Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 22, 2011

March 22+ Fukushima Updates

All reactors are connected to external power but switchboards of 1, 3 and 4 are not yet accessible and not connected. No 2 is connected but damage of the quake and Tsunami still needs to be evaluated before the electrical systems there can be powered up. To provide electricity to all reactors will still take several days.

There are new verified numbers about the load in the spent fuel ponds. Why the Japanese authorities are prioritizing work at the no.3 spent fuel pool over no. 4 is still a mystery.

Unit 5 and 6 are in cold shutdown and with reported active cooling of the spent fuel ponds. Despite the reported cooling temperatures in both pools went slightly up during the last 24 hours to some 45 degree Celsius

A concrete pump with a 50 meter mast is ready to be used to fill spent fuel pools.

Measurement of seawater around the plant found radioactive Iodine and Cesium exceeding regulatory limits.

The Tsunami which hit the plant is now estimated to have reached 14 meter height, double the height the plant had been designed for.

Unless an additional serious incident happens further updates will be made in the comments of this thread.

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 22, 2011 at 7:15 UTC | Permalink


Official radiation levels around Fukushima.

What could be considered a dangerous year long dose? Based on 50-100 mSv/year limit for radiation workers I have seen quoted in a number of places that's just between 6 and 12 uSv/hour (if I performed the operations correctly) and there are clearly points outside the 20/30 km evacuation zone already way outside that range.

If this take weeks or months to solve (or at least limit new emissions) or the radiation is persistent (Cesium?) that regions could become quite dangerous to live on.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 22 2011 11:50 utc | 1

ThePaper - the longterm limits for radiation workers are quite low. The damage radiation does depends a lot on circumstances. A onetime 400 millisievert dose received within a few seconds from a strong radiation source will do much more damage than an elevated background radiation that accumulates to 400 millisievert over a year. Different ray types, different elements involved, way of incorporation into the body all make for vastly different outcomes.

Longterm damage of longterm low level of radiation has, in my view, been vastly overrated.

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2011 13:31 utc | 2

Thanks to b for the updates.

This is one topic where really very few ppl can emit an informed opinion. It is so so terribly technologically complicated and news is garbled thru ignorance or slanted for various reasons by the PTB.

What journalist can define a Becquerel?

None, but it isn’t their job, they can’t be expected to have degrees in physics, chemistry, etc. they have become spokespersons for those above them, those who hold the expert info.

One aim of universal ‘basic’ education was to furnish tools to citizens to understand their world and participate in it thru informed opinion (way back when!) but with the degree of specialization we rely on that simply isn’t possible.

Joseph Tainter and authors like him like to jaw on about complex societies, the complexity is never defined or only obliquely hinted at, but it is certainly there for anyone to see.

Democracy, so called, and specialization, creates niches of power, mostly technological, military, fire power, super production controlled from the top (Taylorism, US agri today), investment in one thing or another, etc. all good jive (as was thought with the rise of science and programmed politics from say 1900 on) leading to corporations, lobbies, influence groups, etc. combined with lame-duck, shifting, social organization. (E.g. Us health care.)

Leading to citizen splintering or revolt, in the shape of Tunisia, the Tea Party, Muslims for Charia law, fundie Xtians, Citizen movements all over the place, National Front in France, etc. Heh, gathering all these together is a feat.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 22 2011 16:29 utc | 3

What could be considered a dangerous year long dose?

That's a great question, and the goal posts are changing, as we speak, just as they did in the Chernobyl aftermath. It's as though they stole a page out of the Soviet Playbook. If I didn't know better, I'd say Burson-Marstellar got their boots on the ground in Japan. This potential public relations nightmare is now being professionally managed.

From this video link to this excellent documentary on the Chernobyl disaster by the BBC, look at 1:18:00. It talks about how the Soviet officials changed the limits mid-stream, ever so conveniently. And now Japan is doing exactly the same thing. Where are the god damned Red Flags (pun intended).

As Radioactive Rain Starts To Pour, Japan Engages In Another Cover Up As It Increases Decontamination Threshold Sixteenfold.......

Meanwhile, the government's task force to tackle nuclear accidents instructed municipal governments near the crisis-hit Fukushima plant on Monday to ease conditions under which they require people to undergo mandatory decontamination.

A radiation level of 100,000 counts per minute will be introduced as a new standard for decontamination, up from 6,000 counts per minute, the government said, adding that raising the bar will not endanger health.

