A crack in the containment vessel of Fukashima Reactor 3 has been mentioned by MSNBC and ABC news, citing the New York Times. The New York Times has an article in which the crack is mentioned in a side bar, attributed to an anonymous person. An anonymous source is not particularly impressive, but the New York Time is. So I suppose this is somewhat impressive.
Various news sources are reporting an actual quote from the anonymous source and say a little more about him. This is what is being reported:
A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.
The severity of the radiation burns to the injured workers are consistent with contamination by water that had been in contact with damaged fuel rods, the executive said.
“There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large,” he said. “The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.” …
In the mean time, we have this… numerous reports, from NHK and elsewhere, indicate that there is a huge spike in radiation in the sea near the reactors.
Tests done 330 meters from one of the plant’s coolant water outlets showed radioactive iodine levels at 1,250 times normal, raising new concerns that one of the three hardest-struck reactors may be allowing radioactive materials to leak directly into the environment. Officials fought back against that assessment Friday. “There is no data suggesting a crack,” said Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama.
So there is a crack, for sure, and a spike of radiation that indicates that there is a breach of some kind, but there is no evidence of a crack, so there isn’t a crack, for sure. Importantly, the IAEA has said nothing about a crack, to my knowledge. They are usually a day behind the news reports, but also, tend to be somewhat more accurate (but not as much as one might think).
Meanwhile, I must say I’m getting tired of hearing about how power is restored to the cooling systems of the reactors. It isn’t. Every day there is a report that it is restored, or about to be restored, but so far that hasn’t happened yet for the reactors that are in danger. From the IAEA:
The restoration of off-site power is still progressing and instrumentation is being tested in Units 1, 2 and 4.
So they’re working on it. Meanwhile “puddles” up to 150 cm deep of highly radioactive water have been found in reactor facilities 1 and 2. Reactor facility 3, of course, has lots of highly radioactive water in it previously. Apparently, engineers are going to try to pump some of this water, mainly in the turbine buildings, into the condensers which are located in those buildings.
There is one piece of good news: For at least some of the reactors, engineers have switched form salt water to fresh water for cooling.