Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Japanese nuclear plants damaged by earthquake, tsunami pose no risk to U.S., experts say

Date:
March 14, 2011
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
Although the situation with damaged nuclear reactors in Japan is still uncertain, every hour without further incidents is good news, according to nuclear energy experts. And in any case, the events pose virtually no risk to people in the United States or Canada.

Although the situation with damaged nuclear reactors in Japan is still uncertain, every hour without further incidents is good news, according to nuclear energy experts at Oregon State University. And in any case, the events pose virtually no risk to people in the United States or Canada.

The nature of the incident may ultimately be similar to that of Three Mile Island in the U.S in 1979., said experts in reactor operation and radiation health physics, in which there were some minor releases of radiation but the containment system ultimately worked and minimized impacts.

No radioactive contaminants from this incident have been recorded in the U.S. and none are expected, said Kathryn Higley, professor and director of the OSU Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics.

"As things look at the moment, whatever impact there is from this event will almost certainly be very local," Higley said. "Any radioactive contaminants released will end up raining out of the atmosphere into the Pacific Ocean, where they will be diluted and absorbed, or in the near vicinity of the plants.

"We have monitoring capability here in the U.S. that is extraordinarily sensitive and could detect radiation at the level of about 1/100,000 of that produced by an ordinary X-ray, and we don't expect to see even that," she said. "This is not Chernobyl."

At that more serious radioactive accident in 1986 in the Ukraine, considered the worst nuclear reactor accident in history, a great deal of heat and energy was released in explosions that sent radioactive materials high into the atmosphere and had impacts on much of Europe. The events in Japan bear little relationship to that, OSU experts say.

"There has been a hydrogen explosion and some people were hurt," Higley said. "However, the containment vessels are still intact, made out of very thick steel and concrete, and so far there have been only minor releases of some radioactive iodine and cesium."

According to Steven Reese, director of the Radiation Center at OSU, any radioactive elements released should follow normal atmospheric patterns and fall with rain into the Pacific Ocean. The iodine and cesium will actually combine with the salt in sea water -- salt is sodium chloride -- to turn into sodium iodide and cesium chloride, which are common and abundant elements and would readily dilute in the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

Another immediate public concern, the OSU experts said, is the loss of electrical power in Japan at a time when than nation critically needs it. The nuclear power plants that are out of operation supply nearly 4 percent of Japan's power production, they said, and loss of that energy capacity is a serious concern, especially during winter, as the nation struggles to care for displaced residents. Rolling blackouts will be occurring shortly and Japanese citizens are being urged to minimize electricity usage.

More details will be known about the nature of the accident with the Japanese power plants in coming days, but no scenario is likely to pose any risks to U.S. residents, the OSU experts said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Japanese nuclear plants damaged by earthquake, tsunami pose no risk to U.S., experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314141254.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2011, March 14). Japanese nuclear plants damaged by earthquake, tsunami pose no risk to U.S., experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314141254.htm
Oregon State University. "Japanese nuclear plants damaged by earthquake, tsunami pose no risk to U.S., experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314141254.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins