Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Media outlets report more bad news from Japan, core appears to have melted to bottom of containment vessel

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Because the reporting by the US media has been so unreliable and sensationalist it is hard to know what is truly going on in Japan anymore. Nonetheless, this report sounds . . . well, not great.

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.
Meanwhile, the New York Times, an organization that has been a bit compromised by its sensationalist coverage of the nuclear crisis since the beginning, reports that "confidence" is slipping away:
Heroic workers and firefighters continued to cool the volatile reactors by pumping in hundreds of tons of water a day. Much-awaited electricity had reached the plant after a rush to extend new power lines, ready to hook up to vital cooling systems and engineer a long-term “cold shutdown” of the plant.
The crisis in Japan is one of those news stories that does not fit the usual two or three day news cycle that makes American journalists comfortable. The story is complicated and ongoing. Few American news outlets want to dedicate more than 48 hours to any one story, Japan included.

Despite the story in Japan growing more dire, it has still, nonetheless, slipped from its lead position. Witness the NYT itself: despite the bad news, its editors are still leading with Libya: a literal double line separates Libya from Japan -- sorry Japan, if you were going to have a meltdown it should have fit the timeline imposed by our limited attention span.

"As the result of finding plutonium and finding a high density of radiated water, it's clear that the fuel has melted," ABC News reports that a government spokesman has said.

Sounds horrible, no? But the LA Times says: "Japan nuclear crisis may have a silver lining for radiation health research". God, really?