by David Safier
New information is leaking out about radioactive leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The "contained" disaster has radiation levels 10 times the fatal dose inside the No. 2 reactor and very little water-- about 2 feet up from the bottom as opposed to the earlier 30 foot estimate. The most recent examination "renews doubts about the plant's stability."
How prepared is the nuclear industry to handle this kind of thing? Not at all. There's no equipment in existence to deal with the problems in the No. 2 reactor.
The data collected Tuesday showed the damage from the disaster is so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades.
Does this mean things are better in the other two damaged reactors? Quite the contrary. They were able to assess the damage in No. 2 because "radiation levels inside the reactor building are relatively low," and it's the only one designed to allow the measuring equipment inside.
The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest.
But surely Fukushima can withstand strong aftershocks or another tsunami, right? Wrong. The plant is hanging on by its fingernails. It can't handle a heavy jolt to its system.
The nuclear reactor industry is prepared for any emergency, except when it's a genuine catastrophe. Then, not so much.