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(But were afraid you might need to ask.)

Understanding events in Japan requires a fairly in depth understanding of the structures that hold the nuclear reactor and associated equipment.  Looking at the pictures of the damaged reactor buildings is certainly shocking.  And without an understanding of the details of how those buildings are designed and constructed it is easy to believe that the buildings and everything in them have been essentially destroyed, a belief I do not share.  In this diary I will present the various layers of a nuclear containment system using the specific design of the Mark I as a model, and then review the status of each of the buildings in light of this information.

By way of qualifications, my training is in physics in which I have a bachelor's degree.  I also worked for five years at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey.  Like the Fukushima plants, Oyster Creek is a GE BWR-I with a Mark I containment.  It has a power rating roughly 1/3 higher than Fukushima Daiichi 1.  I worked on a number of projects while there including managing the computer system used by the core engineering group to manage the reactor core and fuel usage.  I also took courses in both generic nuclear power operations and also the specific operations and systems at Oyster Creek.  And relative to this specific diary, I developed software used by the plant to perform required federal testing of the integrity of the primary containment structure.  In the process I learned a great deal about the Mark I containment, the basis for its design and the pressures it was designed to hold.  I was also a member of the plant's emergency response team and would have been one of those responding to an incident such as this.

I am also one of those 99th percentile bastards who screwed up the grading curve from time to time ... sorry about that.  I understand the distinction between theory and fact, between what is known and what is conclusion.  I will make every effort to keep these distinctions clear in what I present.  I am also very aware that I am biased.  It has nothing to do with my employment as I have not worked in the industry in over 25 years.  I simply believe that nuclear is needed if we are to stop burning fossil fuels.  I don't believe that 40 year old BWRs running on 50 year old technology are the answer.  I believe they should be phased out as soon as practical, and watched like a hawk in the meantime.  But there are far safer technologies available which I believe should be used to wean ourselves from carbon belching coal and oil plants.

In addition I have contacted an old colleague from Oyster Creek with far more impressive operations credentials than myself.  He was one of Oyster Creek's core engineers and was also a Site Technical Adviser.  These are engineering personnel  mandated by the NRC to be present 24/7 to be immediately available to the control room operators in the event of some type of unusual event.  In this capacity his job was to provide the operators with engineering advice regarding the observed symptoms, possible causes, and possible corrective actions.  Had he been at Fukushima he would have been in the control room within the first minute of the earthquake.  I am passing along to him technical questions which are beyond my scope of knowledge.

The whole purpose of the containment system at a nuclear power plant is to prevent nuclear material from reaching the environment.  It starts with the fabrication of the fuel into ceramic pellets and ends at the walls of the secondary containment building.  

The Ubiquitous BWR  Mark I Diagram

Photobucket

The levels of containment

Fuel Pellets - The uranium fuel in prepared by mixing it with binding materials and firing it at high temperatures to create uniform cylindrical pellets in which the fuel is bound into a temperature resistant ceramic structure.

Fuel Rods - These are small diameter cylindrical tubes roughly 12 feet long in which fuel pellets are stacked end-on-end and then sealed.  The material is a zirconium alloy which resists very high temperatures, much higher than those experienced during normal operations.  Fuel rods are grouped into fuel bundles, however the bundle configuration does not add any significant additional shielding.  (It was very high temperature interactions of this zirconium with steam that produced the hydrogen that later exploded.)

Reactor Vessel - This is the pressure vessel in which the fuel is loaded.  It has stainless steel walls several inches thick and a domed cap.  This is the maroon/brown cylinder in the diagram above.  The reactor vessel, along with the piping that leads into and out of it, comprise the third level of containment.  That piping includes the main steam line that carries reactor steam to the turbines, and the feedwater return which pumps the recondensed steam back into the reactor to continue the power production steam cycle.  There are also five large pumps that recirculate water through the reactor, and other inlets and outlets for emergency cooling operations and venting.

Primary Containment - This is an enormous steel reinforced concrete pressure vessel inside which the reactor sits,along with a doughnut shaped ring at the bottom which contains a suppression pool.  The suppression pool, called the torus, is easy to pick out in the diagram above.  The other section is called the drywell and is the thick-walled structure that surrounds the reactor in the diagram above.  It is shaped somewhat like an old style milk bottle or upside down light bulb - (Gee I wonder where GE came up with that idea.)  The walls of this structure are between 4 and 8 feet thick depending on the plant's power and siting requirements.  I've read that the units at Fukushima have walls that are 6 feet thick.

A variety of valves, seals, and airlocks are also part of the primary containment system.  If there is a buildup of pressure inside the drywell, that pressure will also be experienced by these other components.  The torus has surfaces that contact the inside of the primary containment and also the secondary containment.  Given that part of its surface area contacts the secondary containment the torus is considered part of the primary containment system as well.

Secondary Containment - This is the building that surrounds the primary containment.  In the diagram it is the outside building up to but not including the top floor.  If you look closely you will note that the thick steel reinforced concrete walls only extend up to the floor of the upper level.  Above that the walls are steel beam superstructure with sheet metal cladding.  The walls of the secondary containment are not as thick as the primary containment, typically 2-3 feet.  It is also not a pressure sealed structure.  

I've entered the reactor building at Oyster Creek a few times in support of the primary containment integrity testing.  It is just a door that you enter, no air lock, and no special clothing or protection is required to enter under normal operating conditions.  There is always the possibility of radioactive contamination in the reactor building, but not to a degree that health is compromised.  My total exposure from several trips into the reactor building was a cumulative 30 millirems, just over that from a chest x-ray.  There is also a slight negative pressure maintained in the reactor building during operations to ensure that any airborne contaminates remain inside.  Similarly there is a constant positive pressure maintained in the control room to keep any contaminants out in the even of an emergency at the plant.

Design Basis Accident

This term refers to the projected worst-case scenario - a large break loss of coolant accident, (LOCA) at full power.  This is what the primary containment was designed to contain.  In an accident such as this there is an immediate expansion of reactor steam throughout the containment.  The containment is supposed to be large enough to allow significant expansion of the steam, and strong enough to withstand the anticipated pressure.  

Federally Mandated Testing

All nuclear plant operators are required to perform periodic testing on their primary containment system to ensure its integrity.  This is referred to as leak rate testing - determining the rate at which elevated pressure in the containment is lost.  There are two forms of leak rate testing, local and integrated.  Local leak rate tests are performed on all individual components throughout the plant which are part of the primary containment boundary.  The integrated test is done by sealing the whole thing up, pumping it full of air, and seeing how well it holds its pressure.  This is done by using temperature, pressure, and relative humidity measurements throughout the drywell to calculate the contained mass of air inside.  

It is also necessary to adjust the volume in the calculations based on the variable level of water in the sump well.  As the water level in the sump well rises, the available volume of the containment decreases.  This sump level reading was at the core of criminal charges against members of the Three Mile Island management back at the time of the accident.  In reviewing just about everything that had ever been done there in the aftermath of the accident, it was determined that they had altered their sump level readings in an official log for the purpose of fudging their leak rate test results.

Known Vulnerabilities of the Mark I

There are two major problems which have been identified with the Mark I containment.  One of these caused a number of engineers to resign from GE in protest back in 1976.  Their concern was that the containments were not being built strong enough to truly withstand the pressures in a design basis LOCA.  They believe that under these extreme conditions the drywell structure itself will break open and directly expose nuclear materials to the environment.

There was also a study done by Sandia National Labs in which they determined that if a full scale core meltdown occurred in which molten core material escaped the reactor vessel it would have an 80% chance of breaching the containment.  Specifically their concern was that the material would spread along the floor of the containment until it reached the walls where it would then take advantage of the wall-floor junction to eat its way out of the containment.  

I do not have enough of a background in either materials science or nuclear engineering to evaluate these claims one way or the other.  For the sake of prudence I presume they are correct.  Even so, I am not particularly worried about these modes of failure at Fukushima under current conditions.  Here is why.

The reactors at units 1, 2 and 3 all have maintained some measure of cooling water with more relief expected soon.  They do not appear to be in danger of a full meltdown at this time.  As such, the danger mentioned by the Sandia study should not become an issue.  Provided the cooling water continues to be pumped through the reactors there should be no danger of fuel escaping the reactor vessel.  

Also, the amount of power being produced by the reactors has been dropping steadily and is by now only few percent of full power.  In the absence of a full scale meltdown and fuel once again producing a nuclear reaction there is just not the amount of energy available inside the reactor to create a steam explosion sufficient to pop the containment structure.  As such, the scenario that caused the engineers to quit GE is no longer on the table now that power levels have significantly dropped.

Venting

There are two different venting processes that have been used at Fukushima units 1-3.  In each case the venting was done to relieve pressure on the vessel in which it was contained.  The first step was venting of the reactor vessel to the primary containment.  This was done a number of times to reduce pressure in the reactor vessel and also as means of removing heat.  The vented steam was directly pumped into the torus suppression pool where it was ejected through several outlets into the torus water.  This process accomplished a few things.  It cooled the steam and caused at least a percentage of it to condense back into water.  It also provided some cleaning since any heavy particulates would be likely to stay in solution than bubble up out of the water and into the primary containment atmosphere.  This is why I find it doubtful that significant amounts of uranium or plutonium have left the primary containment boundary.  Any that left the reactor most likely sits in the bottom of the torus.

The second venting process is from the primary containment to the space just above the secondary containment boundary.  (I had surmised they were venting into this space earlier in the week for several reasons.  This was confirmed by one of the panel members at the conference on Fukushima held at MIT on Tuesday.) This was initially done to relieve pressure within the primary containment.  It was later also done to remove hydrogen gas from the primary containment after the zircaloy fuel rod cladding began to oxidize.  If you refer back to the diagram, notice that the top level is a large open space with relatively little equipment.  The name of this space is technically the refuel floor, however for clarity of understanding I will be referring to it as the refuel level, and the actual flooring there as the refuel floor.  You'll also note that the construction is much lighter up there.  Instead of being steel reinforced concrete the walls are a steel beam superstructure with sheet metal cladding.  It was into this space and not the secondary containment portion of the reactor building that the hydrogen gas was vented.

The Hydrogen Explosions

In the explosions at unit 1 and unit 3, the hydrogen venting resulted in major explosions.  At unit 1 the force was enough to puff the roof up prior to it collapsing back down onto the refuel floor.  At unit 3 the blast was much stronger as it was enough to blow the roof clear and mangle the steel beams.  Even so, it is highly unlikely that significant damage was done to the secondary containment below.  I have likened this to having a tin shack on top of a steel reinforced concrete bunker.  The shack was blown away but the bunker remains intact below the rubble, shielded from the blast by the massively thick refuel floor.

You can see this in the video of the explosions as well.  An explosion is actually a rapidly expanding and highly pressurized volume of gas.  The leading edge of the explosion is called its shock wave.  As that shock wave meets various materials that form the boundaries of its containment it has generally three things it can do.  It can push on through that boundary, reflect fully, or some combination of the two.  What determines the path taken is the back pressure behind the shock wave.  If there is sufficient pressure pushing it then it will drive through the boundary material.  If there is relatively little or no pressure behind it then it will fully reflect providing the material is sufficiently strong.  

In the videos of the explosions you can see an initial pulse that pops the roof.  At unit 1 the pulse was almost ghostlike and rose to about two and a half times the height of the reactor building.  At unit 3 the pulse blew out the back righthand corner as it rose to about one and a half times the height of the building and was yellow-orange in color.  This removed any possibility of back pressure on the other side of the shock wave impinging on the refuel floor.  Instead of trying to force its way through several feet of steel reinforced concrete the shock wave reflected back into the low pressure created by the removal of the roof.  This is the second wave of the explosions you see in the videos, that push of smoke from inside that comes a brief moment after the initial flash.  This is where the great bulk of the energy of these explosions was directed.  The secondary containments below were shielded from these explosions which happened outside of their enclosed spaces.

Unit 1 explosion

Unit 3 explosion

It is for this reason that I am highly skeptical of claims that everything in the reactor buildings has been damaged or destroyed.  It is also for this reason that I am not alarmed by the photos of rubble at units 1 and 3.  If you look closely at the photos and compare them to the diagram you will be able to distinguish the vertical steel beams of the refuel level superstructure.  You can see these same beams in the photos of units 1, 3 and 4.  At unit 4 the explosion was much less powerful and much of the wall cladding remains in place.  You can see that this refuel level extends down four panels.  That same level can be noted in photos of units 1 and 3 as the bottom of the pile of rubble.  The reactor, secondary containment, and primary containment sit beneath the pile of rubble.

Units 3 and 4

fukushima damage left, unit 3, right, unit 4

The Fuel Pools

These are located on the refuel level and are recessed into the floor roughly -30- 45 feet [ed note: conflicting sources of info resolved].  The explosions would not have necessarily damaged them as once again, the energy of the explosion had a much easier path than through the steel reinforced walls.  There do appear to be leaks in the pools at both unit 3 and 4.  This is based on the rate of water drop in each pool being faster than would be the case simply from evaporation and/or boiling.  Given the relative energies involved in the earthquake versus the hydrogen explosion I find it likely that the earthquake was the cause of the leak in unit 3, especially since it was almost certainly the cause at unit 4.

The hydrogen explosion at unit 4 was due to hydrogen produced in the fuel pool itself.  This was only possible due to the water in the fuel pool dropping below the level of the top of the fuel rods.  Also, as can be concluded from the photos of unit 4, the explosion was much less energetic than that at units 1 or 3.

Another factor that must be considered relative to the fuel pools is that they need boron in the water to prevent the fuel from starting a nuclear reaction.  Dry rods next to each other cannot create a nuclear reaction because the neutrons are too fast to interact.  They need water to slow them down enough to create new fissions.  Boron absorbs neutrons.  At the same time, the pools need water to remove decay heat from the rods.  So, water + boron = very important, water alone = very bad.

Current Status of Containment Systems at units 1 - 4

[ed note: This information is superseded by information in the diary: Fukushima Status Update 3/27 (Reactor water is in the ocean) which reflects new information received as of early AM March 27nd.]

Unit 1

The fuel pellets and fuel rods in the reactor have definitely experienced some melting due to high temperatures and exposed fuel.  Those first and second level so nuclear containment have clearly been compromised.  

The reactor vessel and associated piping appear to be fully intact.  Were this not so the reactor would not be able to retain the water being added and there would be unexplained pressure drops.

The primary containment also appears to be intact.  It was well shielded from the hydrogen blast and has not had any other reported troubles.

The secondary containment also appears to be intact.  There also have been no reported problems with the fuel pool at unit 1 despite the explosion.

Unit 2

The fuel containment has been compromised as is made clear by the hydrogen explosion in the torus.  It is also probable that there has been fuel melting.

The reactor vessel and associated piping seem to be intact here as well.  There was a brief time when they had trouble maintaining water level increases but that was apparently resolved as a valving issue.

The primary containment has damage but reports from TEPCO state that the damage did not breach the primary containment boundary and instead is in an internal section of the torus chamber.

The secondary containment has been compromised by flying debris from the explosion at unit 3.  It was reported that there was a hole in the wall of the reactor building.  Whether any equipment was affected by this is not clear from reports.

There have been no reports of fuel pool issues at unit 2

Unit 3

Clearly the fuel integrity has been compromised at unit 3 and there has been fuel melting there as well.

The reactor vessel and associated systems appear to be intact and reactor water level is able to be maintained.

There are no reports of damage to the primary containment at unit 3 and no reason to expect any.

The secondary containment at unit 3 took a hell of a hit from the hydrogen explosion, much more energetic than the others.  From the various photos I've seen it still appears that the damage was confined to the refuel level.  I do not discount the possibility of damage within the reactor building as a result of this blast but have not seen any evidence that would confirm this.  Also, TEPCO was fully up front in announcing the damage to the unit 2 reactor building.  I cannot see why they would not do the same if unit 3's reactor building were damaged.

The fuel pool at unit 3 is also a major concern.  As noted earlier, it appears that there is a leak in the pool causing it to lose water faster than the heat load should cause.  Many have raised concerns about plutonium due to the use of MOX fuel at unit 3.  However, that only began recently and there should not yet be spent fuel in the pool containing MOX.  There is plutonium in the pool as a result of it being a fission product.  But there is not as much as would be the case with MOX fuel.

Unit 4

The condition of the reactor and containments at unit 4 is relatively unimportant given that all of the fuel was offloaded to the fuel pool to do maintenance on the reactor shroud, (the wall immediately surrounding the reactor cylinder).

The fuel pool at unit 4 may be the biggest concern at the moment.  There have been reports that it had run completely dry but that appears now to have been unsubstantiated rumor.  But regardless, it is losing water faster than it should and refill operations are crucial.  One of the saving graces here is the fact that they don't need to get the water directly into the pools.  If you refer again to the ubiquitous BWR diagram you will note that the pools are recessed into the refuel floor.  When the helicopters drop water on the building, as long as it hits the floor it has a reasonable opportunity to drain into the fuel pool.  Obviously some doesn't make it, but at least it is not as hopeless as it might seem to someone who believed that a direct hit was needed to get water in the pools.

Units 5 and 6

These reactors were both in cold shutdown at the time of the earthquake and did not have near the cooling needs as units 1-3.  They have remained stable and there have been no reports of fuel breakdown or melting.  Their fuel pools have also been out of the news, presumably a good sign.

Prognosis

Having off-site power back is enormous.  They are now in the process of getting all of the plants there connected.  This will once again make pumps and other systems available to help move water and resolve heat issues.  Also, being a week out now from the initial event, the nuclear decay heat being generated is substantially lower than it was.  This is because much of the decay heat arises from very short-lived fission products which have pretty much fissioned away by now.  This makes the cooling requirements for the reactor cores at units 1-3 much lower than they were a week ago.

Bottom line, they're certainly not out of the woods yet but a full meltdown at any of the units seems highly unlikely at this point.  Getting the situations in the fuel pools at units 3 and 4 is probably the highest priority at the moment.

[edited 5:35 to fix typo] [again at 7:02 for "zircaloy"]Updated by kbman at Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:34 PM PDT

I am trying to get to comments as quickly as I can.  As there are quite a few coming in it may take a bit of time to get back to you.  I will continue tomorrow as well so check back if you haven't seen an awaited response.


Updated by kbman at Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:57 PM PDT

As per an update b00g13p0p, damage to the torus at unit 2 has been confirmed.  http://www.dailykos.com/...


This makes clear why they were hooking up unit 2 to the off-site power as their top priority.  Continuing to remove heat from the reactor by venting steam was still necessary as long as pumps are not operating.  But now that the torus is ruptured and with their already being a hole in the secondary containment, they were no longer able to retain the steam releases.  Getting powered cooling restored to unit 2 was crucial to being able to stop belching radioactive steam.


Originally posted to 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Information and Assistance on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear dkos, Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Excellent diary (14+ / 0-)

      I don't think we can know for sure yet how damaged or undamaged the buildings themselves are. It makes sense that the force of the explosion would expand outwards after the lightweight cladding had been blown off (as was the design) but it's still a step from that to "no significant damage."

      I have seen a few people mention the possibility of recriticality from fast neutrons (e.g. dry pool) although I don't know if this is wild speculation or has a firm basis. Some have noted that the NEI updated their website to remove the phrase "impossible" from the scenario. I also thought sea water was more moderating than purified water, so even without additional boric acid it is ok to spray. (e.g. the helicopter drops certainly did not have additional boron -- there are photos of them loading directly from the sea.)

    •  you are wildly wrong. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greeseyparrot, akmk

      According to Japan Nuclear Agency

      Containment is damaged on #2 and #3

      The Temperature is rising in Pools 5 and 6

      so, they have some real problems because units 2, 3 have lost containment and unit 4 is critically low on water.

      George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

      by nathguy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:22:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The damage to the containment in 2 is in the torus (10+ / 0-)

        and is not a breach of primary containment to the environment.  There have been no reports of damage to the containment at unit #3.  In fact, at the time of the hydrogen explosion TEPCO included in their announcement that the primary containment at unit 3 was undamaged.  There have been no intervening incidents to change this state of affairs.  Please provide a link to this information.  

        As far as temperatures rising in the pools at 5 and 6, they now have off-site power available to run the normal cooling systems.  As there have been no explosions at 5 or 6 it should not be a problem getting the pools back to a stable condition.  Regarding the water level at unit 4, there was a comment made earlier in this diary that claimed visual inspection from the air has confirmed that there is water in pool #4 despite claims the past two days that it had boiled dry.

        Link

        The Japanese government says that there is water covering the fuel rods in the spent-fuel pool of reactor #4 at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

        On Wednesday, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) head Gregory Jaczko said at a U.S. congressional hearing that "there is no water in the spent-fuel pool" at reactor #4, Bloomberg reported. There were also reports that the zirconium cladding that makes up the fuel rods was burning, which could result in a massive radiation release.

        But this evening Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, told reporters that a review of video shot from a helicopter and an on-the-ground check by a worker had confirmed that there is water in the pool. If true, the announcement is one piece of good news in a week-long struggle to cool the fuel in the reactors and block the emanating radiation.

        ...

        The Los Angeles Times had reported that photos taken by a Global Hawk drone suggested a "major breach" in the walls of the spent nuclear fuel pool was causing water to continually leak out. "I would suppose there are no cracks in the spent nuclear fuel pool. But this is a matter we need to verify urgently," said Nishiyama.

         

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:29:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good reply (6+ / 0-)

          I like facts with links supporting those facts. Not conjecture and a unsubstantiated claim as the poster you replied to did. If you are going to make claims back them up with links. If you are too lazy to do that don`t make the claim.

          Good work kbman!!

          Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

          by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:36:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I hate to burst your little bubble (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BusyinCA

          http://estaticos.elmundo.es/...

          see where it says Reactor pressure vessel integrity
          and it's yellow and "Unknown"  that means
          It's damaged and they just can't get the stones together
          to say they breached the reactor core.

          and the next line where it says "Containment integrity"
          and it's "Suspected"  yeah, that means it's blown through.

          you see where it says "Core Cooling"  and they are all Red?

          That means they can't get any of the core cooling systems up.

          See the Building Integrity and it's Red?

          So look enjoy your little dream of how great it is.
          This is the Chernobyl of the west.

          It isn't a major catastrophe when you have choppers dumping water on the open heart of a reactor out of control.

          George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

          by nathguy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 04:57:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You're still being over the top on this (0+ / 0-)

            IAEA Status Chart

            I'll take IAEA's data, not the media's ...

            Also, as the reactors cool the releases will stop.  They have never been at near the rate of releases at Chernobyl nor have they had the enormous amount of transport energy that was provided by the fire there.  

            Yes, there are containment integrity issues at both 2 and 3.  At unit 2 it appears they may have ruptured the torus, and at unit 3 my best guess would be trouble with the drywell dome cap - the plugs that fill the refueling opening in the top of the drywell.

            There is zero evidence that there is reactor vessel integrity trouble at any of the reactors.  They appear to be running high pressure in the reactor at unit 2, likely trying to avoid having to do another release while the torus is not solid.

            Given that the off-site power is being restored this weekend and that reactor thermal power has already dropped to about 0.5% of fullpower, I'd say the containments' present condition is not an alarming circumstance.  What it means is that the stuff they were venting from the primary to the secondary containment is now going directly to the environment instead of through the reactor building first.  There may be some minor increase in the amount of radioactive material released by this route, but it is certainly not the many orders of magnitude which would be required to reach Chernobyl status.

            Meanwhile, as long as they can keep water in the core they are not going to be having any kind of core breach issue.  And given that they've been able to keep water over half the core without having off-site power available, this should not be an issue moving forward.  The large energy accident the containment is intended to hold is no longer a concern with any serious probability of happening.

            Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

            by kbman on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 01:01:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  um (0+ / 0-)
              And given that they've been able to keep water over half the core

              It's that other half that's the problem.

              and BTW, that chart if you bother doesn't come from the
              Media it comes from the Japanese Nuclear Industry.

              The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum,Inc. (JAIF) was incorporated as the comprehensive non-governmental organization on nuclear energy in Japan on March 1, 1956.

              JAIF is a non-profit organization incorporated under the auspices of the industry to promote peaceful utilization of nuclear energy for the benefit of Japanese nationals in consideration of the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, radioisotopes and radiation in a wide variety of fields. JAIF intends to make a comprehensive study of nuclear energy, exchange knowledge and incorporate various opinions into a consensus, to support the establishment of the government's nuclear energy development and utilization plan and the promotion of its policies, and to help sound development of the national economy and well-being.

              George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

              by nathguy on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 07:32:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That other half has long been toast (0+ / 0-)

                Keeping sufficient water in the vessel is the key here, filling the region that used to contain fuel is not as important as it was earlier in the accident.  If you've ever seen photos of the core at Three Mile Island you'll understand what I mean.  The TMI core was only exposed a few hours and it melted and crumbled significantly.  And while there wasn't as much energy in either of these reactors, the top of the fuel has certainly been exposed long enough that it is no longer intact.  And based on TMI, I believe it is not even largely in that space anymore.  As the fuel cladding melts and releases the fuel, the fuel will melt with it into molten globs that fall to the bottom of the vessel.  There may be some fuel bundle structure material left up there, but all of the heavier stuff is likely at the bottom of the vessels by now.

                Keeping heavily borated water in the vessels both helps to cool the fuel and also prevent any of the melted portions of the fuel to create local criticality.  As long as it remains covered the remaining portion of the fuel should stay structurally intact and not allow for a larger meltdown.  These factors work together to make it so that melting fuel eating its way through the reactor vessel should not be a serious concern under present conditions.  As long as they can maintain present water levels that should continue to be the case.

                I'm going to prepare a status summary update today and invite you to bring your criticisms and questions there as well.  I have no problem with having my take on things challenged.  I believe that I can support my views based on the known facts and reasonable suppositions.  But I welcome you to disprove what I believe to be fact, or to show why what I believe to be reasonable supposition actually is not.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:29:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  it looks like the worst of the TMI unit (0+ / 0-)

                  was damage at the top third.

                  The problem the Japanese have is having a much longer
                  and larger Loss of Coolant event.

                  TMI was at 4 AM and the New Shift came in at 6 AM
                  leading to no more then about 2 hours of trouble.

                  Yeah they lost cooling on about half the reactor but for a
                  short period of time.

                  Here it's been a lot worse and a lot longer,
                  I wouldn't want to make assumptions
                  that it's just like TMI.

                  Maybe the Boron will prevent recriticality but,
                  I no longer want to bet on anything.

                  The real concern is the spent fuel pools.

                  something going bad there, can lead to cascading failures
                  back to the Racs again.

                  George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

                  by nathguy on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 02:26:48 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I have a question for anyone familiar with this. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, erratic, BachFan, LookingUp

      What purpose does the Torus serve?

      And is it part of the operating system (same pressure as the primary pressure vessel) or part of a back up system?

      For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

      by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:12:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Small world - I worked at TMI (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, KenBee, erush1345, erratic, BachFan, yuriwho

      and then in Parsippany and Reading. But not in a technical position. I took an enhanced severance and retirement when the plants were sold.

      Following events in Japan has certainly brought back memories. I just can't imagine what the utility and government are going through dealing with multiple reactors and then the aftermath.

    •  Thanks for your effort. (11+ / 0-)

      I realize this as much work and is appreciated.

      I have a suggestion. Now is a good time to start discussin the future on nuclear power so I suggest you start a group for people to debate the issues.

      Regardless of where one stands the issues are complex and importiant and an open and honest discussion are needed. Share information. Let people rant. Get it out.

      The reason is that nukes aren't going any day soon. Even if new builds come to a standstill (which is unlikely) the inventory of existing reactors including aging ones with similar potential safety issues will be around for decades and it is time for the industry to come clean deal with the problems and reform the way it operates, particularly the last.

      Not all reactors are the same. Not all are operated under the same conditions. Not all have the same site conditions and history.

      Calling this a one-off is nonsense. Life is full of extrondenary and unexpected events so we have to question the assumptions and greater regulation and vigilence is required because in every nuclear accident and event at some point we have failures in the system.

      So I nominate you to lead a group. Your thoughts?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:01:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for my poor English (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman, erush1345
        Now is a good time to start a discussion on the future of nuclear power so I suggest you start a group for people to debate the issues.

        Must be more errors. I'm human. Humans make errors. Correcting them is importiant. Feel free to point them out.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:06:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please, no need to apologize. (7+ / 0-)

          I fully understood what you intended to communicate and filled in the "proper" words in my reading.  I also want to thank you again for pulling me from the depths of despair last week with your post regarding the true nature of the explosion at unit 1.  I had been suckered in by a misleading story and you came to the rescue.

          I will seriously consider what you have proposed regarding this group.  I think it's a bit early to start that discussion as people are still waiting to see what the full extent and cost of this present incident is in lives, radiation contamination, and Yen/Dollars.

          Thanks for your vote of confidence!

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:40:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  My Pleasure (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345, kbman

            Lets face it, this is depresing business but accurate information helps to keep things in perspective.

            I think one basic fact eveyone needs to keep in mind regardless of where they stand on nuclear power and this acident is nukes are not going away any day soon and regardless of the outcome this needs to be a learing experience for the industry and an imputus to improve, because now matter how well a reactor is designed and constructed once it is comissioned, what really matters is how it is operated managed and regulated.

            In any case if you decide to start a group send me a message I'd be hapy to support it.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:49:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  lol, I can't blame my errors on poor english (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kbman

            rather my poor typing skills and trying to write comments as fast as I think them, I end up missing entire words I intended to write.

            we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

            by yuriwho on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:40:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'd join that group (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman

        in a heartbeat

        we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

        by yuriwho on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:41:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary (8+ / 0-)

    I gotta run and will go over it more carefully asap.

    I suppose my main question is, what should specific thing should we be looking for in terms of good news and bad news?  The newspeople talk about the next 24 hours is critical, but they always say that to keep us on the hook, waiting for more.

    Are we at a crossroads, if so, what do we want to happen or not happen, and if not, what should we be looking for?

    •  Your username is going to keep tripping me up, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, erush1345, Plubius, OtherDoug

      Publius.

    •  Good question (16+ / 0-)

      I believe we have crossed the threshold for a sigh of relief regarding the reactors themselves.  Within the next day or so I expect to hear that the cores in all three units are stabilized and on track for cold shutdown.  Having off-site power restored was a major plus in this regard.  There may be systems that have problems at each plant, but once power was restored more options became available.

      The fuel pools are another story.  Given the damage to the refuel level it is quite likely that standard methods for maintaining the fuel pool water levels are not functional.  The degree of success or failure in this effort will be reflected in the levels of radiation being measured in the region.  This is because the fuel pools are the remaining significant source of radioactive material that is currently open to the environment.

      This link provided by vets74 has a map of recent radiation measurements along with trend information.  A significant jump in these numbers would be consistent with degrading conditions at the fuel pools.  

      If there is positive news about the fuel pools it will likely be trumpeted by TEPCO.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:13:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Assuming the loss of water from the pools (5+ / 0-)

        is do to cracks incurred during the earthquake. I wond if it might be worth trying some sort of junk shot followed by stop-leak type stuff. The stuff you used to add to your radiator to stop it from leaking. It you can fill those cracks, you stop the leaks and will allow for the refilling of the pools.

        One good idea for the material to drop is powdered bentonite, perhaps in a slurry with some water miscible solvent like glycerol so that the finely powdered bentonite get into the water and as it absorbes water it expands (takes ~12-24 hours to fully expand) and plugs the holes.

        Just a thought on how to deal with cracked/leaking spent fuel rod pools.

        we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

        by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:03:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks, I'll pass that along to Stan as well (4+ / 0-)

          I believe he has contacts who could get this information into the right hands.

          My concern on something like this is that it needs to hold back an enormous amount of water pressure as the pools fill.  And depending on the level in the pool when this is attempted, would there be enough bonding immediately to give the material a chance to get a foothold, or would the weight of the column of water pushing through a skinny crack provide just too much pressure.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:13:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not sure, I know if you got a brain storm going (6+ / 0-)

            between a group of 20+ materials chemists, they would provide you with 3-4 best ideas based on assumptions about the sizes of the cracks that need to be filled.

            we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

            by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:17:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  For example (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman, WI Deadhead, worldlotus, LookingUp

              floating golf balls of various sizes would partially plug bigger cracks as the pool if willed with them + water, add those first. If you have evidence they have reduced flow rate you can decide what to add next. Continue until you are down to small balls that float but won't melt, finally add bentonite to plug it all up.

              Btw, bentonite is basically shrunken & dehydrated clay powder. It will expand about 4-5 fold upon contact with water. It may not be the best material to choose but there are many more polymers that expand slowly upon exposure to water that you could choose from.

              To make good decisions, having imagers of the cracks to be plugged would be essential.

              Where are the robots?

              we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

              by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:36:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  iRobot (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, kbman

                Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                by jam on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:59:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I dont think robots are very useful (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman, erush1345, BachFan

                  In this case other than cameras or big mechanical stuff like remote control heavy vehicles.

                  The reason is the environment and the terrain. Workplace is a mess of rubble, water and radioactivity.

                  Some of the space bound robots might be able to survive since they are radiation hardened and might be able to navigate, but they are pretty purpose built and probably too small to do what is needed in terms of mechanical work although they might be useful for surveying the interior if they meet the above conditions.

                  But that shouldn't stop anyone from thinking or trying, I'm frequently mistaken and know far less than what I don't know.

                  What about my Daughter's future?

                  by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:41:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I was figuring radio controlled mini helicopters (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    erush1345, yuriwho, koNko

                    with lights and camera to do reconnaissance inside the reactor buildings and survey the refuel floor from close up.

                    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                    by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:44:20 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Good Idea. (0+ / 0-)

                      Fukushima DataBlogSo you have proven my last statement correct.

                      Yeah, my basic take on this is robots or drones could help to get more information inside that might be visible from arial observation although I suppose the US military may have provided some sophisticated imaging gear and I'm certian they are keeping the buildings under constant thermal imaging monitoring.

                      But sometimes line of sight is importiant and the reactors that suffered explosions are really a mess.

                      BTW I think you might be interested in this link information is well orgamized:

                      Fukushima DataBlog

                      And this:

                      Fukushima Timeline

                      I've added these and others to a comment to the Tip Jar in Diary 17.

                      What about my Daughter's future?

                      by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:38:40 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Lead filled concrete (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman, erush1345, BachFan, yuriwho, BusyinCA

              Reinforced with chopped aspestos or glass fiber, of the type with additives that cause it to expand rather than contract on curing. Such concrete (minus the lead) is used for strutural repairs particulatly underwater and readally available.

              Whatever is added is ideally a liquid that can be pumped or dropped in to avoid mechanical damage in the installation process.

              BTW, lead is magical stuff. I've spent the better part of the last 10 years working on the problems that happen when you take it away, but in some instances it is irreplaceable and the cost/benifit balance in this case is net positive in many respects not just for the radiation shielding but the mechanical properties, it has great plastic properties and creep stress endurance.

              But I'm sure the engineers working this problem have already thought of that and even more, junk drops and entoumbment are already issues in play.

              Anyway the above would be my home-brew recipie. Don't try this at home without a Hazmat suit folks.

              Photobucket

              Happy Day.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:32:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  bad idea (0+ / 0-)

          because then you get radioactive clays and slurries
          and containment is breached, it's going to go everywhere.

          George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

          by nathguy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:24:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Brought to you from Click and Clack. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yuriwho
    •  Radiation and cooling data. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, LookingUp

      Down is good news, up is bad news.

      And obviously any further incidents or breakthrouhs in managing the situation.

      If the news is good, cooling will continue for weeks and then decomissioning and entoumbment for months to years.

      If the news is bad things will happen faster.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:10:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the diary kbman!  It does a much better job than I do at attempting to describe the various levels of containment in a reactor to people not in the industry.

    "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

    by erush1345 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:48:05 PM PDT

  •  Claims of being a "pro-nuke insider" in 3..2..1 (8+ / 0-)
    I also worked for five years at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey.

    Very nice diary, BTW.  Thanks for the clear explanations and the hypotheses about what's happening.
     

    "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Thomas Jefferson

    by rfall on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:07:56 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for (12+ / 0-)

    this well written, detailed and cogent diary.

    Is all the radiation being detected from venting?

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:08:29 PM PDT

  •  Thanks so much. Genuine expert information... (14+ / 0-)

    trumps the dreadful ignorance of our corporate media's  'meat puppets' any day.

    I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Jules Bergman. At least he made an attempt at reporting on these kinds of issues as a thoughtful and well informed science editor. Nowadays it's a festival of stupid.

    Ever since ABC, CBS and NBC eviscerated their news bureaux and decided to imitate People magazine.

  •  Hydrogen is Capbable of Building Up So Much (7+ / 0-)

    pressure that the 8 foot thick primary containment vessel is threatened by gas pressure?

    Raises the question in my mind of what specifically is the primary containment intended to contain? Spills obviously, but at 8' thick is it to contain some kind of explosion (small nuclear or steam rupture etc?), or is the thickness mostly just to stop radiation?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:14:47 PM PDT

  •  decay heat (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, Plubius, erratic, WI Deadhead, kurt

    I'm confused on your point about decay heat. You say:

    Also, being a week out now from the initial event, the nuclear decay heat being generated is substantially lower than it was.  This is because much of the decay heat arises from very short-lived fission products which have pretty much fissioned away by now.  This makes the cooling requirements for the reactor cores at units 1-3 much lower than they were a week ago.

    The graphs at MITNSE and UCS suggest that decay heat declines rapidly in the first day after control rod insertion, but slowly in the months after. The decay heat from the Tuesday the 14th (when there was some sort of explosion inside reactor 2) is only slightly more than what is projected for next month (roughly 5 megawatts down from 7 per reactor).

    Am I mistaken?

  •  Don't miss the Nuclear Boy cartoon (6+ / 0-)

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    I guess the diaper is the Primary Containment, the bowling pin shape part.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:24:13 PM PDT

  •  Awesomely informative diary (10+ / 0-)

    a hundred tips and rec.

    Thanks

    we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

    by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:27:13 PM PDT

  •  This diary exemplifies why I'm still on DK4, (14+ / 0-)

    despite my not liking it. Incredibly knowledgeable people willing to share what they know. Thank you.

    "Say little; do much." (Pirkei Avot: 1:15)

    by hester on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:35:23 PM PDT

  •  Thanks especially (8+ / 0-)

    For the explanation of the compound forces of the explosion.  I would have never noticed or understood how there was a small explosion and then the secondary larger one from the reflection of the energy.

    Besides that, I need to read this diary a couple more times.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

    by yet another liberal on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:41:53 PM PDT

  •  From "ScienceInsider" on #4 (10+ / 0-)
    But this evening Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, told reporters that a review of video shot from a helicopter and an on-the-ground check by a worker had confirmed that there is water in the pool. If true, the announcement is one piece of good news in a week-long struggle to cool the fuel in the reactors and block the emanating radiation.

    I couldn't get the link to work for this, but it's today's edition.

    "Trust only those who doubt" Lu Xun

    by LookingUp on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:45:40 PM PDT

  •  My brother is an NRC licensed Senior Reactor (16+ / 0-)

    Operator.  He tells me that they should be able to handle this safely, based upon the very detailed briefings that he is receiving.

    I asked him to write a diary, but he is concerned that he will get in trouble for sharing "classified" info if he does so.

    I trust my brother.  You don't have to, but he is a member of a very special fraternity.  Reactor operators would lay their lives on the line for the rest of us if it came to that, like Spock in that Star Trek movie.

    If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

    by SpamNunn on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:58:57 PM PDT

    •  There are certainly people who work... (19+ / 0-)

      ...in nuclear energy plants who would lay their lives on the line for people outside the plant. We're seeing it happen right now. We saw it at Chernobyl. Heroes, without a doubt.

      But, you know, when you say "reactor operators," I'd kind of like to see a few executives standing as close to the radioactive parts of those damaged reactors as the worker bees are doing. TEPCO's history of arrogance and corner cutting may not be the reason these damaged reactors are in the state they're in. But given the way they strung us along for the first several days of the "event," and given the usual nothing-can-go-wrong-that-we-can't-handle rubric we've been fed since safety of nuclear energy was first questioned, I don't think we can be positive of their guiltlessness quite yet.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:14:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  MB. I trust my brother. He has been inside TMI (9+ / 0-)

        He is very talented.  He actually teaches courses on how to handle similar emergencies.  He is confident that no one will be in danger, and that those plants are history.

        Guilt?  Who could be guilty for not anticipating a tragedy that even reactor operators don't train for?

        My brother's reactor's diesel generators and fuel tanks are 60 miles away from the ocean, and are not in a fault line.  Their fuel tanks and emergency generators are in hardened bunkers.  They have flexible stainless steel fuel lines in hardened conduits.  What happened in Japan could never happen here.

        We need nukes to supply our electricity.  Please be a supporter of fairness when it comes to promoting nuke power in the USA.

        If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

        by SpamNunn on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:25:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He may be an expert in plants, but the biggest (7+ / 0-)

          danger in Fukashima is apparenlty from fire in spent fuel pond assemblies.  Albert Alverez suggest that each on of these can contain up to 50 million curies of Cesium 137.

          For comparision, Chernobyl released about 6 million curies of Cesium 137, I think.   If your interested there's a labeled link in my comment history to Alverez' March 13, article which first alert folks to this danger.

          It's a confusion of issues to reasure people of no concern based on understandings of reactor core technology, about danger from different cause, spent fuel assemblies.

          These assemblies are not in the containment building adn their are 7 on the Fukashima site.

          We have many of these in the US, that are going to need a much greater amount of attention to protect them from a terrorist attack from either a bomb, rocket, artillary shell, drone, or fuel laden airplane, as in the 9/11 attacks.

          The cost of guarding and maintaining of these spent fuel assemblies is abour to escalate dramatically, and are not included in cost-comparisions with real renewable alternatives.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:01:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Reactor operators may not be at fault. (8+ / 0-)

          Reactor designers:  that's another issue altogether.  

          In a tsunami zone, why put essential generators in the path of flood waters?  

          I'm near San Onofre.  It's right on the ocean, and I'd be in a containment zone were the same crisis to occur there (within a 50 mile radius).  I'd rather think about conserving energy than turning to nuclear in order to maintain my current consumption of energy.  That means only accessing DKos a few times a week rather than a few times a day, if it means cutting my electricity use.  That means forgoing the cell phone recharge.  That means wearing clothes several times rather than washing them regularly.  We've got choices, but no one wants to make "life style" changes.  

          I remember that in the early 80s, cars all over Europe had bright yellow sun-shaped stickers that  registered discontent with nuclear power (in France, they said ""Nuclaire?  Non, merci!").  Why doesn't anyone talk about conservation rather than substitution???

        •  I've said many times that I am not a diehard... (13+ / 0-)

          ...against nuclear power because I am not certain we can pull off what we need to in the time frame we need to without it. I said in the most recent diary I wrote on the Japanese situation that we need a fair, balanced and comprehensive analysis of nuclear power before we continue down this path. And I am sure that reactors built since the Fukushimas and 22 U.S. Mark Is are better thought out.

          But your could-never-happen-here comment disturbs me. Because it's exactly what the industry was saying before Three Mile Island. The AEC claimed the chances of what happened at TMI-2 (before it happened), to be the same as a meteor striking a major city. What happened at Chernobyl can't happen here. What happened in Japan can't happen here. But something could happen here, something...uh...deeply unpleasant. I appreciate all the effort that goes into looking at contingencies. But Murphy's Law needs to be taught with more intensity.

          Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:45:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd really like to hear how secure... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kbman

            Oyster Creek in NJ and the BWRs on the Gulf Coast are.  Having advanced warning of a hurricane gives the operators a lot more time to shutdown, but when a major storm surge hits how will the backup generators in those plants respond?

          •  This is such a tough issue to fully consider all (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KenBee, erush1345, BachFan, LookingUp

            of the pertinent aspects.  A robust and fully honest probabilistic risk assessment is the only way to get a good picture of what the real choices are.  And unfortunately there will be those on both sides that claim that their pet issue isn't being adequately addressed.

            Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

            by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:46:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  all that is fine, but Diablo (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman, BusyinCA

              doesn't even have an evacuation plan, their 50 mile radius has 500,000 people, and only one freeway, 101 and some back roads and a huge summer and weekend population.

              The PG&E spokesholes have been reassuring us that the plant was designed for the anticipated earthquake loads (7.x)..then another fault was found 1 mile away, not part of the design.

              Diablo had that cooling system non-op  condition we just read about, then there was the dam backup generators that haven't run for 20 years in Michigan maybe.
              Geez, there's design, then there's the bottom line and maintenance budgets.
                too big, too complicated, failure is just too costly.

              "Responsible people leave neither loaded guns nor paranoid, eliminationist ideologies laying around for the mentally ill to play with".....Driftglass

              by KenBee on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:28:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Things like not testing backup diesels on a (7+ / 0-)

                regularly scheduled basis are in the realm of criminal negligence.  It may also be criminal period as in breaking federal regs.  

                Another aspect of plants like Diablo Canyon, Indian Point, and Oyster Creek is that at the time when they were planned and built the populations in those areas were much smaller than they are today.  Apparently the presence of the nuclear plant didn't deter people from living nearby.  That was their choice.  But now that they are there, does that make it the power plant's fault that it is in a more populated area?  And since those people chose to move there despite the plant's presence, is it right for them to now shout for the plant to be shutdown?

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:59:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman, BachFan

                  Good question.

                  "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

                  by erush1345 on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:07:25 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Question for you: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    sneakers563

                    Let's see if you even bother looking at replies to your "comments".

                    Do you see the "asdf" thing as being cute, or is it a rather petty way of luring people into opening up your comments and discovering that the entire substance of your comment could have been put on the subject line with an "n/t".

                    I've checked your commenting history, and since every single one has a subject line of "asdf" I don't think I'll ever bother reading anything from you again.

                    - bp

                    "I don't care who your goddam emperor is: his clothes still suck"

                    by b00g13p0p on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:07:57 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                      No, I have always done it in pretty much most boards that I have to post a subject on all messages vice just the root message.

                      "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

                      by erush1345 on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:37:58 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Not that it matters (0+ / 0-)

                        but I'm not at all a fan of it, either, and I never rec a comment that uses it as a subject line no matter how good it is. I'm sure people on other boards aren't huge fans of your wasting the opportunity of a subject line, either.

                •  Criminal negligence is right. My hospital has... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman, KenBee

                  back-up generators to deal with power failures which are a life and death issue for patients on ventilators and what not. They have a regular test and maintenance schedule to make sure they're in working order. But like much routine preventive maintenance, it's so boring and unrewarding for the workers involved that the temptation to cut corners and call it good is overwhelming.

                  We had a severe ice storm about 17 years ago that knocked out power to the whole region. The generator ran non-stop for about 12 hours until power was restored, and as I understand it, they had some 'issues' that nearly caused a generator failure while the hospital was still generator-dependent.

                  •  I seem to recall either reading or hearing (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    KenBee

                    in a course at Oyster Creek that they had regular tests of the diesel generators.  I'm not sure if it was on a scheduled basis or if it was part of the emergency drill scenarios.  It may have been both.  There was a lot of NRC scrutiny at Oyster Creek in the early 80's since the management company, GPUN, were the same folks who brought us Three Mile Island.  They had formal preventive maintenance procedures and schedules for everything at the plant that was a safety related system.  I can't imagine the emergency diesels being any different.

                    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                    by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:10:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  The US Mark I's are very different from those at (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345

            Fukishima.   Lots more redundancy and protection.  

            And maybe if the Feds issued a few permits to construct we could take some of those old reactors off line and replace them with safer reactors?   Duh.  

            If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

            by SpamNunn on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 06:49:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Let me give you an example (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee, wonmug, kbman

          A significant hazard is the spent fuel rods.

          It was reported that TEPCO overloaded the storage tanks and this has been severly criticized by the Russian physicist responsible for directing the clean-up of Chernobyl.

          And for good reason; it has been a prblem in the industry for years. As long as the rods remain under water and sufficient turnover is provided to ensure proper cooling it is therorectically "safe".

          As long as.

          Long-standing industry problem.

          If the industry wants to survive it is time to come clean.

          Furthermore, TEPCO has previously be caught concealing incidents from regulators and lying to the public. You may trust your brother but there is no reason for the public to trust TEPCO.

          Please be a supporter of objetivity and saness when it comes to nuclear power, if it isn't safe it of no use and all the stawman arguments in the world wont change that.'

          Pretending problems don't exist as you do is the weakest argument to continue building nuclear facillities, you do you cause no good.

          As of last week the staus quo is dead whether you recognize it or not. Now even the honest brokers wlil have to justify thier cause this is being acknowledged by governments around the workd now and even advocates in the industry.

          And good luck with the arguement "It's OK beause my brother said so and I trust him so please be nice."

          Reactors in Germany shut down.
          Reactor projects in China put on hold.
          Emergency meeting f the EU.
          Chu orders NRC inspection of all nuclear plants.

          Fortunately they are not as complacent as you.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:41:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Watch what happens in two months (8+ / 0-)

            When the next Egypt happens. When the next Libya happens. Already we are seeing the coverage of Fukushima (outside of Japan) whittle down as Libya heats up.

            All those projects will be back online.

            China will quietly and with little fan fare restart construction.

            The world will move on, hopefully more safely than before.

            The one thing that gets lost in this is the fact every single power generation method has serious things that can go wrong, and the ones that don`t cant handle our needs. Ever seen the nasty stuff they produce solar cells with? Imagine an explosion at the plant making that "clean" energy.

            Nuclear needs to be in the mix, as I am sure it will continue to be in Japan. As it should be.

            Hysteria though rules the USA which is why no plants have been made since Three Mile. As they will continue to fall behind, burning all that coal and contributing to the global warming that will do more real damage than an accident like the one at Fukushima will ever do.

            Cheers

            Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

            by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:19:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's exactly right. Can't consider nuclear flaws (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              wonmug, kbman, Recall

              in isolation. Other choices carry much greater risks; they're just harder to see.
              As noted here....the use of coal for electricity generation is estimated to cause thousands of deaths per year in America alone due to lung disease in people living downwind. Not potential, not risk of, not radiation exposure. Deaths. Thousands of deaths. And then there's that whole global warming thing; every single coal-fired power plant literally adds more fuel to the fire burning our biosphere.

            •  Thanks for your comment. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345, kbman, yuriwho

              But I disagree. This is not going to blow over quickly and it should not blow over quickly.

              Regardless of the merits of nuclear power, regadless on the technologial advancements, and regardless of the dangers in fossil fuels the nuclear industry has some serious problems that need correction and the world is full of aging facillities that present a hazard.

              This is a moment of reckoning and an opportunity.

              I am hardly alone in thinks so, if you do a little research you will find some very well respected advocates taking a deep breath and acknowledging it is time to re-examine some basic assumptions and reform the way the industry operates and is regulated.

              Not all reactors are designed sited, managed or regulated the same. That means what happened in this case doesn't apply everywhere but also that what might not apply here does elsewhere.

              And if I am wrong and you are right I am wrong I can think of no better arguement against nuclear power. There is no place for complaency because of the hazards.

              To draw an analogy,  nukes are like flying in a Jumbo jet; statistically safe, but when a plane crashes the consequences are enormous. Except with nukes the consequenes are far greater.

              Let me point out a basic design flaw of Fukushima related to the site now under disussion. Ultimately why it failed was not a result of the earthquake but the flooding by the Tsunami, which knocked out the power system. A bad assumption was made about the potential for such an occurance and they depended on a seawall that proved to be too low.

              What I find interesting about this working for a large Japanese industrial company as I do, is that standard practice (Japan and elsewhere) is to place electrical busses switchgear and controls above ground level because it is fundamentally safer in the event of a flood. This works because waterproof cables are reliable and can be routed underground (or above) and connected up but in this case they were at ground level and got flooded. So to reconnect they had to build emergency cables and switchgear above ground, under duress.

              Now that is 20-20 hindsight at this point but should be a lesson learned and added to the checklist. Correctable condition. Could exist elsewhere. Or other problems.

              So I don't think Dr. Stephen Chu, a nuclear advocate is hitting the panic button at this point in ordering the NRC to reinspect every nuke in the US, he is being sensible and responsible.

              And China has put the 26 nukes it is building on hold for the same reason now is the time to take a step back and take corrective or preventive action.

              Trust has been lost and needs to be regained.  Show me.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:27:52 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Absolutely on this: (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                yuriwho, koNko
                So I don't think Dr. Stephen Chu, a nuclear advocate is hitting the panic button at this point in ordering the NRC to reinspect every nuke in the US, he is being sensible and responsible.

                Any time there is an event such as this there are many things to be learned.  There is much valuable information to be found by analyzing the many ways that systems failed and backups were insufficient.  Every single systems failure should, and I suspect will, be fully investigated to first get as clear an understanding as possible of what caused the problem, and then to determine what can be done to prevent that problem moving forward.  Any operating plants which have the same vulnerabilities should be retro-fitted to address them if possible and cost-effective.  If it is not possible or cost effective then they should be shut down.

                As a bare minimum, I believe that the spent fuel pools at Mark I's need to be kept to the bare minimum contents that is consistent with safe handling.  As much fuel as possible should be transferred to well-contained ground level storage.  Dry cask storage should also be done as soon as the bundles are appropriately decayed.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:21:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The problem is if we fail to learn (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman

                  and change. Typical human problem history repating.

                  I look at this as a reality check.

                  The management of fuel rods at Fukushima is not really clear to me but some of the criticism seems to suggest overloading or prolonged storage of large inventories.

                  I honestly don't see how the first could be the case unless the hardware was modified from the original design (possible) because I think you must understand these go into engineered cassetes not dumped into a pile in a bucket as some might imagine.

                  But it is concieveable the inventory was not minimized or transferred to wet and dry storage/trasportation  vessels in a timely fashion and this is a well-know problem in the industry. But auditable and correctable.

                  It seems to me the design of this generation is flawed in the arraingement since rods are stored in a vulnerable location, but I can also understand the reasoning of the position at least from the viewpoint of changing loads but again, how that is used could be changed.

                  What about my Daughter's future?

                  by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 09:48:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The fact that they have the shared pool suggests (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    koNko

                    that they were trying to proactively manage the inventory in the pools at the plants.  That pool is apparently also in a manageable condition at this point in time.  The large loading problem is at unit 4 which has the entire core offloaded for maintenance.  

                    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                    by kbman on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:44:45 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody Has Yet Designed a Reactor to Withstand (22+ / 0-)

        executive avoidance of safety practices.

        A reactor, or any other technology. I've known sailing technology negligence to kill people.

