The Situation Worsens—Japan on the Brink of Nuclear Disaster?

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, March 15, 2011 @ 10:38 p.m. /  News

This is a closeup of the damaged No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant  says Reuters.  Then they add that France is telling its citizens to leave Japan or head to south of country. NPR tells us that the heroic workers are evacuating part of the crippled plant.  Though the latest information says that they have returned. An English Japanese media source says that this nuclear disaster will be comparable to Chernobyl’s. But he didn’t have to tell us, we can already see the gaping hole in the reactor. BBC has a clear description of what happened. Now the workers have returned but for how long as huge aftershocks rock the plant, fire burns out of control and radiation levels continue to spike.

I think I’m going to bed and pretend that I just had a bad dream.

UPDATE: I made that up about going to bed.  Here’s a great timeline of events at Reuters.

UPDATE 2: If you don’t look at anything else, take a look at this before and after shot of the Fukushima nuclear power site.


Photo here.


  • The one glimmer of hope at this point is that as each day passes without a full-scale meltdown in the active reactors, the fuel in those reactors should continue to gradually cool down, and then continuing the cooling process becomes easier.

    We’re definitely not out of the woods yet — far from it — but the worst-case scenarios are not yet inevitable. There is still some hope that they will be able to keep this already very serious situation from sprialing completely out of control and becoming a full-scale Chernobyl-style catastrophe. At this point, if it ends up being “only” a Three-Mile-Island type “mostly-contained-partial-meltdown,” that will be defined as success, and understandably so.

    On that kinda-sorta hopeful (yet still rather depressing) note, I’m headed off to bed.
  • This is very bad and very sad. I’m so shocked and sorry. We need to help.
    Get some sleep folks, rest; tomorrow is going to be a big day and we need to start.
  • The following is not the condition of the Fukushima reactors— but of Japan itself during the early hours of our morning: from Mark McDonald and Kevin Drew of the New York Times “Emperor, In Rare Address, Expresses Deep Concern Over Crisis:

    “… (Emperor) Akihito said that he was “deeply worried” about the ongoing nuclear crisis at several stricken reactors. The address was the first taped video message by a Japanese emperor… A huge rescue and relief operation continued as hundreds of thousands of people prepared to spend a sixth night in temporary shelters amid freezing temperatures.

    Before the emperor’s address, the crisis took another turn for the worse. Authorities said a containment vessel in a second reactor unit at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan might have ruptured and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam. That would be the second vessel to be compromised in two days…

    The death toll climbed inexorably. More than 3,600 people were confirmed dead and more than 7,800 remained unaccounted for by Wednesday afternoon. Authorities say the number of dead is likely to exceed 10,000. Aftershocks kept people across northern Japan on edge Wednesday. The United States Geological Survey recorded 54 earthquakes by midafternoon, four of them with magnitudes higher than 6.0. A strong morning shock caused buildings to sway in central Tokyo for about 30 seconds.

    An estimated 440,000 people are living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers, officials said. Bitterly cold and windy weather compounded the misery as survivors endured shortages of food, fuel and water. Weather forecasters predicted a cold front moving into the region would send the overnight temperatures in northeast Japan below freezing, and the government said the cold posed a health risk for evacuees.

    Rescue teams from 13 nations continued to search for survivors, and more nations were preparing to send teams. Helicopters shuttled back and forth, part of a mobilization of some 100,000 troops, the largest in Japan since World War II, to assist in the rescue and relief work. A no-flight zone was imposed around the stricken nuclear plants.

    Some foreign embassies have suggested that their citizens head south, away from Fukushima Prefecture — which is near the epicenter and home to the worst of the crippled reactors — or leave the country, directives that have led to a rush of departures this week at Narita Airport, Tokyo’s main international gateway…”

    What’s very ugly just got a lot uglier. Japan is getting hammered. They badly need help. Now.
  • Skippy and tra, thank you for keeping us up to date on what is happening. It is hard for me to unstick my eyes from the monitor and accept that I have little ways to help other than send money. I wish there was something more immediate I could do.
  • I too can’t seem to get unglued from the news either. I want to do something, but all I can do is mourn with Japan and pray. ( and send money). I am checking your site a lot Kym, because you sift through all the news so darn well. Thanks.


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