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The news lately has been featuring troubles at Fukushima Daiichi, a situation that has been getting steadily worse for the past couple of months, as Japan has repeatedly called for help from the world nuclear industry and their governments, which strangely (or not so strangely) doesn't appear to be forthcoming. In a rather alarming item, a VOR [Voice of Russia] report entitled Fukushima radioactive leak causes the sea off Japan coast to boil was picked up by BBC and linked on their website, and it has gone viral with a photo on Twitter from VOR. From the report:

The sea is boiling off of the coast of Fukushima, Japan, and the picture of this devastating phenomenon has recently been called the photo of the day by Coolbuster. While it certainly can't be good for any plant or animal life left off the coast of Japan, it might have even worse consequences for the North American continent. If Fukushima radiation keeps leaking, the boiling seas are likely to spread all the way across the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast of the US causing a massive environmental catastrophe.

No, the sea isn't boiling. Yet...

Well, hopefully I can help a little bit here to calm some nerves about the most frightening of news coming out of Fukushima. Just so you know, the VOR report is hyperbolic nonsense - the sea isn't boiling, and even if it were it couldn't boil all the way to North America. So take it down a few notches, then we can look at reality.

What is actually happening is that the corium lavas that are what's left of the three reactor cores than experienced "China Syndrome" meltdowns two and a half years ago, have reached the water table beneath the plants. The good news on that is that none of them managed to cause the original "Worst Case Scenario" that has a super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major 'hydrovolcanic' explosion where the whole facility goes sky high.

The bad news is that over these past weeks the groundwater level has been steadily rising, and it finally hit the surface this weekend. This has caused deadly levels of radiation from standing water at various places around the facility, in the range of 1.8 to as much as 10 Sieverts per hour on contact. An estimated 1,000 tons of groundwater rushes into the complex every day, picks up contamination, and flows on out into the Pacific. TEPCO hopes to install pumps uphill of the facility to divert some of the flow. Someday. Maybe.

There is also the issue of leaking storage tanks for the highly radioactive coolant being pumped into and out of the basements every day. Which is then pumped to the tanks. They were filtering it to reduce cesium at one point early on, but the cheap piping (basically dryer hose stuff) froze the first winter, I can't find that they're still using the system. The tanks are themselves pretty shitty and were never meant to last very long.

TEPCO coated the bottom of the lagoon inside the seawalls with a fairly thick layer of borated/clay concrete awhile back. That is no longer stopping the groundwater flow, and the water that has been in contact with corium is very warm, so steam is rising. It is not actually boiling in the lagoon, and won't unless the corium is actually sitting in the lagoon. Steam is being produced, which is coming out here and there, like the steam and boiling water spouts that began erupting on the facility grounds back in June of 2011. Only moreso.

The corium lavas were never really going to go all the way through the earth. Like any liquid, even a not-very viscous liquid, it would follow the 'path of least resistance', which means following the natural flow of the groundwater to the sea. The corium flows can thus be approximated now as being within mere meters of the cliff face and/or ocean bottom of the lagoon. Heating the water it's in contact with and releasing lots of nasty elements in the process.

It's a mud-pit. Biggest danger is destabilization of the ruins that are still holding overstuffed spent fuel pools four stories in the air. And that is the reason the world nuclear industry and their governments need to get off their duffs and do what can be done about the situation.

Now the Japanese government and TEPCO are planning to freeze the ground two miles long and to perhaps 100 feet in depth, to wall off the facilities from the aquifer's flow and stabilize the ground enough to hold up the ruins. And they expect to be done with it by 2015. Finish date, specs and costs may of course be adjusted along the road, as things nuclear always are.

Many engineers are skeptical of the plan, for a number of reasons. There is the radiation hazard to workers, of course. And the fact that frozen walls have in the past been in use for just a couple of years (costs making them impractical for longer than that), while the most optimistic projection for decommissioning of Daiichi is sixty years. If the world nuclear industry and their host governments could be enlisted to help deal with the situation (and pay for it) we might be able to expect some innovative new technologies to be developed and deployed at Daiichi over the course, but there aren't any indications lately that either the nukes or their governments care to deal with what is most certainly NOT Japan's little problem.

They will, of course, keep right on insisting that we need a couple thousand new nukes in the next 50 years or so. All the while pretending Daiichi isn't their problem or anyone's concern. I hope the situation remains forevermore that Nobody's Buying.

Originally posted to Joieau on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:37 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK and Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (151+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    majcmb1, dharmafarmer, just another vet, Tirge Caps, Gooserock, jwinIL14, Little, whenwego, Simplify, blueoasis, AoT, jan4insight, Lefty Coaster, LeftOfYou, rja, nzanne, Deep Harm, Matt Z, ActivistGuy, LinSea, newpioneer, middleagedhousewife, Lorikeet, AZ Sphinx Moth, akmk, beverlywoods, icemilkcoffee, sunny skies, Cassandra Waites, PeterHug, Teiresias70, turn blue, escapee, kerflooey, No one gets out alive, SadieSue, TheMomCat, DefendOurConstitution, Jim P, anodnhajo, ricklewsive, boatjones, Librarianmom, k9disc, OldSoldier99, kurious, Drocedus, wordwraith, farmerhunt, limpidglass, Joy of Fishes, karmsy, S F Hippie, DawnN, pateTX, oldpotsmuggler, hubcap, CcVenussPromise, Theoleman, emmasnacker, ozsea1, dagolfnut, Ignacio Magaloni, Alumbrados, blueoregon, antirove, johanus, 207wickedgood, ovals49, Johnny the Conqueroo, alabamaliberal, exiledfromTN, crose, lavorare, Gordon20024, patbahn, WakeUpNeo, Debs2, Just Bob, maybeeso in michigan, Orcas George, RWood, zmom, also mom of 5, juliesie, BlueMississippi, kaliope, tgypsy, NJpeach, OLinda, greycat, SueM1121, churchylafemme, myrmecia gulosa, Sandino, Mary Mike, 3rock, wu ming, Horace Boothroyd III, Gottlieb, flitedocnm, chickeee, BusyinCA, KJG52, Nebraskablue, Miss Jones, gulfgal98, randallt, worldlotus, Tinfoil Hat, jayden, Rejoinder, DRo, eeff, NotGeorgeWill, ladypockt, mamamedusa, cordgrass, leeleedee, Creosote, marleycat, J M F, Kimbeaux, Kit RMP, Dr Arcadia, Powered Grace, Robynhood too, greenbastard, MKinTN, LI Mike, jfromga, ashowboat, native, Wino, angelajean, egarratt, HeyMikey, MusicFarmer, dotsright, DavidHeart, AaronInSanDiego, justintime, Knockbally, suspiciousmind, JesseCW, SeekCa, catly, Alfred E Newman, War on Error, Terranova0, Calamity Jean
  •  thanks for the update (17+ / 0-)

    The situation really, really sucks. Especially for Japan.

    Seems like containment is the only option, and the more the better. It's taking them a damn long time though.

