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"Whichever way the wind blows" - Update Fukushima I Nuclear Disaster

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By Michael Collins
An update of Post Nuclear Japan, Pre Disaster United States  (See the latest forecast)

The world is about to be shoved through the looking glass, head first.

New York Times:  Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Disaster as Radiation Levels Rise

TOKYO -- Japan's nuclear crisis verged toward catastrophe on Tuesday after an explosion damaged the vessel containing the nuclear core at one reactor and a fire at another spewed large amounts of radioactive material into the air, according to the statements of Japanese government and industry officials.  New York Times, March 15

The two critical questions over the next day or so are how much radioactive material is spewed into the atmosphere, and where the winds carry it.

"We are on the brink. We are now facing the worst-case scenario," said Hiroaki Koide, a senior reactor engineering specialist at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University. "We can assume that the containment vessel at Reactor No. 2 is already breached. If there is heavy melting inside the reactor, large amounts of radiation will most definitely be released."  New York Times, March 15 (approximately 2:15 ET)

The explosion recalls the Washington Post article of March 13.  The meldown occurring, according to the New York Times report, is appalling.  If the wind shifts direction, 103 million people are at risk on Japan's main island Honshu:

If a full meltdown occurs, a huge molten lump of radioactive material would burn through all containment, destroy the building and fall to the ground, exposed. A toxic stew of exotic radioactive particles would then spread on the wind and rain.

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But if luck turns south and the winds do, too, radioactive particles could be spread far across Honshu, Japan's largest island, [103 million population] and beyond. Washington Post, March 13

Russia TV presented a video of the explosion:

Video of blast at Fukushima nuke plant, radiation leak reported

"Who's on Third?"  Information Cluster". at the UN and IAEA

Reuters ran a story on March 13 dismissing the health risks of radiation.  Malcom Crick, Secretary of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, was cited as an authority:

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"This is not a serious public health issue at the moment," Malcolm Crick, Secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, told Reuters.

"It won't be anything like Chernobyl. There the reactor was operating at full power when it exploded and it had no containment," he said. As a precaution, around 140,000 people have been evacuated from the area around Fukushima.

Reuters tracked down the director general of the International Automic Energency Agency (IAEA), former Japanese diplomat.  His comments came as the Times reported the current conditions "verging" on nuclear disaster:

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Congratulations, everyone. The world is now the ... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 6:27:39 AM
Did I pull a Rip Van Twinkie and sleep fifty years... by msedano on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 9:56:35 AM
OK, people, it's time to focus on what you can do ... by John Peebles on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 1:46:27 PM
kinds of radiation being emitted, or likely to be ... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 1:07:34 AM
This morning I read a story about a young mother w... by Judy Palmer on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 2:02:31 PM
I think that knowledge, or the lack thereof, is no... by Philip Pease on Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011 at 10:12:08 AM
Of course... how can we be so stupid? Obviously c... by Stuart Chisholm on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 3:11:24 PM
This article demonstrates that real, impartial inf... by martin weiss on Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011 at 7:46:19 PM
Happily for me, I am 65 and chose not to add to th... by Roger on Saturday, Mar 19, 2011 at 10:11:22 AM