“The hydrogen blasts at Japan’s Daiichi 1 and 3 reactors located in the Fukushima province gave clear signals the reactors were in trouble. The explosion created by the exposure of fuel rods to the air, which increased the temperature of the core and set fire to hydrogen, split the outmost structure of the Daiichi 1 and Daiichi 3 reactor, but did not damage the pressure vessel.
The water level, which normally covers the fuel rods completely, was too low due to a system failure in the class 1 pumps caused directly by the earthquake tremors. The tsunami, then flooded the backup circuit and generators normally used to stabilise the flow of water, and keep the cooling operational. The sea water now used to increase the water level in the reactors will lead to heavy corrosion within the reactor, and put it out of use indefinitely. These reactors, built in the 70s, were due for retirement but could have gone on for another 5 years.
Despite the spectacular blast, the level of radiation is 10 to 15 times below legal limit, and the damage to internals is extremely limited. Rather than an imminent meltdown, it is the cost of repairs, and the indirect cost of a dramatic loss of power supply which Japan and the rest of the world will suffer the consequences of. Currently, major companies such as Toyota, Sony, Matsuchita and Nissan amongst many others, have had to halt their production for a lack of available electricity. Japan already has very little room to manoeuvre as real interest rates are very close to zero, and its exposure to re-insurance risk is very high, which will likely drag the global economy down with cost repercussions extended to the next 2 to 3 years”.
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