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For those who missed my previous diaries on this topic, I have a background in physics and worked at Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station providing computer support for the reactor core engineering group.  For the entire qualifications spiel and/or some background on Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) containment structures, see

Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

That diary also contained a review of the then current status of each of the reactors at Fukushima.  This review covered each of the levels of containment discussed in the diary plus the spent fuel pool.  If this sounds somewhat foreign to you then you may wish to read the above diary for context.  This diary is intended as an update reflecting what is known through Saturday evening around 8PM PDT.  Anyone wishing to trace the evolution can look back through the previous update diaries here, here, here, here and here.

In continuing diaries on this topic I will update this information based on information from a number of sources including the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, JAIF, and media reports which quote directly from organizations such as Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.  My intention here is to tie together the various strands of information to provide an overall picture of things and explain it in a way that is accessible to those without scientific training.

This diary and others like it are not intended as a substitute for the ongoing liveblog diaries, but rather, to pull all of the info together in summary form.

I have also written previously on the topic of meltdowns in the diary

What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

In addition, from time to time I consult with a former colleague Stan who was a reactor core engineer and Site Technical Adviser at Oyster Creek.  (BTW, the Oyster Creek experience is directly applicable in the sense that it is the same design plant as those at Fukushima 1-5, at 618 MWe it was more powerful than unit 1's 460 MWe but less than 2-5 which are all 784 MWe.)

I also make every effort to be clear when I'm writing about known fact versus theory, interpretation, and speculation.  In those cases in which I speculate on possible causes of current conditions or what future events might be I provide the supporting evidence which causes me to arrive at these conclusions.  I'm also not attached to being right.  If you have a perspective that I have not considered please mention it in the comments and we can discuss the relative merits of how we see things.  I have very few things that I believe beyond doubt, and even those I have my doubts about :)  Seriously.  What's so trumps theory, belief, interpretation, speculation, etc.  When presented with reliable evidence that contradicts what I have held to be so, I change my beliefs.

New Developments

Freshwater is now being pumped into all three reactors.  There are plans to switch to the use of fresh water for the fuel pools as well.  Also, TEPCO is in the process of removing the highly radioactive water from the basement of the turbine building of unit 1 to allow access for electrical runs.  This will allow them to use electrical pumps instead of the fire pumps they have been using.  Also, work has been suspended at unit 2 due to exceptionally high radiation levels in the water in the turbine building.

There have also been reports of significant radioactivity in the ocean near the plants.  This has also included the kinds of isotopes which indicate that their source was the reactor and not merely wash down of contaminants from the plant or fuel pool.  This is because they have elements that are only produced while the reactor is reacting and which also have very short half-lives.  (It takes about 6 1/2 half lives to decay down to 1% of the original amount.)  I believe I have a possible mechanism for how the water got to both the turbine building and also the ocean.  This is obviously theory and speculation and there are some physical details of which I'm not completely clear.  I'm not saying this is how it is happening, merely that it appears to be a possible mechanism.  If you are not interested in reading my speculation on this please jump ahead to the status update section.

So how DID Reactor Vessel water get into the Pacific Ocean?

During normal operations steam flows out the top of the reactor in the main steam line which feeds the turbines.  There are several devices involved and a number of turbine stages which use as much of the energy in the steam as it is practical to extract.  The "dead" steam then passes through a condensing unit and heat exchange process to remove enough heat that it becomes water again.  This is done by feeding the steam/condensate through a huge number of small tubes which are surrounded on their outside by cooling water drawn from the ocean.  The ocean water absorbs the heat and carries it away and the condensate - water - is then pumped by the feedwater pumps back into the reactor.

When the plant(s) shutdown during the earthquake, their main steam line isolation valves would have shut immediately.  (This theory applies to varying degrees to each plant.)  The flow of water through the core would have switched to another cooling system which uses a heat exchanger to cool the reactor water.  This and other similar systems were the ones which could not be used after the power failed.

As I've mentioned a number of times in diaries and comments, the most immediate threat I see from corrosion is on valves and seals.  And in this case I believe it is backward flow through the feedwater line that is transporting reactor water to the turbine building and also to the ocean.  The feedwater enters the reactor well above the level of the fuel rods.  As such, that pathway has been constantly exposed to the reactor pressure and the steam that is present above the water line.  This exerts backpressure on the feedwater line towards the pumps and heat exchanger.  There may or may not be a cutoff valve on this line as well.  If there was enough existing corrosion in the pump seals and cutoff valve to allow a little bit of flow, or if the cutoff valve did not properly close, it would allow backflow towards the heat exchanger.

[Update]  Here is a diagram provided by FOYI in the comments.  The blue path going backwards from the reactor and then mixing with the gray-blue coolant, (ocean) water is the process I'm describing here.

Photobucket

Now here is one of those dirty little secrets that may come into play in this circumstance.  It is almost a certainty that some number of heat exchanger tubes have leaks.  This is almost inevitable over time in an operating plant, nuclear or otherwise, especially one which uses saltwater as the cooling medium.  It would not be noted under normal operating conditions because the radioactivity of the water would not be that great.  Remember when they said that the water the workers stepped in was 10,000 times the radioactivity of normal coolant?  That high level of contamination is because of all the fuel that was busted open when the water level was lost in the first hours of this emergency.  Some of it melted into clumps and fell to the bottom of the reactor vessel, other bits just came out of their cladding and the ceramic pellets disintegrated in the heat.  The clumps are contained fairly well.  It is the pellets that broke up that are coming out in the water.  The water at unit 2 is much hotter than at unit 3 which may be the result of the unit 3 reactor water being diluted with less radioactive fuel pool water.

They have gotten the operations of these reactors to the point where there is not much radioactivity at all in the coolant/steam/condensate during normal mode operations.  It is because of this that they could get away with many leaks in their heat exchanger.  There would be no appreciable radiation detected in the water, no regulatory flags would be waved, and they could go on operating longer without going through the costly process of repairing corroded heat exchanger tubes.  My belief is that the constant steam pressure on the feedwater inlet line caused enough backpressure to generate flow out the bad heat exchanger tubes and directly to the ocean.  At first this would have just meant emptying the relatively low radioactivity water that had stalled there when the reactor was shut down.  But as more and more volume drained down the piping acted as a condensing surface causing the exceptionally radioactive steam to become water and mix with the remaining stalled water.

And after days of blowing this stuff out to the ocean, there may have finally been enough corrosion on one of the local components in the turbine building to cause it to leak into the basement.  Or that water may be coming through an entirely different pathway.  Anyway, those are my thoughts on how this is happening.  I welcome your take on things.

I just read another theory being advanced regarding the possibility that the ruptured torus at unit 2 could be the source of the much higher levels of radiation in that water.  I discount this because of how long ago it was that they popped the torus.  The very short-lived isotopes would be much lower already in that water.

Current Status of Reactors and Containment Systems at units 1 - 6

Unit 1

The fuel pellets and fuel rods in the reactor have almost certainly experienced melting due to high temperatures resulting from the fuel being uncovered.  (I only say almost certainly because we cannot look into the reactor at this point to verify.  The same is true for units 2 and 3.) And as mentioned above, some fuel that did not melt has been released from its cladding and has broken up in the reactor water.  They have begun injecting fresh water into the core to avoid adding even more salt.

While the reactor vessel itself appears to remain intact, there has been a loss of integrity in associated piping, valves and seals.  among other things, this has allowed highly radioactive water to escape the reactor vessel and collect in the turbine building.  There may also be other locations with this highly radioactive water and as such, site surveys for radiological conditions will be critical for worker safety.  Also as noted above, there is evidence that reactor water is getting to the ocean.  Temperature is still elevated at unit 1, 144 C, but continues to decrease slowly.

The primary containment structure appears to be intact.  It was well shielded from the hydrogen blast and has not had any other reported troubles.  There has been steam at unit 1 the past few days and it appears to be the result of venting as opposed to a problem with containment.

The secondary containment also appears to be intact.   (For those who question this evaluation in the aftermath of the hydrogen explosion there I refer you to my diary on containment structures linked in the intro.  It has a discussion of my analysis of the explosion and why I don't believe either unit 1 or unit 3's secondary containment to be badly damaged.)

There also have been no reported problems with the fuel pool at unit 1 despite the explosion.  According to the JAIF site, they are now considering adding water to this pool.  There was no mention of how they intended to reach the pool under the collapsed roof of the reactor building.  There were reports the other day of plans to use army tanks to help remove debris from the tops of units 1, 3, and 4 to make the fuel pools more accessible.  They may also be able to use the same plant piping systems in use at units 2 and 4.  As mentioned recently, the heat load in this pool is significantly lower than any of the others as there are fewer than 300 spent fuel assemblies in pool 1.  For comparison's sake there are over 1,300 in pool 4.

Unit 2

The fuel containment has been compromised as is made clear by the hydrogen explosion in the torus.  Hydrogen would not have been present if fuel caldding had not oxidized.  It is also almost certain that there has been fuel melting due to the time that the upper parts of the fuel rods were uncovered.

As with unit 1, while the reactor vessel itself appears to remain intact, there has been a loss of integrity in associated piping, valves and seals.  This has allowed highly radioactive water to escape the reactor vessel and collect in the turbine building and also reach the ocean.  The temperature at the bottom head of the reactor is 100 C.

The primary containment may have damage in the form of trouble with the torus.  If so, this is a serious issue because it means that when they need to release steam from the reactor to reduce pressure, they no longer can use the large volume of water in the suppression pool to cool the steam. Various reports have dialed back the claims of damage to the primary containment.  This is both from JAIF and the NRC.  They now say that it may be damaged or that damage is suspected.  Given their apparent priority to get unit 2 power back it seems likely that there is still a problem there with the torus.  And if they can isolate the torus from the drywell then they have a sealed containment.  They just lack the cooling ability of the suppression pool, an ability that may have lost most of its efficiency already due to heating of the water.

They also were able to restore power to unit 2 on Sunday and discovered that a pair of key pumps were not working.  Replacements have been ordered but may be a week or more.  (I wonder whether there are identical pumps at unit 4 that could be used ...  The plants are the same design and power rating.)

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.  This, combined with the damage to the torus creates a situation where, when they need to vent, the steam is not cooled by the torus meaning that the pressure and temperature rise considerably in the drywell leading to a greater need for venting which now goes directly to the environment.  And while the JAIF site lists this as slightly damaged as opposed to severely damaged for units 1 and 3, I believe the damage to the building at unit 2 has greater consequences because it is the secondary containment that is open.  That does not appear to be the case with units 1 and 3.

There have been no reports of fuel pool issues at unit 2.  They began using the new power line on Sunday and pumped thousands of gallons of water into the fuel pool at unit 2.  They have been able to get the temperature there down to 47 C.  Their normal operating temperature is 20-25 C.

Unit 3

Clearly the fuel integrity has been compromised at unit 3 and there has almost certainly been fuel melting there as well.  The same conditions apply here as in units 1 & 2 with a bit of a twist.  There are 32 bundles of MOX fuel in the core of unit 3.  This adds a greater amount of plutonium to the reactor inventory.  Fortunately plutonium, like uranium, is quite dense and tends to be tough to transport for this reason.

And as with 1 & 2, while the reactor vessel itself appears to remain intact, there has been a loss of integrity in associated piping, valves and seals.  This has allowed highly radioactive water to escape the reactor vessel and collect in the turbine building and also reach the ocean.  Claims of a crack in the reactor vessel appear to have been nothing more than a rumor perpetrated by the New York Times.  The temperature at the bottom head of the reactor is 102 C.

