A clinical Japan update

The first Fukushima Nuclear Plant has four reactors. At the moment, 181 workers are at the plant trying to control the situation despite the high levels of radiation being emitted.  There are normally 800 people who work at the plant and all but 73 people were evacuated on the morning of March 15th. Since then, 108 workers have returned, knowing the risks, to try to contain the situation.

The level around reactors 1-3 was measured at 400 millisieverts/hour on March 15th. It has stayed at about that level since then.

In the number 4 reactor, the water level in the storage tank for the used fuel rods has fallen and radiation levels are so high that people cannot safely get near it. At the moment, workers are observing it using a monitor.

3rd reactor in foreground and smouldering 4th reactor in background

Workers wear a radiation suit, gas mask, helmet and a gieger counter and are limited to 37 minutes of exposure near the reactors. They have connected a fire extinguishing hose to the central storage unit and are pumping seawater in. When the engine runs out of fuel or there is some trouble with the pump, someone has to go and fix it.

Workers are unable to stay in the two control rooms nearest to the reactors as the radiation levels are so high. When they need to check the temperature or water levels, they have to suit up and go and check and then retreat to a safe distance once their 37 minutes are up.

The rubble from the explosion of the outer concrete buildings has also made things difficult. Some of the rubble has been moved from around the 2 – 4th reactors using a bulldozer to workers can gain access, but this rubble also contains radiative particles and so they do not want to move it more than necessary.

At 10:20am on March 16th, they measured 2399 millisieverts the front gate of the power plant. By 10:30am this had dropped to 1361 millisieverts.

8 train lines in the affected area, covering about 450km are totally out of operation and there is no estimate when they will become operational again. 150 sections of platforms are damaged, 100 sections of track have been raised or twisted and 3 whole stations have been washed away. The bullet train has resumed previously resumed operations to Nagano and to Nasushiobara from Tokyo.

3676 bodies have been found and 7845 people are still missing. Several local councils are looking at burying the bodies instead of cremating them due to short supplies of fuel.

Cars lining up for fuel several hours before the petrol station even opens
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3 thoughts on “A clinical Japan update”

  1. Looking forward to the time when nuclear fuel, oil or other dangerous and/or inconvenient stuff does not have to be used to obtain energy. I am certain that we will discover how to use zero point energy before long.

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