The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Finally: Japanese Official Admits ‘Possible Partial Meltdown’ at Nuclear Power Plant

Posted on | March 13, 2011 | 34 Comments

It only took about 24 hours after the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi — an entire day of denial — but at long last we may be starting to get some (carefully qualified) truth here:

Japan’s top government spokesman says a partial meltdown is likely under way at second reactor affected by Friday’s massive earthquake.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Sunday that radiation at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima briefly rose above legal limits, but it has since declined significantly.
Three reactors at the plant lost their cooling functions in the aftermath of quake and tsunami because of a power outage.
Edano said operators released slightly radioactive air from Unit 3 Sunday, while injecting water into it as an effort to reduce pressure and temperature to save the reactor from a possible meltdown.
Still, a partial meltdown in the unit is “highly possible,” he told reporters.
“Because it’s inside the reactor, we cannot directly check it but we are taking measures on the assumption of the possible partial meltdown,” he said.

So we’ve now got confirmation of a “possible partial meltdown,” whatever that means, and I’m sure the networks will be bringing on their experts all day Sunday to explain it.

(When you get to work Monday morning, expect to find the office know-it-all acting like he’s a nuclear physicist by repeating this stuff he got from watching TV news. Everybody knows somebody like that: The same office know-it-all who thinks he’s an expert in criminal forensics because he watches C.S.I. God help him if he ever starts watching Animal Planet. He might start believing he’s a ferret or an antelope or something.)

Thanks to Jeff S. from Walla Walla for the tip in the comments (and also for hitting the tip jar). Meanwhile, from The Washington Post:

Japanese authorities said Sunday that efforts to restart the cooling system at one of the nuclear reactors damaged by Friday’s earthquake had failed, even as officials struggled to bring several other damaged reactors under control.

So that’s more stuff to worry about and if there’s one thing we all need more of, it’s stuff to worry about. Like I said Saturday, I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just aggregating the news and trying to figure out whether the panic stains in our pants should be yellow or brown.

UPDATE: Wow, thanks to Dan Collins for the e-mail tip about a fascinating post by Bob Cringely:

Though the boiling water reactor has already been turned off by inserting neutron-absorbing control rods all the way into the core, adding boric acid or, more likely, sodium polyborate would turn the reactor off-er — more off than off — which could come in really handy in the event of a subsequent coolant loss, which reportedly has already happened. But that’s a $1 billion kill switch that most experts wouldn’t think to pull.
I’m guessing the US Navy delivered a load of sodium polyborate from some nuclear aircraft carrier reactor supply room in the Pacific Fleet. Its use indicates that the nuclear threat is even worse than presently being portrayed in the news.  Tokyo Electric Power Company has probably given-up any hope of keeping those cooling pumps on after the batteries fail. Eventually they’ll vent the now boron-laced coolant to the atmosphere to keep containment pressures under control.

Which could mean — believe it or not — Hillary Clinton was right!


Comments are closed.