Fukushima Open Thread - 1st April

Farewinds associates video

Arnie Gundersen discusses spent fuel pool in unit 4, providing video evidence that the pool is not full and fuel is exposed. 5 minute video.

SRS pump will head to Japan

"Our understanding is, they are preparing to go to next phase and it will require a lot of concrete," Ashmore said, noting that the 70-meter pump can move 210 cubic yards of concrete per hour.

Concrete pumps to Fukushima

Four more concrete pumping trucks are on their way to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to help the effort to maintain fuel ponds.

Tepco's plans for water issues

To tackle the discharges Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to construct a 6000 tonne water tank as well as a 4000 tonne pond. These will work in conjunction with a 20 tonne per hour treatment facility to handle water from drainage canals around all six reactors at the plant.

It can also pump a lot of water.

They may not pump it into the core but repair the leaking/damaged fuel storage pool. As normal they like to keep people in the dark about their plans.

I take it you are refering to this article. (Note, Ida: your hit-and-run comments need a little more work, IMO).

From the article:

In addition to the equipment now at Fukushima and the two 70-meter pumps being moved from the U.S., a contractor in Vietnam has given up a 58-meter pump so it can be diverted to Japan, and two 62-meter pumps in Germany were loaded on Wednesday for transport to Tokyo....

Ashmore said officials have already notified Shaw AREVA MOX Services, which is building the MOX plant for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, that the pump was being moved and will not be returned because it will become contaminated by radiation.

..a one way trip. That's some expensive disposable equipment. I imagine someone will go to the trouble of decontaminating these things; send them to Bangladesh to build dikes or something :-/

Intersting that the SAS (largest) is being retasked from the Savannah River MOX Plant.

"It will be too hot to come back," Ashmore said.

Compared to the people and the land, it's pretty cheap. :)

There is no need for a MOX plant in the United States. US power plants will not burn the stuff.

It is being produced to burn US and USSR weapons-grade plutonium as part of the US initiatives in nuclear arms reduction and non-prolifieration. However, it is only burned in other countries.

MOX Battle: Mixed Oxide Nuclear Fuel Raises Safety Questions

One of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi reactors contains a blend of uranium and plutonium fuel that may soon find use in the U.S. Does it pose more risks than standard uranium fuel?
Even as the South Carolina fabrication plant progresses toward start up, the future of MOX fuel remains somewhat uncertain in the U.S. "The DoE still can't find a utility that's willing to take this stuff," Alvarez says. Duke Energy had signed an agreement with the DoE to load four of its reactors with MOX fuel, but the utility let the contract lapse in 2008. The federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which operates the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant and two other nuclear facilities, has expressed some interest in trying MOX and may step up to take fuel from the MFFF. But Lyman questions whether even TVA will be a willing taker. "I don't see why any utility, even a government-owned one like TVA, would want to dabble with this stuff," he says.

US policies are easier to understand if you remember that the Department of Energy was the Atomic Energy Commission, and that the Atomic Energy Commission was the nuclear weapons factory.

It seems like Bechtel or Flour or someone would have a few of these concrete pump trucks sitting in a yard over there in China. That seems a lot closer than Georgia, but I dont know. They may have been able to had accurate water placement on site perhaps sooner.

No hit and run post some of us have a life outside of this blog.

The last thing you want to do is cement the fuel in place. You want them to retrieve the fuel in what ever condition its in and then when you get done you need you grout what is left. That is the normal way to decommission a reactor. here is a photo of a company grouting a nuclear waste tank.http://www.em.doe.gov/pdfs/Grouting_begins_pressrelease_121206.pdf

So there is lots of need for this unit.

It seems that the fuel storage pool(4) can not hold water. It would be good if they can get it to hold water so they can get the fuel out.

Hmm, remove fuel ... grout ... ah hah!

I read somewhere that in a spent fuel pool, the fuel is usually suspended several meters off the bottom. So here's an idea:

You pump in enough grout to partly fill the pool with grout to *just below* the bottom of the fuel rods. You let that stuff flow into any leaks and harden to seal the tank. Then you can fill with water.

And yes, you can definitely get fast-setting grout that hardens underwater.

One possible drawback is if explosion or melting has caused some of the fuel rods to break free of their carrier and fall to the bottom, you'd bury them with grout. But maybe that's an acceptable loss, and you can do a little bit of remote camera work to scope it out before you start.

Hmmm.... so the swimming pool is cracked and leaking. Grout. Yesch! That would work. Gotta get the Leaks Stopped up. Doncha know.

Try to make the unit 4 pool watertight. That is a worthwhile objective. I say go. Do you think you might have to drop new sides in?

I think that is a worthwhile thing to do. Placing grout accurately is the only way you can do this. This will be done with one of those concrete pump trucks with a long reach articulating boom, for accurate placement of the grout. At present, there is no crane with a long enough reach or capacity to drop a new side in there. A new wall to the swimming pool would have to be formed up, waterstop installed and poured in place. Who, in their right mind, would, or could do that? Hell,I dont know, pump some bentonite in there in the mean time, to hold the water! this is just a hell of a thing here. Naw mean?

A quick and dirty technique would be to fother the leak. Drop a sheet of plastic parallel to the surface (bottom or side) with a hose between the sheet and the surface. Pump water from the space between back into the middle of the pool effectively vacuum bagging the wall/bottom.

It would make sense to stabilize the pools and any reactors which can be brought under control. A big brick of concrete would be a final act of desperation.

I would think that access to the pools will be the hard part. Some demolition equipment to clear debris and superstructure would be needed before you could get to the "leaky door seals" of the pools, which would seem to be the logical place to put some concrete.

My bet is that they are going to build huge cooling pools though, to make it easier to do once-through cooling of all of the pools and reactors, and then suck out water and recirculate it. Then they'll build a separate scrubber to cleanse the water and fill a "clean" pool, and then recirculate from that.

Then in a few years, when things have cooled down, they'll transition to clean-up mode.

I have wondered about the break-water pool in the ocean, and how close to being self-contained that pool is. Maybe a few thousand yards of concrete would isolate that from the ocean? It's large and almost a pond already. And far enough from the reactors do have longer shifts.

I wonder what the going hazard-pay rate is for a lifetime dose of radiation? I'd sign up for a price if I had a useful skill....and my wife would let me!

The approach of creating pools of water to cool and clean the waste water from the reactor and then recycle it to do more cooling seems to be an obvious approach to the problem. It seems like belaboring the obvious, but if they keep adding new water to the reactor for cooling, it will fairly quickly fill any storage they have or can create.

Cleaning the water and using it for further cooling operations is probably the only feasible method.

Whatever they have to do doesn't have to be perfect. As long as the reactors stay in shutdown mode, the reactors should be cool enough to handle in 2 to 4 years.

What plans? I have yet to see anything remotely detailed on the way to fix any of this disaster.

In the end they concrete these things. They should be cooled down enough, right? I guess if they are still going critical, they could complicate things.

I wonder if you could take one of those huge mining trucks that you see working in the oil sands in Canada and just ram these reactors into the ocean? You'd have to get rid of a few structures in the way, but it may be doable.

The very best that can be hoped for currently is that the efforts to cool the reactors will succeed eventually, so that the site can then be stabilized.
The likelihood of a worsening disaster, as the contamination from the leaking reactors and spent fuel pools gradually makes the site entirely uninhabitable, is probably higher.
The fractionated crisis management in effect is producing a damaging fixation on the headline problem of the day, so no coherent damage control efforts, such as evacuating the undamaged spent fuel pools, or at least adding to their unattended cooling capacity, is getting done. TEPCO's inability/unwillingness to equip all of the on site workers with dosimeters underscores how the disaster control efforts get diluted by economic considerations.
There is no national priority to get this fixed, hang the cost. Instead, there is continued deference to traditional rules and delegation of authority.
That will change, imo, but perhaps only after the disaster affects many more people.

You cant post an acusation like that without some evidence. How do you know site workers have not been issued dosimeters?


TOKYO - JAPAN'S nuclear safety agency on Friday said it warned Tepco for not having enough radiation meters for all workers battling to stabilise its Fukushima nuclear plant after devices were lost in a tsunami.

Tokyo Electric Power Co lost most of its dosimeters for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant when the tsunami from a 9.0 magnitude quake tore into the plant, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Friday.

To cope with the dosimeter shortage Tepco had emergency crews working in teams to try to restore stricken plant systems, giving one meter per group to monitor radiation in their work areas, another agency official said.

The embattled company had since sourced enough dosimeters for all workers, the agency said, amid reports this week of tough working conditions for those at the plant. Tepco could not immediately be reached for comment.

The agency declined to clarify when it had been aware of the shortage of radiation meters.

'The agency warned Tepco on Thursday to do the utmost to manage workers' exposure levels,' said agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama. -- AFP

Well the fact that it's been broadcast all over the news, has been discussed on TOD and TEPCO admitted it is a bit of a clue.

The government has ordered them to follow Japanese law and make sure everyone has a dosimeter from now on.

I think the idea should be to limit exposure to radiation in the environment including the air and sea around the reactor. Dumping the whole mess into the ocean just leaves the mess intact and relocates it under water where it is harder to do the eventual necessary clean up.

It looks like the worst case scenario that we are likely to see is entombing the site in concrete, sand and gravel for a couple of years followed by a costly effort to retrieve the radioactive waste and isolate in secure facilities.

If they can keep the reactors exposed and manage to cool them so that the releases of radioactive material are limited, the eventual clean up will be much less of a problem.

Wanted: U.S. Nuclear Workers for Japan

A U.S. recruiter is hiring American nuclear power workers to help get control of the devastated Fukushima plant. The qualifications: Nuclear skills, a passport, a family that will let you go and a willingness to work in a radioactive zone.


I guess it makes sense to recruit people from a country that has been told, repeatedly, that it is safe to ingest radioactive material. It gets harder to spoof this country.

"... a family that will let you go."
I suppose that means permanently.

My family has been doing it for 200 years. I would go but no nuke experience. Middle age men that are done having kids are the best physiological choice. Good psychological choice too. Most feel like we should be dead. No women, the radiation is too hard on their women parts. If I am just being misogynistic or sexist please let me know. My oncologist buddy gave me the 411. I did not ask about women that have had to have a procedure done. I may still apply, maybe the combat time will count for something. I can get in and out of MOPP gear like Houdini. Like the SGM used to say when we rolled, "let's go boys, who in the hell wants to live forever." Also, I did grow up over there. I don't speak Japanese but I can speak Korean. I lived in Tokyo for a while.
God luck all.

Edit: I do not smoke much but I sort of smoked a cigarette as I posted this. Forget tar, how many mSv is that?

What's a 411. Or perhaps I don't wanna know.

"What's a 411." It is the (USA centric) universal number for information.

As Daniel told you 411, is slang for information. Maybe gen is used for your location as in gen up.


re: "Most feel like we should be dead."

Goodness - is this something like depression or feeling down?
A joke...or, not such a joke?

What does this mean?

As a counter-argument to "should be": IMVHO, men (young, middle age, old, kids or no) in addition to their necessary roles, have an important part to play in transforming human society to decrease suffering: less violence, less trauma - all necessary for a better "peak oil" path (i.e., dealing with the "remorseless decline.")

To put in a plug for the importance of role models...for boys and younger men...
The more men speak up for positive change, the more likely it is to happen. Perhaps something like this author describes:

Her stories of peer power in action show how it has reduced teen smoking in the United States, made villages in India healthier and more prosperous, helped minority students get top grades in college calculus, and even led to the fall of Slobodan Milosevic.

Or, here's another example:

Do not let me freak you out. I have sent 'depleted' U-238 rounds downrange to kill people I did not know in the name of peak oil. I have seen folks carry multiple 55 gallon drums of petroleum on a bicycle and trailer for many miles to fuel a truck to go fight. I played in freshly crop dusted fields of DDT, chlordane, dursban, et al.
I have played with mercury in my hands. Got shots from the Army and X-rays until I swear I could taste them. I bet my old TV's are worse than a today dentist X-ray machine.
Yada, yada. Truth be known I just got old and ornery, but I like you.

Old and ornery works for me, but I don't like radiation. Biologists are (were) incredibly careful when working with very tiny amounts of radioactive "label" as we call it - C14, tritium, P32. These days even that has long been phased out for most applications (the task is to label specific biological molecules) and everyone now uses fluorescent dyes for most purposes, mainly because label is such a pain and expensive to dispose of (gloves, pipettes, etc).

On another rad note, had our house insulated last year, and before the caulkers came, we were required to hang a little bag of charcoal in the basement for a week, lest there be a few picocuries of radon lurking about. The contrast between that kind of caution and the cavalier statements about how much rad cesium and strontium are "safe" is to say the least, noteworthy. As an added bonus, any time your industry has headlines with the words "radioactive" and "milk" in the same sentence, you have a severe PR problem. I'm well aware of inherently safe reactors, etc. but equally aware that the waste issue has been punted. Do not understand why Yucca Mountain is not used. In any event the very long half-lives of some isotopes and the resulting safety and health problems make nukes too darn expensive to use without funny soak-the-taxpayer accounting, IMEHO.

Thanks, TFHG,

I realize I didn't translate properly. (Something that happens once in a while, even though English is my native language.)

