To the extent the memory of Fukushima had faded over the last several years, the “fallout” (no pun intended) from the nuclear-like blast that tore through an industrial complex at the Chinese port of Tianjin last month served to remind the world of how far-reaching and unpredictable the consequences can be when disaster strikes at a site that houses potentially toxic materials.
For those unfamiliar, the explosion at Tianjin set the stage for an apocalyptic scenario whereby water soluble sodium cyanide could interact with incoming thunderstorms creating cyanide rain and while that doomsday-ish scenario didn’t play out in as dramatic a fashion as some feared, there was an eerie white foam covering the streets following the first rains that fell in the wake of the explosion.
In case Tianjin didn’t satisfy your thirst for potential cataclysms, just a few days after the explosion, Japan warned that Sakurajima (one of the country’s most active volcanos) was set to erupt. That was notable in and of itself, but what made the story especially amusing (if worrisome) was that just days earlier, Tokyo had greenlighted the reopening of the Sendai nuclear power plant which is located just 50 kilometers from Sakurajima. The reopening at Sendai marked the first nuclear reactor to be restarted in Japan since the Chernobyl redux at Fukushima in 2011.
As The Guardian noted at the time, some experts claim “the restarted reactor at Sendai [is] still at risk from natural disasters,” despite the fact that it was the first nuclear plant to pass new regulations put in place by the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on the heels of the disaster in 2011.
Well, don’t look now but experts now say the No. 2 reactor at Fukushima may have suffered a complete meltdown. Here’s RT with more:
Fukushima’s reactor No.2 could have suffered a complete meltdown according to Japanese researchers. They have been monitoring the Daiichi nuclear power plant since April, but say they have found few signs of nuclear fuel at the reactor’s core.
The scientists from Nagoya University had been using a device that uses elementary particles, which are called muons. These are used to give a better picture of the inside of the reactor as the levels of radioactivity at the core mean it is impossible for any human to go anywhere near it.
However, the results have not been promising. The study shows very few signs of any nuclear fuel in reactor No. 2.
This is in sharp contrast to reactor No.5, where the fuel is clearly visible at the core, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.
TEPCO has used 16 robots to explore the crippled plant to date, from military models to radiation-resistant multi-
segmented snake-like devices that can fit through a small pipe.
However, even the toughest models are having trouble weathering the deadly radiation levels: as one robot sent into reactor No.1 broke down three hours into its planned 10-hour foray.
Despite TEPCO’s best efforts, the company has been accused of a number of mishaps and a lack of proper contingency measures to deal with the cleanup operation, after the power plant suffered a meltdown, following an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011.
Recent flooding caused by Tropical Typhoon Etau swept 82 bags, believed to contain contaminated materials that had been collected from the crippled site, out to sea.
“On September 9th and 11th, due to typhoon no.18 (Etau), heavy rain caused Fukushima Daiichi K drainage rainwater to overflow to the sea,” TEPCO said in a statement, adding that the samples taken “show safe, low levels” of radiation.
“From the sampling result of the 9th, TEPCO concluded that slightly tainted rainwater had overflowed to the sea; however, the new sampling measurement results show no impact to the ocean,” it continued.
Yes, “no impact to the ocean,” other than this:
Much like how Chinese authorities swear that the Tianjin disaster has had no effect on sea life off China’s shores – unless you count the massive fish die-offs…