Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 28, 2011

A Vicious Circle

Japan says plutonium found at Fukushima

Much will be made out of the Plutonium but the levels found, while from the recent incident, are not concerning at all. Disregard the panicking Plutonium headlines. There are bigger problems at hand.

What I am more concerned about is the vicious responsibility circle at the Fukushima plants.

Cooling needs to keep going in the reactor vessels to prevent reheating and possible fission in the partially melted reactor cores. Pumping water from the outside in and letting hot water steam/flow out somewhere (feed and bleed) is currently the only possibility to do the necessary cooling to prevent reheating and further fission of the reactor cores until a real controlled cooling cycle can be established.

Unfortunately a real controlled cooling cycle can only be established with access to the turbine halls lower levels.

Unfortunately cooling by pumping water from the outside into the broken reactor vessels with partialy melted cores is flooding the downhill turbine halls with highly contaminated water which prevents access and the establishment of a controlled cooling cycle. No one has any good idea of where to put or redirect the hundreds of tons of water pumped in and now coming out into the turbine hall with high contamination.

Allowing to dump the contaminated water into the sea is equal to political suicide in a democratic seafood nation. Technically it is the only solution possible within any reasonable time frame.

The conflict between political and technical considerations will lead to a stagnation of decisions in the stabilization operations.

The contaminated water will not care. It will find its way into the sea. Meanwhile reduced cooling, as already established today, will increase core damage and further radiation leaks.

Posted by b on March 28, 2011 at 20:11 UTC | Permalink

Comments

These plants should be encased in sarcophagi, or, as we say around here, buried. The obscenity is that, underlying all the lies and silences are enormous financial transactions as the sharp operators play the markets, and the shadow markets.
That was the big difference at Chernobyl, the CPSU was the sole shareholder.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 28 2011 23:36 utc | 1

Japan evacuating now! Nuclear meltdown!

This is Hard to watch...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2011 5:46 utc | 2

This is a week old, and I've seen it many places. Even the exalted Michio Kaku has expressed the same opinion. I do not fathom, b, what is the sticking point for you with this stuff. This whole catastrophe, from Day One, has been managed beyond the pale poorly. One can grant them a few days from the sheer trauma of the quake and tsunami and blind terror at the loss of power at the plants, but after that, with a GLOBAL network of nukes experts from industry and agencies able to help and/or advise, the failure to bury these puppies is flat out genocidal. You keep talking about cooling them being the imperative, when that was a very, very nice idea to explore and implement, if possible, BEFORE they started exploding. NOT since. Everyone anywhere with any power to do anything about this, by now, should be summarily shot.

The cooling CANNOT continue. We cannot possibly get enough water to the compromised containment to ACCOMPLISH it. No way on fresh water, impossible, and salt water will corrode the containment LONG before it's cooled. Even if this were not so, if there were some remote chance, do you realize how many worker suicide missions that would take? How much radiation damage would continue to all living things while they were about it?

Are you in denial? What on earth makes you look at the leaching of radioactive water into the ocean as an unsavory but acceptable alternative in the circumstances? That's FAR more than a mere political problem.

I am not big on panicking people, but I'm flat against keeping them in the dark, ESPECIALLY when their lives are at stake.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 29 2011 6:00 utc | 3

Uncle, there is some debate about that vid being a fraud or publicity stunt. Does not diminish the happenings in the least, but it's odd.

Anyway...my thoughts are pretty dark at present. Been quite depressed since last night, and now am reading that the radiation levels in the ocean are beginning to skyrocket, traces being detected on the Atlantic coast from rain. Had thought about watching "On The Beach" again, or "A Boy and his Dog" but I think I'll settle for Peter Sellers' "The Party."

Here's some more YouTube...

Wooden Ships - Jefferson Airplane

Morning Dew - Grateful Dead

Cortez The Killer - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Cortez The Killer - Grace Potter, Joe Satriani, Steve Kimock

(I include "Cortez The Killer" because it signifies for me a break-out moment of the poison, the worst of European culture. And I included the second version because there's something heart-rendingly bluesy about Grace Potter's rendition.)

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 29 2011 6:08 utc | 4

What Have They Done To The Rain (Malvina Reynolds version)

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 29 2011 6:59 utc | 5

It's all so disheartening because there's a pathology at work. TEPCO's assurances that progress is being made; and Obama's assurances that we are safe from dangers such as these. Daddy says nothing will harm us, and we won't be irradiated as we are tucked into bed tonight. Can we trust him to tell us, to level with us?

Sometimes when I'm feeling this kind of blue, I flip through "TYRANNUS NIX?", the poem Ferlinghetti addressed to Richard Nixon:

Nixon Nixon I'm singing you this baseball Diamond
Sutra from way out here in New Left Field in the
International League I'm keeping up the chatter
as if we had to back you up for some strange reason
Aren't you actually as homey and honest as Uncle Ezra
Aren't you really the goodguy at the fillingstation all my
relatives voted for Aren't you to be trusted after all these
years during which nobody really trusted you Aren't you
just the man to buy a used war from Is there a
tiger in the tank You'd tell us if it really was
a bummer You'd tell us if the automatic transmission was
shot You'd tell me if the tires were really retreads
You'd tell us if the warranty was phony You'd not
let us run out of gas a mile from the dealer would
you Tiger

Posted by: Copeland | Mar 29 2011 8:12 utc | 6

Some phone companies have made calling Japan Free Until End of March/April

via...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2011 8:28 utc | 7

An image of No. 3 from two days ago HERE... and my favorite Wooden Ships... made me cry and cry full blast on the car tape deck racing out Highway One in the middle of the night when it first came out.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 29 2011 8:49 utc | 8

http://fairewinds.com/multimedia

I recommend all his videos. Latest from today, Tuesday, March 29th

Posted by: Rick | Mar 29 2011 12:03 utc | 9

Arnie Gundersen: "Plutonium got its name from Pluto - the god of hell"

Posted by: Rick | Mar 29 2011 12:34 utc | 10

Ah yes, not a problem. What the hell is human health compared to profits? We ALL live in very sick times.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 29 2011 13:38 utc | 11

@bevin @99 - I recommended days ago to uses slurry of mud, boron and lead to cool the reactor and to suffocate the leaks. Water didn't and doesn't seem right to me. Only after the leaking stops and when the temperature is down to reasonable levels is a sarcophagus a viable solution.

STATUS UPDATE:

Pumping into the reactor vessel must continue to prevent further core meltdown with unpredictable consequences. TEPCO reduced the water inflow into no 1 yesterday, but the temperature there increased over the design limit and they had to increase the waterflow again.

But while the water might cool the cores, the water level in the reactors does not increase. There are leaks and the radiated water escapes from the reactor vessels along unknown pathes into the ajecent turbine buildings basement. Those basements hold vital equipment needed to stabilize the reactors and the water needs to get out of there and the leaking into them must be stopped. From the basement some leaking occurred to big pipe trenches outside of the turbine buildings.

The current plan announced by TEPCO is to pump the radiated water from the basements into the condenser tanks in the turbine buildings. As these are currently full, the water in them needs to be pumped into some external tanks next to the building. But those can only hold 2000 tons each and are currently also full. The water in them is planed to be pumped through new piping or transported by tankers across the trashed outside of the plants to a bigger tank farm some hundreds of meters away.

This sounds much too complicate to me and it certainly will take several days to get this established. Why not get some empty barges to the harbor next to the plant and set up firelines from the basements to such barges some 100-200 meters away? One then can take care of the waste water at a secure place elsewhere.

An alternative could be to just refeed the contaminated water from the basements into the reactor vessels and thereby establish an improvised "closed" cooling cycle. Currently tons of additional water are added per hour and will need to be removed. A closed cycle would reduce the waste that needs to be taken care of.

That this whole water problem is coming up now and is holding up further intervention is another sign of incompetence by TEPCO. It was obvious that the thousands of tons of cooling water added over the days had to go somewhere. Why was no preperation made to find some storage for them a week ago?

There were reports about terrible working and living conditions for the emergency workers at Daiichi. Only two small meals of emergency food, crackers, per day, too little water and sleeping on top of sheets of lead. Only after these reports went public did TEPCO promised to improve these conditions.

Posted by: b | Mar 29 2011 13:58 utc | 12

EPA: Radioactive isotope levels are increasing in US

“These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days”*
March 28th, 2011 at 04:18 PM

EPA Monitoring Continues to Confirm That No Radiation Levels of Concern Have Reached the United States, EPA, March 28, 2011:

During detailed filter analyses from 12 RadNet air monitor locations across the nation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified trace amounts of radioactive isotopes consistent with the Japanese nuclear incident. Some of the filter results show levels slightly higher than those found by EPA monitors last week and a Department of Energy monitor the week before. These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are still far below levels of public health concern.

EPA’s samples were captured by monitors in Alaska, Alabama, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands and Washington state over the past week and sent to EPA scientists for detailed laboratory analysis.