        The problem compounds when the scale of distance of reach through space and time outgrows the ties of consequences to the decision makers.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:37:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  If it's any consolation, at Oyster Creek (9+ / 0-)

        the plant director's office was on the second floor of the original office building adjacent to the reactor building, about 100 hall feet from the control room.  OTOH, Upper management was about 60 miles north ...

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:05:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Didn't the operator of Oyster Creek just decide to (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman

          shut it down, because it would be too expensive to bring it up to safety standards?

          I heard something this morning on NPR.  I'll have to go back and check.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:02:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They were extended to 2019 IIRC (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HoundDog, kbman

            after getting upgrading and repairs.

            FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

            by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:30:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  They didn't want to build cooling towers (7+ / 0-)

            as was being required by NJ environmental regulators. The owner said it would cost more than the value of the plant so although the NRC extended their license to 2029, the owners agreed to shutting down 10 years early in 2019.

            I didn't see this in the diary but Oyster Creek is the first commercial nuclear plant in the country - it started operation in 1969.

            •  Exactly correct on all counts (6+ / 0-)

              Not only was Oyster Creek the first commercial nuclear plant in the US, it was built for a total of $62 Million.  Furthermore, the plant's owners, JCP&L, won a lawsuit against GE and ended up getting the plant for free.

              There was also a local NIMBY effort by the town of Waretown which was originally slated to be the site of the plant.  The neighboring town of Forked River said "We'll take your tax money."  And so JCP&L moved the site of the plant about a mile north.  Oh well.  There was still bad blood over this between the plant and Waretown fifteen years later.  Plant workers were far more likely to be pulled over in that little hamlet than anywhere else along Highway 9.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:54:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Thank BlueSue, this is what I hear this morning (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KenBee, wonmug

              on NPR.  

              We need to do a top to bottom scientific and policy review of the whole industry before committing ourselves to a major new round of 50 year commitments and the generation of additonal nuclear waste which must not only be contained from the evironment, but also, protected from terrrorist who might use this material for a dirty bomb.

              Can you imagine the 9/11 attack plane landing on a non-contained cooling pond, and displacing it's water, and igniting it?

              Alverez asserts that many cooling ponds have up to 50 million curies of Cesium 137, because they accumulate spent fuel rods on site pending approval of a final repository.

              We are going to need to enforce wider no-fly zones with perimeters large enough that the nearest jet interceptors can arrive in time.

              Also, rockets, drone, and artillary shells from a certain radius will be threats that no one realy currently has solutions for.

              Truck bombs are apparantly, fairly well protected from with current security, but the additional protections will add greatly to the costs and are not in current economic comparisions to alternatives.

              Also, not included are the real costs to society of any accidents or terrorist event.  Is it the Price-Anderson Act that limits  industry liability to $1.5 billion.

              But, a Chernobyl like release due to fires or sabatouge of the exposed cooling ponds for the spent reactor cores and other nuclear waste generated at other points in the full life cycle will be born by society and must be included in any comparisions of unit cost.

              In other words, any analysis that purports to make any claim about nuclear energy cost or safety that do not include the total system, full life-cycle costs are highly suspect, if not totally bogus.

              There are also, carbon release issues in the manufactering of nuclear fuel, although these are admittedly smaller than with any coal fired electric.

              Also, we need to consider the implecation for our bill or rights the inclination to include all nuclear engineering students, and scientists on terrorist watchlists.

              Even if we force the people of Nevada to accept Yucca Mountain to accept this site as a final reponsitory, the transportation of the large amount of existing nuclear waste across our national roadways, in unmarked but armed escorted transport is going to be problematic.

              All drivers, cargo loaders, and anyone else familiar with routes, trucks, and schedules we need to have security clearences, and be monitored for connections to potential terrorists groups.

              What perimeters will we establish around these sites in terms of exposure to rocket, or drone attacks.

              Not just in the US.

              Also, the CIA has recently raised proliferation concerns about having large numbers of nuclear engineering students being trained in a number of countries that are less than perfectly stable.

              How do we quantify these costs so we as a society can make the best choices about the portfolio of energy options we wish to lock ourselves into for the future.

              We need much more discussion of these issues before approving this $36 billion in Federal loan guarentee's Obama put in his budget proposal.  

              Republicans are reportedly intending to cut this to $18 billion but also wish to vastly reduce research and development of renewable alternatives, and upgrading of our electrical grids.

              We should delay this funding until further analysis and public discussion of the Fukashima data.

               

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:28:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The free markets assessment of the nuclear (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KenBee

                electrical generation is clear from the fact we have not initiated a new plant in 37 years.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:30:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is not a free market (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kbman, erush1345, the tmax

                  When there are subsidies going to coal and other methods which nuclear does not get. In addition to the massive regulation and NIMBY resistance. It has nothing to do with the free market. In a true free market nuclear would literally be too cheap to meter and other forms could not even compete.

                  And if you add reprocessing (which because of terrorist fears is a non-starter in the USA, not so in Japan and other countries) the amount of waste produced is significantly reduced.

                  Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

                  by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:25:35 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  Good thing Reactor 4 wasn't' online (0+ / 0-)

        because it's the most likely to have breached.

        i suspect Hitachi cut corners everywhere.

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:27:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And you are basing this unsubstantiated claim on.. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman, erush1345, BachFan

          what?

          Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

          by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:26:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well you just start up arc four (0+ / 0-)

            And watch what happens....

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 04:08:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  have fun (0+ / 0-)

            http://www.bloomberg.com/...

            Botched Container?

            Mitsuhiko Tanaka, 67, working as an engineer at Babcock Hitachi K.K., helped design and supervise the manufacture of a $250 million steel pressure vessel for Tokyo Electric in 1975. Today, that vessel holds the fuel rods in the core of the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima’s Dai-Ichi plant, hit by explosion and fire after the tsunami.

            Tanaka says the vessel was damaged in the production process. He says he knows because he orchestrated the cover-up. When he brought his accusations to the government more than a decade later, he was ignored, he says.

            The accident occurred when Tanaka and his team were strengthening the steel in the pressure vessel, heating it in a furnace to more than 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), a temperature that melts metal. Braces that should have been inside the vessel during the blasting were either forgotten or fell over. After it cooled, Tanaka found that its walls had warped.
            ‘Felt Like a Hero’

            The law required the flawed vessel be scrapped, a loss that Tanaka said might have bankrupted the company. Rather than sacrifice years of work and risk the company’s survival, Tanaka used computer modeling to devise a way to reshape the vessel so that no one would know it had been damaged. He did that with Hitachi’s blessings, he said.

            “I saved the company billions of yen,” Tanaka said in an interview March 12, the day after the earthquake. Tanaka says he got a 3 million yen bonus ($38,000) from Hitachi and a plaque acknowledging his “extraordinary” effort in 1974. “At the time, I felt like a hero.”

            That changed with Chernobyl. Two years after the world’s worst nuclear accident, Tanaka went to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to report the cover-up he’d engineered more than a decade earlier. Hitachi denied his accusation and the government refused to investigate.

            Tokyo Electric in 2002 admitted it had falsified repair reports at nuclear plants for more than two decades. Chairman Hiroshi Araki and President Nobuyama Minami resigned to take responsibility for hundred of occasions on which the company had submitted false data to the regulator.

            Then in 2007, the utility said it hadn’t come entirely clean five years earlier. It had concealed at least six emergency stoppages at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station and a “critical” reaction at the plant’s No. 3 unit that lasted for seven hours.

            Breathe Deeply...

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:38:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the reason my eyes keep filling (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman

      every time I read about the "Fukushima 50" is that I see this in my mind's eye:

      "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one...."

      In a perfect world, those folks wouldn't need to risk their health or their lives for the rest of us ... but I am grateful that they're willing to make that kind of sacrifice, and I hope that we can appreciate and honor them for what they are doing.

      "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

      by BachFan on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:35:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thanks for the information (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, ozsea1, Drama Queen

    I predict that nuke power is dead. No new plants will be built. That industry had their state sponsored and subsidized era, and totally fucked it up.

    Touch Social Security and your political career is DOA. We won't ever forget, and you will never get elected to anything again.

    by Karl Rover on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:59:40 PM PDT

    •  If I may (10+ / 0-)

      I believe the purposes of the diaries by kbman on this issue is not to talk about nuclear policy issues, etc, but rather provide information and assess the current nuclear crisis.  So that we all may be as accurately informed as possible.

      •  Was it not the author who first introduced the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karl Rover, Pescadero Bill, KenBee

        issue that he beleives nuclear should be part of our energy future.

        I don't beleive we really can be as adequately informed as possible with including discussion of the real issues here.

        Lack of any mention of the potential for these newly generated radioactive wastes by terrorists for the dirty bombs reflects something.... I'll not charactize speculative to be polite.

        But, even fomer CIA director Woolsey, seems to step back from his prevent ardent support for civilian nuclear technology due to concern over global proliferation, and separately terrorist potential from radioactive materials.

        How much do you think it would cost to set up and enforce no fly zones around all sites at which spent fuel rods are stored in the US.  Is this not more than 140 locations, near big cities.

        The Price-Anderson Act limited industry liability originally to $750 million.  It is now $1.5 billion, I think, but no where near the real-estate values.

        My understanding is that 200 square mile around the 1987 Chernobyl is still uni-habitable.  

        Alverez, a US expert says a fire in a spend fuel assembly from a storage, that loses it's water covering could be almost 10 times as much measured in curies of Cesium 137.

        Let's get all the facts on the table, for public education.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:13:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Never mind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, LookingUp

      I guess I was out of place. :)

      Touch Social Security and your political career is DOA. We won't ever forget, and you will never get elected to anything again.

      by Karl Rover on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:45:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think so Karl Rover. IMO, this is (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive, Karl Rover, akmk

        site for discussing Democratic Party policy.  The authors and many other commenters have introduced these policy issues themselves, so they can not really claim these diaries are nothing but technical details.

        I'll defer to their declarations, but if they are only technical footnotes they should refrain from pushing their policy agenda's in them, IMO.  

        We are being deluged by industry lobbyist trying to get a $36 billion dollar federal loan guarentee subsidy into the upcoming secret compromise that will emerge in a few weeks.

        This needs to be discussed somewhere.

        It my commit our nation to another 50 years of uneconomic and socially destructive nuclear technology.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:17:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I should also note that the title is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karl Rover

          incorrect, as this is not everything we need to know about nuclear containment, but rather reactor core containment.

          The containment of the greater threat of readiation leak is spent fuel assemblies in the cooling ponds is not adequately discussed.

          Please either correct the title or invite discussion of the bigger picture issues.

          Pleease google the Albert Alverez article of March 13, 2011, or check out one of the many links to it in my comment history, for more details.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:36:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  How about you go make your own diary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, BachFan, LookingUp

          And stop disrupting this one? Its a great big site and you arent limted to only one diary a day anymore.

          Or are you just trying to ride the coat tails of an excellently written and sourced diary to push your political agenda.

          Not every story has a happy ending but Im doing my best to make mine so. Come and take a look at my discussion forum: TheNewCurevents We are looking for new active members!

          by ProgressiveTokyo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:30:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No offense taken (7+ / 0-)

        I did mention my support for nuclear power at the top as part of explaining who I am and where I am coming from.  At the same time, I am hoping to avoid the pro-anti pie fights and instead discuss the technical issues regarding the situation in Japan.  There will be plenty of time to throw pies at a later date.

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:17:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We. the Democratic Party need to discuss the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karl Rover, Roger Fox

          bigger picture issues before this $36 billion dollar subsidy gets locked into budget.

          Also, please be careful, in your remarks not to incorrectly generalize your opinions about nuclear core safety issues, to full Fukashima site safety issues, which adds the seven cooling pond issues, and makes such generalizations confusing, if not disingenuous.

          US expert Alverez assert that although the level of radioactivity in the active cores is higher, the cooling ponds often contain 20 to 30 years or more of accumulated rods.

          In 2003, he proposed that all used cores older than five years be encased in concrete, as the Germans do.

          If the 30 feet of extra water cover in the 45 foot tall cooling ponds drop below level of the rods,  for more than a few hours, they can burn releasing particulate smoke into the atmosphere, as is apparently the primary concern at Fukashima.

          After spending 20 years at MIT as a Research Associate I have a tremendous respect for science and scientists.  We have a responsibility to be careful to present our technical knowledge about our areas of expertise, into the context of the bigger issues of the pubic  understanding in debate.  

          Which I believe you are doing.  

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:28:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I believe I was clear in saying that the fuel (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            erush1345, LookingUp

            pools are still at risk.  Here is what I wrote about them ...

            The fuel pool at unit 3 is also a major concern.  As noted earlier, it appears that there is a leak in the pool causing it to lose water faster than the heat load should cause.

            ...

            The fuel pool at unit 4 may be the biggest concern at the moment.  There have been reports that it had run completely dry but that appears now to have been unsubstantiated rumor.  But regardless, it is losing water faster than it should and refill operations are crucial.

            ...

            Bottom line, they're certainly not out of the woods yet but a full meltdown at any of the units seems highly unlikely at this point.  Getting the situations [under control] in the fuel pools at units 3 and 4 is probably the highest priority at the moment.

            As far as the implications of not getting the fuel pools controlled, they have been covered in several diaries already.

            Also from what I've read, under normal circumstances an intact fuel pool can go a week or more without cooling flow and still not be in danger of uncovering fuel.  The source for this was an industry site but the information seems right based on other sources I've seen.  The problems at units 3 and 4 are caused by loss of water from leakage, not just from cooling the fuel.  Provided that they at least checked on the pools at 5 and 6 to confirm they were holding water level, there is no reason to believe at this time that they are in danger.  Similarly there have been no reports of problems with the pools at units 1 or 2 nor has there been activity surrounding them.  Off-site power is returning by this weekend and it would seem they should have no trouble getting them back within normal operating parameters.

            Also, are you certain on the numbers you mention for the depth of the pools?  I'm not saying you are wrong, just that I have found several conflicting answers to this question.  Thanks for your input.

            Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

            by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:18:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Why are we running 40 year old fission plants? (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ybruti, OtherDoug, kbman, BachFan, Recall

          I know why, and as an anti nuke leaner, I find it stupider than nukes.

          If you were on vacation with the family and drove into a town where everyone drove 69 Nova's 71 VW's, 77 Pinto's and 78 Ford Fairmonts.. you'd probably think something was wrong and not stop just keep driving.

          The anti nuke sentiments in the US have taken part in a political process that has resulted in not allowing these 1st gen designed plants to be replaced with designs that are far superior, Does passive cooling mean anything to these people?

          Great diary, thanks very much, I'm always up for a science fix.

          FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

          by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:49:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Passive cooling give you 72 hours. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roger Fox

            That's not necessarily a guarantee for safe, secure future.

            And where oh where does the waste go?

            •  Hope Polywell fusion works out. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman

              Theory says something like a Polywell reactor can "burn" fission waste.

              Otherwise were at 70k tons and climbing IIRC.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:14:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  You say waste, I say fuel and resources (5+ / 0-)

              Our present spent fuel still has enormous amounts of energy, not to mention precious and strategic metals.  By burning it up in fast breeder reactors we can extract much more of its energy while also fissioning the long-lived isotopes and reducing the toxicity from tens of thousands of years to a few hundred.

              The most promising design I've read about in this regard is the lead-bismuth reactor.  It has many features which make it inherently safe to operate.   There are also liquid salt reactors which can burn spent fuel.  They cannot fission some of the longer-lived isotopes however which is why fast breeders are needed to truly resolve the long term storage issue.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:30:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Power plants are not cars. (0+ / 0-)

            Power plants, whether nuclear, coal, natural gas or hydroelectric, are colossal installations that cost billions of dollars and have projected working lives of 40, 50, or more years by design.

            Do you really think we should close Hoover Dam because it was built in the late 1930s?

            •  Apples and oranges (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345

              Comparing a 1970 car to a 2010 car, design wise is similar to comparing a 1970 fission plant design to a 2010 fission plant design.

              Hydro electric dam designs have not gone thru a multi generational series of improvements over the last 40 years.

              Additionally the working life of a dam is far in excess of the working life of a nuke or car. Oyster Creek went online in 1969, the original operating license was for 40 years.

              FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

              by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:28:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I hope so. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karl Rover

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:03:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Any comments on how they hydrogen got there? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, erratic, kurt

    The Union of Concerned Scientists seems to think that if you go even slightly above design pressure on the secondary containment, hydrogen starts to escape:

    But as workers increased the containment pressure they encountered a problem. The pressure stopped increasing and remained constant at 70 psi. The pumps continued to push air into the containment, but its pressure just stopped increasing. This unexpected plateau started a hunt for air leaking from the containment somewhere.

    A hissing sound attracted workers to the top of the containment structure. They identified air leaking through the drywell flange area (see Figure 1). The metal drywell head (see Figure 2) is bolted to the metal drywell with a rubber O-ring between the surfaces to provide a good seal fit.


    Any thoughts on how plausible this scenario is?
    •  According to one of the speakers at the MIT (9+ / 0-)

      conference on Tuesday, the plant operators were venting the hydrogen from the primary containment into the large space of the refuel level.  Here is a link for the video, unfortunately, it was in response to the next to last question and is at about the 1:10 minute mark.  I believe you can jump ahead on the streaming video.

      I suspect that Dave Lochbaum may have made the same assumption that Stan made when I asked him about this last Monday.  At US BWRs the venting path is strictly up the stack.  This would be consistent with what is presented at the link.  But according to the engineer at MIT who was apparently familiar with the actual process at Fukushima, they did not vent out the stack but rather to the refuel floor.  The purpose for this was likely to minimize exposure to the public.

      Also, the part you have blockquoted actually refers to something that happened during an integrated leak rate test at Brunswick, NC.  This is just conjecture on his part and it is not needed because the cause is known.  Also, there is no way that the plant operators would have allowed the drywell pressure to rise anywhere near that high prior to venting.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:44:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Explosion at unit 4 can not be explained that way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman

        All the fuel was in the spent fuel pool. Hydrolytic cladding oxidation generates hydrogen.

        That's clearly another potential source of hydrogen.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:56:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but that is already on the refuel level (4+ / 0-)

          and there is no mystery how the hydrogen got there, it just stayed in the space in which it was generated.   Here is how I put it in the diary ...

          The hydrogen explosion at unit 4 was due to hydrogen produced in the fuel pool itself.  This was only possible due to the water in the fuel pool dropping below the level of the top of the fuel rods.  Also, as can be concluded from the photos of unit 4, the explosion was much less energetic than that at units 1 or 3.

          Your comment does raise a very interesting point I hadn't considered.  It may be possible that the explosion at unit 3 was from a combination of the two sources.  If the fuel pool was leaking already due to the earthquake and uncovered fuel was generating hydrogen then that could have added significantly to the energy of the explosion.  I'm not saying this definitely happened, just that it might be a possibility to consider in putting all of the pieces of this incident together.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:29:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  speculation (0+ / 0-)

        I think your referring to Mike Golay, who, after explaining basically the same pressure release into the torus process as Dave Lochbaum, says (at 01:16:08):

        In order to avoid overpressurizing the containment, what I've been told is that the operators vented the containment and let the hydrogen out of the secondary portion of the containment into the spaces of the reactor building that led to the explosion. That venting can also be done with our reactors, but my understanding is that the ducting takes them outside of the reactor building, and so it's a difference in design and practice.

        Golay's qualifiers (what I've been told, my understanding) indicate that this is secondhand information, possibly the same speculation that we have read here. It doesn't make a lot of sense that Japanese design and practice with Mark 1 reactors is to vent hydrogen into the outer containment building where it can collect and explode. Lochbaum's explanation has the advantage of not assuming the Japanese are stupid, but it does suggest that explosion risk exists with American reactors.

        •  Lochbaum's speculation fails on a few points (5+ / 0-)

          The venting of the primary containment was a step being actively taken to keep the drywell at manageable pressures.  They mentioned starting venting when pressure reached 1.5 times normal.  I presume this would be in the range of 22 psi.  The level that Lochbaum mentions is several times normal pressure.  Also, the situation in Bruswick was a hissing leak through a tiny opening created at this overpressure.  It would take quite a long time for sufficient hydrogen to build up from this kind of leak to produce the kind of explosion that we saw at either plant.  There is no evidence at all to support the idea that they maintained a dangerous level of overpressurization for any period of time, much less the time it would have required to build up this volume of hydrogen.

          I think I have more confidence in Golay's qualifiers than in Lochbaum's conjectures.  Given that the folks at MIT are working in partnership with people at TEPCO I see it as quite likely that they are getting information from those sources.  The qualifiers sound more like he is being explicitly accurate.  He has not seen the plant himself, but is going by what he has been told and the understanding he has of the circumstances on that basis.

          It does make sense that the Japanese government might tell TEPCO that they couldn't vent releases to the environment.  It also makes sense that people at the UCS want to make US citizens believe that Fukushima could easily happen here.  It is part of their agenda.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:14:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  tx (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            worldlotus, kbman, erush1345, BachFan

            Thanks, and great diary. I disagree with some of your conclusions but I appreciate your clarity.

            I had read speculation that TEPCO vented into the outer containment building to avoid bureaucratic hassle over radiation releases, but I doubt that anyone at TEPCO knows precisely who did what and when while responding to a crisis after a tsunami, certainly not anyone who has time to talk to academics in the US. Blaming the bureaucrats is the kind of tactic I would expect to see from people who are not directly involved in the crisis, but who do have time to talk to academics.

            I seriously doubt that it is "design and practice" in Japan, as Golay claims, to vent hydrogen into the outer containment building. I take it from your response that the design at Fukushima is to vent the steam to the environment, which is Lochbaum's claim.

            Lochbaum cites 70 psi as the pressure that lifted the drywell head, if I've got my math right that would be five times normal. The pressure reports were erratic when the crisis started (and possibly downplayed, since TEPCO has admitted it downplayed many reports early on), but we do know that they used fire engine pumps which had trouble overcoming the pressure in the containment vessel. Fire engine pumps generate pressure in the range of 150 psi. That adds a little more evidence to Lochbaum's theory.

            I'm neither mechanical engineer nor nuclear scientist, so again I really appreciate the time you've put into clarifying the situation. While I oppose the expansion of nuclear power I'm not committed to Lochbaum or anyone else's guesses as to what happened. I've just been reading as much as I can and trying to fit various people's theories and predictions to the facts, and so far Lochbaum's have fit the facts best.

            •  My understanding of the problem with the fire (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345, BachFan

              pumps fighting back pressure was that it was while they were trying to inject seawater into the reactor vessel, not the primary containment.  Furthermore, if the primary containment was at 150 psi then that would be twice the pressure at which Lochbaum claimed that Bruswick stopped increasing in pressure due to the "head gasket" leak.  It would also be two and a half times the rated pressure of the containment and suggest that those guys should have stayed at GE because the containment was far stronger than the design specs ...

              Also, it would not have been a noteworthy issue if they had to stop pumping into the primary containment.  It WAS an issue that they had to stop pumping into the reactor because the core was still uncovered.  This was what led them to vent to the primary containment in the first place, the need to relieve pressure so more water could be added.

              I have seen several of your comments here and elsewhere and fully get where you are coming from.  You have been polite and have stayed focused on the issues.  The points you've raised have contributed to the conversation.  I thank you.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:09:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  more evidence from IAEA (0+ / 0-)

            From IAEA's latest update:

            Workers have opened holes in the roofs of both buildings to prevent the possible accumulation of hydrogen, which is suspected of causing explosions at other units.

            Since whatever bureaucratic hassles prevented workers from venting steam to the environment no longer apply, why bother cutting holes? Cooling systems are working on the spent fuel pools in #5 & #6, and the hydrogen wouldn't come from venting into the building because they'll vent into the environment.

            Not conclusive for Lochbaum's theory, but this gives it more support than it gives Golay's theory.

            •  This doesn't add up (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345

              Units 5 and 6 were in cold shutdown already.  If they have cooling systems working in the spent fuel pools then they should also be working in the reactors.  There were also no reports of problems at the reactors and no reports of seawater being pumped in.  The only reason they would have concern for hydrogen from the core would be if the fuel were significantly uncovered for a number of hours.  And if that were the case they would have been pumping seawater to cool them.

              This sounds more like a preventative related to the spent fuel pools.  More information is needed to evaluate this.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:20:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I read confirmation of this on the IAEA site (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                souvarine

                They cut the holes as they were approaching the one week point which is how long they had before getting close to uncovering fuel.  Cutting the holes ahead of time made sense because if they waited until they needed the openings, it would have been unsafe to do the job.  And given their experiences of needing to add water to units 3 and 4 by air, I would bet that the openings they made were above the fuel pool to make that job easier if it became necessary.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 10:55:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Query: Where is the fuel pool in ... (7+ / 0-)

    ...U.S. Mark 1s, or at least at Oyster Creek. Are they at the refuel level? And how vulnerable would they be if the roof were blown off?

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:06:56 PM PDT

    •  Same and same (13+ / 0-)

      This is the Mark I design.  The refueling is done from above the reactor and the pools are in the same relative location.  I cannot say that Oyster Creek would be any safer IF the same conditions existed there.  The thing is, at Oyster Creek or any of the other US Mark I's they would have vented the hydrogen up the offgas stack.  It would not have had the opportunity to blow the roof off of the reactor building.  Instead, the release would go directly to the atmosphere.  Not all that comforting I guess, but at least better than exploding.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:53:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So, a determined terrorist ... (5+ / 0-)

        ...could do what in regard to the spent-fuel pool? (Probably best for both our sakes not to be too specific here. My question is, at its core, are these pools vulnerable to a conceivable terrorist attack?

        Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:10:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In theory I suppose any target is vulnerable (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, LookingUp

          to a truly determined terrorist.  I have a hard time imagining how they could mess with the fuel pool though.  Entering the perimeter of the plant would require an armed assault.  Getting into the reactor building itself would require they blow the heavy steel security doors.  There are also likely individual security doors leading to the refuel level, providing more opportunities to be stopped before they could succeed.  Trying to attack it from outside is going to be fairly ineffectual unless they were to lob multiple mortars to the exact right location.  And remember, even if they blew the roof off at Oyster Creek the situation would not be like at Fukushima because that alone would not affect the cooling operations of the fuel pool.  They would still need to get in a direct hit on the pool to actually wreak havoc.

          Given the costs and risks of such an operation I'd stick to blowing up bridges - far more cost-effective.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:45:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  best terrorist scenario (0+ / 0-)

            Go after the water intakes and shell the switch yard
            to hit grid power to the station and hit the diesel storage yards.

            It turns out damage to the secondary systems will
            cascade into a primary loss  

            you have to whack the water intakes and the diesel tanks
            and condensate water storage and grid power,  but,
            if you were to set up a dozen 81 MM mortars you could do it.

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:31:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  From where? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KenBee, erush1345, LookingUp

              Highway 9?  There is a rather large compound surrounding the plant.  The switchyard and condenser intakes are behind the plant which is backed up to the old Forked River site.  So essentially we're talking miles to your target in a region that is under guard and will not provide you clear sight lines to what you're trying to hit.  Good luck with that plan.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:43:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  you don't want us to talk about this threat? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kbman

            clearly this is an obvious problem, now we have maps and design charts and photos even more easily available, and plenty of talk and activity about it...and haven't we seen where the spent fuel pools are up high in the buildings and basically under a tin roof?

            Haven't the tv's been demonstrating the coverage and attention and disruption and terror this can generate?

            Like I said the other day, even if you lived in a cave you'd know all this by now.

             The location, loading, and vulnerabilty of the spent fuel pools a dangerous flaw given the current state of the world we have to talk about it, and yes we need to diary about it.

