Will the Ring of Fire Earthquakes in 2011 continue on to North America?


I wrote the article below over a year and a half ago. We continue to watch the ring of fire in the Pacific. The earthquake yesterday at 7.4 in Guatemala City is typical and destructive. Just how connected are these quakes in the Pacific.–KAS
Chile, then New Zealand, and now Japan: Earthquakes and the Ring of Fire

By Kevin Stoda

Many of you are aware that Japan has been the third country to be once again struck by a major earthquake since 2011 began. I wonder if this is the result of normal Ring of Fire activities in the Pacific or whether something more ominous is at work.

“The “Ring of Fire” is an arc stretching from New Zealand, along the eastern edge of Asia, north across the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and south along the coast of North and South America. The Ring of Fire is composed over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. This huge ring of volcanic and seismic (earthquake) activity was noticed and described before the invention of the theory of plate tectonics theory [by those who sailed and traversed the Pacific for centuries.]. We now know that the Ring of Fire is located at the borders of the Pacific Plate and other major tectonic plates.”

http://geography.about.com/cs/earthquakes/a/ringoffire.htm

The Ring of Fire in the Pacific is also ‘known as the circum-Pacific seismic belt,’ it is found along the rim of the Pacific Ocean, where about 81 percent of the world’s largest earthquakes occur.”

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/sciencefair/post/2011/02/new-zealand-earthquake-christchurch-ring-of-fire-geology/1

“So many of the world’s earthquakes originate in this belt since it’s a region of young, growing mountains and deep ocean trenches, which invariably parallel mountain chains. Earthquakes tend to accompany elevation changes in mountains (the higher part of the earth’s crust), and changes in the ocean trenches (the lower part).”

FROM CHILE TO NEW ZEALAND TO JAPAN IN 2011 ALREADY

One report, concerning Japan’s earthquake this week, is as follows, “Even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions because of the tsunami that crashed ashore, swallowing everything in its path as it surged several miles (kilometers) inland before retreating. The apocalyptic images on Japanese TV of powerful, debris-filled waves, uncontrolled fires and a ship caught in a massive whirlpool resembled scenes from a Hollywood disaster movie.”

http://blog.al.com/wire/2011/03/japan_earthquake_tsunami_death.html

The initial major quake that hit the Sendai prefecture of Japan this week hit 8.9 on the Richter scale and is the worst to have hit Japan seen since 1800. There have been 150 aftershocks over the past 2 days—and tsunami warnings across the Pacific were made

Notably, across the Pacific in the very first days of this year 2011, Chile had already suffered another major earthquake.

http://vodpod.com/watch/5243460-breaking-news-major-earthquake-strikes-central-chile

Recall that just last year (2010), Chile had suffered from another one of the highest-recorded (Richter scale) earthquakes, which had measured an 8.8. That is nearly as strong as the Sendai Quake of this week. “Residents of central Chile were jolted out of bed at 3:34 am on February 27, 2010 by a severe earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale. Three hours later, a 6.2 aftershock struck Concepcion and less than two hours after that, another aftershock of 5.5 hit approximately 50 miles from Santiago. There” were immediately “at least 90 aftershocks ranging from 4.9 to 6.9 in magnitude.”

http://www.suite101.com/content/another-massive-earthquake-in-latin-america-a207052

Eighty percent of the Chile’s population felt that earthquake. A total of 370,000 homes were destroyed.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/4094979/Huge-earthquake-rocks-Christchurch

On February 21 of this year, on the southwestern shore of the Pacific Rim, New Zealand suffered another major quake near Christchurch. It was only a 6.3 on the Richter scale but it caused numerous casualties. The quake that struck New Zealand in February 2011 came only a half-year after another earlier NZ quake (at 7.0 on the Richter scale) had struck that same north island of the country—and also caused similar damage.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/4094979/Huge-earthquake-rocks-Christchurch

In short, in less than 11 weeks, the major earthquakes at the edge of the Rim of Fire in the Pacific have covered 3 continents—and have yet to move on to North America.

Any comments?

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About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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70 Responses to Will the Ring of Fire Earthquakes in 2011 continue on to North America?

  1. eslkevin says:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0523_050523_moonquake.html

    Chester said.

    For example, he said that in general there is a higher incidence of earthquake activity in the Northern Hemisphere when the moon is north of the Equator and an increase in earthquake activity in the Southern Hemisphere when the moon is south of the Equator.

    The moon’s orbit is inclined in relation to the Earth, causing the moon’s position in the sky to nod north and south on an 18.6-year cycle.

    Is the observed correlation between the moon’s position in its 18.6-year cycle (or any other lunar phase) and earthquake activity a coincidence or something more? That question, Chester said, is best answered by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    “There’s no evidence to support that,” said John Bellini, a geophysicist with the survey’s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado. “There were some studies in the past that tried to link lunar effects to seismicity [the relative frequency and distribution of earthquakes] and there was nothing found.”

    • John K says:

      I had guessed May that a quake would hit north america, I was of by 5 months. There will be at least 2 more on the US Pacific coast. Start with Chile where it started and measure the distance between each quake, distance in miles is close. The most recent quake was in alaska, british columbia or Washington state area will be next followed by the big one that will hit california

  2. eslkevin says:

    Dear all:

    My thanks to all alums who emailed me with good thoughts and prayers for my friends in Japan including our former KCTA Director, Bill Tsutsui. The “New York Times” just reported that, “Even in Tokyo, far from the epicenter, the quake struck hard. William M. Tsutsui, a professor of Japanese business and economic history at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was getting off a bus in front of a hotel in Tokyo, where he was traveling with a business delegation, when the ground began to shake. “What was scariest was to look up at the skyscrapers all around,” he said. “They were swaying like trees in the breeze.”
    I’m thankful the “The NY Times” let us know that Bill is OK. Moreover, it has put together teaching resources for older children including lesson plans on earthquakes, tsunami, disaster relief, etc. (http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/teaching-ideas-the-earthquake-and-tsunami-in-japan/) that will helpful in discussing this in your classroom. Other resources you might want to check out are as follows:

    1. A map from the United States Geological Survey (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/world/10_largest_world.php) show this earthquake, the fifth largest recorded since 1900, is another on the Pacific Rim of Fire.

    2. “The Earth Revealed” (http://www.learner.org/resources/series78.html) is a FREE video on demand series from Annenberg Media which deals with this topic, and for math teachers, see their lesson on the circle and parabola (http://www.learner.org/resources/series66.html) using an earthquake epicenter as a real-life illustration.

    3. Web Japan (http://web-japan.org/), and Kids Web Japan (http://web-japan.org/kidsweb/) for younger students have several sections on earthquakes and tsunami including how Japanese schoolchildren prepare for them, how the government practices for them, and how architecture compensates for them. Just type “earthquake” into the search box.

    4. Some scholars have questioned whether Japan’s nuclear reactors will withstand a massive earthquake. The “Japan Focus” online journal has several articles discussing this topic. See: http://www.japanfocus.org/-David-McNeill/2487, http://www.japanfocus.org/-Ishibashi-Katsuhiko/2495, http://www.japanfocus.org/-Gavan-McCormack/2488, and http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tony-Barrell/2338 to begin.

    KCTA E-News is an e-communication of Kansas Consortium for Teaching about Asia. I’d be happy to post recommendations for materials or events from you. Also, please let me know if your email address is changing.

    All the best,

    Nancy

    Nancy F. Hope
    Assoc. Director, Kansas Consortium for Teaching about Asia
    Assoc. Director for Special Projects, Confucius Institute
    University of Kansas
    1440 Jayhawk Blvd. Room 201
    Lawrence, KS 66045
    785.864.3918
    785.864.5034
    nfhope@ku.edu

  3. eslkevin says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_quake_toll

    TOKYO (Reuters) – A devastating tsunami triggered by the biggest earthquake on record in Japan looked set to kill at least 1,000 people along the northeastern coast on Friday after a wall of water swept away everything in its path.

    The government warned there could be a small radiation leak from a nuclear reactor whose cooling system was knocked out by the quake. About 3,000 residents in the area some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo had been moved out of harm’s way.

    Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant, the U.S. air force delivered coolant to avert a rise in the temperature of its nuclear rods, but officials said a leak was still possible because pressure would have to be released.

    The unfolding disaster in the wake of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 10-meter (33-feet) high tsunami prompted offers of search and rescue help from 45 countries.

    China said rescuers were ready to help with quake relief while President Barack Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan the United States would assist in any way.

  4. eslkevin says:

    Hello, Kevin Stoda

    Please add the people of Japan to your prayer list. Watch DisciplesToday.org for updates.
    Prayers for Japan in Wake of 8.9 Earthquake

    Editor’s Note: The largest earthquake in 100 years struck 373 kilometers (231 miles) offshore of Tokyo, Japan at 2:46 pm local time. Over 300 dead have been found so far with many more devastated areas yet to report. 4 million people are without electricity in Tokyo. Tsunami waves are swarming coastal areas and tsunami warnings are out for 50 countries.

    Takeshi Yamazaki, evangelist for the Tokyo Church of Christ, sends Disciples Today this urgent report. Also see a YouTube report.

    HOPEworldwide is preparing to help in any way needed.

    We are grateful for all of the prayers and the messages we are receiving
    from around the world.

    This is one of the biggest earthquakes we have had in this country.
    In Tokyo, shortly before 3PM this afternoon, we felt a very strong shake
    that continued and it was quite scary. We are still experiencing tremors now, and the officials are telling us that this may continue for another month.

    The biggest damage occurred on the coastline, mostly in the Tohoku area
    which is a few hours away. As far as I know all the disciples are safe.

    Since the earthquake, traffic has come to a standstill and most of the
    trains have shut down so we have disciples who are unable to go home
    tonight.

    Several singles were at the church building preparing food for a big party
    planned for tomorrow. Tens of people who were forced to walk home have stopped by at the church building to try to get some rest. The disciples have been serving hot drinks
    and giving food to people who have stopped by, and with the help of the fire
    department which is located next door have used the building as an
    evacuation location. Several people who are not able to go home tonight will
    spend the night at the church building.

    Please continue to pray for the safety of the people of Japan as we are
    still experiencing tremors and are still at a tsunami warning.

    One major concern are the nuclear power plants which may be in danger of
    spreading radiation to the environment.

    Please pray that God can use this difficult time to bring about an openness
    to the gospel to this nation.

    Thank you for your prayers.

    Love,
    Takeshi Yamazaki

    Evangelist, Tokyo Church of Christ

  5. eslkevin says:

    http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/has-japan-done-enough-to-mitigate-against-tsunamis/

    This article asks whether countries, like Japan, can do more to support the more naturalistic building of barrier reefs and mangroves to impeded or mitigate tsunamis.

  6. eslkevin says:

    http://www.vibrationdata.com/earthquakes/alaska.htm

    The Alaskan earthquake generated a tsunami which destroyed this
    waterfront in Kodiak.

  7. eslkevin says:

    http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8443908-tsunami-warning-in-hawaii-are-we-setting-ourselves-up-for-the-big-one

    Tsunami early warning system
    Tsunami early warning system

    Rate This Post
    Too Brief
    No Substance
    Poor Grammar & Spelling

    Thanks to modern technology we can now witness things happening around the world, at the moment they happen. My daughter and her husband are stationed in Fort Scoffield on the main island and it just happens to be one of the most elevated forts the U.S has on the island. Which brings little comfort to a Father/Grandfather.

    The day they left for this Godless part of the world, better known as paradise; I told them, if they were ever at the beach and see strange things happening, such as all the water being drawn out a couple of hundred yards and you see fish flapping in the mud, you are to grab your kids and run, don’t bother picking up your belongings, just run to high ground. Guess what their response was? OH, Dad.

    We received a call this morning around 3 am eastern time, from my daughter telling us they were under a tsunami warning and it was expected to hit the islands around 8 am our time. My daughter told me to go on line and watch the waves, I did, it was amazing to see the water go out as far as it did and to see the coral reflecting the light of the moon, there should have been 4 to 6 feet of water covering this coral, but instead it was dry land. They are saying it will be this way most of the day today. The first reports were of large waves heading towards the islands, they did have a few waves around North shore. The biggest wave was a 4 footer. That is how these waves work, it’s almost as if they are trying to lull you into a false sense of security, as a matter of fact, the wave that hit Jakarta, Indonesia, most of the deaths were kids and islanders trying to catch all the fish laying around when the water was sucked out to sea by the large vacum caused by the giant wave, people were lulled into grabbing up as many fish they could. Perhaps they never knew within five to ten minutes a wave of death would wash over them. Most people aren’t killed by drowning, they are beaten to death by all of the debris that is in the wave. But they are lulled in by this freak of nature not many get to witness.

    Last month when a quake hit some where in the pacific, they evacuated the whole coast just to have a 4 inch wave come a shore. We hardly ever heard of these tsunamis until one hit in Indonesia a few years back, what we are doing is more dangerous than no warning at all.

    The tsunami in Indonesia did cause lots of death and destruction. After blame was placed on any and everybody the whole world got together and said we need a warning system put in place to warn countries that will find themselves in the path of these killer waves to evacuate to safe and higher ground. Well, what a great idea if you can get everyone to cooperate.

    Well, what we are seeing today when a earthquake hits the tsunami warnings go out in every direction, hawaii alone has had 4 in 2 years and the people are starting to think its another false warning, so when the big one hits no one will heed the warning, I hope I’m as wrong as east is from west, but its only human nature to start thinking this way. Are we setting ourselves up for the big one? Just something to ponder.

  8. eslkevin says:

    This site may be a bit over-the-top, but still provides useful links to those most concerned.

    http://urbansurvival.com/week.htm

    • mansky719 says:

      things thats happening around us means that were living in a constanly changing world beneath us and above us…acceptance and finding ways to adopt in these situation is the least that we can do and that is trait of our human species.we have the option the knowledge to make our life beareable in this situation.

  9. eslkevin says:

    President Obama: Reverse your support of risky nuclear power.

    No nukes. Not now.

    President Obama: Reverse your support of risky nuclear power.

    Dear Kevin,

    First came the earthquake. Then the tsunami. Then multiple explosions at nuclear reactors. Several Japanese nuclear reactors are at risk of melting down with unthinkable release of radiation.

    The crisis in Japan is heartwrenching. The latest reports suggest at least 10,000 dead from one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history followed by a devastating tsunami. And that number is likely to rise.

    But perhaps the worst is yet to come as multiple nuclear reactors in Japan are redlining and officials frantically release radioactive steam into the atmosphere in hopes of averting a total nuclear meltdown.

    Tell President Obama: No more nukes. Not now. Clicking here will automatically sign the petition.

    Even now, politicians of both parties are so beholden to the nuclear industry, that they are racing to microphones to say that the U.S. must EXPAND its taxpayer support of building even more nuclear reactors.

