Japan Nuclear Crisis: Game Changer for PA

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Radiation inside Japan nuclear plant sharply rises

From the Mainichi Daily News:

Japanese officials reported a huge jump in radioactivity -- levels 10 million times the norm -- in water in one reactor unit at a tsunami-damaged nuclear plant Sunday, forcing workers to evacuate and again delaying efforts to control the leaking complex.

The air, meanwhile, measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour -- four times the limit of 250 millisieverts deemed safe by the government, Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita told reporters.


Just outside a reactor at the coastal Fukushima nuclear plant, radioactivity in seawater tested about 1,250 times higher than normal, officials. Nishiyama has said the area is not a source of seafood and that the contamination posed no immediate threat to human health.

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Status Reports on the Reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant: Table

From Bloomberg:

The following is the status of each of six nuclear reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant as of 9 a.m., Japan time.

The company pumped fresh water into No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 reactors, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. The external power supply has been restored for all six reactors as of March 22, according to Tokyo Electric Power.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said a “certain level of progress” has been made while speaking on an NHK television program today.

No. 1: Contaminated water in the turbine structure contains 10,000 times the radiation of regular cooling water, NHK said. The company has started removing contaminated water from the basement of the turbine building and will prepare more pumps to drain the water, the agency said. The unit has been damaged since a March 12 hydrogen explosion destroyed the building’s walls. The seriousness of the reactor’s threat to safety is rated level five on an international scale of 1-7.

No. 2: Contaminated water in the turbine structure contains 10 million times more radiation than normal cooling water, NHK said. The company plans to remove contaminated water as early as today, the agency said. The company plans to start using freshwater on fuel pool from March 28, the agency said. The containment chamber may have been damaged in a March 15 explosion, and a power cable was reconnected to the unit on March 19. The reactor is rated a level-five threat.

No. 3: Contaminated water in the turbine structure contains 10,000 times the normal radiation, NHK said. The company is considering ways to remove the contaminated water, the agency said. A March 14 explosion damaged the unit’s fuel cover. The reactor is rated a level-five threat.

No. 4: The company plans to spray water in the spent-fuel cooling pool this afternoon, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. The agency said on March 17 there may be no water in the pool. It’s rated at three on the threat level. This reactor was undergoing maintenance when the earthquake hit.

No. 5: The unit was idle for maintenance before the earthquake.

No. 6: The reactor achieved cold shutdown at 7:27 p.m. on March 20 when the temperature fell below 100 degrees Celsius, the company said. A backup generator was fixed March 19, according to a company press release. The unit was idle for maintenance before the earthquake.

Radioactive Iodine Releases From Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Reactors May Exceed Those Of Three Mile Island By Over 100,000 Times

Institute Calls for More Intensive Contingency Planning by Japanese Authorities; U.S. Should Move as Much Spent Fuel as Possible to Dry Storage to Reduce Most Severe Risks and Suspend Licensing and Relicensing during Review

Takoma Park, Maryland – The damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan continue to release radioactivity into the atmosphere. So far, the accident has released far more radioactivity than the 1979 Three Mile Island (TMI) accident. While Chernobyl had one source of radioactivity, its reactor, there are seven leaking radiation sources at the Japanese site. Together, the three damaged reactors and four spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi contain far more long-lived radioactivity, notably cesium-137, than the Chernobyl reactor.

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TMI: Changes to Number of Operable Steam Safety Valves


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Markey: U.S. States Must Be Prepared with “Emergency Pill” In the Case of A Nuclear Meltdown

Urges Governors to Distribute Potassium Iodide to Residents Near Nuclear Power Plants, and Requests Implementation of 2002 Markey Law to Protect More People

