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Aftermath of Fukushima

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Aftermath of Fukushima

Cody
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March 11th, 2011, 9:32 pm #1

Record quake unleashes tsunami on Japan

Updated 4 hours 57 minutes ago

A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake rocked northeast Japan late on Friday afternoon, setting a nuclear plant ablaze and unleashing a 10-metre tsunami that tossed ships inland and left at least 110 people dead.

Police said many others were injured in Tokyo and coastal areas of the main Honshu island, while television footage showed scenes of widespread devastation and flooding.

A monster wave hit near Sendai city where a tide of black water sent shipping containers, cars and debris crashing through streets and across open farmland destroying everything in its path.

The National Police Agency says 110 people have been confirmed dead and 350 are missing, with at least 544 others injured in the tremor.

A spokesman for the agency says that death toll does not include 200-300 bodies which were reportedly found on a beach in Sendai.

Police in Sendai also reported a major explosion at petrochemical complex in the city.

The government said the tsunami and quake, which was felt as far away as Beijing 2,500 kilometres away, had caused "tremendous damage" while aerial footage showed massive flooding in northern towns.

Seismologists say the quake was 160 times more powerful than the one that devastated Christchurch last month.

Police say a ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami in Miyagi prefecture.

Fire engulfed a large waterfront area in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Ken Hoshi, a local government official in Ishinomaki, a port city in Miyagi prefecture.

The quake was the largest to hit Japan, the fifth strongest tremor worldwide since 1900 and the seventh strongest in history, according to the US Geological Survey and Japanese seismologists.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a widespread warning for territories as far away as South America and Hawaii, where people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas.

"An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours," the centre said in a statement.

But fears of the tsunami wreaking destruction across the Pacific Ocean subsided after waves hit Russia and Taiwan without causing any major damage.

Small tsunami waves also hit the Philippines and Indonesia's eastern coastline without causing any damage.

The Bureau of Meteorology says there is no tsunami threat to Australia.

Television footage showed a wide, muddy tide moving rapidly across a residential area near the Natori River in Sendai.

Public broadcaster NHK said several dozen houses had been washed away in Miyagi prefecture.

There are reports a dam has broken in Fukushima prefecture, washing away a number of homes.

The tsunami also reached Sendai airport, submerging the runway while a process known as liquefaction, caused by the intense shaking of the tremor, turned parts of the ground to liquid.

A fire in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi prefecture has been brought under control, Kyodo News reported.

The government had earlier tried to reassure people there was no danger of a leak from the country's network of nuclear power plants.

In the capital, where millions evacuated strongly swaying buildings, multiple injuries were reported when the roof of a hall collapsed during a graduation ceremony, police said.

Plumes of smoke rose from at least 10 locations in the city, where 4.4 million homes suffered power outages. An oil refinery was ablaze in Chiba outside Tokyo.

Aftershocks

The first quake struck just under 400 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, the USGS said. It was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, one as strong as 7.1.

"We were shaken so strongly for a while that we needed to hold on to something in order not to fall," said an official at the local government of the hardest-hit city of Kurihara in Miyagi prefecture.

"We couldn't escape the building immediately because the tremors continued... City officials are now outside, collecting information on damage," she said.

A major blackout occurred across a wide area of north-eastern Japan.

Prime minister Naoto Kan quickly assembled his cabinet after the quake, and the government dispatched naval vessels from near Tokyo to Miyagi.

The quake affected the nation's key transportation systems, including Narita airport, which has reopened for departing flights after its runways were shut for safety checks.

The quake, which hit at 2:46pm (local time) and lasted about two minutes, rattled buildings in greater Tokyo, the world's largest urban area and home to 30 million people.

In Tokyo, where the subway system stopped, sirens wailed and people streamed out of buildings.

'Big one'

An estimated 11,000 Australians live in Japan, mostly in Tokyo and Osaka.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is scrambling to determine the well-being of Australians in the worst affected regions of the country.