    President Obama’s 2012 budget includes $36 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear energy industry. With Congressional leaders competing to cut public spending, we face a spectacle where senators in both parties were quick to defend nuclear power in the days following earthquake. Sen. Chuck Schumer, vice chair of the Democratic Senate caucus, has joined with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, in refusing to support a moratorium on building new nuclear reactors in seismically active areas in the U.S.1

    Nuclear power generation is so financially risky that it requires government intervention to obtain sufficient financing for development. Even nuclear power proponents admit the stakes. According to John Rowe, the CEO of the nation’s largest nuclear operator Exelon, said “Except with massive subsidies, there’s really nothing one can do to make a whole lot of nuclear plants economic right now.”2

    Tell President Obama: We need investment in clean, renewable energy, not more nuclear time bombs. Clicking here will automatically sign the petition.

    What does it take for Congress and President Obama to get the message? In just the last year, we have suffered massive disasters as a result of declining and risky energy technologies. Coal, oil, and now nuclear power have been the center of soul searching crises in the past 12 months. First came the massive coal mine collapse in West Virginia courtesy of the rapacious Massey Energy. Then came the massive BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico which failed to slow significant advances by the oil companies in drilling offshore of the United States. And now comes a massive nuclear crisis in Japan, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Yet nothing has been done.

    It’s time to stand up and defend the planet. Tell President Obama: Enough is enough: No new nukes.

    Becky Bond, Political Director
    CREDO Action from Working Assets

    P.S. If you want to help fund relief efforts in Japan through progressive organizations, Doctors Without Borders, a group CREDO members have long supported with their phone bills, is on the ground with medical teams. Find our more here. Another CREDO supported organization, Mercy Corps, is directing donations to its local partner Peace Winds Japan. You can get updates from Peace Winds Japan and find donation information here.

    1 “Will nuclear industry feel the fallout from Japan?,” Politico, March 13, 2011.
    2 ibid.

  10. eslkevin says:

    March 14, 2011

    Post Nuclear Japan, Pre Disaster United States

    By Michael Collins
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Post-Nuclear-Japan-Pre-Di-by-Michael-Collins-110314-252.html

    Michael Collins

    See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

    Japanese Energy and Economic Disruption

    Eighty percent of Japanese energy relies on imports. Nuclear plants provide about 30% of the electric production for the industrial base. The loss of the Fukushima I plant, for example reduces the nuclear output by 10%, just for starters. It also derails the big plans Japan has for nuclear power through 2050. Over 60% of domestic needs will be met by a robust nuclear program according to one optimistic estimate.

    The following graph shows the contributions electrical production:

    See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

    Japanese Energy and Economic Disruption

    Eighty percent of Japanese energy relies on imports. Nuclear plants provide about 30% of the electric production for the industrial base. The loss of the Fukushima I plant, for example reduces the nuclear output by 10%, just for starters. It also derails the big plans Japan has for nuclear power through 2050. Over 60% of domestic needs will be met by a robust nuclear program according to one optimistic estimate.

    The following graph shows the contributions electrical production:

    Assume a 20% loss of nuclear power production with the elimination of Fukushima’s 10% contribution and other reactors that may go offline due to preemptive safety precautions. Japan faces a near term energy shortage. The loss of 20% of nuclear production, for example, could translate into a 6% percent reduction of overall electric production. Hydroelectric and renewables are not capable of rising to the occasion as replacements. That leaves thermal/fossil plants. More imports and more pollution will go hand in hand for the next few years. Japan will pay much more attention to the Middle East, the source of 90% crude oil imports, with less focus on planned spread of nuclear plants.

    This is speculation. The situation may be much worse. One thing is certain. The government regulator’s confidence that “we will resolve this” seems far-fetched at best.

    The damage to plant, equipment, and infrastructure led to the shut down of several automobile plants. United States exporters will feel the impact of lower Japanese corporate revenues. China, Japan’s top trading partner, may well see the loss of investment and export opportunities. In addition, China may have a new competitor for crude oil due to the disruption to Japan’s overall energy supply system.

    Still mired in the great stagnation since 1985, healthcare costs, rebuilding requirements, and the implosion of energy production in the Fukushima Prefecture will hit the domestic economy very hard in short order.

    See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

    Japanese Energy and Economic Disruption

    Eighty percent of Japanese energy relies on imports. Nuclear plants provide about 30% of the electric production for the industrial base. The loss of the Fukushima I plant, for example reduces the nuclear output by 10%, just for starters. It also derails the big plans Japan has for nuclear power through 2050. Over 60% of domestic needs will be met by a robust nuclear program according to one optimistic estimate.

    The following graph shows the contributions electrical production:

    Assume a 20% loss of nuclear power production with the elimination of Fukushima’s 10% contribution and other reactors that may go offline due to preemptive safety precautions. Japan faces a near term energy shortage. The loss of 20% of nuclear production, for example, could translate into a 6% percent reduction of overall electric production. Hydroelectric and renewables are not capable of rising to the occasion as replacements. That leaves thermal/fossil plants. More imports and more pollution will go hand in hand for the next few years. Japan will pay much more attention to the Middle East, the source of 90% crude oil imports, with less focus on planned spread of nuclear plants.

    This is speculation. The situation may be much worse. One thing is certain. The government regulator’s confidence that “we will resolve this” seems far-fetched at best.

    The damage to plant, equipment, and infrastructure led to the shut down of several automobile plants. United States exporters will feel the impact of lower Japanese corporate revenues. China, Japan’s top trading partner, may well see the loss of investment and export opportunities. In addition, China may have a new competitor for crude oil due to the disruption to Japan’s overall energy supply system.

    Still mired in the great stagnation since 1985, healthcare costs, rebuilding requirements, and the implosion of energy production in the Fukushima Prefecture will hit the domestic economy very hard in short order.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, exports faltered in January. The country showed a 500 billion Yen trade deficit for the first month of 2011, the first drop in a string of sizable surpluses since February 2009. Japan’s people and economy are in for hard times. (Graph)

    What if” Lessons for the United States

    What would happen if a massive earthquake hit one of California’s nuclear plants? California represents 13% of the US GDP, 12% of the population, and ranks number eighth in global economies. Seismic disasters are not a new phenomenon in the Golden State.

    Certainly, energy companies, politicians, and regulators considered this possibility. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) produced scientific research for years fine tuning the timing, intensity, and inevitability of future earthquakes. USGS states, “the chance of having one or more magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquakes in the California area over the next 30 years is greater than 99%.” The chance for a magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquake is set at 46%. (USGS)

    See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

    Japanese Energy and Economic Disruption

    Eighty percent of Japanese energy relies on imports. Nuclear plants provide about 30% of the electric production for the industrial base. The loss of the Fukushima I plant, for example reduces the nuclear output by 10%, just for starters. It also derails the big plans Japan has for nuclear power through 2050. Over 60% of domestic needs will be met by a robust nuclear program according to one optimistic estimate.

    The following graph shows the contributions electrical production:

    Assume a 20% loss of nuclear power production with the elimination of Fukushima’s 10% contribution and other reactors that may go offline due to preemptive safety precautions. Japan faces a near term energy shortage. The loss of 20% of nuclear production, for example, could translate into a 6% percent reduction of overall electric production. Hydroelectric and renewables are not capable of rising to the occasion as replacements. That leaves thermal/fossil plants. More imports and more pollution will go hand in hand for the next few years. Japan will pay much more attention to the Middle East, the source of 90% crude oil imports, with less focus on planned spread of nuclear plants.

    This is speculation. The situation may be much worse. One thing is certain. The government regulator’s confidence that “we will resolve this” seems far-fetched at best.

    The damage to plant, equipment, and infrastructure led to the shut down of several automobile plants. United States exporters will feel the impact of lower Japanese corporate revenues. China, Japan’s top trading partner, may well see the loss of investment and export opportunities. In addition, China may have a new competitor for crude oil due to the disruption to Japan’s overall energy supply system.

    Still mired in the great stagnation since 1985, healthcare costs, rebuilding requirements, and the implosion of energy production in the Fukushima Prefecture will hit the domestic economy very hard in short order.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, exports faltered in January. The country showed a 500 billion Yen trade deficit for the first month of 2011, the first drop in a string of sizable surpluses since February 2009. Japan’s people and economy are in for hard times. (Graph)

    What if” Lessons for the United States

    What would happen if a massive earthquake hit one of California’s nuclear plants? California represents 13% of the US GDP, 12% of the population, and ranks number eighth in global economies. Seismic disasters are not a new phenomenon in the Golden State.

    Certainly, energy companies, politicians, and regulators considered this possibility. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) produced scientific research for years fine tuning the timing, intensity, and inevitability of future earthquakes. USGS states, “the chance of having one or more magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquakes in the California area over the next 30 years is greater than 99%.” The chance for a magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquake is set at 46%. (USGS)

    Was anyone paying attention? Apparently not. The seismic risk map shows the danger of earthquakes for the state.

    California’s two nuclear power plants are located on or near major fault lines. The Diablo Canyon facility is of particular concern. Californians have been anywhere from upset to outraged at the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility from the start. More than two million people get electricity from the plant. Designed to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, there are reasons to be less than confident in this estimate. The plant operator, PG&E, completely misinterpreted blueprints in the initial construction of “certain crucial pipe supports in the reactors containment room.” The misinterpretation involved constructing the pipe supports in a “mirror image” of the intended design.

    Diablo Canyon is just 2.5 miles from the Hosgri Fault, a major portion of the San Andreas Fault. Construction proceeded despite the discovery of this massive fault early on.

    Recently, PG&E executives diminished the importance of the Shoreline Fault less than an mile offshore from the nuclear plant. This fault was discovered in 2008. The Santa Barbara Independent reported that, “Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials and PG&E executives have insisted there’s no cause for alarm; the plant, they maintain, is designed to withstand far more force than the new fault” will generate.

    The Independent interviewed USGS Chief Scientist, Tom Brocher. He noted the possibility that the Shoreline Fault runs under Diablo Canyon’s reactors is “speculative” but not ruled out. Brocher said, “You’re bringing into the picture the possibility that an earthquake could crack the ground surface. This would be a disaster beyond anything we’ve seen in Japan:

    “The prospect of such a calamity — with two nuclear reactors operating above ground and pools of spent fuels so dangerous they have to be kept submerged in water at least five years before they can be moved to steel-reinforced concrete casks — is the stuff of nightmarish disaster scenarios.” Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent.

    Sitting Ducks

    As meltdowns and nuclear disaster continue in Japan, we should anticipate the impact of similar disasters at one or several of those red dots from the interactive global map of nuclear facilities. Natural events, plant failures, and sabotage provide an array of scenarios that can cripple a region or entire nation.

    The potential of nuclear catastrophes is dismissed by energy company sponsored and nuclear friendly government reports claiming probable nuclear plant safety in the face of well-documented risks. The nuclear firms and Japanese authorities vouched for the safety of Fukushima I. All of that was to no avail.

    Nevertheless, the administration’s proposed energy solution, the American Power Act, contains provisions for nuclear industry bailouts which are central to future energy needs. The industry largesse will help achieve the act’s goal of a 60% increase in power from nuc
    See interactive map at Internat by US Dept of Energy

    See interactive map at International Nuclear Safety Center

    Japanese Energy and Economic Disruption

    Eighty percent of Japanese energy relies on imports. Nuclear plants provide about 30% of the electric production for the industrial base. The loss of the Fukushima I plant, for example reduces the nuclear output by 10%, just for starters. It also derails the big plans Japan has for nuclear power through 2050. Over 60% of domestic needs will be met by a robust nuclear program according to one optimistic estimate.

    The following graph shows the contributions electrical production:

    Assume a 20% loss of nuclear power production with the elimination of Fukushima’s 10% contribution and other reactors that may go offline due to preemptive safety precautions. Japan faces a near term energy shortage. The loss of 20% of nuclear production, for example, could translate into a 6% percent reduction of overall electric production. Hydroelectric and renewables are not capable of rising to the occasion as replacements. That leaves thermal/fossil plants. More imports and more pollution will go hand in hand for the next few years. Japan will pay much more attention to the Middle East, the source of 90% crude oil imports, with less focus on planned spread of nuclear plants.

    This is speculation. The situation may be much worse. One thing is certain. The government regulator’s confidence that “we will resolve this” seems far-fetched at best.

    The damage to plant, equipment, and infrastructure led to the shut down of several automobile plants. United States exporters will feel the impact of lower Japanese corporate revenues. China, Japan’s top trading partner, may well see the loss of investment and export opportunities. In addition, China may have a new competitor for crude oil due to the disruption to Japan’s overall energy supply system.

    Still mired in the great stagnation since 1985, healthcare costs, rebuilding requirements, and the implosion of energy production in the Fukushima Prefecture will hit the domestic economy very hard in short order.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, exports faltered in January. The country showed a 500 billion Yen trade deficit for the first month of 2011, the first drop in a string of sizable surpluses since February 2009. Japan’s people and economy are in for hard times. (Graph)

    What if” Lessons for the United States

    What would happen if a massive earthquake hit one of California’s nuclear plants? California represents 13% of the US GDP, 12% of the population, and ranks number eighth in global economies. Seismic disasters are not a new phenomenon in the Golden State.

    Certainly, energy companies, politicians, and regulators considered this possibility. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) produced scientific research for years fine tuning the timing, intensity, and inevitability of future earthquakes. USGS states, “the chance of having one or more magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquakes in the California area over the next 30 years is greater than 99%.” The chance for a magnitude 7.5 or greater earthquake is set at 46%. (USGS)

    Was anyone paying attention? Apparently not. The seismic risk map shows the danger of earthquakes for the state.

    California’s two nuclear power plants are located on or near major fault lines. The Diablo Canyon facility is of particular concern. Californians have been anywhere from upset to outraged at the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility from the start. More than two million people get electricity from the plant. Designed to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, there are reasons to be less than confident in this estimate. The plant operator, PG&E, completely misinterpreted blueprints in the initial construction of “certain crucial pipe supports in the reactors containment room.” The misinterpretation involved constructing the pipe supports in a “mirror image” of the intended design.

    Diablo Canyon is just 2.5 miles from the Hosgri Fault, a major portion of the San Andreas Fault. Construction proceeded despite the discovery of this massive fault early on.

    Recently, PG&E executives diminished the importance of the Shoreline Fault less than an mile offshore from the nuclear plant. This fault was discovered in 2008. The Santa Barbara Independent reported that, “Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials and PG&E executives have insisted there’s no cause for alarm; the plant, they maintain, is designed to withstand far more force than the new fault” will generate.