You meant that you've experienced enough dangers that any one of them - (or, all of them, cumulative) - could well have killed you by now. Yes?

I'm sad about the depleted uranium, the senders and the receivers.

We certainly need something like grace. Something to prevent the killing.

You are also saying - perhaps? - that some of these dangers are perhaps over-stated?

BTW, I have read (no time to reference, but...) - that the toxicity of pesticides has increased dramatically the last - what - 3 or 4 decades of their use. Of course, this could be offset by less use now. I don't know.

When Leonidas of Sparta picked the 300 men to go and fight the Persians of Darius, he chose middle aged men who already had children for a reason.

How long does it take to get cancer. 10-20 years? If you are 65 what are the odds you will die of any cause before 85? Some may wish to supplement thier families before they head to that big reactor in the sky. you want to live for ever?

The Russian gets it. They usually get it twenty years before a Westerner. Like the Asians. At some point, all risks can be an acceptable risk if you factor in our preset, unavoidable, master mSv limit. Now we are just haggling over price and benefits.

There was a 4 part documentary on the BBC about Chenobyl and how they plugged it. Some of the temporary workers brought in were told if they worked there they could go to Moscow and drink as much vodka as they wanted. Its important to get the clutural incentives right.

Here is an interesting video... would love to hear comments from you knowledgeable folks.


Firstly, Prof. Busby asserts that the spent fuel rods were "blown into the air" during the Fukushima hydrogen explosions. I haven't seen that established as fact yet. Regardless, while there are some major differences between the Fukushima and Chernobyl events, I don't think it's productive to try and compare the two. The Japanese clearly are dealing with a large contamination zone relative to their island nation. Little solace in the fact that this event is unlikely to spread (much) to other countries as was the case with Chernobyl. Japan's effect will be more local and concentrated, IMO. They'll be taking sole ownership of this one, long term.

Since the incident the chernobyl evacutation zone has become a wildlife sanctuary with even a wild wolf population moving in. Just think of the positive/negative externalities (depending on your POV) of this situation.

"evacutation zone has become a wildlife sanctuary"

Just because the wildlife can't tell how dangerous it is to live there doesn't make it "safe". I doubt anyone that truely loves nature thinks that zone is "good".

re: blown into the air. I think not.
1. The explosion would have to be beneath whatever is blown "up".
2. they would be out on the ground where people could see them
3. the enclosing matrix is still inside the pools

All the signs point to the the veracity of this review. I do see the statement "all the rods were blown into the air" to be a bit of strong rhetoric, but not far from the truth. And the overall assessment is likely to be spot on. I fear he may be a bit optimistic about the mitigating effect of the size of the Pacific, though I certainly hope he is correct.

Mind you getting the facts is going to be like pulling teeth. Eventually they come out, but the process is painful.

The rods are in a deep concrete tank. The fuel/air explosion occurred in the building above the tank. Please explain how the rods were blown out of the tank?


"Please explain how the rods were blown out of the tank?"

If one allows that some of the statements of the people managing the incident are not correct, one has a lot of freedom to speculate. Some might say speculation is irresponsible, but it is so easy, I can't resist. So, irresponsible speculation 1:

The explosion was not a 'hydrogen explosion', but a steam explosion. Because of the large number of unspent fuel rods, which are relative more capable of chain reaction, there was a criticality event at the bottom of the pool. The water at the bottom became super heated as in a geyser, a la Old Faithful. When it became sufficiently hot, it burst forth upward, blowing all the fuel rods, spent and unspent out of the pool and blowing the roof off the building.

OK, it is speculation, but what incontrovertible fact forces one to reject it? Is it really absolutely unbelievable that a chain reaction could not have happened?

Geek, you are thinking along the line I am. First of all, one should be aware that people mix figurative and literal descriptions rather freely. In a situation like this, when anything you say may be examined closely, that may not be wise but that hasn't stopped many people from doing many things. So let's start by positing that "blew the rods into the air" was a figure of speech and just ignore it. There are many other things said that make eminent sense and are consistent with what we have seen.

Second, this guy is not the only one who has apparently drawn conclusions inferred from the reactor 4 spent fuel pond having been damaged at some point prior to the explosive event, having subsequently suffered a melting event and probably shortly thereafter a steam explosion as the melted material slumped - perhaps into some remaining water at the bottom of the pool. This is consistent with what we have heard about workers evacuating the #4 reactor complex during or immediately after the earthquake because the spent fuel tank was damaged and the water drained. I think that Arnie Gundersen and Michio Kaku have discussed this scenario also, saying that they are convinced that the pool is "dry." Gundersen's commentary on the video of the # 4 building is hard to rebut, from what I saw.

Exploring the possibilities is not irresponsible, it is the first step in planning. Lying to people is often irresponsible, particularly when people have an interest in learning the truth and will be largely responsible for protecting themselves in any event. And people who are responsible for disseminating information are unwise to withhold it or make misleading statements, because when they finally do have something important to pass along they will be disbelieved.

Speculation is irresponsible when it distorts markets and deprives people of essential commodities. Sometimes that commodity is food or energy, and sometimes it is information.

I've been saying all along that the most likely source of high radiation and some of the Pu found around the plant are the spent fuel ponds on Reactors 3 and 4. It's not impossible to see how a partially exposed set of fuel rods could have cracked open, and then an explosion throws some of this material away from the buildings themselves. The Pu levels have been very low but it has to have come from somewhere. The other alternative is the cores themselves, but since they are within multiple layers of containment and the spent fuel ponds have none at all, ISTM the ponds are more likely suspects than the reactors.

"Exploring the possibilities is not irresponsible, it is the first step in planning. Lying to people is often irresponsible, particularly when people have an interest in learning the truth and will be largely responsible for protecting themselves in any event. "

Indeed, look at the recent political event in Germany.

A quick speculation why I doubt any of the explosions at Units 1, 2 and 4 are steam explosions from the spent fuel pool.

1 - Visual - A steam explosion would have a large amount of steam evident, think Old Faithful on steroids. I didn't see any evidence of steam in any of those three explosions.

2 - Contained pressure - a steam explosion requires a contained pressure system to give way as could happen in the reactor pressure vessel or a sealed containment vessel. The spent fuel pool area is not pressurized. You would expect the highest heat to be at the surface where fuel rods were exposed, not at the bottom of the pool. Also as there is no constriction above the water in the bottom of the pool, even if the heat source was at the bottom (criticality event)it would boil the water (like a pot on the stove), not generate an explosion.

3 - Radiation readings - I would expect a steam explosion in any container with fuel rods would have much higher radiation readings than were observed during the various explosions.

I think the chances that the fuel rods were "blown up in the air" is almost nil. The chances that the shock wave, or falling equipment, damaged the spent fuel pool are much higher and the chances of damage to piping or seals higher still.

None of this precludes a criticality event in the spent fuel pool, or elsewhere. If it happen inside the RPV it could lead in a disastrous steam/hydrogen explosion.

Actually I would disagree with #2. Containment or constriction is not required for a large release of energy if the water is changed to steam very quickly, i.e. sudden rapid rise in temperature.

A fun aside:
One way to get a boiler to explode is break the big pipe leaving it.
The water in the boiler is at some high pressure.
The pressure stops it from expanding into the vapor state, steam.
Drop the pressure and the volume rapidly expands.
It is counter-intuitive.

I agree that a sudden rise in temperature - say a criticality - could release a large burst of steam. I don't believe, given the physical configuration of the spent fuel pools, that it would come close to the explosive force we saw in Units 1, 2 & 4 - not without some pressure constraint great than a few meters of water pressure.

BUT ---

There seem to be these occasional, sudden, unexplained, appearances of white "smoke" from the various Units. The pictures I've seen look much more like steam than smoke (translation problem?) and I could easily believe they could be the result of a criticality with a resulting quick release of steam as you describe.

The explosion was ... a steam explosion. ... The water at the bottom (of the pool) ... burst forth upward, blowing all the fuel rods, spent and unspent out of the pool and blowing the roof off the building.

The pool is not air tight. Why would the water become super-heated, rather than boil away? How would a chain-reaction prevent the water from boiling?

Agree. Nothing between the fuel rods and the sky can hold back pressure. Not the pool cover, not the building walls or ceiling: all are structurally weak.

The analogy to "Old Faithful" was used. Old Faithful does not detonate: it starts up slowly. The video of the Fukushima explosions was sharp enough to make a clear shock wave.

Someone noted the presence of white clouds after the explosions. Firstly, the air inside the building will be *very* humid. Second, if you burn hydrogen in air, what do you get?

Slumping fuel rod temp, spent fuel or not, is going to be in excess of 1500 C. There will have been on the order of a hundred Kg or more. That will flash enough water to cause an explosive effect, regardless of the enclosure or lack thereof.

My 7th grade shop teacher used to tell a story of one of his students who had several pounds of molten pot metal he was going to use for a casting. But for some reason he decided to see what it would look like if he took it outside and tossed it into a puddle. It made a loud noise when it hit, the teacher went running outside fearing what he was going to find. Lucky for the student he was wearing safety glasses, so he didn't lose his sight. But the pot metal had exploded in all directions, still very hot, and he took some on his face. There were burns. Of course pot metal melts at a much lower temperature than does uranium oxide pellets.

The rods were not tossed into the pool. Wouldn't that make a difference?


Gov't eyes injecting nitrogen into reactor vessels to prevent blasts

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. are considering injecting nitrogen into containment vessels of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's reactors to prevent hydrogen explosions, government sources said Friday.

I wonder if this in an indication that the situation is deteriorating, or if they are simply getting more creative in the face of the increasingly unmanageable amounts of radioactive water leaking back out?

Seems to me that the potential for creating such a huge temperature differential, unless very carefully controlled, could have a number of "unintended consequences"...

I recently watched the BBC documentary (dramatization) regarding Chernobyl and the thing that struck me was that every decision they made regarding containing the "problem" had a flip side that could have made things much worse... but several times they simply ran out of any other option and ultimately hoped for the best as they said "alright, let's go for it...".

I get the sense that the same progression is being played out in Japan.

Regarding Chernobyl: Can anyone provide information on a story (rumor?) that I read (heard) years ago that over thirty workers and firemen were executed by the Soviet government for refusing to go into the power plant during the emergency?

Cannot get 1st hand high quality source confirmation, but you can look at the following for leads:

- look at "26 August" entry

"The Chairman of the Estonian Refugees Committee of Solidarity in Sweden reported that Estonians were executed for refusing to take part in decontamination."

So if true, they were likely Estonians officials that were commanded to join up cleaning efforts, but refused and were executed.

That would be a concern IF they were talking liquid nitrogen, but they are not. They are referring to nitrogen gas which is an often used gas for "inerting" airspaces in certain hazardous environments.

Can this method of creating hydrogen be used to generate hydrogen for a hydrogen economy? I know of cars that can use all this hydrogen.

One suspects that the inputs would be a bit expensive.

Not to mention the hydrogen would probably be extremely radioactive. Wasn't it project "gas buggy" that was using nukes to get natural gas that ended up being a little too "hot" to use?

Bought some seafood from N Pacific yesterday (shrimp). Figure I eat some now because it may be 30 years before I eat it again.

BS...It would not be radioactive. All you need is the right amount of heat and water to get hydrogen. The newer higher temperature reactors will produce hydrogen. But if the reactor is not designed to run hot the fuel cladding gets damaged and all the magic smoke comes out.

That would be the Gasbuggy shot in New Mexico, and the Rulison and Rio Blanco shots just to my west here in Colorado- some of the only nuclear detonations that took place inside the continental US, but outside the Nevada Test Site. All part of Project Plowshare...

The gas they managed to release doing these shots was too radioactive to have any commercial value, so they just flared it off at the surface. Which strikes me as not the best way to manage radioactive gases, but what do I know?

+ 10 Heh! Heh!


I think with on-going corrosion they will fear air getting in there (current steam + hydrogen atmosphere) and then kaboom.

The situation can only deteriorate; the flexibles are simply 1) in what way? 2) on what timescale? 3) what, if anything, can be done to favorably influence 1 and 2? 4) what are the consequences of any given answer to 3? There is little point to contemplating worst-case scenarios because we are in fact traveling through one now.

Google Earth has daily imagery of the coast, ranging from 3/11 to 3/18 so far. Use the "time slider" button to access. (apologies is this has been mentioned already)

I find the Farewinds video explanation convincing enough ,
the spent fuel pool from reactor 4 has dried up , the resulting hydrogen formation from zirconium exposure has caused the explosion that blew the roof ( and who knows what else ) of the building ,
there was no reactor active , it must have been the spent fuel.

Hard to see in the video of number 4, but it does look like not only the tops of the fuel boxes are visible, but the sides as well. I did a quick google, but didn't see a spec for what the boxes are made of (besides boron). Anyone know what the boxes are fabricated out of?

Why did they edit the video right at the point of the close-up? We had these concerns with Macondo. There's no excuse for release of edited or partial video (and not the full record). It's not like there isn't enough bandwidth to handle the information (or processing power to convert the video). At week three, and with engineers and government officials around the world troubled over conflicting information, setting evacuation standards, and meeting containment challenges in a timely manner, it seems we'd all benefit from having all the information from TEPCO (and not selected and juicy tidbits stringing us along with assurances of "more to come").

