Philippine embassy in Vienna reports latest developments on nuclear facilities in Japan

IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Photogra...Image via WikipediaA March 16, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Philippine Permanent Mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna reported that the IAEA has confirmed that there has been an explosion at Unit 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility at around 6:20 AM on March 15, local Japan time.

Japanese authorities had reported to the IAEA on March 14, that Unit 2 has experienced decreasing coolant levels in the reactor core. Sea water injection procedures were initiated to maintain cooling of the reactor core.

The IAEA also confirmed that at 4:50 AM of March 15 local Japan time, the spent fuel storage pond at the Unit 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility had caught fire..

While the fire was subsequently extinguished, the same resulted into the release of radioactivity directly into the atmosphere.

Japanese authorities said that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion.

Unit 4 was not operational at the time of the earthquake due to periodic inspection.

Dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the site following the fire.

The IAEA said that the extent of public health risk will depend on the levels of radioactivity over time, the scope, direction and speed of the spread of the radioactivity and the implementation of emergency measures by the Japanese Government, including evacuation and sheltering.

Monitoring of radiation at fixed points around Dai-ichi is being conducted by the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The IAEA has also requested the World Meteorological Organization to circulate the results of atmospheric models to all IAEA Member States.

Under the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, which entered into force on October 27, 1986, Japan, as a state party to the Convention is obliged to report to the IAEA information on, among others, the general characteristics of the radioactive release; current and forecast meteorological and hydrological conditions necessary for forecasting the transboundary release of the radioactive materials; the results of environmental monitoring relevant to the transboundary release of the radioactive materials; and the predicted behavior over time of the radioactive release.

The IAEA also reported that Japan has distributed 230,000 units of stable iodine to evacuation centers in the areas around Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear power plants as part of off-site emergency precautionary measures.

As the Japanese authorities have not yet determined it to be necessary, the iodine has not yet been administered to residents. The ingestion of stable iodine can help to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid.