Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kyodo news: Worst case feared in early hours of Fukushima crisis

 The government assumed a worst-case scenario of "significant public exposure" to radiation when workers were struggling to bring a nuclear reactor under control at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant a day after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Kyodo News learned Tuesday.

 Keeping tabs: Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai (left) and Reconstruction Design Council Chairman Makoto Iokibe make opening remarks at the beginning of their meeting in Sendai on Wednesday.

 The scenario assumed the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor — the last line of defense to contain radioactive materials — would be damaged and people at the border of the plant's compound would be exposed to several sieverts of radiation, a potentially lethal level, if the workers failed to reduce pressure within the containment vessel by venting steam, according to sources in the government, in Tokyo Electric Power Co. and documents.
 Around 10 percent of people exposed to 1 sievert over a short time suffer nausea and tiredness, and half of those exposed to 4 sieverts die within 30 days.
 Due to trouble with one of the two vents of the containment vessel at the Fukushima complex's No. 1 reactor, it took 5? hours for Tepco to successfully release steam from the vessel.
 The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency assumed the failure to vent the steam could increase pressure inside the container to three times the design limit by 11 p.m. on March 12.
 The high pressure would have burst the container and a huge amount of radioactive iodine, cesium and other substances would have been released into the atmosphere, posing "a risk of significant public exposure within 3 to 5 km from the power plant," depending on weather conditions, the agency assumed.

Reconstruction tour

 Sendai — A key government panel on reconstruction of the Tohoku region visited Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas severely damaged by and the March 11 earthquake tsunami, on Wednesday for talks with the local leaders, including Gov. Yoshihiro Murai.
 It was the second tour by the Reconstruction Design Council, headed by Makoto Iokibe, president of the National Defense Academy of Japan, to the devastated region, following a visit Monday to Fukushima Prefecture.
 "Miyagi Prefecture is showing strong steps toward reconstruction. We'd like to express our respect (for the prefecture)," Iokibe told the governor during the meeting.

Long wait for evacuees

 Prime Minister Naoto Kan says it won't be until early next year before the government decides if evacuees from the nuclear emergency in Fukushima Prefecture can return home.
 Given that Tokyo Electric Power Co. might be able to stabilize the reactors at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in six to nine months, Kan said Wednesday that "we will be able to see a certain stable condition early next year if the restoration work goes as scheduled."


Rakuten Int'l Shipping

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