Paralysis, Heartbreak, and Subsequent Reactor Meltdown

1842, Kuniyoshi – Hatsuhana Prays Under a Waterfall

[Begun Sat, March 12]: Just past 24 hours after the 8.9 quake, an event that some clever social engineer shall grant a name soon, I’m sure. Still paralyzed. And horrified and heartbroken like a damn rabbit going tharn from Watership Down. Just like everyone else, right? And right now all eyes are focused here…[NOTE ADDED 24 HOURS LATER: This remains a live link, continuously updated. NOTE on 3/15, LINK REMOVED, link dead, old news.] But I suspect/predict this particular demon will be kept in its bottle. I hope. [NOTE: It was not.]

UPDATE: The reactor seems under control…

Update: As of 6:18 pm EST The AP says

Cooling systems failed at another nuclear reactor on Japan’s devastated coast Sunday, hours after an explosion at a nearby unit made leaking radiation, or even outright meltdown, the central threat to the country following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese government said radiation emanating from the plant appeared to have decreased after Saturday’s blast, which produced a cloud of white smoke that obscured the complex. But the danger was grave enough that officials pumped seawater into the reactor to avoid disaster and moved 170,000 people from the area.

UPDATE

AP Mar 12, 10:20 PM EST Japan says partial meltdown likely at 2nd reactor

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s top government spokesman says a partial meltdown is likely under way at second reactor affected by Friday’s massive earthquake.

Update: 11:15 pm EST: Most major news outlets citing “conflicting reports” regarding severity of meltdown and release of radiation.

UPDATE, SUNDAY, 10:30am EST—adjusted for DST—MARCH 13, 2011, from the NYT:


(cribbed entirely)

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 bracing for a second explosion, even as they faced serious cooling problems at four more reactors.

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. That came after an explosion caused by hydrogen that tore the outer wall and roof off the building housing the reactor, although the steel containment of the reactor remained in place.

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. An explosion could also rock the No. 3 reactor, Mr. Edano warned, because of a buildup of hydrogen within the reactor.

“The possibility that hydrogen is building up in the upper parts of the reactor building cannot be denied. There is a possibility of a hydrogen explosion,” Mr. Edano said. He stressed that as in the No. 1 unit, the reactor’s steel containment would withstand the explosion.

“It is designed to withstand shocks,” he said.

Officials also said they would release steam and inject water into a third reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after temperatures rose and water levels fell around the fuel rods.

Cooling had failed at three reactors at a nuclear complex nearby, Fukushima Daini, although he said conditions there were considered less dire for now.

With high pressure inside the reactors at Daiichi hampering efforts to pump in cooling water, plant operators had to release radioactive vapor into the atmosphere. Radiation levels outside the plant, which had retreated overnight, shot up to 1,204 microsieverts per hour, or over twice Japan’s legal limit, Mr. Edano said.

NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, flashed instructions to evacuees: close doors and windows; place a wet towel over the nose and mouth; cover up as much as possible. At a news conference, Mr. Edano called for calm. “If measures can be taken, we will be able to ensure the safety of the reactor,” he said.

———————

(Note to self and anyone reading this: It is time to conclude this post/sticky and updates. New posts tk as further developments occur.) D

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1 Comment

  1. […] “Hatsuhana Prays under a Waterfall” by Kuniyoshi Utagawa […]


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