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 SPACE.com 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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  1. TMC
  2. dharmasyd

    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

  3. wilberforce redux

    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)


  4. wilberforce redux

    Which presumably means all three will fully melt down.


  5. Jack B Nimble

    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.

  6. dharmasyd

    …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.

  7. dharmasyd

    …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


  8. Jack's Smirking Revenge

    by a lot too.

  9. Jack's Smirking Revenge

    by a lot too.

  10. CatfishBlues

    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:

  11. Lasthorseman

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

  12. TMC

    I’ve been out all day and just catching up

  13. dharmasyd

    …and 3 is indeed MOX, plutonium.  Plus reactor #4, which was off-line & shut-down at the time of the quake, is now on fire.  Radiation levels are reportedly rising sharply in the area according to Edano & PM Han, as reported on CCTV/English.

  14. tahoebasha3

    Chicago Tribune, by Thomas H. Maugh II, and a reading of it appears to be very logical as to exactly what is needed to be done and what exactly happened. It’s in a question and answer forum.  There is no way that I can vouch for the validity of the information — only to say that it seems correct — but, since we’ve all been so disillusioned so many times before, who can say!

    Japanese engineers work to contain nuclear reactor damage

    They are pumping seawater laced with boron, to absorb radioactive emissions, in an attempt to cool two reactors and prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) plant.

    Engineers are now pumping seawater laced with boron into two nuclear reactors at Japan’s Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) power plant 150 miles north of Tokyo and are considering doing it at a third reactor in a last-ditch effort to stave off a meltdown that could release dangerous amounts of radioactivity into the environment. Hydrogen explosions have now occurred at two reactors at the facility. Here’s a look at the engineers’ efforts and what the potential consequences are, according to various experts.

    Why do the reactors have to be cooled?

    Nuclear reactors operate through the chain-reaction splitting, or fissioning, of uranium atoms. The process creates heat used to turn water into steam. When an earthquake occurs, a safety mechanism inserts control rods into the core of the reactor to halt the chain reaction. But the fuel rods continue to produce excess amounts of heat for several days and must be cooled. If they are not cooled, they could melt, with potentially disastrous consequences, including the release of massive amounts of radiation into the environment.  

    What went wrong?

    The tsunami disrupted the electrical grid that supplied power to the pumps that circulated cooling water at 11 reactors shut down in the quake area. But at six of those reactors, water from the tsunami also damaged the diesel generators that supplied backup power. The facilities had to rely on batteries, which had a life of only several hours. . .. . .

    Worth reading!

  15. tahoebasha3

    from the areas, as well!  Is it a safety measure only?  Or . . .  ?

  16. wilberforce redux

    & that means that there will be no one to try and cool the reactors, which means they will certainly melt down, and possibly explode, or that maybe they already did.

    They will presumably try to dump concrete on them from the air – as at Chernobyl.

  17. wilberforce redux

    the worst.  

  18. tahoebasha3

    It seemed a stupid question (it was in the frame of a wee bit of hope).  

    So, it seems certain that those who were removed from the “sites” will suffer or die regardless and the ultimate outcome is the unthinkable . .. . . . !  

    There are no words . . . . . adequate . . . . !

  19. wilberforce redux

    Maybe they can move other people out of there, the reactor is on the coast, and the wind is blowing offshore.  But I imagine the transport infrastructure is pretty messed up right now

  20. dharmasyd

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