    The Independent interviewed USGS Chief Scientist, Tom Brocher. He noted the possibility that the Shoreline Fault runs under Diablo Canyon’s reactors is “speculative” but not ruled out. Brocher said, “You’re bringing into the picture the possibility that an earthquake could crack the ground surface. This would be a disaster beyond anything we’ve seen in Japan:

    “The prospect of such a calamity — with two nuclear reactors operating above ground and pools of spent fuels so dangerous they have to be kept submerged in water at least five years before they can be moved to steel-reinforced concrete casks — is the stuff of nightmarish disaster scenarios.” Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent.

    Sitting Ducks

    As meltdowns and nuclear disaster continue in Japan, we should anticipate the impact of similar disasters at one or several of those red dots from the interactive global map of nuclear facilities. Natural events, plant failures, and sabotage provide an array of scenarios that can cripple a region or entire nation.

    The potential of nuclear catastrophes is dismissed by energy company sponsored and nuclear friendly government reports claiming probable nuclear plant safety in the face of well-documented risks. The nuclear firms and Japanese authorities vouched for the safety of Fukushima I. All of that was to no avail.

    Nevertheless, the administration’s proposed energy solution, the American Power Act, contains provisions for nuclear industry bailouts which are central to future energy needs. The industry largesse will help achieve the act’s goal of a 60% increase in power from nuclear reactors.

    Will someone please calculate the probability for – we are doomed.

    We are led by fools.

    END

    This article may be reproduced entirely or in part with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

    The Money Party RSS

  11. eslkevin says:

    CBC reports from BC:

    The devastation in Japan from Thursday’s earthquake is raising questions about the damage Vancouver might sustain in a similar event.

    B.C. has no nuclear reactors, but there are vulnerable industrial sites, especially along Burrard Inlet, where a chlorine plant in North Vancouver and the Chevron refinery and storage tanks in Burnaby pose real hazards after an earthquake or large tsunami. Earlier this month, a leak at the chlorine plant owned by Canexus Chlorine Canada LP sent four workers to hospital.

    The plant has been red-flagged as a potential earthquake hazard, because any leak of chlorine gas could cut off North Vancouver evacuation routes.

    The biggest danger comes not from a massive offshore subduction quake such as Japan’s and the resulting tsunami, but from more common smaller quakes, according to Simon Fraser University geologist John Clague.

  12. eslkevin says:

    http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/french-and-americans-leaving-japan0ur-hope-and-our-prayer-at-this-point-is-that-not-only-the-reactor-itself-the-containment-around-the-reactor-but-also-the-pools-which-contain-massive-amounts/

    Well, the protests are huge, Amy. And specifically here in the United States, we’re facing two very tangible issues in the near term. The owners of the nuclear plants all across the United States, including these very old reactors, some of which are virtually identical to Fukushima 1, are going in for license extensions. And so, you have reactors that are 40 years—or approaching 40 years old, more than 30 years old, and the owners are asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and getting approval to extend their life. I hope that the NRC and that the public, in general, will take note that these reactors now cannot withstand these kinds of pressures and should absolutely not have their licenses extended.

    Secondly, we’re facing in the Congress pressure from the Obama administration and from supporters of the nuclear industry to give them $36 billion in loan guarantees to build still more nuclear plants. This is something that really has to be stopped, because we’ve seen in Japan—and both Kevin and I have been there, and we’ve seen the kinds of things that the industry has said, the kind of safety that they claim that they can deliver—that these are false promises. And I tell you that the Japanese industry assured the Japanese public that Fukushima—and there are 55 reactors in Japan, all of which are on earthquake faults and near the ocean. The Japanese industry assured the Japanese public that these reactors could withstand exactly these kinds of events. This is not a surprise, what’s happened at Fukushima. This was predicted. We’ve predicted similar things here in the United States, especially at those reactors in California. They are going for license extension at Diablo Canyon. This is unconscionable, especially in light of what’s happened here.

    So these are tangible things that are happening. These demonstrations around the world will certainly escalate, because we’ve seen now that the nuclear industry cannot be trusted, and this technology simply does not belong on this planet.

    None of the reactors in the United States are insured. None of the reactors in the United States are insured beyond $12.4 billion. If such an accident happened here, the burden, the economic burden, will fall directly on the taxpayers and on the victims, not on the owners of the plants.

  13. eslkevin says:

    http://allthingsnuclear.org/tagged/Japan_nuclear

    Fukushima Radiation Release Exceeds NRC Design-Basis Limit| by Ed Lyman | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regulations require nuclear license applicants to show that their plants can withstand a series of design-basis accidents without releasing radiation that would exceed a given level. In particular, the whole-body dose for someone standing at the site boundary for the worst two hours of the accident cannot exceed 25 rem, or 250 milli-Sieverts (mSv).

    The dose rate for such a design-basis accident would be 125 mSv per hour.

    In comparison, the dose rate near reactor Unit 3 at Fukushima Dai-Ichi has reportedly reached 400 mSv per hour. The Fukushima accident is therefore now a beyond-design-basis accident, at least in NRC terms.

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    March 15, 2011 • 5 notes • 0 Comments
    Monday Update on Fukushima Reactors| by David Wright | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    As of 11:30 pm EDT Monday 3/14/11

    Three of the six reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear facility were operating at the time of the earthquake—Units 1, 2, and 3. The reactors shut down when the earthquake hit, but even after they stopped producing power, the reactor cores were very hot and required cooling systems to circulate water around the fuel to carry heat away.

    In this case the cooling systems failed at all three reactors shortly after the reactors shut down. Once the cooling stopped, the water surrounding the fuel heated up and began to boil away. The water level dropped and for at least a period of time, the fuel in all three reactors was partially uncovered.

    The part of the fuel that was uncovered became very hot. Several things can happen at that point.

    As the fuel heats up, the hot cladding of the fuel rods can react with the steam around them and produce hydrogen. This is probably the source of hydrogen that caused explosions in Units 1 and Unit 3. That would indicate that the surface of the fuel rods is damaged.

    Damage to the fuel rods can also release radioactive cesium-137 and iodine-131, which build up inside the fuel rods during the normal operation of the reactor. The detection of trace amounts of these elements outside the plant is also evidence that the fuel rods have been damaged, but not necessarily that the fuel inside them has melted.

    If the rods, or parts of them, are uncovered for a matter of hours they can heat up enough that the fuel will start to melt. That is called a partial meltdown.

    Because of the lack of cooling systems, over the weekend workers were forced to start pumping sea water into the reactor vessels to attempt to cool the cores and keep the fuel rods covered with water. However, for all three reactors, parts of the fuel rods were uncovered long enough that some fuel melting has occurred. The amount of melting, which is currently unknown, will affect the severity of the accident.

    Early Monday (U.S. time), reports suggested that efforts to pump sea water into the cores of Units 1 and 3 were successfully keeping the rods covered with water. If this is true and they can continue to pump in sufficient water, the core will keep cooling. The goal is to reach “cold shutdown,” which means the core has cooled below the boiling point of water, so it is no longer boiling off the cooling water.

    If that can be done, the situation will be more stable and the reactors will have a larger margin of safety in case something else happens.

    However, by Monday night there were reports that efforts to continue cooling Units 1 and 3 might be running into problems. The situation at those two reactors is currently unclear.

    Unfortunately, reports on Unit 2 suggest the situation is more serious. After the cooling systems for this reactor failed over the weekend, workers were unable to fill the reactor vessel with sea water. This appears to have been caused in part by human error, and the plant owner, TEPCO, has stated that the fuel in the core of Unit 2 was completely uncovered for a matter of hours. This could lead to very serious melting of the fuel. If that condition continues long enough, it could lead to a total melting of the fuel, which is called a meltdown.

    If that occurs, the molten fuel can drop to the bottom of the reactor vessel, burn through the reactor vessel, and drop onto the floor of the primary containment. There is currently no indication this has happened at Unit 2, but if they are unable to get cooling water into the reactor vessel it is likely only a matter of time until this happens.

    Even if this happens, as long as the primary containment structures surrounding the reactor remain intact, the release of radiation into the atmosphere may be relatively small.

    However, there are two serious concerns:

    The first is that Monday night TEPCO confirmed there is damage to the Unit 2 containment and that it may be leaking gases and or liquids. Normally the reactor building is intended to act as a secondary containment and capture radiation leaking from the primary containment so that filters can remove the radioactivity before it is released to the atmosphere. But the reactor buildings for all three reactors have been damaged by explosions and no longer provide this secondary containment.

    So if the primary containment is leaking, then a core meltdown could lead to a very large release of radioactivity to the environment.

    The second concern is that even if the primary containment is currently intact, the Mark I containment system used in these reactors has a known vulnerability to meltdowns. Molten fuel that enters the primary containment area can melt through the wall of the primary containment—a situation called liner melt-through—which would also allow the release of large amounts of radioactivity to the environment.

    By late Monday (U.S. time), the situation is getting much worse. Larger radiation releases have occurred. And the New York Times is reporting that the radiation levels around the plants have gotten so high that TEPCO may withdraw workers from the plants. If this stops efforts to cool the reactors, the result may be meltdowns of the fuel in all three reactors.

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    March 14, 2011 • 15 notes • 17 Comments
    Reactor Core Cooling| by Dave Lochbaum | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    Days after a severe earthquake and tsunami affected the nuclear power reactors at the Fukushimi Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in Japan, there continue to be problems cooling the reactor cores.

    The reactors operating at the time of the earthquake shut down very shortly afterward. However, heat in the reactor cores continues to be a problem after shut-down. In addition to the tremendous amount of heat contained in the fuel rods when the reactors shut down, the reactor cores continue to generate heat that must be removed in order to prevent damage to the nuclear fuel caused by overheating.

    Figure 1

    Thermal energy (heat) is produced in the reactor core of an operating reactor by the fissioning, or splitting, of uranium and plutonium atoms. When these atoms are hit by a neutron, they may split into two smaller atoms—and not always the same two types of smaller atoms—and in the process release energy and more neutrons.

    Many of the smaller atoms formed by this process are unstable and as a result release radioactivity in the form of gamma rays, alpha particles, or beta particles. These radioactive emissions create heat: they carry energy with them, and when they are absorbed by material around the atom, that energy heats the material up.

    Atoms release radioactivity at different rates ranging from fractions of a second to hundreds of thousands of years. Long after a reactor has been shut down, the reactor core continues to emit radioactivity and continues to generate heat. Nuclear power plants have cooling systems designed to circulate water through the reactor core after a reactor is shut down to carry away this heat.

    In the Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactors, the pumps that circulate this cooling water are not working. In that case, the water sitting in the reactor vessel surrounding the core will heat up and then start to turn to steam and boil away. Emergency workers have been attempting to pump sea water into the reactors to replace the water that boils off. This additional water is needed both to help cool the reactor and to keep the fuel rods from being uncovered.

    Figure 2 shows the typical rate at which heat from a shut-down reactor core boils away water when the cooling systems are not functioning. The vertical axis shows the boil-off rate in gallons per minute. The horizontal axis shows the time, in days, since the reactor was shut down. Even a week after being shut down, the heat from a reactor core boils water at a rate of nearly 60 gallons per minute. The boil-off rate declines with time while the rate of radioactive release decreases.

    Figure 2

    The reactor core resides in the lower portion of the reactor pressure vessel (see Figure 3). The normal water level inside the reactor vessel is roughly 196 inches, or 16 feet, above the top of the reactor core. The nuclear fuel is protected against damage caused by overheating as long as it remains covered with water. A rough rule of thumb is that it takes 200 gallons of water to raise or lower the level inside the reactor pressure vessel by 1 inch.

    Figure 3

    For the boil-off rate of 60 gallons per minute a week after shut down, it takes around 200 seconds for the water level inside the reactor pressure vessel to drop an inch. If the reactor cooling system fails one week after the reactor was shut down with the water level inside the reactor vessel is at its normal level, it would take approximately 11 hours for boil-off to reduce the water level down to the top of the reactor core.

    Without cooling, the boil-off would continue to drop the water level below the top of the nuclear fuel in the reactor core. As nuclear fuel was uncovered by water, it would begin heating up. As the fuel temperature increased to 1,800°F, a chemical reaction between the metal cladding of the fuel rods and the steam flowing past would generate large quantities of hydrogen. If the heat-up continued past 2,200°F, the exposed fuel would begin to melt.

    This process appears to have produced the hydrogen that leaked from the reactor vessel and caused the explosions in the reactor buildings of Units 1 and 3. In addition, Japanese Electric Company officials have said they expect that some of the fuel has been uncovered long enough to have melted.

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    March 13, 2011 • 1 note • 6 Comments
    Japan’s Nuclear Crisis: Lessons for the U.S.| by Dave Lochbaum | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    The New York Time’s online Room for Debate has posted three views on lessons for the US from the current crisis in Japan, one by Dave Lochbaum called “Disasters Fail to Follow Scripts”.

    The other contributions are from Frank von Hippel and Michio Kaku.

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    March 13, 2011 • 1 note • 1 Comment
    UCS Factsheet: “Nuclear Accident ABCs”| by David Wright | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    We just posted a factsheet that gives some background information on nuclear accidents and the terms used to discuss them.

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    March 13, 2011 • 23 notes • 10 Comments
    Sunday Update on Fukushima Reactors| by Ed Lyman | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    As of 7 pm EDT Sunday 3/13/11

    We reported earlier about the situation at Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor Unit 1. The nuclear crisis in Japan took a turn for the worse as serious problems developed in reactor Unit 3.

    Officials from Tokyo Electric reported that after multiple cooling system failures, the water level in the Unit 3 reactor vessel dropped 3 meters (nearly 10 feet), uncovering approximately 90 percent of the fuel in the reactor core. Authorities were able to inject cooling water with a fire pump after reducing the containment pressure by a controlled venting of radioactive gas. As they did with Unit 1, they began pumping sea water into Unit 3, which is highly corrosive and may preclude any future use of the reactor even if a crisis is averted.

    However, Tokyo Electric has reported that the water level in the Unit 3 reactor still remains more than 2 meters (6 feet) below the top of the fuel, exposing about half the fuel to air, and they believe that water may be leaking from the reactor vessel. When the fuel is exposed to air it eventually overheats and suffers damage. It is likely that the fuel has experienced significant damage at this point, and the authorities have said they are proceeding on this assumption.

    One particular concern with Unit 3 is the presence of mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in the core. MOX is a mixture of plutonium and uranium oxides. In September 2010, 32 fuel assemblies containing MOX fuel were loaded into this reactor. This is about 6% of the core.

    I have done considerable analysis on the safety risks associated with using MOX fuel in light-water reactors. The use of MOX generally increases the consequences of severe accidents in which large amounts of radioactive gas and aerosol are released compared to the same accident in a reactor using non-MOX fuel, because MOX fuel contains greater amounts of plutonium and other actinides, such as americium and curium, which have high radio-toxicities.

    Because of this, the number of latent cancer fatalities resulting from an accident could increase by as much as a factor of five for a full core of MOX fuel compared to the same accident with no MOX. Fortunately, as noted above, the fraction of the fuel in this reactor that is MOX is small. Even so, I would estimate this could cause a roughly 10% increase in latent cancer fatalities if there were a severe accident with core melt and containment breach, which has not happened at this point and hopefully will not.

    While the authorities continue playing down the possibility of a breach of the primary containment at these reactors, I remain concerned. Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor Units 1, 2, and 3 are boiling water reactors with Mark I containments. The Mark I is unusually vulnerable to containment failure in the event of a core-melt accident. A recent study by Sandia National Laboratories shows that the likelihood of containment failure in this case is nearly 42% (see Table 4-7 on page 97). The most likely failure scenario involves the molten fuel burning through the reactor vessel, spilling onto the containment floor, and spreading until it contacts and breeches the steel containment-vessel wall.

    The Sandia report characterizes these probabilities as “quite high.” It’s not straightforward to interpret these results in the context of the very complicated and uncertain situation at Fukushima. But they are a clear indication of a worrisome vulnerability of the Mark I containment should the core completely melt and escape the reactor vessel.

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    March 13, 2011 • 47 notes • 42 Comments
    Update on Fukushima Reactor| by Ed Lyman | by Dave Lochbaum | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    Update at 11pm EST Saturday 3/12/11:

    On Saturday March 12 at 3:36 pm local time (1:36 am EST) an explosion occurred in the Unit 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. (Original reports suggested that the explosion took place in an adjacent turbine building, but we no longer believe this is the case.)

    The explosion was very likely a hydrogen explosion. Hydrogen apparently collected somewhere in the reactor building outside of the primary containment (see diagram below). The primary containment consists of the drywell and the wetwell. The top section of the reactor building, known as the refueling bay, has walls of sheet metal, in contrast to the concrete walls of the lower part of the building. The pressure caused by a large enough explosion anywhere in the reactor building would have caused the sides of the refueling bay to blow out since that is the weakest part of the structure and is not designed to withstand high pressures.

    Figure adapted from BWR Systems

    The hydrogen was likely produced by the hot fuel. All signs are consistent with the fact that some fuel damage has occurred at Fukushima Unit 1. Last night (U.S. time) the plant owner, TEPCO, reported that the water level had dropped below the top of the fuel by nearly six feet. This means that roughly half of each fuel rod was exposed. The fuel rods are clad in zirconium, and a few minutes after the water level dropped below the top of the fuel, the zirconium would have become hot enough to react with the surrounding steam and produce hydrogen.

    The reactor core is in the reactor vessel, or pressure vessel, which is surrounded by a steel containment vessel. The steel containment vessel is surrounded by a reinforced concrete shell. The explosion took place outside of this shell. It is not clear whether the concrete shell was damaged in the explosion, but the steel containment vessel was reportedly not damaged.

    The control room and many of the control and power cables for the emergency equipment used to cool the reactor core are located outside the primary containment, and the extent to which the explosion impaired these vital functions is not known at this time.

    Radioactive releases and iodine tablets

    Once the water level in the reactor core drops to the point where the fuel is exposed, the zirconium cladding would begin to erode and after about an hour, this would release some radioactive material—primarily noble gases, iodine-131 and cesium-137. (During normal operation, this material accumulates in the gap between the fuel and the cladding.) Some of this material could have been released by the controlled venting, which could explain the cesium detected at the plant boundary.

    In addition, the primary containment in this type of reactor typically has a leak rate of about 1% of its volume per day. The secondary containment (the walls of the reactor building) is important since it keeps any leaked radioactive gas from escaping into the environment. The secondary containment is kept at a negative pressure with respect to the outside so that air inside does not leak out. The air in the building is then sent through filters to remove the radiation before it is released through the stack. With the walls blown off the top of the reactor building, this radioactive gas would instead be released directly into the air.

    Thus, contrary to some news reports, the detection of cesium outside the reactor does not necessarily indicate that the primary containment has been breached.

    Iodine-131 is one of the most radioactive isotopes released in a nuclear accident. It has a half-life of 8 days, meaning half of it will have decayed after 8 days, and half of that in another 8 days, etc. Therefore, it is of greatest concern in the days and weeks following an accident. It is also volatile so will spread easily. In the human body, iodine is taken up by the thyroid, and becomes concentrated there, where it can lead to thyroid cancer in later life. Children who are exposed to iodine-131 are more likely than adults to get cancer later in life. To guard against the absorption of iodione-131, people can proactively take potassium iodine pills so the thyroid becomes saturated with non-radioactive iodine and is not able to absorb any iodine-131

    Cesium-137 is another radioactive isotope that has been released. It has a half-life of about 30 years, so will take more than a century to decay by a significant amount. Living organisms treat cesium-137 as if it was potassium, and it becomes part of the fluid electrolytes and is eventually excreted. Cesium-137 is passed up the food chain. It can cause many different types of cancer

    What next?

    The cooling systems for the Unit 1 reactor have not been operating and, as the core heats up, the water surrounding the fuel has evaporated to the point where the fuel becomes exposed to the air. Unless there is a way to replace the water the fuel will continue to heat up.

    To attempt to cool the reactor, TEPCO has been pumping sea water into the reactor vessel. Since this is very corrosive and will seriously damage the reactor, this is an option of last resort and indicates that they do not expect to get the cooling systems back online.

    Reports note that boric acid is being added with the sea water. Boric acid is a soluable form of boron, which is very good at absorbing neutrons. By adding this to the water around the fuel rods, it would capture neutrons that could otherwise cause additional atoms to fission. This is being added to the reactor to make sure it does not become critical again, which might happen in two ways: (1) fuel rod damage that results in fuel rod segments dropping to the bottom of the reactor vessel, where they could form a critical mass, or (2) withdrawals of the control rods caused by malfunctions of the hydraulic control units that move the control rods in and out of the core.

    Recent reports state TEPCO has succeeded in filling the reactor vessel with water, which would mean the fuel rods are no longer exposed to air. But some form of cooling will still be required.

    For the next update, click here.

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    March 11, 2011 • 6 notes • 12 Comments
    Containment at Fukushima| by Dave Lochbaum | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    Update at 6pm EST Friday 3/11/11:

    The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is now saying the containment pressure at Unit 1—not Unit 2, whose core cooling was said to have failed—has risen to about double its normal value.

    The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has announced it will “implement measures to reduce the pressure of the reactor containment vessel for those units that cannot confirm certain level of water injection by the Reactor Core Isolation Cooling System, in order to fully secure safety.” It is not clear if this refers just to Unit 1, or to the other two affected units as well.

    The increase in containment pressure resulted from the loss of alternating-current (AC) power to the reactors, which stopped the containment cooling system. There are large water-cooled air conditioning units inside containment. Motor-driven pumps send cool water to the units. Motor-driven fans blow air inside the containment across the metal tubes containing the cool water. But without AC power, the pumps and fans don’t work and can’t provide cooling. The heat radiating off the hot reactor vessel (over 500F) and the hot piping heats up the air in the containment building very rapidly, which causes an increase in pressure.

    The rising pressure reduces the ability of the containment to absorb the energy released from a pipe rupture, should one occur. The volume of air in the containment building and its wall thickness are designed to contain a specified level of energy being dumped into containment. If the pressure gets too high, then an energy release like a broken pipe, should it occur, could over-pressurize the containment and cause it to fail. So emergency procedures call for venting air from the containment to reduce the pressure if it gets too high.

    If the containment structure was weakened by the earthquake, then what pressure it could withstand is not known.

    The reactors have a containment ventilation system that can be used to vent air from the containment building. In this situation, the vented air would be routed through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, charcoal beds, and another HEPA filter to remove as much radioactivity as possible before being released from a very tall stack to dilute the flow as much as possible.

    If there has been no appreciable reactor core damage, the air vented from containment will contain minute but detectable amounts of radiation. The filtration systems are designed to lower that radioactivity release by nearly a factor of 100.

    The latest news is that evacuation around the plants is being expanded from a 3 km to a 10 km radius, which suggests the crisis isn’t over yet.

    For the next update, click here.

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    March 11, 2011 • 27 notes • 19 Comments
    Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima| by Ed Lyman | nuclear power | nuclear power safety | Japan nuclear |

    As of 2:30 pm EST Friday 3/11/11:

    The massive earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan has caused a potentially catastrophic situation at one of Japan’s nuclear power plants. The situation is still evolving, but here is a preliminary assessment based on the facts as we currently understand them.

    The plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), reported that at 2:46 p.m. local time (12:46 a.m. EST) “turbines and reactors of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1 … and Units 2 and 3 … automatically shut down due to the Miyagiken-oki Earthquake.”

    These reactors are 3 of the 6 operating reactors at the Fukushima I nuclear facility. All are boiling water reactors. Unit 1 has a rated output of 460 megawatts, and Units 2 and 3 each have a rated output of 784 megawatts.

    TEPCO went on to state the shutdowns were caused by the loss of off-site power “due to malfunction of one out of two off-site power systems.” This loss of power triggered emergency diesel generators, which automatically started to provide backup power to the reactors.

    However, at 3:41 p.m. local time (1:46 a.m. EST), the emergency diesel generators shut down “due to malfunction, resulting in the complete loss of alternating current for all three units,” according to TEPCO. The failure of the diesel generators was most likely due to the arrival of the tsunami, which caused flooding in the area. The earthquake was centered 240 kilometers from Japan, and it would have taken the tsunami approximately an hour to reach the Japanese islands.

    This power failure resulted in one of the most serious conditions that can affect a nuclear plant—a “station blackout”—during which off-site power and on-site emergency alternating current (AC) power is lost. Nuclear plants generally need AC power to operate the motors, valves and instruments that control the systems that provide cooling water to the radioactive core. If all AC power is lost, the options to cool the core are limited.

    The boiling water reactors at Fukushima are protected by a Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) system, which can operate without AC power because it is steam-driven and therefore does not require electric pumps. However, it does require DC power from batteries for its valves and controls to function.

    If battery power is depleted before AC power is restored, however, the RCIC will stop supplying water to the core and the water level in the reactor core could drop. If it drops far enough, the core would overheat and the fuel would become damaged. Ultimately, a “meltdown” could occur: The core could become so hot that it forms a molten mass that melts through the steel reactor vessel. This would release a large amount of radioactivity from the vessel into the containment building that surrounds the vessel.

    The containment building’s purpose is to keep radioactivity from being released into the environment. A meltdown would build up pressure in the containment building. At this point we do not know if the earthquake damaged the containment building enough to undermine its ability to contain the pressure and allow radioactivity to leak out.

    According to technical documents translated by Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action in Japan, if the coolant level dropped to the top of the active fuel rods in the core, damage to the core would begin about 40 minutes later, and damage to the reactor vessel would occur 90 minutes after that.

    Concern about a serious accident is high enough that while TEPCO is trying to restore cooling the government has evacuated a 3-km (2-mile) radius area around the reactor.

    Bloomberg News reported that the battery life for the RCIC system is eight hours. This means that the batteries would have been depleted before 10 a.m. EST today. It is unclear if this report is accurate, since it suggests that several hours have elapsed without any core cooling. Bloomberg also reported that Japan had secured six backup batteries and planned to transport them to the site, possibly by military helicopter. It is unclear how long this operation would take.

    There also have been news reports that Fukushima Unit 2 has lost its core cooling, suggesting its RCIC stopped working, but that the situation “has been stabilized,” although it is not publicly known what the situation is. TEPCO reportedly plans to release steam from the reactor to reduce the pressure, which had risen 50% higher than normal. This venting will release some radioactivity.

    More information about the cooling issue is available in this New York Times story.

    We will post updates as more information becomes available.

    Contact All Things Nuclear

    A project of the Union of Concerned Scientists

  14. eslkevin says:

    News For March 14, 2011
    Premium members please click here
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    Our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the recent catastrophe in Japan.
    If you would like to help, please visit this link to help in the relief efforts today.

    Earthquakes and tsunamis: Helping students understand what they are.

    On earthquakes and volcanoes:

    -Introduction with answer key

    -More on plate tectonics

    On tsunamis:

    -Discussion starter

    -The tsunami detection system

    View all our tsunami, earthquake and geology pages here

  15. eslkevin says:

    Japan’s earthquake shifted balance of the planet
    By Liz Goodwin liz Goodwin Mon Mar 14, 9:56 am ET

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110314/ts_yblog_thelookout/japans-earthquake-shifted-balance-of-the-planet

    Last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has actually moved the island closer to the United States and shifted the planet’s axis.

    The quake caused a rift 15 miles below the sea floor that stretched 186 miles long and 93 miles wide, according to the AP. The areas closest to the epicenter of the quake jumped a full 13 feet closer to the United States, geophysicist Ross Stein at the United States Geological Survey told The New York Times.

    The world’s fifth-largest, 8.9 magnitude quake was caused when the Pacific tectonic plate dove under the North American plate, which shifted Eastern Japan towards North America by about 13 feet (see NASA’s before and after photos at right). The quake also shifted the earth’s axis by 6.5 inches, shortened the day by 1.6 microseconds, and sank Japan downward by about two feet. As Japan’s eastern coastline sunk, the tsunami’s waves rolled in.

    Why did the quake shorten the day? The earth’s mass shifted towards the center, spurring the planet to spin a bit faster. Last year’s massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile also shortened the day, but by an even smaller fraction of a second. The 2004 Sumatra quake knocked a whopping 6.8 micro-seconds off the day.

    After the country’s 1995 earthquake, Japan placed high-tech sensors around the country to observe even the slightest movements, which is why scientists are able to calculate the quake’s impact down to the inch. “This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever,” Lucy Jones, chief scientist for the Multi-Hazards project at the U.S. Geological Survey, told The Los Angeles Times.

    The tsunami’s waves necessitated life-saving evacuations as far away as Chile. Fisherman off the coast of Mexico reported a banner fishing day Friday, and speculated that the tsunami knocked sealife in their direction.

    (An energy map provided by NOAA shows the intensity of the tsunami caused by Japan’s earthquake: Reuters/NOAA. Below, Satellite image of Japan’s coast moving: NASA.)

    CORRECTION: This article originally attributed Lucy Jones’ interview to the The Boston Herald.

