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Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’

What Does Fukushima’s New “Level 7” Status Mean?

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

Internationally recognized symbol.

Warning You are repeating the same MISTAKE!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110412/wl_time/httpecocentricblogstimecom20110411whatdoesfukushimae28099snewe2809clevel7e2809dstatusmeanxidrssfullworldyahoo;_ylt=Ak4VUwEjp_Qj2Er6Ly0CkY9vaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTVrYXBtbWdqBGFzc2V0A3RpbWUvMjAxMTA0MTIvaHR0cGVjb2NlbnRyaWNibG9nc3RpbWVjb20yMDExMDQxMXdoYXRkb2VzZnVrdXNoaW1hZTI4MDk5c25ld2UyODA5Y2xldmVsN2UyODA5ZHN0YXR1c21lYW54aWRyc3NmdWxsd29ybGR5YWhvbwRwb3MDNwRzZWMDeW5fYXJ0aWNsZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA3doYXRkb2VzZnVrdQ–

By KRISTA MAHR Krista Mahr Tue Apr 12, 6:40 am ET

Japanese officials announced on Tuesday morning that they were planning to raise the event level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from a 5 to the maximum level of 7, the highest on the international scale for nuclear incidents and the same level assigned to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine.

The decision was made after Japan‘s nuclear safety body determined that at one point after the March 11 earthquake, the plant was releasing 10,000 terabecquerels of iodine-131 for several hours; level 7 accidents are defined as releasing tens of thousands of terabecquerels. “The INES rating itself is not an indicator of a daily phenomena, but the assessment after careful consideration and calculation on the event that happened in the past,” Ken Morita of NISA told TIME on Tuesday morning. (See inside Japan’s nuclear wasteland.)

NISA has also noted, however, that the amount of radioactive material being released at Fukushima today is less than 1 terabecquerel. The agency says that, to date, Fukushima has only released about 10% of total radiation released 25 years ago in Chernobyl, or about 1.8 million terabecquerels. About 30 people, mostly workers, died in the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl, though the UN has estimated that the long-term death toll due to exposure could eventually be as high as 4000.

The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), designed in 1989 by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the OECD, ranges from 1 (anomaly) to 7 (major accident). The scale is intended to help easily communicate with the public to indicate the seriousness of a nuclear event. Chernobyl is the only other nuclear accident to have been given a 7, an accident classified as having a major radioactive release with widespread impact on the environment and public health. According to INES, “Such a release would result in the possibility of acute health effects; delayed health effects over a wide area, possibly involving more than one country; long-term environmental consequences.” (Read the IAEA’s glossary of short- to long-term health effects of radiation exposure here.) (See the world’s top 10 environmental disasters.)

Besides Chernobyl, the only event that’s come close to a 7 before was a 1957 accident at a fuel processing plant (where spent nuclear fuel is recycled into new fuel) in Russia, in which an off-site release of radiation prompted preventative evacuations. The Three Mile Island accident in the U.S. in 1978, in which a reactor core was severely damage but off-site release of radioactivity was limited, was classified as a 5. Almost all reported events at nuclear facilities are a level 3 or under, according to INES.

Tuesday’s announcement comes on the back of a minor fire spotted by workers outside Fukushima’s reactor 4 on Tuesday morning, shortly after the second of three major aftershocks to hit the beleaguered northeast in the space of 24 hours. Three people in Iwaki died in landslides triggered by the 7.1 aftershock on Monday evening. The government also expanded the exclusion zone around Fukushima on Monday to include several towns within a 30-km (19-mile) radius that had formerly been told that they could remain at home, but were recommended to stay indoors. The towns now added to the mandatory evacuation zone were found to have high levels of radiation. (See the battle to hold Fukushima’s cores.)

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has said that in a survey conducted in Fukushima last week, its team of experts found radiation levels 75 times higher than the government recommendation in 11 samples of vegetables from gardens and small farms. The environmental group also announced that it found radiation levels equivalent to an annual exposure of 5 millisieverts – the evacuation threshold for Chernobyl – in a playground in Fukushima City, population 300,000. Greenpeace is urging the government to delay the start of the school year.

Though raising Fukushima’s level to 7 may not herald any immediate worsening of events, it is sure to add to many residents’ growing concern – and feelings of helplessness – over what could happen at dozens of other nuclear reactors spread across this seismic archipelago. On Sunday, over 17,000 people protested at two separate demonstrations in Tokyo against nuclear power. It was the first time that Yohei Nakamura, 45, had ever been to a protest. “For a long time I’ve been suspicious of nuclear power, but now I realize it’s a serious problem,” he said amidst the crowds carrying placards and shouting slogans. He said anti-nuclear demonstrations were undercovered in the Japanese press because of the influence of Tokyo Power and Electric Power Company, which owns Fukushima. “TEPCO is one of the most powerful companies in Japan,” Nakamura said. “They use a tremendous amount of money for adverstising. If the mass media shows anti-nuclear power activities like demonstrations, they risk losing TEPCO as an advertiser.”

