Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"They've lost control"

From the U.K.'s MailOnline:

Fears of 'an apocalypse' were raised by European officials as radiation levels soared. In another attack, French Industry Minister Eric Besson said: 'Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying.' 
In a sign of mounting panic, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has already warned that the long-range cooling efforts may not work.
As if four stricken reactors wasn't enough, the same article reports that the two reactors that have been, um, cooling their heels, are beginning to heat up, too. Apparently, they'll be given the sea water treatment too. The whole complex is being written off. As it should be.

Two of the reactors' containment vessels have already ruptured, according to the New York Times.

And in spite of assurances that it's no problemo by administration officials in the US, there is concern that radiation will start showing up on the West Coast of the US soon.

If radiation particles can travel the ocean breezes (which they obviously can), couldn't they travel on the prevailing wind from, say, Monticello to the Twin Cities? The Monticello nuclear plant bears a strong family resemblance to the Fukushima plant, and lo and behold, it is considered as one to keep your eye on:
Location: Monticello, MN (30 miles northwest of Minneapolis, MN) Reactors: 1 Electrical Output (megawatts): 579 Year Operating License Issued: 1981 Population within 50 Miles: 2,977,003 Relative Safety Rating: bottom third Risk of Natural Disasters:
Likelihood of Earthquake (scale 0-6): 0 Expected Number of Hurricanes in Next Century: 0 Miles to Potentially Active Volcano: not a factor Significant Tornadoes (1921-1995): 10 to 2
 It bears repeating: it wasn't the earthquake that directly caused the failures here; it was the lack of pumping capacity of cooling water. That's pretty much the standard way that nuclear plants get into trouble. Pumps can fail for lots and lots of reasons; as I said yesterday, including reasons we haven't even thought of yet.

A thump of the tail to Nick Coleman for a tweet about the linked Politico article about Monticello.

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