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I am somewhat biting my tongue at the moment as this all us still in progress and we are already suffering far, far too much bad reporting out of the 24hr news cycle that must be talking AT ALL TIMES. But I'll give my professional opinions:

1) Bad, no good, awful. No matter how this turns out, at ~40yrs old this reactor is done for.
2) This is no Chernobyl. It may end worse than Three Mile Island. At TMI at least all the safety systems worked and the building hadn't been hit by a massive earthquake.
3) No one EVER builds the outbuildings as well as the reactor is. Once again, a vulnerable subsystem in an outbuilding threatens to bring a reactor down.
4) It is going to suck to be a local for some time. Yes, there is going to be some local radioactive material releases.
5) Seriously, I want to stab people at several media outlets. You are not making this already bad problem better.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Date: 2011-03-13 05:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basal-surge.livejournal.com
The released video of the explosion shows the outer cladding of the building over what seems to be the reactor blowing off, but leaving the skeleton frame of the building, and presumably the reactor vessel, intact-ish. The evolving wikipedia page for the reactor does not fill me with confidence over the strength of the buildings, as they are built to take around .125 to .2 g, which is somewhat primitive compared to modern Japanese standards.

Date: 2011-03-13 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] slothphil.livejournal.com
FWIW, USGS shows some areas having experienced 0.25g.

Date: 2011-03-13 08:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] funranium.livejournal.com
The question to answer is "To what standard did Japan originally build their GE reactor?" For the reactors of this vintage, pretty much each one was a unique snowflake on a general theme. I'm willing to guess more robust construction than what's installed in Pennsylvania (.125-2g) but I don't really know.

What I do know is that damn near no one builds with 9.0+ in mind.

Date: 2011-03-13 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] basal-surge.livejournal.com
The evolving wikipedia page on the incident seems to have passable references to say that it was built with .18 g in mind, which is a bit naff for Japan. It is a forty year old reactor. These days most people in countries like NZ or Japan build infrastructure like that to take around 1g in any direction. (And now that we've had a mag 6.3 produce 2.2g accelerations, they're all looking nervous)

Date: 2011-03-13 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nojay.livejournal.com
I presume that reactor building cladding is designed like a fireworks factory -- robust walls and a weak light roof. If there is any kind of explosion inside the building from a buildup of hydrogen gas you do not want the percussive force contained where it would impinge on the reactor containment.

regarding #5

Date: 2011-03-13 05:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jettcat.livejournal.com
Seriously, I wanted to rip the head off of the anchor on CNN. She was fairly gushing over how exciting it all was.
All I could think was that there were people dying in front of us live on TV and she was treating it as an amusement park ride.

Re: regarding #5

Date: 2011-03-13 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] draggonlaady.livejournal.com
Bubble-headed bleach-blonde comes on at 9. She can tell us 'bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye...

Date: 2011-03-13 07:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] draggonlaady.livejournal.com
My distrust of the media on any topic involving science is why I prefer to skim the articles and then ask someone reasonably knowledgeable instead. I do hope you're not offended that I prefer your take on such incidents to that of major media outlets. ;)

My comment about Chernobyl was not disappointment, it was surprise that they had not mentioned it earlier in the article, as I expect them to play for the scariest shit they can think of.

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