    "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings" Adam Duritz/Counting Crows... Or if you prefer... "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" Carl Sagan

    by zipn on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:44:50 PM PDT

  •  holyshit (3+ / 0-)
    the sea isn't boiling, and even if it were it couldn't boil all the way to North America
    You're not fighting "nonsense" well when you say something like that. What's the implication? That if only HALF THE PACIFIC OCEAN BOILED it wouldnt' be a big deal? (And yes, I know, that ain't gona happen, but...)

    And isnt the worst case scenario that the melted cores manage to configure themselves in such a way that they are able to go critical? Or is something making that highly unlikely?

    •  The ocean can't be boiled away , (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, Cassandra Waites

      what goes up , comes down .

      "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. H.

      by indycam on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:56:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm familiar with the water cycle. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Bensdad, Horace Boothroyd III

        But that ignores an awful lot. Ocean tempareture is a vital part of life on earth. (Again - it ain't gona happen, but...)

        •  You can't boil the ocean (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Creosote, Kimbeaux, Joieau

          there's an expression about that to describe something that's impossible.  Study up on thermodynamics a bit. The specific heat of water is very high, and the latent heat of vaporization is also very high. What this means is it takes a lot of energy to boil away water. And there is a huge amount of water in the ocean. All the power plants on earth, and all the nuclear bombs we've exploded have not boiled away the ocean. The fuel from one failed plant isn't going to do it either. About the only way the oceans will boil away is if we fall into the sun, or the sun expands outward as it may when it fades to a red giant millions of years from now.

          There is a water cycle, but if the Pacific were to boil, we'd have many bigger concerns. The climate change we've seen so far, and all that's predicted due to CO2, would be nothing compared with boiling the Pacific. We're talking disaster resulting from a global warning of only a few degrees. And you couldn't simply boil the Pacific away without water from the other oceans flowing in to replace it. So yes, there is a water cycle, but the Pacific simply is not going to boil away as a result of anything happening at Fukushima.

          Of course the cores are still producing heat, that's why they have emergency cooling systems still operating. Some local steam is not a good sign, but is also not surprising given the scale of the disaster. The big concern is that this isn't contained, and contaminants leaking into the Pacific and the atmosphere can spread far.  And a steam explosion on-site could make the situation much worse. But contact with the water table should also help cool the cores. Water was after all always a coolant in the reactors.  But we don't want the big mess that would come from a big steam explosion and further spread of contaminants that might happen were the cores to reach the water table (how big a steam explosion might happen all depends on how dense and hot the core is, and the geology under the plant). We're not going to see boiling at the western US, but we could see seawater contaminated by radiation.

      •  Oh, that's a relief. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
    •  They've gone critical already (6+ / 0-)

      It's melted down. That's why they're melted. There simply isn't enough material to boil that much ocean, or anything close. The worst case scenario is "super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major 'hydrovolcanic' explosion where the whole facility goes sky high." As the diary puts it.

      Still possible. There is a lot of material that could be spread pretty far.

      If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

      by AoT on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:02:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not accurate. (6+ / 0-)

        I'll let experts respond more fully, but simply melting doesn't mean critical. Criticality is a whole nuther ballgame.

        •  You mean an explosion (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Little, Joieau

          Or close enough.

          That seems pretty damn unlikely.

          If debt were a moral issue then, lacking morals, corporations could never be in debt.

          by AoT on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:18:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That would be "super-criticality." (7+ / 0-)

            And if I'd brushed off my memory chips, I would have remembered that that's not really possible:

            Though dangerous and frequently lethal to humans within the immediate area, the critical mass formed is still incapable of producing a nuclear detonation of the type seen in fission bombs, as the reaction lacks the many engineering elements that are necessary to induce explosive supercriticality. The heat released by the nuclear reaction will typically cause the fissile material to expand, so that the nuclear reaction becomes subcritical again within a few seconds.
            As far as I understand it, it is still not known whether or not criticality - at all- occurred at Fukushima.


            •  Conflation of super critical fluid water (6+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Joieau, Little, jayden, Kimbeaux, jfromga, JesseCW

              with nuclear criticality.

              look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

              by FishOutofWater on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:18:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, I meant super-criticality regarding (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau, 84thProblem

                core material. Wrongly - as that ain't possible in situations like this.

              •  I have not (7+ / 0-)

                seen any indication or read any report that indicated that the core had melted through the containment building floor.  I do not believe that this has occurred.  However, trace leakage from multiple sources is obviously occurring and these leaks will require constant maintenance.

                This isn't like Chernobyl, they are talking about an "Ice Dam" which will need to have a constant power source to prevent a constant stream of highly contaminated water into the ocean around Fukushima.  

                There will be times that a hurricane will hit this coast and the water table will rise to a significant level.  I am still under the impression that they have not been able to inspect reactor 3.  Not sure if this is true because there is NO transparency regarding this accident.

                That is the scariest part for me.

                •  Do check the links, (10+ / 0-)

                  and attached articles at Enformable. The cores are now out of the basements and in the aquifer's groundwater flow. The groundwater level is now at the ground that workers would be walking on if they weren't walking on inches-thick steel plates instead, so they don't get blasted by steam or boiling mud. We are not talking "trace leakage," we are talking about 1,000 R/hr pools and flow through drainage ditches - much of it going into the ocean. Heated water is coming up through the cement job TEPCO did on the seafloor inside the breakwater.

                  It is very, very bad. Something must be done, the industry and its pet governments must be made to respond, because ignoring it isn't making it go away. TEPCO has been playing Whack-a-Mole with issues as they arise, not doing a damned thing about long term stability (other than to have built what looks to be a serviceable defueling crane assembly next to the ruins of unit 4). That operation, if they can ever manage to go forward with it, will be dangerous enough that they're going to need some mighty tough robots. Humans cannot do the job.

                  •  ummmm (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Heated water is coming up through the cement job TEPCO did on the seafloor inside the breakwater.

                    I suppose that is the cause of the boiling???

                    a critical reactor pool of molten material that has been coming out from deep underneath the sea floor after TEPCO laid down concrete over the sea floor inside the breakwater???

                    ok, then I know now for a fact that this diary is not legitimate.  There are no indications in the leak that this is anything but highly contaminated water coming out of leakage from tanks and the reactor building.  There is no indication that the reactor is in the water table and there is certainly NO WAY that "boiling" water is issuing from underneath the sea floor.  That is simply NOT happening. no way in hell.

                    •  That skipped in my mind too. (0+ / 0-)

                      Joieau said somthing about the core material being under the seawater. My brain jogged at first - as I thought there was still a 2question about whether or not it went through the concrete barrier.

                      Now I'm just confused.

                      Think s/he means - right or more possibly wrong - it has gone out with the leaks?

                      •  No, I said the corium is below (7+ / 0-)

                        the basements. There is an illustration I'll sent to flickr tomorrow showing how the contamination is getting to the sea. Some of the groundwater is exiting from the cliff face, some is exiting straight to the lagoon from beneath. If the corium were following the groundwater flow (path of least resistance), it would probably come out the face of the cliff.

                        But I do not expect it is still that viscous or that hot. What is getting out is water that has been in direct contact with the corium masses, carrying a large load of radioactive contamination and heat. The water in the conduits (and yes, some of that's getting out too) is typical of water that has had this direct contact. It is reading 10 Sv/hr, as it has been since the first weeks of the disaster. That is as high as standard hand-held equipment can measure. It is hot enough that you don't want to be holding the probe in your hand when you take the reading.

                        You and Minas and Fish may wish to read the diary again (or not, I really don't care). Right below the orange cauliflower, in bold, it says the sea isn't boiling. So please stop with the misrepresentations. Thanks.

                        •  Jesus Fucking Christ. (0+ / 0-)

                          How many times do I need to say to you I know the sea isn't boiling before you convince me you're not mainlining mth from a tractor trailer full of meth right now?



                          •  Well, you used a rhetorical device (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            "the sea isn't boiling" to make other extreme conjectures appear to be more reasonable by contrast. Perhaps that's why Little blew off a little steam.

                            I know TEPCO's reporting has been so bad many of us suspect that absolutely horrid things are happening. However, I think we are all better served by making evidence based assertions.

                            look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

                            by FishOutofWater on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:33:04 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  And here I thought (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            JesseCW, Sandino

                            that what I was doing was reporting on the actual situation as it is being reported - with increasing alarm - while making fun of RT/BBC's ridiculous "The Sea Is Boiling!" hyperbole. Ever since Japan's new regulators started looking closer at TEPCO's bogus data on behalf of the government, which has taken a more prominent role as the situation became ever more dire in the past few months.

                        •  you have (0+ / 0-)

                          no way to show that there is anything but highly contaminated water that was exposed to the melted core slowly leaking out of tanks and from the building.

                          This is, basically a moot point though.  Except it is much more likely to contain if the reactor floor is still contained.  My understanding is that the reactor building is maintained in a flooded state to keep the material cool.  That this water is being stored at very large volumes because they do not have an adequate filtering system.

                          There is no indication of steam issuing from the ground, steam that did come out was a tiny puff during a rainstorm that leaked in and touched hot metal.  If what you said was happening then they would not be able to walk around the site and Tokyo would be evacuated.

                          •  You cannot still be denying the meltdowns can you? (9+ / 0-)

                            Even Tepco admits the corium has left the building. They knew about it within days and have already apologized for lying for months about that particular detail.

                          •  Not worth it, Sandino. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Sandino, JesseCW

                            Glad I went on off to bed last night rather than stick around for the Blinded By Nukes squad to get truly silly. Sheesh!

                            Minas claims some sort of SuperSecret personal 'understanding' of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi that doesn't include meltdowns, melt-throughs, exploding buildings or any of the other not-so nifty nuclear degradations we've learned about in the past two and a half years. Too bad TEPCO didn't hire him to manage the place, he'd have fixed that slightly leaky roof on unit 3 a long time ago, by golly, BEFORE it puffed a tiny puff of steam! All six of those reactors would be up and humming right now for sure!

                            Sigh. Some things never change, no matter what.

                          •  you need to get a clue (0+ / 0-)


                            The fuel inside reactors 1, 2 and 3 is believed to have melted through the pressure vessels and accumulated somewhere in the outer primary containers, making the task of extraction more challenging than in the case of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.
                            do you still think the fuel has melted through the floors of the basement and are in the water table?

                            the building explosion was due to hydrogen, not steam, it wasn't a chernobyl prompt-critical event, the reactors were shutdown.  the melt was due to decay heat.  the melt downs were found to have occurred within a week after they found fuel in the cooling water.

                            your inability to put truthful pages up about this indicates that you are simply attempting to scare people.

                          •  Your ability to parrot remains unimpeded (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                            by chmood on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:16:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As opposed (0+ / 0-)

                            to blatant misinformation and scaremongering based on fanciful paranoid misinterpretations of select reports (i.e. radioactive water = china syndrome)?

                          •  Yes, the NYT is scaremongering (0+ / 0-)

                            today, unlike the level-headed and completely independent from a month ago. NYT:

                            Molten fuel not only piled up like wax from a candle on the vessel floor, as at Three Mile Island, but ran through cracks into the piping and machinery below. Some experts warn that it may even have found its way into the ground beneath the buildings.
                          •  by the way, the misinformation (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            is coming from your corner, Minas. Many of the readers and commenters to this diary have been following coverage since the beginning. They have certainly seen or heard of scary situations and scenarios, outrageous hyperbole, and a lot of background noise about "ELE!!! Kiss Your Ass goodbye!!!" mongering [Extinction Level Event].

                            I have been quite consistent throughout in trying to convey to worried people that it's not extinction, the world isn't going to die, that any health effects (including cancers) outside the Daiichi reservation and Fukushima exclusion zone and environs are statistical rate increases that will never be blamed on nukes (bombs or meltdown-blowouts). Average rate of 1 in 3 chances of being diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes will go to 1 in 2 by 2020, but it was going there anyway. Maybe we'll have semi-decent treatments by then, who knows?

                            I've explained that the blow-outs weren't nuclear detonations (just filthy with nuclear junk), and that nuclear detonations aren't going to happen now. I've calmed fears by relating the crap from bomb testing days and Chernobyl, point out to the frightened that they're still here. And I've regularly pointed out the fact that the death rate is 100% in all generations. That's not going to change with or without Fukushima.

                            Perhaps you are seeing panic where it doesn't exist. Who's frightened?

                          •  appreciate you saying so (0+ / 0-)

                            The real issue that I have is that I understand what it is that you are saying.  

                            to be clear, it is really a moot point.  If the reactor melted through the containment and part of the core is in the groundwater then that is bad

                            but it is basically the same as having a spent fuel pool collapse and a core melt down and containment breach (with no melt through) so that the entire system is a large pool of high contaminated water (very high) with small cracks that are leaking into the ocean.

                            it should be noted here that the sudden increase in radioactive water leakage has been traced to a leaking water tank, not from underneath the reactor vessel.

                            However, the idea that they want to make a frozen dam suggests that the long-term prospects of preventing continued containment loss and migration of transuranics is basically the same as if the core HAD breached.

                            --just without the idea of uncontrolled criticality in the groundwater below the reactor, which was really my whole objection.

                            believe me, I know this is really really bad.

                          •  I have said not a word (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            about some "uncontrolled criticality" in the groundwater below the reactor. I don't recall seeing that anywhere in this diary's comments, so I have no clue where you came up with that one.

                            And while I'm here, corium sitting in groundwater that is getting out to the ocean is nowhere near as bad as an SFP collapse. Which is that Worst Case Scenario in my book unless they've got an army of kamikazes somewhere willing to fly over it dumping boron, zeolite, sand and asphalt for as long as they aren't puking their guts out. I view airborne contamination as worse - for humans - than waterborne contamination. Because I don't live in the sea, don't breathe the sea, and don't eat/drink the sea. I'm sure your average shark, sea sponge and/or squid would view things quite differently.


                          •  There you go being completely unhinged again (0+ / 0-)

                            Core meltdown and breach of containment is a special set of nightmares all its own;  the spent fuel pools represent a completely different set of nightmares.

                            There are few if any common points between these nightmare scenarios;  conflating them accomplishes no good thing at all.

                            trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                            by chmood on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 07:12:07 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  As opposed to informed conversation (0+ / 0-)

                            between persons in a public forum?

