Americans Told by American Embassy to Evacuate or Take Shelter if Within 50 Miles of Fukushima

Problems seem to be increasing at Japan’s nuclear reactors. Voice of America reporter, Steve Herman tweeted about 11:30 am Pacific Time that he “just got US Embassy fax: advising Americans within 80km of Fukushima nuke plant to evac or take shelter indoors.”

And, according to a Breaking News tweet, “Foreign Office advises British nationals in Tokyo and to the north of Tokyo to consider leaving the area.”

BBC is reporting at 1837 “Gregory Jaczko, head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said there is no water left in the spent fuel pool in reactor four, adding: “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high.” Mr Jaczko was speaking to Congress in Washington and it was not immediately clear where his information had come from.”

But radiation is not the only problem facing the Japanese people.  Weather and damage to the infrastructure could cause serious problems for them.

Having trouble telling what is happening at which reactor in Fukushima? NPR has a great graphic and description.  GREAT LINK.

If you want to do something, anything…the NC Blood bank needs blood.

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17 comments

  • Not to overlook the human tragedy, but what does it mean for the world economy and in terms of exported products if a large portion of Japan becomes unlivable?

  • There is a little bit of good new. It looks like they’ve rigged up an alternative power line to repower the primary cooling systems. Cross fingers and pray.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/company-says-new-power-line-that-could-ease-japan-nuclear-crisis-almost-ready/2011/03/16/ABfjxYc_story.html

  • There is a little bit of good new. It looks like they’ve rigged up an alternative power line to repower the primary cooling systems. Cross fingers and pray.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/company-says-new-power-line-that-could-ease-japan-nuclear-crisis-almost-ready/2011/03/16/ABfjxYc_story.html

  • Still some room for hope.

    2014: A special police van equipped with a water cannon – normally used to disperse rioters – meanwhile arrived at the power station early on Thursday. Tepco plans to use the cannon to spray water onto reactor 4’s spent fuel storage pond. The cannon is thought to be strong enough to allow engineers to remain a safe distance from the complex and limit their exposure to radiation.

    And even some hope that a more lasting solution to the cooling problem might be within reach:

    2010: More on the power line being laid to the Fukushima Daiichi plant to help restore the reactor cooling systems: Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) spokesman Naoki Tsunoda has said it is almost complete, and that engineers plan to test it “as soon as possible”, according to the Associated Press. Reviving the electric-powered pumps might allow the engineers to finaly cool the overheated reactors and spent fuel storage ponds.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • Still some room for hope.

    2014: A special police van equipped with a water cannon – normally used to disperse rioters – meanwhile arrived at the power station early on Thursday. Tepco plans to use the cannon to spray water onto reactor 4’s spent fuel storage pond. The cannon is thought to be strong enough to allow engineers to remain a safe distance from the complex and limit their exposure to radiation.

    And even some hope that a more lasting solution to the cooling problem might be within reach:

    2010: More on the power line being laid to the Fukushima Daiichi plant to help restore the reactor cooling systems: Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) spokesman Naoki Tsunoda has said it is almost complete, and that engineers plan to test it “as soon as possible”, according to the Associated Press. Reviving the electric-powered pumps might allow the engineers to finaly cool the overheated reactors and spent fuel storage ponds.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • Now some more on the bad news front —

    Spent fuel pool boiling off in the number 3 reactor, the one in the number 4 reactor may already be bone-dry.

    I hope they manage to get those cooling again, because it sounds like otherwise there could be a huge release of radiation. Remember, unlike the reactor vessels themselves, the spent fuel pools do not have any containment and, they contain hundreds of highly radioactive spent fuel rods.

    I haven’t heard any official source use the phrase “worse than Chernoby” yet, but I think we’d better brace ourselves for that possibility.

    2035: US officials have concluded that the Japanese warnings have been insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they have understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility, according to the New York Times. Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, earlier said he believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at reactor 4 had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed. “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” he told a Congressional committee.

    It’s not just the U.S. saying that the number 4 reactor’s spent fuel pool may have boiled out entirely, leaving it bone-dry.

    2027: Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has said it is also concerned about the spent fuel storage pool inside the building housing reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi. The pools at both reactors 3 and 4 are reportedly boiling – there may not even be any water left in reactor 4’s pool – and unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could emit large quantities radiation. Radioactive steam was earlier said to be coming from reactor 3’s pool. If cooling operations did not proceed well, the situation would “reach a critical stage in a couple of days”, an agency official told the Kyodo news agency.