I was just looking at the original ustream video at fairewinds: http://www.fairewinds.com/content/ustream-video

You can clearly see the railing around the pool. On the far side it is intact, near side it is mangled. The "fuel box" appears to me intact and the pool is empty of water. There is some pink debris on top of the fuel box, along with the green traveling crane. The raw edges of concrete left after sections got blown out is clear--hard to picture that pool being watertight after that much concrete busting force.

Where is the fuel?

(edit) How many fuel boxes would there have been? Is one holding up the green crane?

"Where is the fuel?"

Could it have all melted already? ~21 days since disaster, ~17 days since #4 blew its top...

I imagine that would mean way more radiation in the area than has been reported...how many days has it been since we've seen people anywhere near the damaged buildings?

Not unless it went critical again, which AFAIK would be obvious from the quantity and types of radioactive material detected outside reactor buildings (and from the radioactive corpses that would be accumulating by now.) Intuitively, the explosion would seem more likely to have scattered fuel around a larger area than to have compacted it into a smaller one.

You make some good points that are worth elaborating.

The fuel rods contain heavy elements: uranium, zirconium, etc. If they blew up in the explosion, they were either vaporized or would come down fairly quickly.

No one seems to be reporting bits and pieces of fuel rods littered around the area.

If they vaporized, then very large amounts of radioactive material would have been spread far and wide. This material would not be just iodine or cesium. It would include uranium and other substances in the fuel rods.

If the rods didn't blow up there would be a lot of very hot, very banged up fuel rods sitting on the bottom of the remains of the spent fuel pool. As long as they kept spraying large amounts of water on the rods a lot of steam (probably radioactive) would be emitted.

I find it hard to tell from the videos published so far, but the last alternative seems to fit the facts.

For sure this is a nasty situation.

"No one seems to be reporting bits and pieces of fuel rods littered around the area."

A video made from a vehicle driving through the site shows fluorescent orange marking paint all over the place, as though survey teams had ID'd the hot spots for avoidance and eventual cleanup.

The cladding on the fuel rods is thin, 0.036" if I remember that right. Suppose the cladding caught fire, flashed away, and then the refractory fuel pellets all fell into the bottom the fuel box. A heap of greyish pellets sitting down there, getting the spritz from the Putzmeister.

If its dry then why is it steaming? Tells me there is still some water there.

They're spraying large volumes of water into the building in the hope of keeping the spent fuel rods cool, at least, even if they can't keep it in a nice watertight 30' deep tank of water. The problems that then arise are, one, where the water goes as it drains downwards through the structure, presumably carrying lots of toasty radiation -- into intact drainage systems, or into the ground -- and what do they do with the radioactive water they recover. At the moment it looks like the plan is to load it onto tankers and dump it into the Pacific, presumably a long way from land.

Absent a functioning camera looking into the pond on Reactor 4, all we really know is there is some water in the containment. How much is probably impossible to determine. Has any radiated water been found underneath Reactor 4? If the pond is leaking, that water should be very radioactive and have lots of long-term isotope material in it. It sure would be nice to get a robot camera up there to get a better picture of the conditions. Have they considered mounting a camera on a boom by itself and trying to manipulate it closer to the pond?

But that's what we are discussing. There is a camera mounted on the boom of the Putzmeister looking right into the no 4 fuel pool. You can see the railing around the pool, the tops and side of the fuel boxes, and the green fuel handing machine crashed into the top of the boxes. It's dry, and everytime the Putzmeister gives it a shot, steam billows out and shakes the boom.

See the introduction at the top of this post, re Gunderson.

Radioactive? Do you think?

(edit) How many fuel boxes would there have been? Is one holding up the green crane?

According to this: http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1301659895P.pdf p.2, there are (or were) 1331 fuel assemblies in pool 4.

Indeed. Where is the video of reactor #3, it is much more mangled than #4. If they can get these robotic closeups with one they can do it with the other.

I'm not on board with the "Fairfield" commentary at all.

Seems quite clear to me that the refuelling bridge is exactly where it's supposed to be, in several images it can be seen at the refuelling floor level, not in the pool as stated. the floor level is quite obvious amongst the debris. Further, these pools are very deep, the tops of the fuel assembly racks would not be anywhere near that close to the level of the refuelling floor. Further, there are no fuel assemblies to be seen. Further, if you examine more photos of the building you will see a common feature, reinforced concrete with the concrete blown off it leaving a "grid" of the reinforcement mesh. Have a look at the debris shots, particularly where you can see the roof debris. IMHO the commentary is erroneous in regards to the racks and the refuelling bridge. I'm not saying the pools are just dandy by any means. Just that that particular video has been misinterpreted imho.

Thanks - I really wondered about that but couldn't find any pictures to back up my misgivings about the video.

Arnie Gundersen's theory hinges entirely on the interpretation that the spent pool carriage is at least 30 feet down inside the pool.

Although I agree he is wrong about this one I do have some respect for Gundersen, much less for Christopher Busby.

All that said they are still in deep dodo.

in terms of radiation carried here to the US; the 131 iodine i have read is the most hazardous...is this report, & a similar one from Penn. anything to be concerned about: perspective please.

i do have neighbors that use water off their roof; goes into a several thousand gal. cistern?


Iodine-131 level in rainwater sample taken on the roof of Etcheverry Hall on UC Berkeley campus, March 23, 2011 from 9:06-18:00 PDT

20.1 Becquerel per liter (Bq/L) = 543 Picocuries per liter (pCi/L) — Conversion calculator here.

The federal drinking water standard for Iodine-131 is 3 pCi/L. (Press Release)

in penn. the level was 3300% above federal standard for drinking water.

Those levels are still pretty low and the cisterns size will dilute the inflow and give it time to decay, unless the contamination continues.
Do note that there is an effort to greatly increase the radio nucleotide levels set by the EPA to require remedial action, so just being above the standard will not be an immediate government issue. Also EPA rules only apply to community water supplies, not private systems.
There is a risk of a lasting increase in global radiation levels if the Fukushima site winds up entirely unattended, given the 4300 tons of spent fuel on site that will need cooling for many years to come.

Levels here in Wisconsin.

Further analysis of data collected from monitors around the state operated by the Department of Health Services showed detections of the radioactive isotope iodine-131, an element that is a product of a nuclear reaction, such as in a nuclear power plant. Schmidt said measurements of iodine-131 in the air from seven monitors around the state ranged from 0.015 to 0.134 picocuries per cubic meter of air.

The EPA has detected such minor bumps in radioactivity in several other states, including California, Nevada, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Vermont.

It really spiked the days that we saw heavy rain. If I was using rain off my roof to drink, I'd think about moving to bottle water for a month.


We had snow this morning. Seems like its melting really fast :)

Let's put numbers straight.

0.134 picoCurie is 0.005 decays per second. One decay per second per 200 m3.

This has been found, only because counters are capable of measuring virtually every beta particle they encounter and measure energy accurately, so it can be ascribed to particular isotope. These measurements should be explained more along the lines; "Several hundred atoms of radioactive iodine have been found today"

This (0.134 pCi) number does not stand a remote chance of registering on background radiation. (10-60 counts per minute), here we have 0.3 counts per minute.

For comparison a human is radioactive, too:

I picked this:

1 adult human 189 nCi
1 household smoke detector 810 nCi

from http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/rp/factsheets/factsheets-htm/fs2rad&life.htm

189 nCi is 189 nanoCuries which is 189,000 picoCurie. So a human on its own is one million times more radioactive that the stuff in the news.

If someone could convert Becquerels of (specifically) Iodine-131 to microSieverts, that would be neat to know. It takes MeV for beta decay, factors for beta radiation and kind off tissue; and I do not want the mess up the calculation. This calculation could be done for other isotopes of interest, too

From memory, ingestion of 100 mCi of I-131 causes some 20,000 rads to thyroid tissue -- this is a typical 'ablation dose' used to kill thyroid tissue and any associated cancer. 100 mCi is roughly 4 GBq and 20,000 rads is 20,000,000 mSv, so 200 Becquerels of I-131 ingested might cause 1 mSv to the thyroid.

As I recall, the ablation dose carries some risk to saliva glands, but most tissues (other than thyroid tissues) are relatively unaffected. The whole body exposure is notable, but I vaguely remember it being similar to that of medical scans (CT). The usual (US) protocol is for the patient to be isolated from adults for days, although the primary concern seems to be transmission by body fluids rather than direct irradiation.

Note: no unit confusion on the 20,000 rad figure. It is an extremely large dose, but has very focused effects. See for example http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM198310203091601

I-131 is interesting: depending on the dose it causes, treats, or detects thyroid cancer.

Cistern water should not be used for drinking and cooking unless it is purified. The first rain washes dust and debris off the roof into the cistern. There may be enough organic compounds and nutrients in the water to support bacterial growth in the cistern. The roof also decomposes over time due to wind, rain and sun, which adds to the stuff going into the cistern. IIRC, cisterns have to be cleaned periodically, and it is hazardous unless care is taken to ventilate them properly so that there is oxygen at the bottom of the empty cistern instead of a buildup of carbon dioxide.


Illinois is finding I131 in grass clippings. Wait until the cows get out in the pasture and start feeding on it.

Anyone have any idea when or if these reactors will stop spewing I131? Are we going to have to start buying milk from Chile, Argentina, Brazil?

My sister-in-law works in nuclear medicine. Maybe I can borrow a Geiger counter.

She must be the hot dinner party guest of the season right now...

Many people use cistern water in their gardens and grey water systems to wash clothes, etc. (and not for drinking). If health and public safety standards suggest this is above the recommended level for I-131, I have to assume there is a basis for this. I'm growing pretty frustrated with everyone saying contamination readings in the ocean near Fukushima are 4,300 times above public safety standards (or that the decay rate per meter squared from cesium is twice that found at Chernobyl exclusion zone), but pose "no immediate health risk."

Either these standards have meaning, or they don't. The cognitive dissonance is quite astounding.

Many rainwater harvesting systems are designed so that the first inch of rain is diverted and does not go into the cistern. Generally systems are installed on standing seam metal roofs or monoplys rather than built-up roofs.

Sadly only Ag+, Pb2+, and (Hg2)2+ would allow you to precipitate the Iodines. Not the best idea. ;-)

One could use distillation to make drinking water. That is the only safe bet.

Would not be so sure of that.
The vaporization point of iodine is not that much above the boiling point of water.
Still, distillation would leave the cesium behind, so just wait a month or two and the iodine will have decayed down to a safe level.

Right now, the boiling water is mobilizing the iodine and cesium emissions at Fukushima. So we are far from done here.

You would need to reduce the iodine to iodide during distillation to keep it behind as an ion. Kind of hard to do I imagine.

Maybe make a potato starch filter. I3- binds to starch.

We are all going to be eating and drinking this stuff I imagine. The cesium and strontium will be another problem in all the municipal systems. Can they remove them? Not likely.

thanks for info, & responses!

a little research...newbie to this arena... is not reassuring as there is no clear science that i could find; & a lot of misinformation. here is the same question, & some responses on chris martenson's blog...chris responds too the next page.


here is the most troubling aspect i came across;

'Why is the ICRP model unsafe? Because it is based on "absorbed dose". This is average radiation energy in Joules divided by the mass of living tissue into which it is diluted. A milliSievert is one milliJoule of energy diluted into one kilogram of tissue. As such it would not distinguish between warming yourself in front of a fire and eating a red hot coal. It is the local distribution of energy that is the problem. The dose from a singly internal alpha particle track to a single cell is 500mSv! The dose to the whole body from the same alpha track is 5 x 10-11 mSv. That is 0.000000000005mSv. But it is the dose to the cell that causes the genetic damage and the ultimate cancer. The cancer yield per unit dose employed by ICRP is based entirely on external acute high dose radiation at Hiroshima, where the average dose to a cell was the same for all cells.'


i also remember someone referring to measuring radioactivity in 'dung' in a previous thread here yesterday i believe... on TOD; so it is the concentration...internally at the particle that is likely the problem.

thanks again for input.

But the alpha particle would have to succeed in achieving a whole series of probabilities to do that damage. It would have to hit cell matter not, for example, water. It would have to hit the nucleus not the cell body. it would have to hit DNA not an inert content. It would have to not break the DNA completely. It would have to cause a change that could be inherited not act as a block. It would have to create the specific type of damage that could cause cancer rather than one that has no effect whatsoever. Oh, that is if it doesn't just kill that cell anyway.


I think this is absolutely correct, yet you have to raise the benign probability to the power of N to evaluate an outcome over a period of time. In this case N is the number of individual events you will experience over your lifetime. If this is an emitting particle that you ingested, it will turn into a beacon that will keep pumping until the probability reaches a likely occurrence level, or you become one of the unlucky ones.

I think we can agree that mutations do occur and that people need to be aware of how probabilities work.

Quite, once you get down to very small numbers of radioactive atoms it is quite possible for there to be no damage at all especially when you consider that these atoms may not even decay in the human lifetime. Once you get to large quantities then the statistical model gets better until you get to the Chernobyl sized doses when there is a high risk but even so not everyone was affected. Go too far up the scale though and you get into more immediate mortality rather than cancer.

The lack of understanding of probability is contributing greatly to the excess of fear.


There is not enough iodine to exceed solubility product anyway ;-) For non-chemist, no matter how much silver or lead is added, there is not enough iodine in the water to actually precipitate iodine (as iodide).

As far as distillation, I am pretty sure that iodine is in the water in the form of ion and at concentrations of 20Bq/L it is impossible to separate. 20Bq/L should translate to a few million iodine atoms per litre, total. What about ion-echange resins. Can they pick iodine at 10^-17 mole/L ?

Care must be taken when working in any confined space (elevator shaft)

Operator of Japan’s leaking nuclear plant releases footage of the ruined interior of reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.


About those hydrogen explosions:

Anybody here familiar with BDA- Bomb Damage Assessment? Looking at that twisted mess of girders and reinforced concrete, I'm wondering what the equivalent amount of TNT would be to cause that kind of damage; i.e. 500, 1000, 2000 lb bomb, etc?

You can look at videos of the Mk84 2000 lb bomb (about 1,000 lbs HE) explosions and compare it with the video for no 3--and there is just no comparison.

Over at Physics Forum there are some people working through assessments: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=480200&page=127

After looking at this http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/tmi/stories/ch6.htm and this http://economic-undertow.blogspot.com/2011/03/meltdown-mania-part-deux.html I'd say you're probably looking like six to ten tons of TNT-equivalent. Of course modern ordinance uses high explosive, and I believe TNT is not considered high explosive but more like low or medium explosive, so a 500 lb bomb does not equal 500 lb of TNT. But that's the best thought experiment I've seen written so far.

I think its reasonable to assume that the hole in the next building was caused by the fuel crane from reactor 3 crashing down on it ...

Am I correct in seeing the Dark, Square Hole that's partly encircled by steam at the upper left corner of the reactor bldg in your picture to be the spent fuel pool?

EDIT .. hmm.. according to the Fairewinds vid, I'm looking at something way too small to be the pool..

Check out the picture at the bottom of this page:


I think Fred has "located the crane".

The speculation at the physics forum linked to above (circa page 150) is that the hole in the adjacent building was caused by a fuel handling machine (aka FHM)

Are there two cranes -- one on a round track for the reactor work, and another smaller one on straight tracks over the pool? The big crane for reactor 3 seems to be mostly still in place, holding up building debris. The reactor 4 video looks more like that crane is in the fuel pool.

Given the control and image quality, I think one contract needs to be written to Sky Cam. If they can do sports stadiums, they could probably film a reactor building, given towers to work from for the cables. For sure the zoom and auto-focus is better.

Agreed on the crane locations. You can also see the big crane at no 4 clearly from this overhead image (edit, in the image courtesy tcup http://i306.photobucket.com/albums/nn270/tcups/Top.png ) . Question is, what is that shiny circle approx 10 meters east of the square hole?

I love this picture with the Pyramids as the 'Entombment' .. and the 24,000 year comment..

Didn't the folks who found Tutankhammun all die mysteriously or something? That whole 'Alien' thing is sounding more plausible all the time!

That looks like a pipe elbow with flange bolted to a fragment of straight pipe, same diameter as what is laying on the ground on south side of (no 3) reactor building.

better image here, courtesy of "tcup' http://s306.photobucket.com/albums/nn270/tcups/?action=view&current=Top.png

Hundreds of tons of reinforced concrete slabs and colums and structural steel blown off that building and somehow you assume the refulling rig is what made one of the multiple holes in the turbine hall roof?

And ?
I think its reasonable

You assume its concrete

I assume because of the sharp edges around the hole.

Sofar the only heavy tonnage object I know of at the top of those buildings is that crane.

But most of the time i'm not right.

Please post some pictures of the inside if you know any

I'm not certain the bridge crane was at the top of the building. I am pretty certain the structural steel in the roof of the building was of substantial size though. Most everything, structurally, is really heavy, especially those bridge cranes. It sure looked to me as though a lot of steel and concrete got moved to new locations there! It could have been the crane, several concrete walls, roof iron or a combination of all coming down on the turbine bldg roof there. All this stuff is pretty massive in these things.

Picture schematic ( generic GE design , not specifically from Fukushima) ;

There are are better pre-accident inside photos posted at http://energyfromthorium.com/ its an AREVA evaluation post on 3-30-11.

Spectacular video.
The green beam was part of the crane that helps lift fuel rod assemblies in and out of the spent fuel pool.
The steam coming up is presumably from that pool and is what is carrying the iodine and cesium contamination.
In some ways, this is faintly reassuring, as the steam is coming from within the rubble. As the spent fuel pool was above the reactor, the video suggests the damage was to the structure above the fuel pool, rather than originating in the reactor itself, which is deeper down in the site.
However, an explosion severe enough to tear apart the fuel loading crane is unlikely to leave the piping and seals intact. So the radioactive water observed should be no surprise.

This event is like watching the Hindenburg burning in ultra slow motion. We are seeing a catastrophe unfolding and are powerless to halt it.

That's reactor 4 building which has no fuel in the reactor - it's all in the pool due to maintenance work. Workers at the pool say that during the quake, water spilled out of the pool all over them and they ran, struggling to find a way out in the dark.

In closeup video of reactor 3 you can usually see steam rising from the area of the pond and from the reactor itself.

Arnie Gunderson of Fairewind Associates [ http://www.fairewinds.com/ } says that the green machine shown in this video is the bridge crane
that has crashed down to the top of the fuel storage rack, which should be under 30 feet of water in the fuel storage pond.


(It's a higher quality video, as well.)

Now - that video with comments - was an Eye-opener to me and if remotely close to the truth, really grim.
Thanks JP.

The pool has about 4000 tons of water capacity when full.
It also has a direct connection to the reactor vessel so fuel can be moved in and out of the reactor while still safely submerged, so there are large gates and seals built into the pool.
It is plausible that these seals did not survive the initial crisis and that the pool is now just a leaky shell, as the video suggests.
The only good thing is that plutonium is not easily volatilized, unlike cesium or iodine, so that the problem is somewhat localized.
Fixing the problem however will be very tough, as the pool needs to be made watertight again before the fuel can be covered. Just pouring lead and barium on the fuel racks does nothing to keep them cool or to halt the decay heat generated. The fear is that the cesium emissions will make the immediate area too hot to work in, which would greatly expand the disaster.

'Mega-float' to store irradiated water Apr 1, 2011 4:07 PM | By Sapa-AFP

The operator of Japan's disaster-stricken nuclear power plant plans to use a huge steel floating structure to contain radioactive water it releases, officials said Friday.


This has an 18,000 ton capacity. If they are pumping 200 tons of water in a day, this is a reasonable amount of storage.

Have they brought in any tankers yet?

They probably haven't got around to pulling them off the beach quite yet. That's my guess.

My willow tree idea is sounding better. What percent of radiation emitting substances are able to pass through the tree's membranes? I know uranium can be processed with membranes, but the centrifuge is the more efficient method, no? Is that what France will do? Spin the water like they are enriching uranium then draw out water from toward the the center of the centrifuge axis of rotation?

I guess every day qualifies as April Fool's, but you saved this one for today? You are saying that trees will act as protection?

He was talking about site remediation, long-term reabsorbtion of toxics into various flora..

'Willow weep for me
Willow weep for me
Bent your branches down along the ground
and cover me
Listen to my plea
Hear me willow and weep for me'

- Murphy & Sinatra

That was the extent of his "idea"? You look at an area like the Canadian Shield extending from northern Minnesota and Wisconsin northward and you realize the amount of forests compared to the thinness of the soil overlying the bedrock. A huge fraction of the biomass is in the canopy. Same goes for the tropical rainforest such as exists in the Amazon; a large fraction of the biomass is in the canopy. If you knock all these trees down, it will take a while to recover, and this translates to the uptake by trees is a gradual process. In other words, you need a base to start from.

If that's the case, how does TinHat claim this as his idea and that it is innovative?

If that's the case, how does TinHat claim this as his idea and that it is innovative?
Never claimed as my idea, but it is innovative in my opinion. I cited van Helmont as my source. Also add the bad guy in '007-License to Kill'. Then we moved to George de Hevesy, the Nobel Prize and the first uses of radionuclides as markers. If we can somehow take these discoveries and observations to next level and concentrate the radiation emitting particles, that helps. I thought that is what the French claim to have been doing. Are they running a special French only MOX blend in their rods and they reprocess over and over? I love French Roasted coffee but not French radiation roasting me. In fact hubs, I think I would be blasphemous to the Almighty if I claimed this one.
Best Wishes.

In fact hubs, I think I would be blasphemous to the Almighty if I claimed this one.

Most people refer to it as "letting go to seed" or the scientific "ecological succession".

Sunflowers & Uranium: Sunflowers are beautiful, hardy plants which make great bouquets and provide food for birds and squirrels. It also cleans uranium from the soil.


But then you have the problem of what to do with the plants that now have uranium and other isotopes in them.

enter the G.A.T.O.R project.

Ground Accumulation Transuranic Organic Recovery.
and its sister program B.A.T.E.
Biological Accumulation Target Entity.
The idea is to grow plants, like sunflowers and mustard weeds, that uptake radioactive isotopes into their systems. Then have sheep graze the plants. The sheep are then processed through the alligators. Everything eventually accumulates in the gators.

And then you reprocess gators??? It seems that for every "dilution" solution there is a new "accumulation" problem?

you would eventually bury them at a nuke disposal facility. All the bone seeking stuff would be in the bones.

Like the wood chipper you call it a day @ 10 to 1 concentration or you can go all Oak Ridge Laboratories with the vegetable matter to an even more concentrated form. Think not of alligators but yeyo. The goal is to return the ocean liner full of water and cocaine mix back to 1000 tons of Antonio Montana's finest. A less criminal example would be George de Hevesy and the Nobel medals.

When Germany invaded Denmark in World War II, de Hevesy dissolved the gold Nobel Prizes of Max von Laue and James Franck with aqua regia to prevent the Nazis from stealing them. He placed the resulting solution on a shelf in his laboratory at the Niels Bohr Institute. After the war, he returned to find the solution undisturbed and precipitated the gold out of the acid. The Nobel Society then recast the Nobel Prizes using the original gold.

edit: And de Hevesy developed the use of radiotracers, wow.
Hevesy's suggestion that his cook serve freshly prepared meat more than once a week was met with indignation - how could he, she insisted, accuse her of serving anything but the freshest of ingredients. But Hevesy wasn’t persuaded. At the next opportunity, the following Sunday, Hevesy secretly spiked the leftovers on his plate with radioactive material. A few days later, the electroscope he smuggled into the dining room revealed the presence of the tracer - radioactive hash! Confronted with the irrefutable evidence, all the landlady could do was exclaim "this is magic!"

That's the best part! You then unleash the grizzlies to deal with the gators. Done.

As bad as Chernobyl was, it was a 'quick' disaster, it went critical than blew itself to bits STOPPING the reaction.Not to say it wasn't bad, but this slow mo train wreck in Japan might get far worse. If it were me i would look to maybe sectioning off with chain link fence a small part of the ocean, using a giant crane and pulling the rods in a 'fuel replacement' like deal and dropping them directly in the ocean.Some way you have to stop this reaction, the rods aren't being cooled properly now, as the vessels are leaking.

This is a big show for the world. They want us to think the reactors did not explode and melt down. So they need to avoid big visceral explosions like Chernobyl.

They then can release tons of invisible radioactivity and control the media, having them say: "like a chest x-ray" or "like a banana" a lot.


But there is no effective way to plan for the next hundred years, or even fifty. One can think of numerous contingencies that may occur within the next decades, that would render any long range plans useless.

What are we doing? What have we done?

Our grandchildren and their grandchildren will be cursing us and asking "Why the hell did they do this to us? What were they thinking?"

More likely it will be :
' our forefathers did it , so we gotta do it too ' ,
that's humanity ...

I'm sure they will tell everything will all be well and good, and will likely lead to future generations of "rad hardened" Japanese setting the record straight on LNT, and bolstered by the "healthful" effects of low level radiation hormesis. Oh wait, they are already telling us as much (and defying nearly every principle of nuclear safety and engineering common sense in the process).

Perhaps if they were that concerned about it, they should have chosen better ancestors?

It seems our innate predilection for dominance guarantees that the optimally winning genetics will create a world that is nearly unlivable. Not only does the tragedy of the commons scale to global scope, but across time spans of centuries. Nearly optimal localized decisions create clearly suboptimal global-scale, millennial effects.

7th generation thinking captures part of solution. We need 10 orders of magnitude thinking as well -- what happens when any new "good idea" is multiplied by millions or billions, and then perpetuated for decades?

We also need to learn from history. The rise of science and technology has had a very strong cultural and spiritual significance to our thinking. These are ideas bounced around already at beginning of last century - by all sides. They are not by any means new - and to ignore what others have already said about them is at the very least, re-inventing a lot of wheels...

A commentary by Adam Curtis in BBC documentary Pandora's Box discusses with great detail how both the Bolshevic thought and the western science competed at the beginning of the Atomic Century, who had the most rational, futuristic vision of the world.