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the decision was made based on advice from domestic nuclear experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 22 2011 17:05 utc | 4

Some stuff that happened today in Fukushima

- White smoke or steam came out of no. 3 again it wasn't because a new pope was elected inside
- More water was put into the no.3 spend fuel pond - 3600 tons have now been sprayed onto a 1500 ton pool(?!)
- No 3 control room now has electricity
- A concrete pump (Made in Germany :-) was set up at no. 4 and is now filling the spent fuel pond with seawater
- More radiation was found in the sea and on land - not dangerous levels, but people will avoid fish and vegetables from those areas for a while
- A 6.2 aftershock occurred in north Japan, a bigger one could still follow

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2011 17:10 utc | 5

as with this, so too for other matter - i am thankful for the work of synthesis being done here

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 22 2011 18:48 utc | 6

There is an article on Counterpunch today which is interesting. It consists of a translated interview with Hirose Takashi. It begins:
"Hirose Takashi has written a whole shelf full of books, mostly on the nuclear power industry and the military-industrial complex. Probably his best known book is Nuclear Power Plants for Tokyo in which he took the logic of the nuke promoters to its logical conclusion: if you are so sure that they're safe, why not build them in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires? ..."
His conclusion seems to be that the plants should be buried in concrete asap

Posted by: bevin | Mar 22 2011 19:09 utc | 7

Yo: It will take 1300 tons of water to fill the pools that contain the spent fuel rods in reactors 3 and 4. This morning 30 tons. Then the Self Defense Forces are to hose in another 30 tons from five trucks. That’s nowhere near enough, they have to keep it up. Is this squirting of water from hoses going to change the situation?

Hirose: In principle, it can’t. Because even when a reactor is in good shape, it requires constant control to keep the temperature down to where it is barely safe. Now it’s a complete mess inside, and when I think of the 50 remaining operators, it brings tears to my eyes. I assume they have been exposed to very large amounts of radiation, and that they have accepted that they face death by staying there. And how long can they last? I mean, physically. That’s what the situation has come to now. When I see these accounts on television, I want to tell them, “If that’s what you say, then go there and do it yourself!” Really, they talk this nonsense, trying to reassure everyone, trying to avoid panic. What we need now is a proper panic. Because the situation has come to the point where the danger is real.

If I were Prime Minister Kan, I would order them to do what the Soviet Union did when the Chernobyl reactor blew up, the sarcophagus solution, bury the whole thing under cement, put every cement company in Japan to work, and dump cement over it from the sky. Because you have to assume the worst case. Why? Because in Fukushima there is the Daiichi Plant with six reactors and the Daini Plant with four for a total of ten reactors. If even one of them develops the worst case, then the workers there must either evacuate the site or stay on and collapse. So if, for example, one of the reactors at Daiichi goes down, the other five are only a matter of time. We can’t know in what order they will go, but certainly all of them will go. And if that happens, Daini isn’t so far away, so probably the reactors there will also go down. Because I assume that workers will not be able to stay there.

I’m speaking of the worst case, but the probability is not low. This is the danger that the world is watching. Only in Japan is it being hidden. As you know, of the six reactors at Daiichi, four are in a crisis state. So even if at one everything goes well and water circulation is restored, the other three could still go down. Four are in crisis, and for all four to be 100 per cent repaired, I hate to say it, but I am pessimistic. If so, then to save the people, we have to think about some way to reduce the radiation leakage to the lowest level possible. Not by spraying water from hoses, like sprinkling water on a desert. We have to think of all six going down, and the possibility of that happening is not low. Everyone knows how long it takes a typhoon to pass over Japan; it generally takes about a week. That is, with a wind speed of two meters per second, it could take about five days for all of Japan to be covered with radiation. We’re not talking about distances of 20 kilometers or 30 kilometers or 100 kilometers. It means of course Tokyo, Osaka. That’s how fast a radioactive cloud could spread. Of course it would depend on the weather; we can’t know in advance how the radiation would be distributed. It would be nice if the wind would blow toward the sea, but it doesn’t always do that. Two days ago, on the 15th, it was blowing toward Tokyo. That’s how it is. . . .

hirose takashi

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 22 2011 21:57 utc | 8

fuck, you guys might want to look at this.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 22 2011 23:41 utc | 9

@ Uncle #9 Just keep that plume up north where it belongs.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 23 2011 1:09 utc | 10

b and r'giap,

re #8:

Has someone signed r'giaps name?


You remind me of "On the Beach". Only I wish for you that it never gets there.

Posted by: juannie | Mar 23 2011 1:36 utc | 11

Here's the link to the Counterpunch article cited in #7 and quoted in #8.

Posted by: catlady | Mar 23 2011 1:39 utc | 12

juannie, was interested in b's response to this article - i have no science background at all - & so am not in a position to tell the gravity of the situation - but what i do understand worries me profoundly. that the truth is not being told, that like the hank williams song ' do you believe me or you lying eyes' - when i see what physical damage has been done to the nuclear reactors & the evident incompetence & subterfuge - & the very different story being told by european scientists - which is much bleaker & more pessimistic - i instinctually know that it remains a very very grave crisis

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 23 2011 1:48 utc | 13

@Uncle #9:

That's right. One Pineapple Express and the whole western US will be eating shit sandwich for years. A complication here is that most western states rely heavily on snowpack and glaciers for their water...the gift that keeps on giving.