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Japan raises nuclear crisis to same level as Chernobyl

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

Flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency...

IAEA

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110412/wl_nm/us_japan

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Yoko Nishikawa Shinichi Saoshiro And Yoko Nishikawa 42 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan put its nuclear calamity on a par with the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, on Tuesday after new data showed that more radiation leaked from its earthquake-crippled power plant in the early days of the crisis than first thought.

Japanese officials said it had taken time to measure radiation from the plant after it was smashed by March 11’s massive quake and tsunami, and the upgrade in its severity rating to the highest level on a globally recognized scale did not mean the situation had suddenly become more critical.

“The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is slowly stabilizing, step by step, and the emission of radioactive substances is on a declining trend,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a press briefing on Tuesday.

Kan said he wanted to move from emergency response to long-term rebuilding.

“A month has passed. We need to take steps toward restoration and reconstruction,” he said.

He also called on opposition parties, whose help he needs to pass bills in a divided parliament, to take part in drafting reconstruction plans from an early stage.

The operator of the stricken facility appears to be no closer to restoring cooling systems at the reactors, critical to lowering the temperature of overheated nuclear fuel rods. Late on Tuesday, Japan’s science ministry said small amounts of strontium, one of the most harmful and long-lasting radioactive elements, had been found in soil near Fukushima Daiichi.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said the decision to raise the severity of the incident from level 5 to 7 — the same as the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 — was based on cumulative quantities of radiation released.

No radiation-linked deaths have been reported since the earthquake struck, and only 21 plant workers have been affected by minor radiation sickness, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

“Although the level has been raised to 7 today, it doesn’t mean the situation today is worse than it was yesterday, it means the event as a whole is worse than previously thought,” said nuclear expert John Price, a former member of the Safety Policy Unit at the UK’s National Nuclear Corporation.

“NOWHERE NEAR CHERNOBYL”

A level 7 incident means a major release of radiation with a widespread health and environmental impact, while a 5 level is a limited release of radioactive material, with several deaths, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Several experts said the new rating exaggerated the severity of the crisis.

“It’s nowhere near that level. Chernobyl was terrible — it blew and they had no containment, and they were stuck,” said nuclear industry specialist Murray Jennex, an associate professor at San Diego State University in California.

“Their containment has been holding, the only thing that hasn’t is the fuel pool that caught fire.”

The blast at Chernobyl blew the roof off a reactor and sent large amounts of radiation wafting across Europe. The accident contaminated vast areas and led to the evacuation of well over 100,000 people.

Nevertheless, the increase in the severity level heightens the risk of diplomatic tension with Japan’s neighbors over radioactive fallout. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told Kan on Tuesday he was “concerned” about the release of radiation into the ocean.

“If Japan mishandles this issue, especially if, to solve its own problems, it affects the safety of neighboring countries, then that will have a bad effect on relations at the government and public levels,” said Sun Cheng, a professor specializing in Japanese politics and Sino-Japanese relations at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.

Chinese worries have not reached that point yet, he said.

China has so far been sympathetic rather than angry, though it and South Korea have criticized the plant operator’s decision to pump radioactive water into the sea, a process it has now stopped.

HUGE ECONOMIC DAMAGE

The March earthquake and tsunami killed up to 28,000 people and the estimated financial cost stands at $300 billion, making it the world’s most expensive disaster.

Japan’s economics minister warned the damage was likely to be worse than first thought as power shortages would cut factory output and disrupt supply chains.

The Bank of Japan governor said the economy was in a “severe state,” while central bankers were uncertain when efforts to rebuild the northeast would boost growth, according to minutes from a meeting held three days after the earthquake struck.

NISA said the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from the plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was around 10 percent that of Chernobyl.

“Radiation released into the atmosphere peaked from March 15 to 16. Radiation is still being released, but the amount now has fallen considerably,” said NISA’s Nishiyama.

Lam Ching-wan, a chemical pathologist at the University of Hong Kong and member of the American Board of Toxicology, said this level of radiation was harmful.

“It means there is damage to soil, ecosystem, water, food and people. People receive this radiation. You can’t escape it by just shutting the window,” Lam said.

(Additional reporting by Risa Maeda, Yoko Kobuta, Linda Sieg, Michael Perry and Nathan Layne in Tokyo, Scott DiSavino in New York, Chris Buckley in Beijing, Tan Ee Lyn in Hong Kong and Ron Popeski in Singapore; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by John Chalmers and Alex Richardson)

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Japan stops nuclear plant leak; crisis far from over

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2011

fukushima reactor #2 with waterpumper, there i...