                            No:  IN ADDITION TO your scare-mongering, blatant misrepresentations and paranoid misinterpretations.

                            trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                            by chmood on Fri Sep 06, 2013 at 07:06:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I do think that two of the corium (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            flows are outside the basements - units 1 and 3. Unit 2's corium flow apparently got diverted to the torus instead of into the basement when it melted through the vessel and into the drywell originally. Its final loss of pressure incident (for the primary containment 'bulb') didn't occur until early last month, so something new has occurred.

                            The coriums at 1 and 3 likely melted through the drywell concrete a couple of weeks after the disaster's onset at most, when their primary containment structures lost all pressure. It took Chernobyl's [smaller] corium flows just a couple of weeks to melt to their final resting places - one went straight into the basement where it encountered a buildup of water on the floor and set off a considerable steam explosion. This served to shatter the molten material into a gazillion [not intended to be an accurate count] pieces, that have the consistency of lava pumice. The larger flow went into the sub-unit piping system and through that to the bedrock beneath the foundations. Where it remains today, the larger of the split flow comprising the famous "elephant's foot" formation got some three meters into the granite bedrock before it could no longer actively melt what it was in contact with.

                            Considering that the Fukushima 1 and 3 coriums have been in the basements for more than 2 years makes it likely to me that they are now below that. I could be wrong, though, and maybe it's still just on the cracked floor of those now water-filled basements. Either way, they are sitting in groundwater - either groundwater totally flooding the basement spaces, or under them and in the groundwater flow itself. Also either way, it's contaminating that groundwater, which is getting out to the ocean. Unit 2's corium is also now in contact with groundwater, so is also contributing even if it's relatively close to the surface. The groundwater level reached the surface last weekend.

                            Units 1, 2 and 4 experienced hydrogen explosions. I've never suggested not. Unit 3's explosion was more likely steam, given the different dynamics evident in videos and amount of damage done. Unit 3 was the MOX fuel plant, its explosion scattered chunks of plutonium-enriched fuel as far as a mile from the facility. Hence its corium flow may be smaller than the others, but hotter. Unless the MOX fuel scattered widely about the facility came from the SFP, that is.

                            GE, which designed and built the plants, produced a nifty animated "What Happens" type training film several years before the Fukushima disaster which graphically depicts the progression of a total meltdown in a power reactor deprived completely of coolant. It takes 16 hours to go from boiling what's left of coolant out of the vessel to the drywell through the holey bottom. You may still be able to find that on YouTube somewhere.

                            I don't know where you've been getting your information, but it's garbage. They never "found fuel in the coolant water" at Fukushima "a week before" the cores melted. There was no coolant water and no way to retrieve any of it if there had been, because it (when they finally got the seawater sprays going two days later) was going out the holes in the bottom of the vessels just like the corium did. There was no emergency power because the EDGs washed away in the tsunami. But even EDGs wouldn't have been very useful, as GE and TEPCO engineers there at the time said the earthquake had pretty much destroyed the piping before the tsunami ever hit. Total LOCAs for all three operating units.

                            I have been reporting on the situation at Daiichi (and Daini) since March 11, 2011. I have posted literally hundreds of links and quotes to each of the issues and conditions, from a number of excellent sources. I could waste my time and go gather them up for you, but you could simply go to my diaries page and get them for yourself if you really wanted to see something that makes your gross misinformation look like the garbage it truly is. Or you could go to Enformable's archives, where there are a total of a dozen (or maybe only 10, I can't remember) extensive citations and analyses of the vast trove of NRC documents, internal emails and phone call transcripts from Jaczko's Op-Center in DC released in response to FOIAs filed by Lucas and other researchers/reporters in late 2011 and early 2012.

                            I do not recognize your persona name from responses to those many articles and diaries over the past two and a half years, so maybe you have just now begun to notice that things at Fukushima are not on the up-and-up. Since I am the only user here at DKos (or at Enformable) who has actual real-life experience with nuclear reactor meltdowns and their gnarly aftermaths (or, at least the only one who has been reporting regularly on the situation), I'm calling bullshit on your attempts to discredit me with complete garbage. Have you been on Mars for the past few years?

                            Meh. If you want to know, there is a vast treasure trove of information about Fukushima Daiichi easily available. I do not think that is the reason you are here now trying to pretend it never happened as it certifiably did.

                          •  you are completely off base (0+ / 0-)

                            you believe that the breach of the pressure vessel indicated a loss of the containment vessel.  You believe that the corium is "through the basement" because it has been a "few years" since the loss of pressure containment.

                            both of those statements indicate that you have no clue what you are talking about.  

                            The loss of pressure containment is all that is needed for a pressure loss, a single leaky valve is all that is needed.  the overall body of melted fuel is contained within this containment structure.  Not melting through the concrete floor.  

                            Fukushima 1 and 3 cores are NOT in the basement as you allege, I challenge you to show any kind of source for that information.  You cannot just say something is true unless you have a reasonable explanation for it.  Just because it has been "two years" doesn't make it so--especially when the rate of heat production declines exponentially.

                            Chernobyl exploded because of a prompt critical event that blew the pressure head off of the vessel and then a steam explosion sent fuel material through the roof.  That was an entirely different kind of event.

                            there was no plutonium MOX fuel scattered up to a mile away from the explosion, I challenge you to source that link.  You are obviously mixing up airborne contamination with core material exploded and scattered.

                            you take unfounded and ignorant links and claim that they are true you base them on wild speculation and generate a coherent theory that explains how it all fits together.  You are nothing more than a conspiracy theorist.

                            I do, however, appreciate you trying to explore what is seen as a potential threat and a real and undeniable tragedy.  It is important that you reign in your fantastical imagination.

                          •  And the insults and obfuscation begin (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            don't worry, be happy.

                          •  The simple fact is (0+ / 0-)

                            that if there was a critical reaction taking place somewhere underneath the basement of the Fukushima plant, the amount of heat, steam and transuranic contamination plumes would be continuously monitored all over the world.

                            there would be no people able to survive working on site and the city of Tokyo would be evacuated.

                            If the corium had melted through the basement the levels of groundwater contamination in test wells around the facility would be registering contamination levels that are much higher, by amounts that would make the water samples so radioactive that they would have to be taken by robots, not people.

                            Your theories do not hold a basis in reality.  Please attempt to report what is truthful not speculative fantasy, this is a bad enough situation as it is without scaremongering.

                          •  You think TEPCO officials are lying (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Joieau, Sandino

                            to make themselves look....worse?

                            "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

                            by JesseCW on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 08:41:29 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  what you euphemistically call (7+ / 0-)
                      highly contaminated water
                      is water that will kill you dead if you are exposed to it for 2 hours.

                      that's putting radiation fields out at levels inside the structure.

                      means likely the stuff that was in is out.

                      •  so would 100 gallons of sarin gas (0+ / 0-)

                        but if you put it into the ocean it wouldn't affect you at all.

                        just sharing a little perspective with you.

                        •  let me know when you need to repair a leaking sari (5+ / 0-)

                          sarin tank farm.

                        •  Same with 100 sharks in a tornado (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          worldlotus, Joieau, JesseCW, chmood

                          You make a very compelling case for the absolute safety of anything coming from Fukushima.