The status of the primary containment has been reported as compromised, and as not compromised.  It apparently began holding pressure again in the past two days after failing to do so in the immediate aftermath of the hydrogen explosion.  I believe I may have an explanation for what has happened.  If you refer to the BWR diagram below you will see the drywell dome plug in the center of the top floor of the secondary containment, under the roof on the refuel level.  The seal for this plug is an O-ring which gets compressed between the slabs of this plug.  When the explosion happened, I believe the blast forced the top slabs to smash the O-ring momentarily before rebounding into place.  I also doubt that this pressure would have been evenly spread over the surface of the plug.  This would result in a deformed O-ring, leaving a gap where it had been most severely squashed and allowing reactor gases to escape at will.

But after a few days of steam venting through that gap, the rubber has had a chance to recover and re-expand to fill the gap.  Thus the containment is holding pressure once again and caused them to dial back the damage assessment.   And as I pointed out in the comments the other day, the ambient temperatures there were cold enough for it to snow so it is plausible that it would take days for the steam coming through to warm the rubber sufficiently to reseal the gap.  This would also mean that the containment cannot be counted on to perform up to its design specifications as the condition of that O-ring seal and its capacity to withstand higher pressures would still be marginal.  Again, this is a theory.  I base this on the structure of the building, the location of the explosion, and the changing reports regarding containment status.

This is a serious enough issue that TEPCO would not have released the information that the containment had been compromised unless it were absolutely so.  There were also reports in the first days after the explosion of white steam escaping from the remaining top of the reactor building.  That happened from the 14th and it was noticed decreasing on the 19th - as per IAEA summaries.  Then a few days later they reported that it was holding pressure, and today the JAIF site has the primary containment listed as not damaged.  I do not share their optimism on this point.

The secondary containment at unit 3 took a hell of a hit from the hydrogen explosion, much more energetic than the others.  (Units 2 & 3 are roughly  1-1/2 times as powerful as unit 1)  From the various photos I've seen it still appears that the damage was largely confined to the refuel level - this would include the plug for the primary containment mentioned above.  I do not discount the possibility of further damage within the reactor building as a result of this blast but have not seen any evidence that would confirm this.  It may have something to do with their delay in connecting electrical power beyond the control room, but that remains to be seen.

The fuel pool at unit 3 is still a concern.  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.  It appears that all MOX fuel on site has been loaded into the core.  This was confirmed by both TEPCO and Areva - thanks to FOYI for staying on this subject.  There would be plutonium in the pool anyway as a result of it being a fission product - this means that it is created in the reactor as a result of the nuclear fission process.  Efforts have been ongoing to dump tons of water onto the refuel floor in an effort to refill this pool. There were reports yesterday of their use of plant piping for this but reports today are that they are back to external pumping methods.

Unit 4

The condition of the reactor and containment 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 is now having seawater pumped in via plant piping systems.  There are still no reliable updates on temperature.  It also appears that they consider the plant systems sufficient to provide the needed volume of flow.  Plans are to switch to fresh water in the next few days.  There was also water found in the turbine building at unit 4 and is presumed to be form the fuel pool.

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.  They have now been able to use grid power to run their fuel pool cooling pumps.  The temperatures in the pool have dropped considerably since they got the cooling pumps in operation and appear to be stabilizing.  As a precautionary measure the other day TEPCO cut holes in the roof of the building at both 5 and 6.  It now appears that while being a prudent measure, the holes will not be needed, either to vent hydrogen or to refill the pools from the air.

Common Fuel Pool

There is also another fuel pool at the Daiichi site which has fuel from each of the reactors.  I had heard about this facility but this is the first solid information I've seen on it.  From the IAEA web site:

In addition to pools in each of the plant's reactor buildings, there is another facility -- the Common Use Spent Fuel Pool -- where spent fuel is stored after cooling at least 18 months in the reactor buildings. This fuel is much cooler than the assemblies stored in the reactor buildings.  Japanese authorities confirmed as of 18 March that fuel assemblies there were fully covered by water, and the temperature was 57 °C as of 20 March, 00:00 UTC. Workers sprayed water over the pool on 21 March for nearly five hours, and the temperature on 23 March was reported to be 57 °C.

I've seen no recent updates on the common pool.

Prognosis - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good - Work continues on site to power up equipment and find out what is working and what is not.  This is a time consuming process for certain pumping systems because they must be properly bled and re-primed to avoid causing damage when they are started.  The use of fresh water is also a positive sign.  It may not make the situation better but it will stop making it progressively worse.

The Bad - The water leaks are indicative of a deteriorating situation with respect to the seals that are supposed to keep stuff in the reactor and out of the environment.  If this were just happening at one reactor I might think it was a specific valve that had a problem.  This is looking more systemic.  This puts a much higher priority on getting the temperatures and pressures down to cold shutdown levels such that minimum additional stress is put on these components.  It is also possible that the same kind of scenario I describe regarding the primary heat exchanger will exist with the core cooling systems.  Actions which would normally result in minor releases may now end up leaking even more busted fuel pellet stew into the ocean water.

The Ugly - If the rate of water loss from the reactors becomes too great they will find it increasingly difficult to maintain reactor water level.  This could require them to take even more extreme actions such as flooding the primary containments to ensure that fuel remains covered and cooled.  Hopefully it will not come to this as it would result in an enormous cleanup effort and would inevitably result in larger releases to the environment.  This would be preferable to the alternative of letting the core go uncovered, but still quite ugly.

It also means that the plant needs to be cleaned up and decommissioned as soon as possible.  The longer it sits with its seawater nuclear stew, the more opportunities it has to cause new problems due to systems degradation and failures.

Best-case scenario

I was asked in a comment earlier today to provide what I believed to be the best case scenario for how this thing ends.  In the best case the heat at unit 1 continues to drop and they are able to get electrical pumps running in the next few days with the core cooling system soon to follow.  Also in the best case scenario the heat exchanger for this system is fairly well intact and free of corrosion.  The other reactors having their core cooling systems working would follow shortly after.

Meanwhile, they would be able to get enough water in each of the fuel pools to be able sufficiently cover the fuel to be able to safely work on the refuel floor.  This would allow at least some cleanup of the explosion debris to make efforts at the fuel pools more efficient and effective.  It would also make it possible to take whatever action is chosen to resolve the fuel pool issues at the various units.  Again, in the best case they would identify some material or method for sealing the leaks in 3 and 4, at least temporarily - long enough to allow shoring up from below and more permanent or semi-permanent repairs.

Also in this scenario it will be possible in the near future to process the contaminated water stored on site, remove fuel from the reactor cores and fuel pools, and decommission the sites including scraping the top half foot of ground up from all over the site and dumping it as fill into the containments and then entombing the whole thing in concrete.

Likely-case scenario

Given the difficulties of the working environment and the problems with the leaking water I think it is optimistic to think they will have core cooling systems returned to service within the next week at any of the units.  This will mean more feed and bleed to remove heat.  Also, they will need to track down the exact pathway(s) water is taking to get to the turbine building and ocean.  They may or may not be able to isolate the problem and stop the leaking.  Next best would be to be able to contain the leak at its source and drain that container continuously.  Obviously this doesn't work if there are heat exchanger leaks but it may be possible to isolate this system using locally controlled manual cutoff valves.

I'm really not sure what is likely to happen with the leaking fuel pools.  I fear that concrete entombment is likely in the future for at least one of them, possibly both units 3 and 4.

I expect the releases will need to continue for the next week at least, likely more until they get alternate means of heat removal back online.  I also fear the ocean releases will continue for that same period of time, perhaps longer depending on the condition of the heat exchangers.

Cleanup and decommissioning may not be done as thoroughly as possible due to dose rates all around the site.  They may well end up covering everything with sand, gravel, or other more suitable materials to contain the surface contaminants.  I expect the site to eventually be abandoned and reactors 5 and 6 to also be decommissioned.

Worst-case scenario

You've heard this from any number of talking heads on TV.  Noun-verb-Chernobyl.  I seriously doubt the releases will be at the magnitude of Chernobyl, but if all three reactors fully melt down and break free of their containments and all 4 problem fuel pools go dry and burn then yes, it could get very ugly indeed.  I don't see this happening given current conditions, but if any one of the problems were to escalate beyond control then it could cause the others to become unmanageable due to lack of site habitability.  I presume that each of the individuals responsible for managing the reactors and fuel pools is well aware of the stakes of failure.

Appeal for the people of Japan

Please remember the bigger picture here.  There are millions of people still suffering in Japan at this hour.  The aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami have created enormous problems and left many thousands dead, injured, or isolated and left unattended.  This event is a natural disaster of unfathomable scope.  The nuclear emergency, while certainly an important part of what is happening there, is just that, a part.  If you can find it in your heart to contribute in some way to the humanitarian efforts for Japan you will truly make a difference in someone's life.

The Japanese Red Cross Society and Shelter Box USA

[updated with new Red Cross link as per boatsie in the comments.]

Also, my purpose with these diaries is to provide technical understanding of what is happening at Fukushima and discuss the likely ramifications of these events.  It is not to engage in pie fights over the future or appropriateness of nuclear power.  There are plenty of diaries for those discussions for people who choose to so engage.  I also request that people kindly refrain from personal attacks and other forms of ad-hominem argument.  This is an emotional topic for some folks but that does not excuse rudeness and personal insults.

As per a suggestion from Jim P, This diary represents my take on the situation as of 07:00 on 3/27/11 UTC. (00:00 PDT 3/27)

Originally posted to kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Information and Assistance, Nuclear dkos, and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (195+ / 0-)
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    Roger Fox, mauricehall, Drewid, MackInTheBox, kalmoth, Simplify, kumaneko, reflectionsv37, chrisma, kurt, Drama Queen, boatsie, juliesie, eeff, rja, think blue, Burned, BarackStarObama, Cassandra Waites, skywriter, jeanette0605, auron renouille, Detlef, DRo, Limelite, orrg1, the fan man, erratic, flatford39, aoeu, FishOutofWater, JanL, envwq, SpamNunn, ybruti, NMRed, KibbutzAmiad, emal, leu2500, emmasnacker, ExStr8, Tinfoil Hat, Susipsych, Adept2u, worldlotus, litoralis, Jeffersonian Democrat, ursoklevar, billmosby, emelyn, indyada, Habitat Vic, Nebraskablue, lineatus, HoundDog, RWood, vacantlook, kerflooey, grannyhelen, Bobs Telecaster, frisco, xaxnar, b00g13p0p, DebtorsPrison, technomage, JimWilson, david78209, PeterHug, bigrivergal, Eikyu Saha, xxdr zombiexx, lgcap, Jantman, ohmyheck, the dogs sockpuppet, parse this, WiseFerret, caul, pat bunny, gchaucer2, IndieGuy, melvynny, OtherDoug, Dobber, kyril, Patric Juillet, Joieau, mamamedusa, Ian S, yuriwho, Dube, Blubba, Trendar, pbearsailor, Gwyneth Cravens, figbash, bythesea, pateTX, hester, RabidRabbit, On The Bus, Mr Green Jeans, Dom9000, CMYK, collardgreens, vivian darkbloom, zerone, SoCalSal, dougymi, weltshmertz, Plubius, Meteor Blades, mojo workin, davidwalters, ItsSimpleSimon, AnnieR, FlyingToaster, docmidwest, sawgrass727, CJB, socalmonk, Bluesee, pgm 01, bleeding heart, MJ via Chicago, Athenian, hilltopper, Pluto, carolyn urban, Egalitare, Anak, zett, jamess, happymisanthropy, Seamus D, dhl, rapala, Catte Nappe, mahakali overdrive, Calamity Jean, gmats, Olkate, nicolemm, opinionated, Quilldriver, eddieb061345, Vicky, John DE, Pat K California, native, Friend of the court, Shockwave, bill warnick, Dreaming of Better Days, bnasley, rlharry, Russgirl, tgypsy, davehouck, ebohlman, Powered Grace, DavidW, Lorikeet, terabytes, dirtfarmer, ornerydad, lynneinfla, scooter in brooklyn, greengemini, MufsMom, concerned, CanyonWren, cotterperson, Jodster, erush1345, LeftOfYou, RandomNonviolence, Reel Woman, dnpvd0111, signals, Akonitum, sockpuppet, SeekCa, RainyDay, cyncynical, Imhotepsings, exiledfromTN, princesspat, chuck utzman, grollen, StrayCat, wu ming, Wee Mama, louisev, milton333

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

    by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:39:25 AM PDT

    •  Thanks. Again. (34+ / 0-)

      Its been 2 weeks. TMI was brought under control in about 85 hrs, after 5 days things were calm. Maybe 1/4 of the fuel rods AT TMI ended up on the floor. Is it fair to say with the recent report of short lived isotopes found in water in the turbine room #3, (technetium99m half live 6.02 hrs) that there is reason to think that indicates recent fission?

      Its been 2 weeks, I'm guessing that the majority of the fuel is now on the floor of the reactor vessel, 1/2 to 7/8ths, and could that not invite low level recriticallity?

      Its been 2 weeks, Fukushima is SOoo fooked.

      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 Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:00:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The half length or so of fuel that hasn't been (26+ / 0-)

        uncovered should still be standing as the water would have provided sufficient heat sink to keep it from further melting or having its cladding oxidize.  Same with the fuel above that line to the point of equilibrium between heat sink effectiveness and the heat production and oxidation rate for the cladding reaction.  So I'd think less than half the fuel, maybe 40- 45%, is fallen.

        Interesting question regarding fission.  I guess the question there is what the decay process is that results in the various isotopes found.  There should be sufficient borating of the water being added to both the fuel pool and the reactor to prevent local criticality.  The neutrons need water to moderate them and if that water is heavily poisoned with boron then they can't multiply and create a chain reaction.  That doesn't mean that there aren't other intermediate fission products that couldn't naturally decay to technetium or iodine 134 half life 54 minutes.  Its all a big numbers game of initial concentrations and relative half-lives.  It does seem to suggest recent fission though, I agree.  Whether it is significant chain reaction fission or just part of the decay process soup is another question.  I'll see if I can find out more on this in the morning.

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

        by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:28:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  La 140 (19+ / 0-)

          Seems to be a benchmark.

          Barium 140 half life is 12.8 days
          Barium 140 decays to lanthunum 140 (half life of 40.5 hours) which then decays to the stable cerium 140.
          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          Doesnt I-134 decay to Xenon 134 then ba 134?

          SO significant 1 34 might mean recent fission. Where as finding Ba 134 suggests not.

          Same for the Ba140, La 140, Cerium 140 decay chain. Look here to compare the quantities of Ba140 and LA 140 found.

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

          TO me that looks like more Ba than La, meaning earlier in the decay chain. No?

          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 Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:45:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  isotope comparisons (22+ / 0-)

            I was wondering about that too. But comparisons between the different elements cant disregard chemistry. For example Iodine (-134, but any) is highly water soluble, whereas Ba is highly insoluble. So, if one decays into the other, and the water flows some way through different conditions, chemistry can separate the parent and daughter from each other and you might get a wrong impression from comparing them at any one spot.

            much better is to compare isotopes of the same element, if they are taking part in decay chains that tick at different rates. Because then chemistry can not disturb your clock.

            what one then needs to know is "filling rates" - say, I and Cs are both water soluble. Both have nicely many isotopes and both are primary fission products. With estimates of primary fission product distribution it is then possible to get very fine tuned estimates of the time evolution of such a single-element isotope system. (That is actually a field of science - but not mine, I hated it).  

            i can not imagine that they arent doing that with the best people they have in Japan right at this minute.

            Ici s´arrète la loi.

            by marsanges on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:19:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  WTF? Ba 140 > La 140 > Ce 140? (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Powered Grace, ebohlman, pixxer

            How can something decay and maintain the same atomic weight?  Decaying from one element into another implies loss of at least one proton, doesn't it?  What does it do, lose a proton and gain a neutron?

            This one has me puzzled.

            This aggression will not stand, man.

            by kaleidescope on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:53:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK: I was an art major... (12+ / 0-)

              ...[immediately loses all credibility] but:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              Shows radioactive decay by alpha-emission and beta-emission with the product at the next step still having the same atomic weight, thus:

              An example is the natural decay chain of 238U which is as follows:

              decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 4.5 billion years to thorium-234
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 24 days to protactinium-234
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 1.2 minutes to uranium-234
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 240 thousand years to thorium-230
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 77 thousand years to radium-226
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 1.6 thousand years to radon-222
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 3.8 days to polonium-218
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 3.1 minutes to lead-214
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 27 minutes to bismuth-214
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 20 minutes to polonium-214
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 160 microseconds to lead-210
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 22 years to bismuth-210
              which decays, through beta-emission, with a half-life of 5 days to polonium-210
              which decays, through alpha-emission, with a half-life of 140 days to lead-206, which is a stable nuclide.

              It was a good question, though.

              - bp

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

              by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:59:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here's the real credibility. SPEEDI rad numbers. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ebohlman, milton333, OtherDoug

                Highest readings in Japan outside the Fukushima Daiichi area. Those SPEEDI sensors were destroyed by the tsunami.

                Hitachinaka City in Ibaraki Prefecture went from 639 nanoGrays/hour up to 2040 nanoGrays/hour in one 12 hour interval. This is due south from Fukushima Daiishi NPP. The water drops cause that rise.

                Since then airborne radiation measurements have declined steadily.

                -- 684 nGy/h - 10:20 PM local time on the 27th

                -- 786 nGy/h - 11.00 PM local time on the 25th

                -- 866 nGy/h - 8:20 PM local time on the 24th

                -- 957 nGy/h - 7:30 PM local time on the 23rd

                -- 1012 nGy/h - 1:10 AM local time on the 23rd

                -- 1221 nGy/h - 7:20 PM local time on the 22nd

                -- 1178 nGy/h - 9:20 PM local time on the 21st

                -- 1145 nGy/h - 6:10 PM local time on the 21st

                -- 1160 nGy/h - 4:30 PM local time on the 21st

                -- 2040 nGy/h - 5:50 AM local time on the 21st (water drops)

                -- 1635 nGy/h - 4:20 AM local time on the 21st (water drops)

                -- 639 nGy/h - 5:40 PM local time on the 20th

                -- 749 nGy/h - 1:00 AM local time on the 19th

                The units are nanoGrays/hour. The maximum observed dose was still well below the 5,700 nanoGrays/hour that matches the IAEA professional limit at 5 REM/year. (Same as 35,000,000 nanoGrays/year.)

                Tokyo and Kanagawa are up from normal radiation levels. Yokosuka City is sitting at:

                139 nanoGrays/hour -- declining steadily since the water drops.

                There ain't no massive release of radiation creeping out over Japan in a killing radioactive cloud.

                And the Japanese will continue to want to replace their gas using, foreign exchange gobbling cars with them new electric cars.

                America has $700-billion a year of foreign-bought oil. We could end that by replacing those cars with electrics. And building nukes.

                9.0 earthquake + 30-to-75-foot tsunami = a busted up nuclear plant that is not killing people with radiation releases.

                The deaths so far are from explosions. And there is no evidence that plutonium has reached the air.

                No evidence. Nothing. Lots of claims, lots of mistaken analysis based on the false "10,000,000 times normal" communication. No evidence.

                Financial capitalism's criminals + Angry White Males + KKK wannabes + Personality Disorder delusionals + George Will =EQ= The GOPer Base

                by vets74 on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:21:52 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Beta emission doesn't involve a change (9+ / 0-)

              of mass number because it involves the emission of an electron or positron (or capture of an electron from one of the orbitals) and the mass of one of those particles is  so much smaller than that of a proton or neutron that it can be ignored. Negative beta emission (electron plus antineutrino) effectively converts a neutron into a proton, increasing the atomic number by 1 while not changing the mass number. Positron emission or electron capture do the opposite, decreasing the atomic number by 1.

              The familiar Potassium-40 is the only isotope known to undergo all three types of beta decay: 89% of the decay is negative beta, turning it into Calcium-40 and 11% is positive beta (mostly electron capture but some positron emission), turning it into Argon 40; this latter decay accounts for almost all the argon in the atmosphere, and is also used to determine the ages of ancient rocks, much to the dismay of young-earth creationists. Note that both the source and the decay products have the same mass numbers; in technical terms they form an isobar.

              Alpha emission necessarily requires a decrease in mass number (by 4) and atomic number (by 2); it's really a form of spontaneous fission.

              Gamma emission occurs as a consequence of changes in the energy level of the nucleus following a decay; for example, the electron-capture decay of Potassium-40 to Argon-40 is associated with a gamma emission; we "credit" it to the potassium, but in fact it's the argon nucleus, formed in an overly-energetic state, that actually emits it. There are no mass changes associated with gamma emission itself.

              If you Google "headache brain tumor", you will come away convinced that your headache is actually cancer—Seth Mnookin

              by ebohlman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:43:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  OK (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Roger Fox

                But atomic number -- which is what determines which element it is -- depends on the number of protons.  If you have the same number of protons, how the hell can you have a different element?

                And if you lose a proton, doesn't that mean that the atomic weight changes?  Protons -- unlike electrons -- actually have some mass.

                This aggression will not stand, man.

                by kaleidescope on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:50:17 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (6+ / 0-)

                  Atomic number doesn't necessary equate to atomic weight (especially in dealing with nuclear reactions).

                  When you see something written as La-140 or Ba-140, they have the same atomic weight (due to the numbers of neutrons), but have different atomic numbers (the element part listed in front, the La or Ba).

                  "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 Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:11:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Interestingly, the fact that elements have (9+ / 0-)

                    multiple isotopes was discovered in the process of constructing the Periodic Table. Mendeleev originally arranged elements by atomic weight (remember that this was well before anyone knew anything about the structure of the nucleus) and for the most part it worked pretty well. However, a few elements wound up in what were obviously, based on their chemical properties, the wrong columns (e.g. tellurium, a metalloid, wound up in the halogen column). So it became obvious that some property other than atomic weight dictated the chemical properties of elements. In the next few decades, electrons and protons were discovered, and neutrons were first postulated (and then empirically confirmed) to explain the earlier anomalies.

                    Once again, atomic number is the number of protons in a nucleus. It dictates the number of electrons in an unionized (nice homonym for you) atom, and since the number of electrons in an determines the chemical properties of the atom, the atomic number defines the element. It's commonly abbreviated as P. The mass number of a particular nuclide (element with a particular nucleus) is the number of total nucleons (protons and neutrons) and is commonly abbreviated as Z.

                    Isotopes are nuclides with the same atomic numbers; isobars are groups of nuclides with the same mass numbers.  The atomic weight (more precisely, atomic mass) of an element is the weighted average (based on natural abundance)  of its isotopes' mass numbers; if an element doesn't naturally occur, or has only very short-lived isotopes, then the atomic mass is defined by convention as the mass number of its longest-lived isotope.

                    Hydrogen-1 (the most common nuclide in the universe) is the only nuclide with a mass number equal to its atomic number, since its nucleus consists of a single proton.

                    BTW, the slight mass differences between isotopes can affect the rate of chemical reactions they participate in, with heavier isotopes reacting more slowly. This can result in the end products of a reaction favoring one isotope over another. This has a number of useful application in biology, ecology and geology; search on "isotope fractionation" for more info.

