Releases Now 42% Greater Than Chernobyl
TEPCO GM: "It's certain that fission is occurring…"
As word came out over the couple of days that the utility 'in charge' of three melted reactors and four exposed spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reservation has been measuring short-lived xenon, cesium and iodine isotopes at and around Unit-2, there have been a couple of diaries to the subject. FishOutofWater's Breaking: Recriticality… and a diary by cosmic debris, Possible nuclear fission at Fukushima.
To them I wish to add a little bit of newer information you may find interesting. But first, I will say something about what I believe is really going on at Daiichi, now that they're building up the public drama again - with cause.
First there were the reports from workers in mid-late August that told of the ground cracking underneath the facility, with boiling water and steam 'geysers' erupting from the cracks.
In a piece at Fukushima Diary on August 15th, the reports were fleshed out…
In early August, a Fukushima worker emailed to his friends..."A lot of the cracks came up in the ground, massive steam is coming up from there. It's too smoggy here, can't see a thing. It seems like nuclear reaction is happening underground. Now we are evacuating. Watch out for the direction of wind."
Whistleblower in the government…"I've heard that steam is coming up from the cracks in the ground. We are afraid of it."
Another Fukushima worker…"Near the reactors, there are a lot of cracks in the ground, steam splashed out from there sometimes. And we have detected 10 Sv/hr at 6 places unlike gov's announcement."
On August 15th, Tepco "confessed" a new fact……there is a huge pool on the basement floor of Fukushima, which is shared by units 1-4. They stock 6400 nuclear spent fuel rods in it, and groundwater is flowing into the pool through broken duct. Now the massively contaminated water is in it at least 9ft. [6400 fuel rods is about 140% of the total fuel rods in the reactors.]
Lucas Hixson reported (with photos) on October 17th about the metal plates, with an update from NHK about a TEPCO press release that sounded ominous… [from NHK]
10/13/2011 - According to Tepco, it was splashing from underground in June, but now it's stopped.
They assume it is the highly contaminated water that fills the basement floor.
It is assumed that melted fuel rods are sinking deep underground, which is called China Syndrome.
On September 12th the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force [GSDF] held an emergency evacuation drill that was reported by Mainichi and widely cited across the web (including DU, all the usual suspects, and Greg Laden in his blog). I watched video at the time of the activities. Mainichi has since scrubbed all its coverage of these emergency drills from its website, but everyone else's reiterations of the coverage remains. EneNews reported thusly about the Mainichi article…
[13 Sep 2011] 400 GSDF personnel deployed for drill - The Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) and residents of the zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant held an emergency evacuation drill on Sept. 12. The drill, held in preparation for any further large-scale emission of radioactive materials from the plant, was the first involving local residents. The scenario for the drill presupposed further meltdown of the Fukushima plant's No. 3 reactor core, and a local accumulation of radioactive materials emitting 20 millisieverts of radiation within the next four days.
Mainichi did report just today, however, that a NISA working group "has decided" to expand priority evacuation areas for nuclear accidents at any of Japan's plants to 30km from the current 3, 5, 8 and 10km planning zones. They also reported on the 'renewed' fission in the ground underneath unit-2. Which TEPCO is now saying is "continual" as opposed to "spontaneous" or "sporadic." That should tell you something.
So what happened on Halloween (Japan time) to change things and lead to this not-bombshell admission by TEPCO that criticality has been confirmed? Well, here's a little hint…
Oops. If this is a new hole in the side of the unit-2 reactor building, it is above the level of the torus, below normal core level. Hydrogen concentrations have been slowly rising as well, as water poured into the reactor pressure vessel made its way through the melt-hole at vessel bottom and from there into the melt-opened pathway to the torus, to occasionally drench the corium now somewhere well below that level. The Japanese government staged extended evacuation 'drills' in August in the areas outside the 12km exclusion zone, indicating they have been aware that corium was approaching groundwater level, where pressurized hydrogen explosions might be ignited and evacuations extended. Yesterday's non-bombshell revelations may be a signal step toward that eventuality. The situation in Fukushima prefecture could well be fixing to get worse than it has been since April.
Best to remember that officials - Japanese or American or anybody else's - are always going to diminish the situation until the point where the truth just cannot remain hidden any longer. At least one corium flow is in the groundwater, and hydrogen is building even as fission product releases are increasing and will continue to increase for the next few months at least.
So what we're entering is "Stage Two" of the Fukushima disaster. When the ground itself becomes a reactor and more than half a year's assurances that everything was 'stable' fall completely apart. They've had some time to prepare for it. They knew it was inevitable the end of March. It's been underground and erupting water/steam through cracks to the surface since June. By August they were prepping the GSDF and population for further emergency evacuations. And today NHK reports that TEPCO is becoming "alarmed" as krypton enters the scene. It's cooking along down there just fine -
TEPCO confirms 1-131 still one of three main nuclides being released to the sea.
There is nothing they can do to stop what's happening, though adding boron to the down-the-hole water is a valiant effort. The metal sheeting on the ground should help a little if the whole shebang doesn't blow sky high. And given reports of how fractured the ground is, it might not.
Oh, yeah. Chernobyl. Here y'go…