There are 45 Australian citizens registered with the embassy in the areas that have suffered the most damage; Miyagi, Iwate and Fukishima.

But the department says the actual number of Australians in those regions is likely to be much higher.

DFAT says all Australian embassy and consulate staff in Japan are safe.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Australia stands ready to help in the quake aftermath.

"It's going to be a very stressing, difficult, tragic time for our friends in Japan. It is very apparant that the Japanese people have been dealt an incredibly cruel blow," she said.

Japan sits on the Pacific ring of fire, which is dotted with volcanoes, and Tokyo is situated in one of its most dangerous areas.

The last time a "big one" hit Tokyo was in 1923 when the great Kanto earthquake claimed more than 140,000 lives, many of them in fires. In 1855, the Ansei Edo quake also devastated the city.

In 1995 the Kobe earthquake killed more than 6,400 people.

More than 220,000 people were killed when a 9.1-magnitude quake hit off Indonesia in 2004, unleashing a massive tsunami that devastated coastlines in countries around the Indian Ocean as far away as Africa.

Small quakes are felt every day somewhere in Japan and people take part in regular drills at schools and workplaces to prepare for a calamity.

Nuclear power plants and bullet trains are designed to automatically shut down when the earth rumbles and many buildings have been quake-proofed with steel and ferro-concrete at great cost in recent decades.

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March 11th, 2011, 9:38 pm #2

Huge whirlpool created after Japan quake

11 March 2011 Last updated at 04:49 ET Help
A massive earthquake has hit the north-east of Japan, triggering a tsunami and a huge whirlpool.

The tsunami warning was extended to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii.

Dramatic footage of the whirlpool was taken by a helicopter, as the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley explains.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBVKuWhKOig



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March 11th, 2011, 9:49 pm #3

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Latest Temblor An Interplate Quake: Meteorological Agency

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The major earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on Friday had the hallmarks of an interplate quake, which occurs at the boundary between two tectonic plates.

At the area near the epicenter, the North American plate, on which part of the Japanese archipelago lies, slips under the Pacific plate. The temblor was likely triggered when the North American plate snapped upward, releasing the accumulated strain.

The earthquake occurred near the site of another tremor that shook Miyagi Prefecture on Wednesday, so the earlier quake may have been a foreshock, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"There aren't many instances in which such a large earthquake occurs right after a magnitude 7-class quake," said an official at the agency. "This is a highly unusual case."

The agency warns that aftershocks registering around magnitude 7 could take place over the next month.

Major quakes have occurred off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture about every 40 years, the previous being a magnitude 7.4 temblor in 1978. Government experts had expected that one registering between 7.5 and 8 would hit, but the latest packed a wallop of magnitude 8.8.

The plate may have shifted over a stretch of several hundred kilometers along the fault on Friday, according to the agency, with some experts putting the figure at upwards of 400-500km.

"In last year's magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile, the fault is said to have moved over a span of about 800km, so the latest quake may be similar," said Kyoto University Professor Manabu Hashimoto.

Friday's interplate earthquake is different from the Great Hanshin Earthquake that rocked the Kobe area in 1995, which was an intraplate quake.

The earthquake occurred near the site of another tremor that shook Miyagi Prefecture on Wednesday, so the earlier quake may have been a foreshock, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"There aren't many instances in which such a large earthquake occurs right after a magnitude 7-class quake," said an official at the agency. "This is a highly unusual case."

The agency warns that aftershocks registering around magnitude 7 could take place over the next month.

Major quakes have occurred off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture about every 40 years, the previous being a magnitude 7.4 temblor in 1978. Government experts had expected that one registering between 7.5 and 8 would hit, but the latest packed a wallop of magnitude 8.8.

The plate may have shifted over a stretch of several hundred kilometers along the fault on Friday, according to the agency, with some experts putting the figure at upwards of 400-500km.

"In last year's magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile, the fault is said to have moved over a span of about 800km, so the latest quake may be similar," said Kyoto University Professor Manabu Hashimoto.

