There have been a cluster of earthquakes near Fukushima. Just today, there was another 6.0 earthquake.
There have been a cluster of meltdowns at Fukushima. For example, Asahi reports today:
A second meltdown likely occurred in the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a scenario that could hinder the current strategy to end the crisis, a scientist said.
In that meltdown, 10 days after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, the fuel may have leaked to the surrounding containment vessel, according to a report by Fumiya Tanabe, a former senior researcher at what was then the government-affiliated Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute.
Under Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s road map to deal with its crippled nuclear plant, reducing temperatures at the bottom of the core pressure vessel is one objective for bringing the accident under control. But if the fuel burned through the pressure vessel surrounding the No. 3 reactor and dropped into the containment vessel, that plan would be affected.
Around 11 a.m. on March 14, the reactor building was hit by a large hydrogen explosion that was likely caused by a core meltdown, which led to fuel falling to the bottom of the pressure vessel.
Tanabe also estimates that the second meltdown led to the release of large amounts of radioactive materials, and that much of the fuel fell through the pressure vessel to the surrounding containment vessel.
Kunihisa Soda, a former commissioner at the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan who is a specialist on severe accidents at nuclear plants, said the possibility of a second meltdown could not be ruled out.
Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen notes that there are currently lethal radiation levels at Fukushima, that even higher measurements are to still come, and that the nuclear core has leaked out and is on floor like a pancake working its way down.
NHK notes that scientists have found radiation levels in Japan higher than any found in the contaminated zone in Chernobyl called Red Forest:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVzX3gAxp58]
And nuclear regulators only thought about worst case scenarios involving a single nuclear plant. They totally ignored the fact that power loss to complexes of nuclear reactors – like the cluster of 6 reactors at Fukushima – could lead to multiple simultaneous meltdowns.
And then there’s a cluster of cover ups.
As the New York Times reports:
“From the 12th to the 15th we were in a location with one of the highest levels of radiation,” said Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie, which is about five miles from the nuclear plant. He and thousands from Namie now live in temporary housing in another town, Nihonmatsu. “We are extremely worried about internal exposure to radiation.”
The withholding of information, he said, was akin to “murder.”
In interviews and public statements, some current and former government officials have admitted that Japanese authorities engaged in a pattern of withholding damaging information and denying facts of the nuclear disaster — in order, some of them said, to limit the size of costly and disruptive evacuations in land-scarce Japan and to avoid public questioning of the politically powerful nuclear industry. As the nuclear plant continues to release radiation, some of which has slipped into the nation’s food supply, public anger is growing at what many here see as an official campaign to play down the scope of the accident and the potential health risks.
Seiki Soramoto, a lawmaker and former nuclear engineer to whom Prime Minister Naoto Kan turned for advice during the crisis, blamed the government for withholding forecasts from the computer system, known as the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or Speedi.
“In the end, it was the prime minister’s office that hid the Speedi data,” he said. “Because they didn’t have the knowledge to know what the data meant, and thus they did not know what to say to the public, they thought only of their own safety, and decided it was easier just not to announce it.”
Meltdowns at three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors went officially unacknowledged for months. In one of the most damning admissions, nuclear regulators said in early June that inspectors had found tellurium 132, which experts call telltale evidence of reactor meltdowns, a day after the tsunami — but did not tell the public for nearly three months. For months after the disaster, the government flip-flopped on the level of radiation permissible on school grounds, causing continuing confusion and anguish about the safety of schoolchildren here in Fukushima.
The timing of many admissions … suggested to critics that Japan’s nuclear establishment was coming clean only because it could no longer hide the scope of the accident.
The mayor of Namie also said the government’s justifications for withholding information are nonsensical.
And in related news:
- Public anger “exploding” as Japanese discover more about government downplaying spread of Fukushima radiation, health dangers
- TEPCO funds chair/professsorship at MIT — Nuclear researcher: “Nuclear researchers have a stake in reassuring the pubic that nothing bad is happening”
- Panel: Nuke plant operator behind fake email campaign also destroyed documents sought by investigators about public support for MOX fuel
It’s a clusterfukushima.