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[Various] Japan Nuclear Emergency - Continuous Coverage of Damage and Radiation Risks - Page 106  

post #1051 of 2836
Thread Starter 
Op Updated with Q&A Section -

To help people understand what has happened during the Japanese Nuclear Crisis BBC has provided the following Q&A:

There have been two explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, following Friday's earthquake and tsunami, and a third reactor is reportedly at risk of fuel-rod meltdown.

Has there been a leakage of radioactive material?

It appears so. An American warship, the USS Ronald Reagan, has detected low levels of radiation at a distance of 100 miles (161km) from the Fukushima plant.

How much radioactive material has escaped?

This is not clear. The Japanese authorities say only very low levels of radiation have been detected outside the plant. The IAEA has described it as a level four event on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), which is used for an accident "with local consequences". No abnormal levels of radiation have yet been detected in Russia.

What type of radioactive material has escaped?

There are reports of radioactive isotopes of caesium and iodine in the vicinity of the plant. Experts say it would be natural for radioactive isotopes of nitrogen and argon to have escaped as well. There is no evidence that any uranium or plutonium has escaped.

What harm do these radioactive materials cause?

Radioactive iodine could be harmful to young people in the vicinity of the plant. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster there were some cases of thyroid cancer as a result. People who were promptly issued with iodine tablets ought to be safe, however. Radioactive caesium, uranium and plutonium are harmful, but do not target any particular organ of the body. Radioactive nitrogen decays within seconds of its release, and argon poses no threat to health.

Q&A: Health effects of radiation

How did the radioactive materials escape?

It appears that there have been problems with the power supply to pumps that fill the reactors with water, causing the reactors to overheat. When steam has built up to dangerous levels, small amounts have been vented. Experts say that the presence of caesium and iodine in the steam suggests that the metal casing of some of the fuel rods has melted or broken. Uranium has a very high melting point so it is unlikely to have melted, still less vapourised.

Could radioactive materials have escaped by any other means?

The authorities have pumped sea water into three reactors. This water will be contaminated by its passage through the reactor, but it is currently unclear whether any of it has been released into the environment.

How long will any contamination last?

Radioactive iodine decays quite quickly. Most will have disappeared within a month. Radioactive caesium does not last long in the body - most has gone within a year. However, it lingers in the environment and can continue to present a risk.

Has there been a meltdown?

The term "meltdown" is used in a variety of ways. As noted above, the reported detection of radioactive caesium and iodine may indicate that some of the metal casing enclosing the reactors' uranium fuel has melted (a "fuel-rod meltdown"). However, there is as yet no indication that the uranium fuel itself has melted. Still less is there any indication of a "China Syndrome" where the fuel melts, gathers below the reactor and resumes a chain reaction, that enables it to melt everything in its way, and bore a path deep into the earth. If there were to be a serious meltdown, the Japanese reactor is supposed to be able to handle it, preventing the China Syndrome from taking place. Reports suggest that underneath the reactor, within the outer containment vessel, there is a concrete basin designed to capture and disperse any molten fuel.

Could there be a Chernobyl-like disaster?

Experts say this is highly unlikely. The chain reaction at all Fukushima reactors has ceased and reactor 1 is reported already to be in a stable condition. The explosions that have occurred have taken place outside the steel and concrete containment vessels enclosing the reactors, which apparently remain solid. At Chernobyl an explosion exposed the core of the reactor to the air, and a fire raged for days sending its contents in a plume up into the atmosphere. At Fukushima the explosions - caused by hydrogen and oxygen vented from the reactor - have damaged only the roof and walls erected around the containment vessels.

Could there be a nuclear explosion?

No. A nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor are different things.

What caused the hydrogen release from the reactor?

At high temperatures, steam can separate into hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of zirconium, the metal used for encasing the reactor fuel. This mixture is highly explosive.

How do iodine tablets work?

If the body has all the iodine it needs, it will not absorb further iodine from the atmosphere. The tablets fill the body up with non-radioactive iodine, which prevent it absorbing the radioactive iodine.

Is any level of exposure to radiation safe?

In some parts of the world, natural background radiation is significantly higher than others - for example in Cornwall, in south-west England. And yet people live in Cornwall, and many others gladly visit the area. Similarly, every international air flight exposes passengers to higher than normal levels of radiation - and yet people still fly, and cabin crews spend large amounts of time exposed to this radiation. Patients in hospitals regularly undergo X-rays. Scientists dispute whether any level of exposure to radiation is entirely safe, but exposure to some level of radiation - whether at normal background levels or higher - is a fact of life. We do not yet know how much higher than normal the levels around Fukushima are.

How do Fukushima's problems affect the rest of the world?

It depends on how much radiation is released. At present, the IAEA says the effects are of a "local" nature.
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post #1052 of 2836
Thread Starter 
News Flash - Water level in reactor 2 at Fukushima has fallen and nuclear fuel rods have been exposed again at the Fukushima plant, Kyodo news is reporting.
Edited by Lampen - 3/14/11 at 8:17am
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post #1053 of 2836
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocstar96 View Post
it looks like a mushroom cloud?
Did you see the oil refinery explosion on the first day. Now that was a mushroom cloud.
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post #1054 of 2836
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lampen View Post
News Flash - Water level in reactor 2 at Fukushima has fallen and nuclear fuel rods have been exposed again at the Fukushima plant, Kyodo news is reporting.
NOW this is bad?
post #1055 of 2836
watch the next reports guys
the reactor #2 at Fukushima Daiichi has been fully exposed twice which is really no good news
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/
watch for any flash news
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post #1056 of 2836
The water level is getting lower again in Fukushima I-2.
post #1057 of 2836
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8-Ball View Post
NOW this is bad?
yes i have a very bad feeling right about now
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post #1058 of 2836
any live feeds still?
post #1059 of 2836
Thread Starter 
News Flash - Fears of a partial meltdown at the Fukushima plant would appear to be growing, as Kyodo news agency reports that fuel rods in number 2 reactor are again "fully exposed".

Thank you for your understand and assistance in this matter,

Lampen
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post #1060 of 2836
Great post... really gave me a full understanding of what is going on. I hope the can create a situation where only minimal effects are felt in the end and we all know if any civilization can take care of a nuclear/radiation problem it is the Japanese.

Past experience, high technological efficiency, top experts and a strong collective solidarity will pull them out of this disaster.
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