Fukushima Thread: March 20, 2011

Pressure Stabilizes at Japanese Nuclear Reactor, Operator Says

TOKYO — Japan struggled to contain the damage at its crippled nuclear complex on Sunday as it announced — but then quickly scrapped — plans to release more radioactive gases into the air to relieve pressure at its most troubled reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japan Self-Defense Forces focused their efforts on Reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima plant, some 170 miles north of Tokyo, which contains a highly toxic fuel that includes reclaimed plutonium.

Radiation discovery fans food fears in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — At a bustling Tokyo supermarket Sunday, wary shoppers avoided one particular bin of spinach.

The produce came from Ibaraki prefecture in the northeast, where radiation was found in spinach produced up to 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Another bin of spinach — labeled as being from Chiba prefecture, west of Tokyo — was sold out.

"It's a little hard to say this, but I won't buy vegetables from Fukushima and that area," said shopper Yukihiro Sato, 75.

Taiwan finds radiation on imported Japanese beans

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Radiation has been detected on fava beans imported from Japan to Taiwan, Taiwanese officials said Sunday, in what could be the first case of contamination in Japanese exports.

Fukushima nuclear plant shut for good

THE quake and tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant will never operate again as a power station, the Japanese government says.

Speaking in Tokyo, government spokesman Yukio Edano said the plant - which has six reactors - will eventually be scrapped once the emergency is brought under control.

I'm mostly worried about reactor #2 :

A. The reactor pressure is 1/4th of that of the other 2 reactors , indicating a breach


B. The Suppressionpool pressure level is down the scale , indicating a breach

C. The water level inside the core is way higher than that in the other 2 ,indicating less steam buildup

D. They have stopped injecting seawater into the containment vessel and pressure there is low


E. Pictures of #2 reactor show a steady flow of ejecting steam

F. #2 reactor is where they are concentrating the power restoration efforts

G. They have no info on the spent fuel pool status

Reactor pressure of #2 reactor is even lower than that of the Daini plant reactors ,
which had a cool shutdown and normal cooling functionality :


0.072/0.087 MPa versus 0.19 MPa in unit 1 of Daini fi.

to be fair , these are different types of reactors (1100 MW) ,
#5 daiichi however is equal to #2 (784 MW) , has been out of production for a while and yet has a higher reactor pressure of 1.3 MPA ( 10x that of the rest ?)

If the data scares you, stop watching it! You know what they say a watched pot never boils. That's what you want isn't it? ;) I note page 2 indicates that Unit 2 has the highest water level of the three [Unit 1 -1,750(A) , Unit 2 -1,300(A), Unit 3 -1,950(A)]

Another idea would be to order a bunch of portable liquid bladders to hold borated water as a distributed fire water storage system

Note that they are designed as "seismic tanks to replace cisterns affected by earthquakes".

One suggestion is that the higher water level in reactor 2 is a bad sign not a good one in this case. The emergency fire suppression flood with sea water should not be able to raise the water level that far against the expected pressure. Not such a problem when the pressure is leaking away through breached primary and secondary containment.

Partial breech of primary containment is suspected at reactor 3 as well and that's the MOX fueled one.

I Wonder what the inside of these reactors looks like with all that salt-water evaporating.

The data shows the pressure in Unit 2 to be 12 psig. So hook up one of those bladders as a jury rigged accumulator to vent the non-condensible gases and introduce some borated fresh water as feedwater to raise the level up to +2000. That puts the reactor vessel into a total cold shutdown at a very low gauge pressure (basically equal to hydrostatic pressure of the water column), which would drop the stresses in the pressure vessel to a minimum.

You've got to deal with the gases eventually, but you could temporarily truck the bladder offsite to reduce the background radiation at the site. At least it would be a lot better than just venting radiation to the atmosphere!

There is something strange in the numbers, as 0.072 and 0.087 Mpa is 72 and 87 kPa, respectively, which is less than atmospheric pressure of 101.3 kPa.
0.19 Mpa is 190 kPa which almost twice the atmospheric pressure, ergo it not a cold shutdown, as it requires below 100C and atmospheric pressure according to "definitions". Some posts were saying that it takes weeks to achieve cold shutdown. Overall it smells like fish (not the first time...).

Edit: The values are absolute in current NISA reports but relative in earlier reports - they changed at some point in the last few days. By "cold shutdown" at Daini they mean that either the primary or secondary cooling systems are functioning and keeping the reactor at the expected temperature. Loss of cooling and these plants would no longer be in "cold shutdown"

Neither primary nor secondary cooling is functional for reactors 1-3 at Daiichi - only emergency fire suppression flood.

By the way, NHK is currently reporting that the situation at reactor 3 at Daiichi is not stable and the outlook is not optimistic. NHK hasn't transmitted any live images of the plant during Sunday daytime in Japan but instead re-ran yesterday's video. This is the first day there has been no live video. No government images of spraying either - all from yesterday.

so the reactor #2 pressure would be less than 2 atmosphere , about the same as with my central heating system , however they are unable to submerge the fuelrods by injecting enough seawater.
This could be because :
- water flows in , water flows out
- water evaporates , pressure flows out
- the pumping system does not function

You are correct that the pressure readings from the reactor 2 are about 20% less than one atmosphere. which is strange. I suppose some technicians over there wonder about that too. Faulty pressure sensors after an explosion? Fair assumption.

It appears that the containment (building 2) pressure sensors indicate some overpressure (about 0.3 atmosphere overpressure), which is good. However, that might come from water that boils and escapes continuously, ofcourse. At least there is some resistance, so it is not a huge hole. Or the sensors are no longer good, and it is all 1 atmosphere... worst case...

We'll see later on in any case.

"Faulty pressure sensors after an explosion? Fair assumption."
Or, perhaps the pressure sensor electronic components were not radiation hardened. Or not hardened enough to survive a dry spent fuel pool nearby.

Second comment: Does anyone reading this know what the Japanese engineering convention is for indicating gauge pressure as opposed to absolute pressure. In USA units there is psig vs psi. Is something being missed in translation? Here in USA any pressure quoted in SI units is assumed to be 'scientist stuff', not 'engineer stuff' and it is well known that scientists don't do gauge pressure. But in Japan?

The pressure readings for the reactors are relative to atmospheric as I understand it.

Hi All,

The document containing the reactor pressures very clearly states in a footnote (*1) that the pressures listed were converted from gauge pressure to absolute pressure.

1 atmosphere is 0.101325 MPa so the readings given for reactors 1, 3, 5 and 6 are all in excess of atmospheric pressure. The readings given for reactor 2 are less than atmospheric pressure.

The gauge in reactor 2 is very likely shot or there's something wrong with the wiring that connects the gauge to wherever the readings are actually taken.

If you'd like I can explain the difference between absolute and gauge pressure.

Sneaky, They have recently changed the way they are reporting. I have gone back and checked and they previously were reporting gauge value (and yes that was negative for reactor 2 in http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110318-1.pdf ). Just went back and checked. You can check for yourself by looking at the old status report.

I don’t need the difference between the two explained but could do without NISA switching between them in updates. So I was right but now I’m wrong :-(

So they had higher temperatures and steam when they closed the relief valve and then cooled the contents condensing the steam and creating a vacuum. If you go back to the discussion of the condenser failing preventing operation of the main steam turbine, you would know that it normally operates at a vacuum (negative gauge pressure). If Unit 2 is at 12 psia, it is at -2.7 psig. That would be expected if the pressure vessel had integrity and had then been cooled condensing the steam. The key issue is the liquid level. It is shown as being about -1.4 meter, below the top of the fuel rods. The other reactors in cold shutdown at the undamaged plant show a + 2 meter level. Assume that is the normal cold shutdown level. So they need to add enough feed water to fill the pressure vessel about 3.4 meters or 10 feet. If the diameter is 10 feet (a guess) the volume is 785.4 cu ft = 5,885 gal. You'd need less as the rods themselves displace a significant percentage of the volume. So fill the tank of one fire truck with fresh water and you can fill the pressure vessel to the right level.

Edit- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_jar

In home canning, food is packed into the jar, and the steel lid is placed on top of the jar with the integral rubber seal resting on the rim of the jar. The band is screwed loosely over the lid, which will allow air and steam to escape. The jar is heat sterilized in boiling water, if Boiling-Water-Bath-canned (BWB-canned), or steam, if pressure-canned using a cooking utensil called a canner. When the jar is removed from the canner it is placed on the counter where it is allowed to cool to room temperature. The cooling of the contents creates a vacuum in the jar and the lids seals. Once cooled, the band is removed to prevent residual water between the jar threads and the lid from rusting the band. If the jar seal is properly formed, internal partial vacuum will keep the lid tightly on the jar. Some metal lids are slightly domed, much like the bottom of a mechanic's oil can. On a properly sealed Mason jar, the lid will be slightly concave. A "popped up" (flat or convex) lid may be a sign of microbial growth, including potential botulism, or seal failure. Some old Mason jars used glass lids with separate rubber rings, instead of steel, and are now considered unsafe for canning.

Yeah it is MPaG in most cases mentioned above in this thread, so to get to relative atmospheres, about: take the MPaG and multiply with 10. So 0.203 MPaG is about 2.0 times over normal atmospheric pressure.

But JAIF also mentions MPaAbs in same document - absolute pressure that is, 1 bar (almost same as 1 atmosphere) more, so to speak. Beware.

I am thankful that SI seems the norm, hehe, what that means in PSI I dont have a feeling for ;)

Pound per square inch, staple 7000 troy grains on your thumb and you will get the feeling.

ok are these grain thingies like individual rice grains or so... or like a small gravel-stone perhaps? 7000 how do you keep track of 14 aggregated 7000 units?
Forget it guys, Pa is better...

I can't help but remind my metric friends that the only people who ever walked (or probably ever will walk) on the moon went there in pounds, feet and inches. ;)

but the venus machines travelled in meters & kg

And we crashed one into Mars by mixing the two systems.

"Or, perhaps the pressure sensor electronic components were not radiation hardened. Or not hardened enough to survive a dry spent fuel pool nearby."

Or simply not intended to survive a steam bath. I doubt the instruments where I work would do very well in live steam. Especially after a week.

Or the pressure sensors do not react well to hot seawater? Especially if evaporation/boiling is turning it into concentrated brine precipitating salt...
Hey, maybe this is a new field mechanism for converting a BWR into a liquid salt cooled reactor!

"the pressure readings from the reactor 2 are about 20% less than one atmosphere. which is strange"

Never mind re-criticality, they've achieved singularity!

In retrospect, it may well be that total containment once fission ceases causes as many problems as it fixes. Certainly, during normal operations you'd want to keep any leaks from fittings in the secondary containment and so forth. During a situation such as this, though, the relatively low level release from a fully vented container with lots of water flowing would almost certainly have been less than the fluxing steam releases and rod melts caused by difficulties in maintaining some primary circulation.

Really, a nice tight containment of massive energy is the same as a bomb design -- intended to focus a nice build-up of heat and pressure on the contents, and then vent instantaneously on the surrounding environment.

Without secondary circulation, primary has limits as well. The best spin I can put on any of this is:
1) At least SCRAM appears to have worked properly (would this be the case for US nukes, with no advance seismic alert?)
2) At least full cooling functioned for some minutes before those systems failed, carrying the most powerful few minutes of decay heat away
3) At least the probability of re-criticality is low.

Actually the last point, which I have heard phrased this way, is poorly worded. The presumed likelihood is low, but the design could readily determine whether or not that occurs quite deterministically, and we just don't know which.

I believe they were doing a controlled release but something failed at below design pressure unexpectedly. This may have been a design fault known in the US


The destruction of the Unit 1 and 3 reactor buildings appears to have been caused by hydrogen explosions. As noted above, an unanswered question is how the hydrogen got into the reactor buildings. A little-known test performed decades ago at the Brunswick nuclear plant in North Carolina may hold the key to answering that question.

...Workers found that the containment pressure of 70 psi pushing upward against the inner dome of the drywell head lifted it off the drywell flange enough to provide a pathway for air to leak from the containment. That air leaked into the area labeled refueling cavity in Figure 1. The refueling cavity is located outside the primary containment but inside the reactor building.

The refueling cavity is the weak point in the concrete containment surrounding the steel reactor.

You can see green plastic sheeting through that hole showing that the containment was breached. I wondered what the green plastic sheeting was when they first surveyed the damage. It looked unusual.

But then comparing to unit 1 and 3 H2 explosions the top of the building blew off, which appears to be due to a more controlled release of H2 into the outer structure. It seems they either had less H2 in Building 1 or they had some other explosion in Unit 3 besides H2.

In any case, the 3 explosions with reactor units looked different to me, meaning there are a lot of different ways for things to go wrong when systems begin to fail. Were these operator changes or unique to the reactor fuel or unique pathways that the thing goes down when it self-destructs?

The most obvious thing would be some kind of external cooling loop that firetrucks or other pumping trucks could have driven.

Who would have thought that a Tsunami would wipe out the whole electric grid???? They are going to stew on that one for a long time.

Who would have thought that a Tsunami would wipe out the whole electric grid???? They are going to stew on that one for a long time.

Reactors are typically run for decades and there if they can not tolerate loss of power grid for a few days without blowing up I would expect some reactors to blow up before decommissioned. Power grids are reliable for everyday use but how many sites have reliable power for 40 years. Do you expect your power grid to work for 40 years without a few days of interruption? Or have your power grid worked for 40 years without interruptions a few days long?

It wasn't just the loss of the grid, they also had all of their on-site emergency generators and other vital equipment knocked out by the tsunami. Then they had 8 hours of battery power - which ran out.

If you are absolutely first priority customer - actually your producer yourself, how long would you expect a black out to last? 8 hours?

"We are on battery power now" - "It's gonna be a OK, we will get main power back in an hour or so".

Do you think they lost the "grid"?! I assume the transmission lines are hot right up to the switch yard building behind units 5/6 [ http://goo.gl/maps/vSKH - I assume this must be it.] and another set of lines come in behind units 1/2. Are all four (at least) circuits down? No one has said that, explicitly, that I have seen. The red and white towers (whatever they are - radio control towers?) seem to be in good shape - ie standing and intact. I wonder how the yard transformers are.
Here is a transmission substation, done in the "American" style: http://goo.gl/maps/fLkj
The plant switch yards do not look familiar to me, but the grid, the transmission lines, seem to terminate at those buildings.

I do not know what they lost; I am thinking about possible "complacency" in thinking - expectation that full power will come back before batteries run out. Could they have done anything differently had they known that regular power would not come back before batteries expire?

Sorry, I just jumped on the word "grid", whereas you were not focusing on that so much. I was looking for a place to put the comment more or less questioning all the the talk about "running in a power line", when the grid should be hot right into the switch yard.

"complacency" in thinking - expectation that full power will come back before batteries run out.

They thought they had it covered with backup generators. I think the complacency was not planning for a 5000year Earthquake/tsunami (I don't think Sendai is that far down the curve, but thats a reasonable number for planning for nuclear safety). A lttle bit of thinking about a 5000year event, and you'd be worried about the common mode failure problem of a large tsunami. This plant was only (appaently) ready for a couple hundred year event, which is an unacceptable level of complacency for a nuke.

Building the plant within 30 feet of the sea level is not a thousand year plan, and maybe not a hundred year plan. But scientists have not yet given an account of what happened, although I think it's clear that we underestimated the dangers - of earthquakes, of tsunamis, of financial pressures, of "not making waves".
The Onagawa Nuclear Plant was closer, and did not have nuclear problems, beyond fallout from Fukushima.


Knocked a few holes in the walls to let hydrogen out and ran some piping to the pools.


Another question that needs to be asked, why did they not fly in or bring in generators by sea to keep the pumps running? A sikorsky skycrane can lift 25,000 lbs, that's a lot of generator.

US military could have pulled any one of a number of ships up to the seawall and thrown some power cables over to run backup power..

Why didn't they get generators going?

I suspect it is because TEPCO is a corporation and after the batteries died Monday and the cores melted down, and stuff started to explode, they told the Prime Minister they were leaving and pulled every person out of the plant. They gave up on Monday a week ago. So, that's why.

The US military was moving ships as far away from downwind of the plant as possible not towards it. And I think it's a bit more complex than throwing some power cables over.

There's also this:

A legacy from the 1800s leaves Tokyo facing blackouts

All of eastern Japan, including Tokyo and the disaster-struck region to the north, is standardized on 50Hz supply while the rest of the country uses 60Hz.

Connecting the two grids is possible, but it requires frequency changing stations. Three such facilities exist, but they have a total capacity of 1 gigawatt.


I remember many years ago, Mexico City was 50Hz and the rest of the country was 60Hz. Mexico City was changed to 60Hz in the 1970's, before that it was a real hassle to change pulleys in tape recorders and record players if you moved.

HVDC grid backbone, frequency issues resolved.


US military could have pulled any one of a number of ships up to the seawall and thrown some power cables over to run backup power..

I assume that the grid was live at the switch yard, so that the ships would not provide anything that was not more readily available.

2) At least full cooling functioned for some minutes before those systems failed, carrying the most powerful few minutes of decay heat away

Until the tsunami hit, which IIRC was 55minutes after the EQ.
Did they have adavance warning, before the EQ shocks hit? That would have required seismic detectors out in the ocean.

I think flow through is better than flow in steam out, because then you have a chance to limit salf buildup. Keep putting seawater in, and letting only stean escape, and soon it will become a clogged mass of salt plus detritus. I'm not sure the timescale for this to happen, but at some point it won't be possible to circulate more fluid, then what happens?

My understanding is that they would like to get back to using fresh water at some point in the future. Not because they hope to ever use these reactors again, but mainly to try and limit the corrosion.

That makes perfect sense. Also because of the salt deposition problem.

That would have required seismic detectors out in the ocean.

Did you mean tsunami detector? They felt the earthquake "right away". You don't need an "earthquake detector". hahahahaha
What caused the failure of the primary cooling system? Do they switch to diesel generation and stop the turbines when they scram the reactor?

It will be good to get full control room operations back online and have a broader range of measurements, and I assume, control options. It does make one wonder what fraction was generator-backed and already up versus being mains fed soon. Lack of detailed information is always frustrating!

It would be surprising if anything much was still functional in the control room, or anywhere else around this site for that matter.
Sea water flooding combined with high temperatures (the reactor outsides are around 100*C) means extra speedy corrosion plus short circuits for any breached line.
It does seem to me that the best hope may be to depressurize the containments and pump through sea water on a one pass basis. Not good for the fishes,but less permanent damage.
That would at least give some breathing room to focus on refilling the spent fuel pools.
I think this will at best become a World Heritage Pollution Site, much like Chernobyl.

NHK World English explains that they are restoring electrical power to Fukushima 1, reactor 2 before the other damaged reactors because the intact containment building prevents them from using firetrucks to spay water into the spent fuel pool.

Don't know whether this link may have been put up in yesterday's thread, but the following page has a link to a video showing the water dousing operation by fire trucks at reactor 3.


The page is dated yesterday. Not sure where the video itself fits into the timeline.

It all has such an air of tragic futility.

That video is from the spraying of reactor 3 building during Saturday Japan daytime. No images have yet been released of the spraying of reactor 4 which was supposedly completed on Sunday, It is now past-midnight and into Monday in Japan.

This may be obvious to some, but this Post from Ransu yesterday may explain the lack of progress.

"For example walking alongside the waste pool now exposed and without its blanket of water between you and the rods, would mostly likely give you a lethal dose".

Anyone seen video's of the 3rd and 4th explosion?

Although the Japanese insist that there is water in pool 4 despite the US insistence there isn't.

There is video of the number 3 explosion. Have never seen video of the mysterious explosion at number 4.

Since NHK broadcast that there was a new problem at reactor 3 they have switched to their over-night mix of mainly repeated clips. "Work is continuing... amidst fears of radiation leaks" appears to be the current summary line.

Still cannot understand why they do not use a boom mounted nozzle.
There are lots of mobile 100-150 ft booms that self deploy on a heavy chassis. They are used in construction to pump cement to the higher floors of structures.
A higher vantage point would greatly increase the reach of the cooling spray, perhaps enough to effectively reach the spent fuel pools.

This would be an interesting physics problem to analyze in detail.

The drop in the available pressure reulting from the increased back pressure from raising the nozzle might offset much of the gain in reach that would otherwise occur. It might come down to whether the additional aerodynamic drag acting on the water stream from a ground level nozzle outweighs the flow losses in the hose if a longer hose is needed to elevate the nozzle.

Also, without some kind of remote control for pointing the nozzle, aiming would be more difficult since the boom would have to be moved. The boom itself would have to be rigid or the thrust from the nozzle might cause enough movement to further complicate aiming. On the other hand, if the boom mounting enabled the nozzle to be placed closer to the aim point, there would seem to be potential for reducing the dispersion of the spray at the aim point.


"Also, without some kind of remote control for pointing the nozzle, aiming would be more difficult since the boom would have to be moved. "

Cement pumper trucks run the multi-jointed boom from the cab. If it was tall enough it would work.

I tired to clip a picture, but that didn't work, so just google "cement pumper truck" and look at the picture.

I doubt 150feet is far enough. They probably need to be two to three times as far from the action in order to minimize the gamma doses for the crew. Sounds like they need a remotely operated crane. Even if such exists, getting it to the area is probably a lot tougher than bringing in firetrucks.

Sunday 16:00 UTC - it looks a lot better(? if one can say that about this accident) now as per http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300624909P.pdf

AC power to unit 5,6 available, 3-6 soon. The guys that connected 5 and 6 has some track record now of progress and should be able to repeat it. Some cooling pumps working on unit 5,6.
Cooling water appear sufficient for ponds and reactors 1-3, as well.

Pond in 4 still nasty. But at least they try to fill it to reduce radiation. Keep up the good fight, I hope you make it. Radiation is high on site (service building) - 3 mSv/h, higher inside buildings I assume.

What about Unit #3? Did they reduce pressure by dumping the suppression pool outside of the building?


Seems they have problems yet there.

Unit #2 is dumping radioactivity and Unit #4 is dumping radiation as well.

The bright spots are UNit 5 and 6 which were high in temp 2 days ago in their spent fuel pools. Also Unit 1 has been great after it blew its lid.

So I'd say they have half of a disaster now to worry about: 3 units uncontrollably spewing radiation.

In their most recent technical update on the subject from the same expert, more recent to the clip linked above, he said situation at 3 is not stable and can't be optimistic about the outcome. Unfortunately I didn't record it as I expected it to be repeated the following hour by NHK-World. They haven't repeated it (yet anyway).

The first damaged building they intend to connect AC power to is Reactor 2. We will see how that goes and what is actually usable with that power.

Reactors 5 and 6 were quite some distance away, shut down for months and undamaged as far as we know.

Yes. 5&6 is simply a matter of caretaking the spent fuel ponds. If they hadn't ignored that long enough that the water level got low, that shouldn't have been an issue. I'm guessing that fresh water source was ruined, and they would naturally want to wait before really screwing things up by pumping seawater in -hoping a fresh water source was just around the corner, until things start to get nasty.

And after a year or two, the spent fuel at 5 and 6 should be cool enough that it can be stored in dry casks instead of the spent fuel pools (assuming that the fuel rods never overheated and weren't damaged).

I found a little website reporting radiation in some monitoring stations in USA, live update: http://radiationnetwork.com/ It is in counts per minute. For reference background in Tokyo (there was picture linked to on TOD a few days ago, was 13 counts per minute. Japan data are suppressed...

I have no idea how counts per minute are related to other units of dosage, except that it will depend very much on kind of radiation.

The Tokyo geiger-counter webcam peaked at somewhere in the 40s as the wind direction blew the cloud of fall-out from the core partial meltdown and containment breech over the city.

The one single piece of good luck they seem to have had is that the wind has mostly blown the radioactive cloud out to sea (forcing the US Navy to get out of the way).

The plant may have been reluctant to vent reactor 3 while the wind was blowing direction Tokyo. Lucky that nothing broke as far as we can tell.
They are planning to use a tank dozer to clear the debris on the access road, which may help the effort to get water spray trucks closer to the buildings.
I cannot understand that the US has not volunteered an M-1 tank for this, they have superb shielding, partly because of their uranium armor.

Reactors 2 and 3 are partially breeched and venting themselves it seems.

Well the containments appear to have some overpressure at least, there might be leaks too, though. So if pressure increased in say reactor 3 the technicians might still have the choice to additionally vent, or not, in any case (assuming the vent valves are somewhat functional).

Reactor 2 doesn't seem to be capable of holding any pressure. Reactor 3 seems to have limited ability to hold pressure. They planned on venting 3 yesterday after an unexpected pressure rise but it seems the reactor may have done it for them again.

Concerning the wind, my thought was exactly the same. And I dont blame them to avoid more radioactive venting with winds towards land... that was worth a shot, and reactor 3 held, good call. The last I read, from several lousy sources, was that reactor 3 has stabilised now Sunday evening. So it looks better.

The whole accident team seems more confident and reliable the last 1-2 days. They are getting there.

NHK put out a report using the words "not stable" and "not optimistic" about reactor 3 status a few hours ago. They have not repeated these words since but are saying current work is "amidst fears of radiation leak".

Ok I see, the pressure has increased from almost atmospheric the 19th to 1 atmosphere overpressure in the night the 20th to this morning (japanese time) 2.4 times atmospheric pressure. After that I cant find any readings.
Damn, they should display the pressure readings on a webpage live. Seriously I do not know why i am so captivated by this accident - rarely I have been so absorbed. I have a job interview tomorrow and should prepare a presentation on myself and research Ive done... as this accident is what I do the last couple of days I could as well talk about that.
It is hard to make a joke in serious times even - where to draw the line?

The one single piece of good luck they seem to have had is that the wind has mostly blown the radioactive cloud out to sea

Today the wind may not be so favorable as before. Mainly northern winds. In addition to that rain. (I have studied the Swedish and Norwegian Meterological Institutes weather forecasts.)

What will happen? It appears based on reports of contaminated vegetables that there has been some fall-out of contaminated particles already despite more or less best possible (?) wind conditions. If emissions have not been greatly reduced the situations as to fall-out in populated areas might become much worse!?

