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The containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be ruptured after three workers within the plant stepped into water that contained "10,000 times the amount" of radiation that is normal for that area

While there has been some speculation surrounding the accuracy of CNN's reports on radiation in Japan as of late, the cable/web news giant has now released a new report stating that there may be a rupture in the containment vessel in reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and that it may be the cause of surrounding water that contains 10,000 times the amount of radiation normally found in the area.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 has led to tsunamis, blackouts, radiation issues such as contaminated food, and a death toll that has passed the 10,000 mark and is expected to exceed 18,000

Now, has reported that the containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be ruptured after three workers within the plant stepped into water that contained 10,000 times the amount of radiation that is normal for that area. The job of the containment vessel is to keep radioactive material from entering the atmosphere, and according to Hidehiko Nishiyama from the Japan nuclear and industrial safety agency, "contaminated water likely seeped through the containment vessel protecting from the reactor's core."

The three workers, which were laying cables in the basement of the No. 3 reactor, were escorted to Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences after stepping in the radioactive water. According to Japan's Health Ministry, a person living in an industrialized country is exposed to 3 millisieverts of radiation annually. For those working directly with the nuclear plant during the current situation, the maximum level of exposure is 100 to 250 millisieverts per year. The three men who stepped in the radioactive water was a 30-year-old with an exposure level of 180.7 millisieverts, a 20-year-old with 179.37 millisieverts and a third man with no age specified that was exposed to 173 millisieverts of radiation. All three men spent 40 to 50 minutes in the 15-centimeter deep water. 

While water in this area is normally boiled and has low levels of radiation, Nishiyama is concerned for the 536 other people working at the plant Friday when the incident occurred, and would like to improve radiation management measures. 

Nishiyama would also like to improve radiation management measures at reactor's 1 and 2, which have been manageable as of late but are still experiencing difficulties. For instance, reactor No. 1 has had issues with increased pressure, and reactor No. 2 needs to switch the water for its spent fuel pool from saltwater to freshwater in order to prevent further corrosion from the salt. 

Reactors 4, 5 and 6 are being watched as well, but do not pose as much of a threat since they underwent scheduled outages during the earthquake. 

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Useful reference
By mkrech on 3/25/2011 3:06:16 PM , Rating: 5
An info-graphic to help understand the radiation measurement amounts.

RE: Useful reference
By quiksilvr on 3/25/2011 3:18:38 PM , Rating: 1
That's a hellova lot more useful and less offensive than the picture in the article.

RE: Useful reference
By 91TTZ on 3/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By quiksilvr on 3/25/2011 3:40:06 PM , Rating: 5
It's idiotic pictures like that that cause a panic when there really shouldn't be. You have no idea how hard they are working on avoiding anything remotely close to that from happening.

I find it offensive because it undermines their efforts. It's not all hunky dory happy face buttercups over there. People are starving and thirsty and over ten thousand have been confirmed dead. That's like posting a picture of skyscrapers in New York being hit by planes saying "America's Parking Lot!" two weeks after 9/11/01.

RE: Useful reference
By 91TTZ on 3/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By Omega215D on 3/25/2011 5:44:44 PM , Rating: 3
the media will make it seem like any nuclear problems will kill the same or even more people than the tsunami.

"Media-induced comatose anesthetic. Fear is the mind killer" - Adam Freeland.

RE: Useful reference
By Solandri on 3/25/2011 7:02:01 PM , Rating: 5
The media frenzy over this reminds me of United 232. It crashed killing roughly half the people aboard.

Among those killed was a lap baby. Parents are allowed to bring babies under a certain age aboard a flight without buying a separate ticket for them. These "lap babies" don't have an assigned seat. When the mother asked a stewardess what to do with the baby just before they crashed, the stewardess told her to put it underneath the seat in front. The stewardess and parents survived the crash. The baby did not.

Since then the stewardess, fraught with guilt, has worked tirelessly to require that babies aboard planes have an assigned seat and can be strapped in in case of an emergency landing or crash. The media, as expected, was very sympathetic to her cause. The FAA finally turned down her suggestion some years back.

See, as well-intentioned as her motives were, the fundamental fact is that statistically, lap babies save lives. If the FAA were to require that babies on flights purchase their own seat, that would raise the cost of flying with a baby. Faced with the increased cost, more parents would instead choose to drive with their baby. And the chance of the baby being killed in a car accident is much, much higher than the chance of a baby being killed in a plane crash. If the stewardess had succeeded, her proposals actually would have resulted in more babies being killed.

