Following the 9.0 earthquake yesterday 60km off the north eastern coast of Japan near Sendai and the resulting nuclear plant failure at Fukushima I spoke with our friend Dino, whose father is a Nuclear Physicist (PhD) & worked in the research field in Japan for many years. He’s advised Dino & friends to get as far away as possible.
Nuclear stations work like this.
Each reactor at Fukushima had a diesel generator which would have been used to control the cooling water pump – but some of the fuel tanks & engines have been damaged beyond use by the Tsunami so TEPCO staff have no way of pumping water to cool the reactor cores that went into Auto-Shutdown but still have a lot of residual heat & a fire has broken out.
Without cooling some reactor cores have been overheating and eventually superheated steam needed to be released or begin to leak. When superheated steam is released it breaks down into Hydrogen & oxygen, which is highly flamable & radioactive, albeit with a half life of around 30 seconds.
One of the reactor's roofs has already been blown off today, so now we have a fire that’s releasing at least radioactive hydrogen into the atmosphere. If there is Caesium & Iodine, these are by products of nuclear fishion which would occur in the event of partial meltdown. Click here for further explanation.
Iodine 131 has a half life of 8 days, but Caesium 137 has a half life of about 30 years and it's salts are all very soluble in water and both of these are produced in the event of a partial meltdown. The dangers of leakage as serious.
Another danger with meltdown is that the temperatures are so high, that such a fire is extremely difficult to put out. As there are 5 other reactors there’s a very good chance some of these reactors may overheat and possibly experience at least partial meltdown.
Chernobyl’s disaster caused fallout to spread very large distances because it exploded with no containment, but this is a boiling light water reactor, which is apparently never likely to explode, so the chances of particles of uranium or plutonium being released into the atmosphere are very slim...
Dino’s father has advised being a distance of at least 500km from the power station & further if possible. Mark, his family, Mike, his family and ourselves are heading to Shodoshima, leaving tonight. We'll be approx 900km away there, which is much safer. No point in taking chances.
We want to get a good head start in case they really cannot put the fire out – because once the word gets out (Media & government are being very quiet about this whole disaster – the prime minister’s speech a few mins ago basically said nothing) tommorow or so, the roads could become chaotic and this may be more dangerous than being at home. Without knowing what's in the air we don't want to be caught in rain.
At the moment the winds at the power station are offshore (Towards Hawaii) but come sunrise there's a good chance they'll turn in another direction.
Our prayers are with all in Japan.