Nuclear Reactors and Japan

I found a bit of news about nuclear problems and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant vs. what happened at Chernobyl. Take a few minutes and read it here.

I just love the fact that most of this is from the Russians who were involved in the Chernobyl incident. Money quotes: (Read the third graph)

The meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor blew the unit’s casing apart and voided the core to the atmosphere. Fukushima hasn’t yet melted through the reactor vessel, thanks to engineers pumping seawater into the cooling systems.

“There is no question of a Chernobyl situation or of anything like the same threat to human health and safety,” Rafael Arutyunyan, deputy head of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Nuclear Energy Development Security, told Russian NTV News. “An accident like Chernobyl cannot happen again—this is a reactor of a different generation. Even in the worst-case scenario of a total coolant failure, the radiation released will be hundreds of times less than from Chernobyl.”

Just as important, said Iskhatov, the Japanese authorities have “acted quickly and effectively to communicate with the local residents—they don’t treat their population like idiots like ours did.”

Mercifully, the accident at Fukushima seems to be far less serious. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday the nuclear crisis in the northeast of the country was “fundamentally different from the Chernobyl accident”—and he seems to be right, unlike the Soviet authorities in 1986 who did everything to downplay and deny the seriousness of Chernobyl. According to initial reports, two separate reactors at Fukushima were put out of action by the earthquake: Reactor 1, which suffered an explosion in the turbine hall causing a small escape of radiation, and Reactor 3, which appears to have partially melted down after a power failure to both its main and backup cooling systems. On Sunday night, Japanese technicians were still trying to bring the two under control; cooling stations at two of three reactors at the neighboring Daini power station had been restored.

“What’s happening now is more akin to the reactor accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 than Chernobyl,” blogged Aleksandr Uvarov, editor of the Moscow-based web portal AtomInfo-Center. At Three Mile Island, a coolant failure led to a partial reactor core meltdown—though like in Fukushima, the casing of the Three Mile Island reactor wasn’t breached, unlike the catastrophic explosion that blew apart Chernobyl.



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2 Responses to Nuclear Reactors and Japan

  1. Rachael Romito says:

    Hope things will get better in Japan

  2. Seems like the whole thing has been blown out of proportion thus far.
    The “worst case scenario” is basically a repeat of Three Mile Island (TMI). People are still debating whether there was 0.3% rise in cancer within a 5-mile distance of TMI. So far the radiation levels coming out of Fukushima are 100-1000 times lower than TMI, and that radius of people had already been evacuated.

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