Is there a probability of substantial areas becoming uninhabitable or is the situation under such control that this is presently not a risk?

Edit: I have studied the map linked by WebHubbleTelescope somewhat more and maybe it is not correct to say that the wind conditions have been more or less optimal so far. Still forecast wind directions does seem to give rise to concern.

In an ideal world, we would draw power from infinitely power dense perpetual moton machines. In reality, no such things exist and energy policy will therefore always be a balancing act. You have a pot of money on one side and people who need power on the other. You look at all the alternatives and try to make the best decision.

Natural gas produces CO2, is not very secure (politically) and has safety problems if there is a large leak in a populated area, i.e you can end up burning or aspyxiating thousands of people.

Coal is polluting, politically insecure even if you mine the stuff of your own territory (think miners strikes) and produces huge piles of toxic ash that poison the ground water for centuries.

Unless you have hydro, then renewables can only reduce the amount of fuel you need in a coal or gas plant and they are expensive in a way that would push down living standards. Because you need to mine the materials to build them, they really aren't as sustainable as their proponents would have you think.

Nuclear has problems with capital costs and there is always a slight risk of radioactive leaks.

You weigh all of these problems together and try to make a decision that brings the least pain to everyone. When you weigh all of the problems and benefits in context, nuclear persistantly comes out on top, as a reliable baseload electricity source. In my opinion, there has been a huge amount of hoo-ha regarding this Fukushima incident which is completely unjustified.

In the worst circumstance of a large release, people within ten miles of the plant may recieve an internal dose of tens of mSv if they remain exposed to the plume for hours outside of any building. However, given that the Japanese authorities have now evacuated everyone to a distance of 30km and most people are smart enough to stay indoors, the real doses would be much smaller, probably no more than a few mSv for those within the path of the plume. The actual human fatalities would therefore be limited to anyone unlucky enough to be left at the plant.

A more serious long-term concern would be the contamination of land. Comparisons with Chernobyl are not really applicable as the Chernobyl release was facilitated by a burning, uncontained graphite core which provided a thermal driving head pushing contamination up to 30,000ft. But if the primary circuit fails and fission products leak out and the containmnet building is unable to provide containment for the resultant contaminated saturated steam, then fission products will enter the wind and spread large amounts of contamination several miles from the site.

In the worst case then, perhaps a few hundred square miles of land would be contaminated and there would be restrictions on what could be grown on it in the future. Not a good situation and certainly something that would add to the problems that the japanese people now have to face, but not really a catastrophe either.

And this is something that hasn't happened and is still unlikely to happen, even after one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history and a simultaneous tsunami. The plant was old and constructed in a severe Earthquake zone in the 1960s, long before modern HAZOP would have identified the need for tougher design standards and passive safety features.

It would be ridiculous to start building natural gas or coal power plants, with all of their problems on the back of something that is a non-crisis and not really applicable to people outside of the pacific rim anyway.

But if the primary circuit fails and fission products leak out and the containmnet building is unable to provide containment for the resultant contaminated saturated steam, then fission products will enter the wind and spread large amounts of contamination several miles from the site.

Here's what they are finding 100km away.

Spinach with radiation 27 times higher than limit found in Japan

Spinach with radioactive iodine 27 times more than the government-regulated limit was found in the city of Hitachi in Ibaraki Prefecture, more than 100 kilometers south of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but the radiation levels do not affect human health, local authorities said Sunday.

In 1 kilogram of spinach grown in open air in the city, 54,000 becquerels of iodine was detected, exceeding the 2,000 becquerel limit set by the government's preliminary regulation under the food sanitation law, the Ibaraki prefectural government said.

The level of cesium in the spinach grown in the city was also higher at 1,931 becquerels, compared to the limit of 500 becquerels.

What seems ridiculous about this is that people will think that this level was caused by a biological growth process, incorporated through the soil or transpiration. The timeline for this has been way too short!
Common sense indicates that this is at most can only be fallout that landed on the spinach leaves. In which case people are breathing in this amount, regardless of whether it lands on vegetables.

Although my son and I recently showed that celery can begin to take up blue dye in about 2 hours time. We may publish our results when they let us use radioactive Cs.

But seriously, there is more harm from inhaling Cs and I radioisotopes or getting them from drinking water than from food. It is likely food can be avoided in the region. The air and water cannot. Unless they are getting in water now from elsewhere.

I am behind you there.

Interesting research and it sounds very hands on!

Could it, then, be both? (Some radioactive material falls on wet ground and is quickly absorbed by roots as well as leaves?) I wonder if top leaves (most exposed to fallout) are more radioactive than bottom leaves--would this be a way to check?

Probably a moot point, though--it's not like anyone is eating that spinach for dinner tonight. :^(

I honestly am not a botanist, but I am a scientist.

To give you an idea though about plants, a plant can take up water quickly. A limp plant from dry conditions can be given water and it with firm up very fast -- faster than watching grass grow ;-) I am not sure if minerals come in too. I bet they do, since the food dye and celery experiment works rather well, but celery is not a root. Rather it is a cut open stem.

So my qualified WAG would be that plants can absorb and adsorb nuclear materials from fallout pretty quickly.

The latter can be washed off indeed, but the former will be ingested.

Right! And they are finding it on more vegetables, it's obviously in the air and landing on any surface:


On Sunday, the government banned shipments of milk from one area and spinach from another and said it found contamination on two more vegetables – canola and chrysanthemum greens – and in three more prefectures. The Health Ministry also advised a village in Fukushima prefecture not to drink tap water because of radioactive iodine in its supply. It stressed, however, that the amounts remained minuscule and posed no health threat.
On Sunday, authorities found contamination at additional farms in Fukushima and on vegetables in Chiba, Gunma and Tochigi prefectures, said Yoshifumi Kaji, director of the health ministry's inspection and safety division. He said it was possible some tainted foods already have been sold.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed radiation in some Japanese milk and vegetables was "significantly higher" than levels Japan allows for consumption.

It would seem to me to indicate a significant problem, I believe inhalation can cause far more serious problems than ingestion.

Fava beans in Taiwan contaminated. No one knows how though.


Kagoshima, at the southwestern tip of Kyushu island, is more than 1,100 kilometres (700 miles) from the quake epicentre on the east coast of Honshu island.

Tsai called on the public not to panic as the test figures showed that the beans contained just 11 Becquerels (Bq) of iodine and 1.0 Bq of caesium-137 per kilogram -- both well below the national safety levels.

The beans will be destroyed, she said.

I guess in Japan it may eat it and suck it up or go hungry. I bet the exports are not going to be increasing for this summer's harvest.

Supply problems or not, I bet marketing of Japanese food exports to be a nearly impossible task.

Who pays for the destroyed beans?

Unless there is are decent (government-sponsored?) crop-insurance coverage programs that can directly compensate farmers (and whomever down the line might wind up with a shipment of contaminated food), we are going to see radioactive food in the strangest places, as the supply chains for commodities are not particularly transparent.

Financial compensation to the product owner immediately on discovery of radioactive stuff is going to motivate everyone to find it at the source, instead of just blending things together to dilute to background radiation levels.

We all pay for it in higher food prices. Nuclear does not pay. Their liability was capped at 1.2 billion. LMAO.

This is bordering on hysterical. Do you realize how small 11 Bq is? According to this source, a 70kg human body will have in excess of 4.4 KILO-Becquerels of activity due to K-40 and 3.7kBq of activity due to C-14, i.e. an average of 115 Bq/kg. So, how is a source of 11Bq/kg a danger if it is an order of magnitude smaller in activity than the average human who would consume it? We would be a bigger radiation threat to the beans than the other way around! When they say well below national safety standards, they are so not kidding that it is journalistic malpractice to put this in context of nuclear disaster as most people will take the context and gloss over the reassurances and think to themselves "reassurances, yeah, right - that's what THEY are bound to say, eh?" even though this contamination is less than trivial. That's the thing about radionuclides: they can be detected in vanishingly small concentrations. But, such is the politics of radiation and things nuclear.


Granted 11 Bq/kg is probably not much. But on the other hand all Bequerels are not equal when it comes to the ability to harm the human body. Radioactive iodine as in the 11 Bq/kg above concentrates in the thyroid gland and may increase the risk of cancer there.

Further I would guess that depending on which particle/photon that is emitted during radioactive decay the ability to damage the genome and thus its (the Bequerels) carcinogenicity differs.

Thus, I believe you have to be somewhat careful with these kinds of calculations/comparisons.

Also, this figure is from a food stuff where probably no one had expected to find anything at all as a result of the Fukushima disaster. What are the figures for leafy vegetables from the area that have been contaminated according to the media.

'According to the media' is probably a bad place to start anyway. Now, let us remember that a large area of that coastline, to varying distances, was swamped by the tsunami. Those areas will not have a lot coming out of them for some time. Probably the worst affected areas will be the least productive.


You need 15000 Bq of iodine to reach a dose of 300 microSieverts. Beside, you only keep 20% to 7% of it inside the thyroid gland1.

You also have to think about bilogical half-life, if you eat any iodine that is not radioactive, you likely even lower that level. Thus eating kilos and kilos of theses beans will only get you sick of an overdose of beans.


We are not biologically designed to handle some radioactive chemicals. Radioactive iodine: Body asks, "What's that?" radioactive caesium: "What's that?" radioactive strontium : "What's that?"
plutonium, americium etc . etc. "What are those?"

Radioactive potassium. "Oh, I know about this one. I have mechanisms in place to minimize the threat, especially given that it is usually significantly diluted by non radioactive potassium"
Radioactive carbon "Oh, I know about this one. I have mechanisms in place to minimize the threat, especially given that it is usually significantly diluted by non-radioactive carbon"

Why is it so hard for individuals to understand that a lot of the products of fission are completely foreign materials where the body is concerned and it does not have any devised way to cope with their damage?

"Why is it so hard for individuals to understand that a lot of the products of fission are completely foreign materials where the body is concerned"

Completely false, isotopic difference have NO difference in body chemistry, NO difference whatsoever.2

Iodine-131 is equal to iodine-123 iodine-127 and iodine-129 for the human body.

Protons and electrons manage electromagnetic/chemistry forces between atoms, hence the name of the substance -> iodine = 53 protons.

Hell, carbon-14 and potassium-40 exist since the dawn of times, the body sure can handle ludicruous amount of iodine-131.

Again, these amount will disappear COMPLETELY in 80 days (iodine-131 half life is 8 days), so you'll need a crazy bean intensive regime for the 3 next month. My bet is that you'll most likely shit bricks before anything else lol.


Regarding a half-life of 8 days:
Isn't it true that, other things being equal, the shorter the half-life, the more dangerous the material, since half-life measures the speed of decomposition, or rate of radiation.
Oh! But I see your point; if you can protect yourself from biological uptake for 80 days, you should be in the clear.

Are you saying "Radioactivity is dangerous for the body" and "the less radioactivity, the better"? ... or something else? I didn't get the "What's that" versus "Oh I know about this one". Don't all isotopes of an element participate equivalently in the body's chemical reactions? I think so.

According to Japan's Kyodo News:

"In a notice to the nation's 47 prefectures, the health ministry called on local governments on Monday to advise residents to stop giving babies water in forms such as baby formula if radioactive iodine is found in drinking water at levels greater than 100 becquerels per kiloliter.

''Babies can easily absorb radioactive iodine in their thyroid glands,'' a ministry official said, explaining the reason for issuing the notice. The intake limit set by the central government is 300 becquerels per kiloliter of water.


So, don't give the babies formula made with water. Give then milk? nope. Breast milk? nope. What then?

I don't know how the 100 becquerels per kiloliter compares to the levels that have been found. Anyone have that information yet?

I must have missed out on bringing up babies, I thought thirst and hunger would have been a problem if they did not get their formula.


I've heard that fish is a good source of normal iodine (I-127 I think). So a few fish based food per week should even dilute that problem by ten-fold or hundreds fold, if they drank the water the news where talking about.

Give them a week or two and you won't find anything near theses levels because of dillution at large.

So Antius. I guess nobody dies longer term from the inevitable excess cancers caused by this event. You are probably one from the school of low dosages, no harm. I hope some independent entities are collecting good data as this event unfolds!!

Don't worry. In cases like this, there are always "independent entities" that will create ample fodder for anti-nukers. In reality, however, the Fukushima nuclear plant accident will kill less people than the equivalent coal power does from a year of normal operation.

Same, I hope better data will be collected, at Chernobyl or TMI there was a lack of data prior to the event, well, thats what they said. Now they should have enought data.

However, since you need to cumulate 12.5-25 Sv1 to trigger a cancer death, doses in the milisiverts range won't probably generate alot of additionals cancers. Cancers rates are 20% in US, 5 mSv add 0.04%, I doubt this will be mesurable.

1http://www.ornl.gov/sci/env_rpt/aser95/tb-a-2.pdf (100 rem = 1 Sievert)


many words do not make a truth. Would you mind giving a source for your statement "When you weigh all of the problems and benefits in context, nuclear persistantly comes out on top, as a reliable baseload electricity source."?

Or if you have done some research yourself on that topic why not share the knowledge with us, we are eager to learn your absolute truth...