  16. eslkevin says:

    http://pr.thinkprogress.org/2011/03/pr20110315/

    NATIONAL SECURITY
    Crisis In Japan

    On Friday, northern Japan was hit by a massive 9.0 earthquake just off its eastern coast. The earthquake spawned a huge tsunami that washed away villages and caused tremendous destruction. At least 2,700 people are confirmed to have died, but many thousands are missing and more than 10,000 people are presumed dead, as bodies have begun washing ashore . To make matters worse, a number of nuclear reactors were in the center of the disaster. Three are now in danger of meltdown, as Japanese emergency workers struggle to contain a nuclear disaster that is already the worst since the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Much of the country is now experiencing rolling blackouts, and many of the 400,000 displaced survivors living in makeshift shelters are struggling with limited food and water. The turmoil has caused havoc in Japan’s now recovering economy, leading to a massive drop in the stock market and fears of an economic collapse. The situation is also having an impact in the United States and is prompting a renewed debate over nuclear power and the role of government.

    NUCLEAR CRISIS: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was hit directly by both the earthquake and the resulting tsunami. Three reactors were severely damaged, creating multiple failures in the system that cools the nuclear fuel rods. This has led to a series of explosions that have further damaged the nuclear reactors and released radiation into the air. In the hopes of preventing a full-scale meltdown, emergency workers at the nuclear plant have desperately sought to inject seawater into the reactors to cool down the nuclear fuel rods, but the results have been mixed. The temperatures of the reactors continue to rise, prompting fears of a widespread meltdown. The New York Times noted, “Japan’s nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday after an explosion damaged the vessel containing the nuclear core at one reactor and a fire at another spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air.” “Experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.” Eight hundred workers from the plant have been withdrawn, while 50 heroically remain, despite their increasing exposure to radiation. The Japanese government has also told people living within 12 miles of the reactors to evacuate and those within 20 miles were told to stay indoors. The Times quoted a senior nuclear industry executive who had been in contact with his Japanese counterparts who said Japanese power managers are “basically in a full-scale panic. … They’re in total disarray, they don’t know what to do.” Also, the “pool storing spent fuel rods at that fourth reactor had overheated and reached boiling point and had become unapproachable by workers.”

    The Japanese government has formally asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for assistance, which dispatched experts to Japan to provide technical assistance. Joe Cirincione, a nuclear expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, said, “This is an unprecedented crisis. … You have multiple reactor crises at the same time. We’ve never had a situation like this before.”

    NUCLEAR DEBATE: The nuclear crisis in Japan has renewed debate over the safety of nuclear power not just in the United States but around the world. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said on Face the Nation, “I don’t want to stop the building of nuclear power plants. … But I think we’ve got to quietly put…the brakes on until we can absorb what has happened in Japan as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami.” Rep. Ed Markey, (D-MA) has called for a “timeout” on new reactors and said that the U.S. should have a moratorium on building reactors in seismic areas of the country. The crisis threatens the bipartisan consensus that emerged over the need for more nuclear power. Nuclear power has been seen as an alternative to burning fossil fuels since it omits zero carbon. William Saletan of Slate warned: “Let’s cool this panic before it becomes a political meltdown. … If Japan, the United States, or Europe retreats from nuclear power in the face of the current panic, the most likely alternative energy source is fossil fuel. And by any measure, fossil fuel is more dangerous.” At the same time, Joe Romm and Richard Caperton of the Center for American Progress write that the nuclear crisis “remind[s] us that nuclear power is inherently risky. … Let’s be clear: If something goes wrong with a U.S. nuclear reactor, the American public will be in double jeopardy — we’ll suffer the health consequences and then also have to pay for it.”

    ROLE OF GOVERNMENT: The crisis in Japan clearly demonstrates the importance of government safety regulations. As we learn the full causes and outcomes of the Japanese disaster, the U.S. should revisit and improve safety rules for both existing and proposed reactors. Romm and Caperton explain that, “because taxpayers have so much to lose in a nuclear disaster, the government has a responsibility to take every precaution to minimize that risk.” David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists explains in the New York Times that there is a “need to revisit emergency plans to ensure that people get the help they need even when disasters overlap.” Yet Media Matters reported that “in the wake of the crisis at Japanese nuclear reactors, the conservative media have pushed for the removal of ‘obstacles’ to nuclear power and a faster nuclear permit process for nuclear plants.” The proposed budget cuts from Republicans in the House of Representatives further threaten to undermine the safety of the American people. Romm and Caperton warn that “Congress must not cut funding for NOAA’s tsunami warning service. House Republicans have proposed cutting funding to NOAA — the agency directly responsible for tsunami monitoring and warning — restricting the government’s ability to respond. America has a number of reactors that could be affected by a tsunami.” Furthermore, despite the massive 9.0 earthquake, much of the damage in Japan was not caused by the earthquake, but by the tsunami. Thousands of lives were saved due to the strict government enforced building codes that were absent in a country like Haiti or China, which experienced a significantly higher death toll.

  17. eslkevin says:

    I was all alone on that Atlantic Ocean beach that day. It was almost dark, and all the sun bathers had gone home to take another kind of bath, with creams, and lotions and so on. I was walking along the edge of the water, playing a little game of dodge-em with the waves. And I looked back, and I noticed the long trail of footprints I’d left behind me. I said, “Hey, I’m making a mark.” Well, I had a distant jetty in my eyesight; that was going to be my goal. So, I walked that far, turned around and came back. I looked for that bold trail of footprints in the sand. Of course, there was no trail. They were gone. I thought about that Hollywood theatre where celebrities put their footprints in cement instead of sand. Maybe that’s what I should try if I want my mark to last.

    I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Prints in Sand and Cement.”

    Our word for today from the Word of God comes from 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. And I’m going to begin reading at verse 19. Paul says, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” The Apostle Paul had a lot of other things he could glory in, don’t you think? What a track record spiritually! But you know what he said was his glory and joy. He said to these spiritual children of his, “You are my marks in cement.”

    You see, the Apostle Paul knew where to make footprints that last. So many of our efforts are poured into, well, things that are like prints in the sand. A man or woman rises to a top position in their company, and everyone’s looking to them, and they’ve got power, and they’ve got influence, and they’ve got importance. And then they retire or they’re replaced. You know what – it’s amazing how quickly that hole closes up. It takes about one day to change the name on the door. And the waves come in and wipe out all the years of footprints.

    Or an athlete breaks a record, only to leave someone else’s wave to come in and wipe it out. Awards, titles, victories, great speeches, recognition, things we work so hard, sacrifice so much for. Maybe even we sacrifice so many people for. But those things come and they go. The marks that last are not the achievements you score, but the people you touch.

    Your children – they’re wet cement. Don’t be so busy making your mark at work or at church that you don’t have your prime energy for them. The people you teach, the people you manage, they are wet cement. You’re marking them your friends. Especially those who need your Jesus and have no idea that what happened on that cross was for them. Ultimately, the marks that last are not the ones that give you a name, but the ones that are made in Jesus’ name.

    Could it be that you didn’t mean to, but you’ve been caught up in the footprints that you’ve been making in the sand? It’s been so important to make that mark at work, at church, with a group of people you want to impress.

    Well, are the people close to you losing out to the things that you’re involved in? Put your prints in cement, where they’ll last, not in sand where they can’t last.

    Join the ConversationSee, the waves can never erase what you write in human cement.
    http://www.hutchcraft.com/blogs/ron-hutchcrafts-blogs/disaster-in-japan-a-wake-up-call-for-the-people-of-god?utm_source=Ron+Hutchcraft+Ministries%2C+Inc.&utm_campaign=0381df26f3-AWWY+6308&utm_medium=email

  18. eslkevin says:

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/03/16/2003498298

    Crisis grips Japan as radiation leaks

    EXODUS::China said it would begin evacuating Chinese nationals from quake-stricken areas, while Japan’s prime minister was reportedly asking ‘what the hell is going on’
    Reuters, TOKYO
    Wed, Mar 16, 2011 – Page 1

    Japan faced a potential catastrophe yesterday after a quake-crippled nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and others to stock up on essential supplies.

    Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan urged people within 30km of the facility — a population of 140,000 — to remain indoors amid the world’s most serious nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986.

    Officials in Tokyo — 240km to the south of the plant — said only minute levels of radiation had been detected so far in the capital, which were “not a problem.”

    Radiation levels in the city of Maebashi, 100km north of Tokyo, and in Chiba Prefecture, nearer the city, were up to 10 times normal levels, Kyodo news agency said. Foreign experts disagreed on whether this was harmful or not.

    About eight hours after the explosions, the UN weather agency said winds were dispersing radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean, away from Japan and other Asian countries. The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation added that weather conditions could change.

    Two of the reactors exploded on Tuesday at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant after days of frantic efforts to cool them. Kyodo news agency said the nuclear fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor might be boiling, suggesting the crisis is far from over at the plant.

    “The possibility of further radioactive leakage is heightening,” a grim-faced Kan said in an address to the nation. “We are making every effort to prevent the leak from spreading. I know that people are very worried, but I would like to ask you to act calmly.”

    Levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been recorded near the No. 4 reactor, the government said. Exposure to more than 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association.

    The plant operator pulled out 750 workers, leaving just 50, and a 30km no-fly zone was imposed around the reactors. There have been no detailed updates on what levels the radiation reached inside the exclusion zone where people live.

    “Radioactive material will reach Tokyo but it is not harmful to human bodies because it will be dissipated by the time it gets to Tokyo,” said Koji Yamazaki, professor at Hokkaido University graduate school of environmental science. “If the wind gets stronger, it means the material flies faster, but it will be even more dispersed in the air.”

    Despite pleas for calm, residents rushed to shops in Tokyo to stock up on supplies. Don Quixote, a multi-storey, 24-hour general store in Roppongi district, sold out of radios, flashlights, candles and sleeping bags.

    In a sign of regional fears about the risk of radiation, China said it would evacuate its citizens from areas worst affected, but it had detected no abnormal radiation levels at home. Air China said it had canceled flights to Tokyo.

    Several embassies advised staff and citizens to leave affected areas. Tourists cut short vacations and multinational companies either urged staff to leave or said they were considering plans to move outside Tokyo.

    “I’m scared. I’m so scared I would rather be in the eye of a tornado,” said 10-year-old Lucy Niver of Egan, Minnesota, who was on holiday in Japan. “I want to leave.”

    Japanese media have became more critical of Kan’s handling of the disaster and criticized the government and nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) for its failure to provide enough information on the incident.

    Kan himself lambasted the operator for taking so long to inform his office about one of the blasts, demanding to know “what the hell is going on,” Kyodo reported.

    Kyodo said Kan had ordered TEPCO not to pull employees out of the plant.

    “The TV reported an explosion, but nothing was said to the premier’s office for about an hour,” a Kyodo reporter quoted Kan telling power company executives.

    There have been a total of four explosions at the plant since it was damaged in Friday’s massive quake and tsunami. The most recent were blasts at reactors No. 2 and No. 4.

    There was a real possibility of a leak in the No. 4 reactor container, which houses the nuclear fuel rods, according to Murray Jennex, a professor at San Diego State University in California.

    Concerns center on damage to a part of the reactor core known as the suppression pool, which helps cool and trap the majority of cesium, iodine and strontium in its water. The nature of the damage was unclear, as was its impact on the containment structure, a thick steel vessel that surrounds the core.

    The full extent of the destruction from last Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that followed it was still becoming clear, as rescuers combed through the region north of Tokyo where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed.

    Whole villages and towns have been wiped off the map by Friday’s wall of water, triggering an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.

    Published on Taipei Times :
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/03/16/2003498298
    Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

  19. eslkevin says:

    http://eslkevin.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/will-the-ring-of-fire-earthquakes-in-2011-continue-on-to-north-america

    Within 6-7 days the plumes from Fukushima should hit the California coast, but it will certainly hit Alaska sooner–i.e. as the winds are heading west.

  20. eslkevin says:

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/03/13/2003498052

    Fears of Japan nuclear meltdown rise
    RISING DEATH TOLL::Official estimates on the number of deaths vary from 700 to over 1,000, with more than 215,000 taking refuge in shelters
    AFP, SENDAI, JAPAN
    Sun, Mar 13, 2011 – Page 1

    An explosion and feared meltdown at a Japanese nuclear plant yesterday exposed the scale of the disaster facing the country after a massive quake and tsunami left more than 1,000 dead.

    Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the magnitude 8.9 quake and the terrifying tsunami that followed were an “unprecedented national disaster” and vowed to protect those living near the stricken plant.

    Reactor cooling systems failed at two nuclear facilities after Friday’s record earthquake, which unleashed a terrifying 10m tsunami that tore through coastal towns and cities, destroying everything in its path.

    Smoke was seen billowing from the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant about 250km northeast of Tokyo after an explosion at the site.

    Kyodo News agency said radioactive caesium had been detected near the aging facility, citing the nuclear safety agency.

    However, Kan’s top spokesman, Yukio Edano, said that the Fukushima plant’s operator had reported the reactor container was not damaged and that radiation levels near it had fallen after the blast.

    Kyodo and Jiji reported before the explosion that the plant “may be experiencing nuclear meltdown,” while public broadcaster NHK quoted the safety agency as saying metal tubes that contain uranium fuel may have melted.

    The cooling system of the plant was damaged in the massive earthquake that struck the region 24 hours earlier, leaving authorities scrambling to fix the problem and evacuate tens of thousands of people within a 20km radius.

    Thousands were evacuated near another damaged plant, Fukushima No. 2.

    The atomic emergency came as the country struggled to assess the full extent of the devastation wreaked by the massive tsunami, which was unleashed by the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan.

    The wall of water pulverized towns and cities along the northeastern coast. Police reportedly said 200 to 300 bodies had been found in the city of Sendai.

    About 300 to 400 bodies were recovered in Rikuzentakata, a coastal town of about 23,000 people, NHK quoted the military as saying.

    The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the tsunami had obliterated the town.

    It was not immediately clear whether any of the bodies found by the military were included in police tolls showing at least 700 people dead. The government spokesman said at least 1,000 people were believed to have lost their lives.

    More than 215,000 people were huddled in emergency shelters, police said.

    The full scale of those left homeless was believed to be much higher, with police saying they had not received a tally from Miyagi Prefecture, the hard-hit region that is home to Sendai.

    NHK reported that about 10,000 people are unaccounted for in the Japanese port town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi. The figure is more than half of the town’s population of about 17,000, it said.

    Local authorities are trying to find their whereabouts with the help of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, NHK said.

    The raging tsunami picked up shipping containers, cars and the debris of shattered homes. It crashed through the streets of Sendai and across open fields, forming a mud slick that covered vast tracts of land.

    “There are so many people who lost their lives,” an elderly man told TV reporters before breaking down in tears. “I have no words to say.”

    Authorities said more than 3,000 homes were destroyed or swept away.

    About 50,000 military and other rescue personnel were spearheading a Herculean rescue and recovery effort with hundreds of ships, aircraft and vehicles headed to the Pacific coast area.

    Army helicopters airlifted people off the roof of an elementary school in Watari, Miyagi Prefecture.

