Like the rest of the world, we’re watching the situation with the Japanese nuclear power plant, which exploded overnight. It does not appear at this point that it was a nuclear reaction.
The English-language Russia Today had its cameras trained on the plant when the explosion happened:
Late last night, there were claims that it was possible the nuclear core would melt. The BBC explains:
You can think of the core of a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), such as the ones at Fukushima Daiichi, as a massive version of the electrical element you may have in your kettle.
It sits there, immersed in water, getting very hot.
The water cools it, and also carries the heat away – usually as steam – so it can be used to turn turbines and generate electricity.
If the water stops flowing, there is a problem. The core overheats and more of the water turns to steam.
The steam generates huge pressures inside the reactor vessel – a big, sealed container – and if the largely metal core gets too hot, it will just melt, with some components perhaps catching fire.
In the worst-case scenario, the core melts through the bottom of the reactor vessel and falls onto the floor of the containment vessel – an outer sealed unit.
In the absense of a Chernobyl-type disaster in decades, nuclear power has been making a comeback. In Minnesota. One of the first bills pushed by the new majority at the Minnesota Legislature was the repeal of the state’s ban on new nuclear power plants.
A House-Senate conference committee has been meeting in recent days to work out an agreement on the bill, which — if one is reached — would then go to the governor.
Now the question is whether what’s happening in Japan rejiggers the debate.