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Japanese Nuclear Crisis Worsens as US says Partial Meltdown occurred, IAEA says Very Serious, Spent Fuel Rods Biggest Danger,Panic Flight from Tokyo,Yen Strengthens even more

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Japan’s Nuclear Crisis has taken a turn for the worse as US Energy Secretary CHU saying that a Partial Meltdown has occurred.Even IAEA has said that the situation has turned very serious with  4 of the reactors suffering from core damage and 3 of the reactors have their spent fuel rods in serious danger of being exposed to the atmosphere as cooling systems have failed.While Japan has almost imposed a news blackout,the damaging news comes from the US administration which has said that the crisis exceeds that of the Three Mile Island already.Japan has doubled the number of workers as the crisis continues to escalate.Authorities battling the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant have doubled the number of workers on the site to 100.Helicopters have failed to cool the plant using water due to radioactive plumes and now the desperate Japanese are planning to use water cannons to spray the pools.

Chu Says Japan Crisis May Top Three Mile Island

Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress that the explosions at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant “actually appear to be more serious than Three Mile Island,” referring to the 1979 meltdown near Harrisburg, Pa., that led to a three-decade freeze on nuclear-plant construction in the U.S.

Chu said he was hesitant to predict whether the Japanese power plant’s containment system would hold, or what the repercussions might be.

“We think there is a partial meltdown,” he said.  “We hear conflicting reports about several reactors that are at risk. I do not want to speculate about what will happen, but we are monitoring very closely.”

The main culprit are the spent fuel rods which have not been housed in a containment shell unlike the reactor fuel rods.The pools in which the spent fuel rods are stored have seen their cooling system failing which means the temperature is rising.Already the containment for Reactor 4 has been blasted with holes from the explosion.This means that the spent fuel rods are spreading readioactivity with Reactors 5 and 6 on the way as well.Remarkably, that is the norm—both in Japan and in the United States. Spent fuel pools at Fukushima are not equipped with backup water-circulation systems or backup generators for the water-circulation system they do have.

Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

Fukushima’s Spent Fuel Rods Pose Grave Danger

But there is another, potentially far more dangerous problem: the spent fuel rod pools that sit right next door to the reactors. The storage pools are packed with radioactive uranium, rise several stories above ground and are always close to the reactor, thus facilitating easy transfer of the fuel rods. Their name—especially “spent” and “pool”—conveys calm dissipation. But spent fuel rod pools are actually highly radioactive, very unstable, extremely dangerous and, compared with reactors, not well supported, contained or looked over.

The spent rods give off considerable amounts of “decay heat” and thus must be submerged in constantly circulating water. Expose them to air for a day or two, and they begin to combust, giving off large amounts of radioactive cesium-137, a very toxic, long-lasting, aggressively penetrating radioactive element with a half-life of thirty years. When cesium-137 it enters the environment, it essentially acts like potassium and is taken up by plants and animals that use potassium. (For the record, that includes you.)

Private Jets in High Demand as People Exodus begins from Tokyo

Expatriates and the Rich have started an exodus from Tokyo as the impending Nuclear Disaster,Repeated Earthquakes and Tsunmaies have made even the bravest panic.Private Jets are in high demand with people paying top dollar to escape the possible radioactive fallout.Supermarkets are being emptied of food and fuel as streets become empty.Gieger counters are in high demand and foreign companies are looking to move their staff away from Japan on short notice.China has already made plans to move out its citizens from the affected areas.Other countries have also issued advisories against travelling to Japan.

Radiation Fears Spark Japan Exodus

The international and domestic terminals at Narita International Airport were crammed with passengers leaving the capital after a small spike in radiation levels were detected in Tokyo following a reactor fire that has raged for two days at a troubled nuclear plant 150 miles north of the city. Four of the plant’s six reactors were damaged in last Friday’s earthquake. People living in a 30 kilometer radius of the plant were evacuated, but those further away are no less nervous.

Those who can’t leave the country or are keeping their options open are moving further south to Osaka.

Emperor Akihito, the country’s revered 77-year-old monarch did little to reassure the country in a rare public address, saying: “With the help of those involved I hope things will not get worse.”

Foreign bankers flee Tokyo as nuclear crisis deepens

With bankers joining the growing exodus, private jet operators reported a surge in demand for evacuation flights which sent prices surging as much as a quarter. One jet operator said the cost of flying 14 people to Hong Kong from Tokyo was more than $160,000.”I got a request yesterday to fly 14 people from Tokyo to Hong Kong, 5 hour 5 minutes trip. They did not care about price,” said Jackie Wu, COO of Hong Kong Jet, a newly established private jet subsidiary of China’s HNA Group.


Abhishek Shah

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