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Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it reacts with the concrete floor of the drywell underneath, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Lahey said: "It won't come out as one big glob; it'll come out like lava, and that is good because it's easier to cool."

The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this.

"The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core," Lahey added. "It's not going to be anything like Chernobyl (My Note: YEAH RIGHT), where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it's not going to be good news for the environment."

The radiation level at a pool of water in the turbine room of reactor two was measured recently at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. At that level, workers could remain in the area for just 15 minutes, under current exposure guidelines.

A less serious core meltdown happened at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. During that incident, engineers managed to cool the molten fuel before it penetrated the steel pressure vessel. The task is a race against time, because as the fuel melts it forms a blob that becomes increasingly difficult to cool.

In the light of the Fukushima crisis, Lahey said all countries with nuclear power stations should have "Swat teams" of nuclear reactor safety experts on standby to give swift advice to the authorities in times of emergency, with international groups co-ordinated by the International Atomic Energy Authority.

The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, in 1986, has met Japanese cabinet ministers to discuss establishing an independent committee charged with taking radiation data from the site and translating it into clear public health advice.

"What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it's suddenly safe to drink. People don't know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue," said Gale.

"My recommendation is they should consider establishing a small commission to independently convert the data into comprehensible units of risk for the public so people know what they are dealing with and can take sensible decisions," he added.

We have 3 reactors in full melt down. 3 others approaching it, and numerous spent fuel rod pools that will melt down. All this in a country a TENTH the size of California...
And is the radiation safe? Remember when the U.S. said Ground Zero air was "safe to breath"??

Radiation has reached England, Scotland, Sweden and France...everything is fine
"Absolutely no chance of ground water contamination in North America due to Fukushima nuclear incident"...oh wait, Massachusetts announces radioactive iodine contamination of tap water...everything is fine.


Expect More Radiation in U.S. Rainwater: EPA: Expect More Radiation in Rainwater - Jeff McMahon - The Ingenuity of the Commons - Forbes
Massachusetts Finds Radiation In Their Tapwater:
Radiation Found in 12 States (Christian Science Monitor Reports 13):

3,347 Posts
I’ve been following this like a hawk also. Sad, sad situation in Japan. I was pointing out to folks a week ago last Friday that these reactors were in meltdown and nothing they could do would stop it. Of course no one believes me as the MSM all were saying things like ‘they have electricity almost hooked up to the reactors and can turn the cooling pumps back on’ and ‘the experts are saying everything is fine’. Then, there is our illustrious leader stating that none of this would affect the US, no radiation would ever make it this far. I pretty much cried at that point when I heard that line. No advance warning or tips on what to expect in the coming months/years for the citizens of the US of A or the world. What a mules back end he is. Does anyone remember when we were warned about a ‘terrorist’ with a suitcase with some low level radioactive waste and a stick of dynamite? How detonating this ‘dirty bomb’ could contaminate huge areas and poison/kill lots of folks?

The Japanese have basically been pissing in the ocean and watching for it to rise with the fire hose tactic. I mean come on, did they really think this would have any affect at all besides corroding every valve and gauge in the plant? Salt water on all that high tech equipment??? Then they hook up electric and wave the fairy princess wand and fire it back up and everything turns out great. Heck, the places have been so contaminated that they cannot even go inside! Oh, and all that sea water they have been pumping into the reactors. Ever take time to think where it was going? Tons and tons of water every day for what, two weeks now? Do they have a special containment tank they fill up as it flows out of the plants and they use the magic wand again to de-contaminate it before gently placing it back into the ocean. Nope, it is flowing right into the ground and ocean. But I am sure it is within acceptable levels.

And then the tap water thing. Too poisoned for children but OK for adults. Then the next day it is all better, all gone, nothing to see here go back to work and be happy we have it under control. Tears are coming to my eyes when I think on how screwed all those folks are and the ones who are supposed to be looking out for them, the ones who TAKE money to protect them, are not telling the truth or giving them any warnings or things they can do to protect themselves. Sad, so so sad. Oh, and there was one community of older folks living near the plant that got interviewed. They said they were staying and going to eat what they grew like they always have. Reason being? The authorities told them that it will be at least 10 years before they have any side effects and most of them are very old and will not expect to live that long.

Enough of that. Ok, one more thing. Our own EPA is pressing to raise the acceptable limits of radiation exposure! That should tell everyone something right there.

So, what to do. It has me worried, not so much for an old timer like me but for children. The talking heads all mention the radioactive Iodine but nothing else. Heck, that is the least of our worries because its half-life is only 8 days. And the heavy radioactive metals are not problem, won’t affect us at all because they will fall into the ocean and not make it here, problem solved, all better now, all gone, go back to the dancing show on TV. So, that leaves us with the lighter, human created radioactive metals with half-lives of 1,000 to what, 30,000 years? Little by little they will all be accumulating in our soil for what I expect to be years to come.

Plan of attack for me? It seems that our skin will protect us from most of the fallout. A shower will wash it off (and put it into the water table but that’s ok it is within acceptable levels, or will be within the NEW acceptable levels). The big worry is ingesting this crap. There are foods you can eat which will help flush the free radical molecules from your body. There are also supplements you can take that accomplish the same thing. I have chosen a seaweed extract tablet, Selenium tabs and B complex vitamins for my supplies. I also purchased some Beta 1,3 Glucan tablets which will flush the nasties out of your body by bonding to the radioactive molecules. This last one is not a take daily tab but only if there is an issue. These all attack more than the radioactive Iodine, which can be displaced by sea salt or Iodine ingested in any form you choose. Most places I searched for help from recommended to stay away from the Iodine pills for long term use. They will help with a short term heavy exposure but that is not what I am expecting to happen here. I am preparing for a long, long term exposure to light amounts of radioactive particles both from the air and from the food I eat. But of course, all that will be within acceptable levels so nothing to worry about.

I gota run, the NEW episode of Survivor is on!

Sr. Homesteader
437 Posts
Get used to it... it will be a daily fact of life for the next 24,000 years, particularly when the plutonium melts down.

Here's what the radiation plume looks like to date:

Weather Northern hemisphere |*Iodine Cloud spread Fukushima I power plant radiation
(takes about 75 seconds to fully load)

Greetings from the bunker... - BC

...preppers aren't alarmists, they are just prudent from experience - especially when it comes from Government (dis?)information.
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