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View Diary: Fukushima: Oceanographers Model Impact on Pacific (64 comments)

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  •  The animations on these (29+ / 0-)

    are really nice. Now if we can just get TEPCO/Japan to pony up some real release figures and levels, we might have a chance to mitigate a chunk of the long-term effects on humans. Or at least try...

    No one can stop the crap from getting out, or recall a single isotope or fuel chunk from already being out there contaminating everything it touches. The world now needs to wake up to the dangers, and get together on doing what we can about them.

    •  Hi Joieau (11+ / 0-)

      Thanks for the diary.  These models are very useful.  Here they are modeling neutrally buoyant, suspended particles that have a density that matches seawater of around 1,030 g per litre.  It would be interesting to know what the density of spent fuel is in comparison or aerosols containing heavy radionculides.  Do you know these values? Settling velocities for particles with densities greater than water are 10's to hundreds of meters per day.  Most dense particulate matter spends less that two weeks in the ocean before settling to the sediments. It would also be useful to know what the relative loads of particles versus dissolved radionuclides are?  Particle inventories for most elements are orders of magnitude lower than dissolved inventories.  

      •  The values on density for (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim P, Sunspots, Deep Harm, terabytes

        disintegrated fuel pellets are all over the place, as it depends on just how much disintegrating the pellets have undergone and under what specified conditions for failure.

        Think of it in terms of how reactor fuel is fabricated from solvent solutions of isotopes concentrated via various technologies (like centrifuges) into what has the basic consistency of mud pies. The mud is very slowly (in small amounts slowly) concentrated and molded as the solvent is removed, pressed into those familiar little cylindrical pellets of metal. Which are then dropped into the zircalloy tubes to form a fuel rod.

        When they fail, they crumble into particles pretty much the same size they were as mud pies. Any failures of the cladding welds or cladding itself - including what they call "pin-sized holes" - allows an avenue of escape for these particles. It happens a lot in relatively small amounts in operating reactors, and is a constant headache for the HPs. The filtration systems used in the demineralizers do manage to trap quite a lot of it, and any particulate releases at all are strictly verboten from operating plants, either air or water. That doesn't mean they don't happen, it just means there's no particulate filtration systems attached to the release outlets...

        •  Hi Joieau (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ozy, duhban, Simplify

          Thanks for the reply.  Does this mean the density of crumbled or exploded fuel could be about 1,000 grams per litrer?  Most fissonable material has oxides that are 10 times more dense than seawater.  What does "all over the place" mean?  Cheers.

          •  My description is adequate (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Jim P, Just Bob, Deep Harm, maggid

            for describing what we're dealing with, I think. If you want micron-sized details on particle sizes for these oxides, you can go look for some of the voluminous material that used to be out there on fuels and fabrication. If they haven't fire-walled those along with so much other data that's been 'sequestered' since public access went All Paranoia All The Time with the several and forever-amended "Patriot" Acts.

            You have creds, see if you can use 'em.

            •  What you're describing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              are particles of high density which would settle out quickly, and not be modeled properly by neutrally buoyant tracers.

              UO2 has a density of ~10 g/cc no matter how much it crumbles. Similarly, the daughter products are also high density heavy metals.

              Since you claimed that the densities were 'all over the place' surely you have some range in mind without sending us to browse through hundreds of papers.

              •  That's very odd. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Deep Harm, Just Bob

                Why, I recall just recently being informed here that all the radionuclides coming out of Daiichi are magically diluted by the entire volume of the Pacific Ocean the moment they touch it.

                Are you now telling me that's not true?

                •  Why is it (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  duhban, MarineChemist

                  when anyone tries to extract real information from your posts, they get deflected?

                  I'll answer your question for you, regardless of the snark.

                  There are soluble radionuclides, like Sr and Cs, that would be modeled well by the neutral buoyancy tracers, the actual purpose of the modeling linked above. One would of course have to validate the accuracy of the model using measurements, but that should be easy enough to do over the next several years.

                  However, unlike soluble radionuclides, UO2 fission fuel fragments and particle-reactive nuclides like Pu do not dissolve into the seawater, but generally settle into the sediment at the bottom due to their high densities.

                  However, in this diary, you conflated the neutral buoyancy study with fuel disintegration and dispersal, and when asked to justify this you talked about a 'whole range of densities' along the the Patriot Act.

                  Now, since I did respond to your inquiry, could you do me the courtesy and tell me how you can justify matching the neutral buoyancy study with fuel fragments? And what 'range of densities' you're talking about?

