An Explosion at Fukushima
On March fifteenth I posted an article describing the initial damages done by the seventh largest earthquake ever recorded. The disaster did not have just one name: An Earthquake, a Tsunami, and a Whirlpool, are just a few of the natural disasters that struck Japan recently. Yet the current nuclear threat is worst of all.
On Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m., the death toll calculation was 3,373 with 6,746 people unaccounted for. Today, March 17, at 12:30 p.m., the death toll is 5,692 and 9,522 missing.
The waves have subsided, however, much of the country is still flooded. Not all of the once dry land will be recovered, Japan as a whole has shrunken, and as I said before, the county has moved eight feet.
The looming nuclear disaster is all but understood; Japanese officials are keeping its citizens frighteningly un-informed on the goings-on at the nuclear power plants. Many people in Japan do not know where safety lies, nor if their food supply has been contaminated by radiation.
The Japanese government has not yet issued an evacuation for Tokyo. The United States, German, Australian, and French governments are telling it’s citizens in Japan to get out of Tokyo; either to come back to their home country, evacuate to the south, or go west to Osaka. Croatian and Serbian governments are telling it’s citizens to get out of Japan; the Croatian embassy has moved to Osaka.
Tokyo is 170 miles away from the affected nuclear plants in Fukushima. That distance is not enough to dilute the plume of nuclear haze being carried by wind over the county. The nuclear plume will eventually reach the United States west coast, by then the cloud will have been diluted down to a safe amount of radiation.
“Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule” (Broad, William). A statement in yesterdays New York Times.
It is very hard to find out information on what exactly is going on inside of the nuclear plants, and even harder to understand for those of use who are not scientists. I have bullet pointed the most consistent “facts” I could find.
- Inside of the plant a team of workers is trying to prevent a meltdown. The workers job has been deemed “A suicide mission”.
- The workers must keep the exposed fuel rods cool.
Fuel rods: Nuclear fuel rods are the most dense source of energy available today. If these rods get too hot, they will meltdown, causing an explosion. A theoretical meltdown in Japans plant’s could trump Chernobyl in terms of radiation. Japan has an advantage seeing as there is a chance to evacuate the areas that could be affected. Death and exposer could be minimal with a preemptive evacuation as some governments are already issuing.
- The Japanese military is assisting those inside the plant. Helicopters are being used to drop sea water on the exposed fuel rods, and soldiers were firing water cannons into the flames. The water cannons have since been shut off.
- The 800 plant workers have been cut down to 50 heros who will give their lives to the nuclear containment effort.
There is a lot of information about the nuclear reactors on the news. One channel tells me that a plant in Fukushima is on fire, whilst the next says the fire there is out. It is a safe assumption that the situation is absolutely unstable, and I hope with the combined efforts of the 50 heros, Japanese military, and foreign aid the situation will soon become stable, yet current information tells me a speedy recovery is unlikely.
As I said before, give thought and compassion to those affected by disaster, and to those to whom it is seemingly looming.
Broad, William: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/science/17plume.html?_r=2