Japanese Government: High Radiation Due To Partial Meltdown – TEPCO Admits Crisis May Last For ‘Months Or Years’

* Battle to control Fukushima plant seen far from over

* Japan crisis helps tip Germany poll against Merkel

* More than 27,000 dead or missing from quake and tsunami

* Magnitude 6.5 quake in north Japan triggers small tsunami

* Low-level radiation found in Massachusetts rainwater (Updates with Edano’s comments on melted fuel rods)

TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) – The high level of radiation in water flooding the basement of a reactor at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is likely due to a partial melting of fuel rods after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the government said on Monday.

“The radiation seems to have come from fuel rods that were partially melted down and came in contact with the water used to cool the reactor,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference. “Steam may have condensed … carrying water from within the containment vessel.”

The partial meltdown would have happened after the tsunami crashed through the reactor and knocked out its cooling system.

His comments suggested there was no crack in the containment vessel in reactor No. 2, as some had feared, and he was not suggesting that there had been a fresh meltdown.

“The airborne radiation is mainly contained within the reactor building. We must make sure this water does not seep out into the soil or out to sea,” he said.

Engineers have been battling to control the six-reactor Fukushima complex since the earthquake, which left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across Japan’s northeast.

Fires, explosions, and radiation leaks have repeatedly forced them to suspend work on averting a catastrophic meltdown at the plant, which lies 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

With no clear progress at the facility for days now, the autorities appear to be resigned to a long fight to contain the world’s most dangerous atomic crisis in 25 years.

“I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we were led to believe,” said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to stabilise the situation and the United Nations should step in.

“This is far beyond what one nation can handle – it needs to be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council. In my humble opinion, this is more important than the Libya no fly zone.”

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown.

“Regrettably, we don’t have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over),” TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.

SEA RADIATION DROPS SHARPLY

Radiation at the nuclear plant has soared in recent days, with a reading on Sunday showing contamination 100,000 times normal in water at reactor No. 2.

But radiation levels in the nearby sea, which had soared on Sunday to 1,850 times normal, had come down sharply, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told a news conference on Monday.

Though experts said radiation in the Pacific waters will quickly dissipate, the levels at the site are clearly dangerous, and the 450 or so engineers there have won admiration and sympathy around the world for their bravery and sense of duty.

Last week, two workers at Fukushima were injured with radiation burns to their legs after water seeped over their shoes, and on Sunday engineers had to abandon reactor No. 2 after the new reading.

Beyond the evacuation zone around Fukushima, traces of radiation have turned up in tap water in Tokyo 240 km (150 miles) to the south and even in rainwater samples in Massachusetts.

Japanese officials and international nuclear experts have generally said the levels away from the plant are not dangerous for humans, who anyway face higher radiation doses on a daily basis from natural substances, X-rays or plane flights.

In downtown Tokyo, a Reuters reading on Monday morning showed ambient radiation of 0.20 microsieverts per hour, well within the global average of naturally occurring background radiation of 0.17-0.39 microsieverts per hour. In Yamagata, a town about 110 km (70 miles) northwest of the stricken plant, the reading was just 0.15.

Two of the complex’s six reactors are now seen as safe but the other four are volatile, sometimes emitting steam and smoke.

Experts are anxious to find out whether the reactor cores are broken and leaking, as that could lead to a meltdown.

CHERNOBYL ECHOES

One long-term solution may be to entomb the Fukushima reactors in sand and concrete as happened at Chernobyl, Ukraine, after the 1986 disaster that was the world’s worst.

The Japan crisis has prompted a reassessment of nuclear power across the world. It had its most direct political impact yet in foreign politics in Germany at the weekend.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats lost control of Germany’s most prosperous state, Baden-Wuerttemberg, as anti-nuclear sentiment benefited her opponents in a regional vote.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has kept a low profile during the crisis, but may face awkward questions after Kyodo news agency said his visit to the region the day after the disaster delayed TEPCO’S response to the unfolding situation.

The nuclear crisis has compounded Japan’s agony after the magnitude 9.0 quake and massive tsunami devastated its northeast coast, turning whole towns into apocalyptic-looking landscapes of mud and debris.

Residents there have been repeatedly rattled by aftershocks from the strongest earthquake in Japanese history, including a magnitude 6.5 tremor on Monday that triggered a tsunami warning.

The latest death toll was 10,804 people, with 16,244 still missing 17 days after the disaster. About a quarter of a million people are living in shelters.

Damage could top $300 billion, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster.

A Japanese scientist said if Japan had spent more on infrastructure it could have lessened the tsunami’s impact, but has become too reliant on low-cost measures such as handing out warning maps.

Japan should invoke Western-style urban planning to keep houses and hospitals further from the coast as it rebuilds from the crippling disaster, said Fumihiko Imamura, a professor at Tohoku University’s Disaster Control Research Centre.

Japan’s cash-strapped government has moved away in recent years from costly projects such as increasing the height of sea walls to budget measures like producing maps that show which areas are at lower sea levels, he said.

