Welcome to the “I’m starting to get cynical” edition.
The situation at Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Plant reached an impasse over the least few days. Two or three of the reactors are in a situation where cooling is being kludged, the reactor fuel rods are damaged and have melted but the details are unknown, storage pools are not being safely managed, unexpected fission events keep occurring despite the widespread belief that this can’t happen, and no one knows what to do because no one can see what is happening because of the more immediate problem: There is a deposit of very dangerous highly radioactive water within the plant in places that make it impossible for engineers and technicians to enter.
Meanwhile, radioactive water has been leaking form the plant. A huge blatantly obvious crack in the plant’s foundation was “noticed” quite recently and blamed for the leak. Attempts to fix the crack at first failed then apparently worked well enough to determine that this crack is not the source of the leak. Tracer stuff has been placed in the plant to see if a route between the plant and the sea could be identified. So far this has not worked. The engineers at Fukushima have no clue whatsoever how water is leaking into the sea, or which water it is, or how to stop it. But, that’s OK because they have a plan B: Dump the water into the sea on purpose! Then, the leak will be a feature, rather than a bug!
In order to remove the highly radioactive water from the plant, less radioactive water in various containers needs to be removed, so the highly radioactive water can be moved into those containers. So far, the only solution to doing this that TEPCO has come up with is to dump the less radioactive water into the ocean where it will just go away because, as we all know, stuff we dump into the ocean always magically disappears.
Well, to put aside my growing cynicism and distrust for a moment, the fact is that most of the radioisotopes in the water will fizzle out before six months is over. But not all of it. And despite the increasingly widespread use of the logic that if I have a broken arm you can’t really have a headache, the presence of longer lived isotopes does not become a non-fact if there are also shorter lived isotopes in the water.
Ooops, the cynicism came back. If this keeps up, I could end up becoming an anti-nuclear activist.
Saturday, April 2, 6PM
Japan news hasn’t confirmed, but I gather elsewhere that the concrete solution to the earthquake-caused leak has failed. A polymer of some kind may be tried…
- “To fill in the crack in the pit, the utility firm began pouring in concrete at 4:30 PM on Saturday. But even more than 6 hours later, the amount of water flowing into the pit was so large that the injected concrete had not solidified yet…, allowing radioactive water to leak into the ocean.
- The power company will try other measures on Sunday morning to stop water from entering the pit. It will use a particular kind of polymer which will absorb the water.” (NHK)
“”It has been tough. But we’ve been well taken care of by everyone. We’re really grateful.” But he adds, “I don’t know when we can go home… I hope we can go very soon. Going home is all I’ve been thinking about.”" link
“In California, home to two seaside nuclear plants located close to earthquake fault lines, federal authorities said four of the 11 stationary monitors were offline for repairs or maintenance last week. The Environmental Protection Agency…did not fix them until a few days after low levels of radiation began drifting toward the mainland United States.” link
“…critics say an absence of federal data on the issue is hampering efforts to develop strategies for preventing radioactive isotopes from accumulating in the nation’s food and water supplies.” link
TEPCO…is too busy battling the crisis to complete regular checkups for 3 reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture. (NHK)
On March 31, TEPCO filed plans to build two more reactors in Fukushima. They say it was just routine. (NHK)
Sunday, 3 PM
Around the time of the second or third explosion at Daiichi, we heard that a few injured workers were treated on-site, a few were transported away, and 2 were missing. I had imagined that they had been hurt in the blast, and hoped that they had died quickly. Today TEPCO released the fact that their bodies were found on March 30, in the basement of no.4, where they had been since the time of the quake.
- “…they died of bleeding from multiple wounds.” link
- “Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Yoshiki Terashima, 21, and Kazuhiko Kokubo, 24, had rushed to the turbine room of the No. 4 reactor to inspect the power switches and test the operation valves after the March 11 earthquake. An autopsy revealed that they likely died from the force of impact from the tsunami.” -Chicago Tribune
Milk and produce bans remain in effect. A Fuku. Pref. dairy farmer empties 400 liters of contaminated milk into his field everyday. No one has explained to him how he will be compensated. (NHK)
“…a male worker fell into the sea as he tried to move to the barge’s tugboat from the shore but was unhurt and not exposed to radiation, TEPCO said, adding that he will be examined for internal exposure to radiation just in case.” link
“”I wonder if our sense of urgency is being conveyed to the government…It is irritating.”” link
10 days ago in Minami Soma City: SOS from Mayor of Minami Soma City, next to the crippled Fukushima nuclear power …
TEPCO says it may be months before contaminated water can be stopped from flowing into the sea. (NHK)
From JAIF – details on what’s been going on at other power plants in response to the disasters.: link to PDF
“…the utility firm says the white liquid did not flow into the pit and that the contaminated water must be following other routes.” (NHK) link
- GE vows $10 mil. aid, long-term support to tackle Fukushima crisis -kyodo news
- GE chief makes no comment on product liability of Fukushima reactors -kyodo news
- GE says nuke industry had ‘extremely safe track record’ for 40 yrs -kyodo news
Red Cross aid hasn’t reached Japan quake victims … A woman offered a room to another woman and her son, free of charge, and far from the Daiichi plant. “There are many ways to support people, such as donations – this is what I can offer.” (NHK)
“The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station says 3 of the plant’s 6 reactors were shaken on March 11th by tremors exceeding forces they were designed to withstand.” (JAIF)
- The Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, says reactor No.2 suffered the largest horizontal ground acceleration of 550 gals, which is 26 percent stronger than the reactor’s design limit. TEPCO says the readings were 548 gals at the… No.5 reactor, about 21 percent higher than its design limit; and 507 gals at the No.3 reactor, topping the capacity by about 15 percent. The power company says the strength of ground motions were close to or within the design parameters at the remaining 3 reactors, and at all 4 reactors of the nearby Fukushima Daini nuclear plant. The utility says it was planning to reinforce the reactors so they could withstand horizontal shaking of 600 gals, after the government reviewed their quake-resistance standards 5 years ago. But the work was not finished. TEPCO says it will continue analyzing the seismic activity in detail. (JAIF, Friday, April 01, 2011)
“The estimates showed that the radiation would exceed 100 millisieverts in some areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant if people remained outdoors for 24 hours between March 12th and 24th.” (Govt did not reveal high level radiation estimate)
- I do recall Edano mentioning in passing at one point that people should probably maybe not spend 24 straight hours outside for awhile.
“The Japanese government and the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant have started to gauge radioactive levels in the air within a 20 kilometer radius of the plant.” (JAIF)
- What?? you say, they haven’t been doing this? No, they have not.
- “…they have not conducted any detailed assessments within the zone, saying that most residents have already evacuated the area and that there would be an increased risk of wo…rkers conducting the tests being exposed to radiation. At a meeting of Japanese and US nuclear experts, the US side claimed more research is needed to determine the extent at which radioactive substances are spreading. After the gathering, the Japanese government and the power company began studying radioactive levels in the air at about 30 locations inside the exclusion zone.” (JAIF, April 3)
- 30km away, the town of Namie has received an 11 day cumulative dose of 10.3mSv. This is above the level when authorities consider advising residents to stay indoors, under guidelines. While the numbers have been released, the public has not been told what they mean. NHK analyst says ‘The government must make a decision and give an explanation’.
Into the sea, intentionally: “The company said it plans to release 10,000 tons of water being kept in a plant facility and 1,500 tons of underground water, also found to be contaminated with radioactive substances, near the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors.” -kyodo
- This decision is based on Article 64 of nuke emergency law. (NHK)
- “The govt has given the green light to the TEPCO decision, there seems to be no other option.” (NHK analyst)
- TEPCO to NHK: The dumping has begun.
“‘We now think it is impossible to add reactors.”: TEPCO to drop plan to add 2 reactors at Fukushima nuclear plant | Kyodo News
Radioactive iodine 7.5 mil. times legal limit found in seawater near No. 2 reactor -kyodo news
- S. Korea expresses concern at TEPCO’s release of radioactive water link
- Radioactive cesium exceeding limit found in young launce in Ibaraki -kyodo news
- Ibaraki is south of the plant, launce is a type of sand eel.
