Saturday, March 12, 2011

What is Happening with the World? - Understanding Nuclear Power Plant

I was supposed to be in Egypt last February 12 (at the height of chaos), the day the president stepped down.  I was looking at visiting Russia when Moscow was bombed in January.  I was checking out Contiki Tour's trip to New Zealand when Christchurch was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake last February 22.

Excitement has sinked in the past few weeks, while planning for our trip to Tokyo, Hakone, Shirakawago, and Kyoto.  I already have my tickets and visa ready, hotel bookings in placed and even bought the $350 JR rail pass.  The itinerary is almost layed out by my travel buddy and me, outlining every little detail including a gastronomic feast in Tokyo, cherry blossom (sakura) hanami party in Kyoto and Tokyo, and farm house stay in Shirakawago.  I've purchased boots, pashmina and jeggings, my jacket is out of the closet and in my luggage, looking forward to  5 to 15 degrees early spring weather.  I'm suppose to be in Japan in two weeks time, but now I'm grounded.

The earthquake that struck Japan is frightening as it is, the tsunami appeared like a scene from a fictional film, the aftershock was unimaginable.  It must be a very traumatic experience for the locals.  Worst, today, there was an explosion at a nuclear power station which destroyed a building housing the reactor and fears for a radiation leak grew.  Although it has been reported that chances of radiation leak is decreasing.

I had to phone a friend who works with a power plant and asked what exactly are the imminent risks of the nuclear plant exploding or radiation leaking and he explained:

When the nuclear plant was shutdown, it continues to emit heat and it is necessary to cool down the (fuel rods) nuclear reactor.  However, the massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the cooling systems, including the back up.  The nuclear plant does not explode like a bomb, or if it does, it will be like an ashfall.  What happened today was a release of the steam that was building up. The big problem is if it won't cool down and the reactors starts to melt down, then their is a possibility of a greater release of radioactivity into the environment (and the atmosphere).  If that happens, it may not be limited within the radius of the plant, wind factor is crucial; there will be long term health hazards like cancer and mutation of genes.
It may take a while for things to settle down, let's see what happens next week.

I'm hoping for better news. Last night, our own plant was sabotaged by unknown parties which will cripple our operations for the next few days.

Lord, help us!

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