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article imageOp-Ed: Two words the Japanese never wanted to hear — Nuclear Explosion

By Carolyn E. Price     Mar 12, 2011 in World
There are a few words that I am sure the Japanese wished to never hear uttered in their country ever again. A headline from a news article I just read: "Explosion at nuclear plant raises meltdown fears" must be sending shivers down their spines.
While the Japanese try to cope with the aftermath of not one, but two natural disasters that occurred on their soil within minutes of each other, another possibly devastating catastrophe looms ever higher on the horizon.
There are multiple news reports out there that the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has suffered an explosion in the building that houses the nuclear reactor, destroying much of the outside structure of the building, damage to the reactor however, is not known.
With the earthquake or the tsunami that followed it, taking out the power grid in the northeastern coastal region of Japan, the nuclear reactors began to shut themselves down. However, the pumps cooling down the nuclear reactors also shut down, causing the reactors to automatically begin heating up.
Under normal circumstances, it takes a reactor around two days to cool down and shut itself completely off. Within minutes of the power going off and the cooling pumps shutting down, the heat would have started to rise and excess radiation would start dissipating into the atmosphere.
So those poor souls who somehow managed to survive an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the biggest in Japan's history, possibly by quickly getting out of their homes while the walls crashed down around them; and then those very same souls somehow managed to outrun or outsmart the devastating 10 meter tsunami wave (that was quickly followed by a second one) that seemed to sweep away almost everything in its path, boats, cars, houses and most devastating of all, people, now face the terrifying reality of radiation exposure.
However, the good news now coming out of the region is that the nuclear safety agency, has rated the risk level to be a 4 on a scale from 1 to 7. For comparison purposes, Three Mile Island was a 5 and Chernobyl was a 7.
Evacuations are underway, help is slowly making its way to the disaster area, the East Japan Railway line is still desperately trying to find four trains it lost contact with shortly after the earthquake and tsunami hit, and the Japanese in the immediate vicinity of the burning nuclear power plants pray that the winds do not change and start blowing in their direction.
As they slog through the mud, searching for possessions and quite possibly their loved ones. I am quite sure that thoughts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not very far from the fore for many of those affected Japanese. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this terrible time of need.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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