Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months, Experts Say

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — As the scale of Japan’s nuclear crisis begins to come to light, 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.

The emergency flooding of stricken reactors with seawater and the resulting steam releases are a desperate step intended to avoid a much bigger problem: a full meltdown of the nuclear cores in reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. On Monday, an explosion blew the roof off the second reactor, not damaging the core, officials said, but presumably leaking more radiation.

Later Monday, the government said cooling systems at a third reactor had failed. The Kyodo news agency reported that the damaged fuel rods at the third reactor had been temporarily exposed, increasing the risk of overheating. Sea water was being channeled into the reactor to cover the rods, Kyodo reported.

So far, Japanese officials have said the melting of the nuclear cores in the two plants is assumed to be “partial,” and the amount of radioactivity measured outside the plants, though twice the level Japan considers safe, has been relatively modest.


  1. This is precisely why I am against going nuclear. Coal and petroleum are bad, but anything as dangerous as nuclear power is insane. I know we have a pretty good track record, but the cons are too great to be ignored. Radiation contamination and the inevitable waste created are far more dangerous than any fossile fuel.

  2. Again, the media fails att accurate reporting. The most severe effects this will have is that it’s going to cost alot of money, since the reactor in question is damaged beyond repair and the cleanup of the power plant will take years.

    Nuclear power is incredibly safe and clean when compared to coal and oil. And the output it creates compared to wind and water is gargantuan.

  3. Exactly what DreamDevil said.

    Clearly nuclear power isn’t perfect. However, in the grand scheme of things it’s better than some of the alternatives. I know there has been cheeping out of the US that they should mothball their nuclear power plants and switch back to coal. Well, first of all, since the plants already exist, the processing and storage of nuclear waste comes into play no matter what you do. Second, did you know that coal power plants release 100 times as much radioactivity per megawatt as nuclear plants? Coal contains uranium and thorium, which get concentrated when the coal is burned. Then there’s the acid rain, greenhouse gases, and the whole issue of mining a non-renewable resource. Depending on which report you read, coal power plants are responsible for 10,000 to 50,000 deaths per year due to mining accidents, pollution, etc.

    Wind and solar are cleaner alternatives, but they’re not a total solution. The biggest issue is they don’t generate power 24/7. You’d need a massive set of batteries or something equivalent to maintain constant power. Assuming a solar plant that generated 12 hours per day, to replace a 500 megawatt nuclear plant you’d need over 1000 megawatts of solar panels, and a 6 gigawatt-hour storage facility. You have any idea how big a 1000 megawatt solar farm is? 11 square miles or more than 7000 acres. (the only one of this size is being built in California)

    1. I just wanted to add that 30% of Japan’s power comes (came) from their 55 nuclear reactors, averaging 49467 megawatts. Assuming a best-case scenario of 200 kilowatts per acre, that’s 247335 acres or 386.5 square miles of solar collectors. Roughly the area of Glasgow, Scotland.

      Of course, given that it’s dark half the time, double that area, plus find a place to park 600 million car batteries to keep the lights on at night.

      49467 MW x 12 hours = 593604 MWh = 593,604,000 kWh
      1 car battery = 1 kWh

      France has 63236 megawatts of nuclear power, which works out to 494 square miles of solar collectors. Should I keep going?

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