Earthquake 8.9 and Japan.


The news of Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake is all over. I wasn’t being able to sleep last night and surprisingly there was electricity, I checked the time and it was exactly 3 in the morning so I turned on the TV and switched to CNN. The images of the nature’s take on the human civilization was more than disturbing. The water washing away everything that came along its path of its destruction. The houses, the cars and even the airplanes seemed like a toy floating on the water. It is one of the most disastrous quakes in Japan rey. I always heard Japan was a quake prone country that experiences about 115 approximate shakes every year but I also read that they have equally well developed infrastructures to deal with it. But even with all those aforethought technologies could not save the 90% of the house in Sendai. With above 1700 dead and the toll is rising and another thousands missing, it is almost impossible to imagine what the people in Japan are going through at this very moment. Japan are still having hundreds of aftershocks.

The nuclear power plant explosion has added more problems to Japan. The quake and tsunami damaged three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which lost their cooling functions necessary to keep the fuel rods functioning properly. At first the Unit 1 reactor was in trouble with an explosion destroying the walls of the room in which it is placed. Later, Unit 3 also began to experience problems. The is a lot of speculations going on about what will happen if the nuclear reactor melts down. I went through a couple of website looking for answer on what can happen but almost everyone seems to be confused on what might happen. Everyone seems to be coming up with their own version of speculations like,

“Because of the overheating, a meltdown was possible at one of the reactors, said Ryohei Shiomi, an official with Japan’s nuclear safety commission. But even if there was a meltdown, it wouldn’t affect humans outside a six-mile (10-kilometer) radius” –

– Back then, Chernobyl terrified me…the possibilities concerning this are just so much worse. Of course the media will attempt to corral panic, but in any event this is not a favorable development for life on this planet. I can only hope that this information in incomplete and overstated.
My gut reaction is that it’s not. Peace to us all.

– The reactor would go supercritical. (keffective > 1) That would cause an overheat condition and probably damage to the core. Most commercial reactors have a negative reactivity (k) coefficient on heat, so that would reduce reactivity. They also depend on the moderator (water) to maintain criticality, so removing water due to overheat would decrease criticality.

Unfortunately, removing water would also escalate overheat because, even if the core were then subcritical (keffective < 1), decay heat would persist and you would have core damage unless you restored cooling. -

Japan anticipated such destruction and have prepared but still their preparation could not hold on to the force of nature. Imagine what is it going to be in Nepal if such earthquakes hit us because we have never prepared ourselves for such destruction.

My heart is with the people of Japan today.

I have collected some pictures from the net. They are not mine but I thought would share them with you.

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