Melting of nuclear fuel at Reactors No. 2 and 3 “extensive if not complete” — “Far more dire than previously recognized”

Published: May 17th, 2011 at 2:52 pm ET
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Utility: Fukushima Cores More Damaged Than Thought, Science Magazine by Dennis Normile, May 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm EDT:

Over the last several days, evidence has emerged indicating that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was far more dire than previously recognized. The main evidence is extensive—rather than partial—melting of the nuclear fuel in three reactors in the hours after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. [...]

At first, analysts from Tokyo Electric and the government believed there was only limited damage to the fuel cores. But over the last week, a combination of robotic and human inspections has led to the conclusion that the fuel assemblies in units 1, 2, and 3 were completely exposed to the air for from over 6 hours to over 14 hours and that melting was extensive if not complete. [...]

Published: May 17th, 2011 at 2:52 pm ET
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82 comments

Related Posts

  1. Nuclear Engineer: All 3 Fukushima reactors had enormous amounts of plutonium inside before melting down (VIDEO) November 14, 2011
  2. Tepco says fuel in Reactors No. 2 and 3 may have melted — Announcement about the two reactors “will be made later” May 16, 2011
  3. Japan nuclear agency finally admits fuel has melted in reactors 1, 2 & 3 April 20, 2011
  4. TEPCO says “sharp rise” in temperature at reactor No. 3, up 70ºF in a day — Japanese media: Is it due to the melting of nuclear fuel? May 8, 2011
  5. Kyodo: “Unit 3 MOX likely melted through” — Mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel may have “dribbled” out after melting again August 9, 2011

82 comments to Melting of nuclear fuel at Reactors No. 2 and 3 “extensive if not complete” — “Far more dire than previously recognized”

  • t

    “no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn”


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  • Anthony

    I think this is being published now because the situation has become truly critical.


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    • Poor Daddy

      Absolutely right. Can only keep a lid on Doomsday for so long.


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      • Discordian

        Right. And I’m sure it’s actually WORSE than they are admitting. Governments and corporations NEVER tell the WHOLE truth about ANYTHING, for fear of what the rest of us will do to them. The only “panic” they try to avoid and evade is their own.


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    • mothra

      I believe they are disclosing slightly more because the atypical pneumonias and live birth data is and will be hard to ignore now. May as well try to salvage your media brand to a degree at this point. Also, the announcement not to test further disturbs individuals, so their personal motives come forward a bit.


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      • Cassie

        Yes Mothra:
        I am also trying to sort out why they have been disclosing info for the past 48 hrs. What is going on and why?

        Obviously a reason is that something bad is going down and they will no longer be able to hide it or lie about it for much longer, and they have to stay one step ahead of the situation information wise.

        I believe the info is being carefully managed via a standard protocol.
        Probably the way to present very bad news to a very large audience.

        Cassie


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        • mothra

          If their past choices are a guide, they’ve typically come out just ahead of independent reputable source disclosures with slightly less dramatic reports than the independents were scheduled to disclose (example: Greenpeace monitors). Their call for robots and cameras have introduced some third parties into the info loop, so I expect a degree of disclosure following those partnership interventions. Basically, they’ll never be able to contain all personnel from every agency or partner on disclosure. The ones who make ethical stands and can’t be bought, silenced or discredited on the “public’s right to know” within these groups influences the info release from TEPCo. They’ll only disclose what they have to. Otherwise, they are disincentivized financially and politically to do so.


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          • Cassie

            Yes I agree, they can no longer hide something and have to stay on top of impression management.

            Another poster suggested that they are laying the ground work for UN or Global military op to secure the site.


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        • extra knight

          no it’s something vastly simpler and easier than that. they just can’t install their “readymade” policestate right now, this multiple meltdowns of several reactors and ongoing radiation poisoning was definitely not in their playbooks. unless of course, i could be wrong you know.