In this documentary there is also a very ominous connection to the current Fukushima incident - a whole section of the documentary discusses the events surrounding the birth of nuclear power industry in the US, dealing with early problems, corruption and lies to do with just the types of reactors at Fukushima Daichi. There is a brief summary on Curtis's blog.

Ominous as you hear the taped words of the fearful officials discussing among themselves the Three Mile Island accident 1979: "we're operating almost totally in the blind ... the information is ambiguous ... like a couple of blind men"

See A is For Atom to watch it.

*A commentary by Adam Curtis in BBC documentary Pandora's Box discusses with great detail how both the Bolshevic thought and the western science competed at the beginning of the Atomic Century, who had the most rational, futuristic vision of the world.*

There is no more heavily polluted region in the world, in many different ways, than the former SU. If there were time and this were the place I could tell you about it. It's what happens when a technological state is answerable to no one.

Yes, I know this - many people aren't aware, or don't want to hear - just what were the consequences left behind by the aggressive pursuit of the most rational technological utopia in current history.

Some quotes from the documentary:

Its easy to imagine that the enemy is the nuclear reactor. But the enemy isn't technology. I have come to the paradoxical conclusion that technology must be protected from man.

In the past, the time that included the old reactors, the time that ended with Gagarin's flight in to space, the technology was created by men who stood on the shoulders of Tolstoi and Dostojevski. They were educated in the spirit of the great humanitarian ideals. In the spirit of the beautiful and correct moral sense. They had a clear political idea of the new society they were trying to create. One that would be the most advanced in the world.

But already in the generations that succeeded them, there were engineers who stood on their shoulders and saw only the technical side of things. But if someone is only educated in technical ideas, they cannot create anything new, anything for which they are responsible for. The operators for the reactor that night considered they were doing everything well and correctly. And they were breaking the rules for the sake of doing it even better. But they had lost sight of the purpose what they were doing it for.

- Valerii Legasov, the father of Soviet Nuclear energy, interviewed after the Chernobyl accident, where he personally directed the emergency operation - and two years before he committed suicide.

The history of nuclear power is a history of political, economic and social decisions being made about a technology. And the key decisions weren't made by the technologists. They were done in the business world.

What science and technology gives you is a range of possibilities. And those possibilities can take you in any number of directions. It's potentially a liberating force. But to get there, society has to stop sleepwalking. And realize that its not a scientific choice, its not an engineering choice, its a moral choice.

- Joseph Morone, Nuclear Historian

It seems our innate predilection for dominance guarantees that the optimally winning genetics will create a world that is nearly unlivable.

(Wildly off-topic) I have this pet hobby-horse green crayon theory: that intelligence is the evolutionary time-bomb. On any planet where life develops and can continue to evolve for long enough, sooner or later some species will develop the faculty we call "intelligence". Any species that does so will rapidly render everything else big enough to be worth eating either extinct or domesticated; it's population will explode until it reaches the hard limits imposed by the planet it's on, at which point it crashes and either goes extinct or clings on as a tiny fraction of the former population, unable to repeat the process of technological advance because the environmental capital was all burned up during the population explosion epoch. Dismal science? I has it :)

Most religions have some idea of an end times, or "eschatology". For example, Judgement in Christian religion or Gotterdammerung in Norse religion.

The idea that an advanced civilization can last for some indefinte time in equilibrium with the environment is quite recent, and it is quite implausible.

Does anyone survive their technology.

No one survives religion.
How many Thor worshipers do you have in your neighborhood?

I have a statue of Dog on my dash.
I believe in Dog.
Dog is great.

The Aztec priests made the seasons change and the springs flow.

In another place, another holy leader would come out of his hut,
dance a little dance,
and point out to the sun the path across the sky to take that day.
If the hut, on a hill, were to catch fire...
the villagers best bet was to throw their infants upon it.

Of course, these primitive religions pale
compared to our new, improved, modern ones,
the villagers say.

Scifi of course beat you to it, Jeanette Wintersons The Stone Gods is a choice recent rendition.

We needed the electric power to run incandescent light bulbs that produce 90% heat. Duh!

Hong Kong Radiation Exceeds Tokyo Even After Nuclear Crisis

The radiation level in central Tokyo reached a high of 0.109 microsieverts per hour in Shinjuku Ward yesterday, data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health show. That compares with 0.14 microsieverts in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory said on its website. A person is exposed to 50 microsieverts from a typical x-ray.
The highest level of background radiation is in the state of Kerala and city of Chennai in southern India, where people receive average doses above 30 millisieverts per year, or 3.42 microsieverts an hour, according to the World Nuclear Association. India has vast amounts of thorium in its soil. A millisievert is 1,000 microsieverts.

These high readings (10s of milisieverts per year) in parts of India are suspiciously close to the Madras Nuke Plant and some researchers have claimed that is no coincidence.


Madras Atomic Power Station located at Kalpakkam about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Chennai, India, is a comprehensive nuclear power production, fuel reprocessing, and waste treatment facility that includes plutonium fuel fabrication for fast breeder reactors (FBRs). It is also India's first fully indigenously constructed nuclear power station. It has two units of 220 MWe capacity each. The first and second units of the station went critical in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The station has reactors housed in a reactor building with double shell containment ensuring total protection even in the remotest possibility of loss of coolant accident. An Interim Storage Facility [ISF] is also located in Kalpakkam.

How far back do the readings go?

The lack of coincidence could go either way, after all.

The first reports of very high radiation seem to be from about 1994. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) claimed the readings were due to a faulty geiger counter used by the researchers. When other researchers duplicated the results they said their instruments were either faulty as well or were somehow confused by the thorium in the soil. I suspect the Indian authorities are lying. The AERB also dismissed the researchers as "environmentalists".


There were more abnormal readings on the coastal areas than in the inland region. The readings in 7 places were above 10 milli-Sieverts/year. The highest recorded reading was 54.5 milli-Sv/year. The highest reading obtained in an inland region was 8 milli-Sv/year near a pond, about two kilometers south of MAPS stacks. Abnormal readings were recorded in paddy fields, other farmlands and stream nearby.

Also as far as I can see the Indian authorities say the high readings, even quoted by the World Nuclear Association as an example in the thread above, of high background rates are not true. Their official reports find no extra radiation due to their activities strangely enough.

In biochemistry, one must establish the baseline. Then you measure the data recently to see if the sample of data is statistically significant, i.e., more than an error bar from the mean. India has a lot of nuke pollution. I do not have the most recent thing I read, but there is plenty out there about leaking India nukes.

Definitely suspicious.

While the elevated numbers could well be related to the plant, it wouldn't take very long to do a proper survey (as should have been done before site approval anyway) that would prove out either side's case. Of course, I don't think there is a group in existence with the expertise that both sides would trust to provide accurate results.

How much of Asia will we lose in the best and worst cases? So much for the global economy. I imagine the talent will start to file out of the region. What is the point?

Already starting. See post in yesterday's thread pointing to Bloomberg story about Goldman et al hiring "nuclear experts" to convince staff to stay in Tokyo.

They're also distributing bottled water.

The only quantitative estimates of total emissions from this accident that have been made public, afaik, are from here: http://www.zamg.ac.at/
This Austrian site tracks the airborne emission using the world wide network set up to monitor the nuclear test ban treaty.
The good news is that they have gradually refined their estimates downward, from over 10**17th bequerels/day initially to a maximum of 10**17th bequerels total thus far and possibly less than 10**15th.
The hope is that their gradual reduction in estimates reflects a gradual cooling of the site as the fuel decays.
Chernobyl is the reference, with about 10**18th total emissions.
So there is real hope the damage can be largely confined to the Fukushima area, sparing Tokyo and southern Japan, as well as the rest of Asia.
Note that the water and ground borne contamination is not included, but these elements should be even more localized. It would certainly keep me off sushi for a while, though, just on principle.

Note also that this cheerful estimate assumes that all goes well going forward and that the 4300 tons of spent fuel in the storage tanks on site remain adequately cooled, so no further disaster escalation occurs.
There is serious concern that that is a very optimistic assessment.

An airborne analysis of the Fuku is not likely a good one considering the flush water is terribly radioactive.

Both a groundwater, ocean, and airborne analysis is needed to estimate the total radioactivity release.

Indeed water may be local, but I imagine Tokyo Bay will be pretty nasty in since most of the waste is being flushed straight into the ocean.

I agree that 5-10 fold less airborne waste is being spewed than Chernobyl but the key it the integration under the curve.

Integrate (Radiation/day) d_day

A slow release over a long haul may be worse than a sharp spike in a single day.

They must be thinking this over, cause no one knows what is best I bet.


I work with people who have lived in Chennai. I asked two friends and neither of them had ever heard of high levels of natural radiation in Chennai. I spent an hour or so google-searching for infomation regarding the source of radiation. All I found were sources 200+ miles away. Chennai is a high-tech hub and education center in India. I wonder if news about radiation came from a Chennai publication that referenced sources elsewhere. There is thorium in the sand off the west coast of Sri Lanka and there is zircon in the sand off the south-west coast of India. Chennai is on the south-east coast a little north of Sri Lanka. Does anyone know the true source of the 30 millisieverts of radiation reported in Chennai? Or could it just be blowing ashore from Sri Lanka?

This is very interesting - I was born in Chennai and my parents still live there. I don't think that anyone has ever talked about this background radiation to my knowledge. I do recall visiting the Kalpakkam power plant back in 1975 when it was still under construction. You can see the power plant from the beach at Mahabalipuram which is a Unesco world heritage site.

The problems with Nuclear Power isn't Technical, new designs are VERY safe, but 'market' issues. I simply do not trust private for profit companies to do the right thing, here in NJ we have the OLDEST Nuke plant in the US, it's leaking radiation locally like a sieve, killing fish by the 10's of thousands from overheated water. The Company was asked to build a 'cooling tower' to cool the water before returning it to Barnaget Bay, but the Company refuse and said they would shut the plant before doing this, does that sound like a company with the public's interest at heart, not to mention this plant is WAY past it's prime, but they don't want to spend the cash on a new one.Than you have the problem of Fuel Rod waste, not a SINGLE Nuclear plant should be built to this is settled, ideally they should be reprocessed and reused.Third Energy is just too cheap, until we start to get to Europe prices, people will continue to waste, and lead to stupid Republicans like Michelle Bachmann, sponsoring the 'Dim bulb' legislation to continue the use of the old wasteful bulbs.

I am not sure that it is private ownership that is the problem- but rather that Price -Anderson limits their liability in the event of an accident. One has to wonder why if the new nuclear plants are so safe that the reactor manufacturer liability is capped at 110 million or that the insurance industry is not willing to offer more than $375Million in insurance. It was passed in 1957 to help get the industry of the ground. Meanwhile here we are 54 years later.

It was most recently renewed in 2005 in a Republican controlled Congress and signed by a Republican President. I thought Republicans were against the government intervening in private markets?

Seen that the Fukushima accident is likely to cost somewhere in the $100-1000B range, it seems private insurers have been entirely correct to refuse this liability.
Clearly, if the scale of the potential exposure so far exceeds the ability to pay, it would be dumb to underwrite the risk.
That may eventually be a tool to guide future nuclear development, if it is not insurable, don't do it.
Perhaps that bodes well for the future of mini nukes.

A very interesting read on the subject, was We almost lost Detroit. Great detail about Price-Anderson, insurance and so forth.

Would you people who discuss liability please do a little google-searching before writing untrue words? You are one of many who has left essential facts unsaid when discussing liability.

The Japanese taxpayer agreed to accept this liability!
Japan govt to compensate for radiation damage

Please don't misconstrue my words. You have very valuable words to share regarding liability. However, making blatently untrue statements will sabotage your virtuous efforts.

Japanese taxpayers were sold a lemon from the look of things in Fukushima and the surrounding 20-30 km exclusion zone. Lots of life and liberty sacrificed indeed.

Japanese nuclear emergency law. In both English and Japanese at the source. Very long.

Article 41 A person or an organization that falls under any of the following items shall be punished by a fine of not more than three hundred thousand yen:
一 第七条第三項、第八条第四項前段、第九条第五項又は第十一条第三項の規定による届出をせず、又は虚偽の届出をした者
(i) a person or an organization that has failed to give a notification under the provisions of Article 7, paragraph 3, the first sentence of Article 8, paragraph 4, Article 9, paragraph 5 or Article 11, paragraph 3, or has given a false notification;
二 第十条第一項前段の規定に違反して通報しなかった者


I was curious.
What is the prevailing attitude of Japanese folk toward lawyers? In the US, they are a necessary evil, kind of like taxes. LOL. I have no idea what it's like in Japan.

25 to 1 on the lawyer ratio compared to us. Crime is much less too. The Japanese are just not as litigious, but when you nuke them, you can never pay enough. The Koreans are even less litigious.

For every 320 Americans there is a lawyer — indeed, with 799,960 lawyers among a population of 255,600,000, America may have the highest proportion of lawyers per capita in the world. In England, there are 694 Englishmen per lawyer, in France 2,461 Frenchmen per lawyer and in Japan 8,195 Japanese per lawyer. Lest you think the Japanese are exceptionally poorly served, you may wish to reflect that there are 15,748 Koreans per lawyer, with a mere 2,813 lawyers for Korea's population of 44,300,000.* See footnote!