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 25, 2011) – With today’s announcement that the evacuation zone around the site of the Fukushima meltdown would be expanded to 19 miles, and news of a possible dangerous breach of containment at one reactor, today Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) wrote ten state governors urging them to join 22 other states who have already taken advantage of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) policy of providing a free supply of potassium iodide to states that request it for residents that live within ten miles of an operating nuclear power plant. Potassium iodide, also called KI, has been found to protect individuals, especially young children, from the cancer-causing releases of radioactive iodine contained in the fallout that would be discharged in the event if a nuclear disaster occurred in the U.S. Thyroid cancer was the biggest negative health impact caused by the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. More than 6,000 Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian residents who were children at the time of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster developed thyroid cancer. The Japanese and American governments have already distributed KI to those living near Fukushima or participating in the emergency response. Congressman Markey also sent a letter to the National Governors Association requesting its assistance in urging the Obama Administration to implement the 2002 Markey law requiring the distribution of KI to a larger 20-mile radius around operating nuclear power plants.
I urge the Governors and the Obama Administration to take all necessary steps to protect residents living near nuclear power plants,” said Rep. Markey. “It does not make sense to wait for a catastrophic accident at or a terrorist attack on a nuclear reactor in this country to occur to implement this common-sense emergency preparedness measure.
Markey-authored Section 127 of the 2002 Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act directed the President to establish a program to make potassium iodide available free to state and local governments for distribution to residents living within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant. Previously, distribution was limited to just those living within 10 miles, and todate, ten states have not yet requested this free medication from the NRC. The Bush administration improperly waived the law requiring distribution of the pharmaceutical safeguard to occur within 20 miles, and the Obama Administration has not yet reversed that action. 
Copies of the letters to the ten Governors urging them to request potassium iodide for residents living within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant can be found HERE.

A copy of the letter to the National Governor’s Association requesting that they urge the Obama Administration to allow residents living within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant to receive potassium iodide can be found HERE.

Since the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and power outage that caused the nuclear meltdown in Japan, Rep. Markey has also written to Presidential Science Advisor John Holdren asking him to fully implement his 2002 law. Additionally, Rep. Markey wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services urging them to call on the Obama administration to reverse the Bush Administration’s decision to remove HHS’s authority to implement it.
Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has served on the Committees that have oversight over the NRC and the nuclear utility industry since 1976.  For more than three decades, Rep. Markey has worked to secure nuclear power plants and ensure the public safety in the event of a nuclear disaster. In 1979, before the Three Mile Island accident occurred, Rep. Markey introduced legislation providing for a three year moratorium on licensing of new nuclear power plants until a top to bottom safety analysis on nuclear reactors could be performed.  In the early and mid-1980s, Rep. Markey chaired hearings on the lessons of the Three Mile Island accident, including a March 1982 hearing on the need to make KI available to those living around U.S. nuclear power plants. In 1986, he chaired hearings on the causes and consequences of the disaster at Chernobyl. Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Rep. Markey passed a law to strengthen security for nuclear reactors and materials, and a law providing for distribution of potassium iodide to those living within 20 miles of a nuclear reactor. And before the catastrophe in Japan, Rep. Markey raised concerns of the seismic resiliency of our reactors.

Inside Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant

On March 16, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the owner of the plant, released this photo of the damaged No. 3 (left), left, and No. 4 reactors. The No. 3 reactor suffered damage on March 14, when overheated fuel caused an explosion. No. 4 was not in operation when the quake hit, but an explosion on March 15 damaged the building that houses it.

CANCELED: Ensuring Safety at Three Mile Island

Saturday, March 26, 3pm

Whitaker Center is pleased to present the nuclear safety program, Ensuring Safety at Three Mile Island at 3pm in Stage Two, Whitaker Center’s Lower Level.

Ralph DeSantis, Communications Manager, Three Mile Island Generating Station, Exelon Nuclear, will discuss the basic operation of Three Mile Island Unit 1 and discuss the numerous safety systems in place. He will explain what Exelon Nuclear, the operator of Three Mile Island, has done over the past several years to further improve the safety and reliability of the plant.

The 30-minute presentation is suitable for all ages and will include an opportunity for the audience to ask questions.Admission is free.

Presenter Background
Mr. DeSantis has more than 25 years of communication experience in the nuclear power industry. In his current role, he is responsible for all external and internal communications at Three Mile Island. Mr. DeSantis holds a Masters of Public Administration degree from Penn State and a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Clarion State University.

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