  • Now some more on the bad news front —

    Spent fuel pool boiling off in the number 3 reactor, the one in the number 4 reactor may already be bone-dry.

    I hope they manage to get those cooling again, because it sounds like otherwise there could be a huge release of radiation. Remember, unlike the reactor vessels themselves, the spent fuel pools do not have any containment and, they contain hundreds of highly radioactive spent fuel rods.

    I haven’t heard any official source use the phrase “worse than Chernoby” yet, but I think we’d better brace ourselves for that possibility.

    2035: US officials have concluded that the Japanese warnings have been insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they have understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility, according to the New York Times. Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, earlier said he believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at reactor 4 had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed. “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” he told a Congressional committee.

    It’s not just the U.S. saying that the number 4 reactor’s spent fuel pool may have boiled out entirely, leaving it bone-dry.

    2027: Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has said it is also concerned about the spent fuel storage pool inside the building housing reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi. The pools at both reactors 3 and 4 are reportedly boiling – there may not even be any water left in reactor 4’s pool – and unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could emit large quantities radiation. Radioactive steam was earlier said to be coming from reactor 3’s pool. If cooling operations did not proceed well, the situation would “reach a critical stage in a couple of days”, an agency official told the Kyodo news agency.

  • The Associated Press/SF Gate article above “NRC: No Water in Spent Fuel Pool of Japan Plant” previously reported:

    (03-16) 12:57 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —
    “The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that all the water is gone from one of the spent fuel pools at Japan’s most troubled nuclear plant, but Japanese officials denied it. If NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is correct, this would mean there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shell of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area. He said the spent fuel pool of the complex’s Unit 4 reactor has lost water.

    Jaczko said officials believe radiation levels are extremely high, and that could affect workers’ ability to stop temperatures from escalating…”

    … But wait! The above posters, Tra and Mr. Kirk, report water is being brought to the site by water cannon while engineers work on reviving power lines for pumps.

    Cross your fingers and pray, indeed. Conditions are changing rapidly, heroic actions and decisions in the making.
    Stay tuned and close.

  • The Associated Press/SF Gate article above “NRC: No Water in Spent Fuel Pool of Japan Plant” previously reported:

    (03-16) 12:57 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —
    “The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that all the water is gone from one of the spent fuel pools at Japan’s most troubled nuclear plant, but Japanese officials denied it. If NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko is correct, this would mean there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shell of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area. He said the spent fuel pool of the complex’s Unit 4 reactor has lost water.

    Jaczko said officials believe radiation levels are extremely high, and that could affect workers’ ability to stop temperatures from escalating…”

    … But wait! The above posters, Tra and Mr. Kirk, report water is being brought to the site by water cannon while engineers work on reviving power lines for pumps.

    Cross your fingers and pray, indeed. Conditions are changing rapidly, heroic actions and decisions in the making.
    Stay tuned and close.

  • ABC news is reporting on some U.S. criticism of the Japanese handling of the situation:

    U.S. officials are alarmed at how the Japanese are handling the escalating nuclear reactor crisis and fear that if they do not get control of the plants within the next 24 to 48 hours they could have a situation that will be “deadly for decades.” …

    “We are all-out urging the Japanese to get more people back in there to do emergency operation there, that the next 24 to 48 hours are critical,” the official said. “Urgent efforts are needed on the part of the Japanese to restore emergency operations to cool” down the reactors’ rods before they trigger a meltdown.

    “They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission,” the official said.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-special-nuclear-team-japan-nuclear-regulatory/story?id=13148044

    Frankly, this strikes me as some rather unhelpful second-guessing and armchair quarterbacking. If they have critiques, it seems like communicating them directly to the Japanese officials would be more appropriate.

    It seems to me that these sorts of comments by “unnamed” U.S. officials may be a bit of CYA in advance, and maybe an attempt to boost the U.S. nuke industry and it’s “don’t worry, it couldn’t happen here…and if it did we’d handle it better” argument.

  • ABC news is reporting on some U.S. criticism of the Japanese handling of the situation:

    U.S. officials are alarmed at how the Japanese are handling the escalating nuclear reactor crisis and fear that if they do not get control of the plants within the next 24 to 48 hours they could have a situation that will be “deadly for decades.” …

    “We are all-out urging the Japanese to get more people back in there to do emergency operation there, that the next 24 to 48 hours are critical,” the official said. “Urgent efforts are needed on the part of the Japanese to restore emergency operations to cool” down the reactors’ rods before they trigger a meltdown.