Read more:

* EPA: Penn. and Mass. have seen elevated levels of radiation in rain — “Short-term elevations” not a health concern… How about Long-term?
* Feds admit radioactive xenon-133 from Fukushima detected TWO days ago in Washington State
* 3 different types of plutonium detected around Fukushima nuclear plant
* Confusion: Radiation still being released from Fukushima — Officials don’t know where it is coming from

* Friday at 7 pm ET: Steam coming from No. 3 reactor live on NHK (VIDEO)

*Oh really?
WHY THE FUCK ISN'T OUR CIC ON TELEVISION TELLING US THIS?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2011 14:15 utc | 13

Uncle $cam, a week or so ago, you gave us a link to a live Tokyo geiger counter - http://www.ustream.tv/channel/geiger-counter-tokyo. That screen is now dark, with the message 'Channel is offline'. What do we make of that?

Posted by: Watson | Mar 29 2011 14:33 utc | 14

comment 14: I think I linked to this earlier: google map – radiation meters all over Japan.

This one is close to central Tokyo.

Posted by: Philippe | Mar 29 2011 14:46 utc | 15

Bullshit writ on silk...

You may need a hug, after this one...

@Watson

that Channel seems to come and go, check back with it, in an hour or so..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 29 2011 15:10 utc | 16

If Nuclear could sing, this is what it would say.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtJmVDoY904

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 29 2011 15:20 utc | 17

Thank you, Philippe.

I was checking Uncle $cam's meter from March 15 to March 18 when it disappeared. The readings were typically 14 cpm (counts per minute).

If I'm reading your site correctly, the control sample from December 2010 is about 14 cpm, but it's now averaging 20 cpm, with some pings up to the mid 30s.

Posted by: Watson | Mar 29 2011 15:21 utc | 18

Thank you, Uncle $cam. Will do.

Posted by: Watson | Mar 29 2011 15:23 utc | 19

As the Singularity is upon us, meaning the complexity of interconnections has become so great that the implications of such happen so quickly, and so anomalously, we no longer have the theoretical framework, or perceptual framework, with which to gauge our new reality. We apply our now archaic and irrelevant theoretical and perceptive models in vain, hoping upon hope that hitting the enter button will render the sought after result...but alas, it will not. It's our Brave New World, the one we've been incubating all these years and now it's climbed out of its shell and is making its way towards Bethlehem. Yes, something Wicked This Way Comes...in fact, it is here, it is us, and we are it. Our lives from here on out will be spent in a state of Constant Fear. Here's some music to celebrate that success.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2zkN74s72M&feature=related

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 29 2011 15:32 utc | 20

a question:

it seems that water is in direct contact with molten fuel (inside or outside the vessels, or both);

but shouldn't that provoke explosions?

Posted by: claudio | Mar 29 2011 15:38 utc | 21

@claudio - it seems that water is in direct contact with molten fuel (inside or outside the vessels, or both);

but shouldn't that provoke explosions?

In a confined space yes, but as long as water can boil off and escape as steam, why should there be an explosion? From the perspective of the H2O it is just hot stuff. All four reactors are currently steaming so there is currently no reason to fear an explosion.

Sure, hot steam and oxidizing zirconium which clads the fuel rods produces hydrogen. But no 1 has done that for quite a while and a leaky reactor vessel lid did release hydrogen under overpressure (which then took the no 1 roof off).

That said no 1 is a bit too hot (300+ degree celsius) for too long and is under quite high pressure (0.500 MPa). We may still get to hear a big bang from a rupturing reactor vessel no 1. That would put more radioactivity into the environment. That's the reason they a. try to cool no 1 down and b. try to get the pressure down too. (Unfortunately pumping in water for cooling increases the pressure.)

Posted by: b | Mar 29 2011 16:51 utc | 22

@all - don't get all exited about a few microSievert of this or that measured in the U.S. Chernobyl did not effect the U.S. in any serious way, neither will the -for now- smaller Daiichi event.

Unless there is another very significant bad event in Daiichi, still possible though, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Posted by: b | Mar 29 2011 16:53 utc | 23

b thank you for the correction.
What strikes me about this situation, in which even the Japanese government is clearly reluctant to offend by taking over an incompetent and corrupt corporation, is that here, at last, we might have found a viable case for international humanitarian intervention.

After all, what is happening has the very real potential of leading to serious consequences around the world and it would be hard to argue, for example, that China and immediate neighbours, including North Korea, do not have a duty to their people to insist upon this matter being dealt with as efficiently and quickly as possible.

This, in a world which was not an imperialist's parody of international relations, is where one would expect the IAEA to come in. And here the trickster, Providence, hints at what is up, because the IAEA is headed by the creatures of the Empire itself, personified by a Japanese equivalent of the doleful, parrot like, puppet heading the UN secretariat, a cypher employed to assist in the harassment of independent nations practising sovereignty, without a permission slip from the Pentagon, filling jobs which in a reasonable dispensation, will be aimed at creating international co-operation, facilitating peaceful conflict resolution and monitoring the safety regimens of the nuclear plants of members.

Instead, therefore, of intervening to prevent the further pollution of the atmosphere and oceans with radioactive materials, the "international community" (all spit!) is bombing undefended communities in North Africa to assist its clients in rebellion.

As to Fukushima- that would be not merely a sovereign matter for Japan but a private matter for the property owner: thus does capitalism instruct and entertain us as it commits suicide, not only on its behalf but in the name of generations of cancer victims to come.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 29 2011 18:45 utc | 24

Some more priceless news......oh my....can't say I'm surprised. Maybe he's in Patagonia.

http://www.businessinsider.com/masataka-shimizu-missing-2011-3

His company is in the midst of an existential crisis that may see it go bankrupt or nationalized. So where is TEPCO CEO Masataka Shimizu.

The Washington Post runs a startling report noting that he hasn't been seen in two weeks at his upscale Tokyo apartment, nor is he showing up in public, nor did he join the head of the country's nuclear safety board in front of the Diet.

There are rumors in Japan that he has fled the country or committed suicide, More likely, however, is that he's basically gone into hermitude, not unlike Toyota's CEO during the recent brake pedal controversy.

Politicians are furious, calling his absence inexcusable.


Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 29 2011 20:23 utc | 25

Downwind

Anyone else remember the sci-fi short story "There were people on Bikini, there were people on Attu," by William Tenn?

Posted by: catlady | Mar 29 2011 20:56 utc | 26

Number 2 is gone. Which is next, #1 or #3?

Posted by: catlady | Mar 29 2011 21:01 utc | 27

Status Update:
- Iodine 132 (half life 8 days) has been found in the sea next to the plant in 3,355 times the allowable concentration. This points to a continues leakage from a broken reactor core to the sea.
- A knowledgeable guy at the Arms Control Wonk suggests that localized criticalities have occurred in Fukushima (I am not surprised)
- They are "considering" to use a tanker to store the radioactive water (did I suggest barges?)
- The chief of TEPCO, not seen in the public for some time, has now been hospitalized for hypertension etc.
- TEPCO confirms the obvious: reactor 1 to 4 are scrap
- Catlady's second link above says that the no 2 core has melted through the reactor pressure vessel and is now in the primary containment. If that is the case it would probably be, in this case, good as the fuel would be more spread out (can not get critical again) and cool down faster.

Posted by: b | Mar 30 2011 6:55 utc | 28

- They are "considering" to use a tanker to store the radioactive water (did I suggest barges?)

I have an idea for storage. How about turning the Gulf of Mexico into a liquid Yucca Mountain? Now that's it's basically befouled from the massive leak this past summer for generations to come, we might as well utilize it to dispose of all the earth's contaminants. All those who don't believe radioactivity and oil mixed with their food is unhealthy and life-threatening can continue to consume the seafood from the GOM at their own risk and peril....however, they will not be eligible for Federal, State or local assistance if and when they and their children start growing hands out of their foreheads and start sprouting tails.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 30 2011 11:26 utc | 29

- The chief of TEPCO, not seen in the public for some time, has now been hospitalized for hypertension etc.

This has brought me to tears. I feel such empathy for this guy. Can we get the address of the hospital and send him a get well present. I have an idea. Maybe we could all chip in and send him one of these.

http://www.gurus2cart.com/wj/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/public-execution-executioner-behead.jpg

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 30 2011 12:18 utc | 30

Love that Dirty Water......

http://enenews.com/radioactive-iodine-131-in-pennsylvania-rainwater-sample-3300-above-federal-drinking-water-standard

Radioactive Iodine-131 in Pennsylvania rainwater sample is 3300% above federal drinking water standard

… The [Iodine-131] numbers reported in the rainwater samples in Pennsylvania range from 40-100 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Although these are levels above the background levels historically reported in these areas, they are still about 25 times below the level that would be of concern. The federal drinking water standard for Iodine-131 is three pCi/L. …

On Friday, rainwater samples were taken in Harrisburg, where levels were 41 pCi/L and at nuclear power plants at TMI and Limerick, where levels were 90 to 100 pCi/L.

