Nuclear accident in Japan...workers injured... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Just heard a brief report on tv news of a nuclear accident in Japan at one of thier reactor sites....workers exposed, releases into the atmosphere of radioactive material.....

Core has been contained however.....thank God for that!

We live in a broken world folks...get used to it.

-- gotitlongago@garynorth (, September 30, 1999



It was not a reactor. It was a reprocessing facility. They load pellets into fuel rods.

There is no core to contain.

The accident was serious, but it was NOT a reactor.

Please delete this incorrect and misleading thread.

-- PNG (, September 30, 1999.

Why delete, you gave us the correct information.

-- keep it (keep it@keepittt.xcom), September 30, 1999.

Just came across this. I spose this is what you referred to? wsnuclearjapan.html?cp=aim

Thursday - 09:25 09/30/99, EST

Japan Nuclear Accident Raises Safety Fears

TOKYO (Reuters) - An accident at a Japanese nuclear fuel facility Thursday exposed three workers to radiation and prompted authorities to evacuate the vicinity, raising fresh concerns about the nation's nuclear safety.

Government officials said there may have been a ''criticality incident'' at a uranium processing plant in the village of Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 87 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Criticality is the point at which a nuclear chain reaction becomes self-sustaining, similar to what occurs inside a nuclear reactor.

Toshio Okazaki, vice minister at the Science and Technology Agency, told a news conference that a ``criticality incident'' may have caused the accident, which temporarily caused radiation levels to race up 4,000 times higher than normal.

Later Thursday, conflicting reports emerged on whether these levels had returned to normal or were remaining high. Officials were unable to clarify the discrepancies.

Authorities at Tokaimura advised some 50 households living within 380 yards of the processing plant to evacuate and others were advised in radio broadcasts to stay home.

All three workers were taken to hospital and later transferred by helicopter to a specialized hospital in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, officials said.

A doctor who treated the three workers told a televised news conference: ``Judging from the symptoms, they appeared to have received quite a substantial amount of radiation and we will need to keep a close eye on their conditions.''

Makoto Ujihara, an executive at JCO Ltd, the private company which operates the plant, told a separate news conference that the workers had seen a blue flash said by experts to be a sign of a ``criticality incident'' and then began to feel ill.

The village of Tokaimura, with a population of around 33,802 people, is home to 15 nuclear-related facilities and was the scene of Japan's worst nuclear plant accident in which 35 workers suffered radiation contamination in 1997.

Japan's nuclear power program has been plagued by a number of accidents and cover-ups.

In the 1997 Tokaimura accident at a nuclear reprocessing plant, a fire that caused radiation to escape was not extinguished properly and caused an explosion hours later.

The accident exposed 37 staff to radiation in what was later declared Japan's worst nuclear accident. The plant was closed.

Greenpeace said in a statement that Thursday's accident ''confirms our fears. The entire safety culture within Japan is in crisis.''

Chihiro Kamisawa, a nuclear expert at the anti-nuclear group Citizen's Nuclear Information Center, told Reuters that preventing a ``criticality incident'' was top priority for nuclear safety and that Thursday's accident would cast doubt on Japan's entire nuclear program.

He said the accident could force a postponement of the plan to restart the nuclear reprocessing plant in Tokaimura as well as affect Japan's MOX fuel program.

The first shipment of MOX nuclear fuel a mix of uranium and plutonium recycled from spent nuclear fuel docked in Fukui Prefecture north of Japan Monday and a second shipment is destined for unloading at another location soon.

Greenpeace has warned that the shipments could have been converted into 60 nuclear bombs if the two ships had been hijacked at sea.

Japan is heavily dependent on nuclear power, with its 51 commercial nuclear power reactors providing one-third of the country's electricity.

-- J (, September 30, 1999.

PNG, thanks for clearing that up. Any more word on what happened? Was it human error?



====================================================================== =

-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

Wooohooo! The formatting held! Hey what?

-- J (, September 30, 1999.

j, thanks, we must have posted at the same time : )



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

I posted some of this on a previous thread...

