among residents has been "pushed to the limit".

Edited by MKsnowangel

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If true, this is atrocious!

Seems to be true...

QUOTE: We now have a full story on the UK team that says it was turned back because of red tape at the British embassy in Tokyo. The British ambassador to Japan said the embassy had helped the team as much as it could.]

http-~~-//www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12756366

post-10773-0-66995400-1300271280_thumb.j

And meanwhile the weather continues to be a problem......

Snow muffles rescue work in Japan's devastated northeast

Heavy snow blanketed Japan's devastated northeast on Wednesday, hindering rescue workers and adding to the woes of the few, mainly elderly, residents who remained in the area.

http-~~-//uk.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/us-japan-quake-snow-idUKTRE72F2EA20110316

post-10773-0-42072700-1300276434_thumb.j

Edited by MKsnowangel

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I see they are now employing the

helicopters to drop water on the reactors.

Can I ask ..

If the 80" concrete and steel protective walls are

intact how does that have any effect ?

Sorry if that's a daft question.

B.

It's not a daft question at all, it's a question that raises more questions - pouring water on the external part of the biological shield is only a valuable procedure if they're worried about radioactive particulates (damping them down to prevent then from becoming wind-blown), or if they're worried about fire, or they are trying to keep the biological shielding cool. If it's the latter, then that suggests that there's still a problem in the cores of the reactors causing overheating - pouring water on the outer shell of the reactor won't cool the fuel rods but it might stop the steel outer reactor shielding from melting. Just speculation on my part, we don't really know, but if I was putting money on it, I think it is about damping the area down to restrict windblow of existing irradiated dust and particles.

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It's not a daft question at all, it's a question that raises more questions - pouring water on the external part of the biological shield is only a valuable procedure if they're worried about radioactive particulates (damping them down to prevent then from becoming wind-blown), or if they're worried about fire, or they are trying to keep the biological shielding cool. If it's the latter, then that suggests that there's still a problem in the cores of the reactors causing overheating - pouring water on the outer shell of the reactor won't cool the fuel rods but it might stop the steel outer reactor shielding from melting. Just speculation on my part, we don't really know, but if I was putting money on it, I think it is about damping the area down to restrict windblow of existing irradiated dust and particles.

I see, many thanks for that answer JBD.

BL :)

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The BBC's Chris Hogg, in Tokyo, says that, as authorities struggle with various methods of cooling the nuclear plant, it feels like they are running out of options. Radiation levels in the capital, he says, are higher than normal but way below what would present a risk to human health. But still, he says, the country remains deeply uneasy.

How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown

The operating reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power station automatically shut down during the earthquake.

But after subsequent cooling failures, two of them went into partial meltdown.

http-~~-//www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/12/world/asia/the-explosion-at-the-japanese-reactor.html?ref=asia

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There certainly is a lot of mixed reporting coming through about the nuclear side of this disaster. Lastest from Reuters indicates:

Japan is looking to use its military to help pump water to the No.3 reactor and into a spent-fuel pool at the No.4 reactor of a quake-stricken nuclear plant, the nation's nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday. It also said it was unsure if Japan's Self-Defense Forces would make another attempt to drop water by helicopter on the No. 3 reactor. An earlier attempt was aborted on Wednesday. It also said radiation levels at a monitoring post outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant had spiked at 0330 GMT to 10,850 microsieverts per hour, but fell back later to 2,331 microsieverts an hour later.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/japan-quake-radiation-idUSTFD00670620110316

Lines at Tokyo's Haneda Airport weave back and forth across the departure terminal. Families fill the seats, awaiting flights to Japan's southern and northern islands. It's a similar scene at Tokyo's largest airport, Narita International, but with bigger crowds, numbering into the thousands. It is an unprecedented, albeit orderly, mass exodus out of one of the world's most populated cities amid the growing nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.

International residents are the ones able to leave quickly, like French citizen Matthew Delboe. "I think when you're praying for the winds to go one way, it's time to go," says Delboe, traveling out of Tokyo to the southern island of Kyushu.

But it wasn't his government's actions that led Delboe to want to leave Tokyo. It's the lack of clarity about the future of the plant, he explains. "Two days ago, I thought there was absolutely no risk. But now I think it's stupid to stay when you can leave." It appeared many in downtown Tokyo were also either leaving or simply absent from their jobs.

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/16/japan.tokyo.notebook.lah/

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A picture today of one of the badly damaged reactors (actually reactors 3 and 4 at Fukushima):

Posted Image

newspaper link

Edited by Barbmac

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Even the Japanese PM is being kept in the dark:

As dangerous levels of radiation leaked from four crippled nuclear reactors in Japan’s earthquake-ravaged northeast Tuesday, Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister, stormed into an executive meeting of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and demanded to know, “What the hell is going on?â€

According to the Kyodo news agency, whose reporter overheard the angry exchange, he was livid over hearing of Japan’s latest brush with nuclear catastrophe at the same time a panicked public was being told a third explosion at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had led to a dangerous leak spreading radioactive clouds as far south as Tokyo. “The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the Premier’s office for about an hour,†Mr. Kan fumed. “What the hell is going on?â€

Within hours, the Japanese PM had announced he was personally taking control of crisis management at Fukushima. He appointed a committee of government and TEPCO officials to report directly to him; had the transport ministry impose a no-fly zone for 30 kilometres around the badly damaged plant; and ordered Japan’s Self-Defence Forces to shift their attention to relief, instead of rescue.

