fukushima damage left, unit 3, right, unit 4

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    observe north wind, lots of condensation from storage pond of unit 3, at least they can now refill the pond, not having power they could not refill or cool down the water ponds, as they heat up due to the overheating reactors directly below them...

    1. permiegardener 38 months ago | reply

      latest from montreal gazette:
      Thierry Charles, a safety official at France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, [IRSN] said: "The next 48 hours will be decisive. I am pessimistic, because since Sunday I have seen that almost none of the solutions has worked." He described the situation as "a major risk", but added: "All is not lost, and I hope that the Japanese can find a way."

      Asked about the maximum possible amount of radioactive release, he said "it would be in the same range as Chernobyl".

      Francois Baroin, a French government spokesman, went further, saying: "In the worst of cases, it could have an impact worse than Chernobyl." He added: "Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control. That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying."

      Malcolm Grimston, a British nuclear expert at the Chatham House think tank, played down suggestions of an impending disaster, saying Fukushima was not like Chernobyl.

      "We're nearly five days after the fission process was stopped, the levels of radioactive iodine will only be about two-thirds of where they were at the start, some of the other, very short-lived, very radioactive material will be gone altogether by now," he said.

      Earlier, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, France's ecology minister, had said that "the worst scenario is possible and even probable". At one point, radiation levels at the plant rose to such dangerous levels that all workers were evacuated from the site. A 180-strong team was later allowed back to continue attempts to cool the fuel rods, but the government raised the maximum allowable radiation exposure for workers from 100 millsieverts per year to 250 mSvs, which it said was "unavoidable due to the circumstances".

      The fuel rod pools contain spent uranium rods which remain extremely radioactive after being used in the reactor, and have to be constantly cooled until safe for disposal. In a statement, the IRSN said: "Without water replenishment, the fuel-rod assemblies will start to be exposed in a few days. If the pool runs dry, this would eventually lead to the meltdown of the fuel Ö The corresponding releases of radioactivity would be far higher than those that have occurred up till now."

      The Pentagon ordered its armed forces, which had been sent to Japan to help with the relief effort, to retreat to 50 miles away from the plant, more than four times the 12-mile limit imposed by the Japanese government.

      Read more: www.montrealgazette.com/news/Japan+scrambles+pull+nuclear...

    2. permiegardener 38 months ago | reply

      The French government today claimed that Japan was losing control of the situation at Fukushima and urged its nationals in Tokyo to leave the country or head to southern Japan.

      Industry Minister Eric Besson said: 'Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying.'

      Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet branded the situation a 'catastrophe' and said the latest information 'does not lead to optimism'.

      'We recommend that all French citizens who do not have a good reason to stay in Tokyo either take a plane or, if they absolutely insist on staying, head south,' said, noted there was no official evacuation order.

      The government has asked Air France to mobilise aircraft in Asia to assist with departures.

      Germany's embassy in Tokyo has been 'partly relocated' to the consulate general in Osaka, according to officals. The country has also now explicitly told people to leave. 'We call on all Germans to leave the region of Tokyo and Yokohama via Osaka,' a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

      Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366920/Japan-earthquake...

    3. permiegardener 38 months ago | reply

      Nuke engineer: Fuel rod fire at Fukushima reactor “would be like Chernobyl on steroids”
      By: Kirk James Murphy, M.D. Monday March 14, 2011 12:14 am

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      The Fukushima reactor building that exploded March 12 is one of a series of identical General Electric reactors constructed in Japan and the US. In this reactor design, the used nuclear fuel rods are stored in pools of water at the top of the reactor building. These “spent” rods are still highly radioactive: the radioactivity is so great the rods must be stored in water so they do not combust. The explosion at Fukushima Daiichi reactor unit 1 apparently destroyed at least one wall and the roof of the building: some reports stated the roof had collapsed into the building.

      Two days later, the nearby building containing the plutonium-uranium (MOX) fueled Fuksuhima Daichii reactor unit 3 exploded. So why bother about the rubble of reactor No 1? The WaPo quotes a nuclear engineer who knows the answer:

      Although Tokyo Electric said it also continued to deal with cooling system failures and high pressures at half a dozen of its 10 reactors in the two Fukushima complexes, fears mounted about the threat posed by the pools of water where years of spent fuel rods are stored.

      At the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, where an explosion Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor, the spent fuel pool, in accordance with General Electric’s design, is placed above the reactor. Tokyo Electric said it was trying to figure out how to maintain water levels in the pools, indicating that the normal safety systems there had failed, too. Failure to keep adequate water levels in a pool would lead to a catastrophic fire, said nuclear experts, some of whom think that unit 1’s pool may now be outside.

      “That would be like Chernobyl on steroids,” said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates and a member of the public oversight panel for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is identical to the Fukushima Daiichi unit 1.

      People familiar with the plant said there are seven spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi, many of them densely packed.

      Gundersen said the unit 1 pool could have as much as 20 years of spent fuel rods, which are still radioactive.

      We’d be lucky if we only had to worry about the spent fuel rods from a single holding pool. We’re not that lucky. The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools for spent fuel rods. Six of these are (or were) located at the top of six reactor buildings. One “common pool” is at ground level in a separate building. Each “reactor top” pool holds 3450 fuel rod assemblies. The common pool holds 6291 fuel rod assemblies. [The common pool has windows on one wall which were almost certainly destroyed by the tsunami.] Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. This means the Fukushima Daiichi plant may contain over 600,000 spent fuel rods.

      The fuel rods must be kept submerged in water. Why? Outside of the water bath, the radioactivity in the used rods can cause them to become so hot they begin to catch fire. These fires can burn so hot the radioactive rod contents are carried into the atmosphere as vaporized material or as very small particles. Reactor no 3 burns MOX fuel that contains a mix of plutonium and uranium. Plutonium generates more heat than uranium, which means these rods have the greatest risk of burning. That’s bad news, because plutonium scattered into the atmosphere is even more dangerous that the combustion products of rods without plutonium.

      Chernobyl on steroids. When the nuclear engineer from an identical plant states there’s any possibility of such a catastrophe, Washington, we have a problem. Chernobyl’s contamination settled upon people and nations thousands of miles from that reactor’s location. How far would “Chernobyl on steroids” travel? And where are the up to 20 years of reactor no 1 spent fuel rods that could cause such a problem, and the spent fuel rods held – until the building exploded – in the spent fuel rod pool atop reactor no 3?

      Along with the rest of the planet, Washington’s looking at the risk of a potential catastrophe. At least when it comes to finding the fuel rods from reactor 1, Washington possesses some unique assets. One asset – the secretive National Reconassiance Office – runs the spy satellites remote sensing devices that enable US national security to spy on planet Earth. The NRO’s slightly less secretive cousin over at the the Pentagon is the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA, in turn, controls MASINT “measures and signatures technologies”.

      What is MASINT? FDL’s recent guest Tim Shorrock answered that question a few years ago for CorpWatch:

      MASINT is a highly classified form of intelligence that uses infrared sensors and other technologies to “sniff” the atmosphere for certain chemicals and electro-magnetic activity and “see” beneath bridges and forest canopies. Using its tools, analysts can detect signs that a nuclear power plant is producing plutonium, determine from truck exhaust what types of vehicles are in a convoy, and detect people and weapons hidden from the view of satellites or photoreconnaissance aircraft.

      With assets like the NRO and the DIA’s MASINT capacity, even an Obama administration that couldn’t find out millions of of barrels of Corexit and crude oil would poison the Gulf should be able to help Japan’s Fukushima plant locate their missing fuel rods. And do so before the missing rods – or any of the other pools of fuel rods in Japan’s stricken reactors – ignite Chernobyl on steroids.

      Once Obama and his generals have found the fuel rods, let’s hope they’ll time out from Gridion dinners and collateral damage and let the Americans who pay for all the fancy spy technology know what’s happening. Because now that Americans are hearing CNN’s Dr. Gupta talking about potassium iodide (KI) to prevent radiation toxicity, they’re going to be wondering if they need to take KI. As long as we don’t see massive uncontrolled radiation releases from the stricken reactors, they probably won’t. Should we see Chernobyl on steroids, Americans may need a whole lot more than KI. And until the spent fuel rods are located, there won’t be enough information to let Americans plan how to protect their loved ones. Unless we all learn the fuel rods have caught fire.
      my.firedoglake.com/kirkmurphy/2011/03/14/nuke-engineer-fu...

    4. permiegardener 38 months ago | reply

      A United Nations forecast projects the radioactive plume from the Fukushima facility would reach the Aleutian Islands on Thursday and hit Southern California late on Friday, The New York Times reported.

      The projection, calculated on Tuesday and obtained by the newspaper, gives no information about actual radiation levels, it said. Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and will have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, it reported.

      The U.S. military has ordered its forces to stay 50 miles away from the plant, the Pentagon said. There are at least 55,000 members of the U.S. forces in Japan and offshore assisting the relief operation.

