Third blast rocks Japanese nuclear plant

Radiation levels increase as technicians struggle to prevent meltdown


Radiation at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima has reached harmful levels, the Japanese government says, after a third blast damaged the containment system of the second reactor. A fire that broke out at the plant’s fourth reactor also caused more radioactive leaks. Cooling seawater has been pumped into the plants first and third reactor, stabilizing them for the time being. Radiation levels were higher than normal in Tokyo, which lies about 250km away from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, although officials say there are no immediate health dangers for residents in the capital. The 140,000 residents living within the 30km exclusion zone who have not already been evacuated are advised not to leave their homes. The latest death toll from the earthquake and tsunami sits at 2,400 but is estimated that at least 10,000 people have been killed, and 500,000 people are homeless.

BBC News

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Third blast rocks Japanese nuclear plant

  1. Okay, I'm not typically an anti-nuclear type of person. I tend to believe the arguments that the reactors we've had explode did so because of poor design, etc.

    That argument, though, is starting to fail as I'm pretty sure that Japan's reactors were of the newer variety, properly thought out and designed etc, and yet the universe continues to remind us that it has curve-balls we can't anticipate.

    Hrm. More thinking required.

    • These plants were designed in the late 1960s early 1970s, and their emergency cooling systems require electric power to operate. The “Mark I” containment systems were noted in US NRC reports as problematic as far back as 1975, so the problems caused by the earthquake and tsunami were not able to be overcome.

    • The Japanese reactors were designed for earthquakes (to which they stood up admirably well) but not an earthquake immediately followed by a tsunami: an oversight, to be sure, but one I'm sure they will remedy in the future.

      • Okay. But what about the next unforeseen thing?

  2. Because if they stay in their homes they are out of the risk of radiation poisoning?? Are you freaking kidding me?

    • Nobody suggested what you have stated, but it does help protect people from radiation poisoning to remain indoors until another more effective method of portection is available, such as transport to a safer area. Until alternate protection is available staying indoors is important.

  3. The disaster at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan center around the failure of the cooling water pumps and the backup pumps to deliver cooling liquid to the reactor. How many people remember that a couple of years ago, Stephen Harper ordered one of Canada's nuclear facilities to continue operating even though the backup cooling pumps were not even connected and he fired the head of the regulatory body because she objected. I guess Harper figures he makes the rules to such an extent that there will be no earthquake while he is Prime Minister.

  4. Get your facts straight – the new safety rules required back-up generators for the back-up generators. As usual, installation was running behind schedule, thus Keen was within her rights to determine the "new" safety rules were being breached, but there was no real danger.

    The importance of continuing isotope production was greater than shutting down the facility just to finish installing a few more back-up to the back-up generators.

    Harper did the right thing.

  5. With over 100 reactors scattered throughout the United States, many located in either seismically active areas or in coastal areas, even a one in 500 year event could be catastrophic just as it has been in Japan.

    Here is a look at the location of all reactors in the United States in relationship to the risk of potential seismic activity:


  6. Think of it this way. You own/drive a car pre-air bag technology, you are diligent in maintaining it regularly. Cars with air bags become available. Does your car suddenly become unsafe so you can't drive it anymore?

    • apples & oranges leo, apples and oranges…. you cannot compare a pre-air bag technology car with a nuclear meltdown… bad example

      • The was no "nuclear meltdown". It was pro-active safety measures for a 50 year old facility. By installing a back-up to a back-up generator they were able to service either one.

        • There wasn't. Correct.
          But there could have been. That's what he's getting at.

          Your car without airbags kills maybe you and your passenger if you happen to crash.
          Your nuclear reactor kills maybe you and your entire freakin' city if it happens to crash.

          That it didn't happen to crash doesn't make what it could have done any better.

          • OK You are driving your car with air bags. A light comes on indicating one of the air bags is not working. Do you slam on the brakes and get out of the car or do you make an appointment to put it in the shop on the weekend as you need it to get to work every day?

            All that was needed was a little more time to finish a job with a self-imposed deadline – it wasn't an emergency as many of the headlines claimed it was.

  7. This is irrational hysteria at its worst. It appears that about 10,000 Japanese people will die as a result of the tsunami/earthquake. The number that will die from exposure to nuclear radiation will probably be on the order of a few dozen – and this is perhaps the second-worst disaster in the history of nuclear power. Should we learn from these events and work to make nuclear reactors safer? Absolutely. But if this is nuclear power at its worst, sign me up.

    Between 2002-2007 over 500 workers died working at US oil refineries. There are thousands of cases of black lung each year, among coal miners. This is not to mention the impact of oil/coal pollutants in the air, global warming, or wars for oil. Humans have an unfortunate tendency to focus on a few disaster-related deaths, instead of the thousands of deaths that occur anonymously every day. Nuclear power is not perfect, but it beats the alternatives.

    • Exactly.

    • The last time I checked there were no ways to prevent an earthquake or tsunami. But there are ways to prevent a melt down of a nuclear facility or there are ways to create energy that are not as dangerous. Of course this takes a combination of technical capability, financing and regulation. Here in Canada Stephen Harper forced a political decision on the regulators when he fired the chief regulator and ordered a nuclear facility to operate WITHOUT the backup cooling pumps even connected. It is not that nuclear facilities are unacceptably dangerous, but that it is dangerous when politicians are allowed to take risks with people's lives concerning their operation. I am willing to bet that it will finally be discovered that a combination of political and investor pressure was in play when the Fukushima facility was relicenced recently, just like Harper played with a risky facility in Canada a couple of years ago.

  8. use of nuclear power must be stopped, if Einstein was living at present he surely suicide for his workd on E=MC2

    • Would you care to elaborate on that comment? Ten thousand people die from an earthquake/tsunami combination and Einstein will commit suicide over a few dozen deaths from a nuclear power plant?

    • What a drama, would his death be comparable to Romeo and Juliet then?

  9. Should we advise people not to sleep as it carries a certain risk of dying? How about banning driving, there are more people dead from motor related vehicle accidents than nuclear radiation exposure incidents combined. Why not ban eating as well, I bet you the number of people dead from choking, food poisoning, and other related illnesses due to eating are way more than those mentioned above. If we ban everything that is risky, won't we end up doing nothing?… but then, doing nothing carries even more inherent risks. Grow up guys!

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