Following a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan and an immense tsunami, the nation is racing to prevent multiple nuclear meltdowns which, if not prevented, could leak radiation reaching as far as the United States.
“One reactor has had half the core exposed already,” Joe Cirincione, nuclear expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund explained to Fox News. “This is the one they’re flooding with sea water in a desperate effort to prevent it from a complete meltdown. They lost control of a second reactor next to it, a partial meltdown, and there is actually a third reactor at a related site 20-kilometers away they have also lost control over. We have never had a situation like this before.”
Cirincione explained that if a meltdown occurs Japan is not the only population mass at risk. In fact, radiation would spread across the Pacific Ocean, affecting North America and other parts of Asia.
“The worst case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together, the temperatures get so hot that they melt together in a radioactive molten mass that bursts through the containment mechanisms and is exposed to the outside. So they spew radioactivity in the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of the radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the West Coast of the United States,” he said.
Likening the event to Chernobyl, where radiation spread across the Northern Hemisphere, Cirincione explained it is quite possible for radiation to spread great distances.
“It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens,” he noted.
Thus far the vast majority of threats have been contained, with only minor leaks being reported at plants in Japan.
Currently, there have been no warnings issues for the western portion of the United States, many of which are not fully equip with radioactivity monitoring systems to watch air and water quality, or the food supply.