Friday's interplate earthquake is different from the Great Hanshin Earthquake that rocked the Kobe area in 1995, which was an intraplate quake.

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March 11th, 2011, 10:00 pm #4

Man Swept Out To Sea; Tsunami Batters Harbors

Posted: 6:44 am PST March 11, 2011
Updated: 1:16 pm PST March 11, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO -- A man who went to the Northern California coast near the Klamath River to photograph the arrival of a tsunami early Friday was swept out to sea and remained missing, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Elsewhere along the Northern and Central California coast, the tsunami generated by a massive earthquake in Japan left a wake of battered boats and debris littering ports throughout the region.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Rachel Polish told KTVU that three people had gone to the coast to take pictures of the tsunami’s arrival around 10 a.m. when they were swept out to sea.

Two of the individuals were able to make it safely back to shore, but the third remained missing and was the subject of an intense helicopter and water search by the Coast Guard.

The tsunami capsized and damaged several boats in harbors up and down the coast, leaving the waters littered with debris.

Officials reported that the tide pulled back about 8 inches over a five-minute period nearby at Pillar Point, setting the scene for the destruction in Santa Cruz. At least 15 fishing and pleasure crafts were ripped from their moorings and heavily damaged during the surge.

Two docks also sustained major damage during the surge. Local officials had declared an emergency and estimated the damage at $2 million.

Meanwhile, to the north in Crescent City, the tsunami caused heavy damage to the harbor town.
Del Norte County sheriff's spokesman Bill Stevens said most boats were pulled out of the harbor in preparation for Friday's tsunami, but 35 vessels that remained crashed into one another and were sinking.

The wooden docks were also breaking apart under the force of the waves.

Crescent City Councilwoman Kelly Schellong said the docks and harbor were "pretty much completely destroyed."

Stevens said the damage cost wass estimated to be into the millions, and the surges were expected to continue through the afternoon.

"This is just devastating. I never thought I'd see this again," said Ted Scott, a retired mill worker who lived in Crescent City when a 1964 tsunami killed 17 people on the West Coast, including 11 in his town. "I watched the docks bust apart. It buckled like a graham cracker."

The waves didn't make it over a 20-foot break wall protecting the rest of the city, and no serious injuries or home damage was immediately reported.

To the south along the Central Coast the tsunami surge also caused damage to boats in Morro Bay.

Police Chaplain James Berg said the swells had knocked some boats loose and damaged a dock. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from low lying areas, the harbor and the embarcadero areas of the city.

This is excerpted from a longer article. For full article go HERE
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Sean_
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March 11th, 2011, 11:09 pm #5

From what i am seeing it looks like it was the Tsunami that made the most damage. It was firghtening to see that huge wave just keep on going and going, taking eveything with it.
Don't think about all those things you fear. Just be glad to be here.
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March 11th, 2011, 11:10 pm #6

Scariest thing. I'm hearing reports that a nuclear reactor has lost its ability to cool the reaction.
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March 12th, 2011, 3:20 am #7

Sean_ wrote:Scariest thing. I'm hearing reports that a nuclear reactor has lost its ability to cool the reaction.
Yup there are problems with 2 reactors there. There has been an evacuation within a 6 mi. radius of the one reactor which apparently is leaking some radiation. They have lost control of 2( I think) reactors in that plant. If they are not successful in getting the cooling system to work there could be a meltdown.
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March 12th, 2011, 8:45 pm #8

Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet; shifted Earth's axis

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
March 12, 2011 10:57 a.m. EST

(CNN) -- The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

"At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass," said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

The temblor, which struck Friday afternoon near the east coast of Japan, killed hundreds of people, caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast.

The quake was the most powerful to hit the island nation in recorded history and the tsunami it unleashed traveled across the Pacific Ocean, triggering tsunami warnings and alerts for 50 countries and territories as far away as the western coasts of Canada, the U.S. and Chile. The quake triggered more than 160 aftershocks in the first 24 hours -- 141 measuring 5.0-magnitude or more.-

The quake occurred as the Earth's crust ruptured along an area about 250 miles (400 kilometers) long by 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide, as tectonic plates slipped more than 18 meters, said Shengzao Chen, a USGS geophysicist.