Major accident at Japanese uranium-processing plant, three hurt 10.23 a.m. ET (1429 GMT) September 30, 1999

Associated PressAn aerial view shows JCO uranium processing plant in Tokai which leaks radiation following an accident inside the plant earlier Thursday, Sept 30, 1999. Three employees working inside at the time of the accident were exposed to the rediation and airfreighted to a hospital for treatment. The cause of the accident is not immedeately known. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) ==JAPAN OUT==

By Kozo Mizoguchi, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) - A leak at a uranium-processing plant in central Japan today sent radiation levels skyrocketing and led to the hospitalization of three workers, two in critical condition.

Hiromu Nonaka, the top government spokesman, called the accident "unprecedented,'' and officials said no previous Japanese accident had left workers so seriously injured. About 150 people were evacuated from the area around the plant in the town of Tokaimura, 70 miles northeast of Tokyo.

A nuclear reaction apparently occurred while the workers there were processing the uranium into fuel for nuclear power plants, a highly delicate task, said Makoto Ujihara, head of the Tokyo office of JCO Co., the private company that operates the plant.

Radiation levels around the plant were 10,000 times higher than normal at one point, and about 10 times normal 1 1/4 miles from the accident, said Tatsuo Shimada, an official of Ibaraki Prefecture, or state.

The levels dropped off later, but they remained higher than normal late today, and there were fears of a possible continued nuclear reaction at the plant, said Science and Technology Agency official Ken Muraoka.

"A major accident resulting in a radioactive leak has happened. We apologize from the bottom of our hearts,'' said JCO President Koji Kitani, bowing deeply at a news conference in Tokyo.

A nuclear reaction is a dangerous phenomenon that releases extremely intense energy as well as radiation, but it stops once the radioactive material is spent.

The government set up a task force of top ministers to investigate the accident, the first time such a step has been taken in Japan for a nuclear accident. It sent specialists to the area to monitor the radioactivity.

The three workers said they saw a blue light, then became ill, Ujihara said.

The nuclear reaction was set off when the workers accidentally mixed too much uranium in the tank, company officials said. They said they thought that while radioactivity was released into the atmosphere, the radioactive material itself remained contained.

The exposed workers were initially taken to a local hospital. They were later flown to a medical center specializing in radiation sickness.

Two of the workers - Hisashi Ouchi, 35, and Masato Shinohara, 39 - were in critical condition, hospital official Yukio Kamakura said. They were in a state of shock and had fever and diarrhea. All three had an unusually high white blood cell count, although Yutaka Yokokawa, 54, was alert and able to walk, he said.

About 150 people living within a 350-yard radius of the plant were evacuated to a nearby community center, town official Eiko Onuma said. Warnings to residents were broadcast over the town's loudspeaker system, and nearby schools were instructed to close their windows and keep students inside, said another official in Tokaimura, population 33,000.

The state was considering expanding a warning to a six-mile radius around the plant and having those residents stay indoors, officials said.

Accidents have plagued the Japanese nuclear power industry, undermining public faith in the security of the nation's atomic plants. Japan, poor in natural resources, relies on nuclear power for about one-third of its electricity.

In one of the most serious of recent accidents, a fire at a fuel reprocessing plant in northern Japan exposed 37 workers to low-level radiation in March 1997. ******************************************************

Japan Says Nuclear Accident May Be Continuing 10.33 a.m. ET (1439 GMT) September 30, 1999

TOKYO - A nuclear accident at a Japanese uranium processing plant Thursday may have triggered "abnormal reactions'' that could be continuing at the plant, the top government spokesman said Thursday.

"There is a strong possibility that abnormal reactions are continuing within the facility,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka told an emergency news conference late Thursday. "We believe that it is a severe situation, and there are concerns about radiation in the surrounding areas.''

-- Roland (, September 30, 1999.

Drudge Headline at the mo:


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 30, 1999.


