Meltdowns: From Bad to Nightmare

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

After an earthquake that has now been upgraded by Japanese officials to a magnitude 9.0, with a tsunami that has devastated the northeastern region of the main island of Japan, it is now becoming evident that there are two nuclear reactors that may be in meltdown which would be a nuclear disaster on an unimaginable scale. The Japanese government has ordered the evacuation of nearly a quarter of a million people from the area and state of emergency has been declared for the area because of the damage to five nuclear reactors after two of the units lost cooling ability.

Japanese Scramble to Avert Meltdowns as Nuclear Crisis Deepens After Quake

TOKYO – Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a widening nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors and that they were facing serious cooling problems at three more.

The emergency appeared to be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago. The developments at two separate nuclear plants prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people. Japanese officials said they had also ordered up the largest mobilization of their Self-Defense Forces since World War II to assist in the relief effort.

On Saturday, Japanese officials took the extraordinary step of flooding the crippled No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, 170 miles north of Tokyo, with seawater in a last-ditch effort to avoid a nuclear meltdown.

Then on Sunday, cooling failed at a second reactor – No. 3 – and core melting was presumed at both, said the top government spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. Cooling had failed at three reactors at a nuclear complex nearby, Fukushima Daini, although he said conditions there were considered less dire for now.

Japanese authorities rush to save lives, avert nuclear crisis

Sendai, Japan (CNN) — Japanese authorities are operating on the presumption that possible meltdowns are under way at two nuclear reactors, two days after a massive earthquake, a government official said Sunday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano added, however, that there have been no indications yet of hazardous emissions of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The attempts to avert a possible nuclear crisis, centered on the Fukushima Daiichi facility in northeast Japan, came as rescuers frantically scrambled to find survivors following the country’s strongest-ever earthquake and a devastating tsunami that, minutes later, brought crushing walls of water that wiped out nearly everything in their paths.

Edano told reporters there is a “possibility” of a meltdown at the plant’s No. 1 reactor, adding, “It is inside the reactor. We can’t see.” He then said authorities are also “assuming the possibility of a meltdown” at the facility’s No. 3 reactor.

How the Japan Earthquake Shortened Days on Earth

The massive earthquake that struck northeast Japan Friday (March 11) has shortened the length Earth’s day by a fraction and shifted how the planet’s mass is distributed.

A new analysis of the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan has found that the intense temblor has accelerated Earth’s spin, shortening the length of the 24-hour day by 1.8 microseconds, according to geophysicist Richard Gross at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Gross refined his estimates of the Japan quake’s impact – which previously suggested a 1.6-microsecond shortening of the day – based on new data on how much the fault that triggered the earthquake slipped to redistribute the planet’s mass. A microsecond is a millionth of a second.

“By changing the distribution of the Earth’s mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused the Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds,” Gross told in an e-mail. More refinements are possible as new information on the earthquake comes to light, he added.  

Japan Earthquake Alters Coast Line, Changes Earth’s Axis

Geophysicist Kenneth Hudnut, who works for the U.S. Geological Survey, told CNN that the quake moved part of Japan’s land mass by nearly 2.5 meters.

Experts say that the huge shake, caused by a shift in the tectonic plates deep underwater, also threw the earth off its axis point by at least 8 centimeters.

This is may well be worse than Chernobyl by magnitudes.


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    • TMC on March 14, 2011 at 4:18 am
  1. The country’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said that although staff at the nuclear facility – where two containment buildings have been destroyed by hydrogen explosions – were unable to check for certain, it was “highly likely” that the nuclear cores at reactors, 1 2 and 3 at Fukushima I nuclear station had begun to melt.

    Read article here

  2. a ‘MOX’ reactor which contains plutonium-239. I had no idea they were still using these.

    This is the one that just exploded–whether that’s just the outside shell or not is unknown.  If it has melted down, or is melting down now, this is a very scary thing- worse than a uranium reactor alone.

    Map of US radiation levels:

    Map of Japanese levels (offline now)

  3. Which presumably means all three will fully melt down.

  4. its time for Iran to abandon Bushehr which just so happens to be sitting on a fault line.

    Failure at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Raises Concerns About Safety

    A shattered cooling pump at Iran’s only civilian nuclear-power reactor, forcing a shutdown during its initial start-up phase, has renewed safety concerns about the hybrid Russian-German power plant on the Persian Gulf coast.

    The 1000-megawatt power plant at Bushehr combines a German- designed plant begun under the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in the 1970’s and Russian technology installed over the last decade. Safety questions have raised concern among some nuclear-power experts and in neighboring countries such as Kuwait, which is vulnerable in the event of a radiation leak since it is downwind about 170 miles (275 kilometers).

    “The rest of the world is depending on the Russian Federation for policing the nuclear safety of this reactor,” said Mark Hibbs, an expert on Iranian nuclear issues at the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace. The pump failure “raises questions about the decisions the Russians made to move forward with emergency coolant system that’s 30 years old,” he said.


    Nuclear experts cite potential safety issues due to the hybrid design, Iranian nuclear inexperience, the Islamic state’s reluctance to join international safety monitoring programs, and the unknown reliability of some of the original components.

    …the IAEA warned Iran’s nuclear regulatory agency had “a shortage of staff” and the existing workers who were under-trained and under-funded.


    Bushehr also sits at the junction of three tectonic plates, raising concerns that an earthquake could damage the plant and crack its containment dome, or disrupt the electrical supply needed to keep it safe, said Dr. Jassem al-Awadi, a geologist at the University of Kuwait. Bushehr was hit with a 4.6 magnitude temblor in 2002.

  5. …on EQ faults.  I vote for the 2 near me in California, San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.  Diablo sits on a criss- cross of 4 EQ faults, and, yes, and,…’they reversed the 2 reactors from the blueprints when they built them…..

    I don’t know what finally happened, after all kinds of talks, panels, hearings and ennui from boredom.

  6. …I copied this from my twitter feed just minutes ago…

    BBCBreaking BBC Breaking News

    #Japan tells #nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, of fire at #Fukushima plant and that radioactivity is being released directly into atmosphere…

    20 minutes ago


  7. by a lot too.

  8. by a lot too.

  9. Image links to the interactive map, I couldn’t figure out how to embed it here. It’s in Japanese so any translation would be nice, but it may be self-explanatory. This isn’t looking good, folks.

    Forecast from yesterday, obviously the situation has gotten worse:

  10. News of elevated radiation levels in Japan.  Maps of fallout plume.  Not good.

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