Japan is located along the Pacific "ring of fire," an area of high seismic and volcanic activity stretching from New Zealand in the South Pacific up through Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coasts of North and South America. The quake was "hundreds of times larger" than the 2010 quake that ravaged Haiti, said Jim Gaherty of the LaMont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.

The Japanese quake was of similar strength to the 2004 earthquake in Indonesia that triggered a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in more than a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean. "The tsunami that it sent out was roughly comparable in terms of size," Gaherty said. "[The 2004 tsunami] happened to hit some regions that were not very prepared for tsunamis ... we didn't really have a very sophisticated tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean basin at the time so the damage was significantly worse."

The Japanese quake comes just weeks after a 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch on February 22, toppling historic buildings and killing more than 150 people. The timeframe of the two quakes have raised questions whether the two incidents are related, but experts say the distance between the two incidents makes that unlikely.

"I would think the connection is very slim," said Prof. Stephan Grilli, ocean engineering professor at the University of Rhode Island.

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March 12th, 2011, 10:15 pm #9

The 'Supermoon' Did Not Cause the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

By Natalie Wolchover, Life's Little Mysteries Staff Writer
11 March 2011 2:44 PM ET

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan early today (March 11) were "completely unrelated" to the approaching "supermoon," despite a news report that tied the earthquake to the upcoming lunar event, according to U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist John Bellini.

The supermoon will occur on March 19, when the moon is at or near its point of closest orbit — lunar perigee — and is also full. As we explained in our previous coverage of the upcoming supermoon, seismologists have found no evidence to believe that lunar perigees heighten seismic activity.

The best evidence that this earthquake was not caused by the lunar cycle is that it happened now — exactly a week away from the date the moon will be full, and almost a week after it was new, the two times that the moon exerts its greatest pull on the planet. A very small correlation exists between full or new moons and seismic activity, because the stronger-than-usual tidal forces caused by the alignment of the sun and moon puts added stress on tectonic plates.

But this quake happened with the sun and moon askew — the time when tidal forces are weakest. Putting aside the fact that the moon doesn't trigger massive earthquakes, blaming this quake on the supermoon is like trying to pin a house fire on an arsonist who is out of town at the time of the crime.

The Japanese earthquake thus points to the fact that astrology — an astrologer was the first to suggest the supermoon could be a threat — isn't a science. That this earthquake occurred a week before an astronomical event is mere coincidence. The vast majority of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions and natural disasters do not follow the lunar cycle or tides. "This is something that builds up over hundreds of years," Bellini told Life's Little Mysteries.

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March 12th, 2011, 11:15 pm #10

Problems with a 3rd reactors now. Drudge reporting that reactors 1,3, and 6 have lost cooling ability.
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March 12th, 2011, 11:32 pm #11

Just reporting another major after shock.
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March 13th, 2011, 12:29 am #12

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id ... _article=1

Here's an article I got off of Drudge explaining what is going on at the reactor.
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March 13th, 2011, 12:48 am #13

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/ ... n/Asia.php

Map of Asia earthquake activity today. Unbelievable! The after shocks just keep coming and they are not tiny in the 5 to 6 range.
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March 13th, 2011, 1:01 am #14

From the article Morgana posted the link to above:

If the temperature inside the Fukushima reactor vessel continued to rise even more—to roughly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 Celsius)—then the uranium fuel pellets would start to melt.

According to experts interviewed by The Associated Press, any melted fuel would eat through the bottom of the reactor vessel. Next, it would eat through the floor of the already-damaged containment building. At that point, the uranium and dangerous byproducts would start escaping into the environment.

At some point in the process, the walls of the reactor vessel—6 inches (15 centimeters) of stainless steel—would melt into a lava-like pile, slump into any remaining water on the floor, and potentially cause an explosion much bigger than the one caused by the hydrogen. Such an explosion would enhance the spread of radioactive contaminants.