This site has a nuclear blast map that shows how far you need to live from a potential nuclear blast. Even has a panic quiz that's quite unique.

-- easy does it (easydoesit@easydoesittt.xcom), September 30, 1999.

CNN reported that Japan has requested assistance from the US military. This is a first they don,t even request that for earthquakes.

-- todays Tom Sawyer (RUSH@2112.rockon!), September 30, 1999.

Headlined on MSNBC now too. Article:

Japan nuclear accident renews fears

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 30, 1999.

it may not have been a "core" issue but it sounds like it may be more dangerous than what has been reported...

[fair use - for educational/research purposes only]


Japan To Seek U.S. Military Aid On Accident -Kyodo

Updated 11:09 AM ET

September 30, 1999

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is considering seeking help from the U.S. military in the country after an accident at a nuclear fuel processing plant, Kyodo news agency quoted senior government officials as saying late Thursday.

A government spokesman said earlier the accident may have triggered "abnormal reactions" that could be continuing.

The accident at Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture, about 87 miles northeast of Tokyo, exposed three workers to radiation and prompted authorities to evacuate the area.

Kyodo quoted the officials as saying Japan lacked experience in dealing with this kind of accident and that the U.S. forces may have the necessary know-how.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka told an emergency news conference this could be the worst nuclear accident in Japan's history. He said Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force's chemical warfare unit was ready to be deployed at the accident site but that it lacked relevant experience.

Nonaka said that there was a strong possibility that there had been a "criticality incident" at plant. Criticality is the point at which a nuclear chain reaction becomes self-sustaining, similar to what happens inside a nuclear reactor.


so...though not a core I guess it acts like one? would there not be safety measures and automated monitoring systems in a plant like this?



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

Sounds like - from the effect described and the comment that the workers broke procedures and mixed "too much fuel" - that they had a combination of either too high an enrichedment level in the batch they were reprocessing, or the right enrichment level but added too much chemical fuel at one time at too low a temperature. Regardless, most likely a sudden criticality seems to have happened. (I've got to say "probably" because we don't know for sure, and the press reports certainly are incomplete.)

Nuclear reprocessing plants are NOT reactors - they receive spent fuel rods from other plants - these have some used-up fuel, some unused fuel, some radioactive by-products, some "regular" steel, cladding such as zirconium, and other alloys, and some decay products that actually shut down reactions, and some (like the Pu) that are themselves capable of reacting. So its a nasty mix of chemicals - most highly radioactive.

The reprocessing plant dissolves all this stuff (with various acids usually) and chemically separates the residues from the good (unused) fuel and from the Pu and other re-useable fuels. THey then store the residues (let them decay a while) and then (in the US) permanently cast the wastes into ceramic modules about 4-6 feet by 2 feet. The solid (ceramic) prevents permanently any radioactive eastes from leaking - since it isn't liquid - and allows premanent burial with little risk. Although parts (about .00015% remain radioactive for long periods, the whole case decays down to essentially background levels (the same level it was as the original Uranium ore) in about 500 years.

Figure the pyramids lasted already 4000 years - being "stored" above ground exposed to the elements - and you can see that buried ceramic isn't a threat.

BUT - having said that - these operators obviously screwed up. The "sudden radiation levels" increase is a threat to them peronally - since it is direct doses of nuetrons and gamma rays. But to nobody else - the reaction stopped in milliseconds, and affected probably only 01. milligram of fuel, most likely much less. The results of the reaction are decay products that appear to have spread out of the immediate area - can't tell you why - there should have been a containment building that would have stopped gasses from spreading off site.

Anyway - these decay products are radioactive - but not dangerous.

Note the reports: the immediate exposure was high - and the workers exposed need to be monitored. This happened in the 1940's ona desktop in a physics office in New Mexico - the physicist actually caused a reaction by moving two pieces of fuel together so they became critical literally in his lap. He too received significant exposure, but the other people in the room were okay in a few days.