              •  Particles settle out (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau, Just Bob, Jim P, Simplify

                when the velocity of the water is insufficient to loft them. Water velocity varies considerably, especially offshore, where often there are currents capable of carrying off a full grown person.

                •  I'm getting the strong feeling (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Deep Harm, Jim P

                  from these responses that their model hasn't accounted for any real-life variables. That's kinda disappointing, but hardly surprising.

                  •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

                    Their model is simply not designed to be used to answer the question 'what happens to dispersed fuel particles', at least using the neutral buoyancy test particles as they did. This isn't the fault of the model, it's just not the right tool for that job.

                    Assuming that their model withstands comparison to empirical data, it would be quite reasonable to use it to predict the dispersal pattern of the soluble radionuclides, such as Cs and Sr.

                    Fortunately, unlike climate modeling, it should be relatively easy to validate their model by sampling the ocean water at different locations.

                •  While somewhat true for upwellings (0+ / 0-)

                  depending on the water velocity, that's not generally true for lateral currents, especially if they are laminar, non-turbulent flow. Remember, even a 'full grown person' is pretty darn close to neutrally buoyant, especially in the ocean, which isn't even close to the case for high density particles.

                  When you're dealing with densities similar to that of lead, you will get settling. This is why most of the sand (silicon dioxide), with a density ~4 times lower than UO2 ends up on the bottom of the ocean instead of suspended and transported from Japan to the US. Particles with 4 times the density will have dramatically less mobility even than that with settling times ~6x faster for a similar geometry.

                  •  No, it's ALWAYS true (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Jim P, Joieau

                    It's scientific fact.

                    •  Obviously, any particulates (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Deep Harm

                      with mass greater than your basic light water molecule (NOT the 'heavy' tritiated ones) automatically fall straight to the bottom of whatever water container they're in, no matter what the flow dynamics may be. That's why at nuclear power plants they just scrape out the pipes during outages to get the mud out, never have to deal with particulate filtration of any kind for actual isotopes [i.e., atoms] or compounds including any isotopes of any elements that may have been loose in there somewhere at some point.

                      Of course, that doesn't go very far in explaining why the oceanographers are also insisting there's no considerable Fuku pollution even within the immediate vicinity of Daiichi, since by this reckoning it ALL ought to be right there, thick and screaming hot like one big corium mud pie (yum!). All ~1200 tons' worth of it, since nobody seems able to tell us where those three whole MIA cores went, or are now. All we do know is they aren't in the reactor vessels they were in when the Tohoku earthquake happened on March 11, 2011.

                      I mean, it's certainly not going anywhere else, they tell us. Because as duly certified nuclear physicists... er, oceanographers... they alone know these things and we do not. Or something like that.

                      /snark. Or maybe not...

                      •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                        If you think a physicist is capable of detecting these low levels of radionuclides in the ocean and its biota sign them up.  I haven't meant too many nuclear physicists capable of carrying out three separate column purification steps. Even nuclear physicists who study nucleosynthesis in stars rely on geochemists (even marine ones) to fact check their calculations on meteorites to see if they are on the mark. Cheers

                  •  yet sand transports (0+ / 0-)

                    from cliffs to beaches.

                    just takes energy to move it

            •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ozy, duhban

              It seems odd to challenge a reader of your diary to supply facts and information for you. I normally do my best to answer questions myself if a reader asks me.

              I think understanding the density and settling rates of particles you think might be being released or were released in the explosions and inundation of the reactors is very important to assessing how likely subsurface transport of particles across the Pacific may or may not be.

              UO2 has a density of 10,970 g/L and PuO2 has a density of 11,500 g/L.  The settling velocity of a spherical particle that is 10 microns (10^-6 meters) of a similar density is more than 40 meters a day.  Larger particles will sink more quickly and smaller particles more slowly.

              It should also be noted that no Plutonium contamination from Fukushima was detected after the disaster in the marine sediments along the coast of Japan as close as 30 km to the plants.  Work showing that was published in Biogeosciences special issue on Fukushima in April 2013 by Bu et al.

              Again, I'm just trying to determine how likely it would be for any of these particles that might have been released to be transported across the Pacific.  It seems unlikely.  Large volume pumps can be deployed from ships to determine the activity of radionuclides in particles >0.45 microns in size.  It would be useful to collect this data.