I have read through your text and I chose to flag you as inappropriate:

You do not explain what the purpose of your post is,
However you ascertain that this accident results in a choice between nuclear and say gas energy. This is false logic.
Further you ascertain that this accident has not done any fallout, which you can not know yet.
Further you assume that people will not be effected (especially if they are not "not smart"- that speaks for itself)...
And you judge the worsening of this accident as "unlikely" without analyzing.
And base your final comment on that weak argument.

In short I consider your whole text as not very well thought-through. Inappropriate in quality.

I on the other hand think that Antius has raised some interesting insights and they are indeed appropriate with regards to the general topic of nuke plants.

The control people who decide "we" should have a nuke plant in the backyard of "those" people are often not one and the same as the "those" people who get to suffer from the negative outcomes of "risks" supposedly taken by the control people.

Sure the control people take a financial risk. But who takes the risk of slow death by intake of radioactive particulate mater? Is this a case of tyranny by a controlling minority over an afterward suffering majority? And how is a fair and balanced justice to be meted out when things go horribly wrong?


These are the propagandists tactics.
There was a post much like it yesterday.
There will be one tomorrow.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until it becomes the new common knowledge.
You are just supposed to believe. To have faith. To follow. "Baaaaaaa".

Yes, obviously the nuclear lobby mulled over the current 2 day relative stability, which, by the way, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that when one loses control over a plant like this, it is literally basically a matter of pure luck if it is put under control or if it spirals totally out of control.

The deliberately misleading attempt to construct a false discussion is somewhat transparent here, when clearly the real logical conclusion is that if the goal is sustainable or at least renewable, that goal is not more easily reached by implementing further locked in nuclear projects that take money and attention from the path required to solve the problems of real world renewable rollouts of all types. These problems will require serious effort to deal with as they come up, with empirical testing of to scale rollouts.

To reach renewable one must build renewable, everything else is kicking the can down the road, with 10k year lasting waste products that cannot be dealt with, even if one considers the French model, which does minimize primary wastes, but does nothing to deal with the secondary materials.

At least now I know what the selling points are. My vote is for people to simply see their feelings, and to note the horror of failure.

I'm going to try to minimize the time I spend with people promoting a negative future for the sake of ongoing profit.

GE just lost about 12 billion US in market cap. Need I say more? I do not believe Bach had nuclear energy in mind when he wrote the Mass in B Minor.

As noted by those who watch such things, the goal in such communications is to raise doubt and confusion in people's minds. This strategy is not poorly documented and so should not be surprising to see when it appears.

I just loved the lead in with reference to an ideal world and perpetual motion - from there it was quite obvious that it was going to be a propaganda piece.

Re how current spin/PR is done, conceptually, a good take here, Max Keiser interviews Michael Betancourt (starts roughly half way through). As discussed by Orlov, who also has an interestingly clear statement on Nuclear Meltdowns. Worth a read in my opinion.

Orlov is funny, if bitter. (ducking)
I trust his judgment more than the I trust the people with stock in nuclear. It's not even that nuclear CANT work, just that it won't work, not safely, when run like the "Manhattan" project, as our last best hope.
Safety is too expensive, and unsafe nuclear is way too expensive.

Yea, it seemed a little fuzzy to me also.

it is literally basically a matter of pure luck if it is put under control or if it spirals totally out of control.

I don't thinks thats correct. It clearly depends strongly on the preparations at the plant and actions of the responders. In the case of Fukushima, all the indications are that the preparations were seriously inadaquate. I.E. ones luck is primarily made. Although I will concede part of your point, that, at least in a case like this one, where the preparations were lacking, a lot of luck was needed to avoid the worst case.
I think this is much more an issue of the degree of trust and competence in the industry, versus unsurmountable technological risk. So the issue becomes largely one of management, and management incentives. Does for profit ownership and operation deliver the necessary incentives? Or do these need be managed on a different basis, where safety considerations cannot become secondary to profit?

BTW. I ordered, The Alchemy of Finance today.

It is this case, and Chernobyl, which both required luck to not be even worse. It is still unknown about this current situation so nothing can be concluded until the actual plants are fully under control, which they have not been. Detroit was 1 minute away. We could dig and find more. Luck is far far too much a primary part of the plant operations for my taste.

I read today, or yesterday, David Lochbaum stated that gen 3 designs basically get a 72 hour safety margin, after that, same exact problems as now. Given this is much longer than 72 hours, one can see the safety margins are illusory, and reflect concrete engineering/vs cost compromises which I am assured by those who really know are always the case, without any exception. Since Lochbaum appears to me to have more understanding and experience than anyone here, I'm making him my primary source and ignoring the industry voices who are of course worried about losing those fat contracts.

Also note the fundamental problem of the cooling ponds, which exist in this state precisely because the waste is NOT being processed, despite faerie tale dreams of gen 4 in 2030... after major convulsions economically... who knows what we'll be doing in 2030, let alone 2050. Nothing is predictable now, we are heading into uncharted territory, hope you're set to enjoy the ride. How about this? No new nuke plants until all waste is properly and permanently processed, including all the stuff sitting in those cooling ponds all over the world, and the secondary wastes too. Once the industry demonstrates it can clean up after itself, and pay its way without subsidies, and all the other costs it charges us for its use, maybe then there's something to talk about. Don't hold your breath though, doesn't fit the mantra of 'privatize profits, socialize costs'. If this cannot be done, then the project terminates. Seems reasonable to me, wind down over some years or even a decade or two.


Fantastic idea, old-skool socialist style. Let's set some impossible hurdles for nuclear, so it has to be closed down, and blame the industry along the way. Coal FTW!

Wait. Nuclear is socialism. Big State socialism. LMAO.

So what then is your point? If we need Big State power then go with something that the people want.

speaking of old school socialist style:

Before having to hear how high the costs of renewable energy are, I’ll close with a brief reminder of the government subsidies the U.S. nuclear industry is slated to receive. Here are some components of the $46 billion being offered up over the next 5 years in addition to the cap on liability for any accident:

* $22.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors;
* $12.3 billion in nuclear waste fund liability payments;
* $3 billion for mixed oxide activities; and
* $1.9 billion for fusion energy.


Loan guarantees are not money, they're guarantees. The $12.3 billion in liabilities are not subsidies. The fusion energy is research money. The MOX stuff I dunno what it is for - encouraging recycling that would otherwise not be done, I guess.

If this qualifies as socialism to you, the by all means abstain. Fill the atmosphere with CO2 and build some token wind turbines and PV plants to make you feel good about it all.

My observation was the stated loan guarantees are not compared with loan guarantees for other energy sources. I thought that was most deceptive so I did a little google-searching and math. Here's what I found...

Plant Vogtle (nuclear) received $8270 million in loan guarantees to provide 2200 MW of power. Simple arithmetic normalizes this to $3.76 million per MW.

Plant Solana (thermal) received $1450 million in loan guarantees to provide 250 MW of power. Equally simple arithmetic normalizes this to $5.8 million per MW.

Color me purple if you wish, but it seems to me that nuclear is getting the short end of the stick regarding loan guarantees.

That's what I don't like with renewables, people misses a lot of numbers. Iowa, stated as a major wind power state, produce as much electricity from wind turbines as Minnesota, which has half the turbines!

They need cost vs generation, that simple. And to asset the value of the power in the electricity market, i.e. do no force utility to buy it at a fixed price even though it's less valuable (reliable).

Another neglected number is land area. Plant Vogtle's future 4 units will generate 4630 MW of power on 3100 acres of land. Plant Solana will generate 250 MW of power on 1900 acres of land. Let's say we project the size of Plant Solana out to equal Plant Vogtle and assume linear increase in land area per MW. For Plant Solana to generate 4630 MW of power, it would use 35,188 acres of land. Converted to square miles, Plant Solana needs 55.0 square miles vs Plant Vogtle's 4.8 square miles. Using up this much land area may be ok in Arizona but I doubt if the Georgia tree-huggers would want this many trees permanently removed.

A Non-crisis?
I wonder what a real crisis would look like?

According to the latest US Energy Information Agency data (2011 Outlook) the projected costs of nuclear power has increased by 37% to over $5,000 per kw whereas actual PV costs have been reduced by 25% to under $5,000 per kw. Current DOE target is for installed cost of PV to be less than $1000 per kw within six years (Sunshot Initiative). I do recognize that direct cost comparisons are tricky but the data does suggest that significant long term capital intensive bets on centralized power may be foolhardy unless someone else takes on the financial exposure (i.e. the ratepayers and taxpayers rather than the shareholders and bondholders).

Given the long lead time of constructing new plants, the significant cost advantages of energy efficiency, the unwillingness and inability of any entity to build such plants without the taxpayers and ratepayers assuming 100% of the risks, the unwillingness of the nation to develop a long range nuclear waste disposal program, the lack of a free market and innovation inherent in a power monopoly business model, the excessive political power of investor owned utilities, the track record of same utilities to resist regulatory oversight, the willingness of citizens to give up significant civil liberties to assure that plants are safe from attack; why would someone push nuclear power as a nation's "best" option?

THIS MIGHT BE OFF TOPIC..but, anyone concerned about the new 100 mile by 10 mile new oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico??

Maybe the OilDrum might put out a new Post about this OIL SPILL and we can get to the bottom of it as no one on Main Stream is reporting about it:

Possible New Oil Spill 100 By 10 Miles Reported in Gulf Of Mexico (Update: Spill Photos)

Black Swan Clusterflock +1. As if earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns and war was not enough, the Examiner now discloses that a replay of the BP oil spill could be in the making, sending WTI to the (super)moon, the economy collapsing, and Ben Bernanke starting the printer in advance of QE 666. To wit: "The U.S. Coast Guard is currently investigating reports of a potentially massive oil sheen about 20 miles away from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion last April." There are no definitive reports yet, but we should now for sure within hours, if the Keppel FELS built TLP is indeed the culprit: "According to Paul Barnard, operations controller for the USCG in Louisiana, a helicopter crew has been dispatched to the site of the Matterhorn SeaStar oil rig, owned by W&T Offshore, Inc." And if preliminary reports are correct, BP will have been the appetizer: "Multiple reports have come in of a sheen nearly 100 miles long and 10 miles wide originating near the site." If confirmed, Obama can kiss tomorrow's Rio golf outing goodbye.


Instead of saying it's off-topic why not just post it in the current drumbeat where it would be on topic.

Undertow...I got a better idea....let's just drop the whole topic altogether....how about that? Who really cares about the GOM anymore anyhow?


I am simply pointing out that you will normally find more people with knowledge of events in the GoM in the drumbeat than you will regularly reading this thread (although clearly there are some) - which is explicitly the Fukushima thread. Posting in the drumbeat isn't some kind of down-grade.

Undertow....I understand what you are saying. I don't post much here, but if you think about it almost sounds something like this:

If I called a businessman up to let him know his mother died....and his response would be...."YOU CALLED MY BUSINESS LINE"....please call me on my personal number.

See how that kind of sounds? Doesn't this sort of information OVERSTEP bureaucratic placement??

It is discussed here in the drum:

(Scroll down a fair bit - past the huge strange discussion on Martenson, and below Libya and just after the strange drawing of the soldier with the quad... what dont you find on the drumbeat nowadays...)

Not to argue the numbers themselves, but are they comparing apples to apples? Nuclear is baseload, solar is not. Does the cost given for solar include the energy storage system to get through the night?

Certainly the base load issue is important. The figures need to be done carefully. My impression is that the mix of available technologies is often region specific too (especially due to water availability). So a rational comparison may include:
- mining cost, including infrastructure and CO2 emitted by machinery
- land cost (does the plant/disposal need to be on high value land)
- water cost - including waste heat and its impact
- construction cost - in materials and embedded CO2
- running cost, including a factor for sophistication
- decommissioning
- waste storage and hazard (risk x impact)
- power management (ie: grid and batteries)
- value of existing infrastructure

There is no common currency for all these factors, it is very hard to ascribe a dollar value to biodiversity for instance (waste water pollution). While I am not aware of a systematic study, for the Australian environment, considering these factors, I would argue that the following mix would make sense as an aim for transition to renewables:

- reduced goal and gas, offset by energy conservation
- solar thermal (tower and accumulator designs can provide base load), low water use and low land value
- geothermal where available
- wave and wind where available
- integrated grid to balance load, perhaps buffered by flow batteries
- local solid-oxide fuel cells for industrial and transitionary power (water heat as a plus in these settings)
- photovoltaic on new developments

Nuclear power presents significant problems compared to the above mix. It has long lead time and I do not think that one can rationally conceive of nuclear power as viable unless there is demonstrable use of safe, offsite storage of spent fuel rods, with the associated costs factored in. I am open to the idea that a thorium fuel cycle may be more efficient and could change the numbers somewhat.

You energy mix suggestions don't allow for both stable power and low carbon emissions.


"why would someone push nuclear power as a nation's "best" option?"

Because it is an insane answer to an insane situation.
In context, it is the best solution.
It is, perhaps, simply too late, however.
It is not economic "because the burden falls on taxpayers".
The cost is shifted into the worker's families future.

There are billions of "Human"-brand monkeys on this planet.
The numbers sprang forth in lock-step with the production of oil.
The oil is going to/has already decline in availability.
Monkeys gonna die. Probably big monkey wars. Bad for sea cucumbers.

