Japanese Nuke Meltdown: Could It Happen Here?

BRAIDWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — The tremendous earthquake in Japan has triggered a state of emergency at two nuclear power plants in that nation, and thousands of residents within six miles of the plants have been evacuated.

The worst case scenario: a potentially catastrophic nuclear meltdown. Workers are trying to prevent that from happening.

When the electric grid that powers the Fukushima Daishi plants crashed in the quake, diesel generators kicked in. Then at least one of the backup generators failed. That crippled the vital cooling system that pumps thousands of gallons of water through one of the plant’s six reactors.

Heat began building, and so did pressure in the form of steam.

“They’re doing what they can to cool the core,” says Carlo Segre, from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Mildly radioactive steam is now being vented into the air to keep the reactor from “melting down” and spewing huge amounts of highly radioactive steam.

Now a similar problem has developed at a second Fukushima plant. The race is on to stave off another possible catastrophe.

Closer to home, residents who live in suburban Will County were asked whether they fear something similar could happen here. A nuclear plant in Braidwood provides power.

“That’s always a possibility,” Joe VanDuine told CBS 2’s Mike Parker. “If it happens, it happens, you know. There’s not really much we can do, except move.”

Jerry Kiely of Braidwood admits:  “Actually, I think it’s a little bit dangerous. I really do.”

That said, Kiely says he sleeps at night.

  • G

    Cheaper oil in the next week…

  • Jeffrey H Kadison

    The question then becomes do we get rid of Nuclear power all together and light candles? If we have a major earthquake in the U.S. we’ll have other things to worry about. Nuclear energy is a vital part of our lives and we can not live without it no matter how hard the environmentalist crazy’s would like us to. While so many fools would like us to live like the Amish, no cars, no power, no lives, we must just make our best effort to build plants that are as safe as possible and move on. We should be building plants across the country and if necessary replacing those that might be technically dated not worrying about weather we’re going to have a meltdown in our back yards.

  • Hiroshi

    Earthquakes can happen anywhere and anytime. So we should be ready for anything specially the cooling system in case it fails.
    We all know what Chernobyl did to thousands of people around the area so we should not be a sitting ducks and wait till the big one hits.
    Are we prepared to evacuate all those who live around nuclear plants?
    Are we ready to help those who are full of radiation?
    Let us all pray to God that nothing so bad as Japans will happen to all of us.

  • http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/03/15/japanese-nuclear-meltdown-draws-concern-in-illinois/ Japanese Nuclear Meltdown Draws Concern In Illinois « CBS Chicago

    […] The Braidwood Generating Station in Will County is one of several nuclear power plants in Illinois, … […]

  • Mogen David

    We should be re-visiting the Passamaquoddy Project from 1936. With todays technology running a project such as this, there isn’t any need to keep burning fuel. The ocean tides have tremendous kinetic energy that has been wasted since the beginning of time.

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