More resources and updates (as of March 16, 2011, 1600PM EDT) about the status of Japanese nuclear plants and the situation surrounding them. I think the good news is the information pertaining to the restoration of electrical power at the Fukushima Daiichi site (see bellow) :
Japan has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to send experts to help it deal with the crisis at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant following last Friday’s deadly earthquake, a top Japanese diplomat in Vienna said Tuesday.
Kyodo News has a page dedicated to the situation in Japan. It’s being updated several times each day. Each update is fully accessible (no subscription needed).
DigitalGlobe has released a new satellite image of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear site in Japan taken at 9:35AM local time on March 16, 2011 (see figure 1). Damage to the Unit 1 reactor building from a previous explosion can still be seen. Damage to the Unit 3 reactor building from an explosion can be seen as well. Steam can still be seen emitted from the top of the damaged building. The angle of this new image, however, shows what appears to be more extensive damage to the Unit 3 reactor building than can be seen in previous satellite imagery. The image also shows damage to the reactor building for Unit 4 from an explosion. Steam can be seen venting out of a hole in the side of the reactor building for Unit 2. Workers likely removed a panel in the side of the building to vent the steam.
France’s ASN nuclear safety authority said on Tuesday the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant could now be classed as level six out of an international scale of one to seven.
The American think tank ISIS issued a similar statement on Tuesday:
ISIS assesses that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has worsened considerably. The explosion in the Unit 2 reactor, the third so far, and the fire in the spent fuel pond in the reactor building for Unit 4 means that this accident can no longer be viewed as a level 4 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events (INES) scale that ranks events from 1 to 7. A level 4 incident involves only local radiological consequences. This event is now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7.
It is important to notice that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not changed the classification of the event at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1: see its Update on Japan Earthquake page (it’s still level 4)
Here’s the WHO’s dedicated page for the Japan earthquake where all the reports (along with additional resources) can be found.
At approximately 6:00 am, March 15th, an explosive sound occurred and the damage in the 5th floor roof of Unit 4 reactor building was confirmed. At 9:38 am, the fire near the north-west part of 4th floor of Unit 4 reactor building was confirmed. At approximately 11:00 am, TEPCO employee confirmed that the fire was off.
At approximately 5:45 am, a TEPCO employee discovered a fire at the northwest corner of the Nuclear Reactor Building. TEPCO immediately reported this incident to the fire department and the local government and prepared to extinguish the fire. However, during an inspection at approximately 6:15 am, TEPCO staff found no signs of fire.
Although unit 4 was under a 105-day long outage, the fire raised some concerns because of the presence pf spent fuel in the unit’s spent fuel pool. For more information about spent fuel, see “Unit 2 Explosion and Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool Fire” over at the MIT’s NSE Nuclear information hub. This blog was setup and is maintained by the students of the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT to provide adequate information about the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant. It’s worth reading.
Units 1 and 2: TEPCO has released estimates of the levels of core damage at these two reactors: 70% damage at Unit 1 and 33% at Unit 2. They have also stated that Unit 1 is being adequately cooled.
News reports that high radiation levels led to the evacuation of all workers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are not accurate. Workers were evacuated for about an hour but returned to the site to continue efforts to restore safe conditions at the plant.
Restoration of electrical power to the site was under way at the Daiichi plant as of 6:00 a.m. EDT Wednesday. A temporary cable was being connected between an off-site power line and Daiichi reactor 3. Off-site power has not been available at the site since the earthquake on March 11.
MARK – So they really need to work on the transparency and um, I think that the Japanese government has got to ensure that that happens and they’re transparent with the general public.
EVELYN – Well, I think that’s especially important, because if you’re not transparent, there’s going to be all sorts of false information that’s circulating around and you don’t want that, because you don’t want people either to under- or over-react to a situation. You want them to have the proper information so that they can make an informed decision. Wouldn’t you agree with that, Dad?
MARK – I- I think if, if, if there’s someone like myself, that has y’know, a significant understanding of how these plants work and you’re having difficulty piecing together the different pieces of information that are available, then I don’t know how you would expect someone in the general public to be able to know what’s going on. So again, I think that there’s gotta be more transparency and more communication relative to this event that’s occurring at the Fukushima Plant.
Previously on Aphelis:
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