Nuclear Risks Rise in Japan; Anti-nuclear Protests Arise in Germany

March 15th, 2011 - by admin

Ramon Adame / KDTV & The Journal & CommonDreams & KHK World & Anna Gyorgy / CommonDreams – 2011-03-15 03:15:31

EAW Interview: Update on the Impact of the Nuclear Catastrophe in Japan
Ramon Adame / KDTV

BERKELEY, California (March 14, 2011) — According to environmental activist, Gar Smith, the co-founder of Environmentalists Against War, two California nuclear reactors located near the coast would have difficulty resisting the impacts of a great earthquake.

Nuclear Rods Melting Inside Three Fukushima Reactors, Japan Admits
The Journal & CommonDreams

IRELAND (March 14, 2011) — Japan’s nuclear authorities say they believe that three reactors at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant are now melting.

The country’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said that although staff at the nuclear facility — where two containment buildings have been destroyed by hydrogen explosions — were unable to check for certain, it was “highly likely” that the nuclear cores at reactors, 1 2 and 3 at Fukushima I nuclear station had begun to melt.

Reuters had earlier reported that the cooling mixture of seawater and boron in the number 2 reactor had totally evaporated, with the reactor’s nuclear rods therefore totally exposed for a significant period of time.

The plant operator TEPCO had earlier said it couldn’t rule out the possibility of a nuclear meltdown in the reactor — and had admitted that a partial meltdown could already be underway.

TEPCO had previously said it believed a partial meltdown had occurred at the number 1 reactor, where a hydrogen explosion occurred at a containment building on Saturday, but retracted reports that a similar meltdown had occurred following another hydrogen blast today at the number 3 reactor.

Though authorities are adamant that the explosions at reactors 1 and 3 have not resulted in any leak, they believe the increased level of radioactive emissions detected outside the Onagawa plant 120 miles away may be a result of Saturday’s explosion at the number 1 containment building.

Authorities still maintain, however, that any meltdown can be contained by the various safety structures in place at each reactor, and that there is no significant chance of any release of radiation into the atmosphere.

AP explained that some experts would refuse to use the term “meltdown” when referring to the plant, unless the nuclear fuel was to melt through the innermost chamber at each nuclear reactor.

A report in the NY Daily News cited a US military spokesman as saying 17 members of the US Navy had been contaminated with low levels of radiation during their first humanitarian efforts in Japan.

The US’ Navys 7th Fleet, which is position around 100 miles northeast of Fukushima, had to move its ships further away in order to avoid “airborne radioactivity.”

The affected staff had been treated with soap and water, the military said, and “no further contamination was detected.” The helicopters in which the marines had been travelling were also decontaminated.

TEPCO: Fuel Rods Exposed at Fukushima Reactor
KHK World

JAPAN (March 14, 2011) — Tokyo Electric Power Company is battling to cool a reactor to prevent another explosion at its nuclear power plant in quake-hit Fukushima Prefecture.

The utility firm said on Monday afternoon that fuel rods are exposed at the Number Two reactor of its Fukushima Number One plant after the level of coolant water dropped. At around 6pm, the power company began pumping in seawater. But it says all fuel rods in the reactor could be exposed. The firm says a core meltdown might have occurred.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that pumping seawater into the reactor is working now to cool the reactor.

Earlier in the day, the firm told the government that the reactor had lost all cooling capability due to a failure of the emergency power system.

Since then, the company has tried to circulate the coolant by steam instead of electricity. But attempts to lower the temperature inside the reactor chamber have not worked well.

The company is also considering opening a hole in the reactor housing building to release hydrogen generated by the exposed fuel rods.

Accumulated hydrogen has caused blasts at two other reactors at the plant.

In Germany, 10,000 Protesters
Link Arms in 28-mile Line to Protest Nuclear Power

Anna Gyorgy / CommonDreams

STUTTGART — As photos of the explosion in the Fukushima Daiichi station reactor No. 1, just 170 miles north of Tokyo, went around the world on Saturday, 60,000 people in Germany joined hands to call for a shutdown of all nuclear plants — now.

Their human chain spanned the 45 km (28 mile) distance between one of the country’s older (1976) nukes at Neckarwestheim and the regional capital Stuttgart. They were identifying with all those affected in Japan and beyond, and looking forward to voting out the pro-nuclear government in their state, Baden-Württemberg, on March 27th. (See a slide show of the human chain action.)

Two weeks earlier I joined 10,000 others in one of the ‘rehearsal’ chain actions held in 40 cities to prepare for this big day (slide show here). But participation this Saturday was greater than expected, as people responded to the situation in Japan.

Now, writing at mid-day Sunday, March 13, I and others here, as worldwide, hold our collective breaths, waiting for news on two other Japanese reactors in the most affected areas. Will there be a catastrophic melt-down? Or rather, another one?

Six weeks before the 25th anniversary of the catastrophic accident at Chernobyl, remembered here by many who were children then, citizen awareness is high, and goes beyond the immediate “will we be affected?”

The government assures people that fallout from Fukushima will be slight by the time it reaches central Europe. But the quake’s real reverberations and aftershocks are felt here by all who have long opposed atomic power — in some communities for 30+ years — and a new youth and popular movement opposing recently-approved extensions of German reactors’ operating licenses.

For them, for us all, this accident can only mean a rapid end to this dangerous so-called “bridge” technology. One that is actually blocking rather than bridging the necessary transition to a 100% renewable energy future.

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