- Dumping radioactive water in sea should not happen again: Kaieda … “The level of radioactive substances in the [discharged] water is up to 500 times the legal limit permitted for release in the environment.” link
- “Monday’s sample [in seawater near no.2] also contained 1.1 million times the legal limit of cesium 137, which has a half life of 30 years.” (NHK)
”The town of Namie said it has refused an offer from TEPCO to pay about 240,000 dollars to each municipality near the power plant.” link
- “Namie said the figure would amount to less than 12 dollars per person, and would not help their lives.”
“At least 100 residents are reportedly staying at their homes within the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.” (NHK)
News stories and updates:
In a televised address to the nation, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said the evacuation of residents from around the stricken Fukushima power plant will be long term. An estimated 70,000 people have been moved from settlements near the plant. Much of the population of Futaba town were evacuated to a huge stadium on the outskirts of the capital, Tokyo. They are now being moved on to yet another shelter.
But it’s OK because despite media hype, none of the evacuees have turned into the 100-foot tall man or woman.
Parts of the United States’ radiation alert network have been out of order during Japan’s nuclear crisis, raising concerns among some lawmakers about whether the system could safeguard the country in a future disaster.
But that’s OK becuase we are much more likely to be attacked by Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Fusarium anyway.
Radiation from Japan rained on Berkeley during recent storms at levels that exceeded drinking water standards by 181 times and has been detected in multiple milk samples, but the U.S. government has still not published any official data on nuclear fallout here from the Fukushima disaster.
But that’s OK because that was Berkeley, and they’re a bunch of tree-hugging antinuclear commies anyway.
Two employees of Tokyo Electric Power Co. who had been missing since the March 11 quake and tsunami have been found dead at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the utility said Sunday, adding that they died of bleeding from multiple wounds.
But that’s OK because Japan has a lot of cars, so the chances were much greater that these two were going to die in a car accident and besides it was the Tsunami that killed them, not harmless radiation.
Nuclear’s green cheerleaders forget Chernobyl at our peril: Pundits who downplay the risks of radiation are ignoring the casualities of the past. Fukushima’s meltdown may be worse
From Afar, a Vivid Picture of Japan Crisis: For the clearest picture of what is happening at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, talk to scientists thousands of miles away.
But that’s OK, because … oh, no wait a minute, that’s not about nuclear power. So it’s not OK.
Fear of nuclear power is out of all proportion to the actual risks: Pollution from coal-fired power plants is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths per year, whereas the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant is unlikely to kill a single person…. In fact, the disaster shows how safe nuclear reactors actually are. Reactors designed half a century ago survived an earthquake many times stronger than they were designed to withstand, immediately going into shut-down (bringing driven nuclear reactions to a halt).
The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant’s No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.
But that’s OK because some reporter at the Guardian (see above) says that everything is fine despite the media hype. Media hype, not a nuclear power plant out of control, is dangerously radioactive.
Current International Atomic Energy Agency briefing:
1. Current Situation
Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious.
On 3rd April, transferring of water from the Unit 1 condenser to the condenser storage tank was started in preparation for transferring water in the basement of the Unit 1 turbine building to the condenser. On 2nd April, transferring of water from the Unit 2 condenser to the condenser storage tank was started in preparation for transferring water in the basement of the Unit 1 turbine building to the condenser.
TEPCO has identified a possible leakage path from the Turbine building of Unit 2 to the sea via a series of trenches/tunnels used to provide power to the sea water intake pumps and supply of service water to the reactor and turbine buildings. On 4th April, a tracer was used in an attempt to determine where the water was coming from. So far, the tracer has not been observed in the water leaking into the sea.
In Unit 1 fresh water has been continuously injected into the reactor pressure vessel through feed-water line at an indicated flow rate of 6 m3/h using a temporary electric pump with off-site power. In Units 2 and 3 fresh water is being injected continuously into the RPVs through fire extinguisher line at indicated rates of 9 m3/h and 7 m3/h using a temporary electric pump with off-site power.