They know how to build engines to extract
the required vast replacement energy, equal to oil,
from the pure things that they dig out of the earth.
They have also already dug mountains of the stuff out.
Another type of machine can convert these standing supplies
into energy.

But it is so very far past what you can trust a monkey to do!


Or, just relax! Cafe Alpha Main Theme:

"the projected costs of nuclear power has increased by 37% to over $5,000 per kw whereas actual PV costs have been reduced by 25% to under $5,000 per kw. Current DOE target is for installed cost of PV to be less than $1000"

You took into consideration capacity factors? Some solar powers stations have 10% CF, 20% in sunny places and 30% in a fews plants I've heard about.

Multiply that price by 10 or 5 and you'll see why I take a cautious approch toward theses prices estimates.

NOTE: I'm not talking about reliability, I'm talking about the total amount of electricity generated at a solar power plant vs total amount of electricity generated at a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear has problems with capital costs and there is always a slight risk of radioactive leaks.

Take a look at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_civilian_nuclear_accidents

I'm not sure how you define slight risk but it looks to me that historically, over 1% of all civilian nuclear power reactors ever commissioned have had fuel melt accidents forcing them to be decommissioned. That just doesn't seem like a very good safety record to me.

I expect there will shouting and foot stomping on both sides, but in the end, it's economics that will do in nuclear power.

see: http://www.vermontlaw.edu/Documents/Cooper%20Report%20on%20Nuclear%20Eco...

Did ya cut & paste this? Or did you think of it all by yourself?

Thanks for giving us the line from the 'nuclear is perfect and better than everything else' vision. You weighed all the power sources evenly.

I want to know where I can tell my Senators and Congressman to direct my tax dollars. Which nuclear company are you from?

Speculative question:

Radiation levels seem to go up and down with the cessation and resumption of continuous spraying. (Accurate perception?)

One interpretation is that the spraying is succeeding at substantially refilling spent fuel pools.

In the case of reactor's 2 and 3 especially, isn't it possible that the spraying's primary effect is to redirect atmosphere-bound leaks into run-off water? Isn't that equi-consistent with the (scant) data?

I can think of a few possible reasons.
(1) The rate exposed spent fuel leaks volatile fission products, is probably temperature dependent. Even it the water isn't volumous enough to submerge the rods, the spray could be cooling their surfaces.
(2) Some of the volatiles are probably being absorbed into the water.
(3) If the water stream is between the radiation source and the detector, the water streams are a sort of shielding.
(4) The air convection flow is probably different in the two regimes (spraying, versus not), and this may affect how much raches the detector location.

Ibaraki region, to the south of Fukushima area has received increased radiation the last measurement (21st morning local time)(source japan map of radiation). About 1600 nGy/h, to be compared with 600, the hours before, and say 30 normal background. 1600 is converted to Sievert approx. 1.6 MICROSievert per hour, that is approx 1000 times LESS than at the plant, ofcourse, because of dilution.
But still, it means a yearly dose in Ibaraki in 30 days now compared to a year. Nasty.
As I see from wind directions (www.weather-forecast.com), it started blowing from Fukushima towards that direction, and will be for up to 2 days now.

Wonder what's in the air? Later readings seem to show it got up about 3000nGy/hr at one station. NHK weather forecast earlier said "if you go out in the rain, try not to get wet".

By the way the steam/smoke above the plant appears to be glowing in the dark on the webcam located at some distance on the 5am image. http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/f1-np/camera/index-j.html

5AM Image

Hopefully that's just a trick of low lighting conditions but everything else in the frame is pitch black. The small light patch in the image is directly above reactor 3 or possibly 4 I believe from comparison with daytime pics.

Dispersion in action, from March 15 to March 20:

You can see how the density intensity drops six orders of magnitude within a radius of 1000 kilometers or so. One degree of latitude is about 100 kilometers, longitude is less at this latitude.

From Austria

With the winds now coming from the north and widespread rain or snow/sleet in the forecast. we will get much clearer insight into the density of the plume, because it will cover part of Japan's heartland..
Pray that the spraying efforts have had a very helpful effect.

The latest forecast showing the shift inland of the plume and its deposition in the near vicinity because of precipitation is here:


It does look like the Tokyo area is likely to be impacted Monday-Tuesday.

For the record, the purple scale is in nSv/hr and the highest mSv/hr, according the the IAEA.

I just wonder if that takes into account if the plume is up in the air or down near the population. Since it is traveling should it be hot and up in the atmosphere?

Looking like a spike.


Undertow, I could not see what you were talking about on my screen--it looked like an all-black rectangle to me. So I saved the photo in Picasa. (I imagine any photo-editor would work.) When I click on "auto-correct" or increase the amount of fill light, the effect is quite striking.

Probably reflexions of the firefighter's lighting. What worries me - It's probably been discussed already - is the way the roofs and part of the walls of the reactors blew away. Compare it to the tecnical drawings available and it's quite obvious that the pools with the fuel rods are severely damaged or even blown away. (Now I wished I knew how to post the images...)

< img src="http://whereverimageis.something" >

Only without the space after < and before >

Thank you, Undertow! :)

As one can see, the storage pools for the used rods are more or less at the level where the destruction of reactor #1 ends (the reactor at the right). But reactor 3 and 4 seem to have more severe structural damage thas goes below the pools level. I really wonder how many of those uranium rods were blown out into the environment.

That's something I just don't get. Units 3 and 4 supposedly had hundreds of tonnes of spent fuel stored high up in the reactor buildings. Both are completely trashed. The explosion at 3 was huge. And yet everything seems to be "under control" now.

I don't think it is completely under control!

Smoke rises from the plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, but the operator says it does not know the cause. Smoke began to rise just as authorities had begun to show signs of progress in their efforts to avert nuclear disaster.


Sorry, they are in total control, The fire or fires have now gone out, while they were evacuated from the plant!!!
I don't think this story is going to have a happy ending!

White smoke at Fukushima No. 2 reactor, smoke at No.3 reactor stops


Let me see, add water to boiling hot fuel and you get steam. Getting under control by pouring on water would generate lots of steam. Perhaps the media needs to go on a smoke vs steam recognition training course.


It was TEPCO/government that identified this as smoke not the media. These plants are pretty much steaming/smoking all the time. It's only when they suddenly flare up from time to time that we hear the reports. And this appears to be smoke with the usual steaming mixed in.

By the way smoke was also described as pouring out of reactor 2 as well a short time later.

Smoke would need fire, if it is being doused with water I would find that unlikely. I suspect much of it is just steam. We would need longer, clear shots to tell.



TEPCO called it smoke because it is smoke. They know the difference.

Yes, TEPCO said white smoke from one reactor and black smoke from another. Black steam???

Black certainly does sound like smoke. I just get ticked off that the media run around calling everything smoke, hence implying fire, when large quantities of water are being poured in very hot places. I am also sceptical about translations being 100% and not all public statements are technically correct. If there is good reason to believe that there is smoke vs steam, eg it is black, then I am happy to accept it.


The Japanese media has been reporting it as smoke not steam. The words are very distinctive and very hard to confuse.

Thank you for checking.


Wonder if the smoke is coming from shorting/frying electrical circuits and wiring as they bring power back up in what must be a very moist and radioactive environment right now...


Wednesday, March 23, 10:30 p.m. ET, Tokyo

"Black smoke was observed at unit 3; this forced workers to evacuate and terminate their efforts to recover power to this unit. The reason for the smoke is not yet known."

"A high radiation level (500 millisieverts) was detected at unit 2, making work at the unit very difficult."


I'd sure hate to have to find a dropped screw or screwdriver (in the dark?) with 500milliSv coming at me...

From the same site as above, today's update:

Thursday, March 24, 7 p.m. ET, Tokyo

"Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that three people, who were working in the turbine building of unit 3, suffered radiation exposure between 170 millisieverts and 180 millisieverts. Two suffered beta ray skin burns and were immediately transferred to a hospital. The dose limit for emergency work is now set at 250 millisieverts (amended from 100 millisieverts).

These are the first serious radiation-exposed injuries during this crisis. Feel for them."

As usual, two of the three victims were "contract workers", temps brought in to do work that is 'dirty, dangerous or dull', stuff the regular full time people would prefer to avoid.
Having people wandering a basement next to an exploded reactor building that is leaking and was flooded with thousands of tons of sea water clad only in overalls and ankle high shoes speaks volumes about the concern for their safety.
It is true that Japan always had their own version of the untouchables, the eta, who did the dirty jobs such as tanning. The same traditions seem to hold for the underemployed.

As usual, two of the three victims were "contract workers", temps brought in to do work that is 'dirty, dangerous or dull', stuff the regular full time people would prefer to avoid.

Do we know what their contracted skill was, perhaps their skill was needed to be brought in as it was not available. There are a lot of other reasons why contract staff are used other than what you say.

Having people wandering a basement next to an exploded reactor building that is leaking and was flooded with thousands of tons of sea water clad only in overalls and ankle high shoes speaks volumes about the concern for their safety.

Agreed, whatever happened to waders?


I think this is some interesting color on the event (from http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/3790/tepco-info-thermographs#mo...)

"Confirmed radiation dose of each workers are:

Worker (A: 30’s) 180.07 mSv
Worker (B; 20’s) 179.37 mSv
Worker (C: 30’s) 173.00 mSv

Planned dose for this work was 20 mSv, and set alarm at 20 mSv. Workers wore proper personal dosimeter, but they accidentally soaked their foot in the contaminated water, depth of which was 15 cm. The work site was dark because of power outage.

Use of long boots is determined considering the work environment such as radioactive control and workability, in the case of the work using water. According to the information on the site of the previous day (March 23), there was not much water at the site of the work, therefore high boots had not been prepared.

The radiation dose in the B-1 floor of turbine building was 400mSV at water surface and 200mSV in the Air."

You have about 1 to 2 meters of an exposed fuelcore laying dry , a total residual decay heat of around 6 MegaWatt , everything is being doused with water , no pressure inside the reactor chamber ...no electricity active , where does the smoke come from ??....

"We have no idea , it is impossible to tell ..."

They present the data , but refuse to interpret

When I read that story, that was my thought too. Something fishy going on...

Just now on tonight's NHK news, a nuclear power engineering professor from Osaka University suggested it might be from machine oil burning in some piece of equipment. but he said it was only a guess.

Hmm, which would carry more radiation, smoke or steam? Probably a non-issue--they would mix together in the atmosphere

It's always a challenge to keep the human brain on track, perhaps even more so than keeping a discussion thread on track: this recurring discussion of black smoke and white smoke arising from cordoned-off areas at all hours reminds me of the process of electing a pope.

It's funny that I bothered, but as I walked through a small cloud of car exhaust yesterday, I did a little test that I'd never done before. (Probably for obvious reasons) .. as my face was in the visible white 'cloud', I took a little sniff, and didn't smell any exhaust smell, and then a step or two later, a few feet beyond it, sniffed again, and found the strong burnt gas odors were in non-visible vapors already several feet removed from the exhaust I could see.. just a car-length or so beyond the tailpipe.

Not that it's any surprise, but there are a range of vapors in that air, including steam and particulates, and their movement is somewhat unique.

Someone close to the industry said it was some oil for a water pump that catched fire.

I am inclined to believe this or to steam. Fuel rods cannot burn, not in the spent fuel pool, and not in a clean way like that cloud looked like. Some guy showed zircaloy tube heated to 2000C, it did not burn.

Sure and I heard from some President that the martians are close and they will give us fusion 2012 because the Mayans said so.
Care to specify your magical source a bit, without giving up its anonomisity?

You mix an unbelievable amount of hearsay with propaganda and cherry picked facts.

"Fuel rods cannot burn" - my friend EVERYTHING burns, it needs fuel, oxygen, and heat (ignition). Only the substances oxidized to their highest (stable) oxidation level would be truly inactive.
It is probably true that the "zircaloy" would not start burning in the pool. However, have you imagined what is next to these rods? Other metals, cement, waste (insulation, plastics etc). Who is kidding who?

Structure the logic of your last section better in your next post too, please, btw.

"my friend EVERYTHING burns, it needs fuel, oxygen, and heat (ignition)"

Well, that's kind of my point : I can't see any fuel here, well, that's not some rubber here and here that gonna cause a fire which will melt the zircaloy tubes to 2000C.

Carbon is fuel for fires (i.e. coal, trees, graphite), but zircaloy, or the uranium pellets?

In an oil refinery, you can expect everything to burn, well, I can't say I know a lot about theses, but I might expect far more fires here (like during recents japanese events) since you got lot of oil here. But I can't say the same at nuclear power plants.

You found lots of things that can catch and sustain fires in a spent fuel pool?

I won't say that nothing will get oxidized here, but that's not the little "puff of smoke" that will catch my attention if the rods are melting and all the gases have escaped.


Never mind just the spent fuel. It seems they have at least two reactors containment at least partially breeched and, given what has been found on fresh food 100km away, people are breathing in seriously dangerous amounts of radioactive contamination well outside the evacuation zone.

The Japanese government and TEPCO simply refuse to tell the truth. The distraction is to continually speak of sieverts rather then what exactly is in the air and now inside people's bodies.

Under control.

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means, what you think it means."

Apparently in Japanese under control means "reactor buildings are no longer exploding".

As far as I can tell, in the last 10 days they've managed to re-establish cooling of 2 of the 3 shutdown reactors' spent fuel pools. Possibly because those two off reactors were no where near the 3 running reactors. The turned OFF reactors weren't even (supposed to be) a problem when this whole thing started...

The have only re-established the circulating pumps to Unit 5, maybe Unit 6.

Unit 2 pumps don't work. Unit 1,2,3,4 all need water and somehow to circulate through heat exchangers. I think Unit 1 reactor might be able to get pumps working again. Unit 3 probably has major leaks in both the reactor and storage pool.

Looking at reactor #3 in that photo, I don't see how the spent fuel pool is anything other than GONE.

Artists rendering of the daytime glowing cloud over Chernobyl.
Чернобыльская Блестящее облако: Chernobyl shining cloud

Yes, I thought of posting that myself.

My attempt to get contrast into the above image:


As of 16:00 hr 20th ,

the pressure in the suppression pool of reactor #3 has risen to 800 kPa ,

up from 400 kPa at 11:00 , and 100 kPa at 04:30 before ,

while the reactor core pressure has dropped from .281 to .250 to .220 MPa ,


Comment on a slightly different topic, lessons learned about water damage. Watching TV coverage, I have noticed that not only were the reactor's diesel generators vulnerable to water damage, many of the local hospital's high tech imaging (e.g. X-Ray, CAT, MRI) and pharmacies were below ground level and were also wiped out by the Tsunami. I live in California and recall that our local hospital is arranged in the same way: all of the imaging is in the basement. While I don't expect an inland Tsunami after the San Andreas fault ruptures, all of the fire suppression system's water may drain down into the basement and cause the same type of damage. (I've seen this happen in other high rise buildings.)

A common problem it seems, fire suppression water from a faulty alarm flooded an MRI room in the basement of a Swinburne University in Melbourne last year, delaying their installation (luckily the machine wasn't installed yet!).

A much more common problem than people expect. Most buildings have their telecom switch gear in the basement.
I seem to remember a case in Chicago a few years back where the downtown finance district got wiped for a while because a valving mistake had allowed the river to flood the high rises basements.

A common hole to put computer equipment in too. One issue, however, is floor loading. A lot of this gear is heavy, in the case of the hospital gear a lot of shielding, so you don't really want it falling through the floor.


This event has so many similarities to the Deep Water Horizon

It is a disaster. Will it turn into a catastrophe.
Information is restricted.
The government issues soothing misinformation.
The government soon loses face and is not trusted.
Some efforts viewed as public-relations stunts (helicopter water drop).
The events strike at the foundational conflicts:
Energy... Civilization... Environment... empires crash on these rocks.


Authorities are much more concerned about reactors No. 2 and No. 3 and the spent fuel pool at No. 4. The reactor containment vessel at No. 2 may be cracked and venting some radioactive gases into the environment. Reactor No. 3 is the only reactor at the site that contains plutonium in the fuel rods and its escape would be extremely dangerous because it is carcinogenic in even minute doses.

And the spent fuel pool at reactor building No. 4 is thought to have boiled dry, allowing the fuel rods to heat up and become damaged, also releasing radioactivity into the environment.


It looks still quite good though, during daytime the 21st japanese time:
there is overpressure in all containments 1-3 and reactor 3 is coming down in pressure, from 3.5 to less than 2.5 times atmospheric pressure (high but it seems OK, to hold). So containments are probably "quite" tight.

And the radiation on site has gone down slightly.

Let's hope the situation keeps improving, and no accidents happen.

Please check the JAif or NISA webpages for relevant info, see the first half of this thread. The news outlet are a bit confused...

Edit found confirmed translation. It seems the Japanese have sent in a Type-74 Japanese type main battle tank. The story describes it as a construction type with dozer attachment. I was hoping it wasn't going to use HEAT rounds or depleted uranium rounds, LOL.

Type 74 main battle tank on trailer truck
A Type 74 main battle tank on a trailer truck leaves for the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex after the truck refueled at Camp Asaka of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in Tokyo Sunday, March 20, 2011. Two Type 74 tanks are prepared to clear the rubble at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in northern Japan, deteriorated after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.… Read more »
(AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Takehiko Kobayashi) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT

edit2: Wrong hardware on my part.

The military-industrial complex rolls on...
tanks to clear rubble of the nuclear wasteland.

The irony is deeper still in a nation that may well have little
choice but to take on more nuclear power to fill the void.

Yep the complex brainwashed me good in the day. Still like medical you got to have them.
Perhaps not you but there is treadhead out there that has idea of the Type 74's NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) capabilities. Such info might be classified, I can't find it. What would we send? Stryker, Bradley or Abrams? Look at ours. The M1 Grizzly. Maybe better? Probably never know but I bet we have a few in Japan.

US Army M1 Grizzly Combat Mobility Vehicle

Would there be a risk of the depleted uranium in the M1 armour becoming active after irradiation? The 74 may be better in that regard.


Interesting point. I wonder if the CBRN guys took that into account. I will try to find out. Now enters the concrete for the Chernobyl pool plaster treatment. If concrete is pourous, will they also use gunnite or another mortar too?

Tokyo (CNN) -- Officials were training workers Monday to spray the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's stricken reactors with concrete -- one of several efforts underway to curb the release of more radioactive material...
...Those efforts include a move to possibly encase one or more of the reactors in concrete, a last-ditch effort similar to what was done after the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union -- considered the worst nuclear disaster at a plant.
On Monday, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency told reporters that tests are expected to be conducted in the afternoon on how to use what he called a "concrete pump engine."...


Sounds like the old 'walk away and hand the problem onto the next generation after having made it 1000 times worse to deal with' solution. Would make more sense to establish cooling, asses the damage, remove as much fuel as possible before trying anything that crazy. Maybe they have forgotten that the Chernobyl concreting is not working and needs a second drastic repair.


Not unless there is a criticality event at the site, resulting in free neutrons that could be captured by the U238. A criticality event is unlikely.

What about from a nearby nuke detonation, its designed threat?

Uranium is great shielding from radiation, my guess is that the net effect would be to reduce the radiation exposure to the crew, despite some fission and neutron activation.

This obviously has nothing to do with the power plant...

I'm not really thinking of criticality but if there are enough neutrons to render the DU sufficiently radioactive to be a nuisance or low level waste. More junk to dispose of.


My answer explains that. Not all radiation is equivilent, there is only one type of radiation that will induce radioactivity in U238 (neutron radiation) which will only be produced in significant amounts by a criticaly event.

Unless there is a criticality event while the tank is there, it will not be have to be treated as radioactive waste. Just washed down to remove any volatile fission products such as Iodine 131 that settled on it, as they have to do with the fire trucks and people.

For an advanced nuclear powered country, like Korea, the Japanese sure use much kerosene for heating and cooking. A good thing now for sure, but most have seen the lines. In the past, I have waited in those lines. I still can smell the fumes. I hated the heaters. Are there any kerosene and electricity usage breakdowns by nation anywhere? Especially the Japanese and the US?

Edit: In fact, let's talk energy consumption of the Japanese before and after the earthquake. Compared to the US. How much electricity does the Japanese use? The blackouts are being canceled as a result of evacuations, destruction of structures and I am sorry, fewer customers for various reasons. Has the loss of nuclear power already been accounted for? Is there a decrease in demand that will not return? Will kerosene consumption go up? Natural gas? Interesting to think about but many have been calling that Japan has reached peak oil and peak energy as a result of the quake.

Interesting to think about but many have been calling that Japan has reached peak oil and peak energy as a result of the quake.

Peak oil is a supply concept. Japan reached peak oil long ago as they never had much oil to begin with.

Yes but there is the decision to use Kerosene or until recent events, electricity. This would impact the supply curve as result of decreased or increased demand no? Maybe someone can link some Japanese consumption statistics.

You apparently don't understand the concept of peak oil. Instead, you post comments here whenever some disaster like the Gulf oil spill or an earthquake occurs, and you miss the ongoing conversation. Oil depletion is a long term phenomena that persists across these crises.

Peak oil means max out of the ground over a given time and we have reached it, no? I get it. I admit I don't spend the time. I get that too. Sorry, limited time. For example went to a PTA meeting for the grandkids. Sorry. I saw the graph on the fuel thread and it worked, will ethanol or some form of bottle gas fill Japan's current gap and even with the crisis is Japan at peak or achieved it versus population. Especially if large evacuations occur.

Peak oil means max out of the ground over a given time and we have reached it, no? I get it.

That's the ticket. Japan had that situation occur long ago, contrary to what you said.

Ok I was talking beyond peak oil. Is it decided peak oil is finish line without the cyclical max and retreat we always see in such a vastly used part of life? For example, would the recent events bring the expected surge in demand. I sure remember when Japan was at peak, the economy drove the demand. Could it, nay, is it likely to be attained again? One thing about the Japanese, they sure can go from stop to high capacity production in a short time. Even when things are bad. Ever looked at the WWII fighter production #'s?

I sure remember when Japan was at peak, the economy drove the demand.

You probably don't remember when Japan was at peak. Japan probably only had significant oil reserves when they held together some sort of extended empire.
Find an example of Japan having one oil rig on their own land.


Japan has very limited domestic oil reserves, amounting to 44 million barrels as of January 2010, according to The Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), down from the 58 million barrels reported by OGJ in 2007. Japan's domestic oil reserves are concentrated primarily along the countrys western coastline.
Japan has 145 producing oil wells in 13 fields, according to The Oil and Gas Journal.

Thanks, Looks like peak crude was 17,000 barrels per day in 1992, and its down to 5000 today.
That is essentially saying that 600 citizens share 1 gallon of home-grown crude per day. Its barely a trickle.

The Fukushima story is fading from the news, so this will probably be the last Fukushima thread. This doesn't mean the problem is over or these's nothing left to discuss, of course. Continue the discussion in the Drumbeats, and in the key posts about the nuclear situation in Japan.

Yes, multiple meltdowns, breeched reactors, absolutely massive release of radioactive fission products, plant evacuated twice today, smoke billowing from 2 and 3. Deadly core fragments exposed to air, possible criticality accident, plant glows in dark, etc. etc.

Nothing to see here.

Hey Undertow - don't shoot Leanan as the messenger :) I really don't think she's saying there's nothing to see here... just recognizing that the MSM is no longer treating it as the crisis du jour.

This morning on the radio news the fact that gas prices look to jump another few cents trumped multiple nuclear meltdowns in Japan... I mean come on we have some real problems with expensive gas in the US. (/sarc)


I'm not getting at Leanan, I'm just commenting on the media and the TEPCO/Government "we can't tell the people now". By the way the pictures on NHK of the hundreds of thousands of people without heat, light, power, much food etc, living in wrecked towns or overcrowded shelters is horrible as well. Not much of that on major media now either.

Completely agree with you there - once the drama of the immediate event stops the media stops paying attention. I don't think they are capable of wrapping their brains around the concept of radiation as "the gift that keeps on giving"... The media loves the immediacy of reactors blowing up and towns being obliterated by waves but the real story here is, as someone else on TOD pointed out, turning a good chunk of NE Japan into an exclusion zone far into the future...


The Media needs to play the LIbyan bombing and the Budge "Crisis" that is suddenly upon us. LOL. We had a Budget crisis since Ronald Reagan blew 3.5 Trillion during his term.

Where is the media on the oil crisis or the nuclear crisis?

I get it. We are not supposed to Think - Newspeak will take care of us. We are all now considered "unpersons" to the MSM. LOL. Orwell was a genius -- way way ahead of the curve.

;-) Well this unperson cares still. LOL

Until a few days ago, Obama was uninterested in intervention in Libya. And up until a few days ago, almost every moment of media coverage was focused on Fukushima. Then, just as the US and Japanese governments seemed to realize how ghastly serious the reactor situation is, intervention in Libya very suddenly became a good idea. Now the media coverage is all Live Action War, and Fukushima is a footnote, stabilizing. "Hey, don't watch those boring, complicated, ornery reactors over there--watch these cool bombs over here! Tracer fire in the sky! ooooo..." I feel like somebody out there changed the channel on me.

I really hate being so cynical, but reality leaves me no choice.

They still resurrect their favorite distractions
from time to time...

Michael Jackson
Princess Diana
JonBenet Ramsey

... shameless.

Well the MSM is trying to make the Fukushima issue go away. But the radiation levels will continue to accumulate in the food system and in the environment.

This issue is destabilizing the markets. So the MSM needs to suppress the facts and keep the radiation levels out of site.

I am most concerned that these levels are not being reported. Both air samples and water samples.

But I understand people want to see a rosy facade on nuclear. I get it. So lets all slink away and hope the radiation that is not being reported is minor.

What is there to hide if nuclear is safe?

My two cents, and it is a bit unsettling.

You've heard about slowly boiling frogs in water. The same strategy can be used with humans. Release the reality of radioactive contamination slowly, let the people cook in their radioactive stew, but by all means do not make them jump with any sudden revelations of danger.

Move along. Nothing to see here...



Couldn't you please keep these daily threads up even if the story is fading from the news!?

