It’s now just past midnight on 3/15/11. Four reactors at Fukushima have experienced fires and/or explosions. Radiation exposure in some places is up to 400 millisieverts per hour, enough to induce vomiting from radiation sickness within a few hours.
Radiation is beginning to be detected in the Tokyo suburbs, anywhere between 4 and 33 times the normal background level. The Nikkei was off 1,200 points at one time today. Where tragedy and sorrow once hung in the air, a new sense of panic is growing.
There are 2 key developments today. One is the elevated level of radiation, which is already to the point where anyone who works continuously at the site risks major health complications. The second is the potential rupture of containment at reactor 2. From what I can gather, this is not the rupture of the main steel structure surrounding the reactor. Rather, it is rupture of an underlying mechanism which manages steam coming from the reactor. TEPCO reports being unable to maintain both pressure and water levels in reactor 2. This creates strong potential for so-called “full meltdown”, where molten uranium fuel pellets eat through the base of their steel confinement chamber and rupture it, creating a large explosion that widely distributes radioactive material.
Let’s hope that the workers on site are able to keep the reactors cool enough so that the worst does not happen.15 March 2011 by caseyzak