Second Blast at Japan Reactor Blamed on GE Reactor Design: Tokyo at Risk

March 15th, 2011 - by admin

Associated Press & Sky News & The Sun & Bill Dedman / MSNBC – 2011-03-15 03:12:12

3 Injured, 7 Missing in New Blast at Japan Nuke Plant
Associated Press


TOKYO (March 13, 2011) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. says three workers have been injured and seven are missing after an explosion at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary says a hydrogen explosion occurred Monday at the facility’s Unit 3. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit at the facility.

Yukio Edano says people within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius were ordered inside following the blast. AP journalists felt the explosion 25 miles (40 kilometers) away.

Edano says the reactor’s inner containment vessel holding nuclear rods is intact, allaying some fears of the risk to the environment and public.
More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area in recent days.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s chief cabinet secretary says a hydrogen explosion has occurred at Unit 3 of Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit of the facility.

Yukio Edano says people within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius were ordered inside following Monday’s. AP journalists felt the explosion 30 miles (50 kilometers) away. Edano says the reactor’s inner containment vessel holding nuclear rods is intact, allaying some fears of the risk to the environment and public.

The No. 3 Unit reactor had been under emergency watch for a possible explosion as pressure built up there following a hydrogen blast Saturday in the facility’s Unit 1. More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Tokyo Nuke Cloud Crisis
Virginia Wheeler / The Sun

FUKUSHIMA (March 14, 2011) — Japan is teetering on the brink of nuclear catastrophe amid fears a radioactive cloud could envelop Tokyo’s 13 million residents. The Foreign Office warned Brits to avoid the capital as it was feared a second nuclear reactor was heading for meltdown after Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. And there were heightened concerns following a hydrogen blast 170 miles north at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said three workers were injured and seven are missing after the explosion. The explosion — inside No3 reactor — was similar to an earlier one at a different unit of the facility. Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano says people within a 12-mile radius were ordered inside following the blast, which was felt 30 miles away.

International authorities had declared a state of emergency at the Onagawa nuclear plant after radioactivity levels in the area exceeded safe limits. Local officials later told the International Atomic Energy Agency that radioactivity at Onagawa was back to normal.

The heightened readings were blamed on emissions from crippled Fukushima, where workers were desperately pumping sea water into the reactors in a bid to prevent a major meltdown. The ageing nuclear power station has six

No1 reactor blew up on Saturday, and officials admitted it was “highly likely” a partial meltdown had already occurred. It is believed radioactive steam was released, with about 160 people exposed, but that most of the radioactive material was contained. It later emerged that the cooling system pump in No2 reactor had completely shut down, sparking fears a second explosion was imminent.

Experts were frantically trying to cool No3 reactor to prevent deadly uranium fuel pellets melting. Authorities admitted for the first time that radiation around Fukushima is nearing the level where humans vomit uncontrollably, hair can be stripped from the body — and cancer rates soar.

An explosion in No3 reactor would be far worse than the No1 blast, since it contains lethal plutonium as well as uranium.

Cabinet minister Yukio Edano said further blasts could not be ruled out. But he insisted the other reactors would survive as No1 did, saying: “There would be no significant impact on human health.”

The explosion means Fukushima is already one of the worst nuclear accidents in history — but so far there has been no major radiation leak. A complete reactor meltdown could release uranium and other dangerous contaminants, causing major and widespread health problems. More than 170,000 residents were evacuated from a 13-mile exclusion zone. Medics in protective gear scanned evacuees for contamination and gave iodine to protect against radiation exposure.

The shutdown of nuclear plants has left Japan facing months of electricity shortages. PM Naoto Kan announced rolling power cuts from today, with hospitals, water and gas supplies all being affected. One of the world’s leading nuclear experts urged the Government to learn from Japan as the UK prepares to build eight new nuclear plants. Dr John Large said: “You must engineer for the worst accident and build in counter-measures.”

He said the Fukushima crisis happened because the reactors automatically shut down in the quake and needed their generators to start up again. But the tsunami that followed knocked out the generators, and Dr Large said the problem should have been predicted.

The tsunami also knocked out a cooling pump at Tokai 2 nuclear plant near Tokyo, but extra pumps kicked in to prevent any danger, officials said. Seismologist Ishibashi Katsuhiko warned in 2007 that Japan’s nuclear plants were vulnerable to quakes. He accused ministers of underestimating the danger, saying: “Reactors had fatal flaws in their design.”

General Electric-designed Reactors in Fukushima
Have 23 Sisters in US

Bill Dedman / Investigative Reporter,

NEW YORK (March 13, 2011) — The General Electric-designed nuclear reactors involved in the Japanese emergency are very similar to 23 reactors in use in the United States, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission records.