I am far from sure the story is over and these threads have been very valuable and interesting to read, since there seem to very many qualified contributors.

The information contained in these threads would be much more difficult discern in the Drumbeats.

I second that motion! lol

If you make us go find the information all by our lonesomes, why we'll get even less work done!

Well I will certainly, and its difficult to get paid for negative work!

If you think daily threads aren't needed could you at least do a weekly thread so we can find the Fukushima news in one place instead of digging through a ton of drumbeats?

I sort of agree with that. Couldn't we have the frequency of Fukushima threads depend on the activity in those threads.

What! it is you guys, with all of your supposed resources, that we peons out here are depending on to find the real and important information on this fukushima situation, because the world is coming to you all to find out what's really going on. so, stop all of your back-biting and snipping at eachother and get to work!

Possibly could we make a list of say
1. questions to be answered,
2. facts to be gathered,
3. angles to be looked at in retrospect,
4. loose ends, anomalies
5. second guessing
- now that possibly the first flood of events has passed, and begin to organize it, grappling with the context of widespread destruction, and figure out: what happened.

I still find front page news in MSM and found an interesting video today.

Has anyone watched Nuclear Boy?

yes, move along, nothing to see here.
(unless you live in eastern or nothern japan, that is)

reactor #3 pressure has popped :

Suppression pool and CV pressure readings have dropped to the same levels or below those of reactor #2


( ~1 atmosphere within the reactor ? )

Suppression pool down from 800kPa to below the scale.

Well. Your gut feeling can be correct. However, since 24 hrs the pressure has gradually declined (so I dont think it has popped). It might be cooling, which somebody up thread posted might reduce pressure by condensation. Hard to tell. But sure the smoke today daytime japanese time, was bad. But it does not have to be connected, it might have been something else warming up/smoldering/burning.

Here is Nisas and Jaifs pressure readings (reactor 3)

21st 12:25 0.17 resp 0.57 BarAbs Jaif
21st 14:00 0.2 resp 1.4 BarAbs Nisa

Containment pressure still 1.2 BarAbs and constant since about 8 hours (12:25).
That is still not too bad...

The suppression pool showing low pressure, might mean it is empty, or actually pumps are pumping water out from there into the reactor again? I think we will see in a later update.

Reactor 3 "popped" as you put it days ago. My hot water system can hold more pressure than it can.

I think I have an engineering solution. Build a polder, i.e. a perimeter berm of earth and precast concrete bridge parts or concrete rubble from adjacent buildings, using the turbine halls as one side of an enormous rectangular dike around Reactors 1-4, at least 30 ft tall, then fill with seawater. Hitachi makes high volume utility pumps. 24" pipeline from ocean to polder.

Use the towers to rig firehoses that spray continuously while building the perimeter dike. Send the fire engines home or use them as scrap building blocks for the dike. Need a fleet of Israeli bulldozers.

Or you could set up a nuclear plant sized kiddie pool (i.e use plastic/kevlar instead of concrete)...don't forget the semi sized rubber duckies!

Almost as good as the lady who suggested they use an aircraft carrier to tow the whole place into the ocean.

The 3 'derricks' have pipes running up the center. Did you see that? They must think that what they are doing is better than any other thing they might be doing, taking the weighted average of the cost/benefit metrics. I'd like to see those calculations, wouldn't you?
Probably the major factors in the algorithm are
1. time-to-implement (what do we have ready / what can we cobble together quickly?)
2. Who else can offload some responsibility to?
Ans to both: the Fire Department.

Cut the comedy. Squirting water from fire trucks achieved nothing. Very soon they will have to entomb with sand and concrete -- or do as I suggest, build an earthen dike and flood it with water. The Dutch build polders all the time. It's a known art. All you need is bulldozers, earth and rubble. Much faster than thousands of helicopter sand + concrete dumps, with high risk of crushing spent fuel rods (plutonium in Reactor #3).

I had to look it up, but evidently a polder is exactly the complement of what you are describing. It is normally used to keep water out. Maybe what you are describing is a holding pond or dam?

This is sounding more and more like the crazy ideas for the Macondo well. Soon we are going to hear that they are falling over then that they were blown miles away, to land perficly and what we are seeing is actually being filmed by the manga industry.


FYI: There's a superb analysis of post-quake Japan power-generating capacity over at Spike Japan.

Thanks, I've been asking about their conventional stations and if they took a hit and they seem to have lost about 1/6th of their thermal. Hydro looking poor due to a dry year.


Interesting to see that cement mixer sitting there, no? Wonder if they're pouring a pad to hold up heavier equipment, or if they're pumping it into the wreckage of #3 there...

E.g.: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fgw-japan-quake-reactor...

"The company has also brought in a large construction device normally used to pump a cement mixture. Officials initially said they were going to use it to pump the cement mixture and water into the spent fuel pool of reactor No. 4, which is thought to have boiled dry, allowing damage to have been done to the fuel rods there. Officials later said, however, that they intended to use the device only to pump water into the pool."

In other reports, there is a run on duct tape on the global market.

"..Officials later said, however, that they intended to use the device only to pump water into the pool."

Given making and pumping slurries is quite advanced now, has anyone looked at pumping a slurry of lead micro-spheres ?

That would give cooling, and radiation reduction, tho maybe not in a recirculating cooling design.

In which situations are the heat levels low enough, to permit such static cooling ?

The story there, on BBC, of the Rikuzentakata flood gates, seems unlikely, as told; ie, open or shut would have mode no difference.
YouTube story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d6-l16v-fQ
Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/IAq8

Natural Gas prices have remained decoupled from Oil prices,

so Gas is a natural 'Gap Filler' for delayed/cancelled sunset fission plants.

Does anyone have updates on Fusion Power, and how that may be affected ? Will it get more funding, or less ?

Progress at NIF seemed good for a while, and on the fringes, lower temperature fusion variants, still refuse to go away completely :


and a blog here

John Rowe, Exelon chairman, states Natural gas is queen

George Monbiot in The Guardian today has a good piece on the incident and nuclear power in general. Nice to see at least not everyone in that paper is a rabid scaremongerer against the dreaded radiashuns.

I think this chart explaining radiation doses is useful:


You can zoom in on the chart (once) to make it barely legible

appologies if someone already posted link uptread somewhere.

Indeed, that's the one in the article. I love how xkcd not only is funny, but good at dismissing pseudoscience and general ignorance too.

I've seen reports on radiation level readings in the ~0.5 to ~2.5 milliSv/hr level at the plant (reported as 500 to 2,500 microSv/hr)for ~10 days, with occasional spikes above requiring workers to withdraw until they drop back down. [And the chart linked above showed readings of 3.6 milliSv/day at site(s) 50km away from Fukushima plant roughly equivilent to 1 yr normal in one day.]

Is that correct?

If so, then an emergency worker that has worked 10 hour shifts for 10 days would now be reaching (at least) the 50 milliSv level? And possibly nearing the 100 milliSv level?

And that means going forward that continued exposure for workers at this level presents real health risks?

Edit: and this is not to imply that prior work performed was less than risky to health, or that what has been report already is entirely accurate.

From what I see (JAIF and NISA as well as IAEA) your data is correct, 0.2 (gate) to 2 mSv/h at Fukushima plant (and even higher in buildings).
1-10 microSv/h in the closest 100 km from the plant (locally some places higher) - but that means more like 0.1 max 0.5 mSv/day, in general NOT as high as your suggested 3.6 mS/day. But 1 mSv/day is very nasty indeed, if you happen to live there...sad indeed.

Then you are correct in that for example 10 working days for the workers means that they are now being gradually replaced. In the official reports (NISA especially "seismeic damage information" report, goto almost end "Exposure of workers" section) there are now workers getting listed with 100+ mSv dose. Ofcourse, it is simple physics in the natural world - this no hype or spin can change...

And yes the health risks are real, I would seriously avoid doses of 100 mSv per year, for years. At an accident like this I would work up to those levels, once in a lifetime, though, (if I have the courage to do so, I don't know that, luckily, yet).

As a sidenote Ibaraki prefecture has around this time 23rd March, some 1000 nGy/h, approx. same as 0.001 milliSv/h. That is OK, but approx. 30x the background level. And food is being stopped from Ibaraki as well now by authorities. Reasonable.

disdaniel: Here is a larger version
of that chart.

I noticed the same thing about the 50/100 mSv levels on the chart.
050 = max yearly exposure
100 = clear risk

The work 'Risk' is the important one. Risk not certainty. It is when you start to be able to detect a change in the statistical rates. As someone pointed out above there is a background cancer rate and the changes seen are only a very small part of that rate.


"Separately, the Kyodo news agency reported that the I.A.E.A. had detected radiation levels 1,600 times above normal about 12 miles from the plant."

"Also on Tuesday, the public broadcaster NHK, citing the government’s Science Ministry, reported that radiation levels surpassing 400 times the normal level had been detected in soil about 25 miles from the Fukushima plant."

from NTY http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/world/asia/23japan.html?_r=1&ref=asia

Time for someone at TEPCO to lose their job yet?

Yeah, I think it would be interesting for someone with economic interest to check TEPCOs assets and income,
and in a thread some days ago there was a cost for the clean-up of TMI,
compare that in todays cost,
with the cleanup of 4-6 fukushima reactors, and see if TEPCO has a fair chance of surviving this.

Any economic interested person out there?

Post and I will help digging for info.

my cafefully considered expert opinion:
TEPCO is toast.
seriously, this company will be put into some sort of statutory management and broken up. their liabilities stemming from this are way higher than their shareholders' equity. taxpayers in Japan (me) get to foot the bill (sound familiar?)

TEPCO: consolidated net assets as at March 31, 2010:
approx 2.5 trillion yen (about $30 bilion).
as i said: toast.


Japanese banks eye lending up to 2 tril. yen to Tokyo Electric
TOKYO, March 23, Kyodo

Japan's major banks are considering extending loans up to 2 trillion yen to Tokyo Electric Power Co. as early as by the end of March, sources close to the matter said Wednesday... TEPCO later in the day acknowledged that it is planning to borrow money from financial institutions, while it remains mum about the details of the move. The move is apparently aimed at helping the utility secure funds for measures to boost electricity supply following a quake-triggered accident at a major nuclear power plant it runs in Fukushima Prefecture.

"It is true that we are asking (banks) for loans, though we decline to comment on details," TEPCO Executive Vice President Takashi Fujimoto said at a press conference at the company's headquarters in Tokyo.

...the loans are "necessary to take several steps to bring the current electricity supply to a normal condition."

Among banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. is expected to provide loans of about 600 billion yen, Mizuho Corporate Bank some 500 billion yen and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ about 300 billion yen, the sources said.

Rating agencies Moody's Japan K.K. and Standard & Poor's downgraded their long-term credit ratings for Tokyo Electric with the utility's financial heath expected to worsen due to the nuclear power plant accident following the devastating March 11 earthquake.

The utility plans to repair its thermal power plants damaged by the quake and is expected to activate some of the thermal plants, whose operations have been suspended, to make up for an electricity shortage...

Meanwhile, the government has started considering whether it is possible for the state-owned Development Bank of Japan to extend loans to Tokyo Electric under a government-funded loan program for businesses affected by major disasters...

Tokyo Electric, meanwhile, said it has become uncertain how much year-end dividend the company will be able to pay for fiscal 2010 through March 31 following the accident at the Fukushima plant. It had projected paying a year-end dividend of 30 yen per share.

Some analysts said the utility firm may have to skip year-end dividend payment as its earnings are expected to deteriorate substantially due to the accident.

It last failed to pay dividends in fiscal 1980 due to the fallout from the second oil shock, skipping semiannual dividend payments for the fiscal year.

"skip a dividend payment"
fffffttt. aah, no.
more like, striped of all assets and dissolved, forthwith.

so, in summary, i disagree with the credit rating agencies, TEPCO board, the banks, the government, et al.
TEPCO in its current form is toast.

It seems very few people have caught this little tidbit from status reports on emergency efforts from Japanese officials. Concerning spent fuel pools at Reactor #4: "renewed chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool."


NHK and IAEA are also reporting some fairly high levels of fission products in soil 40 KM from plant (at a depth of 5 cm). Iodine-131 levels 430 times and cesium-137 levels 47 times "the norm."


It would be informative to see not the Sievert doses, but actual decay counts split into elements Cs,I, etc. This could allow for some speculations how much stuff is spilled (dispersion will be a factor...) In theory one can figure out the amount of radiation (Curies, Bequerels) from Sieverts and actual energy of radiation for specific isotopes, but I don't want to mess up the units and come with a stupid number.

PS. I found a website with specific data about a Cs release accident in Spain in 1998: http://www.aristatek.com/Newsletter/AUG09/AUG09ts.aspx There is lots of data relating radiation with amount of isotopes, including exposure from breathing etc. A long one and plenty of details.

Here is one:

At left is a partial view of the PEAC tool screen. Under radiation we read that Cesium 137 has an activity of 86.6912 curies per gram (Ci = curies). We are talking roughly one gram of Cesium 137 being dispersed in the atmosphere over a several hour period in the Spain incident, yet scientists were able to measure Cesium 137 concentrations hundreds of miles away.