                    If you Google "headache brain tumor", you will come away convinced that your headache is actually cancer—Seth Mnookin

                    by ebohlman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:11:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  DO they have enough boron to use for the last 2 (9+ / 0-)

          weeks...?

          I think the local grocery store is out of boric acid by now....

          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 Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:53:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  i have been hunting (11+ / 0-)

          for the origins of I-134 on the net and the best I could come up with it this chart, from a book on radiochemistry, which states that I-134 forms from fission of U and Pu with a fission yield of over 7%, the highest given for any I isotope, surprising as on the IAEA website only yields for the odd numbered isotopes are given. Other than that, well from the IAEA I found this chart, en excellent ressource, which states that I-134 comes from Te-134 and that conversely via a complicated chain from the transuranium elements Cm and Cf, and those are formed, as per the first source, from U via neutron capture. So ... all I could find does point to highly active ongoing fission chain if I understand that right. Right?

          I wonder why people wonder .... when even Tepco said that they couldnt rule out recriticality ... is this then not simply confirmation?

          If that were so, could you explain what that would mean for the cooling/containment efforts?

          Ici s´arrète la loi.

          by marsanges on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:01:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It makes the heat loading greater which makes (7+ / 0-)

            the current heat removal process require greater releases than would otherwise be needed.  But there is still the question of where this fission is taking place.  One possibility that has just occurred to me is related to what I wrote above about the feedwater system.

            When the plant shutdown on the 11th, everything in the steam cycle stopped in place.  Stagnant steam in the turbines would have condensed and drained down to at least partially fill the condenser tubes with water.  All of the condensed water would have been standing in the pipes.  This is deionized pure water.  If there has been a compromising of the seals in either or both flow paths back into these "balance of plant" components then the reactants that are leaking in are being added to non-poisoned moderator.  It would seem that this could allow low level reactivity to be happening throughout the balance of plant components.

            The only other thing that would make sense as an explanation was that they were trying to get by with less boron and miscalculated.  If that were the case then the temperature increase at unit 1 certainly seems suspicious.  But it is unit 2 that has the higher levels of radioactivity and it didn't have the same temperature rise as 1 and 3.  This also makes me wonder if the water in the torus was borated.  That could also be a place where deposited materials could meet fresh moderator.  If that is an issue then it would suggest the same is going on in the torus at units 1 and 3.  Unit 2 would then be showing higher levels in the turbine room because of drainage from its popped torus via the reactor building.

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

            by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:29:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  can you stop by in the current (6+ / 0-)

              ROV which is 29? Its new. People are there asking for an explanation of the new data release and it seems you would have something to say.

              interesting idea of yours. A kind of fissile liquid "reactor" being formed accidentally? But would that explain the very specific isotopes seen? Is not a core that is fractionally coagulated so that it can selfstart reaction again also a very plausible explanation? but as said ... I have no idea really .. only, if there is an area of material that has shielded itself from cooling water (and boron etc) enough to restart fission then that should be pretty difficult to stop that? your suggestion would definitely be better!

              Ici s´arrète la loi.

              by marsanges on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:48:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You would need quite a bit gathered together (5+ / 0-)

                without significant bits of control rod material.  The thing that works against this is the need for neutrons to be slowed significantly before they are in the proper energy range to interact with other elements in the fuel.  This is the role of a moderator in general and clean water in this type of reactor.  A large enough mass of nuclear material can also provide its own moderation due to its density, but how much and how pure and how close in proximity I don't know.  And as such I also don't know the relative likelihood of this happening.  It would seem that the distribution of melting fuel and melting control rods should remain similar to their distribution above.  Also, as the melted bits dropped into the water they should have quickly hardened as their heat would be absorbed by the water and their temperature drop below their melting point.  This should have helped prevent a particularly large mass from coagulating.  

                This is also something the engineers at the plant should be able to ballpark quantify based on their rates of water addition and steam release.  They may be too busy onsite for these calculations, but someone should be doing them somewhere.  If there is significant fission ongoing then it should show up in their heat balance equations.

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

                by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:55:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  BTW - I'll look into the ROV when I get caught (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Magster, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

                up on comments here.

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

                by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:30:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Factual update fm Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (18+ / 0-)
      Daily update from Japan
      By Tatsujiro Suzuki | 27 March 2011

      Sunday, March 27, 1:30 p.m. ET, Tokyo

      The level of water contamination found at unit 2 is higher than that at units 1 and 3. The concentration of radioactive iodine 134 (half-life is only 53 minutes) was 2.9 billion Becquerel (Bq) per cubic meter, 13 million Bq per cubic meter for iodine 131 (8 days), and 2.3 million Bq per cubic meter for cesium 134 (2 years).

      The water surface radiation level is higher than 1 sieverts per hour. The urgent tasks are pumping out the water and stopping the water leak.

      Sunday, March 27, 1:30 a.m. ET, Tokyo

      The Nuclear Industry and Safety Agency (NISA) reported that a seawater sample taken near the plant shows an extremely high concentration of iodine 131 (50 Becquerel per cubic meter (around 1,250.8 times the regulated level)). This is a big increase from yesterday (around 200 times the regulated level). Apparently, damaged fuel is contaminating the water.

      Power has been restored in the control room of unit 2, and efforts are underway to pump out the contaminated water.

      Saturday, March 26, 1:30 a.m. ET, Tokyo

      Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that contaminated water was found in units 1 and 2. Where the water came from is not certain, but it contains cesium 137, iodine 131, and cobalt 60, which seemed to come from damaged nuclear fuel in reactors, and not from the spent-fuel pool. High radioactivity has slowed down the repair work.

      Tatsujiro Suzuki updates every day at this link.

      Suzuki is a member of the Pugwash Conference on Science & World Affairs

    •  Thank you (7+ / 0-)

      This is very informative - I really appreciate your format which is helpful to those of us who know very little about the mechanics of cooling etc - the reactor by reactor analysis, the good the bad and the ugly, and the best to worst case scenarios.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels you cover a lot of ground and answer a lot of questions.  Also, the time stamp is helpful too.  So thank again for the time and effort you are putting into these diaries.  

  •  this diary seems to be missing (9+ / 0-)

    Sunday afternoon's news from Japan, which would seem to relevant to any analysis, regarding "extreme radiation" in Unit 2 air and water, spurring evacuation of workers from Unit 2, and increased radiation from Saturday's sea water samples:

    AP story which picked up reporting from NHK and Kyodo News Agency:

    TOKYO – Radioactivity in contaminated water in one reactor unit at a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant tested 10 million times higher than normal, forcing the evacuation of workers and again delaying efforts to bring the complex under control, the plant's operator said Sunday.
    The air in Unit 2, meanwhile, measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour — four times the limit of 250 millisieverts deemed safe by the government, Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita told reporters.

    also quote from Cabinet Secretary Edano:

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, speaking Sunday on TV talk shows, said the exact source wasn't clear yet but radioactive water is "almost certainly" seeping from a reactor core.

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/...

    The Japanese government says radioactive iodine in excess of 1,850 times regulated standards was found in seawater collected near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Saturday.

    On Friday, iodine 131 at a then-record 1,250 times regulated standards was detected in seawater collected in the same place 330 meters south of a plant water outlet

    .
    •  it's Saturday news... (5+ / 0-)

      discussed in the follow-up thread of the previous diary of the series in some detail.

      Now it's Sunday evening in Japan...

      •  *correction.... (17+ / 0-)

        There is indeed something new (NHK)...

        The company says the extremely contaminated water may stem from damaged fuel in the reactor, and are trying to determine how the leakage occurred.

        University of Tokyo graduate school professor Naoto Sekimura says the leak may come from the suppression chamber of the Number 2 reactor, which is known to be damaged. The chamber is designed to contain overflows of radioactive substances from the reactor.

        Sunday, March 27, 2011 13:44 +0900 (JST)

        •  This may help explain why the numbers there are (19+ / 0-)

          worse, but it doesn't explain the leaks in units 1 or 3.  Also, Roger Fox made an excellent point about the presence of the very short lived isotopes and whether there may not still be fission reactions happening somewhere.

          I'm going to sleep on this and hopefully be able to get some better info in the morning.

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

          by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:40:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What happens to the contamination in the ocean (5+ / 0-)

          I'm concerned that some fish are going to be contaminated and swim off to other places where people may not suspect just how contaminated they are. If they aren't caught or eaten by humans in the immediate future chances are they get eaten by other fish or die and fall to the bottom where they get eaten by bottom feeders or just preserve a source of contamination.

          I read somewhere that if you put a teaspoonful of pollution in the ocean it will take about a year for some parts of that pollution to be in every teaspoonful of water you take out of the ocean. I'm wondering if that is true for radiation.

          I suppose the same thing applies to food. If Alaska gets 300 rads and California 75 rads are their seafood and leafy green vegetables something we can depend on not to have more than trace amounts of radiation when they get shipped across the US to markets on the East Coast?

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:35:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Valid speculation regarding fish (7+ / 0-)

            The biggest concerns would be with the large carnivores at the top of the food chain.  They are the ones who would bioaccumulate significant amounts from their diet.  They are also the ones who are more likely to have a larger range of travel.

            I'm not so sure about the applicability of the teaspoon analogy.  That might hold for a perfectly water soluble material but not nuclear fallout.  First, the heaviest and generally nastiest of the radionuclides will remain close to the site just because they're too damn heavy to move very far without a lot of transport energy and some binding mechanism.  The chances are that little if any plutonium or uranium was released in the steam venting process.  It is the smaller fission products which travel well.  Cesium 137 is an important issue because it has a middling half life and is absorbed by the body, I believe in the same manner as potassium.  The middling half-life, 30 years, means that it is active enough to be a significant source of radiation and it is persistent enough to be around in relatively high concentrations for several generations.

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

            by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:33:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I just posted about Plutonium releases (6+ / 0-)

              in the most recent Mothership. Supposedly, we'll see those levels soon. Which implied to me that there were some to be seen ;)

              •  Maybe but not necessarily (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ebohlman, StrayCat, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

                They need to check for it to have certainty about whether and where it may have spread.  The fact that they are looking for it doesn't necessarily mean they will find it in significant concentrations.  There are still traces of plutonium in the environment worldwide from the above ground nuclear testing and the bombs in Japan.  I would be surprised to see levels of plutonium significantly above background reach very far beyond the site.  They will always be the heaviest thing in their environment and will drop like rocks through air or water.  

                Another thing to consider, as was recently mentioned by one commenter, I believe RoadGuy, the heavy metal toxicity of plutonium and uranium is far more a concern than their radioactivity.  Not that their radioactivity is to be dismissed.

                I still believe we will see very limited if any spread of these heavy elements in the absence of a full blown fuel pool fire and melt down.  And even then the transport energy shouldn't be enough to keep the heavier elements aloft for very long.  They're just too damn fat.  This is a good thing.  The situation was somewhat different at Chernobyl in that the accident there began as an enormous steam explosion which launched part of the reactor core into the atmosphere.  This was followed by days of graphite moderator burning, creating major updraft energy and also making nice sticky hydrocarbon molecules to grab heavier elements and carry them for a while.  This makes it difficult to compare the two situations.