What you are missing is that many functions of lawyers in the US are done by clerks and citizens in most countries. We need that many lawyers because we let them make the rules that insist that they are needed for even simple things.

I agree with that.
A few years ago I was the executor of an estate that had a value of about $5000 after bills were paid. I had no choice but to go thru a lawyer. It was even worse because of state laws. This was like total weirdness. A poor lady passed away and left everything to my niece. The lady lives in the same state as I and my niece lives in a different state up North. My niece went thru a lawyer in her state to deal with the probate and many months went by with no progress. My niece asked me to help and I found out she was required to use a lawyer from my state rather than hers. Also, the executor of will had to be a resident of same state as deceased. So, I'm a resident of same state and took that responsibility.

Euan, I notice that Barry Brook has divided the conversation into two parts, technical and philosophical.


This would be a great improvement to enhance the focus and continuity.

Perhaps add a third category for doomers joyfully poking fun at each piece of bad news.

This would be a great improvement to enhance the focus and continuity.

Strongly disagree.

However, if this format is to be adopted, let's also include a category for nuclear true believers to demonstrate the validity of the concept of confirmation bias.

let's also include a category for nuclear true believers to demonstrate the validity of the concept of confirmation bias

No need, BraveNewClimate (oh, how ironically apt) has already done it for us.

Five years ago I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident.

It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; foetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick.

This was 20 years after the accident but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers. One doctor, in tears, told us that one in three pregnancies in some places was malformed and that she was overwhelmed by people with immune and endocrine system disorders. Others said they still saw caesium and strontium in the breast milk of mothers living far from the areas thought to be most affected, and significant radiation still in the food chain. Villages testified that "the Chernobyl necklace" – thyroid cancer – was so common as to be unremarkable; many showed signs of accelerated ageing.

Nuclear's green cheerleaders forget Chernobyl at our peril

*It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; foetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick.*

This sort of morbidity is found all over the former SU, and it is not just the result of radiation. The Soviet state desecrated nature and the people within its boundaries.

Yes. Monbiot seems to be getting an earful for his statements in the Guardian. You can watch a recent debate between Monbiot and Helen Caldicott on Democracy Now hosted yesterday.

He doesn't seem to know about the "red forest" in the most heavily irradiated regions of the exclusion zone near Chernobyl. He also seems to be quite surprised by Caldicott's defense of a conspiracy theory regarding World Health Organization and oversight of information and reports by IAEA, reported here by Le Monde. I'm not a fan of Caldicott's presentation style, and I normally wouldn't even bring her up in a debate about nuclear, but it seemed fitting to add it here if anybody is interested in the Monbiot article and reaction. His argument seems to amount to this: given all that nature can throw as six 40 year old nuclear power plants sitting on the beach in Japan, we should feel pretty lucky that all we have to deal with is 300 years of cesium contamination over a restricted area in a small and densely populated island nation, a sacrifice from a handful of workers willing to try and contain an impossible situation, some 1760 metric tons (give or take) of damaged fuel that may remain on the site for the next 100 years (before humans can approach it for removal), and a heavily polluted marine environment in a country that meets much of its nutritional needs from the ocean. Overall, there are much worse things in the world, so why waste any additional print on this accident (when it's such a drop in the bucket).

Quotes from the Le Monde article:

World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman claimed that [the research documents] submitted to the international conference held in Geneva in 1995 on the health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster had been duly published. This was not so. And the proceedings of the Kiev conference in 2001 have never been published either...

The WHO must end the agreement made in 1959 which binds it to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and prevents it from initiating a programme or activity in the area of nuclear power without consulting the IAEA “with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement” (Article 1, Point 2).

The IAEA (a UN agency which reports to the Security Council) is mandated to “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world”. It is in fact a lobby, industrial and military, which should have no role to play in public health policy-making or research.

The IAEA has vetoed conferences planned by WHO on radioactivity and health and, in turn, the WHO has endorsed the nuclear lobby’s grotesque statistics on mortality and morbidity relating to the Chernobyl accident – 56 dead and 4,000 thyroid cancers.

Denial of disease inevitably implies denial of health care. Nine million people live in areas with very high levels of radioactivity; for 21 years now these populations have had no choice but to consume contaminated food, with devastating effects on their health

For the nuclear lobby, any research indicating harm from ionizing radiation represents a commercial threat that must at all costs be averted. Research on damage to the human genome (one of the most serious consequences of the contamination) was not part of the international project requested of the WHO in 1991 by the health ministers of Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation. Yet dental caries was made a research priority.

Hundreds of epidemiological studies in Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation have established that there has been a significant rise in all types of cancer causing thousands of deaths, an increase in infant and perinatal mortality, a large number of spontaneous abortions, a growing number of deformities and genetic anomalies, disturbance and retardation of mental development, neuropsychological illness, blindness, and diseases of the respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, urogenital and endocrine systems

Four months after the meltdown Morris Rosen, the IAEA’s director of nuclear safety, said: “Even if there were an accident of this type every year, I would still regard nuclear power as a valuable source of energy”

Keep talking, Ransu. I appreciate your quotes above from the documentary and also these regarding WHO and IAEA. I am learning some things. And I saw Mobbs' article this morning, Phil, thanks for posting--very succinct demolition of someone who can't grasp the big picture and is being used by energy lobbies for their messages.

The new normal may become carting your Geiger counter around to the store and the restaurant (or maybe opting to eat at home). And I think I need to expand the cold frames to all of my garden beds. And I'm going to go buy extra chicken feed to get me through the year.

The best reply to George Monbiot I've seen is from Paul Mobbs:


Links to his full report are at the bottom of the Energy Bulletin article.

The PDF's easier on the eyes than the blogged version.

The motives of people like Mombiot are based on human's inability to let go of a strongly constructed self-image - as I discussed earlier in my somewhat rantish comment. Putting in too much emotional investment into a position you hold creates a kind of too-big-to-fail situation where the consequences of admitting even a slight doubt brings down a whole cascade of new questions.

It could be that for an advocate, and much more for an active campaigner, it is humanly difficult to function without taking such a strong position - both for the reasons of self-confidence - and the outward perception of your message. However if your initial position then turns out to be seriously flawed in any way, you are trapped by it.

It would indeed take something like the suggested tour of the regions surrounding the Chernobyl accident site, for some of these people to be shocked out of their situation. The blogosphere certainly won't force them to examine their situation - it is too easy to use the general noise of the internet as a shield to cover just about any position.

You can see them in their eyes when they are interviewed - how easy self-delusion is when you have your ego at stake: "the level of radiation is comparable to airplane flight", "the statics show no significant variation" and "humans have to die some day" ... people like Mombiot travel the world for all kinds of issues - it would be so easy for them to actually visit those hospitals, talk to the local doctors, interview the local people, find out for themselves the truth...

I don't think they want to even contemplate it.

Monbiot is the cream of the crop when it comes to engaging science-based journalism. I think it pretty obvious that he considers CO2 a bigger problem than nuclear plants. So if you look at his latest blog post, it is clear he is working the devil's advocate angle:

Thanks for posting that article. It was a very frank and concise explanation of the dilemma we face.

Admittedly this is from Fox but they are claiming that blue light due to "what's known as a localised criticality in the nuclear power business" has been seen at the plant.

Blue Flashing Light Seen Over Fukushima Plant


"From what we understand this is not good news"- Fox

"From what we understand this is not good news" - Fox

See? They're smarter than we thought.

I can't find any other reports of this anywhere, and it's been over 4 hours since that FOX video was run.

Various versions have been floating around for some time. Search Google News for "+criticality +fukushima".

Is just a rehash of stories based on the spurious neutron bursts and high Cl-38 many days ago? The Fox reporter seems to describe something that just happened. He was live in the middle of the night in Osaka (...though in prime time on the East coast US).

*Is just a rehash of stories based on the spurious neutron bursts and high Cl-38 many days ago?*

How do you know that the stories are spurious?

And wearing two dosimeters as he helpfully pointed out.

One had better be certain that the story is spurious, for the sake of the workers on site, no?

Yes, he seems to be describing (a) recent event(s).

There's no way, as far as I can tell, to determine whether he is and, if he is, to explain why other media haven't picked it up.

Remember, much of the media and most of the public have no idea that there is a difference between radioactive decay and fission, and no reason, necessarily, to see a "little bit of fission" as newsworthy. Lots of them ignored or downplayed reports of corium burning through an RPV, after all.

Besides, Americans, especially, are obsessed with our latest military adventure. We love our wars, more than almost anything else.

The current top stories list from Google News:

Muammar al-Gaddafi
Ford Motor Company
Ivory Coast
John Calipari
SQL injection
The Tokyo Electric Power Company

It could well take a really big blue flash in Japan to capture public attention again.

To be fair there is one entry related to the Japan crisis even if it is at No. 9.

That was then.

This is now:

Ford Motor Company
Ivory Coast
Muammar al-Gaddafi
United States Border Patrol
Search Engines
SQL injection

He's reporting from Osaka. He might as well be filing from New York. He's no where near Fukushima.

Here's one more


Engineers have observed bursts of heat and radiation and even flashes of light at the core, which suggests what is known as a "localized criticality," in which the nuclear chain reaction that normally powers the plant proceeds more rapidly. Such events might occur if fuel melted and accumulated in pools that were not covered by water and thus not cooled.

" Such events might occur if fuel melted and accumulated in pools that were not covered by water and thus not cooled."

Other way around. Fuel debris covered in water shifts into critical configuration, energy is released, boiling off the water. The water being the moderator, when the water flashes off, the reaction stops (no thermal neutrons) and the water slowly encroaches on the steam pocket until enough water is back in place to moderate neutrons, and the cycle repeats.

The liquid-metal cooled reactors could do something similar with fast neutrons, but that also needed uranium metal, not oxide, as the metal has to expand as it heats to let the neutrons escape from the core. And by now the inside of the reactors are chlorides and oxides, not pure metals.

Euan's "Fairwinds associates video":
Updates on Fukushima:
New Images Reveal Nuclear Fuel Rack Exposed to Air

The fact of this video
Its existence
Is the damning evidence.

What in the world
are we doing
in having to go to a third party
to reveal the immediately obvious to us?
(Any storage pool worker can instantly see the extent of the damage.)

Those in charge suppress, deny, and ridicule basic information
when this action suits their private needs
over those of the common good.

This is why humans can not be trusted with anything
that has any possibility of causing harm.

If one does wish to engage in reductio ad absurdum arguments
undermining the last statement ...enjoy.


This accident is much like the last.
There is not enough transparency in the information channel
to allow sure, reasoned analysis

I read upon linking: Page not found

Updates on Fukushima:
New Images Reveal Nuclear Fuel Rack Exposed to Air

Try this link http://www.fairewinds.com/updates

Just checked it and the video is at the top (newest)

Apparently Local Criticality:


I would like to toss an idea into the ring - please demolish it if you are so inclined.

It seems to me that it would be very difficult to bury these multiple plants with concrete - due to their high and variable radioactivity. Furthermore, it would seem that remote-controlled industrial robots and suchlike cannot function in such a radioactive environment - their electronics fail. A vast number of workers would need to be sacrificed.

Is it at all feasible to build a cofferdam around these monstrosities and to fill it with seawater so as to drown them?

The components of the cofferdam could be largely built offsite - perhaps at several shipyards - and assembled onsite.

Obviously, this contaminated water would try to leak below and so a drainage network would be needed below and the water that reaches it recycled into this giant coffer dam. Extensive grouting with bentonite could dramatically reduce this leakage. The Soviets froze the ground under Chernobyl at one time, for example.

Once these things are under water, it would be much easier to approach them and to work on them and concrete them. Water would certainly disable alpha and beta rays, and greatly weaken the gamma rays.

In any event, the foundations of these structure will have to be isolated from the water-table.

I posted it at the end of the previous thread and few could have read it - there was only one comment and it was not entirely negative.

I've seen the idea posted daily for almost a week. What kind of numbers have you come up with?
How much water would you need to fill this "tub"? How long would it take to fill? What amount of force/pressure do the walls need to support? How do you build a drainage network in the middle of a nuclear "hot" zone?

If the heat is 5% of a critical reactor then four 1 GWe reactors would produce 1,364 million BTU of heat per hour. Assuming the bathtub water stays at ~150 degrees the surface would need to be about 1 million square feet or 1000' x 1000' for latent evaporation. If the building is 80 feet high, that's <80 million cubic feet of water.
Water pressure at the base of an 80' wall would be ~5000 psf.
Of course, steaming 'Lake Fukushima' would immediately rupture at the next earthquake.

Eyeballing the site on Google Earth, it looks to be about 600 ft by 2000 ft.
A cofferdam around the whole mess would be a pretty fancy piece of engineering.
Cheapest solution imo would be to build the seawall out of ice. Mixed with wood chips, ice is very temperature resistant and the raw material is immediately available, so all that is needed is some large refrigeration facilities that reactors 5 and 6 could power.
The wall would have its cooling pipes built into it, so it could self renew as needed.
It should not be necessary to build the wall up to 80 feet, as the reactors are down in the buildings. Forty feet should be adequate.
Plus the heat dissipation can be greatly increased by adding some fountains to the site, so the water temperature need not be as much as a simple surface area estimate would require.
Perhaps "Lake Fukushima" could become the Japanese Bellagio, an exciting resort with thermal baths.

It is a matter of considering the options. All the options are lousy and this may not be the worst one.

This option is not ideal - but it would be a shame to fall back on it when all the other options have been tried and failed and a couple of years have gone by as well.

How about adding a few million bottles of radiator stop leak to the water in these things. Works for my truck.

If it takes a few million for your truck how many would you need for a nuclear reactor?

One works for my truck. I assume the reactor holds a lot more water. They probably have the really big bottles at the reactor parts store, so it wouldn't take as many.

A levee tall enough to contain that much water would need to be about twice the height in thickness at the base. The reactor buildings are what, about 60' high? You'd need a berm at least 120' wide at the base to hold the water, and it would need to be compacted and faced with concrete to keep water intrusion from taking place. There's a slope on the inland side of the four reactors so you'd only need to build three sides of this containment, but you'd have to build it outside the turbine buildings too since they've got connections to the reactors, and water in the basements.

That's a lot of embankment brought in the area, buildings would need to be demolished, and a lot of people being exposed to radiation while construction was going on. Assuming about 1600' of berm is needed (1000' on the seaward side, 300' on the shorter sides), a height of 60' and a base of 120', my rough calculations indicate you'd need over 430,000 cubic yards of material. Assuming a standard shrinkage rate for soil at around 20% (I work at a state DOT and that's our usual shrinkage factor for non-wet soils with few rocks), they'd need over 510,000 cubic yards of material. One of my projects involved large earth moving equipment, excavating 26 million cubic yards; working 22 hours a day, the best they could move was about 40,000 cubic yards daily, and that was with 26 cubic yard shovels and 100 ton trucks. They could use even larger vehicles, but the numbers we're talking here just sound too enormous for it to be feasible.

I used to be a civil engineer. I graduated in 1971 and left it soon after - not long after working on a crappy nuke in the UK.

IMHO, given some competent brains and project managers (of which there is no shortage in Japan), and almost unlimited off-site resources, it should be possible to come up with something that is guaranteed to work within a few months. The alternative seems to be that the problem will continue getting much worse. In any event, this work could be started right away and continue in parallel with whatever else they are trying to do and without drawing on the same resources.

I am absolutely sure that, given the will, they could implement something along these lines within 2 months. They need real leadership - not pretend leadership Kan, Sarkozy call for new global international nuclear industry safety standards

This is an emergency - it is not the right time to economise. It is not the right time to try solution A and wait for it to fail before trying solution B.

This whole affair has reminded me of a TV film of the Doomwatch series from the '70s in the UK. There was a special I saw as a one-off in 1999 that I've just managed to find a torrent of and rewatch. Basically, the plot is about "Doomwatch" scientists watching other scientists for dangerous research that could be misused e.g. genetic engineering, atomic physics etc. In the film, a group of eco-activists stumble across a deactivated nuclear powerplant near Newcastle being used to dispose of thousands of tonnes of Ukrainian and Russian nuclear waste of varying grades.

The catch here isn't illegal reprocessing, but that a private company along with the MoD has basically used high energy NOVA-NIF lasers to produce a black hole from a single carbon atom's implosion, which they now house in the old reactor containment hall within the most powerful superconducting magnetic field on Earth. Free energy, and you get rid of all the world's nuclear waste. Great, eh?

Except, it's not. And the story draws a lot of parallels between this fictional technology and business venture, and what the likes of TEPCO are doing now, with the suit bigwig of the operation being concerned about the bills run up using the whole national grid to try and control the singularity when they "should be selling electricity, not buying more of it".

The link is here: http://ca.isohunt.com/download/130428681/DOOMWATCH%3A+WINTER+ANGEL.torrent

As it's not been made available to buy anywhere, this is the only way to watch it, admittedly on a low quality VHS rip.

The hard news of the day is in this section from the daily Union of Concerned Scientists briefing:

"There was an issue with the Unit 2 spent fuel pool last night. The Japanese safety authority reported that there was a malfunction in the electrically driven pump that was feeding water into the Unit 2 spent fuel pool. They switched to a fire hose, but the fire hose had cracks in it, and they couldn't use it, and so for some period of time, cooling was stopped. According to the IEA, pumping has now been restored, although I'm not clear what they're using actually to do that."

And that is how events could still spin out of control.

*And that is how events could still spin out of control.*

Spin can also spin out of control.

*And that is how events could still spin out of control.*


Not likely. But if it happens it will probably be coincident failures. I believe the king (below) is objectively incorrect, but safety is relative. The situation at Fukushima now is still more dangerous than at all of the reactors (worldwide) combined.

"And that is one of many ways events could continue to spin out of control."

It seems clear that things are not under control.
The spent fuel pools are heating up for reactors 5 and 6, and also the common pool, suggesting their cooling is offline too.
The video earlier indicates that spent fuel may be lying bare in a dry storage pool, so contamination continues to rise with the steam from the cooling water sprayed on the pool.
Meanwhile, the effort to decontaminate the turbine halls and remove the highly radioactive water there seems like a fine idea, but entirely beside the point if the issue is to access and cool down the damaged
Two weeks into this disaster, there is still no clarity of purpose, no common plan, no clear authority, no shared vision.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18

Just curious,
Please provide a biblical quote to describe what happens when there is a vision, and the people are too blind to see it.

Try Matthew 24:2 or Jeremiah

I read in Matthew 24:2,
His comment was: "Do you see all these buildings? I assure you, not one stone will be left on another-it will all be torn down".

Sorry, that verse mentions neither vision nor blindness.

Please try another... And provide verses rather than entire books like you've done by stating, "Jeremiah".

Thank you.

Sorry, but,
I find neither a Simon or a St Simon in my book. My book was purchased at the Vatican and is signed by the Pope.

Wasn't really sure what you were after, actually.. so I was, of course largely just being silly and vamping.. but there is also 'Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do..'

and for the Union Bashers out there, we have the timeless..

Q: "What was the last thing Jesus said to the Teamsters?"
A: "Don't do anything till I come back." (IE, achieve re-criticality)

John 4 13-14

13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

But as I heard it from a good, Pagan/UU Preacher it was explained NOT in the typical King James fashion, but as the 'vision' that we inherit when we are inspired by a great Teacher, Leader, Virtuoso ..

(The illumination of this text was my favorite Sacred v. Profane Unitarian Sermon ever, as Rev. Berger chose to use the Loony Tunes "Space Jam" to reinforce the theme, when all the Cartoon Characters were drinking from Michael Jordan's bottle of 'Special Stuff' in order to win the game, and in the end, it WAS just water, but as MJ is a 'Master', they were suitably inspired with that 'Vision' to carry through and win.) Hollywood hu Akbar !

Then, of course, there is always..

Brian 1:04:38

Calvary. EXT - DAY

Cheer up, Brian. You know what they say: some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you're chewing on life's gristle, don't grumble; give a whistle, and this'll help things turn out for the best. And... always look on the bright side of life...!!

ROTFL!! Where is a decent spittle cup when you need it, huh?

If the blind lead the blind, will not both fall into the ditch?

But why did you ask? I thought your question was humorous.

Someone! Please! Even if you have to prostrate yourself and put on sack cloth and ashes, someone stand up and lead. It's like watching my beloved Kitty Kitty getting ill and having to put him down, only in slow motion and infinitely more painful. Geez. Easy for me to say I guess, I'm not on the ground over there. But still....

All right,
I pride myself on being a good listener and will post no more comments on said subject.

And a thank you to the few folks above for the displays of divine inspiration.

I think the actual quote is;

'Where there is no Television, the People perish.'

LOL!! Let's call the whole thing off!


The latest JAIF data shows the spent pool temperatures in reactors 5, 6 and the common pool as stable and at near normal temperatures.
My mistake, I saw the temperatures in Fahrenheit, not Centigrade.

Back-up generators that haven't been put through their paces since 1971 aren't usually known to be very reliable either...

...that's just another thought-up possibility...the truth will be interesting...being that Daiini is just up the road...

I have no doubt those gen-sets were put through their paces. The thing is, when diesel engines get a big slug of water in thru the air breather, well, they tend not to start. If they do start, they usually dont run for very long. Certainly not under load.

The thing is, if you're blaming it on the mechanical systems rather than the electrical then even a unit that had been completely submerged should have been brought back up in short time rather than NEVER...


If a diesel engine ingests water while it's running, the result is usually total destruction of the engine.

I really wasn't figuring on major hydrolock but i did use "short time" rather than drain & dry to cover any damage to the unit...which then gets into diesel mechanics and parts sourcing after a biblical sized disaster...WHICH i realize starts to get overly unrealistic, thus why all the continuous glib responses by peeps reminding others of just that...

...which brings me to the first word in the next and last sentence of my original response that I edited out and the crux of my argument: "Regardless"

...and THAT brings me to the point of why I edited it out...because every time I find some good discussion on the "power supply" it's scattered all over time and place and then it gets left behind when a new 500 post thread starts up... yea, i change my mind, i do NOT like the format here on TOD... oy vey...

edit: oh how appropriate - we're now down to 300 post threads and i probably just unknowingly made the last one...i think that's called "synchronicty"...big lol...

Then why the blazes weren't they fitted with float valves and cut offs? They knew tsunamis and hence flooding were a risk. They should have been prepared.


I think this whole Dog and pony show to get the cooling systems running in #1-4 reactors is a Joke. I can't see those systems every working again, and people aren't going to be able to work in close to replace the big stuff and pipes. So that basically means manual cool for how long? I also think we are getting to the point of near total containment failure, you are seeing it with the spiking levels of radiation.As the fuel slowly burns thru and leaks from the corroded pressure vessels, it's going to be a radioactive swamp.

Ah, the magic word. Sorry, Blue Oyster Cult fans...
Talking Heads, circa 1983, Swamp

Dust in the Wind
"All we do, crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see"

Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology) Lyrics by Marvin Gaye

I think it is bad, but not yet quite that bad.

Here is what I suspect happened with the spent fuel ponds. While workers were understandably focused on the live reactor cores, a cursory check of the pools was probably made. Given they started off full, it would be quite easy to calculate the time required for the pools to heat up and then to boil off the water to a dangerous level. This time was at least a handful of days.

However, I think the engineers may have neglected the seals, and much of the water may have leaked out into the shared void outside the reactor shell. With the loss of most of the 30' of water, the remaining water would have boiled much more quickly, and exposed at least part of the rods. Once exposed, these probably reacted quickly to create the H2 which exploded. Given that sensors and power were still out, it is possible that the workers did not even consider the fuel ponds until the building blew up. At that point it was too late for the first reactor, and probably additional delay occurred while the bureaucracy reacted.

But this is just conjecture. I could certainly be wrong.

They are not trying to fix the current cooling systems.
This article from March 17th describes what they are doing:
1. bringing in new pumps
2. powering them from the grid
3. putting a control trailer in a clean area
4. using seawater
5. to cool the fuel rods

As anticipated...

(Reuters) - It's a job that sounds too good to be true -- thousands of dollars for up to an hour of work that often requires little training.
But it also sounds too outrageous to accept, given the full job description: working in perilously radioactive environments.

In its attempts to bring under control its radiation-gushing nuclear power plant that was severely damaged by last month's massive earthquake and tsunami, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is trying to get workers ever closer to the sources of stubborn radiation at the plant and end the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Workers are reportedly being offered hazard pay to work in the damaged reactors of up to $5,000 per day -- or more accurately, a fraction of a day, since the radiation-drenched shifts must be drastically restricted.


Latest casualty figures for March 11 quake, tsunami

TOKYO, April 2, Kyodo

The following are the latest casualty figures related to the earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern and eastern Japan on March 11, according to the National Police Agency as of 10 a.m. Saturday:

Number of people killed 11,800
Number of people missing 15,540

There are a number of reports, mentioned in comments above, of iodine-131 being found in various places in the US. Are the measurements that found this iodine part of an ongoing series, or were they started recently? That is, were we looking a month ago and not finding iodine-131, or were we not looking?

There is a modest radio nucleotide monitoring program ongoing under the aegis of the EPA. The scrutiny was certainly increased after the Japan disaster, but afaik, there are only a few dozen monitoring sites for the entire country. Note that the EPA is primarily focused on large communities and the water supply. There may be additional monitoring done at the state level, so there is probably decent coverage.
Not sure whether there is a good website that would plot the findings and track them over time. It should be fairly easy if there was a good data source, so maybe some environmental or civil defense organization has it available.

No problem, Congress is cutting the EPA budget so they won't have to do any more atmospheric monitoring, it's healthier - after all, ignorance of a problem decreases the stress level of worrying about it.

They were just about reduce volcanic and seismic monitoring when the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami hit.

This must all be Obama's fault, he is behind all these natural disasters so the Republican can't cut his liberal programs.

I'm going to send this idea to Fox news and see if they will send me a monetary award.

Are there background checks done routinely under normal circumstances? Could there be issues all the time that simply go unnoticed?