                        •  Wow. REALLY?!? You...geez... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          "little perspective" is right....

                          I can hardly wait to see what incredibly brain-dead thing you'll say next!  Is this a contest?

                          trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                          by chmood on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:19:07 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  do your own calculation (0+ / 0-)

                            take the total radioactivity contained on site, all the reactors and all of the waste stored on site

                            then grind it up and put it into the ocean.

                            then find out what the typical concentration of that radioactivity would be per liter in the ocean.

                            and then compare that with the EPA limits on that kind of radioactive contamination of drinking water.

                            then figure out how often you have to drink that water to have a significant chance of getting sick from drinking it.

                            then come back to me because I already did it.

                          •  You have neglected to include (0+ / 0-)

                            a technical description of how, exactly, all radioactive isotopes from three melted reactors gets dispursed upon its release to water in an exactly even manner so that it's reasonable to talk about X isotopes of Y elements per liter in the entirety of the world's oceans (or just the Pacific).

                            Oh... and exactly how long that takes. Because last I checked, contamination from Fukushima in the Pacific is moving in water plumes with the currents in what is described as a 'surprising' coherence. IOW, it's not dispursing greatly and continues to move in concentration. Compared to that, the atmospheric contamination plumes dispurse faster, and they're still circling the globe at altitude in a coherent enough concentration to be wholly predictable by cycle as well as by readily detectable radiation levels.

                          •  What I am saying is (0+ / 0-)

                            it is all about scale.

                            If the expected extra radioactive contamination of u.s. coastal waters by the "surprisingly coherent radioactivity" is only 10bq per cubic meter, then to communicate this as being a threat is actually doing much much more harm than good.

                          •  Becquerels per cubic meter (0+ / 0-)

                            changes mightily depending on where you take the sample. Just as contaminates in the air you're breathing or in the rain that's falling change depending on what's aloft in the plume when you take the sample. Surely you know this.

                            I have often compared radioactive plumes in air to smoke from a fire. Because that helps to visualize the plume's path, motion in air currents/wind and dispursal for something that cannot be seen or smelled. I live in a place subject to regular forest fires. Sometimes the burn can be a hundred miles away and smoke up my little cove's air so badly we have to batten down for the duration. Sometimes a fire just forty feet across the tracks doesn't even give a hint of its existence until the fire crews show up to use my state/national forest access for fighting it.

                            And as I have said, I dislike becquerels anyway. The figure doesn't say much about how dangerous the situation really is because it's disintegrations per second, not quantified per isotope. If those are happening in your lungs or your esophagus or working their way through or into your innards, it's extremely significant. One disintegration in a sensitive internal organ can trigger cancer, whether it's xenon or iodine or cesium or strontium or plutonium. Entirely unpredictable. Curies at least gives a real idea of how much of what is getting out (factor the overall level of beta, gamma and alpha against the core inventory given conditions for percentages), and that gives a much better picture of how dangerous the air, food and water may be.

                            When the contamination - whether cited in curies or becquerels - is moving in plumes, it is deliberately deceptive to tell people the concentrations can be evenly divided by the number of cubic meters of air in this planet's atmosphere, or the number of cubic meters of water there are in the world's oceans. That doesn't acurately depict the situation or the dangers it presents. I would assume you know that too.

                            So please stop. No one's here but you and me in this days-dead diary, I already know what I know and you won't be convincing me of anything with these tactics.

                          •  TALKING about scale, but making up shit to do so (0+ / 0-)

                            Please stop and think [ANY] of this thru before posting:  if you're not intentionally trying to render things incoherent, that is.

                            trying to stay alive 'til I reach 65!

                            by chmood on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 09:54:11 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  I know! (5+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sandino, KJG52, Joieau, native, JesseCW

                  Build another nuclear reactor next to it so that the ice dam will have a constant power source.

                  Oh wait. Maybe that isn't a good idea.

                  If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

                  by Bensdad on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 09:48:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Critical at Fukushima is a very very bad (9+ / 0-)


              We should all be worrying about Fukushima and not Syria.

            •  Not just 'super critical.' (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sandino, Little, Joieau

              For a nuclear detonation, the fuel must achieve a state of prompt criticality.

              "There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes. - James Morrow

              by kirrix on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 08:41:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  When talking about nuclear reactors, terms like (12+ / 0-)

            'subcritical,' 'critical' and 'super critical' actually have a very specific meaning that has little to do with explosions or severity of damage.  It refers to changes in neutron population in each generation.  Subcritical means less, critical means the same, super critical means rising.  A super  critical reactor is one in which more fissions are occurring in each generation, and thus more neutrons are being produced and more heat being generated in each generation.

            "There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes. - James Morrow

            by kirrix on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 08:39:58 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  could well be forming a natural reactor (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sandino, Gottlieb, worldlotus, Joieau

          enough stuff moving down it's getting little flashes

    •  Don't worry overmuch, Little. (18+ / 0-)

      First, there are no cores. There are only multi-hundred ton blobs of molten/semi-molten metallic lava mixed with concrete, sand, rock, and whatever else they've melted into themselves as they moved through. Even if all three of them were sitting pretty on the floor of the lagoon, the only boiling water to be seen would be in the lagoon. As the water circulates and refreshes, surrounding waters would heat up, but they would not boil. Honest. There is also some question of how hot the corium really is by this point, now that it's sitting in water. You certainly wouldn't want to get anywhere near it, but the vast majority of fissionable fuel will be in the interior, not on the surface. Any criticalities would be flash events as the mass churns. Even that will stop at some point if they're actually in the water, the stuff will become relatively cool and not even the lagoon would be boiling anymore.

      Worst case scenario is still a collapse of any of the spent fuel pools, subsequent cladding fires. But it's all very nasty. There was never any real way to keep it from getting out.

      •  Arg. (0+ / 0-)

        I said in my comment that I know that's not going to happen. Please don't "honest" me. I'm not a child.

        No cores? The stuff is still there. And that was my "highly unlikely" question - is it because the core material would have to be so mixed up with other stuff to permit anything like a chain reaction configuration?

        •  In order to sustain (6+ / 0-)

          a fission chain reaction water - the moderator - would have to be in contact with the fissionable fuel, and that would need to be in a helpful (to chain reaction) configuration of isotopes and water.

          Any fissile fuel left in the blobs of corium lava will be mostly in the interior mass of the blob, not on the surface that is in contact with water. Any fission that occurs on that surface in contact with water will be quick (not a sustained chain reaction). It certainly adds heat to the mass (and the water), but it's not a 'runaway' reaction.

          The fuel isotopes that were originally in an enriched concentration in the core assemblies are fairly dilute now due to the amount of foreign material the masses have melted into themselves, and these things have been in regular water contact for two and a half years. It would be unlikely-to-impossible to sustain a chain reaction in a blob of lava.

          What's in the spent fuel pools is an entirely different matter, of course.

          •  look up natural reactors (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Duckmg, Joieau, worldlotus, JesseCW


            we may have  a manmade natural reactor now

          •  But the corium globs (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, JesseCW

            will not evenly incorporate elements, and if they are fluid enough, heavier elements will concentrate at the bottom....

