Update 5:35 p Pacific: The LA Times is now reporting :
"Another nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 facility in Japan has lost its emergency cooling capacity, according to the Associated Press, bringing to three the number of reactors at that facility to fall prey to Friday's magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. Added to failure of three reactors at Fukushima No. 2, the count is now six overall."
But most concern is focused on one reactor. However, seawater pumped in to cool it seems to be working, according to Japanese power company official.
There doesn't seem to much substantive news about the Japanese nuclear plants since this morning. About that explosion:
A Japanese official said a buildup of hydrogen in the reactor's cooling system caused the explosion, but he said the containment structure was intact. Radiation was released, but government officials say the levels were low and tare dropping.
The four American experts and a colleague in Japan briefed reporters by telephone Saturday, and they said they were less certain.
Nuclear energy analyst Robert Alvarez of the Institute for Policy Studies says there are many things we do not know about the failure, including whether the containment structure is fully intact. "The information that has been made public, particularly by the Japanese nuclear safety authorities, certainly indicate that radioactive elements from the fuel itself have escaped and entered the environment. And even if the reactor maintains its integrity, there's a possibility that things like open relief valves on the top of the reactor and things like that may still release large amounts of radioactivity," he said.
The LA Times is reporting that according to a Japanese official, a meltdown "may be occurring," but that isn't too different from this morning. Not a lot of certainty.
Salon has the Rachel Maddow show segment from Friday that explains the general situation and the dangers. They include release of large amounts of radiation which would be blown by prevailing winds out to sea, and towards the U.S. West Coast.
I don't see anything so far in the news about this. (Although I haven't listened to talk radio.) Neverthless, the Arcata Coop has suddenly run out of iodine, a precaution against damage to the thyroid from radiation. So it seems some people have figured it out.
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