If the reactor core became exposed to the external environment, officials would likely began pouring cement and sand over the entire facility, as was done at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine, Peter Bradford, a former commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in a briefing for reporters.

At that point, Bradford added, "many first responders would die."

___________________________________________

I remember the heroic efforts of the Soviet pilots when they covered the Chernobyl reactor with sand and whatever else they use dropping the material by helicopter. As I recall it was a voluntary mission where it had been clearly spelled out that the volunteers would most certainly die. Most died. One got a marrow transplant in the States

http://www.parlier.com/web_p03s.htm

Scroll down to "The Man Who Flew Into Hell" The subsequent articles show Anatoly's fight to survive his date with Hell
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March 13th, 2011, 1:36 am #15

2 hours ago the New York Times reported that they're flooding the reactor with water in a desperate attempt to cool it down.


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March 13th, 2011, 1:37 am #16


Now Drudge is reporting a sixth reactor is having problems.
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March 13th, 2011, 1:48 am #17

Mark wrote:2 hours ago the New York Times reported that they're flooding the reactor with water in a desperate attempt to cool it down.

Flooding the reactor building with sea water is a last ditch effort to try to prevent a melt down.

After that, like Cody posted, people will have to sacrifice their lives to seal the reactor.

I hope Japanese officials are making a major effort to get people well away from these nuclear plants.

This may wind up a worse disaster then the earthquake and the tsunami.
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March 13th, 2011, 1:51 am #18

On a side note.

The day of the earthquake, my tinnitus was really strong. My head was whistling away. It peaked when i actually heard about the quake.

Don't know if that means anything.
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March 13th, 2011, 3:02 am #19

JAPAN EARTHQUAKE LIVE 8689 WATCHERS

LIVE COVERAGE AS AN 8.9 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE HITS THE NORTHERN COAST OF JAPAN, LEADING TO WIDESPREAD TSUNAMI WARNINGS

< NEWEST12345678910...OLDEST >
Make a commentShareOptionsLive Updating
They are stating micro sieverts, not milli. 1204 microsieverts = 0.1204 rems less than one mrem. But at the source obviously it is exponentially higher than hundreds of meters away. I feel for all of those working to avert disaster who may well be giving their lives to do so.
comment by Chris M at 7:55 PM
Kyodo reports the water level at the no. 3 reactor is 3 meters below the top of the fuel rods. And it is a mixed plutonium-uranium (MOX) core.
comment by Lauri at 7:55 PM
In my eyes the workers who have yet to leave the plant are heroes. They may be sacrificing their own lives for the greater good. God's speed!
comment by Display Name:Rickypoo at 7:54 PM

This comes from Reuters live page.
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March 14th, 2011, 3:03 am #20


Drudge has news that another 10 ft. wave is heading for the same area that was hit before.
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March 14th, 2011, 3:05 am #21

Bloomburg is reporting another explosion at nuke plant.

Hydrogen Explosion Occurs at Nuclear Power Plant 135 Miles North of Tokyo
By Yuji Okada and Shigeru Sato - Mar 13, 2011 9:36 PM CT

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A hydrogen explosion occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 3 reactor at 11:01 a.m. local time today, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Tokyo Electric spokesman Daisuke Hirose said smoke was seen rising from the reactor. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported earlier pressure at the reactor had fallen and Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation remains a concern.

The pressure declined after rising earlier today, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general at the safety agency, said at a media briefing. The Fukushima Dai-Ichi station lies 220 kilometers (135 miles) north of the Japanese capital.

Asia’s largest utility is seeking to avoid a meltdown of at least two reactors at the nuclear power station by flooding them with water and boric acid to eliminate the potential for a catastrophic release of radiation into the atmosphere. The station lost power to keep the reactor core cool after the March 11 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in Japan.