    In quake-hit areas, 5.6 million households had no power yesterday and more than 1 million households were without water. Telecommunications networks were also hit.

    The quake, which hit at 2:46pm and lasted about two minutes, rattled buildings in greater Tokyo, the world’s largest urban area and home to about 30 million people.

    More than 24 hours after the first, massive quake struck about 400km northeast of Tokyo, aftershocks were still rattling the region, including a strong magnitude 6.8 tremor yesterday.

    The US Geological Survey said more than 100 aftershocks had hit the area.

    Published on Taipei Times :
    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/03/13/2003498052
    Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

  21. eslkevin says:

    Radiation from Japan not reaching Taiwan: official
    Staff Writer, with CNA

    Radiation monitoring systems around Taiwan have not yet detected any radiation from an explosion at a nuclear power plant in Japan, a government official said yesterday.

    “There have not been any unusual readings based on the results of our 24-hour monitoring systems,” Atomic Energy Council (AEC) Deputy Minister Shieh Der-jhy (謝得志) told a press briefing earlier in the day.

    “It has had absolutely no impact on Taiwan,” he said. “Winds are also favorable as they are not blowing in Taiwan’s direction. Therefore, everyone can relax.”

    Concerns have been raised that the wind could carry radioactive material released from a crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture to Taiwan, a distance of more than 2,000km.

    Fukushima was one of the many areas along the northeastern coast of Honshu island that were battered by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake and an ensuing tsunami on Friday.

    As there was no threat of radiation contamination in Taiwan at present, Shieh said there was no reason for people to take iodine, which can help block the intake of radioactive material in the thyroid.

    Separately, at a national security meeting earlier yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told government agencies to continue monitoring whether radiation from Japan would have an impact on Taiwan.

    The nation should be on high alert, Ma said at the opening of a national security meeting on the Japanese disaster, adding that Taiwan needed to examine its disaster readiness in light of the aftermath of the quake and tsunami.

    The meeting was also attended by Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真), Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳?), Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) and Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺).

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2011/03/16/2003498298

  22. eslkevin says:

    Dear Kevin:

    As the nuclear crisis in Japan has deteriorated, many of you have emailed and called asking for our response. Like you, we are horrified and deeply saddened by the disaster caused by the earthquake and tsunami, and our hearts go out to the people of Japan.

    During this time of crisis, Ploughshares Fund has been called upon to help the media accurately convey the crisis at the nuclear facilities and its implications. I have been working around the clock to respond to the many, many media inquiries I’ve received from NBC, CNN, FOX, BBC and others. As of Sunday morning, I agreed to be an exclusive consultant with ABC for the entire week. Over the past few days, I have appeared on segments for ABC’s Good Morning America, World News, 20/20 and Nightline.

    Our program director Paul Carroll has been equally active, providing interviews for shows on every corner of the spectrum beginning Sunday night with three top-of-the-hour call-ins to Fox News and following with interviews with Southern California Public Radio, the New York Daily News and Daily Beast. Tonight, look for him on the Sean Hannity Show on Fox News.

    Thanks to your support, many of our grantees are also able to provide analysis and commentary to the media: Jim Walsh of MIT (who has become CNN’s nuclear expert), Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Peter Hayes of the Nautilus Institute, Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action Japan, Bob Alvarez of Institute for Policy Studies, and more.

    UCS scientists are providing excellent regular updates and fact sheets on their blog: All Things Nuclear. I highly recommend it as a means of keeping up-to-date as the situation evolves. And if you’re on Twitter, you can check out this list (requires a Twitter account) of people and organizations sharing constant updates. Our website features a special section on the crisis with links to reports, updates and my media appearances.

    This is beyond a nuclear reactor crisis; this is a nuclear system crisis. As I write, more fires are being reported at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and the remaining workers are laboring heroically to prevent multiple meltdowns and fuel pond fires. This catastrophe has long passed the Three Mile Island crisis in severity and is heading towards Chernobyl territory. It’s clear that Fukushima will soon become its own touchstone. We’ll be updating our website and continuing to comment as the situation unfolds. Please stay tuned.

    Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people affected by the disaster.

    With gratitude for your continued support,

    Joe Cirincione
    President, Ploughshares Fund

  23. eslkevin says:

    There are already nearly 12,000 dead in Japan from the triple menace of earthquake, tsunami, and man-made time bombs–known as nuclear reactors.–KAS

    U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/sc_nm/us_nuclear_usa

    By Jeff Mason and Tom Doggett Jeff Mason And Tom Doggett – Thu Mar 17, 12:24 am ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States showed increasing alarm about Japan’s nuclear crisis on Wednesday and urged its citizens to stay clear of an earthquake-crippled power plant, going further in its warnings than Japan itself.

    The State Department said the United States has chartered aircraft to help Americans leave Japan and had authorized the voluntary departure of family members of diplomatic staff in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama — about 600 people.

    “The State Department strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing,” it said.

    As operators of the Fukushima plant tried to douse overheating reactors, U.S. officials warned about the risks of getting anywhere near the area and relied on their own officials for details about the danger.

    “The situation has deteriorated in the days since the tsunami and … the situation has grown at times worse with potential greater damage and fallout from the reactor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

    U.S. officials took pains not to criticize the Japanese government, which has shown signs of being overwhelmed by the crisis that began after last Friday’s devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.

    But Washington’s actions indicated a divide with the Japanese about the perilousness of the situation.

    U.S. President Barack Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan in a telephone call that the United States will do all it can to help Japan recover, the White House said.

    “The president briefed Prime Minister Kan on the additional support being provided by the U.S., including specialized military assets with expertise in nuclear response and consequence management,” it said in a statement.

    The State Department recommended that U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the plant leave the area or stay indoors.

    Japan’s government has asked people living within 12 miles to evacuate and those between 12 miles and 18 miles to stay indoors.

    PLUME OF RADIATION

    Gregory Jaczko, the top U.S. nuclear regulator, cast doubt on efforts to cool overheating reactors, saying workers may be hit with “lethal doses” of radiation.

    “It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors,” Jaczko said.

    A United Nations forecast projects the radioactive plume from the Fukushima facility would reach the Aleutian Islands on Thursday and hit Southern California late on Friday, The New York Times reported.

    The projection, calculated on Tuesday and obtained by the newspaper, gives no information about actual radiation levels, it said. Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and will have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, it reported.

    The U.S. military has ordered its forces to stay 50 miles away from the plant, the Pentagon said. There are at least 55,000 members of the U.S. forces in Japan and offshore assisting the relief operation.

    “All of us are heartbroken by the images of what’s happening in Japan and we’re reminded of how American leadership is critical to our closest allies,” Obama said in Washington.

    “Even if those allies are themselves economically advanced and powerful, there are moments where they need our help, and we’re bound together by a common humanity.”

    CONFLICTING REPORTS

    The State Department’s warning to U.S. citizens was based on new information collected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy and other U.S. sources.

    The United States is trying to deploy equipment in Japan that can detect radiation exposure at ground level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional hearing.

    The detection system is part of equipment and 39 personnel from the Energy Department sent to Japan, he said. It has also provided equipment to monitor airborne radiation.

    The United States is deploying more radiation monitors on Hawaii and other U.S. islands even though it does not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach U.S. soil, environmental regulators said.

    Chu declined to tell lawmakers, when asked, whether he was satisfied with Japan’s response so far to its nuclear crisis.

    “I can’t really say. I think we hear conflicting reports,” Chu said. “This is one of the reasons why (the United States is) there with boots on the ground … to know what is really happening.”

    Beyond the risk to workers at or near the damaged nuclear plant, one scientist, Dr. Ira Helfand, warned of possible widespread contamination of people and land.

    “We need … to focus on the radioactive isotopes being dispersed at some distance from the plant, because this is going to cause a whole different set of health problems,” Helfand, past president of the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a telephone briefing.

    The Obama administration has maintained its support for expanding U.S. use of nuclear energy despite renewed fears about its safety after the events in Japan.

    But Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday the crisis raised questions about the use of nuclear energy in the United States.

    “What’s happening in Japan raises questions about the costs and the risks associated with nuclear power but we have to answer those,” she said in an interview with MSNBC in which she emphasized the need for a comprehensive U.S. energy policy.

    “We get 20 percent of our energy right now in the United States from nuclear power.”

    (Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, David Morgan, Andrew Quinn, Paul Eckert, Matt Spetalnick, Alister Bull, Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland, Deborah Zabarenko and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney and John O’Callaghan)

  24. eslkevin says:

    duhhhh, no kidding

    Japan’s economy can only go up from ground zero

  25. eslkevin says:

    Blogs – Ron Hutchcraft’s Blogs
    http://www.hutchcraft.com/blogs/ron-hutchcrafts-blogs/scary-times?utm_source=Ron+Hutchcraft+Ministries%2C+Inc.&utm_campaign=844e18e1af-AWWY+6309&utm_medium=email

    I’m not used to news reporters referencing the Book of Revelation. But, then, these aren’t ordinary times. They’re referring to statements about earthquakes and disasters in what the Bible calls “the last days.” As in the last days of human history. As in the personal return of Jesus Christ to change things forever.

    Within a little more than a year, there’s been a massive earthquake in Japan, Chile and New Zealand. I just saw on TV a map of the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the part of the world where most major quakes erupt. It shows Japan northwest, New Zealand southeast, Chile southwest. The West Coast of the United States completes the ring on the northeast. The headline asked, “Is California next?”

    Now we have an additional concern in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The specter of possible nuclear meltdowns has some people imagining “apocalyptic” scenarios. Oh, and what about all those revolutions that are popping up on our news almost daily? It seems like the whole world is shaking sometimes.

    Jesus said it would. He said “there will be great earthquakes…in various places and fearful events” (Luke 21:11 ). Yes, there have been earthquakes for thousands of years, but apparently they’re going to get bigger and more frequent.

    Jesus also said there would be “wars and revolutions” (Luke 21:8 ) and “nation (the original word means ethnic groups) will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…on the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity” (Luke 21:25 ). Couldn’t help but think of that as I watch long-entrenched governments quaking with a tidal wave of protests and revolution.

    The Lord of the future went on to say that “men will…be apprehensive of what is coming in the world” (Luke 21:26 ). Upheaval in nature. Upheaval in nations. And unrest in our souls. Then the drumroll, please. “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27 ).

    As the tsunami was racing across the Pacific, I saw this cable news banner: “People are urged to take urgent action to protect lives.” Our potentially “apocalyptic” world seems to be calling us to one of two spiritual responses – “urgent action.” If you belong to Jesus, act urgently to tell people you love about Him – no more excuses, no more stalling. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, act urgently to give yourself to Him. Then you are forever safe, no matter what shakes you, no matter what swamps you. He is, after all, the Rescuer who died for your sins…the Conqueror who beat death on Easter Morning…the King who will write the final chapter.

    “Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…the Lord Almighty is with us” (Psalm 46:2-3 , 7). As they say in earthquake drills, “Hold onto something heavy.” That’s Jesus.

    If you would like to pursue a personal love-relationship with the God that Ron has written about here, visit Yours For Life or call 1-888-966-7325 (toll-free).

  26. eslkevin says:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_earthquake_global_tragedy

    By JOJI SAKURAI, Associated Press Joji Sakurai, Associated Press – 2 hrs 58 mins ago

    TOKYO – There are events in history that sear themselves into the world’s collective imagination, and enter the realm where myth meets heartbreaking reality.

    Japan’s tragedy is one of those events. Already, it seems reasonable to surmise it could prove one of the most significant calamities of our time — one that shapes policies, economies, even philosophies for decades to come in an increasingly interconnected world.

    There is the sheer, surreal force of the images emerging from afflicted zones: cars perched on rooftops, ships sitting in rice paddies, helicopters in a David-and-Goliath battle against radiation-spewing nuclear reactors.

    And the way it haunts us with some of our most basic fears: Death by water. Or rubble. Or nuclear fallout.

    Add to that, it’s a crisis with an impact that will be felt around the planet: Japan is one of the most advanced countries in the world, its third-largest economy, its most successful car-seller and its second-most generous giver of foreign aid.

    “This event has the potential to be the most globally disruptive natural hazard in modern times,” said Rob Verchick, a disaster expert at Loyola University in New Orleans. “And it may just be, in the context of globalization, of all time.”

    The Asian tsunami of 2004 killed more people. The fall of the Twin Towers launched two wars. The collapse of the Berlin Wall spelled the end of an empire.

    But in this event, psychological, even philosophical, shock over the confluence of human tragedy and nuclear catastrophe yields some fundamental questions. If a technological power like Japan can be so vulnerable, who’s safe? Is even minimal risk, as with nuclear power, too much risk? Do we need to rethink the role of government in protecting the public?

    Shaking us from modern-day hubris, we’re forced to think about whether even the most advanced societies, with almost obsessively meticulous safety backstops, are still pitifully at the mercy of the elements.

    But amid tragedy, Francis Fukuyama, the eminent Stanford philosopher and author of “The End of History and the Last Man,” sees the possibility for the crisis to become a galvanizing force for political change in the world.

    “It does seem to me a natural disaster like this, because it reminds everybody of how commonly vulnerable they are, could be used as an opportunity to reshape the whole tone and character of politics,” Fukuyama told The Associated Press.

    The unbelievable sight of rich Japan — famous for trains running like clockwork, state-of-the-art gadgets, concern for safety and order — laid low by a freak force of nature beyond human control has been a terrifying wake-up call. On Friday, Japan’s government acknowledged that the triple blow of quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster completely overwhelmed even its elaborately laid out, and fastidiously practiced, emergency response systems.

    “The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

    There’s another great earthquake that changed the world: Lisbon, 1755. The tsunami-churning temblor flattened the Portuguese city, killed tens of thousands of people, and caused Enlightenment thinkers to re-imagine the role of government and community.

    Experts say this crisis could become another historical turning point that may alter mankind’s perception of its relationship to the world, and societies’ relationship with one another in an age of globalization.

    “What the Lisbon earthquake experience contributed to Western history (was) this move of government being responsible to its people and protecting them in a community-driven way,” said Verchick. “Is there anything like that that might happen as a result of the Japan tsunami and earthquake and nuclear disaster? I think that the answer is yes. It’s related to the idea of global community.”

    Already the crisis is triggering an urgent rethink of nuclear power around the world, from China to Germany, where pressure is building to sharply accelerate a plan to phase out nuclear energy.

    “Fukushima, March 12: 15:36: The End of the Nuclear Age,” read the cover of the Germany’s prestigious Der Spiegel magazine — referring to the exact time an explosion rocked the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant where workers are racing to prevent a meltdown.

    While the Asian tsunami and last year’s earthquake in Haiti triggered an enormous outpouring of worldwide sympathy and aid, the Japan catastrophe is one where people in industrialized countries can more easily see themselves in the victims’ shoes.