The primary focus has been on heavy metals such as mercury, which is a neurotoxin dispersed from coal burning plants.
However, there is also a global nucleotide monitoring network that stems from the comprehensive test ban treaty, so the system would get a heads up quickly.

Does anyone know where they might land those big Russian cargo planes with the concrete pumper trucks over there?

Probably at Narita, but there are other military fields that could handle this.
The Antonov is wonderful, a very big airplane with roll on, roll off capability, so there is little need for ground handling.
The paperwork to get the plane staged through the US will probably weigh more than the pumper it will carry.

I am sure most of you guys are well aware of this-- hell, I may even have found out about it here, I can't remember-- but there's a private, hobbyist radiation monitoring network. It seems like it's basically a bunch of guys with geiger counters in their backyards, but they have some kind of quality control procedure in place and follow up on anomalous readings:


I have been kind of vaguely watching RadNet and Radiation Network to see if there is any kind of correlation in the data for the Los Angeles area, and guess what? There sort of is. The RadNet number always seem to be higher, but when one of the charts jumps, the other one does, too. Radiation Network jumped to 50 from about 15 earlier today, and Radnet is showing Gross Beta Count Rates jumped to around 130 from somewhere around 50. Both were stable for several days before the most recent spike. It's too small a time period to be sure, but maybe the monitoring is not totally useless, though I know it doesn't give more specific data on the more exotic heavy metals that you guys are looking for.

I am still hoping you guys tell me when I absolutely have to stop swimming in my pool. Right now I'm not lap swimming, just taking brief dips and showering immediately afterwards.

Oh, and I am working on a non-BS one-sheet for the community mental health service where I work when people start showing up and saying the world is going to end (which actually started happening last week) with the sort of vague goal of helping folks with more active psychopathology from freaking out totally. I may post it here first so y'all can throw rocks at it and I can get it straight before I show it to my boss. Might help me feel like I'm doing something useful, hope that would be okay, suggestions are welcome.

Good for you. Given how stressful this situation is for folks with better-than-average technical knowledge and just an average complement of personality disorders (most of us), it's easy to imagine how scary it could be for some of your clients. I'm sure you'll get plenty of editing help here.

You may also want to keep an eye on the reports from the California Department of Public Health, which operates a system of monitoring stations:


I still wouldn't worry about swimming.

More robots being sent:
Don't let the "xbox-360" fool you:
They are simply stating that off-the-shelf hand-controllers are used.

The Idaho National Laboratory sent one of these talon robots equipped with radiation hardened cameras and radiation measurement equipment.

The company has a kit which can turn a bobcat into a robot in 15 min. a byproduct of IUD's in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Improvised Explosive Devices; IUDs are something else.


Radioactive water from Japan nuclear plant leaks in sea

Radioactive water is leaking into the sea from a 30-centimetre (12-inch) crack in a containment pit at Japan's quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator Tepco has said.

The crack under reactor 2 may be the source of recent radiation in coastal waters, Tepco officials said.

They are preparing to pour concrete into the pit to try to stop the leak.

More desperation from TEPCO, or will this work?

The "crack" is right by the sea in what was described as an electric cable tunnel. If they pour concrete in it the water will probably just pour out somewhere else. And yet again the water was described as >1000 millisieverts per hour. The Japanese are clearly totally incompetent and don't have devices that go above 1000 millisieverts per hour. Or else they are lying. So I'm going to assume that all measurements >1000 millisievert per hour are possibly up to 10 times that level until they start producing real numbers.

The "crack" does look like probable quake damage to me from the picture shown on NHK, with a worker pointing to it in holiday snap fashion.

"holiday snap fashion"

*imagines photographer saying* A little to left...a little more...now hold it...

I've see it reported that their meters only go up to 1000mSv/hr. (Not that that proves anything...) No doubt it was seeing the meter "ping" the post that led that first meter reader to high tail it out of "there".

That doesn't look like a 12" crack in the photo; I assume it gets bigger as it goes deeper into the concrete. If the water pressure isn't too high flowing through the crack, pumping a high-slump concrete slurry into the crack might seal it. If they can stop or reduce the flow through the crack first that would be ideal (with a cofferdam or just lowering the amount of water in the pit), but if they have to they can just start pumping cement at a higher pressure until it fills the crack.

Trying to imagine what it's like working in those exploded buildings.
20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing:

Ignitor Assembly Heater

Rapid heat: unit reaches a temperature of 1,700 deg. F in less than 2 minutes.
Rugged construction includes hermetically sealed connector assembly.
Extensive testing ensures reliability.

This igniter assembly is used in nuclear containment buildings throughout the world. It's primary function is to burn off excess hydrogen in the nuclear containment domes.

Nice, hideously expensive modified diesel engine glow plug, basically. Needs a little something to make it work, though.


Needs a little something to make it work, though.

A variant strategy that has been successfully employed is threshold triggered incendiary sparklers.

The six hydrogen burnoff pre-igniters are initiated just before main engine start. They throw off thousands of hot, luminescent balls into the area below the engine bells, igniting the free hydrogen and precluding a rough combustion when the main engines start.

*puts on technogeek hat*

Wow, very impressive! Not sure it would scale down for deployment in nuke plants, however.

*takes it off again*

They could have used torches, run to the welder's shop, many nice machines there, cut even frigging steel to make sparks, built a small camp fire inside the building, shot burning rags with shotgun. But once again Asian pyramid working culture prevented all that and they waited for some bigger boss to show up. Meanwhile, the hydrogen level rose and rose. Crucial hours were lost because saving faces was more important than saving the plants.

I have been in a dining room full of high powered Japanese executives and we waited 2 hours for the old man to show up before we could eat. We really got hammered waiting too. As soon as the CEO spoke a few words and took a bite, it was like eating with the Creoles.

I see that in the US such measures have lately become unfashionable, presumably due to their overly extreme risk-aversiveness.

U.S. Dropped Nuclear Rule Meant to Avert Hydrogen Explosions
After the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, many reactors were required to install “hydrogen recombiners,” which attach potentially explosive hydrogen atoms to oxygen to make water instead.
But Eliot Brenner, a spokesman for the commission, said that as the commission analyzed its rules to determine which ones actually improved safety and which did not, it had found the equipment was unnecessary.

More than half the American reactors have applied to drop the hydrogen recombiners from their technical specifications, but many of those plants still keep them operable nonetheless, according to the commission.

Whatever happened to the concept of "defence in depth"? The NRC needs some training from IT security experts.

Can anyone help me interpret this slideshow from IAEA? Slides 5 & 6 look alarming to me, but I don't have the background to tell what they really mean. Is this a bad thing or insignificant? I thought Cs-137 had a half-life of 30 years, is this graph representing the level increase per day or the cumulative level to date? How can anything with a half-life of 30 years go down 50% in one day (3/26-3/27)? As the numbers go up and down I think it might be per day. Hoping for some expert input. :-)

Thanks for valuable links Sharkman - I'll make the IAEA slide show topic for open thread today. Charts 5 and 6 represent deposition - so this is what is falling each day. To get cumulative you'd need to add it all together.

Its what happens on the 31st that is alarming and my WAG would be that the wind moved onshore.

The general tenor of the IAEA show is that everything is OK - I very much doubt it.

TY for reading my post and the links. This info came out yesterday and I was wondering why no one here mentioned it.


Yes, during Wednesday evening the 30th, the wind during a while (hours) shifted inland, varying.

18:00 wind from East (1h or so)
22:00 again
and then in the morning hours, wind flapping.
A couple of meters per sec.

There was also precipitation through the 31st. So samples collected the 31st as a result: higher deposition.

This is a good warning to what can be expected if wind changes. The whole situation is on the edge, too close.


I may have missed some comments, but to summarize what I did see regarding the difference between using sea water and fresh water for cooling on the background alpha radiation, I would summarize as follows.

The alpha particle is a highly charged helium ion with a charge of plus 2 and atomic weight of 4. It has two negative effects on human, ionizing radiation that strips electrons, and thermal radiation due to the kinetic energy of the particle.

Sea water includes chlorine ions with a charge of minus 1 and atomic weight of 35.

So give that opposites attract, the alpha particle would be drawn toward the chlorine ion causing a collision which would dissipate its kinetic energy into thermal energy of the chlorine ion, and it would absorb an electron reducing its ionizing potential. So one would expect sea water to be a better alpha particle shield then fresh water. One would then expect radiation levels to have temporarily spiked when the washdowns were switched from sea water to fresh water.

Which suggests that the most effective way to cool the ponds would be with sea water foam (inject nitrogen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_apparatus) or use an Impulse Fire Extinguishing System http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impulse_fire_extinguishing_system )

Some thought also ought to be given to either using Purple K foam or maybe a soap spray as from a car wash wand. The goal would be to reduce alpha emissions into the atmosphere from the ponds while simultaneously keeping them cool

Ahh, more hard news. The NYTs reports they have pumped at least some radioactive water onto a barge:

"On Saturday, contaminated water was transferred onto a barge to free up space in other tanks on land. A second barge also arrived."


250 mSv limit for workers at Fukushima?
Is this per day or lifetime limit? GoJ says it is a lifetime limit but Tepco seems to think it is a per shift limit. If it is a lifetime limit, then it has already been exceeded if the workers stay at the main building when off duty. Using 1.1 mSv/h for 17 days=448.8 mSv. Why are they running out of dosimeters? Because they are using them per shift, not per year. First Secretary Tate Minamimoto primary Fukushima (post-monitoring) is the main building I believe. Where the workers are sleeping.

I disagree - it is per year - the ones (about 20 workers until now see NISAs updates) that have been exposed to more than approx. 100 mSv have been dismissed. Probably a few stay working on their own decision a bit more.
But at 250 mSv I think they are sent home in any case. Otherwise TEPCO breaks laws and NISA get bad press etc.
Search earlier threads or news on that, please.

If the on-site workers were OK, as in had low levels of exposure, then why hire "Jumpers"

Inside the reactor buildings the rad levels are very high.
Let us say you need to switch one switch, or have one look, just one, in those spent fuel ponds, well then you could send in a technician for just that mission, only. 15 minutes.
He'd get some hundred mSv (not more hopefully...). And never come back. Jobs done.

In a "normal" situation nobody would do it, but I am certain quite a few around there would take that job now. "I get paid well, I help to reduce the nuclear fallout, so my grandparents land might be still habitable, I get good health checks, and become local hero". Why not?

No the workers dont sleep at the office main building in 1 mSv/h are you nuts???
However, they do work for 3 days (shifts) and then get 3 days full rest in "J-village".

I read in an another article that is village at the 20 km evacuation zone limit to the west, which should be decent.

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/01/japanese-nuclear-workers-gro...

3 days on and 3 days off. Very good post. It still means more then 250 mSv since the disaster. That is assuming that none of the workers actually approached the reactors or did any work there.

With all due respect SM: I can assure you that noone goes sleeping with 1 mSv/h.
Lets put it this way, it would not mean any sleep because of worrying.
And it would lead to acute illness dose in 40 days. The technicians there are not that crazy.

When they reach 250 mSv - no more work.

According to an NHK interview workers are sleeping on the floor of a conference centre at the plant. Most are sleeping there without dosimeters and they are very worried. They weren't getting three days on/off either although TEPCO may be trying to introduce that under pressure. But, you are correct, I don't think they are sleeping very much. And it's TEPCO that's nuts not the technicians.

Most workers had gone over 10 days without even a shower according to the worker who had now left the plant.

Actually the workers have been sleeping on the floor of the plant's conference centre according to NHK and multiple other reports.

"Yokota said the rush to save the plant meant some workers had been unable to change their underwear, while high radiation levels were hampering the arrival of fresh supplies."

I thought it strange to even mention the underwear...until I remembered the 1000mSv/hr readings...

This from Reuters, April 2:

"After three weeks, operators of the plant are no closer to regaining control of damaged reactors, as fuel rods remain overheated and high levels of radiation flow into the sea.
TEPCO, Asia's largest power company, has seen its shares lose 80 percent - $32 billion in market value - since the disaster."

Please note the progression from an installation out of control to the value of shares on the stock market. I take this to be a display of social insanity and perhaps emotional displacement.

One might even conclude that the insanity is a contributing cause to the disaster.

It's as if the main purpose of Fukushima was to make money, and other purposes, such as social good, were subsidiary.

I also interpret such messages, it is as if "TEPCO goes bankrupt, so NOW I can take in that this accident is the worst in memory and really really bad". Humans need something to open a new channel in the mind ("TEPCO down, can happen"), to accept and think that the Fukushima accident is catastrophic ("so the accident is BIG, for real").

When I talk about Fukushima around me, people tend to say "but it cant be that bad" or "it has stabilised, though?". We recognize that from PO etc. A door to plant new thoughts is needed.

It looks like the temperature from the spent fuel pool in reactor 2 is rising fast :

from 48 Celsius yesterday (0600 1st april) to 72 Celsius today (1200 2nd april ):



An increase by more than 20 degrees Celsius

Yeah something with the water pumps mentioned upthread


Oke , so with the pumps repaired it should come down again soon.

Good article in this week's Business Week magazine:

"A Chernobyl Lesson for Fukushima"

Photo and stats for the new sarcophagus:

Life of containment building only 100 years...then what?