Corbett emphasized that the drinking water is safe and there is no cause for health concerns. …

“Rainwater is not typically directly consumed,” Corbett said. “However, people might get alarmed by making what would be an inappropriate connection from rainwater to drinking water. By testing the drinking water, we can assure people that the water is safe.” …

Everything is okay and under control. Please, move along and go about your business of sucking up to the boss, watching T.V., text messaging, talking on your cell phone about nonsense and consuming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5apEctKwiD8

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 30 2011 15:04 utc | 31

Radioactive Iodine-131 in Pennsylvania rainwater sample is 3300% above federal drinking water standard

Not to worry EPA plans to boost radioactivity safety limits up to 100,000-fold increase

Standard operating procedure since the Bush years. Break a law? Change it retroactively! Pass accepted and standardized dangerous radioactive levels? No problem ! Change the levels to benefit the industry. Sky rocketing Summer Spring time Petrol prices got you down? No worries we'll decrease food net weight and quantity while charging the same or more at the grocery. We're watching your waistline and health!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 30 2011 15:35 utc | 32

Too primitive for my sensibilities MoBa. I'd prefer the guillotine only with a more wide spread use for the CEO's of the most nefarious of the kleptocratic and criminal corporations; oh, and a few government heads as well. Perhaps r'giap could enlighten us as to this measure's effectiveness in centuries past in bringing about needed changes.

Actually and more seriously I'd be happy to see laws of accountability and let the justice system prevail. I know, wishful thinking. It's probably already too late to save this species from extinction anyway.

Thanks for the "Downwind" link catlady. I'd been looking for exactly the information I found in that article.

Posted by: juannie | Mar 30 2011 16:49 utc | 33

I knew this crisis in Japan would create yet another generation of Hibakusha....and they may not just be Japanese when it's all said and done. One day soon, we may all be Hibakusha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMB3Kpxt3Jo

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8416302/Japan-nuclear-crisis-evacuees-turned-away-from-shelters.html

Japan nuclear crisis: evacuees turned away from shelters Hundreds of people evacuated from towns and villages close to the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant are being turned away by medical institutions and emergency shelters as fears of radioactive contagion catch on.

Hospitals and temporary refuges are demanding that evacuees provide them with certificates confirming that they have not been exposed to radiation before they are admitted.

What will NPR say about the Japanese culture now, as though the Japanese people are monolithic. For weeks now they have been quick to point out how calm and restrained the Japanese have been throughout this crisis. Of course, this was meant to juxtapose with those brown-skinned ingrates in New Orleans who didn't take their plight on the chops with dignity. But here, we have evidence that all is not as it seems in the House of The Rising Sun.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 30 2011 17:34 utc | 34

juannie @33, you've convinced me. But first, let's start with this guy before we move to Mr. TEPCO.

http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07Py9Wh8C0bLg/610x.jpg

Uncle @32, yes, yes.....and in case I've forgotten..yes.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 30 2011 17:50 utc | 35

The concept of Taint is very deep in the human psyche. (cf treatment of hibakusha)

Pity we don't apply it to the concept of money and profit, which seem to taint everything that touches them.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 30 2011 17:55 utc | 36

@catlady thanks for the headsup on unit 2.

the wording of the headline and article was... well... this is what I said about it elsewhere (FS):

I notice interesting locutions in the article. The headline reads “Japan May Have Lost Race To Save Nuclear Reactor.” I don’t think this race is about saving the reactor; surely it’s about saving the millions — tens of millions? — of people living within plume-distance of the reactor (plume distance being at least 1000 miles downwind, maybe more).

Later in the article the quoted expert says on-record, “It’s not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it’s not going to be good news for the environment.” Again the locution is weirdly distancing. It’s not going to be good news for anyone anywhere near it, or for lots of people far away from it. Yes, it won’t be good for “the environment” (our shorthand for “everything that is not us”), but it also will be very bad for us. For humans. Not just for Japanese humans either.

Meanwhile the president of Tepco has gone missing… I would quite understand if he has chosen seppukku, but surely it should have been done semi-publicly, at least with witnesses. I have a feeling however that he is hiding in “an undisclosed location,” like many another coward when the chickens come home to roost.

Business Insider, our source for the Missing CEO story, complains not that he has disappeared just as his company and its obscene technology have put the lives of tens of millions at risk — no, he has disappeared just as “His company is in the midst of an existential crisis that may see it go bankrupt or nationalized.”

The writer further notes that “TEPCO shares have crashed hard for the second straight day as the odds grow that a nationalization will wipe out all the equity.”

Apparently this is the only type of meltdown that concerns the Business Insider readership. No mention of Unit 2, core on floor, or any other real-world consequences of Tepco’s profitable activities.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 30 2011 17:59 utc | 37

Dilution is the solution to pollution.

Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster: "The dilutional factor could not be better – there's no better place. If you deposit it on earth or in places where people live there is no dilutional effect. From a safety point of view the ocean is the safest place."

De, you've been writing about the toxicity of energy density over at Feral Scholar. I remember hearing the "dilution solution" quip years ago. Though dilution is one remedy for concentrated energy and its by-products, I'm trying to get a handle on the problems inherent in the distribution of various nasties. There seems to be this reductionist notion being handed to the public that the radioactive particles escaping Fukishima somehow disperse into a generalized low-level "background radiation" that won't present any significant danger to people, animals, plants.

Again, in this latest article from the Guardian, the economic impact is how the damage is being presented. Sigh.

Posted by: catlady | Mar 30 2011 18:18 utc | 38

But first, let's start with this guy before we move to Mr. TEPCO.

http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07Py9Wh8C0bLg/610x.jpg

Great MoBa! First good belly laugh I've gotten out of this deep shit. But Oh so pertinent!

Posted by: juannie | Mar 30 2011 19:18 utc | 39

The situation gets worse again with the evacuation area likely to be expanded to 40 km. And the management, be the govt politicians, bureaucrats or TEPCO management, isn't in the task yet to prioritize solving this nightmare rather than to hide it as much as possible. Hoping that at least they finally accept external aid from France, Germany or whatever ... or than some 'adult' takes over before what is still a very unlikely apocalyptic scenario (at least for Japan but I doubt the rest of the world is going to get unaffected if a non-trivial part of the third world economy becomes a nuclear wasteland) doesn't come truth by the accumulation of mishaps and attempts of looking to the other side and wait for the problems to solve by themselves.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 30 2011 21:02 utc | 40

@ juannie your link was slightly bent -- this might work better...

Off with his head

I suspect it's this blog s'ware which requires dbl quotes around href targets.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 30 2011 21:11 utc | 41

Thanks De. I just cut and pasted from Morocco Bama's # 35 post but didn't check the link in Preview which I normally do. My bad. I really don't like to clutter up with unworkable formatting. Anyway, your good link makes the point again. I appreciate your jumping in here at the Moon again. Your perspective adds a lot for me and, others I'm sure.

Posted by: juannie | Mar 30 2011 22:17 utc | 42

And, let us not forget, the Daini Complex still has problems also.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 31 2011 4:13 utc | 43

This is the kind of thing that makes my heart ache and my brain twitch:

Japanese elementary school starts in April. The commencement ceremonies are coming up. The national government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology (MEXT) is putting pressure on the Fukushima Prefectural education board to hold the ceremonies as scheduled. This is silent pressure bearing down from the national government on the prefecture. In these areas, the parents have self-evacuated about 90% of their elementary and pre-school age children. However, because of this national government’s directive to hold the commencement ceremonies on schedule, right now the parents are getting their children to come back and this is happening rapidly.

(from Green Action Japan which is keeping a Fukushima-watch web site updated daily. Can we spell "Potemkin Village"?

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 31 2011 4:18 utc | 44

The Chernobyl reactor had to be mostly neutralized before being permanently buried, which meant that 800,000 or so "liquidators" had to run into the plant, perform some menial task in the presence of boiling nuclear waste for a minute or two, and then run out. Most of them are now sick, dying or dead from radiation poisoning.

Perhaps burying Fukushima will be a simpler process, because of robots or other technological developments. Perhaps burying Fukushima will be a more complicated process, because it has a lot more waste lying around and four out-of-control reactors while Chernobyl had just one. I don't know. Either way, there is a moral problem that needs to be discussed.

Who will be the liquidators?

[...]

If someone has to die an agonizing, terrifying, nauseating, blistering, stinking, metastasizing death, who should be first guy to run into the Fukushima reactors with a bucket of wet cement?

I nominate Jeffrey Immelt.

Immelt is chairman and CEO of General Electric. General Electric designed all six of the faulty Fukushima reactors. General Electric built three of them. General Electric claimed it was safe to build these reactors next to the ocean in an earthquake zone. General Electric built 23 reactors in the United States exactly like the ones melting down right now in Japan. General Electric has made colossal profits promoting nuclear power in Japan and around the world. Jeffrey Immelt made $15.2 million last year.

[...]

GE ran the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, one of the most polluted places on the planet. GE has paved parking lots with nuclear waste. GE has released vast clouds of radiation on innocent, unwarned people in United States just to see what would happen. GE has done radiation experiments on the testes of prisoners without properly warning them. GE dumped 1.3 million pounds of PCBs into the Hudson River, making it poisonous for generations. GE has refused to clean up the PCBs in the Hudson and elsewhere. GE has lied repeatedly about the PCBs. GE is a serial polluter of ground water. GE takes enormous pride in paying no corporate taxes in the United States. GE has been fined many times for defrauding the the Defense Department. GE has been fined many times for design flaws and safety violations at its nuclear plants in the United States. GE has shipped most of its operations overseas so it can pay workers less and get fined less. GE owns a big chunk of NBC and MSNBC, which has been covering Japan less and less as the meltdown gets worse and worse. GE sees to it that all those NBC Dateline true crime documentaries don't inform anyone about GE crimes. And last, but far from least, GE launched the political career of Ronald Reagan.

--Who Will Be The Liquidators?

Were there really 800.000 liquidators at Chernobyl?

Wikipedia thinks so.

In April 1994, a commemoration text from the Ukrainian embassy in Belgium counted 25,000 dead among the liquidators since 1986. According to Georgy Lepnin, a Belarusian physician who worked on reactor #4, "approximately 100,000 liquidators are now dead", of a total number of one million workers. According to Vyacheslav Grishin of the Chernobyl Union, the main organization of liquidators, "25,000 of the Russian liquidators are dead and 70,000 disabled, about the same in Ukraine, and 10,000 dead in Belarus and 25,000 disabled", which makes a total of 60,000 dead (10% of the 600 000, liquidators) and 165,000 disabled.[2]

And yet the pro-nuke cheerleaders keep telling us that Chernobyl wasn't so bad.. This web page is worth a read if you enjoy watching your BS-o-meter peg. The official story is that Chernobyl was " the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power where radiation-related fatalities occurred" -- yeah, tell that to the various teams investigating the long term consequences of TMI -- and goes out of its way to assure us that it was all because of "a flawed Soviet reactor design coupled with serious mistakes made by the plant operators. It was a direct consequence of Cold War isolation and the resulting lack of any safety culture."

So nothing like it could possibly happen in a modern, non-Communist, high-tech culture with highly educated operators, a proper Western-designed reactor, and a strong culture of obedience and rule-observance... like, for example, Japan?

Their tally of Chernobyl-related deaths peters out at a couple of hundred. But then, this is a nuclear cheerleader site.

Other estimates vary wildly from about 4,000 to 500,000 to just short of a million. There appears to be no strong consensus. The Soviet medical apparatus was falling apart along with the rest of the state; some European countries took monitoring and sampling seriously and some did not; health effects from radiation exposure sometimes take years to manifest.... and so on.

This is perhaps the most disturbing thing about Fukushima, and the nuke industry in general: that the epidemiology required to make accurate assessments of the damage done to human (let alone other species') health is beyond our present resources and/or political will. Therefore it will not be done, or be done in a slipshod optimistic way. We will never know exactly how much premature mortality was/will be inflicted by the radiation release. Its the perfect crime -- deniable mass murder -- diffuse, slow, and untraceable. GMO drift can at least be documented with adequate technology, but the hot particles from a core melt are not conveniently stamped "Property of Tepco", nor do they leave a fingerprint on the cells whose DNA they may be disrupting for decades to come.

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 31 2011 6:06 utc | 45

Fukushima Workers Face Risk of Uncontrolled Reactions

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency warned that a potential uncontrolled chain reaction at Japan’s crippled Fukushima atomic power plant could cause further radiation leaks and increase the risk to workers.

A partial meltdown of fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing the isolated reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a press conference in Vienna.

Nuclear experts call these reactions “localized criticality.” They consist of a burst of heat, radiation and sometimes an “ethereal blue flash,” according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory website. Twenty-one workers worldwide have been killed by “criticality accidents” since 1945, the site said.

See also at the Arms Control Wonk: Localized Criticalities at Fukushima?

The amount of shortlived (8 days half time) I-131 in seawater has increased since yesterday. Some fission reaction is likely to continue in one or more of the reactors.

Posted by: b | Mar 31 2011 6:25 utc | 46

Evacuation Radius Too Small

Today the IAEA has finally confirmed what some analysts have suspected for days: that the concentration per area of long-lived cesium-137 (Cs-137) is extremely high as far as tens of kilometers from the release site at Fukushima Dai-Ichi, and in fact would trigger compulsory evacuation under IAEA guidelines. The IAEA is reporting that measured soil concentrations of Cs-137 as far away as Iitate Village, 40 kilometers northwest of Fukushima-Dai-Ichi, correspond to deposition levels of up to 3.7 megabecquerels per square meter (MBq/sq. m). This is far higher than previous IAEA reports of values of Cs-137 deposition, and comparable to the total beta-gamma measurements reported previously by IAEA and mentioned on this blog. This should be compared with the deposition level that triggered compulsory relocation in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident: the level set in 1990 by the Soviet Union was 1.48 MBq/sq. m.

And while we're all feeling cheerful:

Japan’s damaged nuclear plant may be in danger of emitting sudden bursts of heat and radiation, undermining efforts to cool the reactors and contain fallout.

The potential for limited, uncontrolled chain reactions, voiced yesterday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, is among the phenomena that might occur, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo today. The IAEA "emphasized that the nuclear reactors won’t explode," he said.

Three workers at a separate Japanese plant received high doses of radiation in 1999 from a similar nuclear reaction, known as ‘criticality.’ Two of them died within seven months.

[...]

Nuclear experts call such reactions "localized criticality." They consist of a burst of heat, radiation and sometimes an "ethereal blue flash," according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Los Alamos National Laboratory website. Twenty-one workers worldwide have been killed by “criticality accidents” since 1945, the site said.

The IAEA acknowledged "they don’t have clear signs that show such a phenomenon is happening," Edano said.

Radioactive chlorine found March 25 in the No. 1 turbine building suggests chain reactions continued after the reactor shut down, physicist Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, wrote in a March 28 paper. Radioactive chlorine has a half-life of 37 minutes, according to the report.

[...]

Dismantling the plant and decontaminating the site may take 30 years and cost Tokyo Electric more than 1 trillion yen ($12 billion), engineers and analysts said. The government hasn’t ruled out pouring concrete over the whole facility as one way to shut it down, Edano said.

Dumping concrete on the plant would serve a second purpose: it would trap contaminated water, said Tony Roulstone, an atomic engineer who directs the University of Cambridge’s masters program in nuclear energy.

“They need to immobilize this water and they need something to soak it up,” he said. “You don’t want to create another hazard, but you need to get it away from the reactors.”

The process will take longer than the 12 years needed to decommission the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania following a partial meltdown in 1979, said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University.

Bloomberg

Remind me again why this technology is considered profitable or even rational?

Posted by: DeAnander | Mar 31 2011 6:27 utc | 47

2 injured by bomb at Swiss nuclear industry office

"The explosion happened shortly after 8 a.m. (0600GMT) as staff were opening the morning's post in the fourth-floor office of Swissnuclear, said police spokeswoman Thalia Schweizer."

What the fuck!?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 31 2011 11:58 utc | 48

DeAnander @44, that's another page out of the Soviet playbook. The page they need to have taken from the Soviet playbook, containment, is not being taken. Go figure.

It was only two weeks after the explosion, when radiation releases had dramatically tailed off, that the first Soviet official gave a fully frank account.

Liquidators clearing radioactive rubbish in 1986
Men were used to clear radioactive debris, when machines failed
"Until now the possibility of a catastrophe really did exist: A great quantity of fuel and graphite of the reactor was in an incandescent state," said nuclear physicist Yevgeny Velikhov.

No-one was left more in the dark than the Soviet citizens most closely affected. At first, life continued as normal in Pripyat, the model town built to house power station staff and their families, just two kilometres (one mile) from the Chernobyl plant.

Most people spent the Saturday outside, enjoying the unusually warm spring weather. Sixteen weddings took place.

The town was only evacuated 36 hours after the accident, while the evacuation of nearby villages took several more days.

Meanwhile in Kiev, citizens went ahead with their May Day parade, five days after the accident, completely unaware of the radiation bearing down on them.

At least the Soviets evacuated Chernobyl and Pripyat, which is likened to the Fukushima Prefecture.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 31 2011 12:16 utc | 49

I think Cliff High (half past human) has nailed this mess in his latest post:

...a last point on this subject. It must be addressed. Violence. It is the last resort of the rational mind, and the first trap of the TPTB. However, it is still a legitimate tactic for change. And knowing this the ancient order of TPTB used to have a building in which they had people, like you and me, fight and kill each other for the amusement of TPTB, but also to eliminate the threat of violence to themselves by redirecting it. This building had a motto incised over its door. This motto was 'we who are about to die, salute you'. Well.....times have changed....can some one please go to that arch over the gladiator entrance to the Coliseum in Rome, and rewrite it so that it reads.....

“To TPTB, if it gets this far, we who are dying are going to gut you like fish....”

Not a happy piece, but probably true. Read it and weep.

Posted by: DaveS | Mar 31 2011 12:17 utc | 50

DeAnander @47, any intelligent person can only come to the conclusion that Science doesn't know all the possibilities and permutations of this, and yet so many within the scientific establishment talk so confidently about the parameters. It is clear to me that they have no clue what the parameters are.....nor does it seem that they want to know. It goes back to my post @20.....the theoretical and perceptual models are breaking down and no longer adequate.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 31 2011 12:22 utc | 51

DeAnander, yes, I agree, Jeffrey Pattymelt (and his Patty really will melt as he approaches those reactors) should be the first to go, followed closely by that vampiric pig, Jack Welsh (I know it's Welch, but I think Welsh serves him better).

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 31 2011 12:28 utc | 52

I think what we have is a global case of Normalcy Bias.

Here's an appropriate source that discusses it.

http://howtosplitanatom.com/university/normalcy-bias/

The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 31 2011 12:45 utc | 53

Dave, that link was a bit out there, but it was sprinkled with some salient points that have merit.....specifically, the Shunning. I practice this fervently in my life everyday, and I am guiding my children in the use of it, as well. Respect should always be reciprocal. When first encountering an individual, whomever it may be and regardless of their perceived status, extend the common courtesy of consideration and respect giving them the benefit of the doubt until an assessment can be reached after a threshold of interaction has been reached with them. If, once that threshold of interaction has been reached, the individual has proven themselves to not be interested in reciprocal, mutual respect, but instead dismisses you and marginalizes you, and attempts to use their perceived status to dominate you, then you should engage the Shunning.

It's very similar to what Jesus preached. I'm not being religious here...in fact, I'm a strong Agnostic, but this is about tactics when confronting powerful forces. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:38-42

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

To turn a left cheek to someone of status in that era, was a grave insult, similar to shooting them the bird, or sneering at them. It was an intentional act of irreverence and disrespect. It told the aggressor that "you can taunt me, insult me, beat me, or kill me, but you will never have me nor my respect...I will not bow down to you and respect you."

Also, Jews of the era wore only two garments. Therefore, if you had been sued for one of them and gave also the second, what would you be wearing? In other words, Jesus was saying to strip naked, an insult more to the one causing the nakedness than the person being naked.

Romans were allowed to force civilians to carry their gear when on the march, but only for one mile. Forcing the same civilian to carry the gear any further would result in disciplinary action. So how do you think the Roman would feel when at the end of one mile he goes to retrieve his pack and this Jew pleasantly offers to get him in trouble by carrying it another mile. That would be completely not what he was expecting, and it breaks the oppressor-victim paradigm.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 31 2011 13:41 utc | 54

@ Uncle Scam at 48.

In CH we have had a lot of bomb packets (and more but hush), mostly against bankers, in the past 2 years. (Serious, but the dead or maimed children are not given media space. The kidnap and supposed murder of cute blond twins by crazy father takes up that space.) This one against ‘nuclear industry’ is new.

All of these are ‘prototypical’ terrorist attacks. They are only gingerly reported, just in snippets, as the perpetrators are, it is presumed, rightly, white, established, Swiss, and for sure from the detested right or left political fringe.

All serious studies of terrorism show that 90 plus % (to 99) terror attacks are from that quarter, world wide. The actions are not related to, or carried out by, Islamists, Muslims, Al Quaida, Iran, etc.

Bankers are smart, they know that making big noise about being victims will only provoke copy cats as well as make them seem weak, lacrimose, taking a sheet out of the Israel book, not strong, not trustworthy, not in control. So the news is suppressed, as it is for the Nuclear Industry.

Imagine if a cute girl Israeli child was burned to death by a letter bomb? World head lines! TV time!

The daughter of a banker in CH?

A quiet funeral.

The Swiss police has publicly stated that they cannot identify / apprehend such miscreants. (Not ‘terrorists.’)

note- actually the last child did not die, afaik, she is badly burnt, i am not up, as there is not much news

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 31 2011 14:29 utc | 55

Groundwater at nuclear plant 'highly' radiation-contaminated: TEPCO

More signs of serious radiation contamination in and near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were detected Thursday, with the latest data finding groundwater containing radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold and the concentration of radioactive iodine-131 in nearby seawater rising to the highest level yet.
...
The contaminated groundwater was found from around the No. 1 reactor's turbine building, although the radiation level of groundwater is usually so low that it cannot be measured.
...
The No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors at the plant are believed to have suffered damage to their cores, possibly releasing radioactive substances, while the fuel rods of the No. 4 reactor kept in a spent fuel pool are also believed to have been exposed at one point, as the reactors lost cooling functions after the March 11 quake and tsunami.

The high levels of short lived isotopes point to critical nuclear fission happening after the reactor shut down. My most likely candidate for this is the spend fuel pool in no 4 which was neglected in the first days and likely boiled dry with fuel melting and possible criticallity. The no 2 core is the second possible candidate. Pressure measurements point to containment breach at 2 and 3 while no 1 is barely holding for now. They should stop their water sports of pissing on the reactors. Water makes recriticallity more likely.

(Explanation: High speed neutrons emitted by one atom during radioactive decay do not split other atoms. They do not create a chain reactions. They have to be slowed down for that effect by a moderator. Water is a moderator. Water in a undefined configuration of fuel can lead to spontaneous criticallity (i.e. chain reaction) in pockets of fuel. Then the fuel heats up, the water steams away and the criticallity stops until new water is introduced to the pocket.)

They should use a sand/concrete/boron/lead slurry which would stop further leaks and suppress further reactions.

Posted by: b | Mar 31 2011 18:22 utc | 56

a little darker, every day

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 31 2011 18:29 utc | 57

b @56

They should stop their water sports of pissing on the reactors [...] Water in a undefined configuration of fuel can lead to [local] criticality

Isn't it a U-turn from what has been said until now (you included)? After all, there has been large consensus that core meltdown (bringing the fuel in an "undefined configuration") occurred fairly soon, but everybody called for water to cool down the fuel as the no. 1 (or unique) emergency measure.

If you can "pour a sand/concrete/boron/lead slurry" now, you could have done it before, right?

And the heating is not a problem anymore? Or would you then pour water over that slurry?

With hind sight, what do you think Tepco should have done in the first 8 hours (when the emergency generators were still on) and 24 hours (before the cooling water evaporated), assuming it could have been done in the post-earthquake/tsunami context?

I must be abusing your patience with my questions and my evident incapacity to reach conclusions by myself given all that's been said and written over Fukushima; on the other hand, since your self-assigned mission is to clarify for the uninitiated the most obscure issues ...

Posted by: claudio | Mar 31 2011 23:20 utc | 58

For all those pushing for Thorium Fuel Nuclear because they think it is safer, more efficient and cheaper, think again. Here's an excellent article putting that myth to reast.

http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/thorium2009factsheet.pdf

Thorium Fuel: No Panacea for Nuclear Power

Thorium “fuel” has been proposed as an alternative to uranium fuel in nuclear reactors.
There are not “thorium reactors,” but rather proposals to use thorium as a “fuel” in
different types of reactors, including existing light‐water reactors and various fast breeder
reactor designs.

Thorium, which refers to thorium‐232, is a radioactive metal that is about three times more
abundant than uranium in the natural environment. Large known deposits are in Australia,
India, and Norway. Some of the largest reserves are found in Idaho in the U.S. The primary
U.S. company advocating for thorium fuel is Thorium Power (www.thoriumpower.com).
Contrary to the claims made or implied by thorium proponents, however, thorium doesn’t
solve the proliferation, waste, safety, or cost problems of nuclear power, and it still faces
major technical hurdles for commercialization.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 1 2011 0:57 utc | 59

I am getting the uncomfortable but all too credible feeling that the headline I objected to --"Japanese May Have Lost Fight to Save Nuclear Reactor" -- was all too accurate. I begin to suspect that TEPCO has, in fact, been trying to save their reactors rather than to save the people living nearby and downwind -- they've been trying to do non-destructive things to cool the piles and waste rod storage, hoping against hope to re-occupy and rehabilitate the wrecked plants. Maybe they should have started sarcophagising the plants immediately, following a mass evacuation? I get the sense that -- as one might expect from human nature -- they could not bear to write off such a huge investment, or to accept such a humiliating loss and defeat. Did they tell themselves they could get control of the situation and salvage the installation, rather than face 30 years and $12B in cleanup costs?

In a Wednesday briefing in Vienna the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that one of its two teams measuring radiation levels in Japan had been testing soil samples from 18 March to 26 March taken at distances of 25 to 58 kilometers from the Dai-1 plant. The nuclear watchdog said that measurements of iodine-131 and cesium-137 indicated “that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village. We advised the (Japan) counterpart to carefully assess the situation.” Iitate village is about 40 km from the plant and so lies well outside the 20 km evacuation zone. footnote

It's not a good sign, the "exclusion zone" (a new euphemism for our time) being steadily enlarged.

Giving Up:

Japan said Wednesday it is to decommission reactors at its disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and overhaul nuclear safety procedures after admitting serious failings in its battle to contain dangerous levels of radiation.

Power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) -- whose president Masataka Shimizu has been hospitalized with high blood pressure and dizziness -- said the shutdown of four damaged reactors was inevitable.

Japan's Trade Ministry, responsible for the safety of the country's expanding nuclear energy program, said in a statement that tougher new regulations would be drafted to in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the world's worst atomic crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.

Oh goody, let's draft some tough new regulations that will somehow make the inherent fragility, opacity, authoritarianism and lethality of the technology just go away.

TEPCO President replaced -- Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata is to replace President Masataka Shimizu who is stepping down "for health reasons." For some reason -- perhaps too literary an upbringing, perhaps trying to turn this horror into a story whose dramatic conventions I can understand -- I am imagining Shimizu as a kind of nuclear Captain Queeg, monomaniacally insisting that the plant must be saved, shouting down anyone who tried to press for more preventive evacuations and immediate sarcophagisation. My literary mind imagines Shimizu finally breaking down as he realises how many lives his obstinacy has cost, and a worn, frantic and guilt-ridden first officer stepping up quickly to save as many lives as he can. It would make a great Kurosawa movie. We'll never know what was said at the executive meetings. Was Shimizu forcibly removed, sedated, and hospitalised for the greater good? or did he just fold under the shock and horror (and guilt) of it all?

Humans were never wired to deal with culpability and guilt of this magnitude...