Blows my mind that one of the 'cultural icons' of America, John Wayne, died of stomach cancer caused by bomb test fallout, yet they still allow the industry such loose rein when it comes to reactor safety.

On an odd tangent re: bomb testing in the southwest, we have, from this Adventure Sports Journal article about mountaineering in California's Sierra Nevada:

The Atomic Broom Theory

Was the High Sierra preternaturally cleaned of loose rock by weapons testing in Nevada? The evidence keeps tumbling down, says veteran climber Doug Robinson

By Doug Robinson

After some four decades of guiding the Palisades, widely regarded as the most impressive alpine region of the High Sierra, the crash of rockfall began scaring me off certain climbs, such as the classic Moon Goddess on Temple Crag. At first, I figured the change was within me, a creeping old-fart-ism, not an actual change in the rock.

But then I ran into an odd story that sparked me to propose the theory of the Atomic Broom. Daniel Wenger is another graying climber, who took up this ascending passion after 60. We often swap belays at Pacific Edge, our local gym in Santa Cruz. One day Daniel told me about backpacking into the Palisades in 1952. He was awakened before dawn by a sickly yellow flash in the eastern sky, followed by a huge rocking blast, and then rockfall from every peak in the cirque.

Decades of living in the Palisades all summer have gotten me used to bomb blasts. The deep rumble of target practice rolls in from the Nevada Test Site, slightly over a hundred air miles away. Those bombs, even conventional weapons, would pulse our eardrums. But Daniel’s story sounded a whole lot bigger.

Then it hit me: Atomic Bomb. That’s right when a lot of them were blown off, an even hundred above ground, in the desert north of Las Vegas. The Cold War. H-bombs, even. Scores of atomic tests, and they went on for years. As a kid I saw the photos in Life magazine. The Army had even lined up troops a few miles away, to see if they’d be able to fight afterward. And then, decades later, when the radiation damage began showing up with cancer clusters downwind in Utah, the Army had conveniently “lost” their lists of which guys were in those tests.

But back to the rockfall they triggered. Booming down off every peak in the cirque.

We started showing up in the Palisades not that long afterward, in the early ‘60s. First Don Jensen, who made the first ascent of the Moon Goddess with clients in 1969, and then my crew from Yosemite. Unconsciously, we calibrated our sense of the relative solidness of the rock. But quite unknown to us the whole east-facing rampart of the highest Sierra had been scoured by the Atomic Broom.

Think about it. Those were the biggest explosions mankind – compulsively playing with fire – has ever ignited. Mega-tonnage of blast power rolled out massive shockwaves through the atmosphere. Those pulses cleared the Inyo Mountains and the Funeral Range above Death Valley and slammed into the eastern escarpment of the High Sierra. It’s a direct hit on the highest walls up under the crest, where the shock wave scoured the East Face of Whitney and the magnificent ribs and buttresses of Mt. Russell. They were about 100 miles from Ground Zero, with the Palisades barely a few miles further.

That’s where young Daniel awoke to the result: rockfall pouring off of every peak, rattling the Sierra dawn.

The atomic blasts went on for years, nearly a thousand of them in all, if you count the biggest explosions that were detonated underground. Often enough they too breached the surface. The highest Sierra was being relentlessly swept by the Atomic Broom.

We had waltzed into a landscape artificially swept clean of loose rock. Who knew?

Then, gradually over the five decades following, each year’s frost-wedging has teetered more blocks. Things are returning now to a normal we have never known. Normal for the peaks, but it feels loose to us.

It just happened that all those first ascents, our little golden age of technical walls and airy aretes in the High Sierra from the late ‘60s through the early ‘70s, were done in a period of unusual solidness, a historical anomaly. We were innocent beneficiaries of the Atomic Age.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 23 2011 2:10 utc | 14

Uncle #9 Just keep that plume up north where it belongs?

I am disappoint. After the years of respecting your thoughts and crystal clear insights, That's the most unthinking and callus thing I have ever seen you write, I am either in denial or refuse to believe that was the real debs is dead. Do we have a impostor sock puppet name highjacker or perhaps, some military psyop bot or worse, some third party ideologue?

Oh and Fuck John wayne...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 23 2011 3:33 utc | 15

...prioritizing work at the no.3 spent fuel pool over no. 4 is still a mystery.

Only about the bottom third of the No. 3 reactor building is in any condition to be called "still standing" and, really, that is a stretch. If you've seen any of the graphics showing the design of these reactors, you will immediately realize that means the cooling pond isn't there anymore. This is probably true of all four Daiichi reactors, but the most blaringly obviously true at No. 3. The thing that would prioritize it, even if this were not the case, is the fact that they were using MOX fuel in No. 3, while No. 4 was using "mere" uranium.

MOX [mixed oxide] fuel rods are made of uranium laced with the PLUTONIUM from decommissioned nukes. This has been hailed as the great anti-terrorism solution to dismantle nuclear warheads such that they will be safe from falling into the wrong hands. Plutonium is THE most deadly substance on the planet. I've heard it said that a few cups of plutonium dust dispersed in the atmosphere would kill every living thing on earth. "Luckily" it is the heaviest element on earth and less inclined to stay airborne, but it's more inclined to blow and burn things up, which then increases the release of its alpha radiation into the air. Breathing it kills you like Alexander Litvinenko. You stand a chance with plain uranium.

I imagine No. 3 is getting the most attention because it is unquestionably the most urgent to keep from any more-explosive release. The PTB are the most likely to keep everyone as confused as possible -- including having Chu state on TV that No. 2 was the most urgent -- because their imperative is that we not kick up a fuss over their sacred MOX nuclear terrorism solution. The only way to accomplish that is to assist us in our sacred disinclination to LOOK at what's staring us in the face. No. 3 is blatantly, undeniably, in meltdown... doing the China Syndrome thing. Whatever was released from it in the explosion there and the days of it steaming is going to be exponentially more deadly even than the lethal emissions from No. 4.

There are Daiichi plant workers giving their lives to save the rest of us. THEY ARE KNOWLY GOING TO THEIR EARLY GRAVES FOR US, WHEN WHAT THEY'RE DYING FOR IS THE MONSTERS IN CHARGE DRAGGING THIS OUT TO KEEP THEIR MOX FROM BECOMING NIXED. If you ever had any thoughts that the Soviets were actually more humane than we are, here's your sign. The images released of those reactors over a WEEK ago were enough to show they needed the sand and concrete treatment -- the Chernobyl option -- immediately. This trying to pull it out with the cooling thing is psychotic/sociopathic... pick. The evidence is blindingly-obvious in the images released to the press. You don't have to be a nuclear physicist to put it together.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 23 2011 4:47 utc | 16

for U$, a little Kate

a little more

Keep breathing, friend.

Posted by: catlady | Mar 23 2011 5:21 utc | 18

@Uncle #15:

Heh..couldn't sit through 20 seconds of That guy was a bunion on the foot of mankind. Done hijacking thread now.

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Mar 23 2011 5:56 utc | 19

If the IAEA can't organize something, maybe IKEA can. (sorry)

Posted by: Biklett | Mar 23 2011 6:35 utc | 20

Work continues as planed, though slowly, but additional trouble keeps coming up. Via JAIF:

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced in its news briefing held around 10:00 AM on March 23 that the core temperature exceed design value of 302C and reached almost 400C at Unit-1. Core cooling function was enhanced through increasing number of injection lines, given this situation. (10:55, March 23) ... External AC power to the main control room of unit-3 became available at 13:43 of March 22. Now the lights are working in the room and working condition has been improved. Unit-3 is the first unit that external AC power became available among four units which are in severe condition. [...] Also the work to connect AC power line to distribution panels for Unit-1, 2 and 4 was accomplished. However, pumps of Unit-1 and 2 for cooling were covered by seawater and maintenance work is necessary for these pumps. (04:15, March 23) ... Most meters and gauges have been unavailable in the power station since station blackout occurred after the earthquake. Meanwhile, temperature instrument to measure surface of the reactor of unit-1, 2, and 3 was restored and becomes available. (04:15, March 23)

Posted by: b | Mar 23 2011 6:50 utc | 21

@8 - that hirose takashi is a few days old

The status has changed since. Eventually the reactors will be filled with concrete and buried, but only in 5 or 10 years. First its cooling, cooling, cooling, then a roof over the fuel ponds, and only when everything really cooled down, concrete.

The MOX in no3 is in the core and likely has partially melted down together with other fuel rods. Unless some additional really bad incident happens, it will never leave the core again.

Posted by: b | Mar 23 2011 6:58 utc | 22

Again black smoke reported above no.3 - source unknown - workers have been evacuated

Some places around the reactors have been found with still up to 400 millisievert of radiation - that is in the immediate danger range (a 1000 millisievert dose will result in immediate radiation sickness) and working there without heavy protection is not really possible.

Posted by: b | Mar 23 2011 7:36 utc | 23

99 at #16, you raise a great point about how the West excoriated the Soviets for Chernobyl at the time, and yet you look at what is going on in Japan, and it's disgusting. What the Soviets did was humane for the rest of the world, whether that was their (Soviet Leadership, specifically Gorbachev) intention, or not. But the Japanese are attempting to save an investment versus save a further catastrophe, and that is not only inhumane, it's downright amoral and even evil.....but what else do we expect from a Corporation....and let's face it, the world is now a Corporation.

I'm not letting the Soviets off the hook for Chernobyl. They weren't angels, but nor were they the demons that they were made out to be. They fumbled and stumbled before the accident and during it, but they took proper action when it was necessary and saved the world from further poisoning. It wasn't pretty or ideal, by any means, but they didn't fumble around trying to save something that wasn't salvageable, for the sake of profit. I think it's disgusting that the Soviets, and later Russia, kept operating the other reactors for Plutonium for their weapons program. That was a screwed up position, replete with paranoid, flawed thinking.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 11:47 utc | 24

@14, how about the Atomic Bomb cocktail parties they used to throw in Vegas to watch the fireworks of the latest bomb tests? Amazingly insane, and quite humorous in a sick kind of way.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 11:50 utc | 25

I'm reading that the Japanese dispersion models are expecting over 100 miliSv (quoted as dangerous in periods of 24h) in areas outside the 20/30 km evacuated zone and yet they aren't extending the evacuation zone just asking people to avoid leaving their houses. Same with high radiation readings on water.

Let's just pretend that everything is going fine and not going worse. Their official radiation readings show high numbers on the north to northwest area outside the exclusion zone and the different reactors keep expelling 'smoke'.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 23 2011 13:17 utc | 26

Kyodo English news service has been quite 'apocalyptic' on their reports compared with Japanese media or even normal MSM so not sure how much credibility to put on this. In any case I'm not sure what this report really means. Fission in the cores? Or just normal decay from the fission byproducts?

Neutron beams?

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 23 2011 13:37 utc | 27

We need to resurrect Stanley Kubrick so he can make a sequel to Dr. Strangelove. It can be called, Dr. Stwangewuv: How I Learned To Love The Reactor. In Japanese theaters, it will be titled as follows:


If the resurrection of Kubrick is unsuccessful, we can get George Monbiot to do it. He's already written the script.

Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power

You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Some greens have wildly exaggerated the dangers of radioactive pollution. For a clearer view, look at the graphic published by It shows that the average total dose from the Three Mile Island disaster for someone living within 10 miles of the plant was one 625th of the maximum yearly amount permitted for US radiation workers. This, in turn, is half of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increased cancer risk, which, in its turn, is one 80th of an invariably fatal exposure......

The Singularity is upon us. Satire has merged with the reality it exaggerates, rendering it superfluous, without the hope of a sane reality in which to return.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 13:58 utc | 28

The Paper, this comment about summed it up from the link you provided.

by rwe2late on Wed, 03/23/2011 - 09:27 #1089542

BUT the MSM IS covering it!

Baby dolphin saved after dumped in rice field by tsunami - Reuters

So far, risk low from radiation in food in Japan -AP

Coverage you can count on, all the news deemed fit to report.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 14:03 utc | 29

Interesting. Germany had just extended the life of their Nuclear Power plants by an average of 12 years this past September, because, it rationalized, it would not be able to meet its 80% CO2 reduction by 2050 without Nuclear Power as a bridge, but has now suspended that decision for three months in response to the Fukushima crisis. The extension also came with hefty tax penalties for any electrical production beyond the initial useful life, but no doubt that will be passed on to the consumer, or costs will be cut, and risks increased, as a result.

Germany has responded to the Japanese nuclear crisis by suspending for three months a plan to extend the lives of its ageing nuclear power stations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government announced last year that the country's 17 power stations would close around 12 years later than planned......

The German decision to suspend the controversial extended life policy for 17 power stations came after growing political pressure.

Tens of thousands of people took part in demonstrations in Germany at the weekend against the Berlin government's nuclear policy.

They formed a 45km (27mile) human chain in the south-western state of Baden-Wuerttemberg from Stuttgart to one of the power plants affected by the nuclear extension policy, at Neckarwestheim.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 18:18 utc | 30

Speaking about Nuclear and how it relates to the EU's 2050 Decarbonization Plan, I ran across this, and it involves Libya. The plot thickens, and it could explain France's interest.

The EU has presented a strategy paper on the developments in North Africa. This includes the proposal of establishing an EU-South Mediterranean Energy Community. That could give the DESERTEC project a big boost. According to the EU's 2050 decarbonization scenario of reducing the emissions by more than 80 percent, "there is clear potential for building a partnership between the EU and Southern Mediterranean countries for the production and management of renewables, in particular solar and wind energy, and in having a joined-up approach ensuring energy security".......