The same is true for nuclear power. As terrible as Chernobyl was, and as nerve-wracking as the current situation is, the fact is that statistically, nuclear power is the safest power generation technology we've invented. Safer than wind, safer than solar, safer than hydro, and a helluva lot safer than fossil fuels.

So while rethinking and scaling back nuclear power may be the emotional gut reaction to the current situation, the fact remains that switching to other power sources will result in killing more people. Fortunately it seems Steven Chu and President Obama are keeping a level head about all this, and are still in support of nuclear power.

RE: Useful reference
By ipay on 3/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By Solandri on 3/26/2011 5:40:12 PM , Rating: 5
The "supporters" of nuclear always came up with that argument: it is safe since there hasn't been many problems with it, comparing with others energy sources.
The backbone of human societies can only afford some sort of manageable calamities. If the damage is too severe it can all crumble like a castle of cards.

Ah yes, the "you have to weigh the worst case scenario more heavily" argument. If that's what you truly believe, then let me elucidate you: The worst power generation accident in history was the failure of a hydroelectric dam.

- 171,000 people lost their lives (approx 40x more than Chernobyl)
- 11 million people had to be relocated (approx 30x more than Chernobyl)
- nearly 6 million buildings destroyed (nearly 20x more than the number of people forced to leave Chernoby's affected area
- the reservoir created by the replacement dam flooded 768 km^2 making it uninhabitable (over 1.5x larger than Chernobyl's exclusion zone at 489 km^2)

So given that the worst case scenario for hydro is dramatically worse than the worst case scenario for nuclear, I take it that you are now convinced that hydroelectric power is too dangerous to use? And that we should be replacing our hydroelectric dams with safer technologies with smaller failure modes ... like nuclear power?
In the extreme, is like having, in the future, an amazing technology that provided clean energy (contrary to nuclear), but with the drawback that it had the probability of an world ending event happening once in 100 years.

Your sense of scale is quite a bit off. If we scaled wind power (the second safest power source) up to the amount of electricity generated by nuclear, wind would kill the same number of people as Chernobyl about every 12 years. Coal plants are much worse - their emissions about 250 Chernobyls worth of people each year. The only difference is that those deaths are distributed and don't make the news, while the smallest hiccup at a nuclear plant makes national news.

RE: Useful reference
By Keeir on 3/25/2011 6:36:36 PM , Rating: 2
While I don't think the picture is a huge negative...

It is also not a postive at all. I am unsure of any connection between the picture and the news articles... besides "water".

Drinking water in a cooler DNE waste water at a damaged nuclear site.

Radon itself is a naturally occuring radiative gas. It is already found in several springs world-wide, as well as most City water supplies. In a twist of fate, Japan itself is known for several radium rich springs.

I am unsure what the purpose of the picture is? "Radon" water is what we all pretty much drink anyway... just not in high concentrations.

RE: Useful reference
By Omega215D on 3/25/2011 5:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
I would've liked a Fallout 3 reference myself, like ones that involve drinking irradiated water. I never did get too far into the game though...

RE: Useful reference
By cokbun on 3/27/2011 2:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
is about that time when you're taking the GECK in vault 86

RE: Useful reference
By Drag0nFire on 3/25/2011 3:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
I saw this chart a few days ago floating around the internet. Didn't realize it was done by the xkcd guy... =D

Really, though, a wonderfully produced chart that offers a great sense of perspective.

RE: Useful reference
By Icopoli on 3/25/2011 3:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
I was expecting some smartass picture with the fact that it's hosted on xkcd, but it was quite informative, thanks for the link.

RE: Useful reference
By danobrega on 3/25/2011 6:40:01 PM , Rating: 2
The comments on the chart are really funny. :D

RE: Useful reference
By Keeir on 3/25/2011 6:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing missing would have been a comparison another form of more commonly understood risk.

Smoking, Drinking, Driving, etc.

I also think that a Coal power plant gives off much much more ratiation per kWh during normal operation is never really highlighted enough...

RE: Useful reference
By AnnihilatorX on 3/27/2011 3:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
There is one more point about radiation exposure effect on health.

Living cells have excellent repairing capabilities. Even if radiation dose is large, as long as it's not continuous and body is given time to repair the damage, you are fine. That's why cancer patients survive radiotherapy even when subjected to lethal doses of radiation.

RE: Useful reference
By IvanAndreevich on 3/27/2011 6:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
If they survive it, it must not be lethal then.

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