Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 21, 2011

March 21 Fukushima Update

The no. 3 reactor yesterday likely experienced another leak from its primary reactor containment (see below). /Update: At 15:55 local time today grey smoke was coming from the south eastern corner of the top of no. 3 (spent fuel pont) and workers were evacuated. The smoke disappeared at 18:00. At 18:30 white smoke came from the west side of no. 2 building./ Work continued on powerline connection and filling spent fuel pools at unit 2, 3 and 4. Unit 5 and 6 seem to be safe for now. No. 1 to 4 are still in trouble. To connect 3 and 4 to outside power will still take several additional days.

Unit 1

A powerline for external power was laid and has been connected to the no. 1 distribution switchboard. Equipment is now getting checked for damage.

Unit 2

A powerline for external power was laid and has been connected to the no. 2 distribution switchboard. Equipment is now getting checked for damage. Seawater is getting filled into the spent fuel pond of no. 2.

Unit 3

The no. 3 spent fuel pool has been filled with seawater. Pressure in the primary containment increased yesterday morning local time (320 kPa as of 11:00 March 20th) and venting, which would release radioactive steam, was prepared. But the pressure then stopped increasing and later decreased (225 kPa as of 22:00 March 20). Willful venting by the operators has not taken place.

But I do believe that the pressure vented itself through a leak in the primary containment. Earlier U.S. tests found drywell flange leaks on General Electric Mark I reactors under high pressure.


A Mark I primary containment with the drywell top in the foreground (source: Wikimedia)
bigger

The drywell top gets bolted onto the containment. The flange between the containment and the drywell top includes a rubber o-ring to prevent leaks. But in tests high pressure inside the containment could lift the top and steam could escape around that o-ring.

Such an "automatic venting" mechanism would explains the earlier hydrogen escapes from the primary containments which eventually destroyed the no 1 and 3 reactor buildings. On Sunday radioactivity at the Daiichi site went up from some 2670 microsievert/hour at 6:30 to some 3350 microsievert at around 14:30 local time. It later came down again and was at around 2360 microsievert at 6:30 on Monday. This correlates with the pressure in no. 3 coming down again after the likely temporary leaking.

Unit 4

Some 160 tons of water were sprayed into the no. 4 spent fuel pool by military firefighters.

Unit 5

Temperatures in the reactor and spend fuel pond has been lowered to below 100 degree centigrade. Electricity is provided via restored emergency generators at unit no. 6. External powerline connection to no. 5 is supposed to be finished today.

Unit 6

Temperatures in the reactor and spend fuel pond has been lowered to below 100 degree centigrade. Two emergency generators are now up and running supplying 5 and 6.

Additional resources:
AllThingsNuclear Union of Concerned Scientists
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Atomic power review blog
Digital Globe Sat Pictures
IAEA Newscenter
NISA Japanese Nuclear Regulator
Japan Atomic Industry Forum (regular updates)
Japanese government press releases in English
Kyodo News Agency
Asahi Shimbun leading Japanese newspaper in English
NHK World TV via Ustream
Status reports for the German Federal Government by the Gesellschaft für Reaktorsicherheit in German language

 

Posted by b on March 21, 2011 at 5:56 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Interesting chart about various levels of radiation doses

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Mar 21 2011 9:36 utc | 1

How is Hans Blix still alive?

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 21 2011 11:38 utc | 2

I guess with this fast reaction capability we are very lucky this wasn't Chernobyl. How many more days or weeks are they going to keep the reactors spreading 'low' levels of radiation around?

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 21 2011 11:49 utc | 3

How many more days or weeks are they going to keep the reactors spreading 'low' levels of radiation around?

Months, several of them. As long as the fuel pools are uncovered and hold inventory, there will be releases. What happens when a big rain comes? Pool overflow and contaminated water escapes.

They will need to somehow house the broken buildings to prevent that and building those structure will take quite some time.

Posted by: b | Mar 21 2011 13:19 utc | 4

The white smoke today at 18:30 from no.2 was followed by an increase of radiation. One measurement station a kilometer away went from 450 microsievert to 2000 microsievert ten minutes after the smoke started. The reason for the dark smoke of no. 3 is unclear. It seemingly was not highly radioactive as measurements did not change after it appeared.