The NRC database of nuclear power plants shows that 23 of the 104 nuclear plants in the US are GE boiling-water reactors with GE’s Mark I systems for containing radioactivity, the same containment system used by the reactors in trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The US reactors are in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

In addition, 12 reactors in the US have the later Mark II or Mark III containment system from GE. These 12 are in Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington state. See the full list below.

(General Electric is a parent company of through GE’s 49 percent stake in NBCUniversal. NBCUniversal and Microsoft are equal partners in sent questions Saturday to GE Energy, asking whether the Japanese reactors differed from those of the same general design used in the US

A GE spokesman, Michael Tetuan, referred all questions to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade and lobbying group. Tetuan said GE nuclear staff members in Wilmington, N.C., are focused on assisting GE employees in Japan and standing by to help the Japanese authorities if asked to help.

The six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which had the explosion on Saturday, are all GE-designed boiling-water reactors, according to the anti-nuclear advocacy group Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The group says that five have containment systems of GE’s Mark I design, and the sixth is of the Mark II type. They were placed in operation between 1971 and 1979.

A fact sheet from the group contends that the Mark I design has design problems, and that in 1972 an Atomic Energy Commission member, Dr. Stephen Hanuaer, recommended that this type of system be discontinued.

“Some modifications have been made to US Mark I reactors since 1986, although the fundamental design deficiencies remain,” NIRS said. The group has a commentary online describing what it says are hazards of boiling-water reactors: human invervention needed to vent radioactive steam in the case of a core meltdown, and problems with aging.

Since the earthquake struck Japan on Friday, the early statements by the industry’s Nuclear Industry Institute have emphasized that only six plants in the US have precisely the same generation of reactor design (GE boiling-water reactor model 3) as the first reactor to have trouble in Fukushima Daiichi. Problems then developed at different reactors of GE model 4.

But aside from the generation of reactor design, the following 23 US plants have GE boiling-water reactors (GE models 2, 3 or 4) with the same Mark I containment design used at Fukushima, according to the NRC’s online database:

• Browns Ferry 1, Athens, Alabama, operating license since 1973, reactor type GE 4.

• Browns Ferry 2, Athens, Alabama, 1974, GE 4.

• Browns Ferry 3, Athens, Alabama, 1976, GE 4.

• Brunswick 1, Southport, North Carolina, 1976, GE 4.

• Brunswick 2, Southport, North Carolina, 1974, GE 4.

• Cooper, Brownville, Nebraska, 1974, GE 4.

• Dresden 2, Morris, Illinois, 1970, GE 3.

• Dresden 3, Morris, Illinois, 1971, GE 3.

• Duane Arnold, Palo, Iowa, 1974, GE 4.

• Fermi 2, Monroe, Michigan, 1985, GE 4.

• FitzPatrick, Scriba, New York, 1974, GE 4.

• Hatch 1, Baxley, Georgia, 1974, GE 4.

• Hatch 2, Baxley, Georgia, 1978, GE 4.

• Hope Creek, Hancock’s Bridge, New Jersey, 1986, GE 4.

• Monticello, Monticello, Minnesota, 1970, GE 3.

• Nine Mile Point 1, Scriba, New York, 1969, GE 2.

• Oyster Creek, Forked River, New Jersey, 1969, GE 2.

• Peach Bottom 2, Delta, Pennsylvania, 1973, GE 4.

• Peach Bottom 3, Delta, Pennsylvania, 1974, GE 4.

• Pilgrim, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1972, GE 3.

• Quad Cities 1, Cordova, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

• Quad Cities 2, Moline, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

• Vermont Yankee, Vernon, Vermont, 1972, GE 4.

And these 12 newer GE boiling-water reactors have a Mark II or Mark III design:

• Clinton, Clinton, Illinois, 1987, GE 6, Mark III.

• Columbia Generating Station, Richland, Washington, 1984, GE 5, Mark II.

• Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Mississippi, 1984, GE 6, Mark III.

• LaSalle 1, Marseilles, Illinois, 1982, GE 5, Mark II.

• LaSalle 2, Marseilles, Illinois, 1983, GE 5, Mark II.

• Limerick 1, Limerick, Pennsylvania, 1985, GE 4, Mark II.

• Limerick 2, Limerick, Pennsylvania, 1989, GE 4, Mark II.

• Nine Mile Point 2, Scriba, New York, 1987, GE 5, Mark II.

• Perry, Perry, Ohio, 1986, GE 6, Mark III.

• River Bend, St. Francisville, Louisiana, 1985, GE 6, Mark III.

• Susquehanna 1, Salem Township, Pennsylvania, 1982, GE 4, Mark II.

• Susquehanna 2, Salem Township, Pennsylvania, 1984, GE 4, Mark II.

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