The "higher exposure than usual" reports are from off-site, but they significanlt don't report exactly what the level were. If (for example) the usual off-site dosage is 4 millirem, a "4 times higher than usual exposure" is 16 millirem. Yes, it's radiation, but negligable - a pilot at 30,000 feet gets that much each day from cosmic radiation.

You see no effects on a person until you get 40,000 millirem (40 rem), and radiation is not life threatening until you get past 100,000 millirem (100 Rem). Some people are likely to die at exposures over 250,000 millirem, but that exposure is NOT the case here.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, September 30, 1999.

CNN - at least 14 workers affected...10 kilometer evac area...problem with proper measurements in mixture...

CNBC - "Japanese authories say, 'it is worse than Three Mile Island but not as bad as Chernobyl."




-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.


Thanks. I can't thank you enough for your expert perspective on so many issues as well as your insight into life in todays world in general.

A spokesperson in Japan just said on CNN that the "criticality" problem continues, it is self-sustaining and that they are doing everything they can to try to stop the reaction. However, they can't get to the area right now because the levels are too high.

Does this sound like it could be a meltdown but on a small scale?



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

Thanks, all, especially you, Robert. I'd hoped that someone with some engineering smarts could provide background on this. We get "irradiated" every day from all sorts of sources, so I was hoping to hear at least a preliminary estimate of #millirems that this accident may have generated.

Unfortunately, it sounds like it's still bubbling along. *sigh*

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.hid), September 30, 1999.


What you fail to report about the WWII critical inident is that the person actually pried(sp) the two sub critial masses apart stoping the event. It appears that the mass may still be above the critial size, thus it may still be generating lots of heat, and radiation. If this is indeed the case, they may have a clasical "China Syndrome" in Japan currently.

Time will tell. Sounds like they need a little boron!

-- Helium (, September 30, 1999.

You know what has me a bit worried right now about this situation?

The Japanese asked the US military for help and the US military said it didn't have the expertise in that area available to help at this time. If the US starts to evacuate their facilities then that might be a good sign of how bad this could get!

Haven't heard back from PNG but I'd really like to know how those poor Japanese people are doing...this is crazy.



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

As I recall of the WWii event, the "moderator" was the moisture naturally present on the two metal surfaces froem humidity (no A/C in those days) - this moisture was sufficient to slow enough nuetrons to thermal energies so they could get captured and cause fission.

You're right - the two masses were forced apart immediately, greatly helped by the pressure of the steam as this water "promptly" evaporated when the fissions heated up the water and the metal.


More troubling, in this case, is that the reaction is contained in a "mixing" vat - the reacting masses can't be "forced apart" as in the WWII case. As a liquid, the critical mass will remain critical - but even at low levels of criticality, it is still creating radioactive gasses (fission by-products) that will greatly increase the difficulty of cleanup. (Obviously too, radioactive gasses are much more difficult to contain - even though they have 1/10,000 the mass to actually radiate. At least solids and liquids stay put in the pipes.

The operators will have to drain part of the liquid from the vat, or add poisons (the boron mentioned) - but boron is usually water-soluable, and so any water-based mixed is very hard to add to the (assumed) acid-dissolved reacting mix. (This stuff will react chemically too - and there may be no existing "already hooked up" way to simply "pour boron" into the mix.

Draining is best choice - as soon as they reduce the amount of material in the vat - the reaction will stop.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, September 30, 1999.

The Japanese government asked the U.S. military to help deal with the accident that may not be under control. The United States turned down Japan's request, saying U.S. forces were not equipped to handle the situation.

CNN storyOctober 1, 1999 Web posted at: 12:34 a.m. HKT (1634 GMT)

Which way is the wind blowing?

Got KI?

-- Linda (, September 30, 1999.

I've created 3-D CAD models of several of these Japanese reactors, but not of their reprocessing plants. So I can't trace the piping from here to tell exactly what they "ought" to do.

The 3-D CAD models of the US reprocessing plants and chemical and radwaste disposal plants that I've made are useful in describing how things are done, but they can't be used to make any decisions about this particular design.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, September 30, 1999.

Interesting that the US turned down assistance to Japan - bacause they were NOT EQUIPPED to handle a simple radiation problem in a single room in a single building in a contained area?

Just what the hell do they think they are going to face if there were a nuclear war? At a minimum, the US "nukes" supported the recovery at TMI here - with technical help, radiation survey help, on-site and off-site monitoring, communication, etc.

And if this administration is always so eager to send troops overseas to "help" underdeveloped nations where we have NO interest, why are we saying "no" now to Japan?

An allied nation against North Korea, Red China, etc that we will absolutely need to rely on early next year.....

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, September 30, 1999.

BBC's version of the story...

Nuclear emergency in JapanThursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK


The cause of the leak - detected at 1035 local time (0135GMT) - was not immediately known.

The head of the JCO company, Makoto Ujihara, said the workers told other staff at the plant that "they saw a blue flame rising from the fuel" and complained of nausea.

"We are still trying to find what exactly happened but we believe the uranium reached the critical point," the spokesman for JCO was quoted as saying.

Later, news agencies quoted an official at the plant as saying that one of the workers said he used about 16kg of uranium - nearly eight times the normal amount - during the process just before the accident. Workers normally use up to 2.3kg of uranium in each procedure to prevent a criticality accident, they said.

Radiation levels soared to 15,000 times normal just after the accident.

Although no official government reading was released as of late Thursday, local authority officials said radiation levels were about 10 times normal two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the scene.

Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi has set up an emergency task force to tackle the accident.

US help

US President Bill Clinton pledged US assistance to Japan in the wake the accident.

"We are all very concerned and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan today," Mr Clinton said. P> "We are doing our best to determine what in fact has happened and what assistance we can give," he added.

[this must've been before we said we couldn'thelp] Nuclear expert John Large: The public could be at risk from radiation for a long time The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) described the incident as "extremely serious", and said it would send officials to the plant. Japan has 51 commercial nuclear power reactors that provide one-third of the country's electricity.

With few natural resources of its own, Japan imports nearly all its fuel oil.

Since the oil crisis of 1973, successive governments have made concerted efforts to become self-sufficient.

By the year 2010, Japan wants to produce 42% of its energy in nuclear plants.

-- Linda (, September 30, 1999.

These workers were not just 'injured' at that level of radiation.

Their lives will be measured in hours.

-- no talking please (, September 30, 1999.

Abnormal reaction continuing, levels 15,000X above normal, over 300,000 ppl asked to stay inside, officials considering massive evacuation ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 30, 1999.

question...what good will "staying inside" do? wont floating radioactive particles be able to penetrate into homes in the air?



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

Hmmm... 16 kilos of uranium instead of 2.3... could that have been another metric/imperial units problem, similar to that which is being blamed for the Mars satellite disappearance?

It's a bit frightening how one bozo with the wrong size spoon can cause a problem like this.

Have you heard the latest on Uranium futures? Apparently it's going through the floor.

-- Y2KGardener (, September 30, 1999.

Japan N-Plant Has 15,000 Times Normal Radiation 2.46 p.m. ET (1853 GMT) September 30, 1999

TOKYO  Radiation levels were 15,000 times normal 1.2 miles from the site of Thursday morning's nuclear accident, a local government official said early Friday.

"As of late Thursday night, 3.1 millisievert of neutrons per hour, or about 15,000 times the normal level of radiation, was detected two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the accident site,'' an Ibaraki Prefecture official told Reuters.

The official said radiation was too high to allow safety experts to approach the uranium processing plant.

"It's not a situation where you can get close to the actual site,'' the Ibaraki official said. "What we are trying to do now is come up with measures to contain or extract the radiation from around it.''

The country's worst nuclear accident is believed to have exposed at least 19 people to radiation. Two are in serious condition.

Local authorities have also instructed 313,000 people living within the 6-mile radius of the site to stay indoors. The plant, 90 miles northeast of Tokyo, turns liquid uranium into pellets for sale to nuclear power plants.

