JAPAN: NATURAL AND NUCLEAR DISASTERS
Japanese disaster: Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear CatastropheGlobal Features 17 Mar 2011 10:44 GMT
broke down. This caused several hydrogen explosions and at least partial fuel rod meltdowns in the reactor blocks one to three of the Fukushima Daiichi nuke. Around the globe the high-risk technology and its future are being protested against and debated . Switzerland is putting a moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants. In neighbouring Germany the Neckarwestheim nuke will be closed down permanently and seven other old ones temporarily. On Monday 14 March more than 110,000 people demonstrated against nuclear power in more than 450 towns across Germany. Update 15.03. 14:30: In the cooling basin of Block IV fire broke out, radioactivity got into the atmosphere. High radiation levels are measured, personnel were evacuated from the control room. Cooling in Blocks V and VI is not working properly.
Impacts of the disaster in the western Pacific
The 11 March earthquake, subsequent quakes and flooding waves severely damaged several atomic installations in Japan. Inter alia an explosion on Saturday destroyed the building of reactor block I of the nuclear power station "Fukushima daiichi genshiryoku hatsudensho" where fuel rods are melting down. On Monday there was a second hydrogen explosion in reactor block III which uses plutonium as well as uranium. It also emerged on Monday that the fuel rods in block II are completely dry and exposed. The necessary cooling is not working in at least four more of the more than 50 reactors in Japan.
Update 15 March, 01:00 UTC: Another explosion (this time in block 2) damaged not only the outer reactor building but also the pressure container. At times the wind turned towards Tokyo.
The evacuation radius around the first accident reactor was extended to 20 kilometres on Sunday. Media and government are trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation. Reliable information about no longer deniable happenings is being gathered by the IAEA. Independent nuclear experts no longer doubt that the situation is close to the worst expectable, that is, almost totally out of control. Attempts are being made to fill reactor blocks I - IV with sea water to prevent further overheating. Experts say this emergency measure is "not provided for in this form in any manual" and renders the reactors permanently unusable. The contaminated water turns into steam or runs back untreated into the sea.
The western Pacific death toll from the Strength 9 Richter scale earthquake has already reached 10,000. Thousands of people are still missing. More than 200,000 have been evacuated from the Fukushima area. Millions in northern Japan were still without power and water.
Debate and demonstrations
The catastrophe is again mobilising tens of thousands of opponents of the high-risk atomic technology. On 14 March more than 100,000 people took to German streets [1,2,3] demanding that all nukes be switched off immediately. Activists chained themselves on at the Biblis plant. On 12 March about 60,000 demonstrated between Stuttgart and Neckarwestheim, while the Social Democratic Party and The Greens, despite their atomic nonsense, yet again pretended to themselves that they are anti-nuclear parties. For election-tactical reasons the CDU-FDP (conservative-liberal) coalition government wants to suspend for three months the extension of nuke running times and offers as a sacrifice the final closure of Neckarwestheim I, and closure for three months of six other nukes built before 1980 as well as Krümmel, which has been out of action for years because of endless mishaps, intending to keep using what it calls the "bridging technology". Solidarity was expressed by people of Philippines.
There was Political Debate in California about the safety of nuclear plants. In Italy (where nuclear plants were closed in 1986) the government is trying to reassure the people that the new nuclear program is safe.