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

                by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:39:00 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Just out of curiosity what happened with Bimini? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kbman

              My understanding is that 65 years after the tests there is still radioactivity there, the food and fish are still contaminated and that an attempt to return the inhabitants resulted in birth defects and a payment of compensation around $150 Million

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:23:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I believe you mean Bikini Atoll (5+ / 0-)

                in the Marshall Islands.  My father was present for their first set of tests there shortly after the war.  He was a Seabee on one of the supply ships for what was dubbed, "Operation Crossroads".  His ship was a water tender carrying fresh water supplies for those involved in the testing.  Everyone on the crew was warned that they might never be able to father children.  

                from Wiki

                Between 1946 and 1958, twenty-three nuclear devices were detonated at Bikini Atoll, beginning with the Operation Crossroads series in the summer of 1946. Preceding the nuclear tests, the indigenous population was relocated to Rongerik Atoll, though during the Castle Bravo detonation in particular some members of the population were exposed to nuclear fallout (see Project 4.1 for a discussion of the health effects). For examination of the fallout, several sounding rockets of the types Loki and Asp were launched at 11°35′N 165°20′E.

                The March 1, 1954 detonation codenamed Castle Bravo, was the first test of a practical hydrogen bomb. The largest nuclear explosion ever set off by the United States, it was much more powerful than predicted, and created widespread radioactive contamination.[5][6][7]

                23 nuclear bombs have a way of making a place a tad radioactive one would think ...

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

                by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:37:37 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  BTW, Bimini was where Gary Hart was caught (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ebohlman, OtherDoug

                on a boat named "Monkey Business" with a woman who wasn't his wife, so ending his presidential aspirations.

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

                by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:31:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Radioisotopes do not bioaccumulate the way (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              milton333, kbman, OtherDoug

              that organic, lipophilic pesticides do. Things like DDT can be deposited in fat tissue but are not metabolized there, so when a predator eats that organism it gets all the DDT in it. By contrast most radioisotopes simply are present based on the concentrations of the parent element. They can be transferred from one to another but they do not become more concentrated at each transfer, like pesticides would.

    •  Actually, much of the beginning of the diary is (12+ / 0-)

      about the water that must be coming from the core.  Here is what I wrote:

      Also, work has been suspended at unit 2 due to exceptionally high radiation levels in the water in the turbine building.

      There have also been reports of significant radioactivity in the ocean near the plants.  This has also included the kinds of isotopes which indicate that their source was the reactor and not merely wash down of contaminants from the plant or fuel pool.

      I hardly see where anything significant that you've mentioned is missing.  

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

      by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:35:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, I see it now. well I don't see (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, CMYK

        "much of the beginning of the diary" which seems mostly to be boilerplate -- I do see one sentence, the final sentence of one paragraph.

        I scanned the diary a second time after reading your comment, and still didn't find it because I was looking for a separate paragraph like in your block quote.

        Then I scanned it a third time, and I found it: one final sentence -- no numbers -- in a paragraph that starts out with ""Freshwater is now being pumped into all three reactors," which reads like old news, since workers have been evacuated from unit 2, I don't think freshwater is still being pumped into unit 2.

        As far as "there have also been reports of significant radioactivity" --possibly what your wrote refers only to the new  1,850 level, not reports on Friday's sample level of 1,250, but I wouldn't have known that from reading what you wrote.

        to repeat, since it still seems that way to me: "This diary SEEMS to be missing...."

        •  To keep from causing peoples eyes to glaze (5+ / 0-)

          over I have preferred to verbally characterize things such as radiation levels and concentrations of radioactive materials.  There is more than enough to already take in without subjecting people to a lesson on radiometrics as well.  The alternative is to throw the numbers out there without providing a context for them.  You will note that I have also avoided the use of equations, or any other trappings of science.  It is the choice of verbal communication over technical data presentation.  

          The numbers you mention are important, and including them in the comments as updates is a wonderful service.  Including them in the diary would have been counter-productive to the goal of keeping it accessible to the non-scientific folks here.  The motherships and ROVs also do a fine job of updating this kind of information.

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

          by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:39:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for the update Jennifer. Isn't this number (9+ / 0-)

      of 250 millisieverts "deemed safe" by goverenment represent the number that was doubled to allow workers to continue to work past their previoud limit, or 125 millisierverts.

      This previously was the maximum yearly exposure a worker was supposed to recieve.  

      If so 1000 millisieverts per hour, is a very high expoure - 1 sievert  per hour, may in fact be approacing a lethel dose, withing a few hours.  

      They would have to withdraw workers from an environment so radioactive.

      As bad as this lastest news report is, the one positive aspect is that the Japanese authorities both in the government, and in TEPCO have substantially improved their communications to the public in terms of detail, and timiliness.

      The fact that Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano is appearing on talk show, and press conferences and disclosing information like this is a big improvement from earlier, when I critizied the lack of transparency in a diary here.

      Also, the Prime Minister has also appearred to relay somber, and honest assessments.  

      My respect for both of them has improved, as they are now demonstrating the kind of leadership needed in such an emergency.

      Mistakes always occur in situations this dire, and complex.  Effective leaders learn on the job, and correct their mistakes.  

      Not only the Prime Minister, and Secretary Edano are now providing much need leaders and role models for the rest of the leaders in leaders.  

      All of who, show signs of rapid, and significant improvement.  Even TEPCO management, after erring in sending in workers without adequate pre-measures of radiation, and HAZMAT protetion suit, responded immeditatly to criticism, from international observers, admitted and apologize for the error, and corrected them.   All within 24 hours.

      They are also now relseasing extensive data, on site radiation levels, isotope profiles, and plant conditions on a daily basis.  

      These quick improvements show a capacity to learn from mistakes and a focus on solving the problem, not trying to cover it up.  

      If the continue to move in this direction, their credility will increase, and they have a much better chance of regaining the trust of the Japanese people.   Or, at least, improving it.  

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

      by HoundDog on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:44:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  it's unclear to me whether the previous (5+ / 0-)

        limit was 100 or 150, I've seen both reported, but yes, the 250 number is the new limit, increased due to the current emergency. And yes, it's an annual limit so the new 1,000 per hour figure is very high, but it's certainly less high than the retracted "10 million" figure.

        •  This sound right. The Japanese civilian limit (3+ / 0-)

          is 100 millisieverts/year.  

          With the UCS reporting that many areas 30 to 40 miles around the plant reporting radiation from the soil as high as 1 millisievert/hour, residence will meet their maximum dose withing 100 hours.  Or just over four days.

          If these exposure rates continue, I do not see how the Japanese governement can maintain it's credibility if it does not evacuate residents from areas with such high radiation exposure.

          Thanks for this data.

          PS  In order to be more effective in our collective understanding, and credibility in our discussion here, I am encouraging all of us, including myself to try to be more careful to label our units properly.  This also helps in analysis.  

          Not only do we have lots of different units being tossed around, this units appear in two distinct type of variable - rates of change (derivitives), and stocks that accumulate those rates of change (integrations.)

          For example, the rate of exposure of 1 millisievert/hour is the rate of exposure over time.    To get to the annual accumulated exposure we need to multiply it times to the number of hours in the year.  If the rate changes, we often will use the mathematical tecnique of "integration," so in this case the annual exposure is actual a stock, or integration, even though it is still reported as units/time.

          When Robert Alvarez asserts that the typical spent fuel pond contains 20 to 50 million curies of Cesium 137.  He is talking about a stock, or the total amount that potentially could be released into the atmosphere.

          By the time one adds REMS, Becquaerels, and the other units here it can get complicated.

          So, I ask all Kossack to double check their units carefully before printing quotes and links.

          Right now I have the embarassing situation of wanted to post relevent sections of two famous authors interpretation of the worst case scenario reported in the 1997 Brookhaven National Labs report, but they refer to the potentially contaminated areas as 2,107 miles.   This has to be a misprint, probably by the prestigious NYT, because areas require 2 dimension are are customarily reported as square miles, unless they are converted to acres, or hectors differrent units for area that have the squaring build into the unit.

          Thanks again for the data.  I have already found them useful for several calculations.

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

          by HoundDog on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:23:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Retraction of "10 million" figure... (8+ / 0-)

      Asahi.com is now (10:14pm Japan time Sunday) reporting that the initial quote figure of 10 million times the normal level of I-134 was a mistake; the article says it may have been confused with Cobalt-56.  (I have no idea how one could be confused for the other, I'm just quoting).  The article also quotes someone from Tepco saying that if they had waited to confirm the initial report, they would have been accused of a coverup.  

      •  yes, Tepco has retracted (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eikyu Saha, erush1345, StrayCat, OtherDoug

        their announcement of the "extreme" measurement. Perhaps, if in the initial announcement, they had stressed it was an unconfirmed figure that they were working on confirming, it might have been better. Perhaps they did say that, and all the Japanese media (then western) ignored it. "We released uncertain information because 'we would've been accused of a cover-up'" is not an adequate explanation, IMO.

        The new report on NHK / Kyodo is using the figure that AP used in its original story -- a measurement of 1,000 millisieverts per hour in the water -- which AP later corrected to note that the 1,000 millisieverts per hour figure was for the air, not the water.  corrections after correction makes for confusion that deadens response.

    •  The "ten million times higher" statement has... (6+ / 0-)

      ...been withdrawn/corrected:

      Japan nuclear crisis: Radiation spike report 'mistaken'

      'Extremely high'

      The apology by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) related to water readings at reactor 2 at the plant, 240km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

      It had said radiation levels reached 10 million times higher than normal in the cooling system but because the level was so high the worker taking the reading had to evacuate before confirming it with a second reading.

      "The number is not credible. We are very sorry," said Tepco spokesman Takashi Kurita.

      Which improves the situation only in a relative sense...

      - bp

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

      by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:15:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not wrong on radiation level (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jennifer poole, OtherDoug

        only incorrect with respect to density of a particular isotope:

        The company said on Sunday evening that the data for iodine-134 announced earlier in the day was actually for another substance that has a longer half-life.

        The plant operator said earlier on Sunday that 2.9 billion becquerels per cubic centimeter had been detected in the leaked water.

        It said although the initial figure was wrong, the water still has a high level of radioactivity of 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

        http://www3.nhk.or.jp/...

  •  Interesting take on the current situation... (8+ / 0-)

    from a long-time opponent of nuclear power and a very well-known Guardian columnist, George Monbiot. Quite often, I disagree with the blighter, but damn, he's smart.

    LINK.

    (click it! - it's really a link to Monbiot's recent column, no Rick Astley, I promise!)

    •  Interesting conclusions (13+ / 0-)

      It's not that nuclear power is dangerous - it is - it's that humans are the real weak point in dealing with it or any other serious issue. Especially today when the politics of emotion rule.

      Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

      "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

      by xaxnar on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:42:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, insult those hysterical greens (7+ / 0-)

      that's really helpful right now.

      I'm an environmentalist and all I want right now is a prognosis, not a primer in nuclear science.  I think major contamination of the ocean in addition to the pollution already present is a catastrophe. That's my hysteria for now.

      This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

      by Agathena on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:02:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "If there were less harmful alternatives"? (6+ / 0-)

      [provide links to all the facetious comments here about solar panel meltdown, wind turbine  collapse, &c]

      One of the most interesting takeaways from all the sturm und drang coming out of this accident is that, very broadly, you can categorize people pretty accurately into two general camps:

      1) Camp 1 being those for whom this accident is nothing more than an affirmation of everything they already believe

      and

      2) Camp 2 being those for whom this accident is an opportunity to learn something

      Mr Monbiot is clearly in Camp 1).

      Then, like many in Camp 1) Mr Monbiot is also a nuke supporter (although, like many in that camp, he tries to deflect at least some criticism by paying lip service (and lip service only, I'm sure) to "hating the nuclear industry").

      (And yes, yes, yes, there are demonstrably people in Camp 1) who are anti-nuke).

      Within the genus of nuke supporters you have two species:

      1) Those for whom all the problems demonstrably afflicting nuclear power are merely engineering issues

      and

      2) Those for whom all the concerns demonstrably afflicting nuclear power are just minor statistical annoyances.

