Japan Is Struck by Powerful Aftershock – NYTimes.com

Still, concerns about the plant remain high. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed.

While a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric dismissed the analysis, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan agreed that it was possible that the core had leaked into the larger containment vessel.

The possibility raised new questions. The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell.

But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.

“It’s a little like pulling a thread out of your tie,” said the executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect business connections in Japan. “Any breach gets bigger.”

Flashes of extremely intense radioactivity have become a serious problem, he said. Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation, the executive said.

via Japan Is Struck by Powerful Aftershock – NYTimes.com.

Not to be an alarmist or anything, but it seems best not to just let this be swept under the rug. The excerpt seems more important than the headline…

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