      "All of us are heartbroken by the images of what's happening in Japan and we're reminded of how American leadership is critical to our closest allies," Obama said in Washington.

      "Even if those allies are themselves economically advanced and powerful, there are moments where they need our help, and we're bound together by a common humanity."

      CONFLICTING REPORTS

      The State Department's warning to U.S. citizens was based on new information collected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy and other U.S. sources.

      The United States is trying to deploy equipment in Japan that can detect radiation exposure at ground level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional hearing.

      The detection system is part of equipment and 39 personnel from the Energy Department sent to Japan, he said. It has also provided equipment to monitor airborne radiation.

      The United States is deploying more radiation monitors on Hawaii and other U.S. islands even though it does not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach U.S. soil, environmental regulators said.

      Chu declined to tell lawmakers, when asked, whether he was satisfied with Japan's response so far to its nuclear crisis.

      "I can't really say. I think we hear conflicting reports," Chu said. "This is one of the reasons why (the United States is) there with boots on the ground ... to know what is really happening."

      Beyond the risk to workers at or near the damaged nuclear plant, one scientist, Dr. Ira Helfand, warned of possible widespread contamination of people and land.

      "We need ... to focus on the radioactive isotopes being dispersed at some distance from the plant, because this is going to cause a whole different set of health problems," Helfand, past president of the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a telephone briefing.

    5. permiegardener 38 months ago | reply

      Referring to the smoke billowing from the No. 3 reactor, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference around 11 a.m. Wednesday: "We have received a report that steam is being emitted from the containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor. The temporarily high radiation levels may have been due to the steam (that contains radiation)."

      An official of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Wednesday, "There is a possibility that highly concentrated radioactive materials may have leaked to the outside atmosphere due to damage to the suppression pool of the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor."

      Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima plant, said the white smoke from the No. 3 reactor was probably evaporating water from the storage pool for nuclear fuel rods.

      TEPCO officials said about 500 nuclear fuel rods stored in the pool were put there about nine months ago.

      The loss of electric power to the Fukushima plant as well as the failure of the emergency generators after Friday's Great East Japan Earthquake cut off the power source needed to supply cooling water to the storage pool.

      The boiling of the pool water likely caused the steam emitted from the reactor.

      If the hot nuclear fuel rods are exposed to air, the metal alloys covering them could weaken. As a result, there would be a much bigger danger of damage to the fuel rods.

      If that occurred, large amounts of radioactive materials would be released.

      The storage pool is located outside of the containment vessel and within the steel-reinforced concrete building housing the reactor.

      The outer building was damaged Monday by a hydrogen explosion.

      TEPCO officials said Wednesday that neutron rays were detected Tuesday near the main entrance to its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

      Measurements by a monitoring car detected 0.02 microsievert per hour of neutron rays at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday and 0.01 microsievert 10 minutes later.

      Neutron rays were also detected on Monday after a hydrogen explosion occurred at the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima plant. Neutron rays were not detected again until early Tuesday.

      Neutron rays are emitted when nuclear fission occurs, but it was unclear whether this had really happened Tuesday.

      TEPCO officials also said an employee discovered a fire at the No. 4 reactor at about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday.

      At 6:15 a.m., plant officials checked on the No. 4 reactor from a higher vantage point and said no fire was visible.

      The high radiation levels at the reactor building made it difficult for workers to approach it.

      Meanwhile, fire-fighting units arrived at the scene before 9 a.m. and were considering how to deal with the fire.

      Wednesday's fire occurred near the re-circulating pump located in the No. 4 reactor building, the same location as a fire on Tuesday morning.

      TEPCO officials had announced on Tuesday that the fire that morning had burned itself out. The basis of that announcement was that no smoke was coming from the building. However, it now seems likely that Tuesday's fire continued to smolder inside the building.

      The No. 4 reactor was taken out of service in late November for a regular inspection. Tuesday's fire created two 8-meter square holes in the steel-reinforced concrete wall of the reactor building.

      Spent nuclear fuel rods at high temperatures are stored within the reactor building. There is a high possibility that highly concentrated radioactive materials from the fuel rods are being emitted into the outside atmosphere.

      The spent fuel rods are stored in a pool, but the high temperature of the fuel rods continually evaporates the water. It is therefore necessary to provide a continuous supply of water to the pool.

      The Fukushima plant lost all outside electric power during the massive quake on Friday and its emergency generators failed.

      The loss of power appears to have stopped the water supply to the reactors, leading to water evaporating from the storage pool. The water temperature in the pool Monday was 84 degrees.
      via asahi simbun

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