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March 24, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Reliable information has been hard to come by but this report from this morning’s Wall Street Journal seems to be a sober assessment of the situation:

    •    Authorities hope to resume work to restore power to the control and cooling systems at some of the reactors.
   •    Lighting restored to No. 1 reactor control room, the second to have power restored.
  •    Figures show radiation spreading beyond government’s 30-kilometer limit.

  •    Work proceeding slowly but radiation levels appear to have steadied.

Combined with the story that radiation levels of Iodine-131 in Tokyo drinking water have dropped below danger levels, the news seems to be that, for now at least, another day of worsening conditions has been avoided.

A report in last night’s New York Times raised concerns that salt from the salt water used to flood the reactors might be precipitating and collecting on the fuel rods, which the story speculated might eventually overheat the rods or block further cooling efforts. Tepco’s announcement that it has now obtained freshwater supplies from a reservoir five miles away reduced those concerns.

The radiation spikes in water and food probably result from earlier releases associated with steam venting and the hydrogen explosions. I-131 has a half-life of only eight days, however, and will disappear entirely within a month. Cesium-137 is a longer-term problem. That officials are monitoring this contamination so closely in the face of the current chaos in Japan, however, is an indication that public health threats may be able to be avoided. 

Read more at the Wall Street Journal (subscription needed)



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