            Your input is greatly appreciated on this issue, this diary is very helpful with the examination of it.

            And the observation of this flaw and vulnerability has very huge implications...

            Even an eedjit with a Cessna could and would disrupt ..oh, lets say New York, that's within the 50 mile radius of Indian Point, where would you put all those people? They may not be in danger, but the panic will be hard to stop despite all the talking suits.

            Are you going to go door to door and convince people to shelter in place?

            Not gonna happen.

            And believe me, if a dumbass like me can think of it, demented haters are way down that path.

            Not attacking this vulnerability has been, I wager we'll soon see, a very high level collusion in among the people with responsibility for 'Homeland Securitay'..cause it would, I'm guessing here...costs too much.

             These scenarios are being discussed on talk radio today..we should as well.

            And remember,  an attack is totally successful if it terrorizes and disrupts society...not whether it really works to make the spent fuel burn.

            This is all too obvious.

            Anyway, good diary,  great comments and discussion.

            "Responsible people leave neither loaded guns nor paranoid, eliminationist ideologies laying around for the mentally ill to play with".....Driftglass

            by KenBee on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:53:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lakewood AFB is within eyesight of the top (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345, BachFan, KenBee

              of "Forked River Mountain" (elevation 184 feet) ... if you stand on top of a large vehicle to see over the tree tops :)

              This is probably less than a one minute flight time for the USAF.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:18:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Correction and clarification (0+ / 0-)

                Confused names, it is Lakehurst Naval Air Station - the same place where the Hindenburg exploded.  This is just west of the town of Lakewood and about ten miles north of the plant.  The nearby Air Force base there is McGuire AFB which is adjacent to Fort Dix.  It is twenty miles northwest of the plant.  You can see the lights from each of these locations from the top of FRM and standing on a Bronco's roof.

                Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

                by kbman on Sun Mar 20, 2011 at 11:10:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Much easier to attack Wal-Mart with an AK47 (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              erush1345, kbman

              This falls into the wild speculation category. As Prof. John Mueller pointed out way back in 2006, Al Qaeda simply lacked the capacity to do much of anything in America any more due to the rapid decline of its operational capability in the aftermath of 9/11 and the U.S. attack on Afghanistan.

              They now lack the ability to go after your local mall with two guys and a pair of AK-47s, let alone take on a nuclear power plant with a military assault.

              •  al qaeda may but Al-Cracker (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KenBee

                is still out there reading the turner Diaries.

                George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

                by nathguy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:28:30 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  IRS attacked by a nut in a Cessna: about 2000lbs. (0+ / 0-)

                  bigger faster planes, loaded with whatever, explosive, poisonous, corrosive, whatever...OK City bombing..those people still out there.

                  this is obvious that the choices are bad and the results are expensive either way , probablility made greater by the wall to wall coverage and diagrams, photos, etc....also increased probability of commercial fearmongering for just such taxpayer funded 'solutions' while schools get shorted, social support gets cut...that kills many people too.

                  Al Q and Al Cracka both winning.

                   

                  "Responsible people leave neither loaded guns nor paranoid, eliminationist ideologies laying around for the mentally ill to play with".....Driftglass

                  by KenBee on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 10:33:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  UCS has listed these pools as vulnerabilities (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, ozsea1, KenBee, BachFan, LookingUp

      I suspect that's one reason Progress Electric transferred spent fuel from the Brunswick to the Shearon Harris pools in NC.

      Presumably, the NRC knows these pools are more vulnerable than ground level or below pools.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:41:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, this was one of the less reassuring points (6+ / 0-)

        raised by my friend.  Essentially he said that if there's a leak in the fuel pool, keep pumping water, and if there's a hole in the fuel pool throw a mattress in and keep pumping water.  I doubt that he meant that literally, but the idea is the same.  Plug it up as best you can to minimize the rate of water loss and keep pumping to keep the fuel covered.  It is also why getting fuel transferred to dry cask storage as soon as it is cool enough to do so is a priority.  I'm guessing we'll see a bit of activity in this regard over the coming months as similar plants review their spent fuel inventory and work to get as much out of the pools as possible.

        Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

        by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:36:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  yes, great diary - this is the best description (10+ / 0-)

    I've read so far of what the factors are, and where the problems are - I really appreciate your work to put together such a good summary.

  •  Recommissioning? (5+ / 0-)

    I assume that the use of boric acid and sea water for coolant (not to even mention the partial meltdowns) has permanently disabled these reactors, and that reactor #4 will probably be offline permanently as well.  

    Could you give me a reality check on this?  Are those four reactors gone for good now?

    And what is the (in technical sense, not political) prognosis for reviving the reactors at the Fukushima #2 plant?

    My point here is that it looks as if Japan has lost a sizeable part of its electrical generating capacity for good.  

    Thanks for the review and information.  

    How many wrongs does it take to make a right?

    by pdknz on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:14:41 PM PDT

    •  Yes 1-4 are definitely decommissioned (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erratic, erush1345, Drama Queen, kbman, BachFan

      if sea water was also pumped into 5,6 I suspect they are also done for good.

      we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

      by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:25:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  after the damage here? (0+ / 0-)

        no way they bring rac 5 or 6 back on line.

        Far too much radiation around to be able to work safely.

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:32:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not necessarily so (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345, BachFan, yuriwho, raoul78

          Time, distance, and shielding ... these are the factors for considering when trying to minimize radiation exposure.  If there are hot spots around the site they can be surrounded with lead plates, filled with concrete, whatever shielding methods are appropriate to the location.  Also, the amount of radiation will drop on its own due to natural decay.  The distance part of the equation is significant as radiation intensity falls by the square of the distance from the source.  So a hotspot that measures 1 milliSievert at 10 feet away will measure 250 microSieverts at 20 feet, 15 microSieverts at 80 feet.  The buildings in which they work will also provide shielding from sources near the other reactors, and by minimizing time spent unshielded or in close proximity to the  known hotspots, workers can wisely manage their personal exposure.

          Once this situation is resolved they may or may not be able to continue to operate there.  It is too early to say.  If the fuel pools' situation is resolved without serious contamination of the site then restarting 5 and 6 may not be a problem from the radiation standpoint.  Politically it may be another story.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:25:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  BTW - remember that part about distance? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          erush1345

          Photobucket

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:20:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  enjoy the academic discussion (0+ / 0-)

            perhaps you would be willing to prove your
            belief in it by working to clean up reactor 5

            George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

            by nathguy on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:21:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If they would take me I'd do it (0+ / 0-)

              I've worked around nuclear power in the past and have received occupational exposure, not significant amounts, but it's not something that I fear.  Sure, I'd be willing to go over there and burn through my quarterly limit in an hour.  The thing is, they need people who already are trained in the kinds of jobs that need to be done.  The whole idea in high radiation areas is get in quickly, get stuff done as efficiently as possible and get back out as soon as possible.  Having people fully trained on what they're going to do when they get in the environment is key to minimizing overall human exposure.

              I invite you to consider using a less confrontational approach and instead discuss the facts of this situation.  Challenging me as to whether I'd be willing to work there is not a productive used of time or bandwidth.

              Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

              by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 06:22:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Boron 10, not boric acid (0+ / 0-)

      Boric acid kills roaches.

      http://education.jlab.org/...

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:35:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No question that 1-3 are done (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OtherDoug, worldlotus, KenBee, BachFan

      TEPCO said goodbye to them when they started pumping seawater.  Unit 4 also looks to be beyond hope due to the fuel pool and reactor building damage.  I'm not sure about units 5 and 6 because they were already in cold shutdown and did not require near the cooling as units 1-3.  At the same time, given the state of the site it may be a long time before any power could be generated from 5 or 6 even if they escaped the seawater fate.

      From what I have read about Fukushima Daini there should be no technical issue to prevent restart.

      Link

      All the reactors have remained safe, but damage to the emergency core cooling systems of units 1, 2 and 4 led to the announcement of emergency status. Those reactors used their a secondary system, the make up water condensate system, and this was used to maintain coolant levels above the reactor core. An additional emergency notice came from unit 1 concerning the temperature of a suppression chamber, which reached 100ºC after some time.

      From this article it sounds like they never needed the drastic cooling measures which were taken at Fukushima Daichi.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:48:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this clearly written article. (9+ / 0-)

    As a lay person I found it understandable and informative.

    Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

    by princesspat on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:29:57 PM PDT

  •  Damage assesment from atmosperic samples? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erratic, worldlotus, kbman

    Yesterday I heard that a US Air Force plane flew over the plant with "sophisticated" sensors. How much can they tell about the damage from such data?

    Also, you did not mention too much about the damaged torus in Unit 2. Is that capable of being a major leak or can they control any leaking with valves around the damaged portion?

    •  That data has not been released to the public (5+ / 0-)

      as per the agreement with the japanese gov that allowed the US to do those flights. However this analysis is publicly available from private data collected by the CTBTO

      http://www.zamg.ac.at/...

      we are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place <- Me

      by yuriwho on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:48:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  From what was reported by TEPCO (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      erush1345

      There was a hydrogen explosion in the suppression pool room.  This would seem to mean within the steel reinforced concrete walls that surrounds the torus.  If you look at the diagram above you'll note that this is part of the secondary containment.  I've tried to get more complete information on this aspect of things for days now, trying to get a sense of where the damage happened.  This has been one of the bigger mysteries.  Where exactly did the explosion happen?  What damage was done?  Is the entire primary containment at unit 2 intact or just the drywell?

      The answers to these questions could also help explain why their priority for hooking up electrical power was to unit 2.  If they have popped the torus then they can't vent steam in that manner without having immediate release into the secondary containment ... not a good thing.  This would make it a priority to get operational control back at unit 2 ASAP so they could cool the core without having to vent steam again.  OTOH, if they just damaged the concrete wall(s) surrounding the torus that is relatively minor.  

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:57:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Informative and authoritative (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, yuriwho, worldlotus, kbman, BachFan

    I'm really glad you published this. It serves well to balance the hysteria elsewhere on DKos, other sites and the MSM. While the situation is clearly serious, nuclear should not automatically equate to doomsday scenario. Its probably wishful thinking that the news outlets might spend time covering the real humanitarian disaster unfolding instead of shouting that the sky is falling.

  •  thanks for putting so many pieces together (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, yuriwho, worldlotus, kbman, BachFan


    for the first time since this happened I am starting to believe Japan may survive this without a Chernobyl-type event... and the world - and Kossacks - may have gotten an emergency education in such arcana as spent fuel pools, MOX fuel, Mark I GE nuclear reactors, and secondary containment!

    What seemed to be biggest missing link in the entire scenario was why the spent fuel ponds, which were designed to continue to function without cooling for days without running low on water and could just sit there and boil without risk to the fuel, were running low on water - and the earthquake is of course the sensible answer.  That was one hell of an earthquake.  Sounds like notes for refitting plants in earthquake zones would be to harden the fuel pools much more so that they can withstand more severe shaking.  thanks a lot kbman!

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:38:58 PM PDT

    •  without cooling for 145 hours (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, BachFan

      According to NUREG-1738 page 2-1 spent fuel pools would be dangerously low on coolant within 145 hours without circulation. The fire at #4 started March 15th, about 120 hours in. Leak? More spent fuel in #4?

    •  I figured it was like a swimming pool in a quake (0+ / 0-)

      ... i.e., the water sloshed back & forth so violently that the pool was a lot emptier by the end of the quake.  (I know for example that this definitely happened during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California.)  And, of course, the quake might also have cracked the pool liner and/or the concrete supporting that liner.

      "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

      by BachFan on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:45:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another data point in a sea of 'em (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    Looks like there's a fear that the spent fuel in reactor #4 has re-achieved criticality.

    http://english.kyodonews.jp/...

    FWIW.

  •  Ever try to fill a bowl with water from a hose? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    Most of it splashes out.  

    I am glad you are not alarmed.  I will try to rub some of that "not alarmed" off on me.

    •  Again, you don't need to get it in the pool (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sneakers563

      directly.  Getting it onto the refuel floor is enough for it to be able to drain into the recessed pool.  Plus, in this case the "bowl" is more like a well, quite deep.  I doubt much water that makes it in splashes out.

      Reading updates about the possibility of renewed criticality is quite concerning.  Not alarming, but concerning.

      Here is what moderates my alarm here, (pun intended), the water they've added to this point has contained significant amounts of neutron absorbing elements, just apparently not enough.  At the point where criticality begins, it is just at the threshold of reacting, more neutrons are being born than are being eaten by the absorbers.  Meanwhile, as the water heats and boils, the decreasing density of the water due to the bubbles makes it a less efficient moderator therefore putting a natural damper on the amount of power being generated by the reaction.  This is still not a good situation if true.

      This is one of the problems I see with a multi-unit site such as this, too many directions to have to divide attention and resources.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:23:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lots of reasons multi-unit sites are problematic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sneakers563, erush1345, kbman

        At some point you run into a scenario as was the case here where a critical failure potentially affects the whole site. In this case, density of equipment on the site appears to have compounded problems, as evidenced by the collateral damage to unit 2 containment from the unit 3 explosion you pointed out. Clearly even a small buffer was helpful in mitigating damage to units 5 & 6, and the emissions from the damaged storage pools should pose less of an issue for access to those units than those closely adjacent.

        The NIMBY syndrome forces operators to build at high density, and that needs to be addressed in the process of replacing the aging plant inventory in this country. Populations have grown up around existing sites, and have grown most dramatically near waterways and shorelines. Not being familiar with the siting requirements for the newer designs, where does access to water factor in? Are they more flexible in that regard?

        •  Very favorably (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          technomage, yuriwho

          There are a number of new designs which do not used water for any operational purpose.  These include the fast metal breeders such as the lead-bismuth reactor I mentioned elsewhere, and the molten salt reactors.  These reactors do not use water as a moderator for the reaction, do not use water to make steam to drive the turbines, and do not use water to cool the turbine outlet for return in the power cycle.  Instead, they operate at a higher temperature which allows the use of a non-reactive gas such as nitrogen as the fluid which drives the turbines.  Because of the high temperature of operation and the low heat capacity of the gases, cooling by ambient air is sufficient.

