Japan Update

Update: European markets are also getting hammered . See BBC for more.

It seems that only the stock market has realised what the hell is going on. I captured this on my phone earlier in the day, the Nikkei closed down 10.55%  after BOJ intervention.

But it just seems absolutely bizarre that I am even discussing this.   The latest feeds on the BBC website state.

0938: A spent nuclear fuel pool at Fukushima’s number 4 reactor may be boiling and its water level falling, Kyodo news agency is reporting.
0935: Japan’s nuclear safety agency has said there are two holes of 8 sq m (86 sq feet) in a wall of the outer building of the number 4 reactor after an explosion there, Reuters reports.
0738: More on the fire at a spent fuel pond at Fukushima: It is at the number 4 reactor and “radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere”, AFP quotes the IAEA as saying.
0725:Philip White, of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo, tells the BBC he honours the courage of some 50 workers remaining in the nuclear plant, saying they are risking their lives by exposing themselves to what are conceivably very high doses of radiation. Says the authorities’ unwillingess to listen to past advice about the dangers of quakes and tsunami has led to this situation, and they should have taken these well-founded critiques seriously
0709: There is a fire at a spent fuel pond of a reactor and radioactivity has been released into the atmosphere, says the IAEA according to AFP news agency.

Reuters reports

Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog a spent fuel storage pond was on fire at a reactor damaged by the earthquake and radioactivity was being released “directly” into the atmosphere, the Vienna-based agency said on Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing information it had received from Japanese authorities, said dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the Fukushima power plant site.

It did not give details or comparisons on the radiation level but the yearly background radiation from natural sources is estimated at around 3 millisieverts, a unit the IAEA uses to measure doses of radiation received by people.

“The Japanese authorities are saying that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion,” the IAEA said in a statement.

In Japan, authorities warned radiation levels had become “significantly” higher around the nuclear power plant on Tuesday after explosions at two reactors, and the French embassy said a low-level radioactive wind could reach Tokyo within hours.

The IAEA said it had been informed “that the spent fuel storage pond at the Unit 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is on fire and radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere.”

It added: “Dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the site. The Japanese authorities are saying that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion.”

I was just watching Sky News where an “expert” claimed that 400 millisievert/hour was basically a deadly dose of radiation. I continue to get the feeling that the authorities are not telling the Japanese what is actually going on.

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  1. 400 millisievert might be high, but it does depend where that level is being measured, and over what kind of perimeter, or area.

    For a single point source, radiation levels decrease with the square of the distance away from the source. ie. Level is proportional to [ 1 / ((distance)^2)].

    So, for example, at 10 metres away from such a point source, the reading would be 400 x [ 1 / ((10)^2 ] = 4 millisieverts.

    My 2c

    • The sieverts they are talking about are received doses, not source strengths.

      ie, the flux received at your point receiver from all of the various sources nearby.

  2. ok BurbWatcher, yes, you’re an engineer…why dont you stand outside the reactor, at say…10 metres away…and tell us how strong the radiation is? Also, you must be pro-nuclear. Fine, where do you live? so we should build a plant next to your house.

  3. Whoa Bob!
    Is that Mr Brown – i think that is out of line.
    Maybe time for clear heads now and accusations later.

    and no not pro-anything – i work in DR and am already busy in a city in a mess

    • Ronin from BBC news feed – It seems their PM had the same question.

      1107: Prime Minister Naoto Kan has strongly criticised the Tokyo Electric Power Company for its handling of the Fukushima No 1 nuclear plant, according to Japan’s Kyodo news. “The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the premier’s office for about an hour,” a Kyodo News reporter overheard Mr Kan saying during a meeting with company executives. “What the hell is going on?”