            •  Perhaps, if it were a (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sandino, native, suspiciousmind, JesseCW

              somewhat coherent blob, and not sort of slowly mixing mass in the interior (think of those cartoon illustrations we saw back in school of the elemental and heat-driven circulation of the molten mantle of the Earth). Fission of isotopes presented on the surface would add heat to the mass, but so will decay of fissile elements inside the mass. It doesn't cool into solid rock like Earth lava does, but I am not convinced the masses are still hot enough to actively melt rock or sand they're in contact with.

              If any of the flows took the 'path of least resistance' through softer rock and/or gaps in the landfill material that allow the groundwater to flow into the sea, it could look more like the many-armed Kraken than the Blob. I don't think they'll ever be digging it up intact for us to see how it ended up, though.

      •  I agree (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy, Joieau, NYFM, Just Bob

        The "boiling seas" story was hyperbole.

        •  Just goes to show the power of a good headline. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau, NYFM, blueoasis

          You can get people talking about it, even if it's not true.

          Even if it's not accurate, or even remotely true, the editors knew a good imagination-grabbing headline when they saw one.

          "The press just doesn’t know how to handle flat-out untruths," ~Paul Krugman

          by Nimbus on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:42:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why does anyone want to act like they know (9+ / 0-)

        what kind of "fire" this kind of fuel creates?

        No one has ever modeled that! What is happening now is, plain and simple, something that had never even been comprehended previously.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:20:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There are indications of ongoing sporadic (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KJG52, worldlotus, Joieau, JesseCW

      criticalities, presumably from the buried corium (hopefully not from the 'spent' fuel pools or the bits of fuel scattered about the plant by the fuel-pool blast at unit 3).  Chances are that if things shift into a critical configuration, they will soon melt back out of it, but no one really knows.

      •  There will be short-lived (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        fission products produced steadily by the spontaneous fission decay of uranium 235 and plutonium 239 (and a couple of lesser fissiles produced by decay or neutron absorption), but not in appreciable amounts. Relatively speaking, of course. Larger amounts can still be produced by flash fission, moderated reactions on the surface of the corium when it encounters water, but that's relative too since they can't sustain a chain reaction. Either way, nothing like what got out early on, or what is still available to get out from the spent fuel.

        IOW, you could probably find some xenon in air samples and iodine in air or water samples if you could get past the 'masking' effect of much worse stuff that's literally everywhere at the facility. It would be considered inconsequential compared to the original releases. Or future releases if any portion of the fuel pools manage to go critical during defueling.

    •  This was several days ago (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KJG52, blueoasis, Creosote, Joieau, native, JesseCW

      The horrid news availability we have means I couldn't post to an approved link then. I'm glad BBC finally got to it.

      BTW my unapproved links say there is a die off of cetaceans now too, that was today.

    •  the diary explains (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that nothing is boiling, but steam is rising as groundwater comes in contact with what's left of the cores.  

  •  Bad enough. (8+ / 0-)

    Steam now means at least one of those melted cores is still active.

    And I hate to think what might happen if high winds hit that failing tank farm.

  •  Has anyone done an estimate (8+ / 0-)

    on the actual location, laterally and vertically, of the cores? Y'know, with error bars?

    Is there any actual or even aspirational plan to retrieve them?

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 04:55:34 PM PDT

  •  I appreciate your efforts doing this diary. (20+ / 0-)

    Mainstream media had been a lousy source for any in depth information lately. (No, I'm not shocked.) As a resident of Northern Illinois, the permanent temp. storage of waste fuel on site of highest concentration of plants in nation is ... well, a pretty big damn ignored concern IMHO.  Can't keep that quiet forever.

    Living the austerity dream.

    by jwinIL14 on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:01:42 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, jwin. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is IMO imperative that we get going on a suitable long-term/permanent repository for spent fuel, and insist that utilities spend the damned money to cask it properly - everything over 5 years old, at least. Casks are expensive, so they've simply been overpacking the pools instead.

      As with so much else wrong with the nuclear power industry, they've been assuring us for half a century that somebody will figure all that out someday, so full steam ahead! It's high time they start living up to their responsibilities.

      I am also of the opinion that we (and the rest of the nuclear world) should firmly conclude the nuclear business first, so long-term fuel disposal won't be an excuse to build more of these beasties. They can't make a dent in global warming in time for it to count, there's not enough money on the planet to build the thousands of new plants it would take. So all we've got is a whole bunch of very dangerous unstoppable boilers, each with the ability to make swaths of territory into dead zones essentially forever.

      Time to call it quits.

  •  fwiw There's now a petition at the (16+ / 0-)

    website calling for an international effort to deal with this:

    I won't pretend the petition has much chance of going away (I signed it but I'm not the originator) but I've been thinking for a while that an international effort is needed. Japan obviously isn't dealing with this too well. I'm heartened that at least someone else is saying as much.

    "I don't love writing, but I love having written" ~ Dorothy Parker // Visit my Handmade Gallery on Zibbet

    by jan4insight on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:03:22 PM PDT

  •  Freeze the earth... Freeze the earth... (14+ / 0-)

    Now where have I heard that before? Ah yes, something called Ice-9.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:09:23 PM PDT

  •  It's a horrible mess (25+ / 0-)

    As a geologist and radiological emergency response specialist, I'm skeptical that the ice wall will solve the problem because they have to keep pumping in water to cool what remains of the plant, and that water will percolate into the pit framed by the ice wall, eventually overtopping it again.

    Basically, it's a high-tech version of the Sorcerer's Apprentice.

    •  I don't see that it's necessary (5+ / 0-)

      to keep pumping water down the holes, since the corium is now sitting in groundwater. Just adds to the problem, and as with the ice mentioned above, the earth is pretty good insulation - and shielding. The ocean pollution will still be huge - there's 4 times Chernobyl's filth sitting in that mud waiting its turn to get washed into the sea - but if the atmospheric releases can be mitigated somewhat it would be a good thing.

      If they were to build an immediate new seawall beyond the current one and encompassing the whole of the facility oceanfront (where the groundwater's leaking out) a lot of the heavier isotopes would be trapped inside and on the bottom. The lighter elements would still get out, but it would be something.

  •  This is really bad for the Pacific Ocean, for the (8+ / 0-)

    planet, for sealife, for people...

    the most optimistic projection for decommissioning of Daiichi is sixty years
  •  Do you have a reference (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, FishOutofWater, orrg1, wonmug

    for the corium lavas having reached the water table?  I have not found anything that is specifically stating this is the case.

  •  Just why has no outside assistance... (9+ / 0-)

    been forthcoming?

    Have the Japanese requests for outside help been insufficiently direct -- or unheard?

    Have the experts (few as they are) decided their help won't really be, well, helpful, because...

       (1)  TEPCO and the Japanese government aren't likely to or be willing to try to act on their recommendations?
       (2)  No one who understands the problems has any trust in what they've been told?  (i.e., what's really the truth?)
       (3) There really isn't much that can be done?  Sorry.  See you in 2073.

    I don't understand this, nor have I read any wisdom on this.  

    Can anyone help educate me on this?

