Saturday, March 12, 2011

Video: Explosion occurs at nuclear plant facility in Fukushima; Residents urged to take precautions against possible exposure to contaminants

On Saturday afternoon, one day following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Tohoku region of Japan, an explosion occurred at the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant after its pumping system failed during an operation to repair the plant's cooling system following damage by a post-earthquake tsunami on Friday.

CNN has an in-depth report on the accident and its possible aftermath, from which an excerpt reads as follows:
"If this accident stops right now it will already be one of the three worst accidents we have ever had at a nuclear power plant in the history of nuclear power," said Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear materials and president of the U.S.-based Ploughshares Fund, a firm involved in security and peace funding.

If the effort to cool the nuclear fuel inside the reactor fails completely -- a scenario experts who have spoken to CNN say is unlikely -- the resulting release of radiation could cause enormous damage to the plant or release radiation into the atmosphere or water. That could lead to widespread cancer and other health problems, experts say.
Peace and anti-nuclear activist Yumi Kikuchi wrote on her blog late Saturday night (summarized translation is my own):
Depending on the wind's direction, it is already possible that radioactive substances have been spread to other areas of Japan. In order to protect skin from possible contamination, it is important not to have direct contact with rain--and to wear hats and masks while outside. It is also best to save water in tanks now in case of future possible contamination of the water supply.

Iodine pills can also help prevent radiation damage, but since they are likely now not easily available, it is recommended to eat iodine-rich foods such as seaweed and tororo konbu (vinegared kelp).
Progress on the cooling efforts at the Fukushima Daini plant may be read in English at Twitter Trackbacks, and Karl Grossman has a penetrating piece on the accident and its implications at Counterpunch here.

- Posted by Kimberly Hughes

No comments: