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Reactor Reactions Redux

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It has been 24 hours since my last report which in this age of instant information is like a generation. However while there has been some good news and some bad news there is not really much change to report on. I feel like I know a little more about what is going on at the reactors so I will start with a review of the status of the reactors at this time.

Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 are still the ones of concern. Reactors 5 and 6 are not problematic at this time and should not be as long as they can get water to them. The issue with reactor 4 (and 3) is not the reactor itself but the used fuel rods that are stored beside the reactor. While these are used they still emit significant amounts of radiation as well as nasty radioactive elements like cesium and iodine. If these get into the atmosphere then we are looking at a worst case scenario. However as of today government observers say they have actually seen water in the used fuel ponds. While I don’t think government reports give the full picture, in my opinion if we were seeing a used fuel meltdown you would see a lot more radiation then we are currently observing. Reactors 1 and 2, while not stable do not appear to be getting worse and if we can get the water flowing to them they should not become more of a problem.

So as you can see, the whole issue rests on water and whether we can get it to where we need it. Today there was some water delivered to Reactor 3 in the form of helicopter drops. Lead plates were attached to the bottom of the helicopter to protect the people on board and there were 3 loads of water dropped on 3. In addition special pumper trucks were moved in to try to reach the storage areas from the ground. (For some reason the used fuel pool is actually high up in the reactor building.)

As I mentioned there was good news today and bad news. The bad news is that they do not have grid power restored yet and now they are saying another 12 to 24 hours to get it working. I am hoping that things will go a lot better with grid power back in.

The good news is that there has not been any mention of radiation spikes away from the reactors. In fact, I found this site and if anyone reads Japanese you can comment. However I was able to get enough information from the sites to see that while levels are above background near the site, they are not high in relation to health standards. The other piece of good news is that 150 workers have been moved back in to help with operations. I take this as a good sign that they consider the risk acceptable to send in more people although at the same time they are saying that the radiation is too high to begin work on the reactors so you can take what you want from that.

Finally, I want to throw a bouquet out to the Fukushima 50 as they have been called. These brave people were the people who have been working to get things under control over the last 2 days after they evacuated most workers. If there is not a major nuclear incident, it is due to these people.
I think that the next 24 hours are going to be critical and we should have some good indications one way or another by then. Updates are welcome in the comments.

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This page contains a single entry by published on March 17, 2011 4:32 PM.

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