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        • xdrfox

          Motive ?,
          Remember they also know that they have to keep the stock from sliding any more then it has, they were informed not to let it !


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    • Cassie

      Yes I think so too Anthony.

      BTW I saw the response you posted to me on another thread,
      but cannot find it now to respond, have not figured out yet
      an efficient way to track posts.

      At any rate I read the link about the animals deaths.
      I breaks my heart.

      Cassie


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      • Anthony

        Nature is a clear communicator, if one listens.

        Mass random animal deaths in all kingdoms is like nature SCREAMING SOMETHING IS WRONG!!! Sorry for screaming but the animals themselves don’t have voices other than their dead bodies. I know you love animals and I am sure they loves ya back!


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  • Darth

    Nuclear Engineering International had reported that after the Three Mile Island catastrophe at 4:28 AM on 28 March 1979 – by 8:30 AM the same day 53% of the core had melted away. That’s 4 hrs. So the estimates of full core melting in the worst case would be about 8 hrs or so.

    http://enenews.com/reactor-no1s-fuel-rods-completely-melted-admits-tepco#comment-56293

    See also,

    http://2012forum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=381558#p381558

    Are humans the only species on the planet that will shit in their own nest?

    The SHIT-STORM continues…


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  • Anthony

    Interesting comment on Time:
    Iperdjw
    Letter to Japanese contact.
    I am writing to you re the nuclear problem faced in Japan.
    We are in the mineral and oil recovery business in the USA and sometimes we have to deal with radio active materials and HOT water. Our sister company developed a high energy machine that neutralizes both the alpha and beta properties that make up radio active materials.
    We have been in contact with a very large food importer to Japan and proved our technology only to be told that the radio active problem is now political and they are not able to help us get to the high level politicians needed to make a decision.
    It is time for the people of Japan to know that a remedy is available to them but is being kept from them.
    Our proposition to TEPCO was:

    Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/05/16/was-fukushima-a-china-syndrome/#ixzz1MdpLsPEE

    Neer Resources, Nevada
    NEER ResourcesDavid J. WilsonPhone USA 702 355-5579Email iperdjw@aol.com

    Read more: http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/05/16/was-fukushima-a-china-syndrome/#ixzz1MdpdDv2I


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  • Noah

    Some Observations
    (Some Obvious, I thought I would say them to calm myself down, and focus my mind.)

    There is no known way to contain three reactors in meltdown, so close to the water table.

    Concrete is not designed to contain molten fuel that is in uncontrolled random fission.

    Temperatures are too high for concrete to maintain its integrity. The concrete is degrading rapidly.

    The molten fuel is now, or will be shortly in contact with water, ground water or basement water.

    Emissions in the form of radioactive steam, as the blob contacts water, will rapidly accelerate, increasing particles introduced into the jet stream.

    Periodic steam and/or hydrogen explosions are expected through the years, spiking ejection of fuel and micronized dust. Periodic eruptions.

    It is certain, more of the same is coming, with emphasis on more. Long Range planning and prep is a must. Wise use of time and money is paramount, as it would be in any threat to life and health.

    Time to do more NOW to defend ourselves.

    (Sorry to repeat the obvious, but in crisis situations, repeating your logic tree, calms the mind, and focuses the emotions and will on the next task at hand. Repeating the logic tree moves one from paralysis caused by loss of hope, to the joy of action. Doing the next thing shakes one out of discouragement, and is a proven life saver in survival situations. The news of a confirmed triple melt down means that things are much worse than announced, way worse. I am adjusting to that new reality.)


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    • Darth

      Can you say,

      Old Faithful…


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    • Noah

      Zeolite Investigation

      My investigation into the issue of Zeolite purity continues. The chelation of internal emitters is the issue.


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      • wonders never cease

        Noah, I’ve been impressed with your prep–thanks for sharing! Aren’t you on the West Coast? How are you & family feeling these days? Have you felt any symptoms? Is your detox & decon plan working well for you? Any new tweaks? And how are your meter readings?
        -Take care & thanks again! :)


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        • Noah

          Preparations Continue

          “Noah, I’ve been impressed with your prep–thanks for sharing!” – wondersnevercease

          Thank you for the encouragement.

          Think of it, consider:

          The scale and magnitude of this event, involving the contamination of the Pacific, the contamination of the entire Northern Hemisphere by jet stream borne fallout, the contamination of the entire food chain of the planet, the DNA damage of all life on earth, all irreversible and cumulative.

          To give a reasonable response to these events is my priority.

          Our health is fine, everyone is sound, but I cannot say the same for our neighbors and our fruit trees. Any mention of fallout, is met with blank stares. Radiation levels are stable, but background levels are generally higher. Dosimeter reading are not encouraging, cumulative dose is troubling.

          Those who advocate calm and non action have no dosimeters and plainly have no first hand monitoring of their dose rates and totals. The voice of calm you hear in the distance is the squawking of trained parrots repeating the words of their masters. I take no pleasure in witnessing this circus side show.

          Today after much searching, trial and error, purchase and returns, I have ordered 2 HEPA quality air purification units used in medical and clinical settings. Hopefully, these will work.

          Dust Reduction protocols are working. Big decrease in overall dust levels since installing new screens which filter out micron sized particles.

          Nuclear Hygiene is challenging.

          I am continuing my research into zeolite and am procuring samples for spectrograph analysis. As a few of you know, this is tedious business.


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          • wonders never cease

            Looking out at the ominous dark clouds and constant rainfall — just praying for my area…all the animals out there, all the kids (who still drink the water), all of us… :(

            I’m still getting my whole plan together, but all the ideas here have helped. Have you added a 3M Filtrete HEPA disposable air filter to your furnace/air? It’s a cheap & proven way to get another layer of interior dust filtration. They even have a little rebate until next month on their website…

            I’m feeling well, but you have to be vigilant. I miss exercising outdoors a lot more. :( I’m still wondering how I’m going to stay well-fed, as it keeps spreading. It is tedious! Still working on some family members & friends….


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          • wonders never cease

            p.s. Do you use those screens to be able to keep your doors or windows open??


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          • wonders never cease

            sorry, the Filtrete air filter is not HEPA. (I just store it next to my HEPA replacement filters) I get the 1500 Advanced “High Performance” level at Walmart. ;)


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    • dan

      noah – What do you think would happen if something like molten lava were to slowly flow over the area? If it wouldn’t immediately explode, I’m thinking it would encase the radioactive particles. And disperse them, so they’re no longer concentrated and causing chain reactions. And maybe they’d melt down and sink to a depth where they’d be much less dangerous. Like where they were originally mined from, and should have stayed. Either a volcanic eruption from nearby–lots of volcanoes in the area I think. Or maybe even something like molten steel poured on top. The main idea is something to dissolve, disperse, and encase all the crap. Molten lava would probably be better than something like steel, since rock doesn’t corrode the same way, so would probably last a lot longer.


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      • Noah

        Solution Has Been Found
        But sadly rejected

        The use of firefighting foam has been suggested. It would cut the fuel rods off from air, which is the basic problem. (Fuel rods oxidize when in contact with the air. This is todays problem, when water levels decrease, fuel rods are exposed to the air. The oxidation process produces intense heat, melting the rods down, to a blob. Cut off from the air the rods would begin to cool.)

        A constant flow of foam is the answer. The water based foam is non insultatory and would draw heat away in a cooling action, as it does during forest, building and aircraft fires.

        The same foam would not run into the Pacific, saving the ocean.

        Homer Simsonsan, continues to fight the problem with the wrong tools, fire hose and circus tent, complete with Media clowns and side show politicians who worry about TEPCO stock values.


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        • dan

          I didn’t think a nuclear reaction needed oxygen. I thought it was mainly a matter of concentrating enough radioactive fuel. And to control it, they pump in lots of water for cooling. And they have control rods to separate the fuel rods, when they want to shut down a reaction. At least that’s how I understand it. I don’t think it’s fire, like we think of fire–oxygen reacting with some sort of fuel, when the temp gets high enough. Anyway, I’m thinking if the fuel melts and disperses, it would no longer have adequate concentration, or the correct “geometry” to keep fissioning. And the extra volume of massive amounts of molten whatever would be like a huge heat-sink, and help cool stuff off faster.


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  • Uh Oh

    They are going to wrap the reactors in tents of polyester sheets? Why isn’t that reassuring?

    On the other hand I think people here need to chill a bit. Your gratuitously panicky comments, almost like you’re enjoying this whole thing, could do real harm to people that are not quite stable. We don’t know yet what the outcome will be. There’s always hope, there’s always a way out, we just have to find it.

    In the meantime get a grip.


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    • extra knight

      why don’t you take your own advice pal, a INES level 34 event is nothing to sneeze at. you sound like a very aloof and insecure individual to me, this disaster can only get worse, much worse.

      have a nice day.


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    • Anthony

      I think everyone here is sharing honestly and in a healthy way overall. There is a positive collaboration vibe of info, ideas, hopes and concerns which most of us cant find anywhere else it seems. People seem realistic here and reveal many sides to their thinking and selves here. Your advice is well intended but a little acidic at a sensitive time… which is YOUR original point really. I cant promise to not panic as things unfold in the near future but I will try to give warning somehow!!!
      For me the dynamic of all the info and perspectives reduces whatever stress I had before reading the site. Even the panicky ones who I empathize with but am not going through the exact same situation with leave me learning something.


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      • Heart of the Rose

        Ummmm..a positive and continuous upbeat tone…might confine the creative nature of rage.
        For your visual inspection… a repost.
        The beige stuff is the abnormality.
        http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=Japan.2011133.terra.1km


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        • Anthony

          I was scared to go to the link, but did, thanks for the info. I went to aqua view, and along split screen can really see the pollution. Its grim and is like the *new type clouds* I mention seeing here on west coast. That filmy, dark grey, wispy cloud is very dark and smudgy here and lines the cumulus in a unique way. Last night friends pointed out how the moon was behind long, wispy *black* cirrus clouds in the night sky. They noted it was an unusual night scene to observe. They were right, those are the same clouds Ive been noticing in the day time lately. I cant change the clouds at night but I can acknowledge them.


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      • JWS

        What’s with all the off topic B.S. here lately?

        I use this site to gather info about this disaster, don’t you all want that instead?


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        • Cassie

          Mash Humor in response to the pressure cooker info as of late.
          Stress reaction.
          It’s Ok.
          Most excellent group here.


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        • extra knight

          yes of course the zero-dimensional drones and wannabe apologists have to get the last word in… which is fine and dandy with me… i just don’t like them and others bringing their wangadangdoodle god into the picture, it looks rather pathetic and insincere, i must admit. otherwise you have to face the inescapable fact that these selfish, semi-incoherent and illogical miscreants are just wasting bandwidth here on this site. who needs all this jive talking anyway, you are so correct on that point.


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  • wonders never cease

    I agree that there is always hope (& we’ve all seen exciting disaster movies where they pull it out in the end against all odds!), but here much work, sacrifice, and inspiration needs go behind it…

    If it’s any consolation, the Japanese gent who reported a precognitive dream of this disaster saw the record earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis…he also saw a distant way out. In his original prediction before 3/11/11, he stated that the worst of the nuclear disaster part was yet to come in Japan!…He said the worst of it would set back all of Japan for a few decades…
    BUT, he also said that Japan definitely would come back, in time, which is hopeful! I hope he is right there!


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  • hawkeye

    beige stuff
    bee pollen
    just simple bee pollen


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  • Heart of the Rose

    LOL..dark laughter.


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  • Dr.Stranglelove

    Tip toe threw the “Hot” spots…


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  • Cindy

    This is for Xdrfox & Noah, who missed my chicken post , that chickens can tolorate 2 and 1/2 times more radiation than a human can…

    It has the LD 50 Radiation doses for animal , human and plants..

    http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/neutronics/todd/dose.html


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  • That IS funny guys! (I’m still seeing the ‘Chicken’s eye-view’) And, all the darting around. Truthfully,…it’s no worse an idea than the circus tent, IMO. I’ll bet TEMPCO wishes they’d thought of it! (They do say they get their news about themselves from blogs, right?)


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    • extra knight

      chickens are beautiful and intelligent animals. the soulless creation you have offerred up on this blog is distasteful and unethical, inhumane and cruel. end of discussion.


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      • Cindy

        I Agree , chickens are intelligent, and have personality.. I have over 70 of them…

        I suppose you’d have a problem with my butchering surplus males ?
        For food , Of course …


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        • extra knight

          of course i find your offhand remarks and cruel insipid comments peculiar, i am a vegan, it’s part of my peaceful nature, but this is hardly the time or place for this discussion. if you know they are intelligent and have personalities, how could you even dare to describe any of them as being surplus. typical spieciesist explotation and illogical doublethink. sorry that’s just the way it is, you could always go to youtube if you really have any real questions or concerns. speaking of which i am late for dinner. yum.


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          • Cindy

            Roosters fight, and over mate the hens.. they must be gotten rid of or it causes much stress in a flock… plus the neighbors would kill me if i kept every Rooster … people only want the hens… In Commercial hatchery operations , when they vent sex day old chicks, all but 10% of each male breed goes down the grinder chute… Sad , but this is how it is ..

            I could ship all the extras to you ?

            A 50 # sack of chicken feed in Hawaii is over $18.00, one chicken eats 2 to 4 pounds of food a week.. multiply that by 70 birds , and the feed bill hurts the pocket book..

            The real world is a hard place…


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          • extra knight

            cindy i am a vegan i know that already. peace.


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  • Thanks to Noah, Cassie, and everyone on this site. I appreciate all the information and humor.
    I am seeing those dark whispy clouds today as well. We are covering our garden beds with plastic
    until we can get the polytunnels up. All our animals are given zeolite and kelp. It’s good for the soil
    as well. We can get #50 for $9 in Oregon. We are putting Glacial Rock Dust in our garden along with
    compost. Sprouts may be the way to go for now.


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    • Anthony

      OMG THANKS for posting the link to this! Its like learning you are NOT NUTS – I have been seeing these, mentioning them, they arrived the week of the disaster here in BC. RARELY even a drop of any weather as one would expect of such looming, heavy, dark and hanging clouds. You would expect at least thunder – just suffocating silent instead. Now if I can just get a picture of the dark streaked cirrus clouds!


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    • Anthony

      That these were documented in Europe tells me how connected atmospherically the hemisphere really is. Someone needs to be UP IN THOSE CLOUDS taking measurements of toxicity levels. Id bet in the new dark clouds is the poisons.


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      • mark V

        I think I possibly saw these clouds couple weeks ago here in eastern EU – not as spectacular as in the images, but still very dark dry clouds just hanging. My hobby depends on weather, so I know how the clouds look. Was wondering what could it be, but at that time it was too wild for me to connect them with Fukushima.


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        • Anna

          I don’t think they are connected to Fukushima but I do think they are connected to weather mitigation. I have wondered if the dark gray clouds that don’t rain are keeping the radioactivity from falling on us in the form of rain. (?)
          It is dark gray all day long and silent- for weeks on end. I feel amazed when I hear birds chirping.


