Pressure at Damaged Japanese Nuclear Reactor Rising with Fears


japan-nuclearEarthquake damage at a Japanese nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo has stoked fears of radioactive fallout unless the reactor’s core can be cooled and renewed concerns about the security of other nuclear facilities in the tsunami’s path.

Officials declared a state of emergency today at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant when its cooling system failed to function properly and pressure rose after the nuclear reactor lost power and automatically shut down.

“You have to continue to supply water. If you don’t, the fuel will start to overheat and could melt,” said Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist in the Global Security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, D.C.

A meltdown could lead to a breach of the reactor’s steel containment vessel and allow radiation to escape into an outer, concrete containment building, or even into the environment.

“Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances,” said Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, which is an advocacy group that opposes nuclear weapons and power.

“Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”

“We have to take this very seriously,” author and physicist Dr. Michio Kaku said. “Every nuclear power plant has two layers of defense, first the brakes; second, you dump cold water on it. And that apparently has malfunctioned. That’s what causing concern.

“It does not mean we have a runaway accident, but it is cause for concern because this is not supposed to happen,” he said.

U.S. nuclear experts say modern power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis and have several security layers in place in the event of lost power, including diesel fuel generators and battery systems.

“There are multiple redundancies to continue to feed water to the core to take the heat away at most facilities,” said an official with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who asked not to be named because he is not familiar with details of the Fukushima plant.

But those back-up power sources may not have worked in this case, a development many international experts called troublesome.

“The Japanese are considered the best in the world,” said Mycle Schneider, a nuclear consultant in Paris who is familiar with the facilities in Japan. “They had several generators in place in case one of them doesn’t work. This is the first time I’ve heard of where none of them worked. To me, that is a very deep concern.”

Japanese officials said radiation has not leaked from the plant, but ordered 2,800 people living around the facility to evacuate their homes as a precaution.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. military transported coolant to the Fukushima nuclear plant and will continue to assist as needed. “You know Japan is very reliant on nuclear power and they have very high engineering standards but one of their plants came under a lot of stress with the earthquake and didn’t have enough coolant,” Clinton said.

Nearby, the turbine building at the Onagawa nuclear power plant burst into flames shortly after the earthquake and has since been extinguished. Another plant at the facility was also reported to be experiencing a water leak, according to Japanese officials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was closely monitoring the situation at the four Japanese nuclear power sites impacted by the earthquake and confirmed that all had been successfully shutdown.

“It’s a positive sign,” Mitch Singer of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a U.S. industry trade group, said of initial reports of the power plants’ performance and durability following the quake. “This industry more than all others depends on the safe operation of the plant, and it appears these robust facilities have operated as they were designed to do.”Japanese Quake Stirs Nuclear Concerns
Officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are “closely monitoring” operations at two California nuclear power plants situated directly on the coast and at risk of impact from the approaching tsunami triggered by the quake off of Japan’s coast.

Both the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County and the San Onofre Power Plant in San Diego County are still operating normally but taking preparatory action, an NRC official told ABC News.

A tsunami has potential to disrupt operations and power output at the facilities, which rely on steady sea water flow for energy.
But officials said a giant wave would not likely damage the reactor or create a safety risk to the public. Experts say the sealed containment structure around the reactor would protect it from the water, although other parts of the plant facility could be damaged.

The December 2004 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of India led to the automatic shut down of the Kalpakkam nuclear power plant near Chennai after water levels fluctuated in the cooling water intake. It resumed operations six days later.

Japanese nuclear power plants have been tested repeatedly by earthquakes in recent years and operated effectively, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Worldwide, 20 percent of nuclear powerplants operate in areas of “significant seismic activity,” according to the association.

{ABC News/ Newscenter}


  1. This would be the time for them to reverse their evil actions concerning the bochurim.
    I wish I could put this more diplomatically.

  2. to the first 2 posters:

    Are you serious? Besides for the C”H you are making with your stupid statements, you are also hurting the boys every time you post such trash.

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    I echo #3 What is wrong with you?????

  3. Do the esteemed moderators not understand that allowing posting of these comments makes them available to the entire world, including those individuals with authority over the prisoners?

    Do you think they will appreciate seeing their national crisis being seen by Jews as the effect of their country’s drug laws? Do you think you are doing any favors to the prisoners by allowing these comments to go through?