Japan earthquake causes risk of meltdown at nuclear reactor

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Risk of meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 reactor.

16:58 JST, March 12th. (Below are my notes from watching the main TV stations here in Japan). A press report at 2 pm (JST) by the the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told that caesium was detected in a stack around the same time that pressure within the reactor chamber dropped slightly, leading to speculation that gas had escaped through a vent.

Tension remains high, and the air-time devoted to this subject by all TV stations is increasing hourly. Will Japan experience its own 3 Mile Island, or even Chernobyl?

This story seems to offer some hope, but as the exact time of posting is not recorded, it is difficult to correctly assess the situation.

Prevailing winds are easterly (blowing out to the open sea), changing to southerly later today and tomorrow.

University professors of nuclear physics and energy are invited to the TV studios and grilled on what is happening and what they think could happen. They repeat the exhortations of the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister, to keep calm and prepared, especially in the areas surrounding the nuclear reactors. Those living in the most dangerous areas must be allowed to evacuate first in an orderly fashion, or everyone’s safety will be compromised. Everyone seems to be complying with this request. Evacuation is proceeding smoothly but is not yet completed.

The pundits repeat that Japanese technological expertise is of world-leading standard, and that much has been learned and much progress made in nuclear reactor design and safety since Chernobyl and 3-Mile Island.

Prime Minister Kan made a trip over the stricken areas by helicopter this morning, returning to Tokyo around 10:30 a.m. before making a press announcement. The Fukushima reactor was high on his list of priorities.

The fire brigade’s assistance has been obtained to pump more water into the reactor to cool it down and raise the level of water. It is not clear why the water level has continued to fall despite large amounts of water being pumped in.

The American Army has offered help, and their assistance may be requested, particularly with help with water and pumps.

It appears that the 7m tsunami knocked out not only the backup diesel power generator. The backup battery to the backup was used, but it soon ran out of juice.

There are no announcements of rioting, violence or panic in any of the stricken areas. Survivors wrapped in blankets to keep out the cold queue up patiently to receive allocations of food and water.


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