Indeed, for those of us reading reliable reports, we get the sense that they are slowly gaining the upper hand over the problems.
On the other hand, listening to the media report on the Fukushima sitiuation is a bit like listening to a hysterical child who is convinced that he has just seen the boogey man under his bed. Here’s an example of media stupidity and sensationalism:
You just can”t rely on this kind of low level media for accurate, factual and cool-headed information. Not surprisingly, some Germans, who are 9000 km away from the reactors, are actually out buying iodine pills and Geiger counters. Some are probably even digging bomb-shelters by now.
So get the latest news from experts, instead. Here’s the latest update (reality):
From World Nuclear News here (emphasis added): ================================================================
Problems for units 3 and 4
16 March 2011
Earlier, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that a blaze was spotted in the reactor building of Fukushima Daiichi 4 at 5.45am local time this morning. Attempts to extinguish it were reportedly delayed due to high levels of radiation in the area. A spokesperson for TEPCO said that by around 6:15am there were no flames to be seen. The incident at unit 4 is believed to be in the region of a used fuel pond in the upper portion of the reactor building.
FIRST PUBLISHED 0.25am GMT
UPDATE 1:14am GMT
Information from TEPCO spokesman and video feed
UPDATE 2: 4:10am GMT
Update title from ‘Second fire reported at unit 4’ and information on Unit 3 and 4 from Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has described problems that occurred on the morning of 16 March with Fukushima Daiichi 3 and 4. He also outlined plans to pump water into unit 4.
At 8:34am local time white smoke was seen billowing out of Fukushima Daiichi 3. Efforts to determine the cause of this development were interrupted as all workers had evacuated to a safe area due to rising radiation readings. Readings from a sensor near the front gate had fluctuated for some time, although Edano said that on the whole there was no health hazard. Earlier in the morning readings had ranged between 600-800 microsieverts per hour, but at 10am readings rose to 1000 microsieverts per hour. Readings began to fall again from around 10:54.
Edano said that one possibility being considered was that the unit 3 reactor had suffered a similar failure to that suffered by unit 2 yesterday, although there had been no reported blast or loud sound, which had been the case for unit 2. The immediate focus, said Edano was on monitoring of levels and checking pumping operations.
It was not clear whether the increase in radiation readings were due to the problems today with unit 3 or the ongoing problems resulting from the damage suffered by unit 2, yesterday.
Edano also outlined plans for units 4. Preparations were being made to inject water into unit 4, however the high levels of radiation from unit 3 were impairing those preparations. When possible, the water injection would be done gradually as there were safety concerns over pouring a large amount of water at once. The water will be pumped into the reactor building from the ground, plans to drop water from a helicopter having been abandoned. Although he said that “all things were possible” Edano did not believe that recriticality at unit 4 was a realistic risk.
Second fire at unit 4
Tokyo Electric Power Company issued a notice of an explosion at unit 4 at 6am on 15 March. This was followed by the company’s confirmation of damage around the fifth floor rooftop area of the reactor building. On that day, a fire was discovered but investigations concluded it had died down by around 11am. At present it is not clear whether today’s fire was a completely new blaze, or if the fire reported yesterday had flared up again.”
Here it is in a nutshell:
Reactors 1 and 2: There no news mentioned here about them. And there is a saying about “no news”. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Reactor 3: White smoke was seen, radiation levels went up, but have since come back down. They are monitoring levels and checking pumping operations. I can’t discern a disaster there.
Reactor 4: Here we see that a fire was spotted this morning at 5:45. By 6:15 there were no more flames to be seen.
Overall there are no reports that any of the reactors and containment facilities having melted down, let alone exploded like Chernobyl.
And if the World Nuclear News is not good enough, here’s the latest status report from:
IAEA (emphasis added):
Japan Earthquake Update (16 March 2011, 03:55 UTC)
Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that a fire in the reactor building of Unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was visually observed at 20:45 UTC of 15 March. As of 21:15 UTC of the same day, the fire could no longer be observed.
Fire of 14 March
As previously reported, at 23:54 UTC of 14 March a fire had occurred at Unit 4. The fire lasted around two hours and was confirmed to be extinguished at 02:00 UTC of 15 March.
Water Level in Unit 5
Japanese authorities have also informed the IAEA that at 12:00 UTC of 15 March the water level in Unit 5 had decreased to 201 cm above the top of the fuel. This was a 40 cm decrease since 07:00 UTC of 15 March. Officials at the plant were planning to use an operational diesel generator in Unit 6 to supply water to Unit 5.
The IAEA continues to liaise with the Japanese authorities and is monitoring the situation as it evolves.”
In a nutshell, no news about Reactors 1-3, the Reactor 4 fire appears to be extinguished, and Reactor 5 seems to be threatening something, but the means of controlling that are at hand.
This all doesn’t mean that we are out of the woods. The next hours will tells us more. In the meantime be careful with all the Hollywood-type of drama and hype you hear from the clueless media and Greenpeace “experts”.
Also you can get press releases from the reactor operator TEPCO. But the press releases are confusing: