Radiation plume could reach Tokyo: U.S. scientists

WASHINGTON Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:24pm EDT

The No.3 nuclear reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is seen burning after a blast following an earthquake and tsunami in this handout satellite image taken March 14, 2011. REUTERS/Digital Globe/Handout

The No.3 nuclear reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is seen burning after a blast following an earthquake and tsunami in this handout satellite image taken March 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Digital Globe/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If the containment at the nuclear power plant damaged by Japan's devastating earthquake fails, a potential radiation plume from a full core meltdown could reach Tokyo, a U.S. scientists' organization said on Tuesday.

Japan faces a potential catastrophe after a stricken nuclear power plant exploded and sent low levels of radiation floating toward Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and others to stock up on essential supplies.

The Union of Concerned Scientists also said a "jerry-rigged" cooling system at the Japanese plant would be hard to maintain if all workers there were evacuated.

Nuclear power and safety experts at the group said they were "very concerned" that ongoing activities at the plant would become more challenging for on-site workers. A larger radiation plume could travel hundreds of miles (km), the scientists said in a telephone briefing.

A crack in the containment vessel could allow radiation to exit the reactor in case of a core meltdown, the scientists said. They said the Japanese government should extend the evacuation zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power station.

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (10)
WithRespect wrote:
The situation is bad enough without trying to encourage panic. Who exactly are these people and what do they know about the specific situation, sitting in the US? It doesn’t take an ‘expert’ to conclude that ‘radiation could leak’ if the containment is breached. This seems like a bit of irresponsible and unnecessary fearmongering.

Mar 15, 2011 3:46pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
r-turo wrote:
“Behold, I come quickly…”–Jesus

Mar 15, 2011 4:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TessTyFy wrote:
WithRespect, please think before you post. Are you suggesting the media as well as any government not inform people of the risks? There is nothing in this article that embellishes a very severe problem with severe suffering health consequences. Your suggestion that they not instill fear, as it is bad enough tends to make one believe you don’t feel the people should know what they are up against. Anyone who knows anything at all about radiation should always expect the worse, and if possible, remove themselves from the situation. The problem here is, many of these poor souls have “NO WAY” to remove themselves. I am very concerned that Japan has done little to even provide enough food and shelter for these people, much less find a way to remove them. This is sure to blow up in their faces.

Mar 15, 2011 5:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures