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Radiation Grips Japan - Tokyo in Trouble

askbob
Posts: 7,254
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3/15/2011 7:41:26 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog that a spent fuel storage pond caught fire at a reactor damaged by the earthquake and radioactivity had been "released directly into the atmosphere", the Vienna-based agency said. The blaze was later extinguished, The Associated Press reported.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing information it had received from Japanese authorities, said dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the Fukushima power plant site.
Interactive: How a nuclear plant works

It did not give details or comparisons on the radiation level but the yearly background radiation from natural sources is estimated at around 3 millisieverts, a unit the IAEA uses to measure doses of radiation received by people.

The French Embassy in Tokyo warned in an 9 p.m. ET advisory that a low level of radioactive wind could reach Tokyo in about 10 hours, advising citizens to leave the city.

In a sign of mounting fears about the risk of radiation, neighboring China said it was strengthening monitoring and Air China said it had canceled flights to Tokyo.

More Reading: http://www.msnbc.msn.com...
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Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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3/15/2011 10:24:36 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
To be a little more specific, all this is occuring at the Fukushima power plant, which has 6 reactors (only 3 were operational at the time, as reactors 4 - 6 were shut down for maintainence at the time). The fire of spent fuel was on reactor 4, which released radiation into the atmosphere, mostly I-131 (which has a half life of 8 days) and Cs-137 (which has a half life of 30 years).

The 400 mSv is considerably more radaition than the average person sees in a year, however, it is important to note that it is not a dooms day cloud, coming to kill Tokyo (as some of my co-workers seem to think). A dose of 2 Sv (5 times what was released) will cause mild radiation poisoning (nausea and vomiting) about 1-2 days after the exposure. When you get up to about 3.5 Sv (over 8 times what was released), you start to have more serious risks, as symptoms will set-in in about 12 hours to 1 day and they can get worse, where the vomit has blood in it and death becomes a possibility (death is always a risk to the elderly and child, just like it is with the flu). A dose of 8 Sv (20 times what was released) is the LD50 for radiation (meaning that 50% of the people that are exposed to that level will die).
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lewis20
Posts: 5,093
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3/15/2011 11:45:42 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
So there was an explosion at one of the reactors that wasn't even online and a fire in the spent fuel storage pond? They just can't catch a break can they.
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Ore_Ele
Posts: 25,980
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3/15/2011 12:13:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 3/15/2011 11:45:42 AM, lewis20 wrote:
So there was an explosion at one of the reactors that wasn't even online and a fire in the spent fuel storage pond? They just can't catch a break can they.

Yes, I haven't heard how the hydrogen got their to cause the explosion. The release of hydrogen gas is a sign of exposed fuel rods (when they contact steam in the air, they oxidize it and release the hydrogen as a gas). Since they were shut down, all the control rods should have been down, so reactions and heat should be minimized, even with power issues.

However, if they pulled some of the cooling water from 4, 5, and 6 to help with 1, 2, and 3 (I wouldn't be surprised if they did that and didn't tell anyone), I could see some hydrogen buildup from that. Though the hydrogen explosions are not really dangerous to the reactors, just hazardous to the workers and meaning more rebuilding needed.

The structures which are being blown apart are not designed to actually provide a layer of protection for the reactor, but only to shield it from the weather, so they weren't desigened to be very sturdy in the first place (compared to the rest of the reactor).
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InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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3/16/2011 7:07:11 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I'm on the west coast of Canada and there has been talk of some radiation possibly being carried over here, more so if the entire plant melts down, which seems like a very real possibility at this point. http://www.telegraph.co.uk... Anyway, if that happens and there's warnings or something I'm likely going to find a way to flee to the east coast(I have relatives and friends in Ontario).
Ore_Ele
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3/17/2011 6:04:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 3/16/2011 7:07:11 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
I'm on the west coast of Canada and there has been talk of some radiation possibly being carried over here, more so if the entire plant melts down, which seems like a very real possibility at this point. http://www.telegraph.co.uk... Anyway, if that happens and there's warnings or something I'm likely going to find a way to flee to the east coast(I have relatives and friends in Ontario).

That actually isn't really possible, and a melt down would actually decrease that possibility.

The only way that radiation travels through the air (with wind currents and such, though that is radioactive material, not radiation) is when particles get released in the air, either by a fire (sending up smoke) or through steam (sending steam up into the air).

But we should remember that a cloud of radioactive particles is not as deadly as people would have you believe. When Chernobyl blew in 1986, it sent radioavtive particles over ALL OF EUROPE, yet people managed to survive, rather well. In fact, outside of the Ukraine, I don't believe that a single death was caused by Chernobyl. So even if the reactors were to blow wide open (which they won't, since there is no long any issues with the reactors, only the spent fuel), you'd still be completely safe.
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Greyparrot
Posts: 14,325
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3/18/2011 5:31:36 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 3/17/2011 6:04:57 PM, OreEle wrote:
At 3/16/2011 7:07:11 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
I'm on the west coast of Canada and there has been talk of some radiation possibly being carried over here, more so if the entire plant melts down, which seems like a very real possibility at this point. http://www.telegraph.co.uk... Anyway, if that happens and there's warnings or something I'm likely going to find a way to flee to the east coast(I have relatives and friends in Ontario).

That actually isn't really possible, and a melt down would actually decrease that possibility.

The only way that radiation travels through the air (with wind currents and such, though that is radioactive material, not radiation) is when particles get released in the air, either by a fire (sending up smoke) or through steam (sending steam up into the air).

But we should remember that a cloud of radioactive particles is not as deadly as people would have you believe. When Chernobyl blew in 1986, it sent radioavtive particles over ALL OF EUROPE, yet people managed to survive, rather well. In fact, outside of the Ukraine, I don't believe that a single death was caused by Chernobyl. So even if the reactors were to blow wide open (which they won't, since there is no long any issues with the reactors, only the spent fuel), you'd still be completely safe.

I am pretty sure unless you get significant radiation dosage over a period of time, you would not see many ill effects to your health. In the Navy, we were always monitored with dosimeters to see what our daily intake of radiation was. Believe it or not, the Navy sets an allowable weekly radiation quota that you can reach in a day and then be excluded from nuclear duty the rest of the week and be perfectly fine. Airborne radiation is by far the most harmful as you are susceptible to the dangerous alpha particles. A major explosion would have to occur as OreEle said. A melting of the fuel rods just keeps the radiation contained in that local area. It is also much less likely as the fuel gets dispersed from melting that it will have the opportunity to go super critical (like a bomb). I would be surprised with all the experts there, if that were allowed to happen at this point anyway. I think it is just natural for the scary news when people do not understand just how much radiation it takes to actually get them sick. Chernobyl was as bad as any accident could ever get, bad design, total human error, and an explosion while the reactor core was running at full power with a high radiation rate. Japan's reactors were all shut down before the tidal waves hit and they are only having to deal with decay heat from the reactor cores. Japan will never even come close to the airborne radiation Chernobyl released, even if terrorists were to go in there right now with explosives and blow up the fuel rods, since the cores are shut down. The real question I have is just how absolutely crappy were those Japanese backup generators that were totally taken out by the tidal wave?
Marauder
Posts: 3,271
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3/19/2011 11:09:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
On top of the radiation, it seems running as far to Tokyo to escape that problem may be a bad idea, with the potential volcanic eruption their http://abc.az...
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