    “One of the things that make this a unique situation is that it is a catastrophic event with incredible terrifying loss that’s occurring in a country that is also wealthy,” said Verchick, author of the book Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World.

    Verchick said that in New Orleans, many people who lived through Hurricane Katrina are watching the scenes in Japan with a sense of gut-wrenching familiarity, with some even experiencing symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The Japan tsunami will go down in history as the more significant disaster, according to James Orr, professor of East Asian studies at Bucknell University. Not because of any difference in suffering, but because its effects will be felt around the planet in a more direct way. “Katrina was very much a regional disaster,” he said.

    And that global punch is given more force from the historic speed with which the images of devastation reached every corner of the planet.

    “People all over the world have the ability to almost immediately see the disaster on the ground,” said Verchick. “And that actually produces psychological and social changes in people and communities all over the world.”

  27. eslkevin says:

    http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/03/does-japan-quake-made-us-quake-more-likely

    Does the Japan Quake Make a US Quake More Likely?
    — By Kiera Butler
    | Mon Mar. 21, 2011 2:30 AM PDT. Chen Jianli/Xinhua/ZumaSeismically speaking, it’s been a rough few months on the Pacific rim. On February 27, 2010, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile. In September, two major quakes rocked New Zealand’s South Island, and a 6.3 followed in February in Christchurch. Just a few weeks after that, the devastating 9.0 quake struck Japan, causing a tsunami and a nuclear crisis. These quakes occurred on three of the four “corners” of the notoriously jumpy Ring of Fire. The other corner? The West Coast of the United States. So does this series of earthquakes up the US’s chances of the dreaded “Big One”?

    This Newsweek story from last week suggests that the answer is yes, since the earth is “like a great brass bell, which when struck by an enormous hammer blow on one side sets to vibrating and ringing from all over.” Rogue seismologist Jim Berkland, who claims to be able to predict earthquakes based in part on tides and the moon, has also warned that a major US quake is imminent.
    .Advertise on MotherJones.com
    The seismologists I talked to all agreed that major quakes do have local ripple effects. In addition to aftershocks, which can contine for a few weeks after a quake the size of Japan’s, earthquakes can also beget more earthquakes on other parts of the same plate, or even on nearby faults. John Mutter, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, explains that when a quake occurs, stress is relieved in one area of a plate and transferred to other parts of that plate. “So, unhappily, we know that Port-au-Prince is at even greater risk than it was before the quake last year,” says Mutter. “And the recent earthquake in Christchurch was probably ‘triggered’ by the one that occurred in September the year before.”

    The question, then: How far can the transferred stress travel? This diagram (PDF) made by by Ross Stein, a geophysicist United States Geological Survey, shows increased levels of stress as far as 186 miles from the epicenter of the March 11 quake in Japan. The New Zealand earthquakes all occurred within a few hundred miles; they were probably connected. Similarly, says Morgan Moschetti, another USGS geophysicist, the quake that struck the Indian Ocean and triggered a tsunami in 2004 likely triggered another series of quakes in Sumatra in 2007.

    Some scientists believe the stress transfer zones can extend even further. UC-Santa Cruz seismologist Emily Brodsky recently told New Scientist that “The recent spurt of magnitude-8-plus earthquakes may be an extended aftershock sequence of the 2004 Sumatra earthquake.” But seismologists aren’t in agreement about this point, and the bottom line is that there’s not enough data to say conclusively whether they’re all related.

    And there’s certainly no evidence that a quake can transfer stress across as great of a distance as that between Japan and the US. “That’s too far for stress to act,” says Mutter. Which is not to say that the Big One isn’t imminent, or that we shouldn’t take precautions. The West Coast straddles several fault lines, and as Julia Whitty points out here, earthquakes are nothing if not surprising. Speaking of which, the Sunlight Foundation has a really interesting map of US nuclear reactors, fault lines, and seismic activity. Worth a gander.

  28. eslkevin says:

    http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/03/how-bad-could-japans-nuclear-crisis-get

    How Bad Could Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Get?
    Medical staff check radiation levels on residents 40 miles from the damaged Fukushima power plant. ZUMA PressAs emergency workers begin “last-ditch efforts” to take control of the damaged power station, experts worry that a meltdown is still possible.

    — By Kate Sheppard

    By all accounts, the situation at Japan’s troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appears to be getting worse. (Be sure to check out our real-time updates for the latest news.) Just how bad it could get?

    Nuclear power experts and watchdogs warn that we’re entering uncharted territory. “The situation is worsening,” says Robert Alvarez, a scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy advisor to the secretary of energy during the Clinton administration. “It seems to be slipping out of the control of authorities.” The situation at the Japanese plant is constantly changing and involves several reactors in various states of disrepair. The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Greg Jaczko, says it could be “possibly weeks” before it is totally under control. Until then, the risk of a full meltdown still looms.
    .Advertise on MotherJones.com
    To recap: The Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant has six nuclear reactors. The power plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has been struggling to bring reactor units 1, 2, and 3 under control after last week’s earthquake and tsunami caused a massive power failure that disabled the cooling systems. On top of that, the spent nuclear fuel in Unit 4, which was down for maintenance at the time of the quake, has twice ignited and appears to be the source of the high levels of radiation released so far.

    The spent fuel currently presents the biggest problem. On Wednesday, NRC chairman Jaczko testified to a Senate panel that he believed that the pool of water that the spent fuel is supposed to be submersed in had completely burned off. The Japanese government has said that there still is water in the pool, however. Keeping the spent fuel covered is essential for keeping it cool and preventing the release of radiation. Not all of the rods are completely spent, and ongoing reactions within them generate heat. Without a functioning cooling system, the rods heat up the water and cause it to boil off. The smoke coming from the unit indicates that the dry rods are likely causing their zirconium coating to corrode and ignite, allowing radiation to escape.

    One expert describes what is currently happening as “last-ditch efforts.” If plant workers can’t regain control over the units, there could be a meltdown.The spent fuel pool at Unit 4 is also particularly problematic, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, because the rods in it were just removed in December 2010 and are still highly radioactive. The Unit 4 building has been severely damaged, and the spent fuel pools don’t have the containment infrastructure that the reactors do. “There’s no protection,” says Kenneth Bergeron, a physicist who previously worked on nuclear reactor accident simulations at the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories. “These things are burning in the open air virtually…Then the fission products are just there to be lofted into the atmosphere.”

    The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has released an updated status report on all the units that shows that the water level in the spent fuel pool at Unit 3 is also critically low. Japanese officials have characterized this reactor as perhaps the most dangerous, because it uses some mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, which includes uranium and plutonium, and presents a more severe radiation threat. On Monday, there was an explosion at Unit 3 that appears to have damaged its reactor core and severely damaged its building. Responders have also been struggling to maintain the water level in its reactor, and as of Thursday evening it was only half full.

    Life-threatening radiation levels have made it even harder to emergency workers to deal with the multiple problems at Fukushima. Fire engines, military trucks, and aircraft have been sent in to douse the units in hopes of cooling them down. The New York Times reports that at least one helicopter turned back, likely due to the high radiation levels.

    Alvarez describes what is currently happening as “last-ditch efforts.” If plant workers can’t keep the water levels up and regain control over the reactors, there could be a full meltdown. That means the overheated nuclear fuel will melt and pour into the bottom of the reactors. The question then becomes whether the reactors’ primary containment vessels can hold the melted fuel. Some nuclear watchdog groups have concerns that the Mark 1 model reactor used at Fukushima may be vulnerable to failures. The containment vessels at Units 2 and 3 are thought to be damaged, and the building integrity is compromised at all three units. Additional fires and explosions could further damage the containment system.

    What might happen next was described to the Knoxville News Sentinel by Michael Allen, who has run nuclear-accident simulations at Sandia National Labs:

    If workers are unable to get additional cooling water into the reactor vessel, the molten fuel core will collapse into the water in bottom of the vessel. Eventually the heat from the decaying fuel would boil away the water that’s left, leaving the core sitting on the vessel’s lower head made of steel. Should that happen, “It’ll melt through it like butter,” Allen said.
    That, in turn, would cause a “high-pressure melt injection” into the water-filled concrete cavity below the reactor. Because the concrete would likely be unheated, the reaction created by the sudden injection of the reactor’s ultra-hot content would be immense, he said.
    “It’ll be like somebody dropped a bomb, and there’ll be a big cloud of very, very radioactive material above the ground,” Allen said, noting that it would contain uranium and plutonium, as well as the fission products.
    In the very least, such a scenario would render the area around the Fukushima power plant uninhabitable for the foreseeable future—an area Alvarez says could possibly be as large as several northeastern states. Its wider impact would depend on where the resulting plume of radiation travels. Even then, fully understanding the accident’s environmental and public health impacts of could take years. Yet if the prevailing wind carries the radiation out to sea, there would be less impact on people living beyond the plant’s immediate vicinity. But that’s another big “if” in a situation whose final outcome remains unpredictable and potentially catastrophic.

    Kate Sheppard covers energy and environmental politics in Mother Jones’ Washington bureau.

  29. eslkevin says:

    http://www.amerrescue.org/

    ia s agood source for what to do in an emergency

  30. Pingback: Latest Earthquakes include L.A., Baja, California, and off the coasts of Japan, Sumatra, & Chile « Eslkevin's Blog

  31. Pingback: While Offshore Japan continues to shake, here is a bit of Nuclear News « Eslkevin's Blog

  32. eslkevin says:

    ‘THREAT’:The activists questioned a government claim that shutting down the nuclear plants would drive at least one-fourth of companies out of business

    Staff Writer, with CNA
    About 20 environmental activists yesterday urged the government to stop the operation of nuclear power plants in the country.
    In a prelude to a nationwide anti-nuclear protest on April 30, the Green Citizen’s Action Alliance staged a protest in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday.
    The Taipei-based non-profit alliance demanded that the government stop construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant and halt operations at the three existing plants.
    Instead of nuclear power, the country can use its reserve power supply, it said.
    Last year, Taiwan generated an extra 24.3 percent of its regular capacity with emergency generators. If all nuclear plants were shut down, the reserve rate would only drop to 10 percent, which is still manageable, the alliance said.
    The group also questioned the ministry’s claim that shutting down the plants could force a quarter or a third of local companies out of business, calling it a tactic meant to “scare the people.”
    The ministry should stop using threats to defend its use of nuclear power, the alliance said, adding that since the nation has ample reserve power, there is no reason to believe that suspending nuclear power would shut down businesses.
    The demonstrators urged the ministry to come up with specific policies to change its “unreasonable” energy structure, stop giving subsidies to support the “wrong” cause of nuclear power and hold a public debate with private organizations on national energy policies.
    The alliance will join forces with other environmental groups for coordinated anti-nuclear protests in several cities, including Taipei, on April 30.
    The Wall Street Journal reported last month that all of Taiwan’s four nuclear power plants, including the one under construction, are located in high-hazard areas, making them vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis.

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2011/04/16/2003500892

  33. Pingback: Nothing like another North American Earthquake to get people to take a second look at this popular article « Eslkevin's Blog

  34. eslkevin says:

    http://artscience.cyberclip.com/visualizing-one-hundred-years-of-pacific-rim

    Visualizing One Hundred Years of Pacific Rim Earthquakes
    Whenever I hear of a major earthquake, I always wonder when our turn will come. I’ve been asking myself that question way too frequently recently. My family and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, prime earthquake country (or so I thought until I looked at Japan…). I started playing with NOAA’s earthquake data after the New Zealand earthquake. After the recent Japan quake, I thought I’d publish a few graphics.
    Disclaimer: I’m no geologist, statistician, or expert on earthquakes. I don’t even play one on TV. I don’t think anyone can predict earthquakes with any certainty (though there is some interesting research) and I certainly won’t try.
    The Ring of Fire is the name given to the chain of mountains, volcanoes, and faults that ring the Pacific Ocean. Of the world’s 16 largest earthquakes since 1900, 15 occurred in the Ring of Fire.
    Here’s an interesting graphic showing the earthquakes above 6.0 magnitude that have hit the Ring of Fire region since 1900. Earthquakes of magnitudes between 6 and 7 are in green, between 7 and 8 in blue, and 8 or higher in red.

  35. eslkevin says:

    The “Ring of Fire” (map) is an arc stretching from New Zealand, along the eastern edge of Asia, north across the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and south along the coast of North and South America. The Ring of Fire is composed over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.
    This huge ring of volcanic and seismic (earthquake) activity was noticed and described before the invention of the theory of plate tectonics theory. We now know that the Ring of Fire is located at the borders of the Pacific Plate and other major tectonic plates.

    Plates are like giant rafts of the earth’s surface which often slide next to, collide with, and are forced underneath other plates. Around the Ring of Fire, the Pacific Plate is colliding with and sliding underneath other plates. This process is known as subduction and the volcanically and seismically active area nearby is known as a subduction zone. There is a tremendous amount of energy created by these plates and they easily melt rock into magma, which rises to the surface as lava and forms volcanoes.

    Volcanoes are temporary features on the earth’s surface and there are currently about 1500 active volcanoes in the world. About ten percent of these are located in the United States.

    This is a listing of major volcanic areas in the Ring of Fire:

    In South America the Nazca plate is colliding with the South American plate. This has created the Andes and volcanoes such as Cotopaxi and Azul.
    In Central America, the tiny Cocos plate is crashing into the North American plate and is therefore responsible for the Mexican volcanoes of Popocatepetl and Paricutun (which rose up from a cornfield in 1943 and became a instant mountains).
    Between Northern California and British Columbia, the Pacific, Juan de Fuca, and Gorda plates have built the Cascades and the infamous Mount Saint Helens, which erupted in 1980.
    Alaska’s Aleutian Islands are growing as the Pacific plate hits the North American plate. The deep Aleutian Trench has been created at the subduction zone with a maximum depth of 25,194 feet (7679 meters).
    From Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to Japan, the subduction of the Pacific plate under the Eurasian plate is responsible for Japanese islands and volcanoes (such as Mt. Fuji).
    The final section of the Ring of Fire exists where the Indo-Australian plate subducts under the Pacific plate and has created volcanoes in the New Guinea and Micronesian areas. Near New Zealand, the Pacific Plate slides under the Indo-Australian plate.

    http://geography.about.com/cs/earthquakes/a/ringoffire.htm

  36. eslkevin says:

    http://www.rrcap.unep.org/apeo/Chp1h-nathazards.html

    Natural Hazards

    Many of the Asia and Pacific developing countries are situated in the world’s hazard belts and are subject to floods, droughts, cyclones, earthquakes, windstorms, tidal waves and land slides, etc. The major natural disasters that occur periodically in this region are largely due to climatic and seismic factors. The region has suffered 50 per cent of the world’s major natural disasters (ESCAP, 1995a). Since the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction began in 1990, the total number of deaths due to natural disasters in the region has exceeded 200,000 and the estimated damage to property over this period has been estimated at US$ 100 billion (ESCAP, 1995a). Vulnerability to disasters has increased due to the increased aggregation of people in urban centres, environmental degradation, and a lack of planning and preparedness. The estimated number of people affected by disasters in the Asia-Pacific region during 1980–90 is given in Figure 18. Disasters can result from:
    meteorological phenomena such as typhoons and hurricanes, sheet flooding and marine and river-based floods;
    geological processes such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami; and
    climatic phenomenon such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation that results in a lowering of mean sea level in the east of the region, failure of the monsoon rains in India, and drought in Indonesia and Australia.
    Vulnerability to natural hazards has increased in many coastal areas due to the loss of coastal habitats such as mangroves and coral reefs that provide natural protection from marine flooding. A summary of disaster statistics for countries in the Asia-Pacific region during 1966–90 is given in Table 8. China, India and Bangladesh are ranked first, second and third, respectively, based on the total number of deaths during that period.

