Japan asks for help as nuclear threat impends

By Yo Tong on March 14, 2011
Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. Image from Wikimedia Commons.
Japan is on the verge of a severe nuclear crisis after a second explosion occurred in Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant yesterday. Japan's government officials admitted that it is possible that the fuel rods in Daiichi Power Plant may have melted down, while IAEA, the UN's atomic watchdog, prepared to offer help.   Director General of the IAEA, Amano Yukiya, said in a statement at around 3:00 (Japan local time is used unless specified) on 15 March that the Japanese government asked the Agency to provide help with expert missions “today.“ He asserted that they are currently working out the details. IAEA plans to hold a daily Technical Briefing for Member States and the media at 15:00, Central European Time, Amano said.   On 11 March, the IAEA pledged to be ready to provide any kind of technical assistance to Japan, should the government request it.   Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a news briefing at 21:00 on 14 March that it is “highly possible” that meltdown occurred at the fuel rods of reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant. However, he stressed that it is unlikely the current crisis will lead to another Chernobyl disaster.   The cooling system stoppage occurred at No. 2 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio said at 16:20 14 March. The fuel rods of No. 2 reactor left completely exposed above water at around 21:00 today, according to NHK and Kyodo News reports. The water level once increased but the fuel rods are again completely exposed at 23:20 on March 14, according to NHK.   Radiation level at the front gate of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant once reached 3,130 microsieverts per hour at 21:37 on 14 March, NHK reported. TEPCO (the fourth biggest electric power company in the world) revealed that the radiation level at the monitoring post of Fukushima Daini Nuclear Plant, 10 km south of Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, reached 9.4 microsieverts per hour at 22:07 today, according to an Asahi News report. This is equivalent to 260 times the permissible level of radiation, Asahi said.   After the explosion of reactor No. 3 on the morning of March 14, the U.S. Seventh Fleet has ordered to move its ships and aircrafts away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. This directive was given after their ships reportedly found low-level radioactive contamination while passing through the white cloud discharged by the plant. The maximum potential radiation dose received by the ship’s personnel was less than that received from one month of exposure to natural radiation, according to a statement from the U.S. Seventh Fleet.