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Sunday, May 20, 2012

And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody outside of a small circle of friends
Posted by Jill | 12:32 PM
After all, why should we talk about the possibility of nuclear calamity when we can spend endless amounts of time talking about whether the President's advocacy of gay marriage will hurt him in the fall?
More than a year after a devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a massive nuclear disaster, experts are warning that Japan isn't out of the woods yet and the worst nuclear storm the world has ever seen could be just one earthquake away from reality.

The troubled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is at the centre of this potential catastrophe.

Reactor 4 -- and to a lesser extent Reactor 3 -- still hold large quantities of cooling waters surrounding spent nuclear fuel, all bound by a fragile concrete pool located 30 metres above the ground, and exposed to the elements.

A magnitude 7 or 7.5 earthquake would likely fracture that pool, and disaster would ensue, says Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with Fairewinds Energy Education who has visited the site.

The 1,535 spent fuel rods would become exposed to the air and would likely catch fire, with the most-recently added fuel rods igniting first.

The incredible heat generated from that blaze, Gundersen said, could then ignite the older fuel in the cooling pool, causing a massive oxygen-eating radiological fire that could not be extinguished with water.

"So the fear is the newest fuel could begin to burn and then we'd have a conflagration of the whole pool because it would become hotter and hotter. The health consequences of that are beyond where science has ever gone before," Gundersen told CTVNews.ca in an interview from his home in Vermont.

Worst-case scenario

There are a couple of possible outcomes, Gundersen said.

Highly radioactive cesium and strontium isotopes would likely go airborne and "volatilize" -- turning into a vapour that could move with the wind, potentially travelling thousands of kilometres from the source.

The size of those particles would determine whether they remained in Japan, or made their way to the rest of Asia and other continents.

"And here's where there's no science because no one's ever dared to attempt the experiment," Gundersen said. "If it flies far enough it goes around the world, if the particles stay a little bigger, they settle in Japan. Either is awful."

Essentially, he said, Japan is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Funny how when there is a theoretical ticking time bomb in the form of the mythical terrorist who knows where one is, we have to get rid of all privacy and civil liberties in this country, but when there's a real one, no one cares.

After all, Monopoly is so much fun I'd hate to blow the game.

Also, this. And this. And also this.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
And here in the US, there are 23 nuclear power plants using the same General Electric Mark I reactor used in Fukushima. There's one up for re-licensing in Massachusetts this year, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station: http://www.pilgrimwatch.org/relic.html