              •  Why is it odd (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Just Bob

                that I suggested you use your university researcher access and creds to get hold of data that isn't readily available to those of us who don't have such access and creds? You wish to assert that failed fuel particles won't be transported in ocean currents, even though you would presumably have some knowledge of not only the various currents at various levels of an ocean as deep as the Pacific, and the relative boyancy of particles with some mass at higher pressures than are found at the surface.

                These "fuel fleas" were transported widely over northern Japan, over the Pacific Ocean, and fell out mostly during the first few circumnavigations of the planetary atmosphere as far away as northern Europe and Siberia (reported). Yes, they are heavier than single isotopes, molecular-sized compounds and pure gases (that which is STILL falling out from the atmospheric releases two and a half years ago), so will tend to fall closer to the source depending on mass. But you are also a person who has been assuring us lately that there is no significant contamination in the vicinity of Fukushima, much less anywhere else in the world where Fukushima-derived radionuclides have been measured. Including and especially the 'heavy' ones.

                You want the data, go get it. You've got the access, I don't. I am only telling people what I know about these type of situations based on knowledge and experience of the physics and actual conduct of principals in this industry. Particularly in regards to their behaviors in serious accident type situations. I am confined just like everyone else to what data is released to the public, and must give it relative weight based on my knowledge and experience. They pulled my access long before the InterToobs were a gleam in anybody's eye...

                •  Since strong up welling was mentioned... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Joieau, Deep Harm, Jim P

                  The particles will range widely in size and weight and most will settle out in a plume eventually and be incorporated into ocean bottom sediments. They will then be redistributed with every disturbance. Given that the area of the Kuroshio Current is well known for its volcanism and seismic activity, I would expect that distribution process to continue for millenia.

                  I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

                  by Just Bob on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 02:07:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  What does this mean? (0+ / 0-)
                  and the relative boyancy of particles with some mass at higher pressures than are found at the surface.
                  Are you suggesting that particles become significantly more buoyant as the pressure of the water increases?
                •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ozy, duhban

                  The model you talk about is looking at particles that behave as dissolved chemical constituents that are transported by water currents and don't settle under the influence of gravity.  This is modeler speak for looking at dissolved substances.  The MEDM web posting is functionally similar to published studies by Behrens et al. (2012) andRossi et al. (2013).  They are talking about the dispersion of radionuclides in the dissolved phase that entered the ocean at the surface by atmospheric deposition and runoff.  The concentration of these substances will be in the 0.001 - 0.020 Bq/L when they reach our west coast.

                  •  I think our main issue (0+ / 0-)

                    In these exchanges is that you want to think of me as one of your diverse 'colleagues' in the field(s) of your expertise. Believe me, I do know that science is, like law, an adversarial enterprise. But you are wrong if you believe I am willing to produce a CV for you that would serve to identify me in real life, apart from my analysis of what happened at Fukushima and what's been occurring since, for the benefit of any readers on this website who care enough to read and try to learn for themselves.

                    I am just another internet pseud, like most everybody else here. I have a name, and a particularized history with regards to All Things Nuclear, but I also have 60+ years of life and education and endeavors that have nothing to do with All Things Nuclear. And since my own parents weren't entirely sure of my name and the gub'mint is still arguing with me about it (hope it works out someday), even my name (which ones?) wouldn't do anybody any good for finding out my particulars apart from All Things Nuclear. I kind of like that, actually. Given what we now know about intensive surveillance and all.

                    I think it would be best if you were to just take my observations, questions and criticisms as if they came from any random member of the general public who "knows a little bit" about some things... just enough to be dangerous, if that kind of humor gets through your ego-wall. I do know enough not to trust the data coming out of nukes - any kind, anywhere - and anybody who has been enlisted into their PR campaign(s) designed to deceive the People Of Earth into accepting slow extinction in exchange for a few people's high profit margins.

                    This means I'm not an easy mark, and you should probably just accept that about me. Because I'm not an easy mark.

                    •  Hi Joieau (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ozy, duhban

                      There is nothing personal in my response. I can appreciate your history with the nuclear industry and that you have strong opinions about this issue. I also appreciate humor and know that I know nothing about your struggles and pain with the nuclear industry.  My goal here is to provide accurate information to people who are very interested in what Fukushima means for the safety of their family and friends. There is to much uninformed opinion about what is happening in the ocean as a result of Fukushima. When you write pieces like you have done here using the output of model you think is talking about actual particles being transported across the Pacific Ocean over a time period of 7 years you give people erroneous information.  That matters. It is not remotely right. Whether you are a scientist or not is immaterial. What I do everyday is to work on figuring out how metals get into the ocean and what happens to them there.  Specifically, I look at how the chemical form metals take in seawater determines, or controls :), how available they are to marine organisms. I am concerned about the objective risk to people on the west coast from the metals released by Fukushima.  The most likely exposure of people living here now is either transport in ocean currents or the consumption of marine foods.  I don't care if you are an easy mark or not.  When you wrongly interpret the output of a physical oceanography model it is important that someone, anyone puts the record straight.  Cheers.  