In Unit 1 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV decreased from 243 °C to 234 °C and at the bottom of RPV stable at 115 °C. The RPV pressure indications are fluctuating and Drywell pressure is stable. The RPV pressure indications for the 2 channels are diverging. For Unit 2 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV is stable at 142 °C. The temperature at the bottom of RPV was not reported. Indicated Drywell pressure remains at atmospheric pressure. In Unit 3 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV is stable at 114oC and at the bottom of RPV is about 85 °C. The validity of the RPV temperature measurement at the feed water nozzle is still under investigation.
In Unit 2 additional water was injected via the Spent Fuel Cooling System line to the spent fuel pool by a temporary pump on April 4. In Unit 4, 180 T of fresh water was sprayed to the spent fuel pool by concrete pump on April 3rd.
There has been no change of status on Units 5-6 and the Common Spent Fuel Storage Facility.
2. Radiation monitoring
On 3rd April, deposition of both iodine-131 and cesium-137 was detected in 7 prefectures. The values for iodine-131 ranged from 2.4 to 82, for cesium-137 from 5.2 to 57 becquerel per square metre. On 4th April, deposition of iodine-131 was detected in 7 prefectures ranging from 3.1 to 75 becquerel per square metre. Deposition of cesium-137 in 6 prefectures ranging from 7.4 to 46 becquerel per square metre. Reported gamma dose rates in the 46 prefectures showed no significant changes compared to yesterday.
As of 3rd April, iodine-131 and cesium-134/137 was detectable in 8 and 5 prefectures respectively. All values were well below levels that would trigger recommendations for restrictions of drinking water. As of 3rd April, restrictions for infants related to I-131 (100 Bq/l) are in place in only one village of the Fukushima prefecture. The restriction is still in place as a precautionary measure.
Currently, the IAEA monitoring team is working in the Fukushima region. On 5th April, measurements were made at 7 locations at distances of 16 to 41 km, South and South West to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The dose rates ranged from 0.3 to 31 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.01 to 3.2 megabecquerel per square metre. The highest dose rates and beta gamma contaminations were measured at the location closest to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
Since our written briefing of yesterday, data related to food contamination was reported on 4 April by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. These reported analytical results covered a total of 24 samples taken on 31 March (4 samples) and 1st, 3rd and 4th April (20 samples). Analytical results for all of the 24 samples for various vegetables, fruit (strawberry) and seafood in five prefectures (Gunma, Ibaraki, Niigata, Saitama and Tochigi) indicated that iodine-131, caesium-134 and/or caesium-137 were either not detected or were below the regulation values set by the Japanese authorities.
The IAEA/FAO Food Safety Assessment Team has completed its tasks and returned to Vienna. The team met with relevant local government officials and stakeholders in the agriculture sector in the four prefectures (Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma) most affected by the nuclear emergency in Fukushima. The team were appraised on the local situation and provided relevant technical information.
On 31st March, the team reported to the Japanese Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Tokyo. The team returned from their mission on 1 April.
Seawater is collected daily close to the discharge areas of Units 1 – 4 and of Units 5 and 6 at the Dai-ichi NPP. The data show a decreasing trend from 1 to 3 April from about 66 kBq/l to 24 kBq/l for I-131 and 21 kBq/l to 10 kBq/l for both Cs-134 and Cs-137 at Units 1-4. The concentrations at Units 5 and 6 also showed a decreasing trend until 3 April. These values were measured before the discharge of low level contaminated water authorised by the Japanese Government on the 4th April.
New data were provided for the off-shore survey on 8 sampling points about 30 km east of the NPPs. Concentrations are between 5 and 18 Bq/l for I-131 and between roughly 1 and 11 Bq/l for Cs-137. For the new coverage of the coastal transect in the south, about 35 km south of Fukushima Daiini, the highest concentrations were detected at the sampling point closest to the coast in the south with about 38 Bq/l for I-131 and 4.5 Bq/l for Cs-137. The concentrations at all sampling points have decreased over time.
3. IAEA Activities
The two agency experts in BWR technology are in Japan. A third agency expert will join them in Tokyo to have additional meetings with TEPCO at the end of the week.