As conflicting information fueled further fears over the potential for radiation emanating from the Fukushima nuclear facility, Germany, Britain and Australia have advised their citizens to leave Tokyo, some 170 miles from the affected plant. Americans have been advised to move beyond a 50 mile radius from the facility, far greater than the 12-mile limit set by the Japanese government.
US citizens and dependents working for the American Embassy or other government institutions have been authorized to evacuate at government expense. The American Embassy remains open, and American dependents have not been ordered to leave, but may “exercise the opportunity” to evacuate, according to Under Secretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy.
Conflicting Information on Exposed Fuel Rods
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jacszko testified before Congress on Wednesday that he believes there is no water in the spent fuel pool in one of the Fukushima reactor buildings, leaving the fuel rods exposed and in danger of overheating: “We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool, and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.” Japanese authorities have denied the claim.
Helicopters have dropped water on the spent fuel storage pools, but it seems that more and continual drops are needed to take effect. There are attempts underway to get electricity flowing back to the pumps. The water is vaporizing due to a failure of the cooling system.
UN: Plume To Reach US on Friday
The New York Times is reporting on a United Nations prediction that the radioactive plume from the Japanese reactors will reach California by Friday with barely detectable radiation levels or, at worst, very minor health effects. The prediction from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization is based on wind and weather patterns.
“Talk of Apocalypse”
On Wednesday European Union energy chief Gunther Oettinger was not pulling any punches, stating, “We are somewhere between a disaster and a major disaster. … There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen.”
Photo: A helicopter drops water at the Fukushima reactor site.
via NHK live stream