                      •  How, exactly, have I wrongly interpreted (0+ / 0-)

                        the model(s) offered in this diary? Please be specific, and do try to limit yourself to things I have actually said. Thanks.

                        •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                          You interpret the following statement on Dr. Chen's website

                          100 neutral buoyant water particles were released at each depth at 00:00 GMT, March 12, 2011 and tracked at each fixed depth for 7 years
                          to mean particulate matter.  These are tracers of water mass movements, literally a tracer of dissolved substances.  Oceanographers use terms like water particle or water parcel to describe substances that are transported by ocean currents.  
                          •  So... (0+ / 0-)

                            What they released was dye?

                          •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                            Yes.  Just like in Behrens et al. (2012) and Rossi et al. (2013) studies that agree well with the distributions measured in the north Pacific.  For some reason they released a dye at depths greater than 100 meters when the inputs have been at the surface.  Cheers

                          •  Maybe they didn't trust (0+ / 0-)

                            the coastal mixing of their model (waves, wind, bottom boundary layer, etc...). This would provide a way of testing 'what if' the source was distributed throughout the water column at the coast, even though the entry point was at the surface.

                            If they're primarily interested in pelagic currents, it might not be an unreasonable way to test things out. Again, it's the comparisons against real world data that is important at the end.

                          •  Thanks. That certainly limits (0+ / 0-)

                            the real life applicability of the model, doesn't it?

                            Or maybe not, if you were to presume that there were no actual particulates among the isolated atoms of radioactive substances released from Fukushima. If you admit there were any of those at all, which I'm beginning to wonder about...

                            They did the same thing at TMI2. Because particulates are so strictly verboten that particulate filters on what's going out simply don't exist. Thus no particulate release figures ever got 'officially' recorded. Almost as if they never happened, apart from the fact that they did (and there were particulate filters in the release stack sampling system to prove it).

                            Reminds me yet again of that hilarious chain link fence around the perimeter of the Turkey Point facility down in the Everglades. Where there are serious-looking red and white signs declaring that no radiation is allowed beyond this point. You can look right through that fence into the swamp, see shiny 'gator eyes glaring right back at you. I'm sure they do a good job of enforcing the edict... §;o)

                      •  And just so you know, (0+ / 0-)

                        it hasn't been 7 years since Fukushima. Why would I be assumed to presume that it has been? That makes no rational sense. Duh.

                        •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                          I didn't say that you thought it had been 7 years since the disaster.  You presented the results like they suggested particles might stay suspended in the ocean for 7 years.  

                          •  "Like they..." (0+ / 0-)

                            I have asked before for you to stop reading-in to my words what you wish to be there. I'll reiterate that again here. Please stop.

                            If you want clarification, ask for it. I may or may not clarify, but at least you wouldn't be exposed on the misrepresentation front.

                          •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

                            You said:

                            The projection of upwelling from deeper currents is significant because of the presence of heavy particles in the waterborne releases from Daiichi, now estimated by TEPCO to be in the range of ~450 tons per day, exiting the facility outside the bounded 'lagoon'.
                            That seems to say to me that you think that heavy (dense) particles from Fukushima will "upwelling" off the coast of North America.  Please clarify if I have misinterpreted this statement.  Cheers
          •  Are you familiar with "fuel fleas"? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, Deep Harm


            Given the containment failures and explosions, I suspect the particle sizes will be "all over the place" ranging from fuel pellets to atomic particles.



            But I suspect you already know that.

            I'm a Vietnam Era vet. I'm also an Erma Bombeck Era vet. When cussing me out and calling me names please indicate which vet you would like to respond to your world changing thoughts.

            by Just Bob on Wed Dec 11, 2013 at 01:43:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Hi Joieau (0+ / 0-)

      On closer inspection the model is even less good at predicting the concentrations of radionuclides we can expect here on the west coast as it doesn't even mix or dilute the tracer.  It drastically overestimates impact on the west coast.  Good news.

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