    “They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission,” the official said.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-special-nuclear-team-japan-nuclear-regulatory/story?id=13148044

    Frankly, this strikes me as some rather unhelpful second-guessing and armchair quarterbacking. If they have critiques, it seems like communicating them directly to the Japanese officials would be more appropriate.

    It seems to me that these sorts of comments by “unnamed” U.S. officials may be a bit of CYA in advance, and maybe an attempt to boost the U.S. nuke industry and it’s “don’t worry, it couldn’t happen here…and if it did we’d handle it better” argument.

  • Ah, yes. So, first the unnamed U.S. official quoted by ABC news attacks the Japanese for not sending more workers into what that official acknowledges as a “suicide mission.”

    And now the public face of the U.S. nuclear establishment fulfills my above prediction within minutes, pushing the “don’t worry, WE could handle this” theme:

    2116: The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, Gregory Jaczko, has told lawmakers that he strongly believes the US could “mitigate” the impact of a nuclear crisis similar to the one unfolding in Japan, Reuters reports.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

    O.K., is it just me, or is this really starting to look like an orchestrated PR campaign by U.S. nuke industry promoters in Congress, the NRC, and the Obama administration?

  • Ah, yes. So, first the unnamed U.S. official quoted by ABC news attacks the Japanese for not sending more workers into what that official acknowledges as a “suicide mission.”

    And now the public face of the U.S. nuclear establishment fulfills my above prediction within minutes, pushing the “don’t worry, WE could handle this” theme:

    2116: The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, Gregory Jaczko, has told lawmakers that he strongly believes the US could “mitigate” the impact of a nuclear crisis similar to the one unfolding in Japan, Reuters reports.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

    O.K., is it just me, or is this really starting to look like an orchestrated PR campaign by U.S. nuke industry promoters in Congress, the NRC, and the Obama administration?

  • Okay, now I’ve just seen the first mainstream media use of the phrase “worse than Chernobyl.” ABC is saying that “many experts” are concerned about that possibility.

    “Events unfolding in the Japan incidents appear to be more serious than Three Mile Island. To what extent, we don’t know that. They are unfolding hour by hour,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said earlier today at the hearing.

    Chu’s assessment is in line with views expressed by many experts, some of whom even believe the Japan crisis could be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine that left hundreds sick and killed several from radiation.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-special-nuclear-team-japan-nuclear-regulatory/story?id=13148044&page=2

    By the way, please note the massive underestimation of the death toll due to the Chernobyl disaster. In addition to the “several” people killed immediately and the “hundreds” sickened immediately, there were many more deaths and illnesses due to cancers, birth defects and other health problems in the years that followed that accident.

  • Okay, now I’ve just seen the first mainstream media use of the phrase “worse than Chernobyl.” ABC is saying that “many experts” are concerned about that possibility.

    “Events unfolding in the Japan incidents appear to be more serious than Three Mile Island. To what extent, we don’t know that. They are unfolding hour by hour,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said earlier today at the hearing.

    Chu’s assessment is in line with views expressed by many experts, some of whom even believe the Japan crisis could be worse than the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine that left hundreds sick and killed several from radiation.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-send-special-nuclear-team-japan-nuclear-regulatory/story?id=13148044&page=2

    By the way, please note the massive underestimation of the death toll due to the Chernobyl disaster. In addition to the “several” people killed immediately and the “hundreds” sickened immediately, there were many more deaths and illnesses due to cancers, birth defects and other health problems in the years that followed that accident.

  • Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, tells CNN that water had served to both cool the uranium fuel and shield it. But once the uranium fuel was no longer covered by water, zirconium cladding that encases the fuel rods heated, generating hydrogen.

    That caught fire, resulting in a situation that is “very, very serious,” Alvarez told CNN. He said the next solution may involve nuclear plant workers having to take heroic acts. Asked to be more specific, he said, “This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. … It’s very difficult for me to contemplate that but it’s, it may have reached that point.”

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/16/japan-quake-live-blog-death-toll-expected-to-rise-as-crews-reach-more-areas/?hpt=T1

  • Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, tells CNN that water had served to both cool the uranium fuel and shield it. But once the uranium fuel was no longer covered by water, zirconium cladding that encases the fuel rods heated, generating hydrogen.

    That caught fire, resulting in a situation that is “very, very serious,” Alvarez told CNN. He said the next solution may involve nuclear plant workers having to take heroic acts. Asked to be more specific, he said, “This is a situation where people may be called in to sacrifice their lives. … It’s very difficult for me to contemplate that but it’s, it may have reached that point.”

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/16/japan-quake-live-blog-death-toll-expected-to-rise-as-crews-reach-more-areas/?hpt=T1

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