    (-7.62,-7.33) Carbon footprint 11.3 metric tons. l'Enfer, c'est les autres.

    by argomd on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:37:07 PM PDT

  •  Maybe we could harness the power of the (9+ / 0-)

    boiling sea, to generate electricity someday!

    "The press just doesn’t know how to handle flat-out untruths," ~Paul Krugman

    by Nimbus on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 05:43:54 PM PDT

  •  true its not boiling (9+ / 0-)

    its worse, its being poisoned.  This could poison parts of the pacific for the next thousand years.

  •  I would like to see some evidence (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoregon, wonmug, NYFM, Roadbed Guy

    to support the extraordinary claims you have made.

    We know there's a leak of strontium-90 rich water from a poorly constructed tank. The beta emitter rich water was concentrated by the treatment facility.

    Again, what we know so far is:
    1800 mSv/hr is not gamma radiation but beta radiation, expressed in 70 micrometer dose equivalent to show the effect on skin and eye lens, with effective dose 1/100 of that amount.

    It is not "sudden increase" in radiation. This waste water has that order of beta radiation all along, as evidenced by the measurement in the leak in February 2012.

    The water leaking is very high in all-beta including strontium but almost devoid of gamma nuclides including radioactive cesium, incapable of giving off gamma radiation to the tune of 1,800 mSv/hr.

    I don't see any evidence from what you provided that corium has moved as you claim.

    I see fog.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:06:49 PM PDT

    •  you want to fix a 1.8 SV/Hr leak? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, KJG52, Joieau, JesseCW

      this is the kind of leak that can rip your flesh off
      in an hour.

    •  Is this some kind of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, JesseCW, Sandino

      fancy new Geiger teletector they've got over there that measures beta exclusively? I ask because my (admittedly older) models sure don't. You can open the slide on the probe to measure gamma/beta and then take another gamma-only reading to figure the difference, but I'm having some trouble imagining a detector that only measures beta.

      I'm also not clear on how they're getting these readings (the leaking tank water is today reported to be upwards of 2 Sv/hr). The extended probe arm of a teletector could give you a couple of meters of distance, but you couldn't spend any real time even at that distance from tanks giving off gamma right through the walls without getting a pretty good dose. Maybe they're working in tag teams so nobody spends more than a minute?

      At any rate, since the levels keep changing day to day (always in the direction of greater amounts), it sort of looks like taking the measurements hasn't been a precise operation.

  •  Busby thinks this is more serious (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandino, JesseCW, Joieau

    Let us hope that photograph is a fake.  

    •  Why only 100 KM? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Quote from the Busby link:

      RT: So not only those that live in the vicinity but also those that live within 100 km could be at risk?

      CB: I say that this might be a faked dubbed photograph, but if that is real and these levels of 1.8 Sieverts per hour are real, than something is very serious has happened and I think people should start to get away.

      I think the situation is potentially much more serious than one is even allowed to express on this site.  What happens if we lose control of the site?
  •  Everyone I know won't eat fish anymore. Can't say (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, JesseCW

    I blame them, unless they catch it themselves somewhere they have faith in it's radioactivelessness (is that even a word?).

    This is the one time I don't like being on the Pacific.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 06:46:40 PM PDT

  •  This has the potential to affect greatly all (7+ / 0-)

    the Pacific countries, us included.  Even if the radiation risk is minimal for seafood consumption, the fear could crash sales (the least of my worries personally, but it's what may spur action).  

    The radiation could have an especially profound impact on just one part of the food web, causing total population collapses.

    This crisis merits a global effort, and I hope the world's leading experts are already involved.

    •  Alas, the "world's leading experts" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      native, Drocedus, Sandino

      are keeping their distance. Though AREVA was there early on to set up the filtration system that didn't work very well. And GE's been there all along, since they designed the plants and ran them in partnership with TEPCO.

      As for the seafood, several food species from small 'feeder fish' to tuna have tested positive for cesium. Both Japan and the U.S. have dealt with that by raising the allowable exposure limits. They could always just raise 'em higher when the time comes.

      The contamination does concentrate its way up the food chain. The Fukushima fishing industry was just starting up again when things started getting worse, so it's shut down again. Now the biggest issue is the strontium, which is even worse for living critters than cesium.

      I personally really dislike Becquerels as a measurement of contamination. But I'm old fashioned, much prefer curies because that's usually not going to go over a few tens or hundreds of millions when characterizing releases. The exponential factors of ten go so high so fast with Bequerels that regular people's eyes tend to glaze over. It means a lot to contamination (and the damage it causes) if it manages to get inside of you in food, water and air - where a single atom's decay can cause significant biological damage - but it's just confusing as a measure of overall releases or available material to be released.

  •  Thank you for the diary, this morning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, Joieau, native

    I read

    Every day, according to the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Nos 1 to 4 area of the Daiichi site receives about 1000 tons additional groundwater flow from the nearby mountains. Of this amount, it appears that roughly 400 tons come in contact with the reactors’ structures and underground radioactive wreckage and is thus contaminated, with roughly 300 tonnes of that flowing into the ocean. The remaining 600 tons appears not to be going into the reactor basements, but some volume of it appears to be getting contaminated elsewhere before flowing into the sea.37
    Can't imagine what those operators have to go through every day. Anything can go wrong any day. It must be hard on the families, the residents.

    Abe at Ground Zero: The Consequences of Inaction at Fukushima Daiichi  By Christopher Hobson and Andrew DeWit, The Asia-Pacific Journal

    A good horse is never a bad color.

    by CcVenussPromise on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:15:38 PM PDT

  •  How would anyone else help? Japan has the (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Theoleman, Duckmg, patbahn, Joieau, Sandino, JesseCW

    knowledge base of the human race at their fingertips, as does everyone. And, economically speaking, the average Japanese citizen is still at least as well off as folks over here, or in Europe are. If a country this wealthy can't afford to own nuclear reactors, then who can?

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:30:33 PM PDT

  •  It is a disaster but.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...Fukushima is small potatos compared with the long term effects of global warming. In other words, using this catastrophe to rail against nuclear power is, in my view, shortsighted.

    I fought against the nuclear industry for decades but have since changed my mind, the potential for harm is greater without nuclear than with. We are human and are therefore subject to human nature, which means we aren't disposed to returning to the pre-industrial age and if we are to continue to use increasing amounts of energy it has to come from somewhere.

    We need better nuclear designs and I think we already have some and there will be more and better unless we give up on nuclear and just burn more stuff.

    Don't get me wrong, conservation is far and away the best/cheapest/quickest solution. But there isn't enough corporate profit in it.

  •  Uh, no. (7+ / 0-)

    How many nuclear accidents and incidents do we have to have on this planet before everyone comes to the realization that it's just too problem prone. Murphy's law is being proven over and over and we still have people saying, "well....don't panic, it's not that bad"
    Just this week, they came out with a report saying the radioactive cloud will hit the west coast early next year.

    "Truth catches up with you in here. It's the truth that's gonna make you hurt." - Piper Chapman

    by blueoregon on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 07:56:07 PM PDT

    •  How many? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kirrix, Roadbed Guy

      nuclear accidents? I don't have the answer but it is only a few. They do receive gobs of publicity and there are fierce feelings on both sides but that isn't the same is "many" accidents.

