The operator of Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant reports that the cooling system of the Unit 2 is fully down, which could lead to overheating of the unit and an explosion, similar to those that occurred on Friday and Monday.
Takako Kitajima, the official of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. informed that the power plant’s staff is preparing to inject seawater into Unit 2 to cool it down, reports Associated Press.
The same problem caused by destructive earthquakes led to the explosion of the Unit 1 on Friday and Unit 3 on Monday.
The radiation level at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, which exploded earlier, is within the security margin, insists the power’s owner Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Earlier reports described a massive column of smoke being seen coming out of the plant’s Unit 3.According to AP news agency, the second blast has left six people injured.
The company says on Monday the radiation level is within 10.65 microsieverts, far less than 500 microsieverts when a nuclear power plant operator must file a report to the government, according to Japanese law.
After the first blast over 180,000 people have been evacuated from the area, up to 160,000 of which may have been exposed to radiation.
Philip White of the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center told RT that at this point it is difficult to estimate the scale of the damage the blast may have caused.
“We understand that the blast has not breached the containment of the reactor, which is very fortunate. That is the current situation, as reported by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company,” he said. “You cannot rule out, at this stage, a full-scale, worst-case scenario and, of course, there are several other nuclear plants in danger as well.”
The first hydrogen explosion, which occurred at Unit 1 of the Fukushima plant on Saturday, injured four people and caused a mass evacuation from the area adjacent to the plant. Following the blast, authorities evacuated 300,000 people living within 30 kilometers of the facility. At least 22 people have reportedly been affected by increased radiation levels.
Japan’s chief government spokesman, Yukio Edano, did warn Sunday that the reactor at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility could begin a meltdown and an explosion might follow. Reports state the reactor’s fuel rods have been exposed to air and were damaged.
Government spokesmen have said that the facility could withstand the second blast, just as the first reactor did on Saturday.
Further concerns were raised after the level of radiation in the nearby Miyagi prefecture increased 400-fold. It is not clear at the moment if the radiation came from the local nuclear plant, which was reported to be functioning properly, or drifted up from the Daiichi facility at Fukushima following Saturday’s explosion.
“I would hazard the guess that [the radiation] is coming from Fukushima Daiichi No 1 [reactor],” suggested Christopher Simons, professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo. “The good news is that a lot of the steam, which escaped in the explosion from Daiichi reactor No. 1 building yesterday, is relatively light isotopes – that is isotopes such as nitrogen-16. These isotopes have very short half-lives and cannot cause long-term damage to human health.”
The government has also assured that the radioactivity released so far does not pose a threat to human health. However, the number of people admitted to hospitals in the area surrounding Fukushima are said to be suffering exposure to radiation.
Meanwhile, in the Miyagi province alone, authorities placed the death toll estimate from the earthquake-triggered tsunami at more than 10,000. The confirmed death toll exceeds 1,800.
In Russia’s Far Eastern Sakhalin Region, located just 10km (6 miles) from Fukushima, officials continue receiving reports from the Japanese authorities about the possibility of a second meltdown. Although the current level of radiation is said to be normal, officials remain on high alert for any changes.
The forecasters consider the predicted wind direction change good news – the wind is now going in the direction of the Pacific Ocean. That means that radioactive material would be carried by the winds blowing out to the Pacific. There is no reason for panic, experts say.
However, Dr. Robert Jacobs, a research associate professor of nuclear history and culture at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, says that these forecasts do not indicate that things are in good shape.
“If the wind is blowing this way it may alleviate any problem in Eastern Russia, it may alleviate any problem in the Korean Peninsula. But it could well bring some amount of radioactive flow-down on the North American continent, on the west coast of the United States.”
Harvey Wasserman, who has written on the subject of a sustainable, green-powered Earth, believes that a country with such a frequency of earthquakes and tsunamis as Japan should never have built nuclear plants.
“This is an endemic problem. We knew it was happening all along. There were many people in Japan that argued against these reactors being built, and now we’re seeing the consequences,” said Wasserman.
Shaun Burnie, nuclear energy consultant, says he would extend those accusations to the world-wide nuclear industry that is trying to conceal and diminish information about the Japanese nuclear crisis.
“In the last few days we’ve seen representatives from the industry, some of them acting as so-called independent experts from the institutes that are funded by the nuke industry, saying that ‘the situation is under control, this was meant to happen, it’s very reassuring, we need more nuclear power’. Nuclear power is inherently unsafe. Earthquakes are one hazard, but there are many more,” Burnie told RT.
Malcolm Grimston, energy expert at London-based think-tank Chatham House, believes there is no danger of massive radiation emission and claims the decision of the Japanese officials to flood the damaged reactors with sea water was quite a sensible one.
“So far, the [nuclear] fuel is still largely in the form that it was during normal operation and it is all contained within the extremely thick steel pressure vessel of its cold that so far is doing its job. Even if this pressure vessel were to be broken and to be breached -and it’s very difficult to imagine that this would happen, – they flooded the first reactor and now the third reactor with sea water which would absorb most of the heat. There would be local emission of radioactive material,” explained Grimston.