Saturday, March 12, 2011
Reports are emerging from Japan of a second nuclear reactor experiencing problems after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck the country, the largest in its history. Few details about the second plant are available at this time.
Meanwhile, at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese nuclear officials report radiation levels inside the plant have surged to 1,000 times their normal levels after the cooling system failed.
The earthquake was 1,000 times more powerful than the one that struck Christchurch in New Zealand recently. It was also a thousand times more powerful than the quake that hit Haiti last year.
The elevated reading was taken in the control room of the No. 1 reactor of the power plant, Agence France-Presse reported.
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Pressure inside one of six boiling water reactors at the plant had risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal and authorities ordered an evacuation of a two-mile radius area adjacent to the plant. Around 3,000 people have evacuated their homes as the government declared a first of its kind nuclear emergency. People within a six-mile radius were warned to stay in their homes.
The 480-megawatt Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is a hundred times more powerful than the ill-fated reactor at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. On April 26, 1986, the Soviet reactor exploded after a power surge. Four hundred times more radioactive material was released from the crippled nuclear power plant than had been by the atomic bomb at Hiroshima. The fallout was detected across Europe.
The loss of coolant at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania in 1979 for only 30 minutes led to a 50% meltdown of the core.
At least 11 of Japan’s 52 nuclear power reactors are shut down and three of those may pose a danger to the public, the Christian Science Monitor reports.
“If they can’t get adequate cooling to the core, it could be a Three Mile Island or worse,” nuclear physicist Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Los Angeles Times.
This article was posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 5:27 am