Feeds

Site-saving workers evacuated from Japanese reactor disaster

If radiation drops, they will return. If not...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Application security programs and practises

Updated The Japanese government has ordered the evacuation of the 50 remaining workers at the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) plant, thus bringing at minimum a temporary halt to the efforts to cool the distressed reactors at that increasingly troubled nuclear power plant.

"Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw," reported New Delhi Television and other news outlets.

NDTV quoted Edano as saying: "So the workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now. Because of the radiation risk, we are on standby." Although the workers have been withdrawn, Edano also said that the radiation levels were now falling "from 1,000 millisieverts on Wednesday morning to 600-800," according to the BBC.

The "standby" status follows a second fire at the plant's No. 4 reactor, which broke out on Wednesday, Japan time. The International Business Times reported that that fire had extinguished itself within a half an hour, but other reports note that it is impossible to tell if the fire is extinguished, due to the inability to get close enough to the radioactive site to effectively inspect it.

If the pool in which reactor No. 4's fuel rods are currently boiling away their protective water can be somehow refilled – perhaps from helicopters, although the roof of the building housing that reactor unfortunately wasn't blown away in previous mishaps, which would have allowed for water drops – there's a good chance that the reactor's fuel rods' ziconium tubes won't burst.

If those tubes are not cooled, however, and do catch fire and burst, they'd release the radioactive materials inside them, which would engender a release of radioactivity "thousands of times higher than the levels currently measured at the site," according to The Washington Post.

At this point in time, there's no way of knowing the pool's condition. If the pool at reactor No. 4 is damaged and leaking, it may be impossible to pour enough cooling water into it to keep the fuel rods covered and cooled.

At reactors Nos. 5 and 6, to make matters worse, the water level is also dropping: the International Atomic Energy Agency reported at 3:55 UTC on Wednesday (11:55pm Tuesday in New York) that the water level in the containment pool in reactor No. 5 was "201 cm above the top of the fuel. This was a 40 cm decrease since 07:00 UTC of 15 March."

In addition, according to the Los Angeles Times, "Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said an estimated 70% of the nuclear fuel rods have been damaged at the No. 1 reactor and 33% at the No. 2 reactor." ®

Update

Reuters now reports that Kyodo News has said that the evacuated workers are being allowed back into Fukushima Daiichi, as radiation levels there have subsided to tolerable amounts. Although we have no reason to doubt the Reuters report, as of 11:30pm Pacific Daylight Time The Reg has as yet been unable to turn up the Kyodo News report upon which it is based.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.