BTW, I also find myself wondering how long was Fukushima nuclear installation active, what did it cost to build and how many gigawatt/hrs did it generate in its operational lifetime? When we add build cost to $12B of cleanup costs (without even factoring in liability for possibly tens of thousands of premature deaths, the social cost of genetic damage to one or more generations, etc), did it generate "enough" energy to justify the price tag? How many $$ per KWH? How many lives per GWH?

The Gift That Keeps On Giving:

Water is still being poured into the damaged reactors to cool melting fuel rods.

But one expert says the radiation leaks will be ongoing and it could take 50 to 100 years before the nuclear fuel rods have completely cooled and been removed. [...]

Both experts agree capping the damaged reactors with concrete is not an option.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal says it has obtained disaster-readiness plans which show the facility only had one satellite phone and a single stretcher in case of an accident.

The blueprints also provided no detail about the possibility of using firefighters from Tokyo or national troops - both of which have been part of the response to the Fukushima crisis - to deal with any disaster.

Levels of radioactive iodine-131 in the Pacific off the plant have been recorded at a new high of 4,385 times the legal limit.

In 2002, the plant's operator TEPCO admitted to falsifying safety reports, leading to all of its 17 boiling water reactors being shut down for inspection.

TEPCO has already vowed to dismantle the four reactors at the centre of the world's worst atomic accident in 25 years, but now Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan says the Fukushima plant must be scrapped.

"Dismantle" is a small word for a very, very long and dangerous project.

Some "readiness plan" eh? Talk about "success-oriented engineering."

And now we're back to the $64M question. *Who will be the liquidators?*

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 1 2011 5:34 utc | 60

BTW I don't have time (or anti-nausea pills) enough to track this one down, but for the brave-hearted infosquirrels out there, here's a crumb trail to follow:

PRINCETON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nuclear Innovation North America LLC (NINA), the nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG) and Toshiba Corporation, has reached an agreement with The Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO) to partner in the two new nuclear units at the South Texas Project (STP).

TEPCO is connected, in other words, to the N American nuke mafia (but of course, they are all transnationals now). This S Texas deal was, I believe, contingent on NRG Corp getting a government handout in the form of guaranteed insurance, or something like that? Anyway, I'm tired of thinking about these hi-tech hoods. Someone else can run with this if they want.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 1 2011 5:40 utc | 61

Oh gawd, I'm obsessed. I just can't stop.

Obviously I agree with this writer (Josh Frank) that Monbiot is wrong, wrong, wrong, and will be eating crow RSN. But this fascinating tidbit caught my eye. Pay attention, folks.

The New York Academy of Sciences in 2010 released the most significant and vital English language report on the deaths and environmental devastation caused by Chernobyl. After pouring through thousands of reports and studies conducted in Eastern Europe and Russia, the Academy concluded that nearly one million people have died as a result of radiation exposure.

Dr. Janette D. Sherman, who edited the volume, explained the discrepancy between the UN's assessment and the Academy's regarding Chernobyl, "[The UN] released a report ... and they only included about 350 articles available in the English language, but [the New York Academy of Sciences] looked at well over 5,000 articles ... by people who were there and saw what was going on. We are talking about medical doctors, scientists, veterinarians, epidemiologists, who saw what was happening when people in their communities were getting sick and dying."

In the Academy's book that includes the report, titled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, they argue that the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reports to the UN, formed an agreement in 1959 which states one will not release a report without the agreement of the other.

"This is like having Dracula guard the Blood Bank," attests Dr. Sherman, "because [the World Health Organization] is beholden to IAEA before they can release a report."

Additionally, the IAEA was set up to promote nuclear power, so any evidence that damages its credibility directly challenges the IAEA's intentions. In fact massive protests have taken place in Geneva in an effort to stop this agreement, which is still in place.

WHO cannot release a public health report w/o it being vetted and approved by IAEA???

Oh, that's just dandy.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 1 2011 5:48 utc | 62

Re 62

Has this been posted here yet?

Ralph Nader questions a Russian nuclear scientist on this topic.

(Hope the link works, am having trouble with the preview facility erasing the post)

Glad you are back,b.

Posted by: billgalt | Apr 1 2011 11:27 utc | 63

the New York Times has dedicated a page, with regular updates, to Status of the Nuclear Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/16/world/asia/reactors-status.html

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Apr 1 2011 11:55 utc | 64

Re 62

Has this been posted here yet?
Ralph Nader questions a Russian nuclear scientist on this topic.

(Hope the link works, am having trouble with the preview facility erasing the post)

Glad you are back,b.

Posted by: billgalt | Apr 1 2011 13:36 utc | 65

What's most interesting about this, is that 25 years have passed since Chernobyl, many generations technologically speaking, and the only option is the Chenobyl remedy which really was nothing more than a slap-dashed, improvised throw the kitchen sink at the son-of-bitch and hope it works solution. I guess "interesting" isn't the word. Completely predictable is more appropriate.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Apr 1 2011 13:58 utc | 66

Status Update:

- They are still trying to get the contaminated water out of the basements to restart a cooling cycle. (I regard this useless now. The equipment in the basement is unlikely to work or to be reparable.)

- Tepco has done two bad things in the last 24 hours.
--They let workers work without a dosimeter as they did not have enough available. So only the group leader was given on. Totally irresponsible as radioactivity can be, especially after an explosion, much higher only a few meters away from where one is measuring.
--The screwed up their "10,000 times than allowed in groundwater" measurement. Because some software parameters were used the wrong way, the isotope numbers were wrong.

- Tepco has bought a big barge with 18,000 tons capacity that will be used to store radioactive water. (Do they read this blog?)
- Tepco also bought 6 additional concrete pumps. Two 70 meter pumps will be taken from operators in the U.S. and four brand 64 meter pumps are coming via a big Antonov plane directly form the factory in Germany.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 15:54 utc | 67

@claudio b @56

" They should stop their water sports of pissing on the reactors [...] Water in a undefined configuration of fuel can lead to [local] criticality"

Isn't it a U-turn from what has been said until now (you included)?

I wrote on March 19:

A heavy slurry of sand, boron and water must be put into the pond. This would shield the environment from radiation and likely prevent any fission. Drying slurry would probably even seal some of the holes in the pond. Several hundred tons would be needed.

After all, there has been large consensus that core meltdown (bringing the fuel in an "undefined configuration") occurred fairly soon, but everybody called for water to cool down the fuel as the no. 1 (or unique) emergency measure.

There was no time to get anything but water in the early days. By now one could and should have everything that is needed and possible. Water is not the long time solution.

If you can "pour a sand/concrete/boron/lead slurry" now, you could have done it before, right?

If one had ordered the stuff in time ...

And the heating is not a problem anymore? Or would you then pour water over that slurry?

I would use water for additional cooling. Boron to suppress fission, lead to block the radiation, cement, sand and water to seal the holes where the mess is currently escaping.

With hind sight, what do you think Tepco should have done in the first 8 hours (when the emergency generators were still on) and 24 hours (before the cooling water evaporated), assuming it could have been done in the post-earthquake/tsunami context?

Bring in new emergency generators by helicopter with the correct plugs.

I must be abusing your patience with my questions and my evident incapacity to reach conclusions by myself given all that's been said and written over Fukushima; on the other hand, since your self-assigned mission is to clarify for the uninitiated the most obscure issues ...

Keep asking ...

By the way - no one will ever pull the fueling rods from this reactor. It will need 10 years before for the radiation is low enough to even come near to the core. And the rods are by now melted together with a lot of other nasty stuff and formed a highly radioactive clump of corium. That will stay in place for another hundred or two hundred years.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 16:04 utc | 68

Status Update - Additional points

- They are mulling about putting nitrogen into the primary containment reactors. This is usually done to prevent oxygen from coming in. As the reactors still produce hydrogen any oxygen in the reactor could lead to additional powerful hydrogen explosions. (This wreaked the no 2 torus and primary containment.)

- FOCUS: Several months may be needed to cool down crippled Fukushima reactors Make that years or even decades ...

(File this under: They steal my ideas)

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of nuclear safety, suggested Thursday the idea of recycling the stagnant water, saying, ''I wonder if we can move water (into the reactor) to circulate it for cooling down.'' Whether it is a feasible idea remains unknown.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 16:20 utc | 69

b,

Is this guy right?

A 100-year battle awaits Fukushima while suicide workers are needed to keep up the rescue efforts

HERE

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 1 2011 16:26 utc | 70

@de #60:

"I begin to suspect that TEPCO has, in fact, been trying to save their reactors rather than to save the people living nearby and downwind -- they've been trying to do non-destructive things to cool the piles and waste rod storage, hoping against hope to re-occupy and rehabilitate the wrecked plants. Maybe they should have started sarcophagising the plants immediately, following a mass evacuation?"

While I see much evidence of human and design error and deceit, I see no evidence of to support your suspicions.

The units were trash the minute sea water was injected. This was done on the 12th for Unit 1, 14th for #2, date unclear for #3. Fuel Pools between 22nd and 25th.

Chernobyl exploded and lost all vessel integrity before it was sarcophagized. The effort underway at present is to get decay heat under control. To have sarcophagized prematurely would have risked a worse explosion and release of vastly more radioactivity in the process.

Finding and isolating groundwater contamination is now the top priority, something that would have been rendered impossible by dumping concrete all over the place.

