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Japanese Earthquake Puts Nuclear Reactor at Risk
March 11, 2011
Friday March 11, the largest earthquake in Japanese history (8.9) hit the
eastern coast of Japan, causing the shutdown of reactors at Fukushima-Daiichi
nuclear station and the Tohuku nuclear station. Backup power for the Fukushima
Daiichi Unit-2 reactor did not function, which has put the cooling system at
risk. The cooling system keeps the extremely hot nuclear core from
melting down, as well as the spent fuel rods in large pools from overheating
and causing a fire.
Currently, the emergency cooling system is running on
limited battery power. The Japanese and United States governments are
reported to be rushing emergency diesel fuel and batteries to the site, hoping
to prevent a loss-of-coolant accident. Pressure in the reactor is 1.5 times
normal levels and the reactor operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., is planning
to release some of the pressure by venting radioactive vapor from the
containment structure. The Japanese government has ordered an evacuation
of those living within 2 miles of the facility; people within 10 kilometers
have been ordered to stay indoors.
PSR will continue to update our site
on the situation. For more information, contact Ira Helfand at firstname.lastname@example.org.