Despite of current disturbances in North Africa, both, the DESERTEC Foundation and the Dii GmbH, express confidence that the concept will be implemented in EU-MENA. Current plannings, especially in Morocco, but also in further countries are not directly put at risk by the disturbances. A project like DESERTEC with its socio-economic benefits not only offers an approach to energy security but also creates perspectives for the region.......

Solar-thermal power plants: Win-win situation for North Africa and Europe

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and Ernst&Young published results of their joint study on the local manufacturing potential for CSP projects in the MENA region. According to their forecast, economies in this region will benefit greatly from the extension of concentrating solar-thermal power's (CSP) capacities and up to 80,000 jobs will be created, some of which are highly-qualified. Apart from that, there will be growth opportunities for European industry as well. An action plan developed within this study, shows a way how solar-thermal power plants, that might be funded by the Worldbank's Clean Technology Fund (CTF), can be implemented.....

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 18:36 utc | 31

I kept wondering why France took the lead on the Libya initiative, but I think we have the answer, and it has nothing to do with Sarkozy's election bid. That can always be bought, if need be, no need to start a war for something that can be done much more easily.

Desertec, a solar power project designed to supply some of Europe’s electricity needs from North Africa, will cooperate with France’s Medgrid group, Financial Times Deutschland reported today, citing Desertec’s Chief Executive Officer Paul van Son and Medgrid’s head Georges de Montravel.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 23 2011 18:40 utc | 32

Japan's Nuclear Safety Committee announced for the first time its simulation based on the SPEEDI [System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, collected by Japan's Ministry of Education and Science] data as to the radiation level and the radioactive material fallout following the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. According to the simulation, in the most extreme case where radioactive iodine spreads from the Plant toward northwest and south it is possible to have internal radiation exposure of the thyroid gland exceeding 100 milli-sievert in 12 days, even outside the 30-kilometer evacuation zone.

The Committee calculated the internal radiation exposure of the thyroid gland of a one year old child, considered the most vulnerable to radioactive iodine, under the extreme condition that the child has been outside from 6AM on March 12 till midnight on March 24. The Committee calculated the possible amount of radioactive iodine that has been released, based on the monitoring data from various cities and towns.

According to the calculation, the area where one (a 1-year-old child) would suffer 100 milli-sievert irradiation if stayed outdoors all day everyday for 12 days included Minami-Soma City, Iidate Village, Kawamata-cho (the last two produced vegetables with high radioactive iodine and cesium concentration) which are located northeast from the Plant, and Iwaki City, which is located south. 100 milli-sievert is the level where the decision is made whether potassium iodide should be administered. If indoors, the level would drop to 1/4 to 1/10.

Committee Chairman Haruki Madarame and his officials told the press that they assumed the extreme case in their simulation, and that there was no need for any immediate action.

The committee started to collect SPEEDI data on March 16, and started to do the simulation on March 20 when the wind turned inland.


Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 23 2011 19:55 utc | 33

MB @24

By this time, I've gone positively misty over the bodhisattvatude of the Soviets at Chernobyl, all things being relative. The death toll will be staggering... and I don't think it will be limited to Japan... albeit it will be slower out here.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 23 2011 21:39 utc | 34

Status update:

Helicopter overflights saw steam rising from all four damaged reactors. For the first time steam was seen coming from the no. 1 unit.

Temperature on the outside of the reactor vessel of no. 1 went up to 400 degree Celsius, 100 degree higher than the design limit. Additional water was pumped into it for cooling and the temperature came down. But with the additional water the pressure within the reactor vessel went up to 0.376MPa and injection had to be reduced. At this pressure the vessel may "involuntary release" radioactive steam through a leaky top or in the worst case blow up.

The NYT cites an expert estimates that no 1 now holds some 30 tons of salt due to the permanent seawater injection. No. 2 and 3., which are bigger, may each hold up to 50 ton of salt by now. As the cooling seawater vaporizes inside the reactors the salt saturates in the water and will eventually crystallize and then may block waterflow and operational equipment. The salt in the hot water is also extremely corrosive.

Posted by: b | Mar 24 2011 10:03 utc | 35

FYI the guy who draws the XKCD web comic (highly recommended) has created a chart that graphically compares many different doses and effects of radiation measured in micro- and milli-sieverts.

comparative radiation chart

Posted by: jonku | Mar 24 2011 22:54 utc | 36

new scientist

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25 2011 1:41 utc | 37

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant

TOKYO, March 23, Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.

TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear plant, said the neutron beam measured about 1.5 kilometers southwest of the plant's No. 1 and 2 reactors over three days from March 13 and is equivalent to 0.01 to 0.02 microsieverts per hour and that this is not a dangerous level.

The utility firm said it will measure uranium and plutonium, which could emit a neutron beam, as well.

In the 1999 criticality accident at a nuclear fuel processing plant run by JCO Co. in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, uranium broke apart continually in nuclear fission, causing a massive amount of neutron beams.

