A March 12 explosion at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Japan, appears to have caused a reactor meltdown.
The key piece of technology in a nuclear reactor is the control rods. Nuclear fuel generates neutrons; controlling the flow and production rate of these neutrons is what generates heat, and from the heat, electricity. Control rods absorb neutrons — the rods slide in and out of the fuel mass to regulate neutron emission, and with it, heat and electricity generation.
Interestingly, a meltdown does not necessarily mean a nuclear disaster (emphasis added):
A meltdown occurs when the control rods fail to contain the neutron emission and the heat levels inside the reactor thus rise to a point that the fuel itself melts, generally temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing uncontrolled radiation-generating reactions and making approaching the reactor incredibly hazardous. A meltdown does not necessarily mean a nuclear disaster. As long as the reactor core, which is specifically designed to contain high levels of heat, pressure and radiation, remains intact, the melted fuel can be dealt with. If the core breaches but the containment facility built around the core remains intact, the melted fuel can still be dealt with — typically entombed within specialized concrete — but the cost and difficulty of such containment increases exponentially.
Japanese authorities have ordered an evacuation of a 12-mile radius area of the reactors.
The BBC has a map of the affected areas, including the reactors’ locations,
Tens of thousands of people are still unaccounted for.
And Japan, I’m sure, will come back stronger than ever — hopefully with our help.
“Hopefully with our help?” Hell, yeah. Let’s hope the Commander in Chief realizes that the military dispatched aircraft carriers and jets loaded with hospital supplies and aid right away.
Stacy’s writing on The tsunami of posturing,
you know who’s actually helping tsunami survivors?The United States Navy, that’s who
One wishes the Commander in Chief credited them.