Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Crisis: Is the U.S. in Danger?

Quick Timeline (Summary):

In Yamagata, Japan, The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was severely damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.  The natural disaster triggered a series of destructive explosions which compromised the nuclear reactors and spent fuel storage tanks.

On Friday, March 11th, Japanese Engineers worked to restore a power cable to the crippled nuclear power plant in the hope of restarting pumps desperately needed to pour cold water on overheating fuel rods and avert a catastrophic release of radiation.

Today, emergency workers tried everything they could think of to douse one of the plant's dangerously overheated nuclear reactors: helicopters, heavy-duty fire trucks, even water cannons normally used to quell rioters. But they couldn't be sure any of it was easing the peril at the tsunami-ravaged facility. Three reactors have already had partial meltdowns and it looks like they are in for another.

Low levels of radiation have been detected well beyond Tokyo, which is 140 miles (220 kilometers) south of the plant, thousands have evacuated so far.

A senior official with the U.N.'s nuclear safety agency said there had been "no significant worsening" at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant but that the situation remained "very serious."

What are the concerns of Americans?

The pools used to store spent nuclear fuel: Some of the pools are dry or nearly empty and the rods could heat up and spew radiation.

The nuclear fuel rods in two reactors were only about half covered with water, and in a third they were also not completely submerged. (So basically, dry = hot = radiation = danger)

If the fuel is not fully covered, rising temperatures and pressure will increase the chances of complete meltdowns that would release much larger amounts of radioactive material than the failing plant has emitted so far. (See told ya)

"So I want to be very clear:" says, President Barack Obama"We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it’s the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific.  Let me repeat that:  We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories in the Pacific." You don't believe me, watch it here.

The chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission states that we have "nothing to worry about" that that based on "facts and science" there is not a threat of the radioactivity reaching the U.S. You don't believe me, watch it here.

What is the U.S. suggesting and offering to Japan?

U.S. is recommending a 50-mile evacuation zone for its citizens, a much stronger measure than Japan has taken.

To calm our panicked souls, President Barack Obama is asking for a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear plant safety.

How do any of you feel? Scared? Safe? Do you think this disaster will have any other affect on Americans?

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