The American Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced at the White House yesterday that Air Force plans had been sent to Japan carrying very important coolant. The coolant is to be delivered to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The coolant has been sent in an effort to help solve the problem with one of the reactors which is overheating.
Nuclear Safety Agency Close to Decision concerning Pressure
Japan’s nuclear safety agency has informed the press that one out of the six water reactors has raised by 1.5 times more than the normal level. There is major concern about the increased pressure inside the reactor which has resulted in 3000 people having to leave their homes. Further precautions have been given to residents in a 3-10 km range surrounding the plant to stay indoors.
No decision has yet been reached concerning the release of pressure. This would result in slightly radioactive air being released into the atmosphere. The Nuclear safety agency has said that this would not cause any damage to people or the atmosphere. They also reported to the UN atomic watchdog that there had been no leaks in radiation so far.
Breaches in Safety are to be Addressed Immediately
President Obama spoke to the press at the White House Conference said that the Energy Secretary Steven Chu had been informed to deal with any breaches in the safety system in place at the nuclear plants right away.
Speaking to Fox News, David Albright who is a former weapons inspector for the UN said that it is urgent to get cool water into the reactor. This is necessary as the radioactive materials inside the nuclear reactor produce heat even when the plant has been shut down. If the heat is not reduced the fuel inside can melt.
Recent reports indicate that the Japanese government have stated that a radiation leak was now a distinct possibility. Evacuation of residents is normally only carried out as a last resort according to British Nuclear Energy Society member John Large. Sue Ion, another member of the Royal Academy of Engineering stated that it could be simply a case of precaution. Japan is well aware of the threat caused by earthquakes and as a result of this she stated that the Japanese have a “rigorous standards, with robust designs and regulations”.
Safety of Nuclear Energy Highlighted
Ion said that the fact that several nuclear plants had shut down without any incident could be used as a way for people to gain confidence in their safety precautions surrounding nuclear energy. The fact that one of the coolants, and the diesel generator used as a backup is a concern however. Investigations will need to be carried out to prevent this type of problem arising.
In the 1990’s Tokyo Electric Power Plant admitted failing to disclose radiation leaks and falsifying their safety data. The plant needed to be closed for 21 months and this cost around $3bn.
Evaluate your Health and Safety Measures
Thanks to careful planning, Japan is able to cope with the problems caused by living in an earthquake zone. Prevention and education concerning health and safety is vital for all businesses. For all your health and safety concerns in the workplace contact the experts at Veritas Consulting Health and Safety Consultants on 0800 1488 677. Contingency plans, training, risk assessment and practice can help prevent an accident from turning into a health and safety disaster.