UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, 9am: In breaking news, fire has broken out AGAIN at the Fukushima Daiichi No. 4 reactor. This follows a fire that broke out in the same reactor yesterday and was later extinguished with the help of the US Defence Forces.
TUESDAY, 1.40pm: A live press conference with Japanese Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary has just taken place. Here are the updates. There is a fire burning at Reactor Number 4. The reactor did not have fuel rods in it but it did have spent fuel, which continues to emit heat and still needs to be cooled. Radiation levels from Reactor Number 3 are now at 400 milisieverts, which are at levels capable of causing instant ill health to humans. Humans become infertile at 100 milisieverts. Cooling operations continue at Reactors 1, 2 and 3.
TUESDAY, 11am: There are new reports of yet another explosion at Reactor Number 2 of the Fukushima Nuclear plant. Authorities are warning media and others not to physically approach the reactor for any reason although add ‘no significant jump in radiation has been registered’. The new blast may have damaged the suppression pool which is an important part of the containment chamber in a Boiling Water Reactor, to keep the fuel rods cooled. This news comes after it was revealed last night that the fuel rods were briefly, fully exposed.
MONDAY: There has been another hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima Plant in reactor number 3. TV news shows footage of smoke rising from the complex. Details are still coming to hand.
The crisis in Japan was today described by the Japanese Prime Minister as “the greatest hardship since World War 2” which indicates how serious the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster is.
After what is being described as a mega-quake struck the region on Friday. Japan’s agencies upgraded the severity of the quake to magnitude 9.0 while the US still shows it as an 8.9. In any case, the earthquake and following tsunami resulted in utter devastation of the nation’s north-east.
More than 1000 people have been killed and 10,000 people in a north-east city unaccounted for. The city was washed away by the tsunami which struck just minutes after the earth shook. Authorities are warning of another massive aftershock in the days to come. More than 300,000 are living in emergency shelters and the operation to evacuate 215,000 from the areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues.
This morning, news came out that excessive radiation levels were recorded at the Onagawa Nuclear Complex in the Miyagi prefecture, the hardest hit of Japan’s regions. A state of emergency was called at the plant before levels returned to normal hours later.
That brings to three the number of nuclear plants with stability issues in Japan. But how close are they to actual ‘meltdown’ and is the situation as bad as it sounds? MM’s news editor Rick Morton top-lines it for us:
How does nuclear power work?