On March 12 a hydrogen leak caused a blast that destroyed the walls of the No. 1 reactor. Four workers were injured in the explosion, while no damage was reported to the container holding the reactor’s radioactive core, according to Tokyo Electric.

Winds in the area of the Fukushima plant are blowing at less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) per hour generally in an northeasterly and northerly direction, according to a 9 a.m. update from the Japan Meteorological Agency today.
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March 14th, 2011, 3:49 am #22

Morgana wrote:Drudge has news that another 10 ft. wave is heading for the same area that was hit before.
Happened to have Foxnews on & they had live coverage of that. It seems the hydrogen explosion from the nuke plant triggered their tsunami warning system. That alert has been cancelled.
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March 14th, 2011, 7:02 pm #23

Japan's nightmare gets even WORSE: All THREE damaged nuclear reactors now in 'meltdown' at tsunami-hit power station

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z1GbOSQsmm
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March 14th, 2011, 10:42 pm #24

Except for the reactors, the story had shifted to the human devestation and body count.
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March 15th, 2011, 12:19 am #25

Its becoming apparent that the company that runs the nuclear plants there are not telling the truth. Things may be much worse than is being reported.
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March 15th, 2011, 12:22 am #26

BREAKING NEWS12:16am UK, Tuesday March 15, 2011
New Explosion At Japanese Reactor Plant

A third explosion has been heard at a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant, the country's nuclear safety agency confirmed.
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March 15th, 2011, 11:07 pm #27

For me, there's nothing so good as "facts" to calm me down. Even if the situation is dangerous, it's good to know the truth rather than speculate amid FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt ). Here's some info from folks who know what they're talking about.

First, an explanation of how these reactors work:
wrote:I’m not an expert on nuclear reactors. I taught in the nuclear power program of the US Navy some years ago, meaning I was competent to discuss some aspects of reactors, and specifically the type the navy uses. So I’m also not some random guy in the street. With that disclaimer in mind, there are a few items to mention with regard to the reactor issues in Japan following the earthquake.

This is not another Chernobyl. The reactor design is very different, and the circumstances are different. The Chernobyl accident (link for the more technically inclined) involved an operating reactor that went prompt critical as the result of operational errors, deliberate disabling of certain safeguards as part of a test, and design flaws. This caused a steam explosion and chemical fires as the carbon moderator caught fire.

A closer analogy would be Three Mile Island.

There have been reports of an explosion, but it must be stressed that this was not a nuclear explosion. The reactors have been shut down. It’s not so easy to cause a nuclear explosion in the first place (bombs require a level of expertise), and a shutdown reactor does not have the capability of sustaining the fission reaction. This leaves us with steam pressure buildup or hydrogen as the most likely culprits, i.e. it’s thermodynamics or chemistry, not nuclear physics, which explains the explosion.

The reactor is shut down, so what’s the danger? The products of a fission reaction are typically radioactive, and subsequent decays also release energy. Shutting down the reactor reduces the fission rate by many orders of magnitude, so it’s effectively zero in terms of heat output, but the radioactive fission products still release up to 6-7% of the plant’s power output. The actual value depends on the operating history; the fission products with long half-lives take longer to build up to steady-state values. This value will drop fairly quickly as the short-lived isotopes decay, but it’s still significant — a reactor rated at 1000 MW will still be producing tens of MW of decay heat. The reactors in question at Fukushima Daiichi are rated at 460 or 784 MW (edit 3/15: AFAIK that’s electrical output; if so, the thermal output is ~ 3x higher)

So shutting down does not mean it’s Miller Time? Right. You need to run pumps and do something with the energy, which usually means piping water to a cooling tower, which means you need to run pumps, and those require electricity. It seems silly, at first glance, that a reactor would need a source of power to run it, but the turbines are probably designed to run at the high power output of the reactor and not off of decay heat. So you have an external power line (lost in the quake), local generators (apparently also damaged) and battery backup. Redundant systems. However, it seems that the damage was severe, so the primary and first backup systems are still offline, and if cooling was lost (batteries have a finite lifetime), the water in the core can boil away.

