Nuclear fears



Huge blast at Japan nuclear power plant

A massive explosion has struck a Japanese nuclear power plant after Friday's devastating earthquake.

A huge pall of smoke was seen coming from the plant at Fukushima and several workers were injured.

Japanese officials fear a meltdown at one of the plant's reactors after radioactive material was detected outside it.

A huge relief operation is under way after the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 600.

Hundreds more people are missing and it is feared about 1,300 may have died.

The offshore earthquake triggered a tsunami which wreaked havoc on Japan's north-east coast, sweeping far inland and devastating a number of towns and villages.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared a state of emergency at the Fukushima 1 and 2 power plants as engineers try to confirm whether a reactor at one of the stations has gone into meltdown.

It is an automatic procedure after nuclear reactors shut down in the event of an earthquake, allowing officials to take rapid action.

Cooling system failure

Television pictures showed a massive blast at one of the buildings of the Fukushima 1 plant, about 250km (160 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

A huge cloud of smoke billows out and large bits of debris are flung far from the building.

Japan's NHK TV showed before and after pictures of the plant. They appeared to show that the outer structure of one of four buildings at the plant had collapsed after the explosion.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant's operator, said four workers had been injured.

It is not yet clear in exactly what part of the plant the explosion occurred or what caused it.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said experts were trying to determine the level of radiation at the site.

Cooling systems inside several reactors at both the Fukushima plants stopped working after Friday's earthquake cut the power supply.

Japan's nuclear agency said on Saturday that radioactive caesium and iodine had been detected near the number one reactor of the Fukushima 1 plant.

The agency said this may indicate that containers of uranium fuel inside the reactor may have begun melting.

Air and steam, with some level of radioactivity, has been released from several of the reactors at both plants in an effort to relieve the huge amount of pressure building up inside.

Mr Kan said the amount of radiation released was "tiny".

Thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate the area within a 10-km radius of the plant. BBC correspondent Nick Ravenscroft said police stopped him 60km from the Fukushima 1 plant.

Analysts say a meltdown would not necessarily lead to a major disaster because light-water reactors would not explode even if they overheated.

But Walt Patterson, of the London research institute Chatham House, said "this is starting to look a lot like Chernobyl".

He said it was too early to tell if the explosion's aftermath would result in the same extreme level of radioactive contamination that occurred at Chernobyl.

The explosion was most likely caused by melting fuel coming into contact with water, he told the BBC.

The 8.9-magnitude tremor struck in the afternoon local time on Friday off the coast of Honshu island at a depth of about 24km, 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

It was nearly 8,000 times stronger than last month's quake in New Zealand that devastated the city of Christchurch, scientists said.

Some of the same search and rescue teams from around the world that helped in that disaster are now on their way to Japan.


Source: BBC News

Comments

Montse said…
I only can say that I’m glad this country is prepared for situations like this otherwise the consequences would have been worse. We’ll see what happens about the explosion in the nuclear power plant.
Alida said…
I think that Japan situation is very complicated after the tsunami. Japan is the best prepared country to face up earthquakes in the world, but in this case 2 natural phenomenon’s have taken place at the same time. I think that the probability that could happen an earthquake 9.0 in the Richter scale is very remote even in a country like Japan (that is a country of earthquakes) and then, a tsunami too is incredible.
It was a pile-up of two phenomenons, that is very unlikely that they happen (even separately), but they have happened consecutive. When we believe that nothing worse could happen, the Earth warns us. The Earth doesn't understand of probabilities!
From my point of view the Fukushima nuclear power plant situation is very dangerous but I hope that Japanese nuclear experts, with the help of other countries, can find the best solution to avoid an explosion into the reactors like Chernobyl.
I think that none nuclear power plant in the world is preparing now to face up an earthquake plus a tsunami and we should learn of it in the future.
It's important to indicate that every people only talk about of nuclear power plants and its dangerous radiation but I think that is very important don’t forget that in Japan there was one refinery that was destroyed by fire and its gas emissions and chemical products, that there were inside, and are very dangerous too. Perhaps people are already breathing dangerous substances of this plant.
Japan is the third world power. They have important chemical companies and is probably that they are in a dangerous situation too.
Japan is suffering the worse situation of its history and I hope the damages are as small as possible taking into account the magnitude of the disaster.
Japanese people are going to get out of this one. They're demonstrating that they are a model population!
Graham said…
Montse:

I agree. The death toll would have been much greater in most other countries.

Having said that, let's just hope that they are able to keep control of the nuclear situation.


I CAN ONLY SAY....

I get the impression that your written work is improving a lot. I am finding fewer and fewer mistakes.

Great! Keep it up.
Graham said…
Alida:

It is difficult to know what is really going on. The news from Japan is changing continually though in the last couple of days it appears to be just getting worse.

Let's hope that the worse case scenario doesn't become reality.



I think that THE situation IN Japan is very complicated after the tsunami. Japan is the best prepared country to FACE UP TO/DEAL WITH earthquakes in the world, but in this case 2 natural PHENOMENONS have taken place at the same time. I think that the probability/CHANCES that an earthquake 9.0 in the Richter scale COULD HAPPEN, even in a country like Japan (that is a country of earthquakes), IS REMOTE. AND TO BE FOLLOWED BY a tsunami too, is incredible.

It was a COLLISION (a "pile up" is a traffic accient involving lots of vehicles) of two phenomenons, that is very unlikely that they happen (even separately), but they have happened CONSECUTIVELY. When we believe that nothing worse could happen, the Earth warns us. The Earth HAS NO UNDERSTANDING OF /doesn't UNDERSTAND probabilities!

From my point of view, the Fukushima nuclear power plant situation is very dangerous but I hope that THE Japanese nuclear experts, with the help of other countries, can find the best solution to avoid an explosion IN the reactors like Chernobyl.

I think that NO nuclear power plant in the world is preparing now to DEAL WITH an earthquake plus a tsunami BUT we should learn FROM it FOR the future.

It's important to indicate that EVERYONE only TALKS about nuclear power plants and its dangerous radiation but I think that is very IMPORTANT NOT TO forget that in Japan there was one refinery that was destroyed by fire and its gas emissions and chemical products that were inside are very dangerous too.
Japan is the third world power. They have important chemical companies and they ARE PROBABLY in a dangerous situation too.

THE Japanese people are going to get out of this one.