Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japanese Nuclear Power Plant Unkowns Remain; Radiation Climbs

The IAEA has detected radiation levels 1,600 times above normal about 12 miles from the plant, reports the Kyodo news agency.

Workers have now connected power cables to all six reactors at the plant though none of the generators for the cooling system have been started and it appears that most are severly damaged from tsunami caused seawater. Thus, the situation remains one of: How long before the reactors are likely to go into full meltdown (especially reactors 3 and 4) and what are the radiation ramifications?

Answers to these questions are not likely to come anytime soon.

In Vienna, an official at the IAEA complained about a lack of information from the Japanese authorities, Reuters reported.

“We have not received validated information for some time related to the containment integrity of unit 1,” the official, Graham Andrew, said. “So we are concerned that we do not know its exact status.” He also said the agency lacked data about the temperatures of the pools holding spent fuel rods at the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

Elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium have also been detected in the seawater near Fukushima, and the government is testing seafood as a precaution, Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said Tuesday, according to NYT.

Also on Tuesday the public broadcaster NHK, citing the government’s Science Ministry, reported that radiation levels surpassing 400 times the normal level had been detected in soil about 25 miles from the Fukushima plant.

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