Things have gone from really bad to much worse at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex as the radiation levels reached such high levels that all worker were withdrawn.
FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Japan suspended operations to prevent a stricken nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.
The level of radiation at the plant surged to 1,000 millisieverts early Wednesday before coming down to 800-600 millisieverts. Still, that was far more than the average
“So the workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now,” Edano said. “Because of the radiation risk, we are on standby.”
Experts say exposure of around 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause radiation sickness.
Have they given up?
“It’s more of a surrender,” said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who now heads the nuclear safety program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group. “It’s not like you wait 10 days and the radiation goes away. In that 10 days things are going to get worse.”
“It’s basically a sign that there’s nothing left to do but throw in the towel,” Lochbaum said.
The greatest danger may be the spent fuel rods.
Even as workers race to prevent the radioactive cores of the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan from melting down, concerns are growing that nearby pools holding spent fuel rods could pose an even greater danger.
By late Tuesday, the water meant to cool spent fuel rods in the No. 4 reactor was boiling, Japan’s nuclear watchdog said. If the water evaporates and the rods run dry, they could overheat and catch fire, potentially spreading radioactive materials in dangerous clouds.
Shigekatsu Oomukai, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said the substantial capacity of the pool meant that the water in it was unlikely to evaporate soon. But he said workers were having difficulty reaching the pool to cool it, because of the high temperature of the water.
The 50 men who continued to work in the area were dead men walking if they remained. So just how expensive is nuclear power?
A 1997 study by the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island described a worst-case disaster from uncovered spent fuel in a reactor cooling pool. It estimated 100 quick deaths would occur within a range of 500 miles and 138,000 eventual deaths.
The study also found that land over 2,170 miles would be contaminated and damages would hit $546 billion.
That section of the Brookhaven study focused on boiling water reactors — the kind at the heart of the Japanese crisis.
And people are still pushing nuclear power? The operator of the plant, TEPCO, is the BP of nuclear plant operators. When it was determined that they had falsified 200 incident and safety reports the CEO and several other executives were forced to resign a few years ago.
Perhaps this is why the radiation levels rose.
TOKYO (Kyodo)–The container of the No.3 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant is feared to have been damaged and may have leaked radioactive steam Wednesday, emitting high-level radiation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.
The radiation level briefly topped 2 milisievert at the plant, its operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. separately said.
The explanations were given after smoke was seen rising from the No.3 reactor since around 8:30 a.m., according to Edano.
Reactor No. 3 is fueled with MOX, a plutonium mix – really bad news.