In the latest case at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, such a criticality accident has yet to happen.

But the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant's nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.

Posted by: 99 | Mar 25 2011 4:30 utc | 38

Photos from the plant. more (pdf)

Lots of damage and difficult work to do.

Posted by: b | Mar 25 2011 5:12 utc | 39

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think the control rooms are in the reactor buildings... and

59 mins ago

TOKYO – Japanese nuclear safety officials said Friday that they suspect that the reactor core at one unit of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have breached, raising the possibility of more severe contamination to the environment.

"It is possible that somewhere at the reactor may have been damaged," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency. But he added that "our data suggest the reactor retains certain containment functions," implying that the damage may have occurred in Unit 3's reactor core but that it was limited.

Officials say the damage could instead have happened in other equipment, including piping or the spent fuel pool.

Operators have been struggling to keep cool water around radioactive fuel rods in the reactor's core after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami cut off power supply to the plant and its cooling system.

Damage could have been done to the core when a March 14 hydrogen explosion blew apart Unit 3's outer containment building.

This reactor, perhaps the most troubled at the six-unit site, holds 170 tons of radioactive fuel in its core. Previous radioactive emissions have come from intentional efforts to vent small amounts of steam through valves to prevent the core from bursting. However, releases from a breach could allow uncontrolled quantities of radioactive contaminants to escape into the surrounding ground or air.

Operators stopped work Friday [today] at units 1 through 3 to check on radiation levels.

This comes on the heels of some scary news from China....

Posted by: 99 | Mar 25 2011 7:21 utc | 40

The Japanese government is now officially extending the evacuation zone to 30 km, asking for US help on 'cooling' the reactors and everyday they say that the problem is from a different reactor to keep the media and people distracted. Today the one they say the radiation may be coming from reactor 3 which may have a damaged core ... or the rods in the storage fuel ... or green aliens from space. If I remember correctly yesterday was reactor 1 and the day before reactor 2, keep moving the target and never present the real picture.

It isn't getting better, on the contrary it's becoming worse because nothing is under control and the radiation is spreading to more areas.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 25 2011 7:47 utc | 41

Around 100uSv/h gives you 1Sv/year which is 4 times the (changed upward by the government) limit for emergency workers. Today there are already official readings between 60-100 uSv/h inside and around the 30 km evacuation area. If that radiation is due to Cesium 137 contamination the area could be considered inhabitable for decades.

Radiation levels in other areas seem to be still safe.

And this bit I found here:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Zirconium-95 Found in Sea Water Near Plant TEPCO announced that zirconium-95 was found in sea water near the exhaust water outlet of Fukushima I Nuclear Plant.

Zirconium is used in cladding of the nuclear fuel rods. "It is possible that part of cladding melted when the used fuel rods were exposed, and dousing of the reactors washed it away into the ocean," according to Yomiuri Shinbun quoting an expert (in Japanese; 8:20AM JST 3/25/2011).

Zirconium-95 is a radioactive isotope of zirconium; half-life of 64 days with beta and gamma radiation. Gastrointestinal absorption rate is very low, at 0.01%

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 25 2011 8:36 utc | 42

Why the fuck haven't they entombed this thing yet? Why hasn't Obomba and his administration demanded this? Are they wanting a meltdown?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 25 2011 10:37 utc | 43

China finds high radiation on two Japanese travellers

BEIJING, March 25 | Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:27am EDT
(Reuters) - China said on Friday that two Japanese travellers who arrived in east China by air were found to have radiation levels "seriously exceeding limits" when they entered the country on Wednesday.

"Tests showed that the two travelers seriously exceeded the limit," the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said, referring to radiation levels.

The agency's statement said the two travellers were given medical treatment and presented no radiation risk to others.

A commenter says, 'The flight was from Tokyo to Wuxi, China. That means that not only is the Tokyo water supply contaminated so is the air.'

while that is a possibility, in this instance, how can we know that?

Also see, Russia Bans Food Imports From 6 Japanese Prefectures

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 25 2011 11:00 utc | 44

Status Update:

- High contaminated water has been found in the reactors 1 and 2 and in the turbine building of unit 3.

- Work has stopped at all those units

- The water must have been in contact with broken fuel rods as the radioactivity is higher then normal rates within the primary cooling cycle.

- This could be water from the reactor pressure vessels which hold partly melted down fuel rods or from the spent fuel ponds which also hold probably broken fuel rods.

- Attempts are now started to pump that water away (likely into the sea ...)

- The U.S. is sending a ship with demineralized fresh water to replace the currently used seawater for cooling. It will take three days for the ship to arrive. The saltwater used now for cooling may damage (or already have damaged) the reactor pressure vessels, pipes and valves etc.