      Question for nuke species of the first instance; the its-all-an-engineering-issue crowd:

      Since the human race has been developing nuclear power for -- what? sixty, seventy years? -- why is it that no one has been able to successfully engineer their way around the fundamental problem with nuclear power:

      The very fuel itself is massively deadly in all its forms: while its being processed into fuel, while its in fuel rods, while its spent fuel, while its nuclear waste.

      And while its in the form of nuclear fallout, wafting onto the Japanese countryside, or flooding into the ocean off Fukushima.

      Why has no one been able to solve for (note: not mitigate against, with even more Shiny Object, cost-is-no-problem engineering) this fundamental flaw?

      Question (or proposal) for nuke species of the second instance; the its-all-a-minor-statistical-annoyance crowd:

      If all the anti-nuke tearing of hair and rending of cloth is silly because the acknowledged statistical increase in deaths from cancer or shortened life spans from the Fukushima accident are well within reasonable statistical limits, how about:

      I give you a can of spray paint and accompany you around the Fukushima environs and watch you tag with a red "C" or a red "L" (your choice) those specific individuals who, although to you they may be a minor statistical fraction, will be those actual men, women, boys or girls who your statistical fraction will consign to either a horrible or early death?

      I've been trying to keep an open mind (No! Really!) about all this nuke stuff, but so far no one has even attempted to address these two fundamental flaws.

      Other than with more Shiny Object Engineering, or more statistical disassociation.

      - bp

      p.s. for those for whom this comment is simply too long to read and think about, I offer Twitter. 120 character won't tax your attention span. Maybe.

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

      by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:03:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  140 characters (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pixxer, StrayCat

        I think Twitter has a 140 character limit. I don't so I'm not positive of that.

        As has been mentioned elsewhere, no amount of Shiny-Object-cost-is-no-object engineering, can engineer around human stupidity and/or the impulse to panic.

        That seems to have been an issue with both Chernobyl and TMI, and I think the argument can be made for Fukushima with regard to the design and siting of the plant and the fragility of the backup power system.  

        to live until you die is to live long enough - lao tzu

        by chrisma on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:07:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah.. that's exactly my point... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chrisma, pixxer, StrayCat

          ...you have tons and tons of extremely expensive Shiny Object engineering blown away by the inability or unwillingness to think one more level of "What if?" deep.

          1) What if we have an earthquake, and

          2) What if we have a tsunami, and

          3) What if the backup power that gets us through normal shutdown initiated because of 1) get flooded by 2) and

          4) What if the emergency battery power that's supposed to get us through the flooded backup power at 3) dies because general conditions due to 1) are so horrible we can't get normal power restored?

          Answer: a whole hell of a lot of people are seriously screwed.

          - bp

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

          by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:26:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Shiny Object Engineering! (5+ / 0-)

        I love your two categories: Shiny Object Engineering and statistical disassociation! [Is there an AASOE - American Association of Shiny Object Engineers?]

        I have read two opinion pieces by physicists over the past week that use just those arguments.

        One  was yesterday from the BBC by Wade Allison. - I have lost the link to the other. Mr Allison argues that we should be more reasonable about excess radiation and not let it worry us, which seems to me a logical contradiction - he argues that nuclear is so good for the environment we should accept environmental degradation so that we can have more of it.

        Why should we consider an energy technology that has all of these problems? The sheer weight of the side effects should encourage us to put our energy money elsewhere!

        Your statement nails it:

        the fundamental problem with nuclear power:
        The very fuel itself is massively deadly in all its forms
        •  Wait 'till I unleash... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StrayCat, pixxer, Wee Mama

          ...a lengthy discourse on my fundamental position that many men are attracted to nuclear engineering simply because it gives them a hardon.

          Face it: there's nothing Bigger or Badder in the universe than Harnessing the Power of The Sun(tm)*.

          All the rest of it is the Shiny Object engineering details.

          - bp

          * yeah: I know that's fusion even though I was an art major

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

          by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:31:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Allison's column is interesting and addresses (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman

          how we choose what "safe" is. I would be interested to hear a discussion of it by knowledgeable people. I know that the parallel formulation for biological risks led to ridiculous and expensive limitations but I don't know enough to comment on the radiation case. I do know that the linear no threshold model is a conservative (in the sense of selecting lower risk) model, and one that is in fact more cautious than what we know for other toxic materials and processes.

      •  wrong.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonmug, OtherDoug

        Monbiot used to be anti-nuke.  Speaking of pro-nuke and anti-nuke... false dichotomy.

      •  Though, (0+ / 0-)

        while an individual death is a tragedy, isn't it still the truth that when you compare deaths from nuclear power-related activities to deaths from organic fuel-related activities (everything from oil drilling and coal mining to respiratory illnesses exacerbated by particulates or hydrocarbon pollutants), organic fuel comes out worse?

        I am not sure what the core issue (no pun intended) at Fukushima Daiishi's reactors is, but I'm thinking: certainly the dishonesty of government and TEPCO (mirroring what happened in the Soviet Union in 1986 and in the United States in 1979) is not helping anyone.

        The nuclear fuel cycle is, as it stands, unsustainable. I am sure there are ways, though, to make use of "spent" fuel assemblies. Some of these ways are not economically sound at this time - moving fuel assemblies from one kind of reactor to another is certainly a pain, and there's not so much of a demand for portable (meaning truck-sized to refrigerator-sized) nuclear generators, even though the technology has been around for quite a while now. I find it intriguing, though, that some of the waste products of fuel processing have found a new life in armor-piercing ammunition. I'm sure there must be other uses for very hard, very dense metals that fracture, when stressed, in a peculiar way than just, you know, killing people and destroying their stuff.

        Here's a question to which I don't know the answer: is it possible to bury something so deeply in rock that, even if an earthquake crushes it to just a smear between layers, it will not leach outward and upward in some way? I believe that was one of the fundamental problems with the idea of burying nuclear fuel.

        "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

        by Shaviv on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To add to this... (0+ / 0-)

          You correctly point out that the heavy metals used as nuclear fuel are poisonous, and that their decay products and fission products are also frequently poisonous (and given that everything is kind of mixed up, in a working reactor, it's all poisonous together).

          But of the ways to make electricity that involve burning something, I also note that coal and fuel oil are very poisonous. Recycled biomass may or may not be, and methane isn't, true, although methane has its own risks.

          PV solar is not poisonous once it's set up, but the manufacture of panels is a process that uses a variety of very nasty compounds.

          About the only "pain-free" sources of electricity I can think of are wind, sunlight-to-steam, and tides.

          Speaking of sunlight to steam: how much energy would we save, in this country, if everyone in sunny parts of the country converted wholly or partially from gas-burning or electric water heaters to use rooftop solar collectors? Recognizing that this doesn't work so well in heavily built-up or less sunny areas.

          "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

          by Shaviv on Tue Mar 29, 2011 at 11:59:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  kbman, I gotta question (12+ / 0-)

    When you get a chance will you look at this slide show and tell me if it's a hoax. If not, why does this Areva employee seem to be proposing that all of the spent pools will dry?

    Is he postulating that the cooling systems are failing and that pumping water just won't work indefinitely. Or, is it that the salt crust has built up and even with a functioning cooling system, it just won't work?

    Thanks!!!!

  •  thank you so much for your ongoing coverage (36+ / 0-)

    and for once again bringing to the attention of all of us that the situation in Japan is so horrific for the tens of thousands who have lost their homes, their family, loved ones.

    the magnitude of this disaster ... the earthquake and the tsunami i believe in some way we are much more capable of adjusting to ... having witnessed and helped however we could to  so many 'natural disasters' over the past few years.

    And I think in a way that is why so much focus IS on the nuclear aspect. Because it has been so long, because Chernobyl was hidden for days (am I right here) and media was not what it is today. So this fear of a nuclear event is always with us, under the surface and now it is happening and so our horror and witnessing are directed towards that which we have feared for so long. And its so complex and untransparent ....

    So thank you for your honesty here and for taking such painstaking care with your explanation and your honesty.

    Might I just add one little request? That donations to the Red Cross NOT go to the International Red Cross but rather go directly to the Japanese Red Cross which means directly deposting it into their Japanese account. Here is thelink.

    Red Cross International is not bound to spend contributions on Japan so this, to the best of my knowledge, is the only way to ensure the money goes to the Japanese RedCross.

    Again, thank you. I put this up immediately in the Mothership. WE have tried to list all your diaries ... but it is a small crew working on this. And so fabulous work like yours can fall through the cracks.

    If you queue your work to the JNI group. the individual publishing the next ROV or mothership will see it there for sure and can pull the link and make sure it gets included.

  •  Can it be a coincidence that (12+ / 0-)

    they declare they are going to dump the seawater out and replace it with fresh water and right on the heels of that, we hear news of radiation spiking in the sea water. Could the explanation be simpler? That the radiation in the ocean is sea water deliberately dumped from the reactor rather than leaking from it?

    Vorkosigan

  •  Teriffic Diary Again (8+ / 0-)

    BTW -- do you think adding tags such as "educational" and "environment" would be a good idea?

    I certainly learn a great deal from your diaries and such a nuclear accident is an extreme environmental threat.

    Those tags help aggregators (like Meteor Blades' weekly environmental diaries round-up) include relevant content.

    Thanks for this, chilling though it may be.

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:12:07 AM PDT

  •  This is a well researched and written diary. (14+ / 0-)

    Facts without hysteria.  How refreshing.  

    My brother, who is a SRO at plant here in the US, is concerned about the leaking of water from the one spent fuel storage pool.   He said that finding a way to create secondary containment of the leaking water is not the problem.  Finding a way to created secondary containment before a lot more radioactive water escapes into the sea is a major problem.  

    He gets briefed on this stuff every day.  Will let you know what I find out.  I have added you to my "stream".  Tipped and rec'd.

    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 Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:09:09 AM PDT

    •  Yes, any info you can share without causing (7+ / 0-)

      him undue troubles would be quite welcome.  I think that while opinions at the boardroom level may differ, everyone at the engineering and operations level within the industry is committed to getting the information out and getting it right.  Being able to provide effective international assistance requires having an accurate picture and understanding of what is going on at the site.  Rainbows and butterflies talk is just as counter-productive as noun-verb-Chernobyl.

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

      by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:11:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this diary (8+ / 0-)

    and your continuing explanations of what is going on.

    "I always found it interesting that people would cast aspersions on failure, as if it were a bad thing." -- Michael Steele, RNC Chairman

    by journeyman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:32:26 AM PDT

  •  kbman, thanks for an excellent, informative diary. (7+ / 0-)

    I sincerely appreciate your work and your willingness
    to share it with all of us.

    Get some rest, but please come back! :)

    Stonewall was a RIOT!

    by ExStr8 on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:39:17 AM PDT

  •  What Would be Helpful in Future Diary Iterations (7+ / 0-)

    A section that updates on plant habitability.  The kinds of doses the workers there are experiencing, what those health consequences are, and what that means in terms of being able to staff the reactor rescue effort.

    How are they recruiting people to go in and do this work?

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:47:09 AM PDT

  •  Thanks again, kbman. n/t (6+ / 0-)

    Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

    by billmosby on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:05:51 AM PDT

  •  Wow (19+ / 0-)

    Sometimes this site blows me away. You won't hear such a competent and in-depth explanation on any major news source.  Thanks so much!

    If apes evolved from humans, why are there still humans?

    by Bobs Telecaster on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:30:16 AM PDT

    •  Couldn't agree more! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Russgirl, kbman, StrayCat

      This place is deep with some serious SmartyPants and the best reason to come here!

