A fire, explosions and other damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant following a massive earthquake and tsunami on Friday have triggered Japan’s worst nuclear crisis since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Conditions at a Japanese nuclear power plant, crippled by Friday’s earthquake and associated tsunamis, deteriorated further Monday night, with a Japanese nuclear safety official saying that the water inside the waste fuel storage pool for a damaged reactor may be boiling.
Unit 4 was not operating at the time of the tsunami, but its backup power systems failed afterward, preventing cooling systems from working properly.
3 reactors already have been wrecked by explosions and nuclear officials confirmed that temperatures in 2 other reactors that had been shut down for inspections were also rising.
The temperature of the water in the spent fuel storage pool for Unit 4 was 183 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, when it was last measured.
Hidehiko Nishiyama told reporters that “we cannot deny the possibility of water boiling” in the spent fuel storage pool at the facility.
If the water boils, it could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said.
Yet, they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers. They also confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged.
Additionally, there are reports that the core of the Unit 2 reactor was left exposed on March 14 and might have partially melted through its containment vessel. The current status of Unit 2 remained unclear.
According to the officials, 50 workers remained at the Fukushima plant to continue the frantic effort to cool down the reactors. Operations to use seawater to cool Units 1 and 3 were ongoing.
Workers were struggling to prevent meltdowns of 3 reactors at the site when the 4th reactor blew. There are 6 nuclear reactors in all.
The fire that followed is believed to be the source of elevated radiation readings at the site earlier in the day.
It has also been reported that there are two 8-square-yard holes on the northern wall of the Unit 4 reactor, which was on fire earlier.
The water level inside could not be immediately determined.
The Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant caught fire earlier Tuesday (Monday evening/night in the US) and is believed to have caused a release of dangerous levels of radioactivity in the immediate area.
Elevated radioactivity readings in surrounding regions were not high enough to pose a health threat, the government said.
Yet, Japan officials were giving 230,000 units of iodine — which can counter radiation’s effects on the thyroid– to adults and children as well as scanning for radioactivity.
Japanese officials later said the fire, in Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, had been extinguished.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other officials warned there was danger of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure that could make people sick.
“Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told residents in the danger zone.
“These are figures that potentially affect health. There is no mistake about that,” he said.
At approximately 0700 local (Japan) time, sensitive instrumentation on USS George Washington pier-side in Yokosuka, detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant.
Naval Forces in Japan is recommending limited precautionary measures for personnel on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including: limiting outdoor activities and securing external ventilation systems as much as practical.
This combined evacuation and stay-indoors orders affect as many as 220,000 people.
After effects of spewed radiation also affected crew members of the USS Ronald Reagan, which encountered a radioactive cloud when sailing through the Pacific to assist Japan in relief efforts.
Crew members received a month’s worth of radiation in about an hour, stated U.S. Military officials.
200 people in Japan have been found to be contaminated with radiation. 17 of them were US military. It is said to be at a low level in which can be scrubbed off.
Earlier fears in Japan were tailored around the prevailing winds and the chance of blowing a cloud of radioactive particles deeper into the country were tempered later Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization’s forecast of a change in wind direction.
Now Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States are in the spotlight.
In the US, government officials on the West Coast are stating that these explosions are not of a concern at this time.
However; isnt that what the govt always says in an attempt to avert a panic situation?
In the meantime, I suggest all West Coast Americans STAY CALM and continue with daily operations while look into getting iodine tablets and stay alert on the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and wind/ocean patterns.
Stay tuned to Heart of America for the latest and greatest.
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