“We cooperate with the government on tsunami counter-measures, but there has been less financing and sometimes there isn’t enough for the construction of structural measures,” Imamura said in an interview on Sunday.

“Now, the government’s focus has shifted to non-structural measures, because they are cheaper.”

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Kubota
Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:18am EDT

Source: Reuters

See also:

US, Europe: Radiation and Jetstream FORECAST UPDATE (March 27, 2011)

Updating Japan’s Nuclear Disaster

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Tests Find Radiation Levels At 100,000 Times Normal In No. 2 Reactor, Reactor May Be Leaking Water

Japan’s Government Asks Water Treatment Plants Not To Take In Radioactive Rainwater

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Engineers Toil To Pump Radioactive Nuclear Plant Water Into The Ocean

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Workers Try To Pump Out Radioactive Water From Reactors – Radiation Levels Soar To 10,000 Times Above Safety Limit

Japan Nuclear Crisis: The Four Destroyed Reactors at Fukushima Was About 70 Billion Lethal Doses, finely divided

Japan Nuclear Crisis: This Is Like Admitting That MOX Reactor No. 3 Has Been Breached And Has Released Plutonium

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Close-Up Aerial Video of Wrecked Reactors at Fukushima (25.03.2011)

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: High Levels of Radiation Leaking From Reactor No. 3

Japan Nuclear Crisis: High-Radiation Leaks In Fukushima Reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Fukushima Nuclear Plant Emitted A Neutron Beam 13 Separate Times

Fukushima Engineer Says He Helped In Cover-Up: Fukushima Reactor No. 4 Built With Flawed Steel, Has A Faulty Reactor Inside

Dr. Chris Busby: Fukushima Now 72,000 Times Hiroshima Radiation

Japan Government on Fukushima: ‘We Are Not Able To Measure The Amount Of Radiation Coming From The Power Plant’

The Dying ‘Fukushima Fifty’

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Reactor 3 ‘Nightmare’ – Reactor 1 ‘Worry’: Core Now At 380 Degrees Celsius, 80 More Than NORMAL Running Temperature

Japan Officials Say HIGH SEAWATER RADIATION LEVELS Are NO Cause For Alarm

Japan’s Science Ministry: Radiation Now Exceeds 400 Times Normal 40 km From Fukushima

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Radioactive Iodine Content In Sea Water At 126.7 Times Limit, Caesium At 24.8 Times Limit

Germany Keeps Radiation Measurements Secret Since Japan Nuclear Disaster

WHO On Japan Food Radiation: ‘It’s A Lot More Serious Than Anybody Thought’

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Emergency Evacuation Of Workers Ordered After Reactor No. 3 Emits Black Smoke

Director General of Finland’s Nuclear Safety Authority Warns Japan About Using Seawater To Cool Fukushima Reactors

Japan’s Health Ministry Tells Villagers Not To Drink Radioactive Tap Water

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Fukushima Workers Cut Off From Their Families To Prevent The Truth From Leaking Out

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Mayor Urges Evacuation After Discovering Government Ignored, Misled Him And His People About True Dangers Of Nuclear Fallout

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Partially Accurate MSM Reporting Now Reduced To Lies And Propaganda

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Total Information Blackout On Fukushima Unit 4 Reactor

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: It’s Getting Worse in Tokyo – Why The Dangers Are Stratospherically Higher Than Even US Officials Are Admitting

Japan Finds Radioactive Food Up To 90 Miles From Fukushima Nuclear Site

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Multiple Times Worse than Chernobyl

TEPCO Director Weeps After Finally Admitting The Truth About Fukushima Disaster: Radiation Leak Is Serious Enough To Kill People

Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant In Japan: A Dirty Bomb Waiting To Go Off

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: US Calls Radiation Levels ‘Extremely High’ – Fuel Pool Has Burned Dry At The No. 4 Reactor, Leaving Fuel Rods Stored There Exposed And Bleeding Radiation

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: French minister: ‘Let’s not beat about the bush, they’ve essentially lost control’ – Radiation Levels Stop Military Helicopters From Dumping Water

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: Radiation Levels 6,600 Times Normal 20km Away from Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan Nuclear Meltdown: It’s Much, Much Worse Than It Looks (Thanks To The Stupidity of Nuclear Engineers!) (MUST-READ!)

Israeli Nuclear Expert Accuses Japan Of Downplaying Danger Nuclear Calamity: ‘If there is fallout of plutonium oxide, a most toxic substance that they use in the reactor that exploded, no one will be able to set foot on the site for thousands of years’

1 thought on “Japanese Government: High Radiation Due To Partial Meltdown – TEPCO Admits Crisis May Last For ‘Months Or Years’

  1. This site is full of it!
    There is NO WAY! you could get “contaminated rainwater” especially not thousands of miles away from where it happened!
    Once water has evapourated and dissipated, radiation gone! Just like your economy!

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