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Friday, April 8, 2011

Japan sprays nitrogen into reactors to avoid explosion

Reading the latest developments of the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant makes me feel like going back to my high school days. Why? Because I am overwhelmed with the parade of the chemical elements that the news say.
From hydrogen, to nitrogen, to silicon and zirconium. I feel like I am reviewing the Periodic Table in my Chemistry class. Not to mention iodine and cesium, which have become relatively common words since the troubled plant started leaking radioactive materials into the air, sea, and spreading into the food, milk and drinking water.
So, I shall briefly describe what appears to be a complex unfolding of events in one of the most damaged prefectures in Japan due to the nuclear crisis.
Kyodo News reported that Reactors 1, 2 and 3 were 70, 30 and 25 percent damaged, respectively.
On Saturday, it was reported that highly contaminated water was leaking into the Pacific Ocean. The source of the leak could not be traced until...
On Wednesday, it was found that the source of radioactive water came from a cracked pit located near Reactor 2. News have it that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the company that runs the nuclear station, had successfully plugged the leak of highly radioactive water into the sea by pumping 6,000 liters of chemicals that include sodium silicate or "water glass".
On Thursday, the utility firm begun to spray nitrogen into Reactor 1 to avert the possible risk of a hydrogen explosion. And we know that if an explosion occurs, it will release radiation thousands of meters into the environment.
About 1,500 liters of sodium silicate was likewise injected to Reactor 2 and another chemical to solidify a layer of small stones under a cable trench, The Japan Times said.
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said that nitrogen was sprayed as a "preventive measure." He also denied that there is "immediate danger" of explosion.
About 10,000 tons of low-level contaminated water will be released into the ocean by TEPCO over the weekend. The plan has ignited a strong opposition from Japan's fishing industry and worry in neighboring countries. We know for a fact that marine life plays a big part of the Japanese cuisine and business.
TEPCO is planning on installing "silt fence" barriers in the sea near the leaking Reactor 2 to avoid "adding insults to injury" to the contaminated seawater.
Meanwhile, if plans push through, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto in Tokyo to discuss the issues on how to deal with the present nuclear crisis and reconstruction efforts, said The Hindu.
UN experts said on Wednesday that the accident rate of the Fukushima crisis is between that of the Three Mile Island and the Chernobyl.
The UN announced that it will publish a report on the health effects of the present nuclear problem in two years time.
Watch the attached YouTube video.
Details of this report here.

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