Monday, March 14, 2011

Meltdown Approaching

On another day it would make sense to write about the the economic injustice in Michigan, where newly elected Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has given his corporate buddies an 86% tax cut and is making it up with, I kid you not, a 31% middle class tax hike. You know, class warfare.

Or maybe I'd write about newly elected Gov. Scott Walker (R) being heckled by large crowds everywhere he goes in Wisconsin. Or about newly elected Gov. John Kasich (R) in Ohio whose approval ratings are now completely upside down. Get ready for another seesaw election in 2012.

I wanted to write about the wussy National Rifle Association, who's Chief Executive, Wayne LaPierre, declined to meet with President Obama to discuss a sensible approach to gun control. He's probably a birther.

Then there's the news that the king of all LSD makers, Owsley Stanley, just died in an auto accident in Australia. Flashback while driving, perhaps?

But all that news is dwarfed by the nightmare of multiple nuclear reactor failure in Japan, radiation leaks, plant evacuations and impending meltdown:
Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and a fire at a fourth reactor spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.


They initially suggested that the damage was limited and that emergency operations aimed at cooling the nuclear fuel at three stricken reactors with seawater would continue. But industry executives said that in fact the situation had spiraled out of control and that all plant workers needed to leave the plant to avoid excessive exposure to radioactive leaks.

If all workers do in fact leave the plant, the nuclear fuel in all three reactors is likely to melt down, which would lead to wholesale releases of radioactive material — by far the largest accident of its kind since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago.


“It’s way past Three Mile Island already,” said Frank von Hippel, a physicist and professor at Princeton. “The biggest risk now is that the core really melts down and you have a steam explosion.”

And expect that radiation to travel - around the us:

We’re all exposed to a certain amount of radioactivity from natural background sources. Americans old enough to have lived during the era of atmospheric nuclear tests have some amount of radioactive residue from those tests. Today, tiny amounts of radioactivity from Chinese nuclear tests can still travel to the US on the wind.

“The question is not can it reach us. The question is, in what concentration,” says Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer in nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nonprofit that works to expose what it says are the dangers of nuclear power.

Prevailing winds in Japan blow west to east, notes Mr. Hirsch. Radioactive materials released by the current crisis would take about four days to reach Alaska and another day or so to reach the continental US.

Prayers welcome.

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