Radioactive Japan

BBC News – Japan nuclear agency upgrades Fukushima alert level.

TEPCO and Japan have finally acknowledged the severity of the leaks from storage tanks at the severely damaged plant.  The radiation from the leak is the equivalent of getting a 5 year dose of radiation in one hour – pretty scary.

The March 2011 tsunami knocked out cooling systems to the reactors at the plant, three of which melted down.

Water is now being pumped in to cool the reactors but this means that a large amount of contaminated water has to be stored on site.

The storage tanks are leaking – into the ground.  And because the plant is situated next to the ocean, that contaminated water is flowing into the seas.

Teams of workers at the plant have surrounded the leaking tank with sandbags and have been attempting to suck up large puddles of radioactive water.

But our correspondent says it is a difficult and dangerous job. The water is so radioactive that teams must be constantly rotated and it is clear that most of the toxic water has already disappeared into the ground.

With no other options, the operators of the plant must continue to pump water in to cool the nuclear materials.  Something has to be done with all the contaminated cooling water.
What can we learn from this disaster?  Are US nuclear reactors prepared for whatever natural disasters might befall them?

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A Tsunami of Debris

NPR’s Morning Edition has a story about the tsunami debris washing up on Alaska’s pristine shores.  Listen here.

Trash, much of it believed to be debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, litters the beach on Montague Island, Alaska, on Jan. 26.

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