Later, at a nationally televised news conference, where he spoke to reporters while dressed in a powder-blue emergency services jump-suit, Mr. Kan acknowledged the radiation peril and called for calm. “There is a danger of even higher radiation levels,†he said. “We are doing everything we can to contain the leakage. I know that people are very worried, but I would like to ask you to act calmly.â€

For a brief moment there was a flash of explosive temper that brought Mr. Kan to political prominence nearly 20 years ago. He earned the nickname “Ira-Kan†(Irritable Kan) as a crusading health minister who blamed bureaucrats in his ministry for failing to prevent, then covering up, the use of HIV-tainted blood products in an AIDS scandal.

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/03/16/peter-goodspeed-livid-japanese-pm-takes-personal-control-of-crisis-management/

Here is a detailed and increasingly worrying scenario:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12762608

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Latest:

1525: The EU's energy chief Guenther Oettinger has said that in the coming hours "there could be further catastrophic events, which could pose a threat to the lives of people on the island". He told the European Parliament the Fukushima nuclear site was "effectively out of control". "The cooling systems did not work, and as a result we are somewhere between a disaster and a major disaster."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

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The Associated Press reports that the nuclear scare is proving to be a sales bonanza for traders in iodine, face masks and radiation meters.

This is particularly the case in Russia, where people have painful memories of the false securities given in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. "It is a pity that certain businessmen are trying to profit on the situation," Olga Shekhovtseva, an Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman in Russia's Primorsky region, told AP.

US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has described events at the Fukushima plant as "appearing to be more serious than Three Mile Island". How much worse was not clear, he said, adding that it was very hard to tell how bad things were on the ground.

Things are not looking good in that case, I was reading earlier that it took them 6 years to understand the extent of the meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 and 12 years to clean it up !

1556: Kyodo is reporting new plumes of smoke coming from the building housing reactor three

Edited by MKsnowangel

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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge says the snow now falling heavily on the quake-hit zone is complicating efforts to rescue any survivors, and to retrieve bodies.

The terrible conditions in which survivors have found themselves:

post-10773-0-83557400-1300293801_thumb.j

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Anybody remember Chernobyl and the helicopters flying over it. Same today in Japan however they soon gave up. Looks like they are now running out of ideas. Sadly after plan a and plan b fails they don't seem to have a organised plan c. Not good in a high risk area when operating high risk machinery.

The knock effects of the failure are Governments suspending and reviewing nuclear policies the world over.

Death toll still rising although considering the amount of devastation to end up with a final figure 10,000 or less would be an amazing feat.

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Some cheery thoughts via Reuters:

In the worst case, any radioactive cloud from Japan's damaged nuclear plant is likely to be limited to the densely populated nation -- unlike the wider fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, experts say. The 1986 blast in then-Soviet Ukraine, when the reactor exploded, contaminated large parts of Europe in the world's worst nuclear disaster. At the Fukushima plant, the explosive potential within the six reactors is easing with time. "In the worst case, a radioactive cloud would not go that far up in the atmosphere," said Jan Beranek, head of environmental group Greenpeace's International Nuclear Campaign.

"That is good news for the world, but bad news for Japan." Despite assurances by Japanese authorities about low health risks, the crisis at the Fukushima plant has worsened since Friday's quake-caused tsunami, with desperate, unsuccessful attempts on Wednesday to water-bomb the facility. "We are at the beginning of the catastrophic phase," Sebastian Pflugbeil, president of the private, German-based Society for Radiation Protection, said of Japan's efforts to pull the Fukushima plant back from the brink. "Maybe we have to pray," he said, adding that a wind blowing any nuclear fallout east into the Pacific would limit any damage for Japan's 127 million population in case of a meltdown or other releases, for instance from spent fuel storage "ponds."

Japan placed top priority on Wednesday on efforts to cool down a plutonium-fueled nuclear reactor at Fukushima -- the only one of six not fueled by less hazardous uranium. Some countries advised their nationals to leave the country. Many experts expect the outcome to be worse than the partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island in the United States in 1979, which caused no widespread health damage, but less severe than Chernobyl. A U.N. study estimated that there could be 4,000 to 9,000 extra cancer deaths from Chernobyl, but Greenpeace has said that the disaster could cause more than 250,000 cancer cases, including 100,000 fatalities.

"In Chernobyl the whole plant core exploded," said Malcolm Crick, Secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). "But there was also a lot of heat and that lifted it high into the atmosphere." He said Fukushima was "a serious situation but it's too early to say" what the worst outcome could be. Malcolm Grimston, a nuclear expert at the Chatham House think-tank in Britain, said Fukushima was not like Chernobyl. "We're nearly five days after the fission process was stopped, the levels of radioactive iodine will only be about two-thirds of where they were at the start, some of the other very short-lived, very radioactive material will be gone altogether by now," he said. "The situation may recede or deteriorate and lead to a massive radiation leak to the atmosphere," said Professor Javier Dies, head of Nuclear Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Barcelona. "As things stand, this cannot be ruled out."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/16/us-japan-quake-worst-idUSTRE72F6H720110316

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