This shows that the situation is still fluid and more nasty surprises are still quite possible.

No.5 and 6 are now cold and out of danger. These could be repaired and restarted eventually. No 4. might be reparable, though at quite high cost. No. 1 to 3 are definitely trash.

Posted by: b | Mar 21 2011 15:08 utc | 5

I like what this guy has to say. Regardless of the contained, crafted and misdirecting news that is now being dispersed, I believe this crisis is much worse than is being reported. b, I disagree with you, the Fukushima nuclear power site is trashed, period. It is not salvageable, and should be shut down and quarantined permanently and Japan should start immediately implementing a plan to go completely wind and solar. If they don't handle this properly, Japan will be rendered uninhabitable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz3jYl8YOys&feature=player_embedded

Also, here's an excellent documentary on Chernobyl. Say what you will about the Soviet Union and Gorbachev, but the steps they took saved Europe from being uninhabitable. Many risked their lives in doing so, and it was in large part due to them being honest about what was happening and the potential implications. Something I don't see happening in Japan right now. I would hate to see the fall-out from the equivalent of a 10-20 megaton Nuclear Bomb drift over populated areas of Japan, let alone Russia or the U.S., but that is exactly what will happen if those cores are now magma and working their way into the earth until they hit water. Once the magma hits water, before it can be contained, you get a hydrogen bomb the likes of what we have never seen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=yiCXb1Nhd1o

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 21 2011 17:54 utc | 6

The first video is not available in my country.

the Fukushima nuclear power site is trashed

I have no idea on what basis you are making that claim. The Chernobyl reactors that did not blow up continued to operate for several years and that site was much more devastated and radioactive.

The reactors 5 and 6 in Fukushima are technically fine and relative modern compared to 1 to 4 - some damage to the outer infrastructure but that is easy to fix.

the steps they took saved Europe from being uninhabitable

As the wind was mostly blowing east the first thing they saved was their own asses.

I would hate to see the fall-out from the equivalent of a 10-20 megaton Nuclear Bomb drift over populated areas of Japan,

Physically impossible unless someone throws a 10-20 megaton nuclear bomb at Japan. A large steam explosion would be much smaller and would not have the radioactive consequences. It would be very nasty, for sure but nothing compared to real nuclear bomb.

Posted by: b | Mar 21 2011 18:35 utc | 7

As the wind was mostly blowing east the first thing they saved was their own asses......

Physically impossible unless someone throws a 10-20 megaton nuclear bomb at Japan. A large steam explosion would be much smaller and would not have the radioactive consequences. It would be very nasty, for sure but nothing compared to real nuclear bomb.

Are you sure about that? I think there is a probability, however slim it may be. See below.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/apr/25/energy.ukraine

Sergei Vasilyevich Sobolev Deputy head of the executive committee of the Shield of Chernobyl Association

There was a moment when there was the danger of a nuclear explosion, and they had to get the water out from under the reactor, so that a mixture of uranium and graphite wouldn't get into it - with the water, they would have formed a critical mass. The explosion would have been between three and five megatons. This would have meant that not only Kiev and Minsk, but a large part of Europe would have been uninhabitable. Can you imagine it? A European catastrophe.

The BBC documentary I linked to above also states the same thing, and Debs stated it as well several threads back when this crisis began.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 21 2011 21:59 utc | 8

As the wind was mostly blowing east the first thing they saved was their own asses.

They may have been protecting their own asses, and the asses of their people, but that doesn't preclude them from thinking of all the world, specifically Europe. Afterall, I seem to remember that Lenin's plan was to start the effort in Russia, but its success would not be realized until Europe was properly socialized. Of course, the Russia of 1986 was very different from Russia immediately subsequent to the 1917 Revolution.

http://www.infoukes.com/history/images/chornobyl/gregorovich/figure06.gif

This is a map of the air flow pattern from Chernobyl in May, after the meltdown. The 3-5 megaton blast could have done enough damage to Europe without the aid of the wind, but just to show you that at the time they calculated a second, more horrendous explosion could possibly occur once the magma hit the aquifer below, would have been in May. It was a race against time for the sacrificial lambs digging the tunnel to create a concrete plug below the magma core.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 21 2011 22:10 utc | 9

I have no idea on what basis you are making that claim. The Chernobyl reactors that did not blow up continued to operate for several years and that site was much more devastated and radioactive.