          Also, the high temperature of operations make these reactors good candidates for dual-purpose plants as they could also be used for desalinization of seawater.  With freshwater supplies being fouled by hydrofracking and other forms of pollution, this could be an important function for these plants.

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 02:52:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's an interesting idea (0+ / 0-)

            But a consequence of all the events of the last week is likely to be considerable resistance to locating plants anywhere near the ocean, as there are very few unpopulated areas left along the coastlines in the US. Climate change and depletion of fossil groundwater is going to render large swaths of the Midwest unusable for agriculture in the coming years. It's already happened in western KS/eastern CO and populations of those areas has plummeted. That's where there is room for this, provided the technology isn't reliant on water.

  •  From Kyodo News @ "Sat. morning" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, erush1345, BachFan

    I have it being 2:50 pm JST Saturday; 10:10 pm PDT Friday night as I copy-and-paste this:

    Status of Fukushima nuclear power plants Sat. morning
    TOKYO, March 19, Kyodo

    The following is the known status as of Saturday morning of each of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima Daini plant, both in Fukushima Prefecture, which were crippled by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11.

    Fukushima Daiichi plant

    -- Reactor No. 1 (Operation suspended after quake)

    Partial melting of core, cooling failure, vapor vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by hydrogen explosion, roof blown off, seawater being pumped in.

    -- Reactor No. 2 (Operation suspended after quake)

    Damage to reactor containment structure feared, cooling failure, seawater being pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapor vented, building housing containment of reactor damaged by blast at adjacent reactor No. 3, blast sound heard near suppression chamber of containment vessel.

    -- Reactor No. 3 (Operation suspended after quake)

    Partial melting of core feared, cooling failure, vapor vented, seawater being pumped in, building housing containment of reactor badly damaged by hydrogen explosion, seawater dumped over spent-fuel storage pool by helicopter Thursday, water sprayed at it from ground three days in a row through Saturday.

    -- Reactor No. 4 (Under maintenance when quake struck)

    Renewed nuclear chain reaction feared at spent-fuel storage pool, fire at building housing containment of reactor Tuesday and Wednesday, only frame remains of reactor building roof, temperature in the pool reached 84 C on Monday.

    -- Reactor No. 5 (Under maintenance when quake struck)

    Cooling resumed Saturday in spent-fuel storage pools.

    -- Reactor No. 6 (Under maintenance when quake struck)

    Emergency power generator restored Saturday, some fuel rods left in reactor cores.

    Fukushima Daini plant

    -- Reactors No. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Operation suspended after quake)

    Cold shutdown, not emergency status anymore.

    ==Kyodo

    - bp

    "I don't care who your goddam emperor is: his clothes still suck"

    by b00g13p0p on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:51:32 PM PDT

  •  List of U.S. BWR's of same design (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    b00g13p0p, KenBee, kbman, BachFan

    Here's a list from MSNBC of those 23 plants in the U.S. that have the same Mark I containment design:

       

    • Browns Ferry 1, Athens, Alabama, operating license since 1973, reactor type GE 4.

           • Browns Ferry 2, Athens, Alabama, 1974, GE 4.

           • Browns Ferry 3, Athens, Alabama, 1976, GE 4.

           • Brunswick 1, Southport, North Carolina, 1976, GE 4.

           • Brunswick 2, Southport, North Carolina, 1974, GE 4.

           • Cooper, Brownville, Nebraska, 1974, GE 4.

           • Dresden 2, Morris, Illinois, 1970, GE 3.

           • Dresden 3, Morris, Illinois, 1971, GE 3.

           • Duane Arnold, Palo, Iowa, 1974, GE 4.

           • Fermi 2, Monroe, Michigan, 1985, GE 4.

           • FitzPatrick, Scriba, New York, 1974, GE 4.

           • Hatch 1, Baxley, Georgia, 1974, GE 4.

           • Hatch 2, Baxley, Georgia, 1978, GE 4.

           • Hope Creek, Hancock's Bridge, New Jersey, 1986, GE 4.

           • Monticello, Monticello, Minnesota, 1970, GE 3.

           • Nine Mile Point 1, Scriba, New York, 1969, GE 2.

           • Oyster Creek, Forked River, New Jersey, 1969, GE 2.

           • Peach Bottom 2, Delta, Pennsylvania, 1973, GE 4.

           • Peach Bottom 3, Delta, Pennsylvania, 1974,  GE 4.

           • Pilgrim, Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1972, GE 3.

           • Quad Cities 1, Cordova, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

           • Quad Cities 2, Moline, Illinois, 1972, GE 3.

           • Vermont Yankee, Vernon, Vermont, 1972, GE 4.

    And these 12 newer GE boiling-water reactors have a Mark II or Mark III design:  

        • Clinton, Clinton, Illinois, 1987, GE 6, Mark III.

           • Columbia Generating Station, Richland, Washington, 1984, GE 5, Mark II.

           • Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Mississippi, 1984, GE 6, Mark III.

           • LaSalle 1, Marseilles, Illinois, 1982, GE 5, Mark II.

           • LaSalle 2, Marseilles, Illinois, 1983, GE 5, Mark II.

           • Limerick 1, Limerick, Pennsylvania, 1985, GE 4, Mark II.

           • Limerick 2, Limerick, Pennsylvania, 1989, GE 4, Mark II.

           • Nine Mile Point 2, Scriba, New York, 1987, GE 5, Mark II.

           • Perry, Perry, Ohio, 1986, GE 6, Mark III.

           • River Bend, St. Francisville, Louisiana, 1985, GE 6, Mark III.

           • Susquehanna 1, Salem Township, Pennsylvania, 1982, GE 4, Mark II.

           • Susquehanna 2, Salem Township, Pennsylvania, 1984, GE 4, Mark II.

  •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    Very informative.  Maybe it is time to take the profit motive out of nuclear power?  Seems to me the un-safe part of this process is cutting corners.

    Fools are the teachers of the wise. It is foolish to disrespect one's teachers. - Old Man

    by A Voice on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 05:04:17 AM PDT

  •  Excellent background, but everybody seems to (0+ / 0-)

    tippy-toe around the relative quantities of plutonium (~1% Pu, and ~2% other very toxic byproducts ) by mass in the spent fuel storage pools (either within the reactor buildings or nearby on site), versus that actually active in the reactor vessels.

    This spent fuel is stored for many years (perhaps even since the reactors first came on line forty years ago) on site, a very significant cumulative quantity of those most toxic materials, even as merely 1-3% of that total mass stored (even allowing that a still smaller quantity of mass is actually that of the most toxic isotopes/forms).

    Factoring this in, the recent use of MOX fuel (~7% Pu), held in relatively small quantity in one reactor is not that significant in comparison to all the other mass of Pu et al distributed around the six reactor sites.

    Has any information about the total mass and spatial distribution of spent fuel vs. active fuel, and that of the most toxic byproduct materials on these sites been released?

    I think this might be one of the most important parameters to know. Given the still critical condition of most of the plant, and the (slight) chance that there could yet be another major quake/tsunami event here (and/or elsewhere).

    However, that only began recently and there should not yet be spent fuel in the pool containing MOX.  There is plutonium in the pool as a result of it being a fission product.  But there is not as much as would be the case with MOX fuel.

    "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Es ist nicht mehr Angelegenheit.

    by Bluefin on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 06:15:37 AM PDT

  •  More Kyodo News update (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    (I wish to hell they'd time-stamp their articles. I'm basing "newness" on the order in which articles appear at http://english.kyodonews.jp/...).

    Anyway, excerpts from:

    Tainted foodstuffs but also some good signs found in Japan nuke crisis

    at 10:59 pm JST Saturday; 6:59 am PDT Saturday.

    ...Edano said, however, that conditions at the plant's most dangerous No. 3 reactor unit have likely become relatively stable after firefighters threw some 60 tons of water at a boiling spent fuel pool there shortly after midnight from outside the damaged building housing it.

    Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa separately said the surface temperatures at the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors were found in the morning at 100 C or lower by a Self-Defense Force helicopter, adding their conditions remain more stable than expected.

    "Surface temperatures"? of the outer building shells?

    Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., meanwhile, managed to connect power cables to the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings, paving the way for checks of their equipment as early as Sunday to see if they can work.

    Restoring a stable source of electricity to reactivate lost cooling systems is a key step to prevent further deterioration of the situation, particularly as the No. 2 reactor has suffered a rupture at its containment vessel's pressure-suppression chamber at the bottom.

    Is this the first explicit admission of damage to the torus? Is this the torus?

    After massive smoke was detected from the No. 3 reactor building on Wednesday, the Self-Defense Forces, firefighters and others have been engaged in an unprecedented mission to spray tons of water in an attempt to fill its pool with water, which is vital to prevent a release of radioactive substances.

    A rise in water temperature, usually to 40 C, causes the water level to fall, thus exposing the spent nuclear fuel rods, which could then heat up further, melt and discharge highly radioactive materials in a worst-case scenario, experts say.

    The SDF is now preparing to spray water into the No. 4 reactor to help cool its spent fuel poolas well, Edano said.

    At the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, it has become possible to cool spent fuel by circulating water in the storage pools, as one of emergency generators was restored early Saturday, leading the temperature to fall to 67.6 C from 68.8 C in four hours, said Tokyo Electric, or TEPCO.

    mmm.. 1.2 degrees in four hours?

    Japan raised the severity level of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors to 5 on an international scale Friday, the same level as the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979, and the worst in the country where a 1999 criticality accident was given level 3.

    The three reactors were the only ones operating among the plant's six reactors at the time of the magnitude 9.0 quake, and halted automatically, but their cores are believed to have partially melted as they lost cooling function after the quake and tsunami.

    So the severity level can be raised on specific reactors, but not the site? Isn't this just bureaucratic pretty-printing?

    According to TEPCO, the maximum earthquake intensity measured at the No. 3 reactor building was 507 gals, smaller than 600 gals the nuclear plant is required to withstand, on a provisional basis. But the ensuing tsunami is believed to have damaged the cooling functions.

    The No. 4 to No. 6 reactors were under maintenance at the time of the quake but their cooling functions also suffered, affecting their spent fuel pools.

    The buildings housing the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors have since been severely damaged by apparent hydrogen blasts, leaving fuel pools there no longer covered by roofs.

    By which I would think they mean the external building shells.

    - bp

    "I don't care who your goddam emperor is: his clothes still suck"

    by b00g13p0p on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:00:02 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the updates, appreciated (0+ / 0-)

      I will try to address all of the items here, I apologize if I leave something out.

      The temperature was likely the temperature of the reactor vessel as determined via thermal imaging by the helicopter.  This would be closing in on the range they need to achieve for longer term stability.

      Wiki

      A reactor is in cold shutdown when, in addition, its coolant system is at atmospheric pressure and at a temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 95 degrees Celsius).[1] This temperature is low enough that the water cooling the fuel in a light water reactor does not boil even when the reactor coolant system is de-pressurized.

      Yes, it does sound like they are now confirming damage to the torus.  This may or may not be a case of finally admitting.  It may also be a case of finally having enough data to fully determine the extent of damage.  This is in line with another comment I made about the apparent priority to get power to unit 2.  If they can't use the torus for steam suppression it limits their ability to continue removing heat in the manner they have been using.

      The news on the fuel pools is more encouraging than when I went to bed this morning.  There do not to be current concerns about criticality and it appears they are having success getting water into the fuel pools.  Whatever they're doing they need to keep doing for a while.  Getting the fuel covered to a depth of several feet is necessary to shield the radiation coming from the fuel and enable closer inspection of the physical condition of the pools.  This will also be necessary to allow whatever remedial operations they choose, be it concrete entombment or trying to plug the leaks with some combination of material/chemical science.

      It is very good news regarding the fuel pools at 5 & 6.  The fact that they just now got circulation back would explain why they opened the roof at those buildings for hydrogen release.  It has been a week now since the quake which is the outer limit of time an intact fuel pool can bubble before becoming a problem.  They were reaching that limit soon.  Better to prepare for the possibility than to have another explosion.  They likely also opened the roof strategically to allow more accurate water dumps if they were needed.

      The temperature dropping 1.2 C in four hours is excellent.  This is an enormous volume of water which means it has an enormous heat capacity.  Meanwhile, the fuel constantly adds decay heat as well.  This temperature drop means that they have stopped losing ground and are actually making headway in getting these two pools back to normal conditions.

      Regarding the severity levels per plant, I read last night that TEPCO has nine independent severity reports which cover the sites at Daiichi and Daini as well as the individual plants that experienced unusual conditions - which were most of them.

      Yes, you are correct that it is the building shells, not the reactors, and that the fuel pools are open to the environment everywhere except, I believe, unit 2.

      I know you and I have disagreed in various comments here but I appreciate your willingness to stick with facts and stay in the conversation without undue rancor.  This situation sucks, no two ways about it.  But as long as we can rationally discuss the developments and work with facts it benefits us all.  Thanks again for the updates.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:33:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And in other news... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    ...there was a 6.1 magnitude earthquake, onshore, not offshore, about 51 miles from the Fukushima I/II complexes, just 33 miles northeast of Utsonomiya at 2:56 am PDT. Depth of 15.5 miles per USGS.

    - bp

    "I don't care who your goddam emperor is: his clothes still suck"

    by b00g13p0p on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 07:18:31 AM PDT

    •  There is so much the people there have suffered (0+ / 0-)

      already, and it just seems like it keeps coming at them.  This is part of why I am so pissed at the Republicans in the House for their selfishness and lack of compassion for fellow human beings who have endured so much.  They fail to recognize that, there but by the grace of God goes Eric Cantor.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 03:38:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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