They are attempting to mitigate the spread of particulate radiation by spraying a dampening resin around the site.

Clearly, this is unknown territory and the situation remains highly unstable.

Posted by: Malooga | Apr 1 2011 16:48 utc | 71

b, you're invaluable

Posted by: claudio | Apr 1 2011 17:17 utc | 72

ISIS has Preliminary Assessment of Accident Sequences and Potential Atmospheric Radiation Releases

It fits the to the analysis of the German GRS which also had a writeup on the radiation spikes and their probable causes.

Conclusion: Total emitted radiation through the spikes (from explosions etc) was much higher than the Tepco monitors at the plant showed. This explains why the IAEA has found high radiation 30 miles away from the plant.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 17:21 utc | 73

#malooga -- well, that in a way is a relief. frantic, heartfelt incompetence is frightening enough, but less awful than pig-headed investment trap behaviour. I'd rather believe the former.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 1 2011 17:43 utc | 74

@Joseph - no the guy isn't right.

Cooling in three mile island before first access (by a robot) to the core took 10 years or so. Also water will not be the longer term (more than two month) solution. Filling the reactor vessel and primary containment (the bulb) plus the torus with slurry (boron/sand/lead) similar to the one used in Chernobyl will be enough to "cool" the reactor. The decay heat will just heat up the whole pile and the building will be the big cooling element. The walls will become hot but should hold.

@Malooga - While I see much evidence of human and design error and deceit, I see no evidence of to support your suspicions.

There was an NYT piece about this. Tepco delayed seawater injection because it feared the costs. This let the reactors run dry and led to the core meltdown.

The units were trash the minute sea water was injected.

Not necessarily. If the cores would have stabilized seawater would have been nasty and expensive to cleanup/repair but it would probably have been doable.

Chernobyl exploded and lost all vessel integrity before it was sarcophagized. The effort underway at present is to get decay heat under control. To have sarcophagized prematurely would have risked a worse explosion and release of vastly more radioactivity in the process.

Reactor 2 and 3 have lost their vessel integrity. Their pressure is down to atmospheric pressure. No 1 still has vessel integrity but the pressure is still much too high and it may eventually weaken from the heat and go boom. Opening it up may eventually even be the right things to do.

Also the junk spent fuel ponds, all four of them, can and should be buried by now. There is not much use in cooling them - lots of boron to prevent criticallity, lots of lead to stop radiation getting away from them, lots of sand as heat transformer to the outside.

Finding and isolating groundwater contamination is now the top priority, something that would have been rendered impossible by dumping concrete all over the place.

The groundwater contamination can only be stopped if they stop putting water into the leaky reactors. Also most radioactive release is now due to the "feed and bleed" steam coming from the buildings plus the draining water. Stop watering and you radiation proliferation will immediately stop.

Clearly, this is unknown territory and the situation remains highly unstable.

The Sowjets did, after the first week, the right things in Chernobyl. Just take the same steps. But I agree the situation is still highly unstable (no 1 especially) but they are also not doing all the right things to stabilize it.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 17:46 utc | 75

@Malooga - the "Tepco delayed for cost" story in the WSJ: Bid to 'Protect Assets' Slowed Reactor Fight

Tepco was reluctant to use seawater because it worried about hurting its long-term investment in the complex, say people involved with the efforts. Seawater, which can render a nuclear reactor permanently inoperable, now is at the center of efforts to keep the plant under control.

Tepco "hesitated because it tried to protect its assets," said Akira Omoto, a former Tepco executive and a member of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, an official advisory body involved in the effort to tame the plant.

That delay eventually led to the multiple core melt down. That was much more expensive that the costly, if ever, repair after using seawater.

Posted by: b | Apr 1 2011 17:59 utc | 76

@b damn, you didn't give me many minutes to feel a little better about human nature...

"Hesitated because it tried to protect its assets" -- I think of all the nature docos I've seen where some hapless critter wrestles just a few seconds too long with that tasty morsel it really, really wants to eat -- just long enough for the fast predator to pounce.

Except that in this case the pounce is the slow violence of morbidity, premature mortality, the ruination of productive farmland, the contamination of many species' gene pools, vandalism of the coastal ecosystem... all borne by a far wider population of victims than the greedy, cowardly "profit maximising" synthetic critter we call a "corporation."

I should have stopped reading at Malooga's post and enjoyed a few hours of feeling less inexpressibly, incandescently angry with TEPCO...

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 1 2011 18:58 utc | 77

b,

Thanks for the reply. I feel a little better about the situation now.

Posted by: Joseph | Apr 1 2011 22:16 utc | 78

so the soviets did right thing after a week, with no previous (maybe) disaster experience, and the japanese and their western advisers still don't get it after 3 weeks, plus the full knowledge of the Chernobyl experience?

maybe this whole Fukushima thing will become a commercial for some communist revival?

communism aside, I'd say that a private entity, responsible only to its stakeholders, cannot ever manage a national disaster

Tepco's Ceo "disappeared" probably because he understood he had no place there anymore - he'd suddenly be tapestry instead of the divinity he was a month ago; and not because he couldn't potentially be useful, at least for mobilizing Tepco's human resources, but because he just couldn't do the mental "context switch" required by the circumstances

corporations have mentally become foreign entities, for all practical purposes, nothing ties them to a territory, except the government's tax cuts, financial aid, etc

no backup of the backup generators? of course a corporation that thrives on nuclear energy will soon convince itself, deep down, that there will never really arise a need for them

Posted by: claudio | Apr 1 2011 23:42 utc | 79

(File this under: They steal my ideas)

yeah.....

i'm so sad...japan won't be the same for our lifetime....

Posted by: annie | Apr 2 2011 3:58 utc | 80

@annie.: And maybe not just Japan.

Checking the latest postings here at Energy News and it doesn't sound good. Elevated radioactive iodine levels in recent rainfall in California? injecting nitrogen into the smouldering reactors to prevent more hydrogen explosions? Experts opining that it will take years of continuous effort to keep the situation more or less under control? And now -- even as we blog -- the world's largest cement pump is headed for Japan.

7,000 miles by air in a big Russian cargo plane, the Antonov 225.

And this technology is supposed to *reduce* fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions...? I wonder how many gallons of irreplaceable fossil fuel have been burned so far to keep the choppers flying and the trucks moving and the pumps running and so on... around the clock...

I've been haunted all day by the death of Hisashi Tarukawa.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 2 2011 6:46 utc | 81

Update from Energy Bulletin: attempting to summarise what we know and don't know, to date.

The claim is made here that the situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi is getting worse with each passing day. Of course this claim is not going to be substantiated by any official TEPCO or government bulletin, which seem to be of the familiar "stay the course, we'll sort this out, trust us" flavour. I don't have any better sources; does anyone else have data to confirm or deny the claim?

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 2 2011 7:07 utc | 82

Odd...when the first bomb was invented, there were those among the inventors that worried it would set the whole atmosphere on fire and snuff out life in a short instant. This is such a slow event, I'm afraid many people will just forget it's happened after a few weeks or months. Tarukawa's death is a quick tragedy. I find myself contemplating all the mothers who must explain to their children why their body parts are so unlike that of their friends.

Explain to their children why they will not live to graduate high school.

Explain to their children why they can no longer enjoy ahi tuna.

Explain to their children why the meadows and forests contain silent, creeping death.

Explain to their children why they couldn't stop this from happening.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Apr 2 2011 8:05 utc | 83

Seawater interferes with cement hardening and curing.

Will its presence or the salts left behind after it evaporates compromise the sarcophagizing process?

Posted by: rjj | Apr 2 2011 8:12 utc | 84

Radiation likely from Japan found in Spokane milk

Lovely, just fucking lovely... Three hours from here. I can't tell you the uneasy and deep eerie feeling I had the other day while walking around in the gray dark rain, thinking I will never know whether this water has any "traces" in it and overwhelming feeling of complete powerlessness of it all; then the anger set in ...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Apr 2 2011 9:06 utc | 85

it is horrifically clear that the consequences of this extend far beyond japan..it is indeed the chronicle of a death foretold as Uncle $cam and many others in this thread before have posted nothing will be the same again and still no one is listening...if three mile island,chernobyl and more did not put doubt into the peoples minds about nuclear safety what will.
Below cut/paste from 'wikipedia'

"Nuclear power plant accidents
with multiple fatalities and/or more than US$100 million in property damage, 1952-2011

January 3, 1961 Idaho Falls, Idaho, US Explosion at SL-1, National Reactor Testing Station. An additional 1,100 Curies were released as fission products to the atmosphere, but due to the remoteness, most of it was recovered and buried.

October 5, 1966 Frenchtown Charter Township, Michigan, US Partial core meltdown of the Fermi 1 Reactor at the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Generating Station. No radiation leakage into the environment.

December 7, 1975 Greifswald, East Germany Electrical error causes fire in the main trough that destroys control lines and five main coolant pumps.

February 22, 1977 Jaslovské Bohunice, Czechoslovakia Severe corrosion of reactor and release of radioactivity into the plant area, necessitating total decommission.

March 28, 1979 Middletown, Pennsylvania, US Loss of coolant and partial core meltdown, see Three Mile Island accident and Three Mile Island accident health effects.