The reactors 5 and 6 in Fukushima are technically fine and relative modern compared to 1 to 4 - some damage to the outer infrastructure but that is easy to fix.

And you think that was a wise decision that should be replicated the world round? Are you aware of the damage that Chernobyl has caused and still causes to this day? Surely you are. Considering, you don't think it's insanity that they still operated reactors adjacent to the destroyed reactor until 2000? Here's another excellent documentary called The Children of Chernobyl. It's a travesty that they allowed anyone back in that area after what occurred, for anything except additional emergency measures to secure the destroyed reactor further and shut down and secure the others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COvUwn6yxFc

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 21 2011 22:19 utc | 10

Radioactive Isotope Detected in California


Lying motherfuckers...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 2:02 utc | 11

Uncle $cam @ 11

If what was detected was one millionth of the background rate of said radioactive isotope, how can they distinguish that it came from Fukushima? Or even detect it at all?

Posted by: Jeff65 | Mar 22 2011 2:19 utc | 12

Nuclear Roulette

This article presents views of Helen Caldicott, a physician well known for her opposition to nuclear power and Alan Kohn, retired National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) official on the NASA plans to launch its Cassini mission to Saturn. According to Caldicott, the Cassini mission threatens the health of millions of people. Plutonium is so toxic that one pound distributed around the Earth in particles small enough to be inhaled could induce lung cancer in every person on the planet. Plutonium can also cause bone cancer, leukemia and liver cancer. In pregnant women it crosses the placenta to damage the developing embryo and in men it lodges in the testicles, where it can induce cancer and mutate genes responsible for future generations.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 4:36 utc | 13

This is the same Government that approved human experimentation using pesicides on babies & children...trust these jackals at your own risk...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 5:01 utc | 14

Be sure to watch the part two...

Pesticides & Human Experimentation (part2)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 5:32 utc | 15

Something to keep in mind...

Clinton's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments and Human Experimentation for National Security Purposes...

Jonathan Moreno, nationally distinguished bioethicist presents an overview of the ethical issues raised by state sponsored human medical experimentation.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 5:45 utc | 16

"with the water, they would have formed a critical mass. The explosion would have been between three and five megatons."

What are the physics of water and hot low enriched uranium creating a "critical mass"? They do not exist. The superhot Corium meeting the water would have resulted in a very large steam explosion which would have left a big crater and would have distributed a lot of the nasty radioactive stuff into the atmosphere. Accordingly there would have been stronger radiation.

But there was no way that the sludge meeting the water would have created an nuclear "critical mass" and a sustained fast chain reaction like a nuclear bomb does. Even for a very large steam explosion the megaton numbers seem to be much too high.

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2011 13:49 utc | 17

b, yes, you are correct, it would not have been a nuclear explosion caused from a chain reaction like with a bomb, but rather it would have released the equivalent of a 3-5 megaton bomb explosion. I stand corrected on my initial assertion, but the impact and implications are still correct, and that is what the Soviets rushed to prevent and did prevent. According to their experts, it would have rendered Europe uninhabitable.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 22 2011 17:47 utc | 18

I'd like to see that 2-3 megaton calculation for an expanding steam explosion. My rough (I even pulled some old books to do that) back of the envelope calculation of the thermal exchange comes up with several zeros less than that. 2-3 kilotons make much more sense than megatons. I think the guy who said that just made it up.

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2011 18:50 utc | 19

I think the whole Soviet establishment was saying it, b. I would also like to see where they came up with their numbers and the science behind it. If anyone else can find a more detailed source, it would be appreciated. I have scoured the intertubes, and I can't find anything more other than the official statement. Gorbachev repeats this in the documentary. Who knows, it could be a fabrication to save face for keeping it hush hush early on. But that's conjecture, though certainly plausible.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 22 2011 19:33 utc | 20

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