Fukushima Reactor 2

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110406/wl_nm/us_japan

By Mayumi Negishi and Yoko Nishikawa Mayumi Negishi And Yoko Nishikawa 1 hr 55 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan stopped highly radioactive water leaking into the sea on Wednesday from a crippled nuclear plant and acknowledged it could have given more information to neighboring countries about contamination in the ocean.

Despite the breakthrough in plugging the leak at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, engineers need to pump 11.5 million liters (11,500 tons) of contaminated water back into the ocean because they have run out of storage space at the facility. The water was used to cool over-heated fuel rods.

Nuclear experts said the damaged reactors were far from being under control almost a month after they were hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it had stemmed the leak using liquid glass at one of the plants six reactors.

“The leaks were slowed yesterday after we injected a mixture of liquid glass and a hardening agent and it has now stopped,” a TEPCO spokesman told Reuters.

Engineers had been struggling to stop leaks from reactor No. 2, even using sawdust and newspapers.

Neighbors South Korea and China are getting concerned about the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, and the radioactive water being pumped into the sea, newspapers reported.

“We are instructing the trade and foreign ministries to work better together so that detailed explanations are supplied especially to neighboring countries,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference on Wednesday.

Experts insisted the low-level radioactive water to be pumped into the ocean posed no health hazard to people.

“The original amount of radioactivity is very low, and when you dilute this with a huge body of water, the final levels will be even lower than legal limits,” said Pradip Deb, senior lecturer in Medical Radiations at the School of Medical Sciences, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University.

Workers are struggling to restart cooling pumps — which recycle the water — in four damaged reactors.

Until those are fixed, they must pump in water to prevent overheating and meltdowns, but have run out of storage capacity for the seawater when it becomes contaminated.

Radioactive iodine detected in the sea has been recorded at 4,800 times the legal limit, but has since fallen to about 600 times the limit. The water remaining in the reactors has radiation five million times legal limits.

“What they are going to have to release is likely to be highly radioactive. The situation could politically be very ugly in a week,” said Murray Jennex at San Diego State University, who specializes in nuclear containment.

A floating tanker is being converted to hold contaminated seawater and is due to arrive at the plant site by April 16. TEPCO also plans to build tanks to hold radioactive water.

COOLING REACTORS KEY

Japan is facing its worst crisis since World War Two after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami left nearly 28,000 people dead or missing and thousands homeless, and rocked the world’s third-largest economy.

It will likely take months to finally cool down the reactors and years to dismantle those that have been damaged. TEPCO has said it will decommission four of the six reactors.

An opposition lawmaker from Fukushima told reporters antipathy in the area would make it difficult to resume operations at the nearby Fukushima Daini plant, where operations have been halted since March 11.

The two Fukushima plants together provide four percent of Japan’s electric power.

“Nuclear power plants can run only with local consent. I see it as being quite difficult to resume operations,” said Masayoshi Yoshino of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Concerned over a possible buildup of hydrogen gas in reactor No. 1, engineers will inject nitrogen gas into the reactor on Wednesday night to prevent an explosion, TEPCO said.

Hydrogen explosions ripped through reactors 1 and 3 early in the crisis, spreading high levels of radiation into the air.

The key to bringing the reactors under control is the extent of damage to the plant’s cooling system, said analysts.

In a sign the cooling systems may be severely damaged, the Sankei newspaper reported on Wednesday the government and TEPCO were considering building new cooling systems for three reactors to operate from outside the reactor buildings.

Kyodo news agency quoted a government source as saying authorities were also considering covering damaged reactors with special sheets to halt radiation leaks. But they could not be installed until September due to high levels of radiation.

“To put the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in perspective, Chernobyl involved a single operating reactor core,” said Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, a U.S. radioactive waste watchdog.

“Fukushima Daiichi now involves three reactors in various stages of meltdown and containment breach, and multiple (spent fuel storage) pools at risk of fire,” said Kamps.

Kamps said the spent fuel rod pools, which are on the roof of the damaged reactors, alone have more irradiated nuclear fuel than that which exploded and burned at Chernobyl.

MOVES TO AVERT BLACKOUTS

The world’s costliest natural disaster has hit Japan’s economy, left a damages bill which may top $300 billion, and forced the heavily indebted country to plan an extra budget.

Rolling power blackouts have hit global supply chains, with the world’s largest automaker, Toyota Motor Corp, idling local plants and saying it will suspend some U.S. plants also.

Japan is considering ordering TEPCO’s big power users to achieve 25 percent cuts in peak summer usage, said a Trade Ministry official. TEPCO shares went lower on Wednesday after hitting a 60-year low the previous day. ($1=84 Japanese yen)

(Additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Scott DiSavino in New York and Tan Ee Lyn in Singapore; Writing by Michael Perry and Paul Eckert; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher and Robert Birsel)

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