Energy

U.S. Experts Fear Japan Chernobyl Type Crisis in Japan

ChannelNewsAsia | US nuclear experts warned Saturday that pumping sea water to cool a quake-hit Japanese nuclear reactor was an "act of desperation" that may foreshadow a Chernobyl-like disaster. Several experts, in a conference call with reporters, also predicted that regardless of the outcome at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, the accident will seriously damage the nuclear power renaissance.

"The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don't have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilize it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water," said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

"I would describe this measure as a 'Hail Mary' pass," added Alvarez, using American football slang for a final effort to win the game as time expires.

New Problem With 3rd Reactor in Japan

Reuters | A quake-hit Japanese nuclear plant reeling from an explosion at one of its reactors has also lost its emergency cooling system at another reactor, Japan's nuclear power safety agency said on Sunday. The emergency cooling system is no longer functioning at the No.3 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, requiring the facility to urgently secure a means to supply water to the reactor, an official of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference.

New Plan to Fill Reactor With Sea Water

Reuters (Africa) | Tokyo Electric Power Co plans to fill a leaking reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant with sea water to cool it down and reduce pressure in the unit, Japan's top government spokesman said on Saturday.

"The nuclear reactor is surrounded by a steel reactor container, which is then surrounded by a concrete building," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.

"The concrete building collapsed. We found out that the reactor container inside didn't explode."

Japan earlier in the day warned of a meltdown at the reactor at the plant, damaged when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast, but said the risk of radiation contamination was small.

"We've confirmed that the reactor container was not damaged. The explosion didn't occur inside the reactor container. As such there was no large amount of radiation leakage outside," he said.

Japan Nuclear Plant Meltdown


Nikkei | The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said Saturday afternoon the explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could only have been caused by a meltdown of the reactor core.

The same day, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), which runs the plant, began to flood the damaged reactor with seawater to cool it down, resorting to measures that could rust the reactor and force the utility to scrap it.

Cesium and iodine, by-products of nuclear fission, were detected around the plant, which would make the explosion the worst accident in the roughly 50-year history of Japanese nuclear power generation.

An explosion was heard near the plant's No. 1 reactor about 3:30 p.m. and plumes of white smoke went up 10 minutes later. The ceiling of the building housing the reactor collapsed, according to information obtained by Fukushima prefectural authorities.

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Japan May Have Only Hours To Avoid Meltdown


Reuters |  Japanese officials may only have hours to cool reactors that have been disabled by Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami or face a nuclear meltdown.Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) (9501.T) is racing to cool down the reactor core after a highly unusual "station blackout" -- the total loss of power necessary to keep water circulating through the plant to prevent overheating.

Daiichi Units 1, 2 and 3 reactors shut down automatically at 2:46 p.m. local time due to the earthquake. But about an hour later, the on-site diesel back-up generators also shut, leaving the reactors without alternating current (AC) power.

That caused Tepco to declare an emergency and the government to evacuate thousands of people from near the plant. Such a blackout is "one of the most serious conditions that can affect a nuclear plant," according to experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S. based nuclear watchdog group.

"If all AC power is lost, the options to cool the core are limited," the group warned.

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