Sunday, March 13, 2011
What It All Boils Down to in Fukushima
Nuclear fission. That's it right there.
This process, while providing electricity for millions, creates a tremendous amount of heat. When water can't get to the fuel rods--those babies that heat the water that turns the turbines that create all the electricity--we have a big problem on our hands.
At Fukushima right now, the cooling systems are operating on "back ups of back ups": steam-powered batteries. In the last 24 hours "radiation levels in one room [of the Daiichi 1 plant] spiked to 1,000 times the normal level" according to The New Yorker's senior editor Amy Davidson.
Four other reactors are in similar states of coolant emergencies.
When you take a look at the International Nuclear Event Scale, you'll notice that Chernobyl is at the top of the pyramid, a Stage 7 - Major Accident. What I woke up thinking this morning is this: the Chernobyl accident involved one reactor that melted down, but this "event" in Fukushima involves up to five nuclear reactors, and who knows, maybe more.
But it gets even scarier. One of the plants is not a Uranium 235 plant; it's plutonium. Plutonium, people. Do you know what that means? Way worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Way worse. I am not a nuclear physicist, and I am not an extremist crack pot survivalist; I am merely reporting what is in the news right now.
Plutonium is way more dangerous than Uranium 235. Way more, because it takes much more to cool it, to stop the reaction.
Where on the scale would this latest event be placed?
I hate to alarm you, dear event scale creators, but I think you're going to need to do some revising of your scale here pretty soon.