      I'm reminded of the argument on smoking. Suppose that there was somehow a 20 year delay between being hit by a truck -- and being squished to death. People would still be arguing over whether is is dangerous to be hit by a truck. I apply that sort of thought to the difference between the immediacy of nuclear accidents (we deal with them soon) and the problems of global warming which we don't see and can put off, but we know the problem will come.

      I'd rather attend to the nuclear problems by solving them and leaving a cooler planet for the future generations. And there is the moral argument re: the harm of global warming to all the other species.

      •  Name a plant in the US (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino, blueoregon, Joieau, JesseCW

        That has not had a safety issue regarding possible containment breaches?

      •  Unless you can solve them now (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, blueoregon, Joieau, JesseCW

        You can't propose them as solutions for other problems.

        I'd rather attend to the nuclear problems by solving them and leaving a cooler planet for the future generations. And there is the moral argument re: the harm of global warming to all the other species.
        And the tons of plutonium we are creating will be killing and damaging genes for about 240,000 years, give or take a hundred generations. I don't think you can casually dismiss that for fear of global warming, especially when nukes produce about a third of the CO2 of modern gas-fired plants, but have long lead times where they dump huge amounts of CO2 into the environment, and take billions that could be spent on more efficient alternatives.
        •  Nuclear produces CO2? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mojo workin

          I guess the question is, where/when/how does nuclear release carbon dioxide??

          Do you have any sources for this strange assertion?

          •  Where do you think uranium comes from? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            It must be mined, processed and transported. Nukes require tons (literally) of concrete, which produces tins of CO2. And even when plants are offline they require external power to keep from melting down or catching fire.  Even the best estimates seem to assume that after about 60 years, the secure of storage deadly plutonium for the following quarter million years will produce no CO2.  And all of them assume continued abundance of Uranium ore, rather than accurately estimating the increased CO2 associated with increasingly hard-to-get ore. This study in Nature is a bit dated, but would be helpful in case you found my simple statements incredible. They state:

            Evaluating the total carbon output of the nuclear industry involves calculating those emissions and dividing them by the electricity produced over the entire lifetime of the plant. Benjamin K. Sovacool, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, recently analyzed more than one hundred lifecycle studies of nuclear plants around the world, his results published in August in Energy Policy. From the 19 most reliable assessments, Sovacool found that estimates of total lifecycle carbon emissions ranged from 1.4 grammes of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (gCO2e/kWh) of electricity produced up to 288 gCO2e/kWh. Sovacool believes the mean of 66 gCO2e/kWh to be a reasonable approximation.

            The large variation in emissions estimated from the collection of studies arises from the different methodologies used – those on the low end, says Sovacool, tended to leave parts of the lifecycle out of their analyses, while those on the high end often made unrealistic assumptions about the amount of energy used in some parts of the lifecycle. The largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 38 per cent of the average total, is the “frontend” of the fuel cycle, which includes mining and milling uranium ore, and the relatively energy-intensive conversion and enrichment process, which boosts the level of uranium-235 in the fuel to useable levels. Construction (12 per cent), operation (17 per cent largely because of backup generators using fossil fuels during downtime), fuel processing and waste disposal (14 per cent) and decommissioning (18 per cent) make up the total mean emissions.

      •  good question: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, JesseCW

        "Truth catches up with you in here. It's the truth that's gonna make you hurt." - Piper Chapman

        by blueoregon on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:48:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's not an either/or choice. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's a neither/nor imperative. New energy sources will appear, when traditional sources disappear. Count on it.

        Fossil and nuclear fuels both are poisons that we cannot afford to release into the environment in large quantities. It seems to me this should be obvious by now.

      •  Renewable energy is cheaper than nuclear, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandino, Theoleman, Joieau

        so by supporting nuclear you're demanding we do less than we could to combat climate change.

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 09:01:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Aw jeez (7+ / 0-)

    I thought that you were going to "calm nerves."  When I think about Fukushima my mind wanders from problem to problem, hitting dead ends.  Whether it be the long-lived isotopes, the extreme heat (let's call a spade a spade: steam is boiled water; that water is boiling, even if it is in the ground), the procrastination and denial, obvious environmental damage, the proximity to one of the biggest (and I think the greatest) cities in the world, I can't find a single ray of sunshine.  

    I think that this is going to get much worse, and it is going to harm Japan.  It will also hit us in the USA, on our dinner tables, in travel, commerce, and health.  Yes, other countries need to help.  Tepco has screwed its own people; someone else needs to take over.  This is now our problem.

  •  I think what they need are a few cruise missiles (7+ / 0-)

    We can probably get both the Republicans and Democrats to agree on that.    3.2.1. Problem solved!

    Oh yeah, the radiation plume is reaching the West Coast ( my coast) next year or thereabouts.   This is the same plume that one would have to be a CTer to think would be detectable, but models show it will be detectable but below standards for drinking water.   No word on how it will affect those of us who make water from reverse osmosis, where we pump a large amount of seawater through filters and end up with fresh.    Also, no mention that the studies are based on data released by Tepco at the time that the study was started, and those data were (shall we say) "optimistic."

    •  did you see any reports about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sandino, Joieau

      radioactive water reaching the west coast next year?

      or did I just imagine i saw that?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:17:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The nuclear industry as a whole (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, Joieau

      has always demonstrated a very high degree of optimism. It's not easy to be optimistic about Fukushima, but they are trying.

      The on-going disaster there hasn't been much in the news lately, I suppose because events are moving too slowly to be immediately spectacular. This could change of course, at any time.

      No doubt nuclear industry executives around the world are keeping their fingers crossed that it won't. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3, there's a time for hard science and a time for keeping your fingers crossed.

      •  I've been seeing quite a lot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of coverage over the past couple of months, as TEPCO began admitting water was getting to the sea, and contamination levels rising. It's every hour for the past week on NPR, right under the Syria thing. CBS, NYT, WaPo, etc., etc.

        Something bad is happening, and it's getting worse by the day. That's why IAEA has rated what's happening now as a Level 3 incident. The original melt-throughs ended up at Level 7, but began as a 3 as well...

  •  I claim no expertise about Fukushima (7+ / 0-)

    but have found interesting discussions surrounding the subject here:



    Nuke Worker Forum

  •  Thank You Again (6+ / 0-)

       The really MOST pressing thing happening on the planet.
        we'll dilly with NSA
        we'll dalley em with a parallel for more war $
        CAUSE we know how to spin the mindwash
        The REALITY is the 1% are INSANE!

    March AGAINST monsatanOHagentorange 3/25/13 a time warp

    by 3rock on Tue Sep 03, 2013 at 11:37:22 PM PDT

  •  No one would listen to a coffer dam solution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    although I did chat with a couple of people from Japan right after the accident.  They tried to bring that idea forward back then.

    In retrospect, it wouldn't work either because water has to be continuously applied to cool and becomes contaminated.

    I stopped eating Pacific fish added to the don't eat Gulf fish.

    Mankind is the only species smart enough to destroy its home.

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 01:56:52 PM PDT

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