There must be hundreds of kg of Cs in Fukushima pools.

The document above refers to some look-up tables produced by some US Agency, so theoretically, one could do the backtracking.

The source I provided includes the decay rate information in Bequerels (collected at 40 km distance from the power plants):

Iodine-131: 43,000 Bq/kg
Cesium-137: 4,700 Bq/kg

These are reported at 430 times (for I-131) and 47 times (for Cs-137) the amount of background levels detected in soil.

5 cm deep? That sounds like the result of a rainout...

One of the few survivors of the Chernobyl cleanup team has a message for the people and workers of Fukashima: "Run Away".


I would like to volunteer for the stabilization and cleanup team the American who commented anonymously to the press that Japan needed to stop pulling workers off when radiation levels went up, adding "We recognize it is a suicide mission."

Really good report, I did not double-check if the engineers organisation is credible, though. A strong reminder to the Fukushima workers: please keep an eye on your dosimeters, and get out when time is up!

Moved from fuel thread.
NHK TV REPORTS BLACK SMOKE/STEAM REPORTED #3 REACTOR. 4:20 PM Local ZULU +9 . Call to shelter. Burned cables or more Japanese hopes? Information please.

March 23, 2011
[3:36 a.m. ET Wednesday, 4:36 p.m. Wednesday in Tokyo] Black smoke can be seen rising from the third reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Workers are being evacuated.


Yes I can confirm the smoke via "Jiji press". Best if workers get out for a while. The situation is at least stable the last 2-3 days,but far from safe.

Iodine in Tokio tap water, one sample 2x limit, 210 becquerel/kg. Not for infants to drink.


One of the reactors in the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago.

Tanaka’s allegations, which he says he brought to the attention of Japan’s Trade Ministry in 1988 and chronicled in a book two years later called “Why Nuclear Power is Dangerous,” have resurfaced after Japan’s worst nuclear accident on record. The No. 4 reactor was hit by explosions and a fire that spread from adjacent units as the crisis deepened.

So it takes an earthquake to get to the public that the plant (perhaps - who's gonna go and get the material and test it to prove it?) was flawed from the get-go. A coverup from the start by the Corporations involved then a coverup by Government people.

I need some help understanding this claim.

TEPCO has stated 548 fuel rod assemblies were removed from unit 4 reactor in Dec 2010 and placed into spent fuel pool on the upper floor of the reactor building. There were already 931 fuel rod assemblies in pool, so this increased number to 1479. Also, unit 4 is sole unit supplied by Hitachi. The other 5 units were supplied by General Electric and Toshiba.

Tanaka's allegations are about a flawed containment vessel in unit 4. The containment vessel is within the containment structure and does not include the fuel pool. Tanaka's allegations can neither be proven or disproven by the current crisis because the containment structure contained no fuel. Additionally, the article states the flawed vessel was damaged at a Hitachi foundry. Since Hitachi didn't work with other units, there is no reason to suspect other units may have same flaw. Naturally, the article only mentions unit 4 and does not mention an obvious contradiction concerning location of fuel in unit 4.

I see this article as a coverup by a book author using a crisis for personal gain.

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant

TOKYO, March 23, Kyodo


Sounds like something didn't get reported or translated well. Anyone who can find and translate the original?


For the last several days, Japanese officials have been including the following statement in their status updates to the emergency. Concerning the number 4 reactor: "renewed nuclear chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool."


I think the press has moved on, sending the US military to another foreign country has that effect, but this is still very much an emergency in the midst of unfolding. Also of concern, an unexplained pressure spike in reactor 3 on March 20 (which has since stabilized). Clearly, there is a great deal of fuel damage throughout the site.


Response on al.com on unrelated story. Had to catch the resident physicist. Last link is a more appropriate place you can put responses.

speak please comment-
No more Japan stories. Ruh, roh, shaggy. Some of Japan is worse than Chernobyl. Read, dissect, challenge and discuss! I will not gloat, deep kimchee talk time.

Undertow on March 22, 2011 - 10:56pm
First official estimates of size of release at Fukushima from The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG). An Austrian government agency.


First emission estimates

Regarding Iodine-131, ...
So in the first 4 days, according to this estimate, the emissions were a large chunk of that at Chernobyl. And more radioactive crap has been spewing out for an extra week since then.
And they've just evacuated again.

TOKYO, March 23 (Reuters) - Workers at Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant temporarily ...radiation monitoring showed levels of 500 millisieverts per hour which is into the danger zone.


SPEAKnoBS March 23, 2011 at 11:56AM

I will keep it brief. There is no comparison of this accident to Chernobyl. Chernobyl used a graphite moderator. Once the water was gone, (fraction of a second) the graphite moderated the neutrons without cooling allowing close to an uncontrolled chain reaction such that the graphite burst into instense fire carring with it a significant percentage of the fuel into the atmosphere because Chernobyl did not have a containment structure. In Japan all reactors are in tact, holding pressure, as well all containment buildings are maintaining pressure. The primary release of contaminates is from the spent fuel which unfortunately did not have any type of containment, and especially at unit 4 which had offloaded all fuel, not just spent fuel to the spent fuel pool. There is no comparison here between the two as far as fissionable products released to the environment. I might add that the life expentancy of anyone around chernoble was short after the accident. That is not the case here, and with the exception of cs-137, all other released agents have short half lives. Give it 3 years from now and you will see how much recovered this area is when compared to the fact what a significant zone around chernobyl will not be habitable for hundreds of years.

TinFoilHatGuy March 23, 2011 at 1:37PM

No wonder you still curse the RMBK's. Thanks and my warmest regards!

The problem is starting to look chronic.
There is a real discrepancy between the reality of 4 damaged reactors smoking and/or steaming and the assurance given by the Japanese military that thermal cameras show the spent fuel pools in reactors 3 and 4 at 40 and 22 degrees C respectively.
It seems the progress in restoring power has diverted attention from the reality that the reactors and their spent fuel are still spewing volatile radio nucleotides at a massive rate. There has been no serious suggestion on how to stop that, so we must expect months of this unless by some miracle the reactor gear still works, despite the massive explosions and the prolonged salt water soaking. What is the fallback if the gear does not work, as apparently one of the big pumps in reactor 2 did not? There needs to be a plan to cover the spent fuel as at Chernobyl, using barium, lead and sand, to minimize the ongoing radiation.
It is stunning to me that there has not been a more focused response by the government in the face of a threat that may make a large part of Japan permanently uninhabitable because of cesium 137 pollution.

I studied physics to know some of what I'm talking about :

Every time TEPCO claims the situation is stable , they are perhaps not so much lying as not telling the truth.
Because a nuclear reactor is built around an intentionally unstable arrangement of matter.
The combined configuration sits on top of an enormous potentialcurve and its downhill either way.

I used to think that reactors were safe enough , but these events show design flaws surfacing one after another :

- the venting of hydrogenous radioactive gases was 'by design ' and part of the standard emergency procedure to reduce pressure within the reactor.
- the hydrogen explosions were possibly due to the top of the reactor seals lifting up due to overbearing pressures as was known throughout the industry in earlier testing , and consequently releasing gases where it was not supposed to.
- The suppression pool that was supposed to buffer excessive steam was known to be subject to failures
- it has even been stated that if it would come to an eventual meltdown , the bottom part of the reactor could quite possibly collapse due to the strains , reason for 2 GE engineers to resign in the 70's because of these and other risks

The fact that the 3 reactors that were in production at the site suffered from the same structural failings show that its design is the main culprit in the origin of these escalating problems.

Bottom line : No assurance will convince me anymore that 'nuclear is too big to fail '..

Excellent questions! You might be interested in looking at a presentation by two nuclear engineers in Japan (translated into English) on March 18. They talk about much of the same. It's a MUST VIEW video for anybody looking for additional background on the accident, and the operation of BWRs (and the Mark I design).


At Fukushima, the fault conditions of the different reactors are not all the same. Reactor 2 appears to have acted in an anticipated manner in a SCRAM and power loss situation. When pressures started to rise, an automatic pressure release valve was activated, and residual heat and steam was sent to the torus (for cooling). This was not the case with Reactors 1 and 3. Instead, steam was released inside the primary containment vessel, and as you suggest, was blown out a flange and rubber seal at the top of the primary containment vessel where there is a removable cap, and spread about the operating floor (where it caused an explosion and ripped the roof off the two eactors). The pertinent question is not so much the loss of containment, but what caused the release of steam and gas inside the primary containment vessel in the first place (and to a level twice the amount of design tolerances)? It's really a shame this has not been talked about more in the press, or by nuclear professionals in this country or in Japan in general.

Here is their analysis. The circulation of steam and water inside of the reactor is part of a closed loop system. There should be no steam or pressure build-up in the primary containment structure. When operators talk about venting the gas to relieve pressure, they are talking about venting gas from the pressure vessel to the torus (for cooling), or out a filter from the pressure vessel to the environment (and not out the top of the containment structure, as happened in Reactors 1 and 3). The most simple explanation provided by the nuclear engineers in the above video (and it also follows from a known design weakness of the Mark I reactors) is that the piping inside the primary containment vessel was damaged by the earthquake, and created a more typical LOCA environment. Pipes in the containment vessel include send and return pipes for the steam to the turbine, back-up systems, but also pipes for re-circulating water (or coolant). Attached to the pipes for circulating water are some very large and heavy pumps, which they felt may not have held fast during the earthquakes (and subsequent aftershocks).

The video has about 26,000 views, so people are accessing the information, but so far there hasn't been a lot of discussion from an engineering perspective and the specifics of the Mark I design (and what may be happening in each of the reactors, and why there are differences). I'm interested in your perspective, and hoping we can give it some wider attention!!

E&E Publishing (appearing in the Times) follows up on this with a story today: U.S. Experts Blame Fukushima 1 Explosions and Radiation on Failed Venting System.


I'm still thinking an emissions leak from the primary containment vessel (exceeding twice the pressure levels for design tolerances) is the strongest alternative. The other is a power failure to venting system (which runs on fans), and moves the radioactive steam and gases to venting stacks outside the reactor building (these are the large 100 meter structures you see beside the power plants).


Finally some good news, JAIF reports: Containment Vessel Integrity number 3, NOT DAMAGED.

I could believe them, if they have tested and evaluated that, a quite easy check, pressure is 1.1 AtmABS and which would be tight if stable. But Fukushima is still a dangerous mess, just a little bit less so.

Hum ... so how do they explain the release of hydrogen gas outside of the primary containment structure and into the upper floors of the reactor building?

By "Not Damaged" -- I am interpreting this as holding pressure at normal to current operating ranges (not twice the design tolerances at the time of the accident).

This is good news. The unique concern of unit 3 was the presense of MOX fuel and MOX fuel contains plutonium-239. I've read the spent fuel pools of unit 3 contain no MOX fuel so the unique concern is solely within containment vessel.

The release of hydrogen gas was explained in previous thread. The zirconium cladding around fuel rods reacts with water vapor at high temperature to produce hydrogen. Fuel rods located in both spent fuel pool and reactor can do this. Since the spent fuel pools are outside the containment structure, they are main culprit. However, there are possible ways for hydrogen within reactor to escape into reactor building. Vent piping from reactor toroid may exit inside building or if it exits to outdoors could be leaking into building if piping is compromised. There have been numerous reports of intentional venting to relieve pressure but I haven't found an answer regarding where vent exits. Also, research papers claim excessive pressure within reactor can loosen seals enough to allow flow from within reactor to outside reactor.

Reactor 4 had no fuel at the moment, but building 4 still suffered extensive damage.. Building 3 is a huge mess. My guess is the spent fuel pools did not hold as well as we would like to believe.

Spent fuel also contains plutonium, up to one percent. Fresh MOX may be seven percent. I think it's no big deal. The big concern should be iodine short-term and cesium medium-term. Really long-term, after cesium has decayed, plutonium will dominate, but there likely won't be much.

One of the significant generic issues that keeps on popping up whenever we talk about pollutants to the environment is that of F A T-tails.

CO2 has this persistence that goes as 1/t^(1/2) over time which is a huge fat tail and this is the prime reason for the concerns over climate change. We just can't eliminate this excess CO2 fast enough while nature just wants to takes its time.

The same thing with radioactive materials. Although the individual decay profiles drop down with exponentially damped half-life's, there is enough variety with the range in half-life times that the overall effect is one more like 1/t^(1/3) if one just looks at heat decay data. This dispersion is even worse than CO2 and is the reason that we can't do much about it except to try to bury the problem.

Again, it is a case of nature wanting to patiently take its time. Mankind tries to force the issue by rapidly adding CO2 or radioactive products, and the response is one of a slow process that we lack real creative solutions for.

Looks like the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in Japan has a difference of opinion with the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, Inc. on damage to the Reactor # 3 containment vessel.


"A high-level radiation leak detected Thursday at one of six troubled reactors at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant indicates possible damage to the reactor's vessel, pipes or valves, the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Friday."

Investigations are on-going.

Yes, I see contradictions in various articles I've read about Unit 3 so I'm not so sure what to think. The question I ask is whether or not the water on Unit 3 floor contains plutonium-239. That would indicate it came from reactor rather than from pool.

Here is the analysis of the nuclides found in this water: