Japan's Nuclear/Hydrogen Explosion

Day 4: Nuclear Plant Explosions

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Day 4: Nuclear Plant Explosions:" Will Impact Human Health" - Officials Warned

On the 4th day of the earthquake-tsunami disaster, Japan is now facing a nuclear/hydrogen explosion. Four days after the earthquake-caused tsunami claimed several cities, towns and municipalities in Sendai state in Japan,
the problem is not just continuing but has now reached an alarming height due to the possibility of a complete meltdown of Japan's nuclear and hydrogen reactors. After the explosion of Nuclear Reactors 1 and 3 these past days, Reactor 2 blasted away today, causing another tsunami-like calamity, with the water from the explosion pushing away cars, homes, and everything on the water path. Some people had only seconds to go to the higher grounds. Several people again perished; 11 workers in the nuclear plant were injured from Japan nuclear/hydrogen explosions.

Day 4: Nuclear Plant Explosions:" Officials were "Tight-Lipped"

During the first two explosions, the officials of the government and the representatives of the nuclear power plant made an announcement minimizing the damage of the explosion. On the first day, it was announced that the heat, which was 1000 greater than normal, "was of no immediate danger" to anyone but to the plant itself. On the second day of the explosion, similar announcements were heard: a calm announcement although they ordered mandatory evacuation from 6 miles - later to 12 mile radius - of the residents that are living in the vicinity of the power plant. Again, during that time, the officials were tight-lipped, had conflicting statements, and not really forthcoming about the condition of the reactors.

Day 4: Nuclear Plant Explosions:" Will Impact Human Health" - Officials Warned

Today, the 4th day, when the 2nd reactor exploded and a blast started burning Reactor No. 4 - of the power plant, the Prime Minister of Japan finally made a more alarming statement - a warning to the residents within 30 kilometers of the plant - to stay indoors. He announced that the effect of the explosion reached the level that will "impact human health". Aside from that announcement, nothing else was elaborated. Unlike the announcements most of the officers in the United States make, it seems like there was no urgency. The past few announcements seemed very tight-lipped and not very forthcoming. It is different this time. The addition of the words "will impact human health", for us, means a lot, although most of us don't even need to be reminded of the effects of radiation on human lives. He added that this explosion carries a "very high risk". Now that 4 reactors are involved, the Prime Minister and the officials of the power plant company could not hide the foreseen additional calamity.

Day 4: Another Chernobyl?

For those of us who remember the 3 Mile island incident" and the Chernobyl Disaster , we do not need any more explanation. We all know the gravity of the situation and what happens when humans are exposed to radiation. We all should know that there are four reactors, not one, involved on this explosions. This is like Chernobyl multiplied 4 times!

For the people of Japan, most of them are still recovering from shock - trying to find their loved ones - the end seemed no where in sight.

In one of the cities affected by the tsunami, about 140 residents waiting to be rescued were reported to have been exposed to radiation. These residents were now seen in a different line, lining up to be tested for radiation.

Day 4: Effects of Radiation on the Body

What exactly did the Japanese Prime Minister mean when he said the effect will "impact human health"? An expert on radiation was interviewed in ABC yesterday and he enumerated the effects of radiation on the body.

The expert stated that the following parts of the body will be affected first, all of which can be fatal:

  • Gastro - intestinal symptoms. Gastro-intestinal parts will be the first one to show damage of the effect. It can destroy the lining and that can be fatal. Flue like symptoms, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, will be experienced.
  • Thyroid Glands - the throat will be affected immediately
  • Bones - the bones processes the blood and when they will stop processing once affected by radiation. Radiation can wipe out all the blood and that can be fatal

  • Here is a video about the effects of radiation on the body:

    In summary, the expert stated that being exposed to the nuclear radiation is like being given radiation therapy. The radiation makes the body weak, and depletes the iodine in the blood, which causes so many other symptoms

    In addition, radiation's effect can be long-term. Radiation will reach the grass; the cows feed on the grass; the cows produce the milk that humans consume. The contaminated milk will cause negative effects on humans - months - or years down the road. There were people in Chernobyl who were afflicted with radiation-caused cancer years after the meltdown.

    Various Risk Factors that can Affect Radiation

    • Intensity of the Radiation - how much radiation is being released by the reactor
    • Location from the Radiation Were you indoors or outdoors during the explosion
    • Duration How long was the person at during the radiation

    Day 4: What the Experts are Saying

    On the Japanese government's evacuation within 12 mile radius
    "Jacky Williams, director of the Center for Biophysical Assessment and Risk Management Following Irradiation at the University of Rochester Medical Center, called the 12-mile evacuation radius an "extremely conservative safety zone to protect against fallout."

    On the effect of radiation on the body:
    Dr. Jannette Sherman, toxicologist and internal medicine from Alexandria, Virginia:"To assume that steam containing radioisotopes found in nuclear reactors is not going to have health effects, I think, is wishful thinking," she said.

    Those radioisotopes, such as iodine-131, strontium-90 and cesium-137, get taken up by the body. As they decay, they give off energy in the form of gamma rays, beta rays that penetrate deep through tissues, and alpha rays that damage DNA. Sherman likens them to harmful chemicals that settle in various tissues of the body.

    "We know that radioactive iodine, which goes to the thyroid, can cause cancer and stunt children's growth," said Sherman, adding that exposure during pregnancy can damage the fetal brain. "We know strontium 90 goes to bones and teeth and is linked to leukemia and immune dysfunction. And we know cesium goes to soft tissues, like muscle and breast tissue."

    She concluded that for pregnant women, the risk of birth defects and miscarriages may also rise.

    U.S. Helps

    The United States is doing its part to help Japan, its ally in more than 50 years. Several nuclear reactor experts are already on the way to Japan to try to help cool the rods of the reactors.

    Back in the U.S. the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration"is presently monitoring the clouds over Japan's reactor plants. By doing this, they could see where the wind is shifting to, and will provide that information to our government and hopefully warn the residents of the affected area/s so that they can try to avoid the radiation.

    E. Laurel
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