That sounds bad. Yes. As long as the core stays covered with water, things should be fine. But uncovered, the temperature can rise and fuel elements can begin to melt. Hydrogen is produced, which can explode, and boiling water becomes steam, which raises the pressure in the containment vessel. The latter is why the containment vessel would be vented. You would need to replace that water into the system, which also requires pumps. (This what had happened at TMI, though in that case, the cooling pumps were shut off deliberately owing to a flawed procedure)

So this is serious. Nothing here is meant to imply otherwise. But the term “meltdown” (or worse, if preceded by “Chernobyl-like”) raises all sorts of imagery, most of which is inaccurate.
Source: http://blogs.scienceforums.net/swansont/archives/8132


And here's a blog of sorts from the "Union of Concerned Scientists:" Latest post can be seen here:

http://allthingsnuclear.org/tagged/Japan_nuclear

Archives can be seen here:

http://allthingsnuclear.org/archive

Hover your mouse over each entry for the posting date, click to read. There is a day-by-day, blow-by-blow description of events here (probably more than you want to know), and it's clearly taking some time to get the very latest info, but it should negate fears that info is being suppressed.
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Morgana
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March 15th, 2011, 11:40 pm #28

Thanks for posting this. Makes us all a little less edgy about the situation there. There have been some conflicting reports and a lot of confusion.
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Sean_
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March 16th, 2011, 1:00 am #29

Well it doesn't alleviate any of my fears.

My worries are we are not being told what is really happening. I'm beginning to think things may be much worse then we are being told.
I'm not worried about me, but anyone anywhere near that plant and those who live downwind from it.

The article mentions the containment vessel being vented but he doesn't mention that what is vented is radioactive.

Then there's the spent fuel rods and the fire they caused. Yet another potential disaster in the making.

If any of those containment vessels breach, or blow wide open because of a hydrogen explosion, things will get much worse very quickly.

A lot of things are going wrong quickly and the team trying to control all of these events may be overwhelmed.
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Cody
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March 16th, 2011, 6:00 am #30

Tsunami killed thousands of seabirds at Midway

– 2 hrs 27 mins ago
HONOLULU – Thousands of seabirds were killed when the tsunami generated by last week's massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, a federal wildlife official said Tuesday.

At least 1,000 adult and adolescent Laysan albatross were killed, along with thousands of chicks, said Barry W. Stieglitz, the project leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuges.

Many drowned or were buried under debris as waves reaching 5 feet high rolled over the low-lying atoll about four hours after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck Friday.

The white-and-black feathered Laysan albatross is not in danger of becoming extinct. About 1 million of the birds live at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu, making it the largest Laysan albatross colony in the world.

But Stieglitz said the deaths could account for a significant share of Laysan albatross chicks hatched during the current season.

"We may see just a slight decline in breeding birds next year, next year and the year after that," he said. "There will be a gap in the breeding population when these birds that would have grown up this year, would have matured and started breeding for the first time."

The waves hit each of the three islands inside the atoll.

Spit Island, about 15 acres, was completely overrun. The tsunami washed over 60 percent of Eastern Island, an islet of nearly 370 acres. Waves also covered 20 percent of Sand Island, the largest of the three at almost 1,200 acres.

Biologists are less sure how many ground-nesting bonin petrels may have died, because these birds live in underground burrows and would have been buried in areas covered by waves. Stieglitz estimated the death toll would reach the thousands.

Since the bonin petrel feed at night, however, Stieglitz said he was hopeful many were out foraging when the tsunami hit before dawn.

Stieglitz said many wildlife populations rebound from natural disasters like this. But he said the tsunamis aren't helpful to species facing threats like climate change, a loss of habitat, and invasive species.

"When you start piling the natural catastrophe on top of invasive species invasions and all of these other things, it makes the population a lot less resilient and more susceptible to extinction," he said. "It's rather unfortunate timing, in our eyes. Not that there is ever a good time for this, but there are better times than worse times. And in this era, this is a worse time."

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