Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan Nuclear Crisis Assessment

News out of Japan continues difficult to interpret, with many conflicting reports.

Much of the conflicting reports appear as a result of news based from different points on the timeline of events near the Japanese nuclear facility, Fukushima Dai-ichi.

Because there have been multiple fires and other events, it is simply impossible to determine if a news report is of an old event, or a new event. Even when the news report is coming from a major news organization, with correspondents on the ground.

Further, there is the danger of false reports. Late last night there were reports that the 50 employees, who were pouring water on reactor rods had abandoned the facility. This widely broadcast report proved inaccurate. The employees simply took temporary cover indoors as a temporary rise in radiation levels occurred. Before moving indoors, they secured all hoses so that the hoses continued to pump water over the reactor rods.

As best that can be determined at this time, it appears that employees are back manning the water pumps and hoses, and that there is a somewhat of a stable but high alert situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi. If the water can continue to be pumped to cool all reactor rods, the crisis should not get much worse.  However, any further surprise events could, obviously, result in an escalation of radioactive particles into the air.

Here are the developments so far on Wednesday at each of the reactors:

•No.1 – No major change

•No.2 – No major change

•No.3 - Plumes of white vapour were seen rising from reactor early on Wednesday, which was previously said to have been ‘stabilised’. This is the incident which resulted in the rise in radiation that prompted the temporary order for workers at the plant to take cover inside. This also appears to be the reason authoritiese also forced to abandoned efforts to dump water into the reactor by helicopter.

It appears the radiation level has subsided at the plant since this event.

•No.4 – A fire (for the second time) broke out on Wednesday at this reactor. It appears that authorities continue to pump seawater into this reactor.

•No. 5 – No major change

•No. 6 – No major change

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