      Too bad there are some who are attempting to shut this place down. I would very much miss drinking at this font of excellent information.

      That said, I will post this link.  It is like the blog you would find if Markos hadn't put the kibosh on CT.  Ya, they are cerifiably crazy, but damn fascinating as well.  Not all brilliance needs a Ph.D by it's name.

      http://www.zerohedge.com/...

      I recommend reading the comments section......

  •  This morning I saw that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamedusa, kbman, OtherDoug

    an earlier spike in radiation was an "error." How likely is that?

    Sorry if this has been asked and answered, I haven't had a chance to read everything yet.

  •  The situation at Fukushiam Daiishi is so dire... (15+ / 0-)

    ...that it's hard to find anything close to humor in what has happened in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami struck.

    But I did have to admit to a bit of an ironic smile when I saw this "smart ad" put up by Google on your diary, kbman. All your discussion of failed & restarting pumps and fuel pools undoubtedly led to this:

    Fukushima and Pool ad

    "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." -- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by frisco on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:59:14 AM PDT

  •  Your theory makes a lot of sense to me. (6+ / 0-)

    Not that I know anything about this stuff, but each of the other theories that have been put forth just haven't made a ton of sense to me yet.  Thanks for keeping on this!

    Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:02:09 AM PDT

  •  Update on water removal (7+ / 0-)

    Last last night (our time) it was reported that TEPCO would begin pumping water from the basements into the plants' condensers. They were supposed to begin with unit 2 today.

    How many gallons can those condensers hold?

    Link

    Today from Kyodo News:

    Woes deepen over radioactive water at nuke plant, sea contamination

    Japan on Sunday faced an increasing challenge of removing highly radioactive water found inside buildings near some troubled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, with the radiation level of the surface of the pool in the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building found to be more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

    Exposure to such an environment for four hours would raise the risk of dying in 30 days. Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the government's nuclear safety agency, said the figure is ''quite high'' but authorities must find a way to pump out the water without sending workers too close to push ahead with the restoration work.

    Radioactivity at the surface of the puddle at the No. 3 unit was 400 millisieverts per hour, still far below the more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour detected at the puddle of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building.

    Tokyo Electric was not able to confirm how much the actual amount of radiation was at the No. 2 reactor, because the radioactivity level was too high for workers to continue measuring.

    At a radiation level of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, people could suffer a decrease in the number of lymphocytes -- a type of white blood cell -- in just 30 minutes, and half of the people could die within 30 days by staying in such conditions for four hours.

    They still haven't determined how the seawater is being contaminated but not to worry:

    . . .because fishing would not be conducted in the evacuation-designated area within 20 kilometers of the plant and radioactive materials ''will be significantly diluted'' by the time they are consumed by marine species and then by people.

    So marine life is also complying with an evacuation zone?

    •  I have a feeling we've eaten our last (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DRo, mamamedusa, StrayCat, OtherDoug

      Pacific caught fish for a while...  Actually, I should probably do some better research on how radioactivity will affect the marine food chain before I say that definitively.

      Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

      by the dogs sockpuppet on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:42:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  you would do well to buy from chain bottom (6+ / 0-)

        Sardines will be safer than tuna.

        fact does not require fiction for balance (proudly a DFH)

        by mollyd on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:02:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  short term yes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mamamedusa, kbman

        long term: radiation induced sterility impact on marine species and disruption of the food chain.  Not good news for an island.

        I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's. - Mark Twain

        by route66 on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:46:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Potassium-40 activity (7+ / 0-)

        in the ocean as a whole is about 3.8x10^11 curies (1.410^22 Bq) (from this), and that is about 10 times the activity of the next constitutent. These newly added radionuclides are different chemically from potassium, and some will be taken up by organisms before they will mix with the rest of the ocean water, of course. So it's hard to use the curie number above for any kind of short-term perspective on this. Especially if you have no idea how many Bq of activity has been spilled.

        But I put it out there anyway.

        Here's another link to similar data.

        Here's a 1974 article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists giving total reactor activity contents at different times after shutdown. At shutdown, a 1000 megawatt (electric capacity, I assume) contains about 1.5x10^10 curies of activity including 1.2x10^10 curies of fission products. One day after shutdown the total has decayed to about 4x10^9 curies. Ten years later you are down to about 9x10^6 total curies. The reactors in this current accident add up to maybe 3000 or so megawatts, considering that some of them were shut down, and also considering the spent fuel lying around.

        So the number of curies available for release would be something like the number of natural curies in the oceans. The number actually released would probably be a very small fraction of that at this point.

        Still bad at least locally and for as long as the leaks continue, of course.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:54:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for such an informative comment. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          billmosby, StrayCat, OtherDoug

          I was thinking of exploring more in a diary, but I don't know if I can pull it off.

          Your last comment goes most to the point, right... any fish that hung around locally are likely to be affected and they aren't really privvy to any quarantine areas.  They'll just go where they want.  

          Cesium is the bad stuff in fish because it goes straight to the muscle and hangs out there indefinitely.

          Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

          by the dogs sockpuppet on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:41:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  pacific's a pretty big ocean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ej25

        even if this makes things bad for the northwest pacific, that's a fraction of that enormous body of water.

    •  If kbman's theory is correct, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, kbman, OtherDoug

      you can put about any amount of water into some or all of them that you like, but they will ultimately hold zero gallons.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:47:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        billmosby, erush1345, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

        I can see why they are using them from a practical perspective.  The condensing unit has a large volume to accommodate the dead steam coming from the turbines.  It is also right there in the turbine building.  I believe there is a shutoff to isolate the condenser from the heat exchanger tubes.  Whether it has leaks is another question, but in the absence of a driving pressure behind it, any leaking through the shutoff should be minimal.

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

        by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:31:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True. I was trying to be (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OtherDoug

          just a little bit funny, hope you didn't mind my invoking your theory.

          Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

          by billmosby on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:34:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, not at all and the point has some validity (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            billmosby, StrayCat, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

            But it also gets to why I don't see the forward path through the main steam isolation valve as being related to water in the ocean.  There are too many massive components to pass through prior to reaching the heat exchanger.  Coming in the back door via the feedwater line is much more direct.  Also, the MSIV is a seriously large valve.  I assumed that it would take a lot longer for a channel to be etched in the seating surfaces than for the much smaller feedwater return shutoff - not to say it hasn't happened by now.

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

            by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:49:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Mistaken reporting about radiation spike (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman, OtherDoug

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

    by yuriwho on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:13:11 AM PDT

  •  Neutron Beam seen at plant 13 times (4+ / 0-)

    Anybody know anything about neutron beams?

    This reported is dated March 23 and I apologize if it's already been reported but this is the first time I've seen the report:

    From Kyodo News

    Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant

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

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

    But the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant's nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.
  •  entombment (6+ / 0-)

    What good is entombment if there's a leak under the structure?  Wouldn't that result in a permanent increase in ground water radiation?

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:21:14 AM PDT

  •  My thanks and a link. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawgrass727, Drama Queen, Wee Mama

    Once again, thanks for expending the substantial time and effort it takes to put together these update diaries.  They are extremely helpful and I find them a far better source of analysis than any other source on dkos.

    Here is a link to a New York Times article that sums up a lot of what has been mentioned and linked to by other commenters.  I don't know that it includes anything new, but it recaps much of the back and forth with radioactivity readings, isotope identification, et cetera.

  •  Cracked Containment Vessel (5+ / 0-)

    I've seen reports that suggest primary containment may be cracked, what are your thoughts on this? If it's true, how would they deal with such a situation?

    Thanks so much for your input on this situation. It's so difficult to get good, objective information on the whole situation. I can't tell you how much your posts mean to me.  I have family including a 5 year old nephew who live in Chiba. Thankfully, based a lot on my insisting, they have left and are with my in-laws in Toyama for the foreseeable future.

    This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher

    by Beetwasher on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 08:49:19 AM PDT

    •  Read his diaries, he's clear on this topic (9+ / 0-)

      reactor is not cracked, seals/valves are leaking.

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

      by yuriwho on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:14:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Same difference, no? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kbman

        Exit point has been inadvertently created.

        •  No, its a fairly big difference in terms of (9+ / 0-)

          the immediate future implications and the way the situation is managed.  If the vessel were cracked they would be fairly frantic to get it bottled up and buried as they could no longer count on it to not fail catastrophically.  With leaking seals they can track down the leaks and possibly take corrective actions, either torquing down on valves to get a slower leak, isolation via other stop valves, or at least capturing and managing the leaking water instead of letting it contaminate critical work areas.

          In terms of the semantics of the integrity of the reactor vessel containment system there is no difference, but it is a question of which components of that system have been degraded.

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

          by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:47:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's not that he's clear (which he is) (10+ / 0-)

        but that he lays out the facts that we DO know and suggests a possible egress for the radioactive particles that have 'heated up' the local ocean area as detected by radiation monitors.

        The Diaryist is VERY clear that this is a 'theory' and not fact. I wish ALL diaries here dealing with nuclear energy...or any energy issue...were as well written (including my own)...and clearly distinguishes fact from suggestion.

        Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

        by davidwalters on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:55:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks David (5+ / 0-)

          I'm trying to be as explicit about this as I can to not overstate my confidence in various theories about what is happening or even what is known.  Sometimes "I don't know" is the only absolutely accurate answer that can be offered.  At the same time I see value in informed speculation, and invite others to think about the facts as we know them and offer their ideas along with the arguments that support them.

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

          by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:51:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That's His Likely scenario (0+ / 0-)

        I'm asking what if? And wondering how such a situation would be dealt with.

        This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher

        by Beetwasher on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:27:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  More or less answered in a comment just above (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Beetwasher, OtherDoug

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

          by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:52:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, But IF It Was Cracked (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OtherDoug

            Which admittedly seems unlikely according to your analysis, how would they deal with something like that? What sort of options would they have to contain something like that?

            This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher

            by Beetwasher on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:16:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry, I Wasn't Clear (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wu ming, OtherDoug

            I understand that if it were cracked, you believe we would be seeing them acting in a more "frantic" fashion to hurriedly get the thing buried. How would they know it was a crack as opposed to leaking seals? Or is it just an educated guess on the part of those involved? Would you need to actually see the primary containment in order to determine if it was a crack vs. seal leakage?

            Also, as far as burying quickly, how is this done? Are there things that would need to be done before you encase it? IOW, how long, in ballpark terms, would it take before they could entomb it and how much radioactive release would/could there be and approximately how large an area, in worst case terms would we be possibly talking about being effected by dangerous dosages of radiation?

            I understand any answers you may have would be VERY speculative, and I'm sorry for having so many questions, but I'm just trying to get as best info as I can in order to be properly informed for my family and I appreciate you allowing me to pick your brain.

            In addition to having family there, I actually have a trip booked to Japan already for the end of May. I have 4 year old twins and I'm not sure I should plan on going at this point. We'd by flying into Tokyo and then going to Toyama right away.  Just want to keep myself as informed as possible at this point.

            This post is dedicated to myself, without whom, I'd be somebody else. Though I'd still be an asshole. My Music: http://www.myspace.com/beetwasher

            by Beetwasher on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:29:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Wow, I can certainly understand the urgency of (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ebohlman, StrayCat, Beetwasher, OtherDoug

              your question.  Unfortunately I can't give a very definitive answer to much of what you ask.

              Regarding how to distinguish the symptoms of a crack from those of leaking seals, if there was a crack in the reactor vessel that was leaking water then it would be raising the radioactivity in the drywell enormously as the leaking water would accumulate in the drywell sump well.  It would also be causing unexplained increases in drywell pressure and unexplained drops in reactor pressure.  They may also have other instrumentation that would assist in this determination - things such as vibration measuring equipment and ultrasonic sensors.  A crack in the reactor vessel would seem to have some kind of characteristic signature for each of these detection methods.  Also, vibration monitoring is very common in nuclear plants as it is indicative of performance reliability.

              The rest of your question would require going way out on the skinny branches of speculation and is something I choose to not engage in.  There are so many factors that could come into play that would affect the impact of radiation, radioactive releases, their pathways into the environment, and each could be affected by new events such as powerful aftershocks.  As far as the minimum time it would take them to bottle up a reactor, I presume there would be stages.  The first would be flooding the primary containment to ensure fuel was covered and a meltdown would not happen.  Then it gets trickier to foresee because I don't have a nuclear engineering background or experience in these kinds of decommissioning operations.

              In general I think it would be optimistic to assume that this incident will be entirely resolved by May.  The immediate dangers may be gone by then, hopefully they will, but the environmental impact will linger for quite some time.  I mentioned your circumstance to my landlady as an example of the kinds of questions people are facing in this emergency.  Ever practical, she said I should ask if you by any chance have trip insurance ...

              I guess the bottom line is that it is just too soon to tell and too many things can change between now and then, both for better or worse.  Unfortunately the upside possibilities are far more limited than the downside risks at this juncture.

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

              by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:50:00 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Good for you. (7+ / 0-)
      I have family including a 5 year old nephew who live in Chiba. Thankfully, based a lot on my insisting, they have left and are with my in-laws in Toyama for the foreseeable future.  
      I suspect they will be very grateful to you in coming years.  

      Renewable energy brings national security.      -6.25, -6.05

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:06:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ditto. Niece in Tokyo refuses to leave. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      synductive99, StrayCat, wu ming, OtherDoug

      Lived there over 20 years.  Using her restaurant business to raise money and accept donations for quake relief.

      46 years old - knowingly losing years of health - for compassion, love of the Japanese people and her adopted home.

      The world - all of us - need to step back and contemplate how YOU might feel - knowing there is radioactive tap water - but still struggling to maintain some sense of "normal".

      This GENI cannot, unfortunately, be put back into the bottle.

      Nuclear IS insane.  Humanity FIRST!

      •  With present conditions she should be OK in Tokyo (6+ / 0-)

        The amounts of radioactivity are above background but not at levels where major health effects are expected.  If a fuel pool were to start burning that would be time to consider getting further away and staying out of the path of the prevailing winds.  But in that eventuality any location becomes a crapshoot because winds can change, plumes travel where they travel and either disperse well or not.  Local dosage rates could vary significantly in adjoining areas.

        At this point I would respect her choice and keep the level of concern in perspective.  She may not be losing years of health and to date she quite likely has not.  It is the uncertainty of where things are headed that is more the concern than where things have been so far.

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

        by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:01:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Oh, whew. #2 reactor water only (10+ / 0-)

    100,000 times above normal--not 10 million.

    I'm so relieved.  Not a problem.  Continue with business as usual.  Right.

    ...A few hours later, TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said a new test had found radiation levels 100,000 times above normal — far better than the first results, though still very high.

    But he ruled out having an independent monitor oversee the various checks despite the errors...

    wtf?  No independent monitor?

    •  Link for above block quote: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mamamedusa, StrayCat
    •  Good thing they tested the water in #2 (4+ / 0-)

      before sending workers in without protective foot gear.

      If they had serious burns with 10,000 times above normal, imagine 100,000 times above normal.

      And how can anyone trust any of these numbers if there is no outside independent monitor.

      The U.N. should demand an outside independent monitor.

      •  Does anyone even know who's in charge there? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive

        Not that I need to know them personally but it seems odd that it's not clear by now to the international nuclear community what kind of team is in place and who is the "decider."

        Unless someone wants to tell me Japan is one of those non-authoritarian "let's sit in a talking circle until we reach a consensus" kinds of places.

        •  I was surprised to read... (4+ / 0-)

          ...that power cable was being laid by some company I'd never heard of, but I guess that's *not* surprising (if that makes any sense).

          It must have been a sub-contractor; they were the guys who walked in the radioactive water because their safety manuals made no mention (and I'm not making this up) that nuclear reactor repair work might involve puddles of water, and despite the fact that they'd been pouring hundreds of thousand of pounds of water on the place, the sub-contractor went with the specific text of the safety manuals.

          :-/

          To answer your question, I'd say it's really TEPCO that's in charge, bottom line.

          It is a privately-owned power plant.

          Although "in charge" seems a bit of a reach.

          - bp

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

          by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:57:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is fairly typical in this & other industries (6+ / 0-)

            Their in-house people are there to provide day-to-day support of operations and maintenance.  Specialty work that is not required on an ongoing basis is done by sub-contractors.  When a plant goes into a maintenance outage such as unit 4, the local population of workers swells as they will bring in steamfitters, electricians, additional engineering and management support, and especially addition radiological controls support people - those who do the radiation monitoring while work is in progress to alert workers if conditions deteriorate.  All of these workers are typically subcontracted.

            This was a point Blue Sue and I discussed in yesterday's comments, "Where were the rad techs when these workers got their feet burned?"  I'm sure the work they were sent to do was challenging enough without having to act as their own radiation monitors as well - especially given that it was not their area of expertise.  They lacked the background knowledge to know when it was time to leave the area and had no supporting cast to help them.

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

            by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:25:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  This is reassuring. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          StrayCat
          ...The company plans to put the radioactive water into condenser tanks.  Those tanks are already full, so crews must find a way to drain them, company officials said at a briefing today...

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

          Water in, radioactive water out.  For how long?  And where does this ever increasing radioactive water go for the long term?  How much dilution can the ocean provide?

          We so abuse our oceans, our land, our air, our water, our food, our people.

  •  In true CNN style... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chrisma, skillet, kbman, StrayCat, OtherDoug

    ...CNN (at this specific moment: 10:40 am PDT) is still reporting that radiation levels are "10M times above normal" on its http://edition.cnn.com/... feature page.

    It's not until (or if) you drill down to the actual article that they correct the statement.

    Is it any wonder why people are so:

    1) confused, and

    2) so freaked out about all this?

    -bp

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

    by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:41:11 AM PDT

    •  As if folks would feel more safe hearing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, StrayCat

      100,000 times normal in the first place?

      •  I just refreshed that CNN page... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        StrayCat, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

        ...almost five hours later, and it still says exactly the same thing.

        Maybe CNN doesn't work on the weekends...

        - bp

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

        by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:20:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What a complete joke: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kbman, StrayCat, OtherDoug
          This Just In” is CNN's news blog. This is where you will find the latest news and information from CNN’s correspondents and sources around the world.

          CNN's "Live Blog" has as its most recent posts:

          [9:16 a.m. ET Sunday, 10:17 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric says it is re-checking its results for a form of radioactive iodine in water from the No. 2 reactor's turbine building at Fukushima Daiichi after Japan's nuclear safety agency questioned extremely high figures released earlier Sunday.

          [1:30 a.m. ET Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Radiation levels in pooled water tested in the No. 2 nuclear reactor's turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are 10 million times normal, a power company official said Sunday. Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency reports the surface water showed 1,000 millisieverts of radiation. By comparison, an individual in a developed country is naturally exposed to 3 millisieverts per year, though Japan's health ministry has set a 250 millisievert per year cumulative limit before workers must leave the plant. One person was working in and around the No. 2 reactor when the test result became known, according to an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant. That individual subsequently left, and work there has stopped until the government signs off on the power company's plan to address the issue.

          So their most recent "Live Blog" is 6 hours old...

          - bp

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

          by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:28:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Green Party wins big in conservative heart land (6+ / 0-)

    in Germany - and may lead the next government - this is obviously related to the events in Japan.

    http://www.spiegel.de/...

  •  I had to shake my head when people were relieved (6+ / 0-)

    that the radiation fallout was "blowing out to sea". Did they think it was like snow, if it fell somewhere else it can't affect them? Unless radioactive material  "blows away" completely off the planet its going to affect us for a long long time. "Don't worry, it's falling in the ocean" ... hmmm, the Japanese don't eat much seafood, do they?
    Another thing that I couldn't believe was with all the  seawater dumps and firetruck hosings of the radioactive rods, nobody in the media thought to ask" Hey, where is all that radioactive water running off the equipment going?" Down the sewer, into the ocean, perhaps?  Soaking into the groundwater?
    Out of sight out of mind. The problem just turns up later in birth defects and elevated cancer rates. The really scary thing is most of the human race has absolutely no idea of just what kind of horrors can unfold if something goes terribly wrong at a nuke plant. Chernobyl was too far away, remote, to really register.
    Will it take a massive nuclear accident, near a major city, to change people's minds? Unfortunately I think we're going to find out in this century.

    Living in the spaces between the boxes other people are thinking inside of...

    by fourthcornerman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:26:11 PM PDT

  •  Well crap (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, kbman, StrayCat, Wee Mama, OtherDoug

    If I'd known you were gunna put my comment up there I would have fancied it up a bit--a block quote, link--maybe even used some punctuation

    AspiringtobethepersonmydogthinksIam

    by FOYI on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:25:12 PM PDT

  •  TEPCO'S crack history (4+ / 0-)
    It has been confirmed that there are 29 cases of falsification, which were related to damage in many parts of the reactor pressure vessel such as core shroud, jet pump, access hole cover, feed water spurger, on-core monitor housing and others.

    From CNIC
    I think that should be sparger

    the massive falsification scandal starting in August 2002 that lead to shut down all of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s
    17 nuclear reactors. TEPCO officials had falsified the inspection records and attempted to hide cracks in
    reactor vessel shrouds in 13 of its 17 units.

    from the World Nuclear Industry status Report 2004

    Hey kb--do you know if there is a by-pass line in between the inlet side and outside feed-water pump

    your backwash theory--makes a lot of sense

    AspiringtobethepersonmydogthinksIam

    by FOYI on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:33:19 PM PDT

  •  A very shallow 6.5 earthquake... (4+ / 0-)

    ...just went off (3:23 PDT) about half-way inshore and just to the northwest of the original quake's epicenter.

    "Very shallow" being a USGS-reported 3.7 miles.

    A tsunami warning has been issued.

    - bp

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

    by b00g13p0p on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:18:08 PM PDT

  •  A visual (6+ / 0-)

    This may help others to visualize your backflow theory

    Boiling Water Reactor Schematic: 1. Reactor pressure vessel (RPV) 2. Nuclear fuel element 3. Control rods 4. Circulation pumps 5. Engine control rods 6. Steam 7. Feedwater 8. High pressure turbine (HPT) 9. Low pressure turbine 10. Generator 11. Exciter 12. Condenser 13. Coolant 14. Pre-heater 15. Feedwater pump 16. Cold water pump 17. Concrete enclosure 18. Mains connection  Nicolas Lardot - Wikimedia Commons

    AspiringtobethepersonmydogthinksIam

    by FOYI on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:18:16 PM PDT

    •  Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, OtherDoug

      I had seen a good diagram of the piping for the GE reactors but it was imbedded in a PDF and I had too many other things to pull together to also track that down, copy it to photoshack, etc.

      The only other diagram I saw was purely schematic and showed the feedwater being returned to the bottom of the vessel.  Since it would have likely caused as much confusion as clarification I chose to not go with it.  This is much better.  Backwards in the blue system then out through the greyish blue.  I'll add it to the top.

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

      by kbman on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:56:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  finally back online (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, OtherDoug


    I am travelling and the internet went down at my hotel... right now I only have internet at work.  Just catching up on the stuation here and your diaries.  Great work, glad you're still at it kbman!

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

    by louisev on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 07:47:47 AM PDT

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