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        • Anthony

          Exactly! Okay, one morning I was in a cab and the ENTIRE HORIZON was this ginormous, super-cumulus marshmallow thing which filled the whole horizon, with stunning almost black bottoms lined with these dark cirrus marks… I have never seen anything in the sky like it around here. I asked the cabbie it he was seeing the same thing and he replied “Yeah, that’s really weird… wonder what it is? It’s sure gonna come down today!!” And it never did come down…. it was like living in the twilight zone. IT SHOULD HAVE RAINED given what the eye observed. I really think the thing about radiation is its ability to transform what it comes in contact with.
          Sorry, babbling, just excited to learn it is NOT MY IMAGINATION anymore!


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    • Noah

      New Cloud Formation Seen Worldwide

      “The cloud with no name: Meteorologists campaign to classify unique ‘Asperatus’ clouds seen across the world.”

      Thank You Deetu 3. Great link.

      The dramatic effect of world wide distribution of highly charged radioactive particles by jet stream.

      The Fukushima-Asperatus cloud, to be more exact.


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    • Cassie

      We continue to have almost nonstop rain and drizzle, flooding here in Ohio. Very cold weather for mid May.

      The clouds are ominous, and feel like they close in on us.
      Everyone is commenting on the forbidding feel and desire to stay indoors, even though no one seems to be thinking about radiation.
      The clouds are gray with sometimes a violet or yellow tinge to them.
      Reminds me of a trip a decade ago to a heavily polluted third world country. Pea soup all around. Dark and heavy. Not going away.

      This week many complains of coughing and sore throats.

      Just anecdotal report here in the midwest.


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      • Anthony

        I find there is an always present sour acrid taste to my saliva which increases after 1 minute of taking my dog outside to potty. There also is a *talc* like texture to the air to me, I couldn’t imagine running a mile taking deep gulps of the air like a normal person would…. for me it has been like this since teh week after 311 happened. If I have been paranoid about any aspect of this disaster it is the idea the rain is dangerous. I couldn’t handle having to switch between “Rains OK – Rains NOT OK” for more than a week. So I avoid the rain altogether now, always teasing friends when they forget their own “Radiation Shields” (umbrellas) as I call them. And I am not kidding about this either!!! Here on the island we really haven’t been blasted by rain as we usually are – and I give thanks for that.


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  • Cindy

    plant sunflowers, they are supposed to pull radioactive material from the soil..

    BUT , I’d love to see the studies on that…

    I’m Skeptical, and use my critical thinking on everything …(sometimes to my own annoyance)


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  • shev

    I’m by no means an expert on all things nuclear…and I have a question.
    What will happen when this thing hits the water table?


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    • Cassie

      That seems to be the question of the day.


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    • extra knight

      japan will become a radioactive wasteland with the remaining 48 to 53 nuclear reactors that are uncontrolled. it ain’t going to be pretty, i’ll tell you that.


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    • Dbug

      Plop plop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is?

      It would never melt to China… down for them is probably pointing more towards Brazil? LOL

      Hopefully it’s only decay heat and will just keep sizzling. Keep adding boric acid.
      More than decay heat may void your warranty.

      Does anyone remember the 20 Mule Team Borax commercials sponsoring Gunsmoke or Wagon Train? I believe that detergent used boron from near the town of Boron not far from Barstow which is between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Business must be looking up in Boron.
      It’s good to sprinkle in the back of dresser draws and along baseboards to kill silverfish. Many are critical of holes in clothing from silverfish. Termites don’t like boron either. Mixed into propylene glycol (the environmentally friendly version of anti-freeze), it’s supposed to work when sprayed on wood.

      So the good news is no silverfish or termite problems can be expected at the reactors… ?


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      • tony wilson

        borax is cheap and great.
        a really fab general household cleaner.
        i use it to help process film.
        a hand full in the bath with epsom salts and bicarbonate of soda is a great detox for heavy radiation spill victims.


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  • Dr.Stranglelove

    Now is not the time to chicken out…


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