September 15, 1984 Athens, Alabama, US Safety violations, operator error, and design problems force six year outage at Browns Ferry Unit.

March 9, 1985 Athens, Alabama, US Instrumentation systems malfunction during startup, which led to suspension of operations at all three Browns Ferry Units.

April 11, 1986 Plymouth, Massachusetts, US Recurring equipment problems force emergency shutdown of Boston Edison’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

April 26, 1986 Pripyat, Ukraine Steam explosion and meltdown necessitating the evacuation of 300,000 people from Kiev and dispersing radioactive material across Europe.

May 4, 1986 Hamm-Uentrop, Germany Experimental THTR-300 reactor releases small amounts of fission products (0.1 GBq Co-60, Cs-137, Pa-233) to surrounding area.

March 31, 1987 Delta, Pennsylvania, US Peach Bottom units 2 and 3 shutdown due to cooling malfunctions and unexplained equipment problems.

December 19, 1987 Lycoming, New York, US Malfunctions force Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation to shut down Nine Mile Point Unit.

March 17, 1989 Lusby, Maryland, US Inspections at Calvert Cliff Units 1 and 2 reveal cracks at pressurized heater sleeves, forcing extended shutdowns.

February 20, 1996 Waterford, Connecticut, US Leaking valve forces shutdown Millstone Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2, multiple equipment failures found.

September 2, 1996 Crystal River, Florida, US Balance-of-plant equipment malfunction forces shutdown and extensive repairs at Crystal River Unit.

September 30, 1999 Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan Workers at the Tokaimura uranium processing facility added too many buckets of uranium directly into a precipitation tank, causing it to go critical, killing two, and exposing one more to radiation levels above permissible limits.

February 16, 2002 Oak Harbor, Ohio, US Severe corrosion of control rod forces 24-month outage of Davis-Besse reactor.

August 9, 2004 Fukui Prefecture, Japan Steam explosion at Mihama Nuclear Power Plant kills 5 workers and injures dozens more.

March 11, 2011 Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan Cooling failure in 4 reactors following an earthquake, tsunami and multiple fires and Hydrogen explosions at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant."

no one heeded words spoken decades ago...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f94j9WIWPQQ&feature=related

we are undone..the black waters of the tsunami may have receeded..but they have left behind horrors beyond our generation.

Posted by: noiseannoys | Apr 2 2011 12:44 utc | 86

one recurring defense of Tepco and the nuclear industry in general is that the earthquake/tsunami were of "unpredictable" force

but registration of earthquakes in Japan began about 80 years ago, which in geological terms is an insignificant time frame; it's like saying that because in a certain location it's a week that it doesn't rain, then the climate must be arid, and then describe tomorrow's rain as unpredictable, unprecedented, abnormal, etc

they knew they were on an active fault, and that should have been enough to warn them off

Posted by: claudio | Apr 2 2011 13:01 utc | 87

@noiseannoys - there were a few military reactors in the Soviet Union which ran away. They are missing in that list.

@claudio - registration of earthquakes in Japan began about 80 years ago

Not really - they had a similar 9.0 earth quake in the same area sometime around 800 a.d. and old documents attest to that. Frequent big earth quakes are known to happen and are documented in Japan for a long time.

When nuclear plants get constructed they are designed to survive a "design basis accident" which essentially an assumed "worst case" which is politically negotiated between the company and the regulator.

Of course there is always a chance that "beyond design basis accident" can happen. That chance may seem small enough to take the risk.

Fukushima is simply "beyond design base". That base will now be changed for Japanese reactors and some updates will be made for the existing plants. But that will not help against other "beyond design basis accident" (hit by airplane etc.) which will still have a chance to happen and thereby one day will happen.

@DeA - I read all Tepco/JAIF/NIC press releases and can confirm the facts and the impression the Energy Bulletin is giving. Things are getting worse, not better. No 1 reactor vessel after weeks under pressure higher than designed for and filled with a chemically aggressive brine is certainly not getting better over time. Also they should put all efforts on stopping the radiation escapes.

Posted by: b | Apr 2 2011 15:14 utc | 88

Status Update for today

- A leak from a flooded concrete cable tunnel to the open sea was found and will be closed with concrete. It is likely that after the 9.0 quake many more such leaking paths will exist.

- The military helicopter which flew above the plant to drop water are still highly contaminated after "decontamination". The radiation above the plant must have been very high.

- No other major news up to now. No 1 still has too high pressure (beyond design) and temperature. I wonder how long it will hold before it crumbles apart.

- In the "each catastrophe needs a god dog story" category the coast guard found a dog on top of a floating house roof and rescued it.

Posted by: b | Apr 2 2011 15:21 utc | 89

god is simply dog spelled backwards;-)

After some reflection, I stand by what I said in #71 above. The reactors are trash the minute seawater is injected. And there is no evidence I can find to substantiate the claim that TEPCO put revenues over public safety ONCE THIS CRISIS BEGAN. The article that b linked to is an unbuttressed political accusation, not a scientific or operational statement.

I will develop this when I have some time,
but it's a beautiful spring weekend out there and the sustenance I derive from what's left of nature's beauty far outweighs the fear I have at my age of dying from radiation induced cancer a decade after I die from being a slave to the empire.

Posted by: Malooga | Apr 2 2011 15:36 utc | 90

Some data about the Tsunami level:

- Maximum height at the coast 15.9 meters
- Maximum height on land 29.6 meter (fishing gear found at that height)
- Maximum pressure on buildings etc. 40 metric tons per square meter = 56.8 pound per square inch
- Maximum speed of wavefront ~ 50 km/h ~ 30 miles/h
- Maximum flooding reach into land (along a river) 49 kilometers ~ 30 miles

The economic damage for Japan is only comparable to a lost major war.

Posted by: b | Apr 2 2011 15:57 utc | 91

@Malooga - And there is no evidence I can find to substantiate the claim that TEPCO put revenues over public safety ONCE THIS CRISIS BEGAN.

TEPCO was ORDERED to insert seawater by the prime minister. It did not take that step by itself. The prime minister was reported to be infuriated about Tepco's behavior.

From the NISA Timeline March 12

19:55 Directives from the Prime Minister was issued regarding seawater injection to Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS.
20:05 Considering the Directives from the Prime Minister and pursuant to the Paragraph 3, the Article 64 of the Nuclear Regulation Act, the order was issued to inject seawater to Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS and so on.
20:20 At Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS, seawater injection started.

Posted by: b | Apr 2 2011 16:15 utc | 92

Pass my my Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses:

The EPA is preparing to dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil after “radiological incidents,” according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

What is termed a guidance that EPA is considering - as opposed to a regulation - does not require public airing before it’s decided upon.

EPA officials contacted today in the Atlanta and D.C. offices had no response on the issue as of 6 p.m.

The radiation guides called Protective Action Guides or PAGs are protocols for responding to radiological events ranging from nuclear power-plant accidents to dirty bombs.

Drinking water, for example, would have a huge increase in allowable public exposure to radioactivity, the group says, that would include:

A nearly 1000-fold increase in strontium-90

A 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for iodine-131

An almost 25,000 rise for nickel-63

The new radiation guidance would also allow long-term cleanup standards thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted, permitting doses to the public that EPA itself estimates would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed, the group says.

I wonder how many expensive lunches / paid vacations / golf games / quiet transfers of funds resulted in this proposal...

OTOH -- grain of salt here -- must admit the provenance of this story is a bit murky: the Tennessean seems to the the only news outlet running with it, the rest is all reprints of their article. Can anyone dig up a confirm or deny on this one? Sure sounds like the corporate state doing what it does best, but it could just be a rumour.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 2 2011 17:13 utc | 93

QUOTE When nuclear plants get constructed they are designed to survive a "design basis accident" which essentially an assumed "worst case" which is politically negotiated between the company and the regulator. /QUOTE

I love the idea of physical realities being *politically* negotiated...

... between parties whose families probably *don't* live within the 40 klick radius.

Absence not only makes the heart grow fonder, it makes risks seems way smaller.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 2 2011 17:16 utc | 94

There's a Hole in My Bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza...

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it had found a crack in the pit at its No.2 reactor in Fukushima, generating readings 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside the pit.

"With radiation levels rising in the seawater near the plant, we have been trying to confirm the reason why, and in that context, this could be one source," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said on Saturday.

Per Wikipedia (on Sieverts),

One-day exposure of 0.25 – 1 Sv (250 – 1000 mSv): Some people feel nausea and loss of appetite; bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen damaged.

So if I am reading this right, in one hour a person in this pit will receive a "dose" (*why* do we talk about it as if it were medicine?) equal to the amount that if experienced in one *day* would cause trauma and possible lasting damage?

And is it really possible to compare total dosages with intense short exposures? i.e. does experiencing a day's worth of trauma-level dose in one hour do more, or less, damage than experiencing the same dosage over a 24 hour period?

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 2 2011 19:46 utc | 95

de Elevated radioactive iodine levels in recent rainfall in California?

i know i know and it poured all night recently. i try not to think about it as well as my son's health up in seattle.

uncle it's not just spokane Radioactive milk harmless, but will consumers buy it? (!!!!)

The California Department of Public Health has not yet released the radiation level it detected, but a spokesman said it was comparable to the amount found in the Spokane samples.

Posted by: annie | Apr 2 2011 19:55 utc | 96

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