-- Roland (, September 30, 1999.

Been following this story on CNN and BBC for the last couple of hours. Looks like its got some way to go before the situation gets clearer, better. From what I can tell from the news reports, they are still unable to implement any damage control measures, still don't know how bad it is or will be. Situation still out of control. BBC reporter in Tokyo looked very concerned, though no immediate threat to the city. Everybody within 10 mile radius of the plant asked to stay indoors - 300,000 people affected. Expert in BBC television (Nuclear Energy Institute, I think) claimed serious affects on people only if exposed in the immediate area for up to a couple of days.

Robert thanks for the briefing on what goes on in reprocessing plants. PNG - any more news? Are you still in Tokyo? Nothing yet on Cowles' site (, formerly - not a mention.

This one's going to the top for the rest of the day, folks. Fingers crossed (a prayer, if you're a believer) for the Japanese people.

-- Chris Byrne (, September 30, 1999.

Once again -- DO THIS NOW !!! -- it could save your life:

Shelter In Place: Make Your Kits

And have your Potassium Iodide/Iodate easily accessible.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (, September 30, 1999.

It's now 7AM here in Japan and (as ususal) reports are showing that thiings are twice as bad as earlier reported (My 50% Rule applies to nuclear accidents as well as financial news).

I have to run but here's some quick thoughts-

-- This facility was processing pellets for a fast-breeder reactor. U-235

-- The workers screwed up. The three exposed workers originally reported have less than a 10% chance of surviving the next two weeks.

-- The Japanese government (as governments like to do...) told the local town population not to panic and the evacuation warning by the company and local officials should be ignored. They subsequently changed their minds. This, and the inability of the government to "fix-on-failure" will become a major issue soon.

-- This town is were the first shipment of MOX to Japan is (was) going to be reproccessed. The British firm supplying the MOX has admitted that the test data on the material was falsified by their quality control inspectors -- a very dangerous situation. It appears they just filled in the blanks on the forms instead of actually performing the analyses required -- unbelieveable.

-- The story of the US Military turning down a request for assistance has yet to be reported by the Japanese press.

-- At 11:00 last night (almost 12 hours after the incident began) was the first mention on TV for the local residents to stay indoors.

The workers did something really dumb. Everyone was unprepared to handle this situation. Contigency planning at it's worst.

I expect more bad news today. I have to go to work. (I live about 20 minutes south of Tokyo - about 200 km from the town)

-- PNG (, September 30, 1999.

Peter...your report leaves me in shock.

There was a report carried live on CNN where the US Energy Secretary pledged the support of both US and Russian teams (including robots) to get in there and help with the situation.

What an awful, needless tragedy.



-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1999.

Thanks PNG for the more accurate reporting... and assessment.

Be well, our forum friend!


-- Diane J. Squire (, September 30, 1999.


Wow. Thanks for your perspective. This is a tragedy. My prayers are with your country. I'm speachless.

-- Deborah (, September 30, 1999.


Outside uranium plant: police blockades, radiation tests,

TOKAIMURA, Japan (AP) - Police in protective white gear blocked the roads, turning away incoming traffic. Pedestrians were nowhere to be seen. Trains stood still and empty.

Under advisory to stay indoors one day after Japan's worst accident at a nuclear plant, this town was buried under an eerie silence today as worried residents awaited proof that it was safe to once again venture outdoors.

``I've been worried sick,'' said Katsunori Sukegawa, a construction worker who had been working about one-half mile from the site of the leak.

Sukegawa was among a flood of worried townspeople flowing into this community center to be tested for exposure to radiation from the accident.

``I really couldn't sleep last night,'' he said. ``I had to come here first thing in the morning to find out if I was OK.''

Municipal authorities expected 10,000 people to show up at the Tokaimura community center alone.

Three workers from the plant were hospitalized, two in danger of death from radiation exposure, and about 150 people were evacuated from around the site. Another 310,000 people living within a six-mile radius of the facility in Tokaimura were told not to leave their homes.