    Cyclones. Tropical cyclones, or typhoons, are common in the Asia-Pacific region. They occur most frequently over the north-west Pacific, just east of the Philippines, during June and November with an average of 30 typhoons a year, i.e. about 38 per cent of the world total (ESCAP, 1995a). Tropical cyclones usually form over the southern end of the Bay of Bengal during April–December and then move to the east coast of India and Bangladesh causing severe flooding and often devastating tidal surges. The cyclones generated in the South Pacific Ocean frequently cause devastation in small island countries such as Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Samoa. Overall, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Viet Nam suffer most frequently from major events.

    Floods. Floods are the most common climate-related disaster in the region and include seasonal floods, flash floods, urban floods due to inadequate drainage facilities and floods associated with tidal events induced by typhoons in coastal areas. In Bangladesh, one of the most flood-prone countries in the region, as many as 80 million people are vulnerable to flooding each year (ESCAP, 1995a). In India, where a total of 40 million hectares is at risk from flooding each year, the average annual direct damage has been estimated at US$ 240 million, although this figure can increase to over US$ 1.5 billion with severe flood events (ESCAP, 1995a).

    Droughts. It has been observed that the impact of droughts differs widely between developed and developing countries because of the influence of such factors as water supply and water-use efficiency. The majority of the estimated 500 million rural poor in the Asia-Pacific region are subsistence farmers occupying mainly rain-fed land (ESCAP, 1995a). The drought-prone countries in this region are Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and parts of Bangladesh. In India, about 33 per cent of the arable land is considered to be drought-prone (i.e. about 14 per cent of the total land area of the country) and a further 35 per cent can also be affected if rainfall is exceptionally low for extended periods (ESCAP, 1995a). Nepal has been subjected to severe droughts in the past. The Philippines, Thailand, Australia and the Pacific islands of Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa also contain drought-prone areas.

    Landslides. Landslides, which are very common in the hills and mountainous parts of the Asia-Pacific region, occur frequently in India, China, Nepal, Thailand and the Philippines. In addition to the influence of topography, landslides are aggravated by human activities, such as deforestation, cultivation and construction, which destabilize the already fragile slopes. As a result of the combined actions of natural (mostly heavy rainfall) and human-induced factors, as many as 12,000 landslides occur in Nepal each year (ESCAP, 1995a).

    Earthquakes. The Asia-Pacific region alone has recorded 70 per cent of the world’s earthquakes measuring 7 or more on the Richter scale, at an average rate of 15 events per year (ESCAP, 1995a). The countries of the region which are badly affected by earthquakes include Japan, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Pacific Islands. Many of the countries in the region are located along, or adjacent to, the Pacific Ocean Seismic Zone or the Indian Ocean Seismic Zone. For example, 50–60 per cent of India is vulnerable to seismic activities of varying intensity (ESCAP, 1995a), particularly the areas in the Himalayan region and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The earthquake in Maharashtra State in Western India in September 1993 claimed over 12,000 lives (ESCAP, 1995a).

    About 80 per cent of China’s territorial area, 60 per cent of its large cities and 70 per cent of its urban areas with populations over 1 million, are located in seismic zones (ESCAP, 1995a). The most devastating earthquake in the world in recent history was the Tangshan earthquake in China on 28 July 1976 which claimed over 240,000 lives (ESCAP, 1995a). Japan is located in the Pacific-Rim Seismic Zone and suffers, on average, a massive earthquake (Richter scale 8 or more) once every 10 years and a large scale earthquake (magnitude 7) once a year (ESCAP, 1995a). In January 1995, Japan suffered one of the worst earthquakes in recent years at Kobe, which claimed 5,000 lives (ESCAP, 1995a). The Philippines, which lies between two of the world’s most active tectonic plates, experiences an average of five earthquakes per day, most of which are imperceptible (ESCAP, 1995a). In New Zealand, an average of 200 perceptible earthquakes occur each year, of which at least one exceeds 6 on the Richter scale (ESCAP, 1995a).

    Tsunamis. Tsunamis, tidal waves generated by earthquakes, affect many of the coastal areas of the region, including those of Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. The infamous Krakatau volcanic eruption during 1883 in Sunda Straits, Indonesia, generated a 35 metre high tsunami which caused 36,000 deaths and the tsunami of 17 August 1976 in the Moro Gulf area of the Philippines claimed another 8,000 lives (ESCAP, 1995a).

    Volcanoes. Volcanoes, like earthquakes, are located mainly along the Pacific Rim. The countries in the region which are at risk from volcanic eruptions include the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Those most frequently affected are Indonesia (129 active volcanoes), Japan (77 active volcanoes) and the Philippines (21 active volcanoes) (ESCAP, 1995a; Government of Japan, 1987). The eruptions of Mount Pinatubo in Central Luzon during the period 12–15 June 1991 affected about 1–2 million people (Lewinson, 1993), demolished the surrounding forests, caused massive siltation of rivers and coastal areas and deposited volcanic ash in surrounding areas and even across continents. In New Zealand, Mount Tarawera had a severe eruption in 1886, and the Ngauruhoe, which erupted in 1974, emits steam and vapour constantly (ESCAP, 1995a). In Papua New Guinea, the volcanic eruption in 1994 near the city of Rabaul damaged about 40 per cent of the houses in the area (ESCAP, 1995a).

    Environmental degradation and disasters are very closely linked in the Asia-Pacific region. The countries which suffer most from disasters are the same countries in which environmental degradation is proceeding most rapidly. Poverty and vulnerability to disasters are also closely linked. There are approximately over 3,000 deaths per natural disaster in low-income countries, and less than 400 per event in middle- and high-income countries (ESCAP, 1992). This reflects the absence of an adequate infrastructure in low-income countries to mitigate the impact of natural disasters. Although both Japan and Pakistan are prone to earthquakes, the people of Japan are far less vulnerable because Japan has strictly-enforced building codes, zoning regulations and earthquake emergency training and communication systems. By contrast, in Pakistan most people are still living in top-heavy mud and stone houses built on hillsides, increasing their vulnerability.

    Rapid population growth is accelerating vulnerability to disasters as settlements encroach into disaster-prone lands. This will ultimately cause more risk to human life in the years to come. It has been estimated that annual flood losses in some countries are 40 times more today than they were in the 1950s (ESCAP, 1992). According to the Indian Government, one out of every 20 people in the nation is vulnerable to flooding and in China over 85 per cent of the population is concentrated on alluvial plains or basins along river courses which comprise one third of the total land area (ESCAP, 1992).

    There has been growing recognition of the significance of disaster prevention and mitigation in the region. Initiatives have already been taken in many countries to address the issue through a comprehensive framework of institutions, plans, programmes and legislation (ESCAP, 1995a). Japan, for example, has constituted a high level committee under the chairmanship of the prime minister to oversee activities related to natural disasters. Over the years, the Government has developed a very efficient framework of organization to reduce the effects of natural disasters. Other examples of initiatives include:

    the Cabinet Committee on Natural Calamities (CCNC) in India;
    the Natural Disaster Prevention Council in Bangladesh, chaired by the President, to co-ordinate Government functions, plans and actions in the field of natural disaster forecasts, management and post-disaster relief and rehabilitation work;
    a Cabinet Sub-Committee in Sri Lanka to examine floods, cyclones, landslides and soil erosion;
    the Relief and Resettlement Department in Myanmar under the Ministry of Social Welfare to co-ordinate the work of other government departments on natural disaster prevention and preparedness;
    a National Coordination Board for Natural Disaster Preparedness and Relief in Indonesia to deal with natural disasters;
    an inter-ministerial co-ordination committee in the People’s Republic of China to take charge of disaster management;
    the National Disaster and Emergency Services Department in Papua New Guinea to direct and co-ordinate disaster related activities; and
    the National Disaster Coordination Council (NDCC) in the Philippines comprising several ministries, governments and NGOs to establish policy guidelines on emergency preparedness and disaster operations, relief and rehabilitation measures.
    Substantial progress has been made in this region towards forecasting, early warning, and risk assessment and mapping of climatic and water-related hazards (ESCAP, 1995a). In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has made remarkable achievements in monitoring a wide range of natural disasters through the application of aviation and satellite remote sensing and terrestrial-based sensing technologies. The forecasting and early warning systems in China are noteworthy examples in the region. In India, ten high power cyclone detection radar stations have been installed along the east and west coasts of the country, and there are plans to extend cyclone warning systems to all vulnerable areas. Forecasting and early warning in disaster prone areas has also been emphasized in the country’s current five-year plan. In Australia, a comprehensive personal computer-based cyclone warning system was introduced in three cities, Perth, Darwin, and Brisbane, in November 1990. Japan is constantly carrying out observations, predictions and warnings of potential earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storm events, tsunamis, typhoons and flood-related disasters. Earthquake prediction has been systematically carried out since 1964, and currently the country is implementing its 7th Earthquake Prediction Plan (1994–1998). As a result, it has designated certain areas for intensified observation. The Republic of Korea also has a well-established disaster-related forecasting and warning network.
    The People’s Republic of China and India have developed considerable experience in reducing the adverse impacts of large-scale droughts. In Thailand, flood and landslide risk maps are being prepared for the vulnerable southern part of the country, and a flood modelling programme is being implemented for southern and north-eastern areas. Malaysia has initiated programmes on flood forecasting, warning, preparedness and relief. It has also developed flood-proof structures as well as catchment development and floodplain management strategies. A project has recently been completed in which 20 river basins in the country have been equipped with telemetric systems for flood monitoring and warning.

    In order to cope up with the exceptional droughts in Australia, the National Drought Policy (NDP) was formulated in 1992. Since the signing of the NDP Statement in 1992, the states and territories have begun implementing the policy measures, such as sustainable agriculture, drought preparedness, providing financial assistance to farmers exposed to exceptional drought circumstances, carrying out drought-related research and development with emphasis on drought prediction, monitoring and management, etc (IDIC, 1995).

  37. eslkevin says:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/indonesia/6251363/Earthquakes-across-Asia-Pacific-we-need-a-global-strategy-to-deal-with-natural-disasters.html

    Earthquakes across Asia Pacific: we need a global strategy to deal with natural disasters
    As the death toll in the Asia Pacific region mounts, questions are being asked about why more deaths could not have been prevented, writes Mike Goodhand.

  38. eslkevin says:

    http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2012/EGU2012-8102-2.pdf

    Volcanisms and Earthquakes Related to the Pacific Plate Subduction in
    Northeast Asia

  39. eslkevin says:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/04/2012423133539728838.html

    Over a year after the nuclear accident triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami contaminated large swathes of land in northeastern Japan, the future of the largely agricultural area and those who have been evacuated from it remain uncertain.

    The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday that residents will not be able to return to at least seven of the municipalities around the damaged Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima for at least five years.

    According to a government report released on Sunday, it is estimated that six of the seven municipalities will have dangerous levels of radiation – above 20 millisieverts of radiation (mSv) per year – for a decade.

    Experts have told Al Jazeera that this level is considered too high.

    Radiation too high

    The national government has yet to articulate a decontamination plan for the the areas around the plant, which has continuted to leak contaminated water and experience surges in radiation – so high that even robots could not function inside it at the end of March.

    Indeed, a February Greenpeace report showed that in many of the contaminated areas, there was hardly anything in the way of decontamination, and farmers told Al Jazeera in March that their fields were laid to waste with highly contaminated soil and no cleanup plan in place.

    In-depth coverage one year after triple disaster
    “It’s been a year already, and nothing,” organic farmer Muneo Kano, 61, said when asked if the government had made any effort to remove the layer of radioactive soil that blanketed his seven-hectare farm.

    “The Japanese government at last recognises that the return to contaminated zones will be far more complex than they originally stated,” Jan Vande Putte, radiation expert at Greenpeace International, told Al Jazeera on Monday.

    “For about a year, they have been creating false expectations to the evacuated population. However, they still miss the point. Tens of thousands of people are still living today in highly contaminated areas…This population gets no help and by giving priority to the return of population to evacuated zones, the government has effectively abandoned this critical group.”

    He said the government had now admitted that decontamination would be “far more complex that [it] originally said”.

    Contamination levels

    Asahi also reported that Japan’s ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has asked food shops to begin following government standards for radioactivity in food, allowing for higher levels of contamination in what they sold.

    In the wake of the nuclear disaster, many co-operatives and shops have purchased their own becquerel counters [a piece of equipment that measures radiation in food] as a means of assuring customers that what they are eating is safe.

    Hiroshi Tsuchida, head of the body overseeing a group of 33 such co-operatives, told Asahi Shimbun that forcing the shops to adopt higher levels of contamination in what they sold would damage the government’s credibility because “consumers don’t trust the national standards”.

    Voter support for Yoshihiko Noda, Japan’s prime minister, has dropped to the lowest level since he took office in 2011, a newspaper survey showed on Monday, with the majority of Japanese opposing his plan to restart nuclear reactors.

    New taxes unpopular

    The Nikkei survey also found that 50 per cent of Japanese oppose Noda’s plan to raise the sales tax to 10 per cent by October 2015 to pay for welfare costs and fix public finances.

    Support for the government fell to 29 per cent in the survey from 34 per cent a month ago, the lowest since Noda took office in September last year.

    The government earlier this month declared two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co’s Ohi nuclear plant safe and said they needed to be restarted to avoid a summer power crunch.

    But the Nikkei survey found 54 per cent of people oppose the nuclear restart decision and only 30 per cent support it.

    Japan will in coming weeks have no nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years after last year’s Fukushima
    nuclear crisis, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, has hammered public faith in nuclear power.

  40. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the internet.
    I’m going to highly recommend this website!

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