- "Voluntary evacuation" from the zone 20-30 kilometers away from the reactors was requested by the government

Posted by: b | Mar 25 2011 11:13 utc | 45

I have read reports on the ZH forums about 'yellow rain' in Tokyo and references to similar yellow rain after Chernobyl. Iodine solutions are yellowish.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 25 2011 11:39 utc | 46

Japanese nuclear officials fear crack in reactor core

Officials were preparing themselves for the possibility that the reactor core was damaged in an explosion three days after the disaster that destroyed its containment building. The reactor contains 170 tonnes of radioactive fuel in its core, and is the only one of the facility's six reactors that contains the potentially more dangerous plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel.

Posted by: johnf | Mar 25 2011 11:54 utc | 47

Uncle, entombing will take time and considerable money. Also, it involves them admitting it's screwed, and losing face. The entombment of the entombment of Chernobyl has taken multiple years to complete, and there was no face-saving with it. It's not something that can be done overnight if you want it done correctly. Also, how do we know for sure that the cores haven't gone molten and are not now melting into the earth? If that's happened, entombment would be irrelevant. Maybe they know that, at that's why they aren't even discussing entombment as an option.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 25 2011 12:08 utc | 48

Re the Sarcophagus, not only the ongoing heat generation is likely a problem - the whole funky mess would still sit next to the sea in an earthquake prone area...

Posted by: Lex | Mar 25 2011 12:42 utc | 49

@The Paper, omment 46:
wrong - that 'yellow rain' is caused by pollen (from cedar and similar pine trees)

Posted by: Philippe | Mar 25 2011 13:32 utc | 50

The said the same in Chernobyl.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 25 2011 13:34 utc | 51

It is top season for pollen in the Kanto (Tokyo) area right now.

Posted by: Philippe | Mar 25 2011 13:39 utc | 52

Except this year, that pollen may be radioactive. The radiation from the reactors penetrates the pollen and makes it radioactive, and easily breathed into the lungs.....which is the worst thing of all.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 25 2011 13:46 utc | 53

from The Oil Drum

Fukushima Dai-ichi status and slow burning issues

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Mar 25 2011 16:40 utc | 54

It's sounding very dire. I would head to Patagonia to be Ted Turner's servant, but then I heard about this. There's no where to run to, no where to hide. We just have to take it on the chops.

The United States has signed a long-awaited nuclear accord with Chile despite growing misgivings about the safety of nuclear power in Chile.

The Chilean government has stressed the deal was about training nuclear engineers and not building a reactor.

But it comes amid fears over a radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan following last week's huge earthquake.

Chile suffered its own devastating earthquake last year.

Many environmental groups in Chile have criticised the decision to invest more in nuclear energy as other countries are scaling back their nuclear plans....

No hemisphere will be allowed to provide a safe haven. It's a directive from the Overlords.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Mar 25 2011 18:39 utc | 55


Posted by: remembereringgiap | Mar 25 2011 22:27 utc | 56

Status update:

"Voluntary" evacuation of people from the 20-30 kilometer circle continues.

Radioactive water from reactor 2 has been running down a general drain and radiated water flew directly into the ocean.

Radioactive Iodine was measured at the south water outlet of the plant as some 1200 times of the legal limit.

Water feeds to reactors 1 to 3 has been changed from seawater to fresh water. The water fed to the spent fuel ponds will also be changed to fresh water. This will not remove the corrosive salt brine that has build up inside the reactors due to the earlier use of seawater for cooling.

White smoke/steam is now continuously appearing from reactor 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Pressure and temperature in reactor 1 are still too high but is coming down. Work at no.1 has been stopped due to high radiation.

Radioactive water has also been found in the no.1, 2 and 3 turbine buildings. Radioactivity levels and nucleotide composition of radioactive water in the No. 1 turbine building point to only recently released water from a reactor core with broken fuel rods. All three cores seem to be damaged, have broken/melted fuel rods and are leaky.

The water in the turbine building of reactor 3 into which two workers stepped was measured as containing a radioactive nucleotide concentration of 2.9 million Becquerel per gram. For comparison the maximum allowed concentration for food in the European Union is 600 Becquerel per kilogram. The only plausible source of the water is a reactor core with broken fuel rods. Normal reactor cooling water would be 10,000 times less active than what was found here.

Attempts are made to drain the water to be able to reactivate cooling pumps but as a JAIF report explains: "However, working condition in high radiation area is so bad and there is no prospect of accomplishing the work for this recovery."

The two workers have been exposed to radiation of 2 to 6 Sievert and will likely experience severe burns of their feet.

Reactor 5 and 6 are safe for now. The common spend fuel pool is safe for now.

Pictures (pdf) from inside and outside the plant buildings.

Posted by: b | Mar 26 2011 8:19 utc | 57

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