Outside the testing center, police in protective gear blocked all entry into this town of 33,000 about 70 miles northeast of Tokyo.

All stores and windows in the town were tightly shut, and on the streets pedestrians were nowhere to be seen.

Keiko Haginoya, who lives about two miles from the accident site, brought her nine-year-old daughter in for testing at the community center.

She said her daughter was playing outside when workers at the uranium-processing plant mistakenly set off the atomic reaction, spewing radioactivity into the air.

``I'm very worried because she was outside in a T-shirt and shorts when it happened,'' Haginoya said. ``I couldn't sleep at all last night.''

People who had to go out were advised to go by car, keeping all the windows shut. Many left their homes, however, to gather at community centers in the town and surrounding areas for testing, food and companionship.

Townspeople were asked to bring for testing the clothing they were wearing at the time of the accident.

Today, all 200 or so people who had been tested for radiation exposure at the center had come out clean, according to officials from the Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute, who conducted the examinations.

Haginoya said she was relieved that she and her daughter were all right, but was still worried.

``We really don't know what it means in the long run,'' Haginoya said. ``These are kids. Who knows what's going to happen to them.''

-- Deborah (, October 01, 1999.

I posted Tom Toups take on another thread here and HIS take is that the only way oyou get the flash et al is to be doing things with WEAPONS GRADE uranium. HIS take is that it may well have been a weapons grade processing plant. THIS may be why we CAN'T take notice of/help. Little tough to go in and find that LOTS of treaties have been abrogated.


-- Lurker (not@this.time), October 01, 1999.

It's 10 PM Friday night (UTC [GMT] +9) - 15 hours after my last post. As I posted earlier, this was U-235 processing for Japan's fast breeder. Robert can explain (after he puts on the winter gloves he uses when typing). Please read the next comment carefully:
"Japan does not possess nuclear weapons."

They simply have a large supply of parts, components and materials...

in close proximity to each other.

Prime Minister Obuchi is going to get roasted for this one. It took over two hours to notify him that this level 4 incident happened about 70 kilometer north of his residence. The Japanese military and emergency (non)response people, once again, proved themselves to be bumbling, useless, incompetent bureacrats when coping with an elementary situation requiring a textbook response. As ususal, firemen, policemen and others rushed to the building (where a nuclear accident had been reported) -- all wearing protective gear such as surgical masks and clipboards full of important paperwork that needed to be filled out. Still no reporting that the US military turned down a request for assistance. What's the deal on this? Is it a rumor or is there some reasonably reliable source??

-- PNG (, October 01, 1999.

Yes - if you add 8 times the calculated limit of Uranium, it will go critical. Usually, the "mass limit (2.3 kg of Uranium inthis case) is set below 1/4 the "worst case" calculated mass. That way, if something screws up and "twice" the maximum allowed mass is added, the vat still can't go critical, even assuming the worst levels of contomination, of fuel enrichment percents, of fuel burnout, etc.

But adding 8 times the limit is not "careless" but becomes deliberate "criminal" behavior - it cannot be done unknowingly. Equal, for example, of somebody in the CDC from taking their smallpox virus home in a shirt pocket for their daughter's kindergarten "show and tell" class. Suicide for personal reasons, or for "environmental " protest or political "war" is definitely a possibility.


Staying indoors?

Absolutely effective in reducing exposure. No alpha particle can penetrate even a sheet of paper. So, if you do not "breathe" in a radioactive particle, it (the alpha particles) cannot affect you. Easiest way to avoid exposure is simply close doors and windows until the original source has decayed: a few hours to a few days for most emmitters.

No beta radiation can penetrate even a thin sheet of plywood or glass. Most (not all) gamma cannot penetrate a few inches of walls and house insulation - again, if the radioactive gasses and the "dust-like" particles that are the residue of the gasses from decaying are kept outside - then the people are not medically impacted.

Of course, they are significantly emotionally and financially impacted....

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, October 01, 1999.

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