Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident – 26 March status

This post provides an update to the various situation summaries at Fukushima Daiichi. Please switch to using this post for comments on the latest status reports and news to  hand (the old one is now out of date). For general comments on, use the FD Open Thread #2, and for analysis of the event with respect to future lessons for nuclear power, use this post. Full situation summaries from TEPCO, FEPC and JAIF are given at the bottom of this report.

This is a dramatic before and after photo of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Click on the image to see more b/a images of the earthquake/tsunami damaged Sendai region (controlled with a swipe tool).

Below is a very brief summary of some key events of the last few days, since the previous status report:

1. There has been concern about salt accumulation in reactor vessels 1-3 (as steam evaporates the injected sea water, the salt is left behind, and if concentrations build to beyond the saturation point, it will begin to deposit and potentially insulate the fuel assemblies). However, NEI now reports the following welcome news:

Fresh water is being injected into the reactor pressure vessel at reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

TEPCO said that radioactive materials discovered at the reactor 3 turbine building possibly came from water from the reactor system, not the spent fuel pool. TEPCO made that statement after collecting samples of contaminated water in the reactor 3 turbine building and conducting a gamma-emitting nuclide analysis of the sample. The reactor pressure and drywell pressure at reactor 3 remained stable on Friday, leading TEPCO to believe that “the reactor pressure vessel is not seriously damaged.

Cooling efforts at Reactor 1 already had switched back to fresh water cooling. Reactor 2 is still being injected with seawater, but is expected to switch to fresh water soon.

The temperature at the bottom head of the reactor pressure vessels are now 149 C (unit 1), 104 C (unit 2) and 111 C (unit 3) — detailed data in reports below.

2. TEPCO Workers laying cables in the turbine hall of unit 3 stood in ankle-deep stagnant water and their feet were irradiated with beta rays (~180 mSv dose), with shallow burns, after ignoring their dosiometer warnings. They have since been hospitalised. Details in the reports below. 17 personnel have now received doses of >100 mSv, but none >250 mSv — the dose allowed by authorities in the current situation.

3. Water spraying continues on spent fuel ponds 2, 3 and 4, to ensure the uranium fuel rods remain covered. The temperature in unit 2 pool was recently measured at 52 C (see detailed data below).

4. On radiation: levels around the plant perimeter are relatively low and steadily decreasing. Levels of I-131 in drinking water supplies in Tokyo are now below regulated limits and restrictions have been lifted. The IAEA radiation monitoring data, at a distance of 34 to 62 km from Fukushima Daiichi, showed very low levels. To quote:

On 25th March, the IAEA radiation monitoring team made additional measurements at distances from 34 to 62 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At these locations, the dose rate ranged from 0.73 to 8.8 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.07 to 0.96 Megabecquerel per square metre.

5. World Nuclear News provides a new summary: Fukushima Daiichi two weeks on. To quote:

Investigations are now underway into the unexpectedly high level of contamination in the water, particularly as the basement of the turbine building is not a recognised radiation area. One theory is that there is a leak from the reactor circuit, but pressures in the reactor vessel indicate this must be elsewhere in the loop.

Despite this disappointment, steady progress continues to be made on site. Instrumentation is being recovered at units 1, 2 and 4 and lights are on in the control rooms of units 1 and 3. Power connections have reached all the units and checks are underway before normal systems can be re-energised. The shared pond for used fuel pond has now been reconnected.

Here are some interesting photographs from inside the buildings, taken on 23 March by by the Operational Safety Inspector.

6. Geoff Russell (a regular BNC author on food and climate change issues) has a really good piece, reflecting on many of the issues discussed here over the last few weeks. His original title was: Japanese nukes … good news in a bleak landscape.

Some useful technical details are available from NISA Major Parameters 1800 March 25, and the NISA summary conditions report for each reactor (click on the diagram below to access the PDF):

Below is a situation update of the Fukushima Daiichi site, from TEPCO Washington office:

——————————

(1) Result of the investigation on highly radiated workers.

Below are the investigation results of their working environment. Radiation dose rate of surface of the water is approximately 400 mSv/h. Result of gamma-ray nuclide analyses based on sampling of the stagnant water on the basement floor of the turbine building of Unit 1 of Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. We are assessing radiation dose of 2 worker’s leg skin by beta ray. This incident would be caused because the workers regarded radiation dose of working area as low from survey result of radiation dose on March 23, it was about 0.5 mSv/hr at 5:00 and no major water puddle there. Workers continued working without recognizing change of work environment although their APD were alarming during the work TEPCO has thoroughly instructed its employees and contractor workers to pay attention to the alarm of their APD and evacuate when necessary.

Regarding this event, Fukushima Labor Bureau gave TEPCO verbal instructions. After summerising lessons learned and future measures to this event, TEPCO will report related government ministries and agencies to make sure radiation control thoroughly.

(2) High radiation water may come from the unit 3 reactor, not spent fuel pool.

As for the leakage of radioactive materials at Unit 3 turbine building, we assume the water came from the reactor. We collected sample of the contaminated water in the turbine building of Unit 3 and conducted the gamma-emitting nuclide analysis. We confirmed the following nuclides with short half-life.

Nuclides              half-life (days)     density (bq/cubic centimeter)

Iodine 131              8.06                              1.2 x 10E6

Cesium 136          13.16                             2.3 x 10E4

Barium 140            12.75                            5.2 x 10E4

There are 148 fuel rods with less than one year of cooling period in the spent fuel pool at Unit 3. Those fuel rods were transferred to the spent fuel pool between Jun 23 and 28, 2010 having had more than 200 days of cooling period. Nuclides with short half-life had sufficient time for decay in the spent fuel pool, so it seems possible that the contaminated water in the turbine building is from the reactor.

We do not deny possibility that there might be certain damage to the reactor of Unit 3. Even should that be the case, as plant parameters such as the reactor pressure and D/W pressure is stable , we presume that RPV is not seriously damaged.

We are injecting seawater and from the night of March 25, fresh water into the reactor. The water turns into steam and comes out from the reactor vessel through the SRV, then depressurized at the suppression chamber and condensed to water. This flow of water is cooling the reactor. Having experienced fluctuations of temperature and pressure, the containment function might be loosened somewhere. In any event, the above is a possibility, not yet confirmed.

(3) Water injection into the pools and the reactors.

Unit 1: Sea water injection into the reactor pressure vessel, from 3:37 pm on March 25th, we have started to inject fresh water into it.

Unit 2: From 10:30 am on March 25th, seawater injection through Fuel Pool Cooling and Filtering System (FPC) was started. This finished at 0:19 pm.

Unit 3 From 5:35 am on March 24th, seawater injection through Fuel Pool Cooling and Filtering System (FPC) was started and finished at 4:05 pm.

Spraying at the spent fuel pool by Kawasaki City Fire Department was carried out from 1:28 pm to 4:00 pm on March 25th.

Unit 4: From 2:35 pm on March 24th, spraying water by the concrete pumping vehicle was conducted and ended at approximately 5:30 pm on the same day.

From 6:05 am on March 25th, seawater injection through Fuel Pool Cooling and Filtering System (FPC) was started and finished at 10:20 am.

————————–

Here is the latest FEPC status report:

  • Radiation Levels
    • At 7:00PM (JST) on March 25, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 199.5 micro Sv/hour.
    • Measurement results of environmental radioactivity level around Fukushima Nuclear Power Station announced at 7:00PM on March 25 are shown in the attached PDF file. English version is available at:    http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/detail/1303962.htm
    • For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro Sv per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro Sv per scan.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor
    • At 11:00AM on March 25, activities for the injection of freshwater in place of seawater into the reactor core started and at 3:37PM, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core started.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.342MPa.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, water level inside the reactor core: 1.65 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.280MPaabs.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor
    • At 10:00AM on March 25, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • At 10:30AM on March25, TEPCO began to inject seawater into the spent fuel pool via cooling and purification line, until at 12:19PM (approximately 38 tons in total).
    • At 11:00AM on March 25, activities for the injection of freshwater in place of seawater into the reactor core started.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.016MPa.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, water level inside the reactor core: 1.4 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.12MPaabs.
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, approximately 96 tons of water in total has been injected into the spent fuel storage pool.
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, external power generation is connected and the functionality of the electric devices is being checked.
    • As of 7:30PM on March 25, the injection of seawater into the reactor core continues.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor
    • At 11:00AM on March 25, activities for the injection of freshwater in place of seawater into the reactor core started and at 6:02PM, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core started.
    • At 1:28PM on March 25, Kawasaki City Fire Department began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool until 4:00PM (approximately 450 tons in total).
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.038MPa.
    • At 2:00PM on March 25, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.1089MPaabs.
    • At 2:10PM on March 25, water level inside the reactor core: 1.9 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, approximately 4,497 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor
    • At 6:05AM on March25, TEPCO began to inject seawater into the spent fuel pool via cooling and purification line, until at 10:20APM.
    • At 7:05PM on March 25, TEPCO began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete.
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, approximately 685 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, external power generation is connected and the functionality of the electric devices is being checked.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor
    • At 3:00PM on March 25, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • At 3:00PM on March 25, the temperature of the water in the reactor core: 129.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor
    • At 3:00PM on March 25, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fukushima Daiichi Common Spent Fuel Pool
    • As of 7:00PM on March 25, approximately 130 tons of water in total has been injected to the spent fuel storage pool.

——————————

Finally, the latest Japan Atomic Industrial Forum summary table (21:00 March 25):

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259 Comments

  1. Why not just concrete the whole thing? Can anyone confirm the following comment (found on http://www.facebook.com/note.php?created&&note_id=204623026234158&id=96699782061 ),
    “Unfortunately, you can’t entomb live/melting reactors—-they would have to explode/burn off a large amount of material before they could bury the rest without a criticality. For example, clean up crews at Chernobyl stated at least 70% of it’s reactor had vaporized before entombment(contrary to official reports).”

  2. The Main Stream Media in the USA has been “Having a Cow” over the workers exposed to radioactive water who were sent to hospitals.

    I am much relieved to hear that their dose was ~180 mSv of Beta radiation (hence not a deep dose). Such a dose might produce symptoms similar to what I got from UV exposure last week but is orders of magnitude short of being life threatening as the MSM wants us to believe.

  3. Guy Jean, the Facebook link is now obsolete.

    Concreting the whole thing would be a very bad idea:

    1) It would prevent any sort of cooling. The casing would most likely crack and leak

    2) It would prevent all investigations, lesson-learning and dismantling

    3) The resulting “monument” would be a major emotional landmark for the anti-nuke community

  4. bks, your question is interesting from two perspectives.

    Firstly, a best case answer is not really going to be much use for any real world problem. The best case answer to the question “what will happen if I run a red light” is “nothing”. The worst case involves collisions, possible hazardous material leaks, fires, deaths, court action, financial loss and prison time.

    So, the best case is some kind of continuing reduction, as each source is diagnosed and halted. How long is a piece of string?

    The second issue I have with the question is the lack of consideration of effects.

    Parallel questions could be:
    “What are the probable health effects due to known releases thus far?”, or
    “How much of (name one or more radionuclides) has been emitted so far to (air/water/soil) (on/off) site?”, or
    “How long is it estimated that known pollutants from (power station/ tsunami/ other cause) continue to pose a health threat at the boundary of the power station site?

    The answers to these questions will quite likely be sought by those why seek to return to the devastated regions, up and down the east coast of Japan. The answer to the question you posed will not help people facing this type of quandary.

    Come to think of it, I wonder whether known releases, radioactive or otherwise, could be expected to cause adverse health effects beyond the site perimeter. Or 10km distant and, if so, whether this is likely to still be the case in 1 month? 1 year?

  5. sidd, neutron irradiation of salt that produced Cl-38 would also produce Na-24, which isn’t mentioned. So I don’t think this is the answer. Perhaps more information will become available over the weekend.

  6. John, I haven’t seen any radiation / radionuclide detection numbers that would cause adverse health effects at the plant perimeter, or further afield. Based on total likely exposure, that is, rather than briefly elevated rates.

  7. Thanks, Joffan. My thoughts entirely. There was a hint of exceedance of allowable limits but with probable zero health effects re the outfall canal, but it appeared to me that the I131 would quickly decay and the other two species reported would simply and quickly be diluted to below detectable levels, provided of course that the emissions ceased.

  8. That Geoff Russell article you’re recommending is excellent!

    The question I’m asking any media contacts I have is why were they not providing “balance” by reporting at least some part of this perspective instead of what we all saw? I remind them of their decades of insisting on providing “balance” by publishing the views of the climate science deniers all this time and even now.

  9. Following the arguments of Prof Wade Allison based on the evidence of H&N data and on medical therapy techniques, I am persuaded there is no increased cancer risk from radiation exposure to anyone unless they suffer a dose of at least 100mSv in a period of less than one month.

    So right now there might be a few of the workers who face an increase of a fraction of a percent in their cancer risk. No-one else.

  10. Barry, as usual, a very informative factual summary.

    I thought Geoff Russell’s piece was masterful and am quite prepared to accept his statistics relating to meat eating, despite being a carnivore myself and despite having made my living in the field of farm animal husbandry. Podargus sniffs out vegan propaganda, but I hope that his statement doesn’t imply that he thinks that Geoff is actually telling lies over the meat-associated bowel cancer statistics.

    If one new case of bowel cancer in Australia is diagnosed per 1000 head of population and most diagnoses are made in people aged over 65, this knowledge wouldn’t stop me eating meat. We all need to die of something specific now that doctors don’t accept that old age itself is a sufficient reason. Dementia and strokes and their associated mental or physical protracted decay are more alarming prospects for most.

    It has been suggested here previously that a worst case nuclear accident could lead to as many as 50000 extra deaths, presumably spread over a 30 year period. If my grasp of the facts is reasonably correct, this represents less than one tenth of those associated with bowel cancer in Australia. A Chernobyl-type accident in Australia (which DV82XL deemed to be worst case for all practical purposes) and which probably, at most, was responsible for 5000 extra deaths (discounting unnecessary -with hindsight- abortions) would have less than 1% of the bowel cancer effect while a Fukushima event would have none.

    At present, radiophobia rules. It seems that, until Radiation Protection Boards are prepared to re-evaluate their standards, based as they currently are on LNT theory and a huge margin of “safety”, in the light of post Chernobyl studies, radiophobia will continue to remain powerful.

  11. Question: Salts diisolved in sea water will obviously concentrate in the reactor core, as steam is produced and vented to the suppression pool. The main effect of moving from seawater injection to freshwater injection would seem to be that the salinity of the water in the core will stabilize rather than increase. Is there anything else? How salty are the cores at present? Are there any advantages to seawater injection (besides the availability of supply)?

  12. Question: What is the path of water delivered for cooling to the spent fuel ponds and to the reactors, once it leaves those sites?

    Some fraction is vented as steam, which then condenses or drifts offsite.

    Presumably, most of it flows into drainage pipes, perhaps after making its way into the basement. From there, the pipes likely empty into the sea.

    Or is much of the water soaking into the ground underneath and beside the buildings’ foundations?

  13. fyi (I’d posted this on other threads, not realizing this one was here at the time, so just an fyi)

    Well, this isn’t sounding good… kyodo news has a scrolling banner “news advisory” saying ‘High radiation suspends work to fix Fukushima plant’s No. 1 reactor” http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/japan_nuclear_crisis/

    JAIF’s latest update, meanwhile, includes the following two items. I’ve added bold to the second part, which would seem to indicate that they’ve given up restoring normal cooling systems to any of the units… I’m sure there will be more news forthcoming, and hopefully this is just something temporary (report no. 30 http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1301116660P.pdf )

    ** It is found that water accumulated at the basement of the turbine building of
    unit-1and 3 contains radioactive material 10,000 times as much as it in water
    in reactor at normal operation. TEPCO took immediate action to drain off
    this water since current situation would cause delay in recovery work. (11:35, March 26)

    **Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has been in serious condition since
    some units lost cooling function. TEPCO is trying to recover components for
    cooling that should be driven by external AC power. However, working
    condition in high radiation area is so bad and there is no prospect of
    accomplishing the work for this recovery.
    (05:15, March 26)

  14. @Guy Jean, on 26 March 2011 at 3:04 PM

    Even if entombed in concrete, I believe re-criticality would be extremely unlikely, and perhaps almost impossible. Criticality requires a certain geometry – and the water acts as a moderator to help reflect neutrons back into the fuel to promote criticality. As you lose geometry and water, you lose the likelyhood of criticality also. Besides, it would be difficult to entomb themm, and far better to bring these reactors under control if possible so we can learn from what happened.

    Also – Chernobyl can’t even be compared to these reactors – it was a vastly different design. It had a massive explosion in the core itself, and for all intents and purposes no containment building or vessel. Part of the core was vaporized in the explosion, and rather than water as a moderator, it primarily used graphite, which was set on fire by the explosion – all of this spread contamination (and actual chunks and bits of fuel!) around the site, and served to pump a large amount of radiation up high into the atmosphere.

  15. @gallopingcamel, on 26 March 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Galloping, I might be wrong, but as best I understand it, the dosimeters on their chests probably read 170-180 mSv. Not enough to cause any symptoms or likely even any increased risk of cancer. Meanwhile, they were apparently standing in that water for just under an hour – and the water read 400 mSv/hr. Which implies a dose to the feet/lower legs of a little less than 400 mSv. Obviously that’s a LOT higher than the 170 mSv, but I don’t think there would be any problems expected from it.

    It seems that skin erethema (reddening) probably doesn’t occur before about 6 Sv (6000 mSv – some sources say as ow as 2 Sv), and skin burns probably don’t occur until closer to 20 Sv (20000 mSv). So this sounds to me that there is a good chance they don’t wind up with any symptoms – if the reported dose rate of that water was 400 mSv/hr (and was beta + gamma, not just gamma), and there weren’t significantly hotter spots in the water. In other words, I’m still just speculating based on the info available, but from that, it does sound promising. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

    We were speculating on this issue also over on the 10+ day thread, and I posted a little info on skin effects there if you are interested. http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/23/fukushima-10-days-crisis-22-march/

  16. re post by: John Bennetts, on 26 March 2011 at 4:44 PM said:

    Come to think of it, I wonder whether known releases, radioactive or otherwise, could be expected to cause adverse health effects beyond the site perimeter. Or 10km distant and, if so, whether this is likely to still be the case in 1 month? 1 year?

    John, for whatever it’s worth – I have no idea if the rad releases to date (or even if one exrapolated reasonably for another week or two into the future) would add up to anything significant.

    What I am sure of, however, is that they’ll be running the numbers for lifetime worst case total pathway exposures before long, if they aren’t already. Not just short term, but calculations that take into account every mode of exposure that could possibly contribute (plume, cloud shine, ground shine, ingestion, etc), for each radionuclide that has been detected, based on as many of the various samples that have been taken at all the different distances, and for each age group (infant, children, adults, pregnant women). That gets projected to what total lifetime would result, and which group is the limiting group (e.g., highest total dose rate or most susceptible – virtually always winds up being infant/cow/milk as the limiting pathway).

    Anyhow, point is that they’ll almost certainly calculate it out not just for a month or a year, but for lifetime ‘worst case’ doses – and that includes assumptions such as the person was standing outside the entire time, drinking and eating only the most contaminated foodstuff/liquid, and so on.

  17. @rationaldebate
    The workers did get a skin erethema in fact the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, where they received specialized treatment, said the two were exposed to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation below their ankles

    You may argue that’s just a alpha radiation with effects localized to skin only

    gallopingcame was referring to beta radiation only

    www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/26_03.html

    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/81122.html

  18. amac78, on 26 March 2011 at 8:15 PM said
    “… is much of the water soaking into the ground underneath and beside the buildings’ foundations?”

    The flow rates required for cooling are of the order of hundreds of tonnes per day. Seepage into the foundations, assuming that a pathway exists, is likely to be at least two orders of magnitude lower than the cooling water flow; probably even less. Remember that seepage so close to the shoreline probably relies on discharge to the ocean, so there is little practical difference between discharge via drains and seepage via groundwater paths.

    Essentially, it appears to be a fair bet that if cooling water finds its way out of containment, it will exit via the outfall canal. Indeed, announcements today suggest that, in order to minimise radiation levels, this may be intentional.

    NB: Conjecture on my part is based on the statement “TEPCO took immediate action to drain off this water since current situation would cause delay in recovery work. (11:35, March 26)”, cited above.

  19. John Bennetts, thanks for the response to my query.

    > The flow rates required for cooling are of the order of hundreds of tonnes per day.

    My understanding is that “bleed [steam] and feed [sea/fresh water]” is still the main strategy for cooling the cores. It seems unlikely to me that you mean that hundreds of tonnes of water are being bled off each day as steam.

    [I suspect this has been covered in a prior thread, thus, apologies. Hard for a lay person to keep things straight.]

  20. amac78:

    I may have this wrong, so take care.

    My recollection is that waste heat at the condenser is disposed of via cooling water, to the outfall canal. The flow rates for this would be very high indeed – thousands of litres per second for a 6-unit station.

    I was factoring back to get a rough guesstimate (ie rougher than a normal guesstimate), and with one eye on the apparent water flows via fire trucks, water bombing and so forth. Hence hundreds of tonnes per day, probably per unit, but that will provide an indication.

    My main point was that that the water table would be quite high, owing to proximity to the ocean. Thus, additional water entering the foundations will have to be almost immediately discharged and there is really only one way out – the ocean.

  21. And more:
    Hopefully, cooling water losses via steam will cease pretty soon, as things cool to below 100C. Figures provided at the top of this thread seem to indicate that most, if not all, cores are below 212F/100C and typical unit cooling water flows are in the range of 100 – 200 tonnes per day.

    So… water in and water out. Not much steam any more.

  22. re post by Monica, on 26 March 2011 at 9:55 PM said:

    @rationaldebate
    The workers did get a skin erethema in fact the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, where they received specialized treatment, said the two were exposed to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation below their ankles. You may argue that’s just a alpha radiation with effects localized to skin only

    gallopingcame was referring to beta radiation only
    www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/26_03.html

    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/81122.html

    Hi Monica,
    The various reports out there vary widely in terms of what they report on this incident, including the 2-6 Sv you note, and that they actually HAVE burns – all the way down to just that they were decontaminated and sent to the hospital in case they had beta burns.

    alpha particles are stopped by the dead layer of your skin – they wouldn’t have alpha burns or erethema. It takes beta or gamma to cause that. The 2-6 Sv seems to have only shown up in one or two reports, with the majority indicating a much lower likely dose – and the 2-6 doesn’t match well with the reported surface dose rate of the water either. It is also a huge range for a supposedly suspected dose. It does, however, conveniently happen to match the lowest dose at which beta burns might occur (although a number of sources would say it takes more on the order of 20 Sv for burns). This makes me suspicious that translation difficulties or misunderstanding led to the few reports of this as the supposed actual exposure, when what was meant was that’s the dose at which beta burns might occur.

    Obviously I don’t KNOW that – but the point is that it is anything but clear at this point, and that high dose doesn’t seem to match the other reported facts or the majority of reports.

    I’m not sure where you get that GallopingCamel was referring to a beta dose with the 170 mSv either. That’s not been reported anywhere and it wasn’t in the linked report you gave either. The most likely source of that reading is the dosimeters that they were wearing, and that would be either gamma, or gamma + beta.

  23. I wonder what the total number of 6+ aftershocks the plant has seen? If there were any 7+ magnitude aftershocks? (on the Moment Magnitude or Richter scale that is, not meaning the Japanese scale – because I’d like to be able to know using the same basic scale as the primary 8.9 or 9.0 EQ was reported on)

  24. @Monica – just an example of why I say reporting on the dose to the worker’s legs is “all over the map” – World Nuclear News’ report:

    Three contractors were installing cables in the first floor and basement of the turbine building of unit 3, having to standing in water that resulted in exposures of around 170 millisieverts to the skin on their legs.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Exposures_and_progress_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_240311.html

  25. (ops moderator I will report my comment with the right names..)

    @rational debate

    gallopingcamel’s comment was, I quote
    “I am much relieved to hear that their dose was ~180 mSv of Beta radiation”
    I don’t know what his source his, I was just pointing out he made a specific reference to beta, since your initial reply was to him

  26. http://www.smh.com.au/world/more-damage-revealed-at-fukushima-20110326-1cazz.html

    “Tokyo
    March 27, 2011

    NEW signs have emerged that parts of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are so damaged and contaminated that it will be even harder to bring the plant under control soon.

    At the same time, Japanese officials began encouraging people to evacuate a larger band of territory around the complex.

    Radiation levels in seawater inside the quake-damaged reactors may be rising, Japan’s nuclear watchdog said yesterday. Speaking to a national audience at a news conference on Friday night, two weeks after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed it, Prime Minister Naoto Kan dodged a reporter’s question about whether the government was ordering a full evacuation, saying officials were simply following the recommendation of the Japan Nuclear Safety Commission.

    Authorities said that they would now assist people who want to leave the area from 20 to 30 kilometres outside the plant, and that they were now encouraging ”voluntary evacuation” from the area. “

  27. Monica/Rational Debate,
    The 170 mSv to the skin is way too low of a skin dose equivalent to cause erythema. Transient erythema, minor skin reddening, has a threshold in the range of 1-2 Sv. Remember, this is shallow dose equivalent, or dose to the skin, not to be confused with whole body, or deep dose. So at 0.4 Sv/h surface dose rate of the water, they could have received a dose capable of transient erythema in 2-3 hours. As Rational points out, this dose is not from alphas, which cannot irradiate the living cells of the skin when in contact with the skin surface due to 100% absorption in the dead skin cells. As for health impacts off-site, there are no data anywhere that support any increase cancer in persons receiving less than 0.1-0.2 Sv to the whole body. Based on levels reported, it is highly unlikely that this dose range will be reached among members of the public. So any increased ‘risk’ of cancer will be based on extrapolations based on the LNT modes. Purely hypothetical. The more likely outcome is no adverse health effects.

  28. Wait:
    > John Bennetts, on 26 March 2011 at 10:34 PM said: “Figures provided at the top of this thread seem to indicate that most, if not all, cores are below 212F/100C”

    What’s your source for this belief?

    The figures at the top of the thread say:

    “temperature at the bottom head of the reactor pressure vessels are now 149 C (unit 1), 104 C (unit 2) and 111 C (unit 3) …”

  29. Joffan, appealing to the xkcd chart, damage to health to a population will occur at 10 microsieverts/hour for one year (87 millisieverts) so I do not understand your comments above, as the readings at the perimeter are 20 times that level, and stations 32 and 33 (MEXT data) 30 km away are at 3 to 10 times that level.

    Plus we do not have data for the period following the major releases after the hydrogen explosions.

    –bks

  30. @Hank:
    You are correct. My apologies.

    Unit 5 is the only one reported to have core temp below boiling. Unit 6, I suspect, is also cool.

    In my haste, I confused rod pool temps and core temps.

    So, while core temps are trending downwards, Units 1 to 3 are still just above 100C.

  31. > core … below boiling

    These are pressure vessels under pressure; boiling would be rather higher than 100C.

    The bottom head is not the core; the bottom head is the base of the pressure vessel.

  32. I don’t mean to nitpick, it makes a big difference which core (which kind of fuel) and which openings are being used to pump water in and take water and steam out of each reactor — and what the temperature of the return water is. If they’re flooding sea water through and letting the overflow back into the ocean, that’s very different than if they’re circulating water and steam through the cooling torus or the turbine loop, maybe filtering crap out of it, and returning that still relatively warm water to the reactor. Details matter enormously. If anyone has them, pointer welcome.

  33. Hank Roberts, on 27 March 2011 at 12:04 AM said:

    >>At the same time, Japanese officials began >>encouraging people to evacuate a larger band of >>territory around the complex.

    Monitoring post 83 at the 20 km boundary to the Northwest is at 82 microSieverts and at monitoring post 82 at 30 km to the Northwest is at 49 microSieverts. A few km either side and the levels drop into the single digits.

    So there are some hotspots with radiation levels about 1/4 of what the levels are at the plant boundary out to 30km.

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/03/26/1304318_2619.pdf

  34. Hank Roberts, on 27 March 2011 at 1:15 AM said:

    > core … below boiling

    These are pressure vessels under pressure; boiling would be rather higher than 100C.

    The bottom head is not the core; the bottom head is the base of the pressure vessel.

    Has anyone seen actual pressure readings? The official Japanese charts I’ve seen merely state the pressure as “stable” or “rising” or “lowering”. None of these charts gives us any indication of actual pressure reading, therefor actual boiling points for the coolant. I know from designing race car engines that coolant pressure greatly impacts the boiling point and cooling system. I can only imagine the impact on a nuclear reactor cooling system. Can any of you experts be sure that they have the pressure required to keep the coolant from boiling at this or that stated temp? It seems you are missing a key element – actual system pressure. Another thought that comes to mind is, if the coolant is boiling would that constant expansion of the boiling water keep pressures erroneously stable despite the constant slow leaking of coolant (if such a leak is present).

  35. We must be skeptical of all information that Tepco is feeding the government agencies, both statistical, and operational. They seem to have a pattern of secrecy and misconduct developing that is anything but trustworthy.

    —–

    Government spokesman Yukio Edano urged Tokyo Electric Power Co. to be more transparent, two days after two workers at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered skin burns when they stepped in water that was 10,000 times more radioactive than levels normally found near the reactors.

    “We strongly urge TEPCO to provide information to the government more promptly,” Edano said.

    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, said TEPCO was aware there was high radiation in the air at one of the plant’s six units several days before the accident. And the two workers injured were wearing boots that only came up to their ankles — hardly high enough to protect their legs, agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.

    “Regardless of whether there was an awareness of high radioactivity in the stagnant water, there were problems in the way work was conducted,” Nishiyama said.

    NISA warned TEPCO to improve and ensure workers’ safety, and TEPCO has taken measures to that effect, Nishiyama said, without elaborating.

    TEPCO spokesman Hajime Motojuku declined to comment.

    http://www.ajc.com/business/japans-government-criticizes-nuke-886410.html

  36. As I understand it: at the present time, the cores of units 1, 2, and 3 are somewhat above 100C, and under pressure (thus, not boiling).

    Decay is continuing in the fuel rods, at much lower levels than on March 11th, and at levels that decrease slightly each day. Still, that’s enough to generate some megawatts worth of heat, per reactor core.

    “Stability” means this excess heat is removed at about the same rate that it is produced.

    This removal can be through –

    (1) bleeding off water (flashes to steam) and sending it to the torus — as long as there’s a way to cool the torus

    (2) bleeding off water (flashes to steam) and venting it, so that it condenses onsite or disperses. This requires injection of water (sea or fresh) to make up for what’s lost.

    (3) pumping core water through a circuit that includes a heat-exchanger, as long as there’s fluid to be cooled (e.g. seawater).

    (4) leaking of core water into the building housing the reactor (as long as it is drained, and as long as the core is replenished by injection of replacement water).

    (5) black body radiation (unlikely to account for much heat).

    As far as I know, AC pumps haven’t yet been started.

    What is the major pathway for removal of heat from the fuelled cores, at present?

  37. Mr. Shelby writes:
    “Has anyone seen actual pressure readings? ”

    Please see http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/index.php where periodic status reports may be found. In particular, on the 26th

    Daichi

    Reactor 1:

    Water level
    26th 09:30: (A) -1650mm (B) -1600mm

    Reactor pressure
    26th 05:00 (A) 0.353MPaG, (B) 0.360MPaG
    26th 09:30 (A) 0.376MPaG, (B) 0.360MPaG

    CV pressure
    26th 05:00 0.270MPaabs
    26th 09:30 0.270MPaabs

    Reactor 2

    Water level
    -1100mm

    Reactor Pressure
    26th 10:40 A)-0.014MPaG B)-0.016MpaG

    CV Pressure
    26th 10:40 0.115MPaabs

    Reactor 3

    Water Level
    26th 10:00 A) -1800mm, B) -2300mm

    Reactor Pressure
    26th 10:00 A)0.038MPaG B)-0.101MPaG

    CV Pressure
    26th 1000 0.1066MPaabs

    Please do thech the previous reports, but if If I recall correctly,:

    Reactor 1 has been holding pressure, water levels have been recently rising.

    Reactor 2 pressure and CV pressures have been roughly at atmosphere for a while, water levels rising.

    Reactor 3 had a pressure excursion, and has now returned to atmospheric, water levels very low, cannot seem to be raised.

    sidd

  38. Joffan wrote:

    John, I haven’t seen any radiation / radionuclide detection numbers that would cause adverse health effects at the plant perimeter, or further afield. Based on total likely exposure, that is, rather than briefly elevated rates.

    Tap water samples in Litate (40 km from plant): 965 bq/kg Iodine-131 (three times the government safety limit, nine times the limit for infants).

    Soil samples in Litate: 163,000 bq/kg Cs-137 (1,630 times the normal level). “Based on a rough estimate, a person standing on soil with 163,000 Bq/kg of cesium-137 would receive about 150 millisieverts per year of radiation … well above US EPA standard of 50 millisieverts per year.”

    There are four towns located within 20 km “hard” evacuation zone: Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Naraha (and sampling has been minimal in these locations). While it’s still too early to tell, concerns and risks abound for many residents in these regions: “‘We’ve heard that it could be years, maybe even tens of years before we are allowed back,’ Imura says. ‘It’s possible that Namie will cease to exist.’”

    Keep in mind too … radiation has been blowing offshore (away from land) for much of this time period. The radiation risk from this accident could have been far worse (and we still have high levels and little control over the situation). The damaged fuel in the reactors could take months to years to cool. We have a good guess of contamination levels in coolant water at the power plants, and much of this is heading right back to the ocean.

  39. right, EL, the radiation “could” have been worst, the core “could” have melted, the whole plant “could” have been destroyed. anything, or quite anything, could have happened, from smallpox to asteroid rain.
    but actually the core did not melt, the winds did not blow to land, the plane is still there, reasonably stable and cooling slowly.
    the problem (a very big one, as far as I can think) is quite ALL that actually *happened* outside the nuclear plant (devastation, pollution, death, plague, power shortages, orphans, chemical waste spread everywhere, starvation, cold, ravaged nature and landscape, count it if you can) looks as it was happened in other planet, or in a very remote time.
    of course, this is a discussion focused only on Fukushima accident and its aftermath, but just giving a look to the average media one can see that the only news from Japan are about the reactor, and grossly inaccurate news indeed (this morning the italian TV news were blabbering about a “really serious situation in Fukushima, quite out of control, with an increasing count of exxxxtreme dangerous radiation”….).

    good luck that Libyan war started, otherwise the level of media BS would reach unprecedented records….

  40. bks, please note that these reported rates will not be sustained for a year. Or even a month. And note my other observation, due to Prof Allison; that from the known recovery rates of patients undergoing radiotherapy, the human body recovers from subcritical radiation damage within a month (more probably two weeks) and none of these integrated rates will deliver 100mSv within a month.

    “Integrated” here does not mean “take the highest rate and multiply it by the number of hours in a month”, either. Worst-case thinking may be interesting for eliminating scenarios but it does not model reality.

    I can phrase it another way: why do you choose to extrapolate a year’s worth of values? Why a year? Why worst-case all the hours of that year?

  41. EL – first, thanks for the links. Don’t you just wish some of these stories gave us onward links so we could look at (say) the values for soil samples they took at all six locations?

    On iodine-131 in tap water: call me back when the levels have stayed that high for a week. On towns in the evacuation zone: people’s speculations and fears are not evidence for actual radiation health effects. On 150mSv pey year: = 12mSv per month; no health effect (p46).

  42. Joffan, xkcd and all U.S. agencies talk about yearly doses as does the nuclear industry. I am quite aware that the effects of dosage is statistical and time-dependent. But I would bet my car that Berkeley is not the *worst case*. It’s just the only place that’s doing the monitoring correctly. What we should be looking at is data like this from Sendai and Tokyo. Then we could talk intelligently. You go to science with the data you have, not the data you wish you have.

    Also, how do you know what the future holds?

    –bks
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  44. @EL, on 27 March 2011 at 5:55 AM said:

    >>Soil samples in Litate:

    We know that US DOE did high resolution aerial radiation measurement and turned it over to the Japanese Government.

    http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan

    We can speculate that the Japanese Officials are either randomly sampling according to a grid pattern or they are using the high resolution aerial surveys to pinpoint potential problem areas.

    The fact that they have 5 sampling points to the northwest that are maybe 1 km apart leads me to ‘suspect’ they are pinpointing.

  45. Joffan wrote:

    EL – first, thanks for the links. Don’t you just wish some of these stories gave us onward links so we could look at (say) the values for soil samples they took at all six locations?

    What makes you think they aren’t providing these sample results:

    http://www.mext.go.jp/component/english/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2011/03/24/1304097_2410.pdf

    There is some really incredible research on radiation sampling from IAEA, US, French groups, NGOs, health and science ministries, oceanographers, sanitation and municipal government agencies, food safety, and other local health authorities on the ground (and in the water) in Japan. It’s probably one of the more pressing issues going on at the moment (beyond controlling the situation at the power plants). We have sustained readings for this area of 105 – 170 microsieverts over the last five days. Most of this quadrant of Japan will be an active research zone for some time, and will be gone over with a fine tooth comb as accident investigations proceed and scientists descend on what is likely to be viewed as one of the great radiological experiments of the 21st century (even though we are only a decade in). Arguing that people aren’t doing the work, or are biased in selectively sampling only highly contaminated areas is absurd.

    The latest DOE data from overflights shows directionality for many of these plumes over land, and this is what we are seeing on the ground at most local sampling results. Radiation doesn’t just sit in one place either, I’m pretty sure you know this. It decays into different constituents, and it travels up and down the food chain and bio-accumulates in the environment. You can point to individual sample readings and say gamma readings will be negligible over time (and you’d be correct). But there are many other ways that less penetrating, long lived (300 years) and high energy ionizing particles can get into your body, and pose additional risks to public health (large and small). For a country that gets most of its nutritional needs from the ocean and from crops grown on land, dispersing highly radioactive water into the ocean, failing to contain dangerous radioactive gases carried on the wind, and having four broken down reactors sitting on the beach for a period of years (if not decades) doesn’t sound like something to minimize (or otherwise disregard). With respect to radiation impacts to the environment, we are far more likely be at the beginning of this unfolding drama rather than the end. And if it proves to be inconsequential, I will be the first to visit Fukushima for the delectable farm fresh produce, and depart out of Noda (when the re-build) for the daily catch.
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  47. Issues raised by EL.

    At 5:55am this morning, EL stated “Soil samples in Litate: … “Based on a rough estimate, a person standing on soil with 163,000 Bq/kg of cesium-137 would receive about 150 millisieverts per year of radiation … well above US EPA standard of 50 millisieverts per year”.”

    I am not familiar with the specific guideline to which EL refers, or why he has selected an annualised dose rate rather than something closer to days or, perhaps, weeks. By so doing, EL has embedded an implicit assumption that, once the emissions have ceased, the radiation levels will not decay with time. This appears to be excessively conservative, or alarmist.

    One comparison is the USEPA 4-day limit quoted by US DOE at http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan above. The 4-day limit is 1000 mRem before public health actions are warranted; ie 10mS/day, if my maths are correct.

    The 365 day rate quoted by EL works out at 0.5 mS/d; ie one twentieth of the USEPA trigger level.

    Further. Prof Alison Wade, in the slide show also cited above by Joffan and found at http://www.physics.ox.ac.uk/nuclearsafety/webpptMay07.pdf provides cogent analysis indicating that exposure of “…100mS gives no increased risk of cancer death over 40 years…”.

    This equates to about ten days’ exposure at the rates presented by EL, which are themselves selected from a report which includes a range of readings fors and times. It is perhaps reasonable to assume that nobody will sit at the worst location for 10 days, without spending at least some of their time in other, less radiated, locations.

    For these reasons, I conclude that EL’s contribution is a worst case interpretation and an unreasonable extrapolation over time (a year) of data which represents only a point in time.

    This has the result of presenting as dangerous and requiring a public health response, as situation which is not outside the relevant EPA guidelines and which is not so high as to warrant a community health response.

    This type of exaggeration of the actual risks is unfortunate ecause it delays actions which will lead to rebuilding of communities and relationships, which instill fear and even panic in the population at large, which cause increased but useless expense to the community via excessive responses and, eventually, do actual harm to those Japanese citizens who are most in need of good, realistic advice, emotional support and physical assistance to get their lives back in order.

    Scaremongering actually adds to their pain, no matter how well intentioned or mistaken.
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  48. EL, on 27 March 2011 at 9:45 AM said:

    >> Arguing that people aren’t doing the work, or are >>biased in selectively sampling only highly >>contaminated areas is absurd.

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/03/japan-soil-measurements-surprisingly.html

    Meanwhile, on Wednesday the Japanese science ministry began to report measurements of cesium-137 in upland soil around the plant. The levels are highest from two points northeast of the plant, ranging from 8690 becquerels/kilogram to a high of 163,000 Bq/kg measured on 20 March from a point in Iitate about 40 kilometers northwest of the Fukushima plant…….the highest cesium-137 levels in some villages near Chernobyl were 5 million Bq/m2. .

    No selective sampling, the Japanese Government is actively seeking out areas that may be a problem. It’s a mountainous area, mountains can act and do act like funnels.

    .

  49. re post by: Shelby, on 27 March 2011 at 1:54 AM said:

    None of these charts gives us any indication of actual pressure reading, therefor actual boiling points for the coolant. I know from designing race car engines that coolant pressure greatly impacts the boiling point and cooling system. I can only imagine the impact on a nuclear reactor cooling system. Can any of you experts be sure that they have the pressure required to keep the coolant from boiling at this or that stated temp? It seems you are missing a key element – actual system pressure.

    Shelby, there is no ‘impact on a nuclear reactor cooling system’ to imagine. The relationship of temperature, pressure, and boiling point of water is the same no matter what the application – race cars or nuclear reactors. It’s simple physics.

    Both Reactor Pressure Vessel and Containment Vessel pressures have been being reported. I don’t recall exactly which reports, but they’ve been there regularly, check TEPCO, JAIC, and NISA reports.

    Also, they aren’t trying to avoid boiling. Remember, these are boiling water reactors. They are designed with the full intention that there is boiling going on in there, pretty much all of the time. Yes, it is at a higher pressure, and therefor temperature than the pot on your stove, that’s how they get the best scenario for turning massive turbines and generating electricity.

    Now they’re trying to balance the various factors involved to keep the core from damage (e.g., not too hot, pressure not too high, no sudden major bursts of steam or other transients, etc), while minimizing onsite dose rates, and minimizing environmental releases. Boiling is expected.

    You went on to say:

    Another thought that comes to mind is, if the coolant is boiling would that constant expansion of the boiling water keep pressures erroneously stable despite the constant slow leaking of coolant (if such a leak is present).

    In short, no. They know how much make-up water is being added to the system – that means that much is being off gassed or vented, one way or another. There is no way to get ‘erroneously stable’ pressure readings, unless the reading instrumentation itself is broken and then typically you either get a fixed reading that doesn’t change, or a zero reading, or a null reading. Right now they’re balancing input vs. output.

    There may be leaks they aren’t aware of, which just means that what would be released to cool the reactor is in small part coming out somewhere they’re not aware of right now, but that doesn’t give erroneous pressure readings. The pressure is the pressure, and they pretty much know how much they’re putting in, which means they also know how much is coming out one way or another.

  50. EL, thanks for the data link. I wasn’t implying that the data didn’t exist; just that the news articles never seem to link to it.

    This kind of upland deposition of caesium, by rain-out, can actually persist a long time. Upland areas of the UK are still monitored from Chernobyl fall-out., and sheep grazed on a some farms are checked for radioactivity levels before being released for sale.

    As I have already expressed, I don’t see the evidence for harm from these levels, even though they are presented as scarily large and use specious multipliers on “normal levels”.

    Some radionuclides bioaccumulate – some don’t.

    “four broken down reactors sitting on the beach for a period of years” will make no difference to the local environment. Reactors in cold shutdown have no emissions.

  51. Numbers, from 24 March 2011

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Exposures_and_progress_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_240311.html

    “Tepco noted that the temperature of the containment vessel of unit 1 had built to some 400ºC, compared to a design value of only 138ºC. However, the strength of the component is such that it can withstand the stresses this imposes, said Tepco, and its structural integrity is expected to be maintained. “There is no substantial problem regarding the containment vessel’s structural soundness under conditions of pressure 300 kPa and temperature 400ºC.””

  52. re post by: sidd, on 27 March 2011 at 3:24 AM said:

    Rational Debate kindly provided the link:

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11032605-e.html

    I find it troubling that I-132, I-133, Ru-105, Te-129 are detected. These have very short half lives, and must have been recently created. Daini is seeing I-132 as well.

    Hi Sidd,

    Are you sure you’re not confusing the far right column which lists limits with what was detected? For Dai-ichi they’re showing no detection of I-132 & 1-133 & Te-129.

    For the Ru-105, not sure off the top of my head where it’s coming from, but don’t forget activation products and decay chains. (if you figure it out, post please, I probably won’t dig it out myself – not sure off the top of my head what activated Zr or Mo products would be expected, etc.)

    I-132 actually wouldn’t be surprising if they’d found it. It’s the decay product of Te-132 which has a half life of 3.2 days. The Te-129 also wouldn’t be surprising if found, but it would be associated with Te-129m, with a half life of 34 days – and which I think has a 2/3rds chance, roughly, of converting to the much shorter half lifed Te-129. So neither one of those would be particularly surprising, I don’t think.

    At Dai-ini they are showing some 1-132, a tiny bit above the minimum detection limit, and far below the quantity allowed for normal workers. Ru-105 wasn’t found one day, and was barely above minimally detectable limits the second day.

    Te-129 was picked up slightly above minimum detection limits, both Te-129 & Te-129m. Both far below permissible limits. They didn’t pick up any I-133.

  53. The daily airborne emissions from this site are running around 10**17th bequerels just from iodine 131, according to the Austrian radiation monitors.
    That indicates massive exposed fuel boiling off volatiles. As plenty of water has been pumped , there is clearly a loss of integrity, in the spent fuel pools or the reactor vessels or both.
    The discussion about the reactor status is consequently somewhat peripheral. It is imperative that the source of this plume be located and then neutralized quickly, else the region will be burdened with centuries worth of radioactive legacy from cesium 137 and similar longer lived isotopes.
    It is stunning to see that this national catastrophe is being fought by a pickup crew of contract workers and fire department draftees.
    Japan has plenty of resources, why are they not getting used?

  54. re post by: bks, on 27 March 2011 at 12:10 AM said:

    Joffan, appealing to the xkcd chart, damage to health to a population will occur at 10 microsieverts/hour for one year (87 millisieverts) so I do not understand your comments above, as the readings at the perimeter are 20 times that level, and stations 32 and 33 (MEXT data) 30 km away are at 3 to 10 times that level.

    Plus we do not have data for the period following the major releases after the hydrogen explosions.

    bks, as others have already stated I believe, those levels are transient. Not fixed. Most of the measured dose rate is being carried past those points in the atmosphere – and they are both decaying rapidly, and also being dispersed into the atmosphere. Many of the radioactive isotopes that are contributing to those dose rates have very short half lives. As a result, the more time that goes by, and the faster or more turbulent the wind, basically the faster those levels decline. So you can’t take readings like these and then just multiply them out as if the dose rate remained the same. If you do, you’ll almost certainly be over estimating the actual dose by literally orders of magnitude.
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  56. The first report i have seen about levels at Daichi Reactor 2

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201103260218.html

    apparently TEPCO measured 500 millisieverts per hour in the basement of the turbine building for the No. 2 reactor six days ago, but did not see fit to share.

    and unfortunately, according to

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201103260217.html

    “The radiation found in the water has forced Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, to call a halt to efforts to install electrical cables to the reactors.”

  57. re post by: John Bennetts, on 26 March 2011 at 11:15 PM

    John, thanks for the link to the earthquake aftershock video. That’s incredible, and you almost need to be able to play it slow motion.

    I still wonder just how many of those aftershocks have had major ground movements at Dai-ichi itself.

  58. To the MODERATOR or Barry – I’m sorry, I was just working down thru the thread, and hadn’t gotten to the point of the first moderator warning yet. Consequently posted a few comments that were off topic, without realizing that they had been declared so. It’s far too easy in these things to not see warnings of this nature until after one has already posted. Just the nature of the blogging/bulletin board beast. Anyhow, I’ve seen the warnings now and won’t post any further replies to other’s earlier comments on that issue.

    I just wanted to let you know that now I have seen the MODERATOR warnings, and that I wasn’t ignoring the warnings, I just hadn’t gotten down to them yet when I made those posts.
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  59. Since I am not a nuclear engineer, the concentration of radioactive I-131 in Unit 3 turbine bdlg water measured as 1.2×10^6 Bq/cm3 is not understandable to me. I have done the conversion to grams I-131 per liter and got 0.26 x10^-6 g/l or 0.3 parts per billion by weight.

    The equation is: Bq = (m x Na x ln2)/ (ma x t1/2)

    where: Bq is number of radioactive disintegrations per sec in the sample; m is the amount of radioactive element in grams; Na is Avogadro’s number 6.02 x 10^23, ma is the molecular weight of the radioactive element; and t1/2 is the half-life in seconds.

    For the Unit 3 water reported by Barry above I-131 had 1.2 x 10^6 Bq/cm3 or 1.2 x 10^9 disintegrations/sec-liter. I-131 has a molecular weight ma of 130.9 and a t1/2 half-life of 8.02 years or 6.96 x 10^5 secs.

    Plug those into the equation and you get m = 0.26 x 10^-6 or 0.26 micro-grams per liter, about 0.3 parts per billion I-131. Not highly concentrated.

    When dealing with short lived radioactive isotopes, people commonly think that they must have just recently been made. Of course that’s not true. Eight days from when that sample was analyzed it would then contain 0.13 x 10^-6 g/l I-131. You cannot tell from an analysis, just how recently a radioactive element was made.
    MODERATOR
    Please move this conversation to Open Thread.

  60. “Leaking water at reactor 2 has been measured at 1,000 millisieverts/hour – 10 million times higher than when the plant is operating normally”

    1 sievert. Not 10 sieverts.

  61. Workers evacuated. Radiation levels 10 million times normal. ~ 10 Sieverts.

    The linked article does not support Chrisma’s assertion. The rate mentioned in the article is 1 sievert.

  62. MODERATOR – TO REPEAT WHAT WAS POSTED EARLIER
    (Off topic comments will be deleted. They have strayed again.)
    Prof Brook stated on this post:

    This post provides an update to the various situation summaries at Fukushima Daiichi. Please switch to using this post for comments on the latest status reports and news to hand (the old one is now out of date). For general comments on, use the FD Open Thread, and for analysis of the event with respect to future lessons for nuclear power, use this post.(Preliminary lessons from Fukushima)

    The up-date thread is being choked by the conversation regarding radiation levels etc. This can put off those reading the blog for real up-dates of the on ground situation.
    Please move the conversation to Open Thread. Further comments on this topic will be deleted and you will be asked to re-post in the correct thread (we have no facility to switch comments between threads)

  63. @ Leo Hansen 3:40 PM Moderator: I thought this discussion was about the current status of the Fukushima plant. Barry has the recent reactor 3 water analysis at the top of this column. I am only commenting on his reported concentration of 1.2 x 10^6 Bq/cm3 and putting his reported number in units that ordinary people can understan so that have a clearer understanding of the current situation.
    MODERATOR
    There is some overlap, and it is subjective, but the up-date post is read by the general public wanting to know the latest situation at the plant and long-winded discussions on subjects such as these tend to clog the thread and make it less accessible/more rambling to most. Many other comments regarding this topic are on the Open Thread Fukushima so yours would be a welcome and useful addition there. Thank you for your time and efforts – it is unfortunate that we do not have the ability to switch between posts.

  64. re post by: etudiant, on 27 March 2011 at 12:30 PM said:

    etudiant, I would say that the dose rates, air samples, etc., around the Fukushima Dai-ichi site and surrounding countryside are far more meaningful and relevant than any estimates from Austrian monitoring equipment.

    As plenty of water has been pumped , there is clearly a loss of integrity, in the spent fuel pools or the reactor vessels or both.

    They’ve been venting steam to cool the reactors. That’s a far cry from a loss of containment integrity. I’m not saying that there isn’t a breach, I’m just saying that at this point, I don’t think anyone knows, and it isn’t reasonable to jump to conclusions. I think it’s also pretty obvious that they’re doing their darnedest to get things back under control so they don’t have to keep venting, and can get all releases stopped. Sensationalism over the situation and how bad it might be etc., won’t speed things up, it just adds to a lot of unnecessary panic that is already out there.

    It is stunning to see that this national catastrophe is being fought by a pickup crew of contract workers and fire department draftees.
    Japan has plenty of resources, why are they not getting used?

    Why do you assume that they aren’t? Who is better qualified to make the connections and run fire engine pumper trucks? If those contractor workers regularly work nuclear power facilities, especially if they have experience with high level radiation areas as some outage contractors here in the USA do, then they’re the best suited to do this work. Same thing if they happen to be particularly good with electrical work, or piping or what have you. Not to mention that they are having to limit total doses to workers – so you can’t just take the same people and keep them working at the plant the entire time.

    I see no reason what-so-ever to assume that the firemen and contract workers are anything other than some of the top folks that Japan has to deal with this, for the aspects that they are working on.

    Not to mention that so far entire towns and much of their population have been wiped off the face of the earth, roads demolished along with every aspect of infrastructure, over 10,000 people confirmed dead and another 15,000 or more missing – in many regards the nuclear situation pales compared to the overall situation – and Japan has to devote a massive amount of their resources and expertize trying to deal with the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami, not just the nuclear power station situation.

  65. MODERATOR?? Request for clarification please…. I think I just blew it with my replly to “etudiant” at 4:54, but I’m not honestly sure.

    I mean, it’s not strictly tech/mech plant status – but on a plant status thread like this, is a single reply to someone else’s post ok, so long as it doesn’t turn into a running debate?

    If not, how should we handle something like that? Post a reply here to the person stating only that we’re replying over on the open thread?

    I’m just not sure how you folks prefer for this sort of thing to be handled or just where the line is for this thread, so to speak…
    MODERATOR
    It is a bit of a fine line and often a subjective decision, but probably the best response would be that anything borderline that get’s into long, detailed, technical discussion that progresses to take over the thread completely should go on the Open Thread. I will double check with Barry about this.

  66. re comment by Moderator to me:

    MODERATOR Thanks RD -we actually thought that was probably the case with you, as you are usually only too happy to comly with the requests we make in this regard.

    Yes, I’m more than happy to comply with any of your requests. Hey, it’s your blog! :0) That, and you folks seem quite reasonable too.

    Sorry we had to delete your comment (we know you put a lot of effort into them)- but we had to make a stand somewhere:)
    Hope you had kept a copy as previously suggested. We appreciate your input.

    No problem, I understand. I confess I don’t usually keep copies – but I’ve seen you folks suggest it several times, so that’s my own fault. It’s just awkward, especially if bouncing between threads. I’m not certain, but I may have lucked out this time – I had the thread open on two tabs, one to read, the other to post from… and so I think I may have that comment from the one tab that I hadn’t refreshed yet, ironically enough. Also, thank you for the compliments, they’re much appreciated!!

    Kudo’s to you folks for the great work you do here!

  67. ‘Leaking water at reactor 2 has been measured at 1,000 millisieverts/hour – 10 million times higher than when the plant is operating normally.

    “We are examining the cause of this, but no work is being done there because of the high level of radiation,” said a spokesman for the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

    “High levels of caesium and other substances are being detected, which usually should not be found in reactor water. There is a high possibility that fuel rods are being damaged,” the spokesman added.’

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12872707

  68. According to the professor interviewed in the video at:

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/27_12.html

    They are planning on or already trying to pump the highly contaminated radioactive water into the main turbine condenser(s). This is to be used to store the water in order to allow work to continue in the basement of the turbine building(s).

    This information is also given here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704396904576225961395484904.html

  69. @ David Martin
    Where in the air? In the reactor? Would still be no danger to the general public ouside the evacuation area.
    The readings are per hour and go up and down. Comment anyone?

  70. Dunno for sure. Presumably in the reactor building, as that is where the irradiated water is reported. I’ve tried googling, but all I have turned up is more derivative articles, not the original statement by the guy.
    Hopefully this is in error and the high levels are in the water, which is bad enough.

  71. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/81266.html

    TEPCO’s Fukushima office acknowledged Saturday that it had known earlier that the radiation in the underground level of the turbine building of one of the reactors was extremely high, but had not made the information available to pertinent parties.

    Edano criticized the utility’s handling of the data, saying unless it reports necessary information to authorities in a timely manner, ”the government will not be able to give appropriate instructions and (TEPCO) will make workers, and eventually the public, distrustful” of the firm.

    really, nothing new, same tactics of “delay bad news” from TEPCO.

  72. Pingback: March 26 Update on Fukushima Nuclear Plant | marfdrat

  73. “..radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 199.5 micro Sv/hour.

    For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro Sv per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. ”

    We see this kind of apples-oranges comparisons everywhere. Why compare a per year radiation with a per hour radiation ?

    It should really be “natural radiation is 0.27 micro Sv/hour”.

  74. When the refilling of the reactor cores was recently changed from seawater to freshwater Tepco reported that it added boric acid to the freshwater feed of unit 2.

    Such was NOT added to unit 1 and 3 freshwater feed.

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11032702-e.html

    Why is there, 16 days after shut down, still need to suppress fission in unit 2?

    How does that relate to short half life nucleotides in the water in the unit 2 turbine hall?

    Could the partial meltdown in no 2 have restarted some fission?

    Any decent opinion on this?

  75. Pingback: Eine Zusammenfassung der Probleme bei Fukushima I bei physikBlog

  76. Sidd.

    “I find it troubling that I-132, I-133, Ru-105, Te-129 are detected. These have very short half lives, and must have been recently created.”

    I-132 is a decay product of Te-132, which has a 3.2 day half-life and should still be present in appreciable amounts.

    Te-129 in ground state is troubling, as it has a 70 minute half-life and it’s longest lived parent nuclide has a half-life of only 4.4 hours. It is very possible that this is refering to Te-129m which has a 33.6 day half-life.

    I-133 has a 20.8 h and could plausibly still be detectable in minute amounts with very sensitive equipment. Has no possible long-lived parent nuclides.

    Ru-105 has a half-life of only 4.5 hours and only short-lived possible parent nuclides. This troubles me if detected in any quantity. There is always some level of spontaneous fission in actinides; especially from Pu-238, Pu-240, Pu-242, Am-241. To get a feel for the order of magnitude, a kilogram of pure Pu-240 produces 900 neutrons per second from fission; there is some amplifications as fission can be induced by neutrons in a shutdown reactor, but not with a probability high enough for a self-sustaining reaction; only a small fraction of fissions yield Ru-105. This just shouldn’t be detectablMODERATOR
    This conversation is beginning to ramble off-topic. Please move to Fukushima Open Thread 2 where similar points are being discussed. Posting off-topic may result in deletion of your comment and a request to re-post on the correct thread.

  77. sidd, I dont agree that water level in reactor 1 is falling, in fact its pretty stable and has risen very slightly over the last week, now stable around -1650 or -1600. Water at unit 2 has fluctuated anywhere from -1400 to -1000 since the 20th. And reactor 3s water measurements have been steady on -2300 for days according to measurement B, and fluctuating between -1900 and -1800 according to A.

    My source is the same as the docuemnt you linked to, except I’ve had to go back and look at many of the previous releases of this info from the same source, in order to see the trends.

  78. Mr. Elbows, you are correct. My impression was based on the reactor 2 reading of -1100 mm on the 26th to -1200 on the 27th.

    Steam is observed from reactor 1-4, is it of sufficient volume to account for the volume of water being pumped in ? I have not seen any video lately, perhaps someone who has might care to comment ?

    sidd

  79. This may be new video of the reactor buildings from helicopter… I don’t speak Japanese, so if anyone here does, hopefully you’ll let us know about anything particularly interesting that was said – and more importantly perhaps, if it’s not actually from today as the time stamp suggests!

    http://peevee.tv/v/84w992

    I’d like to know how much of the ‘white smoke” is just steam escaping from SFP’s or all the water that has been sprayed – when ambient temps are cold as it apparently is, it doesn’t take water all that warm to steam a bit… think of heated swimming pools or your breath on cold days…

  80. More fun (NOT)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/27/japan-idUSL3E7ER06020110327

    has bullet item: * Magnitude 6.5 quake in north Japan triggers small tsunami

    These have got to be awfully disconcerting for those working at the site – heck, for ANYONE in N. Japan for that matter.

    I have wondered on other threads just how many significant sized aftershocks have occurred at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site. I’m sure some official group must be counting, but I haven’t seen reports. Mainly because I worry about already damaged or stressed components having to take more abuse, and if something might give way given a large enuf shake. (obviously I’m not meaning another 9 EQ here, although anything is conceivably possible)

  81. Latest from TEPCO Washington

    TEPCO announced the result it previously reported on the radioactive nuclide analysis was mistaken, Iodine-134 was overestimated.

    Therefore we informed that we would take, analyze and evaluate samples, and announce the results once we have summarized the results.

    Since then we have re-evaluated the density of the gamma nuclide including Iodine-134, and now we announce the summary of the results of the measurements as shown in the table bellow. (Iodine-134 is estimated as ND instead of 2.9 x 10E+9 Bq/cm3.

    Cause of mistakes in the previous announcement.
    –> Each radioactive material emits gamma ray or others of different energy level and the device of the nuclide analysis determines the nuclide based on the energy level and estimates the radioactivity density.
    This time we determined that the nuclide was Iodine-134, judging from the gamma ray detected at 1,038 keV. But this 1,038keV peak consists a smaller part of the total gamma emission among the peaks used to identify Iodine-134. Reconfirming Iodine-134 by 846keV peak, Iodine-134 has not been detected and from this result we have realized that the judgment of iodine-134 detection by 1,038keV was wrong.

    Actions taken forward
    –> We will re-evaluate radioactive nuclides in the water puddle of other units as soon as possible. Also we will establish a data checking system in view of lessons learned from this mistake. When conduction nuclide analysis, information shall be shared with the headquarters and the site.

  82. JAIF update #32
    Status of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station as of 17:00, March 27, 2011

    Here is information regarding the status of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power
    station from the News Releases by the Government Nuclear Emergency
    Response Headquarters and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA)
    officials in the morning on March 27.

    􀁺 According to the News Releases, high radiation level in the water was also
    found in the basement of the turbine building of Unit 1, 2 and 3. The level of
    radiation on the surface of water was more than 1000 millisieverts (mSv) per
    hour in Unit-2, 60mSv in Unit-1, 750mSv in Unit-3. NISA officials believe
    the contaminated water likely came from the reactor rather than the spent
    fuel pool because the radionuclide detected contained in the fuel and some
    had short half-lives.

    TEPCO took immediate action to drain off the water
    because current situation would cause delay in recovery work. TEPCO
    already started draining off the water in Unit-1, and also preparing or
    considering drain off the water in Unit-2 and -3. The water would be sent to
    condensers in the turbine building.

  83. is this water in the turbine building from the sea water used to flood containment? and the water became highly radioactive from leaking pressure vessel?
    [deleted unsupported hearsay. Please re-submit with ref/link]

  84. Rational Debate,
    I have the M5+ shocks by day from 24 Mar and above 4.5 shocks from 27 Mar on plotted in google earth. I am not sure how to export the whole thing. I have a kmz from if that is good enough and people want it I will make a public link in dropbox for it and work to keep it updated. Let me know…

  85. re post by chavv, on 28 March 2011 at 12:46 AM (and others of similar vein) said:

    TEPCO’s Fukushima office acknowledged Saturday that it had known earlier that the radiation in the underground level of the turbine building of one of the reactors was extremely high, but had not made the information available to pertinent parties.

    Edano criticized the utility’s handling of the data, saying unless it reports necessary information to authorities in a timely manner, ”the government will not be able to give appropriate instructions and (TEPCO) will make workers, and eventually the public, distrustful” of the firm.

    really, nothing new, same tactics of “delay bad news” from TEPCO.

    Frankly I think claims like these are outrageously ironic, to the point of absurdity, when one considers that a single unverified reading winds up splattered across media articles literally around the world.

    Frankly, a lot of this appears to be nothing more than after the fact CYA blame game. We’ve all known there were extremely high dose rate areas on site. Does each and every high dose rate area need to be reported to Edano or even the Gov the second they are found? Reported to every one of us?

    They had measured dose rates in that area on several occasions – and what possible good would reporting the dose rate in the turbine building basement’s to the Gov. & Edano possibly have done? For that matter, we don’t even have any way of knowing that those very rates WEREN’T reported to the Gov – we only know that Edano is claiming that they weren’t done so in a timely fashion.

    Claims get made that TEPCO didn’t take sufficient precautions to keep the 2 (3?) workers from being over exposed – well, yes, rather by definition that is true no matter WHAT precautions were or weren’t taken – they got overexposed. So TEPCO cowtows and says, yes, we were wrong, we didn’t handle it well. What else could they possibly say, and isn’t that the Japanese cultural tendency anyhow?

    Should they have had rad tech’s in there with them? Possibly – possibly not. They were wearing alarming dosimeters and were trained in using them. We don’t know if rad tech’s checked the work area immediately before those workers started in the basement area – they should have. But even if they had, it is entirely possible that the water wasn’t there when the work started. How many rad techs tdo they have available and how many other high dose rate areas have work going on, and how many other locations must be periodically checked and/or checked prior to other work starting in those areas? Every rad tech you have babysitting workers is yet another person who’s dose is going up – rad techs are often used in a roaming fashion as a result – either checking areas just prior to work starting to be sure conditions haven’t changed appreciably, or periodically poking in to be sure they haven’t changed while the workers are there. And to be sure workers are where they are supposed to be, and not off in some even higher dose rate area.

    In other words, you have to manage your pool of available rad techs for their time, dose, and even the total number you have vs. the work that must be done very rapidly in emergency situations like this –
    and prioritize accordingly. It is awfully easy to say after the fact that something wasn’t done right.

    Would I personally like to see more detailed information, sure – but that’s an entirely different issue and has no reflection on whether any information is being “hidden” or “delayed” or what have you. They have far more important things to do than be sure that the cheering (or booing) section out here is up to date on the details. Somehow I just have a very hard time with the idea of all this supposed TEPCO secrecy and skullduggery when a single unconfirmed dose rate in a single area winds up being international news.

  86. re post by: b, on 28 March 2011 at 4:27 AM said:

    … added boric acid to the freshwater feed of unit 2. Such was NOT added to unit 1 and 3 freshwater feed….Why is there, 16 days after shut down, still need to suppress fission in unit 2?

    How does that relate to short half life nucleotides in the water in the unit 2 turbine hall? Could the partial meltdown in no 2 have restarted some fission?

    Hi b,

    Primarily it’s being added as an overabundance of caution. Engineers and scientists are trained to always consider that almost anything, no matter how improbably, might be possible. They want to be absolutely certain (or as close to it as possible) that no matter how improbable, criticality can’t re-start.

    As you probably know, once reactors are shut down, because it is uranium (and a small percentage of plutonium) there will always be a small percentage of fission occurring. So even tho it is very unlikely for criticality to occur, in a situation like this, if the coolant isn’t already carrying a large amount of boron, when you can, you add more.

    I think if you go back thru the various reports you will find that they have added boron to each reactor at various times as the situation permitted.
    MODERATOR
    RD this is wandering into deep discussion probably more suited to the Fukushima Open Thread 2 and away from an up-date to the Fukushima situation. Blurred lines I know:)
    but perhaps you should switch over and leave a note to that effect on this thread.

  87. Ok, so the entire urgent news release that bks posted (28 March 2011 at 2:31 PM) the start of, finished with all of one more sentence:

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference that the government believes that the meltdown was only temporary.

    Now, some of the translation problems get pretty funny, like the ones saying that contaminated leg skins were laundered. But at least with those you know what was meant, even if the rather graphic gory picture they bring to mind is something totally different.

    But in a case like this, one has to wonder just what the heck is going on. Is it just a translation fubar? Or does Edano not have the slightest understanding of what a meltdown is? Or is this just more speculation and a translation fubar & nothing more?

    Sigh.

  88. re AFTERSHOCK posts:

    harrywr2, on 28 March 2011 at 10:26 AM said: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Maps/10/145_40_eqs.php

    I count seven Magnitude 6+

    Thank you Harry! Mindblowing, isn’t it? I wonder how many of those were situated such that there was any significant ground shaking at the plants…

    Joshua, on 28 March 2011 at 12:52 PM said: I have the M5+ shocks by day from 24 Mar and above 4.5 shocks from 27 Mar on plotted in google earth. I am not sure how to export the whole thing. I have a kmz from if that is good enough and people want it I will make a public link in dropbox for it and work to keep it updated. Let me know…

    Hi Joshua, I’m not sure either – I confess I haven’t used google earth much and I’m not sure what programs can display kmz files. Maybe someone else here knows. Are yours in the Japanese rating scale, or MM or Richter?

  89. apart from the head scratching caused by the possibility of a temporary meltdown, whatever it could be, some lines on the Reuters “wrapup 3″linked by Rational Debate hit me (end of 2nd page):

    “Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has kept a low profile during the crisis, but may face awkward questions after Kyodo news agency said his visit to the region the day after the disaster delayed TEPCO’S response to the unfolding situation.

    “The process to release the steam was delayed due to the premier’s visit,” because the power company feared Kan could be exposed to radiation, it quoted an unnamed government source as saying.”

    could this be an additional reason for the delayed explosion in the 1 and 3 reactors? I mean, the need (real or just feared) to avoid steam releases during the gov’t member visit could have caused the over accumulation of hydrogen that led to the explosions on the second day after the quake?

  90. ah, sorry for not saying: the audio of the heli video is just the pilotvoice explaining what he’s flying over (like “this is the no. 2 reactor viewed from south”)
    if you need I can do a partial translation.

  91. re post by BerGonella, on 28 March 2011 at 4:48 PM said:

    ah, sorry for not saying: the audio of the heli video is just the pilotvoice explaining what he’s flying over (like “this is the no. 2 reactor viewed from south”) if you need I can do a partial translation.

    Thanks BerGonella – I confess I can make out almost nothing from the video anyhow. If anyone thinks that they can where a translation would help pin it down, that would be of interest. I keep hoping to see a glimpse of a fuel pool or something, but sure can’t make one out. Remnants of an overhead crane I think, but that’s about it.

  92. This seems important and hopeful to me:

    ‘The high doses from the water come from the rapid decay of radionuclides with short half lives. This leads officials to presume the water comes from the reactor system rather than the used fuel pond where this decay would have taken place some time ago. At the same time, however, pressures in the reactors have not dropped, indicating no large-scale pipe break. The primary containments of unit 1 and 3 are thought intact, although damage is suspected at unit 2.’

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Contaminated_pools_to_the_drained_2703111.html

  93. According to people who understand Japan language(and are in Japan atm), it was just reported live on TV that according to TEPCO, “radioactive water under unit2 is now out of it” (ie around unit 2?)
    .

    2 Rational Debate
    Maybe you think I’m overreacting, but for last 14 days I frequently follow events, reading official statements and several forums. I’m tired of reading TEPCO saying “there is X, but no Y”
    Then in a forum where professionals post I see “wtf if they report X, that means there is Y, but thay deny it”
    1-2-3 days later, TEPCO says “a, yes, there is Y”

    And yes, they should be running around with dosemeters. Every hour or so. And have a f***ing MAP with expected doses.
    Technicians are NOT supposed to work with 1Sv/h beta on their legs without rubber boots.

    Maybe TEPCO didn’t know these levels – which mean incompetence or too stretched resources (why? They should receive all the resources needed to handle situation, the faster the better).
    Or (as was on several occasions during this crysis) they try to hide&deny.

    I don;t think they are incompetent, I don’t believe they are stretched on resources now (tho they were in the beginning and someone must say why).
    So, 1 possibility is left.
    Make your choice.
    MODERATOR
    Chavv and RD – this conversation should be moved to Fukushima Open Thread 2. It is starting to bog down the up-date thread as it evolves beyond the up-date. Please re-submit to Fukushima Open Thread 2. Further comments like this may be deleted as we do not have the facility to move comments between threads.

  94. I’m not sure what the significance is, but TEPCO’s latest report notes:

    - Previously, we have been injecting fresh water in to the reactor
    utilizing fire pump, however, we have switched over to utilizing
    temporary electrical pump from 6:31 pm on March 27th.

  95. ‘Muto acknowledged it could take a long time to clean up the Fukushima complex.

    “We cannot say at this time how many months or years it will take,” he said, insisting the main goal now is to keep the reactors cool.
    Workers have been scrambling to remove the radioactive water from the four units and find a place to safely store it. Each unit may hold tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive water, said Minoru Ogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA.

    Safety agency officials had been hoping to pump the water into huge, partly empty tanks inside the reactor that are designed to hold condensed water.

    Those tanks, though, turned out to be completely full, said NISA official Hidehiko Nishiyama.

    Meanwhile, plans to use regular power to restart the cooling system hit a roadblock when it turned out that cables had to be laid through turbine buildings flooded with the contaminated water.

    “The problem is that right now nobody can reach the turbine houses where key electrical work must be done,” Nishiyama said. “There is a possibility that we may have to give up on that plan.” ‘

    http://www.katu.com/news/national/118735809.html

  96. Latest plant parameter data shows the temperature and pressure at reactor 1 continuing to rise:
    [deleted link in Japanese. Please re-submit in English so evaluation can be properly made by commenters.]

  97. Related, if not exactly on topic: I haven’t read everything here, so it’s possible this has been mentioned already, but there is some Finnish research about the longtime effects of nuclear fallout in populations, we have had some both from the Soviet Union bomb tests and from the Chernobyl accident (Finland also has pretty high natural background radiation levels in some areas, we have lots of granite). There are English versions of some reports on STUK (Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority Finland) net pages, so this one might be of some interest to you:

    http://www.stuk.fi/stuk/tiedotteet/2010/en_GB/news_607/

    Short: There hasn’t been any increase in cancer.

  98. Rational Debate
    I assume it is moment magnitude, whatever USGS is reporting I am just opening the kml files from USGS in GoogleEarth to add it to the map. Then changing the icon to give an indication of magnitude and changing the lable to give USGS reported magnitude and Japan local date.
    MODERATOR
    This discussion has moved to Fukushima Open Thread 2. Please cut and paste you comment there. Thank you.

  99. Can someone comment on the potential threat if the radioactive plutonium particles (by way of cooling water leaks or god forbid a meltdown) enters the water table? From what little I know about ground water, it can travel along countless cracks and fissures in the rocks for miles before it reaches larger reservoirs. It was one of the main unforeseen problems with the Yucca Mt dump site. Is this is a more dangerous threat of PU contamination to the environment than the air borne radiation dealt with thus far?
    MODERATOR
    This is the wrong thread for this type of discussion. Please move to Fukushima Open Thread 2.

  100. sidd…

    Im not sure where the Ag-108 comes from, but the following document lists it, along with many other substances, on page 3, in relation to stainless steel control rods.

    http://www.irpa2010europe.com/proceedings/S08/S08-06.pdf

    As for I-134, are you getting reactors confused? It was unit 2 where they claimed to have found I-134 in the water, and where they later said they had made a mistake and removed I-134 from later results of both the original water sample, and a new one. The document you linked to was produced before this error was spotted, which is why I-134 is still listed for reactor 2.

  101. If there was any volatilisation of the material in the spent fuel pond, then one might expect minute traces of Pu in the soil surrounding the units at the plant site. Being a heavy metal means that it would not mobilse readily and would deposit very locally. Remember, Pu is present in all spent fuel, via the U-238 –> Pu-239 transmutation pathway. It is not something peculiar to MOX fuel. Also, I’ll have to do a post about Pu at some point soon. It’s a metal guys, not a demon.

  102. sidd, the link at the bottom of the document leads to a completely different pdf than the one you mentioned earlier. The pdf it links to has 4 columns of results, but they are all for reactor 2, not different reactors.

    I think you got confused because they have also tested the water at units 1 & 3 twice, and they used the 2nd set of results from these when compiling the table that shows levels at all 4 locations.
    MODERATOR
    THis conversation is beoming unsuitable for this up-date thread and is starting to clog it up with overly technical discussion. Please move to Fukushima Open Thread 2.

  103. Re Earthquakes GoogleEarth File

    Rational Debate

    I hope this is a link to the Earthquakes from the last few days (5+ Since 24th 4.6+ Yesterday) These are from USGS. I also found KML files that show where all reactors are, the evacuation zone around Daiichi and a drawing of techtonic plates from USGS. No quakes since last night 2300 US East Time. If this is of use I will update it.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17774538/JapanEarthquakeInfo.kmz

    @MODERATOR I can not check this link because the file is already loaded into my GoogleMaps. If it is broked delete it with my apologies.

  104. > harrywr2
    > Not significantly different then normal ‘background’

    Wrong. Comparable to the level from the fallout after some atmospheric nuclear test (which one, and when, not identified by TEPCO; I’d guess China’s).

    Harry, this is a science blog. Not a debate blog.
    Giving a partial summary of part of the information can mislead readers who don’t suspect you are debating; they may believe you’ve given an accurate report.

    Please do better.

    The “328e14.pdf” is Attachment 3 to this press release: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11032812-e.html

    Excerpt:
    “… 2.Analysis Density of detected Pu-238, Pu-239 and Pu-240 are within the same level of the fallout
    observed in Japan after the atmospheric nuclear test in the past. Activity ratio of Pu-238 detected in site field and solid waste storage against Pu-239 and Pu-240 are 2.0 and 0.94 respectively. They exceed activity ratio of 0.026 which resulted from the atmospheric nuclear test in the past, thus those Pus are considered to come from the recent incident.”
    MODERATOR
    Please move this conversation to Fukushima Open Thread 2.

  105. Well, THAT got garbled up somehow – a sentence of mine wound up in the TEPCO report rather than with my text. It’s corrected below, with the errant sentence in bold.

    I’ve been having a wicked problem with the mouse-click-bar (whatever it’s called!) that is immediately below my touchpad sticking (e.g., no mouse, just touchpad & bar below it) – and it seems to be causing my computer to be acting a bit schizophrenic, jumping insertion points around, highlighting things when I don’t want them highlighted, even grabbing & moving them when I wasn’t even trying to select let alone move, launching links if I happen to hover or cross over them, click once to launch something and it appears 3+ times, or click once to close a tab, and multiple tabs get closed. Its driving me crazy.

    The corrected post:

    Barry & others re Plutonium.

    Let’s not forget that Pu is also present from fallout. It seems pretty overblown for all the excitement, Kyodo report, etc., when it isn’t even passed along with the concentrations – which was equivalent to that already present in the soil from weapons testing apparently.

    I haven’t double checked the attachment’s but do note that they are there if you would like to check the actual reported amounts yourselves.

    http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11032812-e.html

    Press Release (Mar 28,2011)
    Detection of radioactive material in the soil in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

    On March 28th 2011, as part of monitoring activity of the surrounding
    environment, we conducted analysis of plutonium contained in the soil
    collected on March 21st and 22nd at the 5 spots in Fukushima Daiichi
    Nuclear Power Station. As a result, plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were
    detected as shown in the attachment.

    We will continue the radionuclide analysis contained in the soil.

    ‹Results of the analysis›
    -Plutonium was detected in the soil of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power
    Station.
    -The density of detected plutonium is equivalent to the fallout observed
    in Japan when the atmospheric nuclear test was conducted in the past.
    -The detected plutonium from two samples out of five may be the direct
    result of the recent incident, considering their activity ratio of the
    plutonium isotopes.
    -The density of detected plutonium is equivalent to the density in the
    soil under normal environmental conditions and therefore poses no major
    impact on human health. TEPCO strengthens environment monitoring inside
    the station and surrounding areas.
    -We will conduct analysis of the three additional soil samples.

    attachment1:Result of Pu measurement in the soil in Fukushima Daiichi
    Nuclear Power Plant(PDF 80.9KB)
    attachment2:Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Sampling Spots of Soil
    (PDF 112KB)
    attachment3:Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Regular Sampling Spots
    of Soil(PDF 135KB)

  106. This is a JAIF report – most of it appears to be stuff they’ve collected from NHK news, and only a few tidbits perhaps that haven’t been posted here. There is more to the report, but it seemed duplicative to me so here’s the gist of it below.

    Sounds to me as if all of the water they’ve been pumping into SFP’s and possibly RV has finally overwhelmed the site building’s radwaste sumps and other fire etc. drainage tanks/sumps, so it is starting to pool now in whatever low spots it can find.

    http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1301377967P.pdf

    ●TEPCO faces challenge in cooling reactor
    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Monday that TEPCO has to
    strike a balance between injecting cooling water into the reactors and
    preventing radioactive water from seeping out.
    On Monday, the power company detected radiation of more than 1,000
    millisieverts per hour on the surface of puddles in the No. 2 reactor’s turbine
    building and in a trench outside the building.
    The concrete trench stretches toward the coast but does not connect to the sea.
    Puddles of water were also found in the trenches of the No.1 and No.3
    reactors.
    The No.1 reactor’s trench will overflow if the water rises by 10 centimeters.
    TEPCO has blocked the trench outlet with sandbags and concrete to prevent
    the water from reaching the ocean.
    The water in the trenches of the No.2 and No.3 reactors is reportedly 1 meter
    from overflowing.

    TEPCO said it hopes to swiftly find a way to remove the water from the
    trenches.
    On Monday, The power company scaled back its operation to cool the No. 2
    reactor, injecting 7 tons per hour, reduced from 16. The reactor’s temperature
    rose by more than 20 degrees Celsius.
    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 08:03 +0900 (JST)

    ●Radioactive water in external tunnels
    The operator of the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, northeastern
    Japan, has reported that very high levels of radiation have been observed in water
    in a trench just outside the turbine building for one of the reactors.
    Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on Monday that a puddle of water
    was found in a trench outside the No. 2 reactor turbine building at the Fukushima
    Daiichi nuclear plant on Sunday afternoon. It said the radiation reading on the
    puddle’s surface indicated more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.
    The concrete trench is 4 meters high and 3 meters wide and houses power cables
    and pipes. It is located in the compound of the plant but outside the radiation
    control area.
    TEPCO says the trench extends 76 meters toward the sea but does not reach the
    sea, and that the contaminated water was not flowing into the sea.
    TEPCO says it is trying to find out how the contaminated water came to be in the
    trench.
    Radiation levels of more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour were recorded on
    Sunday in a puddle of water in the basement of the No. 2 reactor turbine building.
    Puddles of water were also found in the trenches outside the No. 1 and No. 3
    reactors. TEPCO reported 0.4 millisieverts of radiation on the surface of the
    puddle in the No. 1 reactor’s trench. But it said it failed to measure the No. 3
    reactor’s trench because it was covered with debris.
    TEPCO says it had no intention of concealing data regarding the high level of
    radiation detected on Sunday outside a turbine building at its Fukushima Daiichi
    nuclear plant.
    TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said at a news conference on Monday that he
    only received the report from the plant workers earlier in the day.
    The plant operator has revealed that it found water in a covered tunnel outside
    the turbine building of the number 2 reactor, and that radiation of more than
    1,000 millisieverts per hour was detected in the water.
    Muto said the company has made this public and instructed the plant workers to
    quickly take steps to dispose of the water.
    Asked by reporters if TEPCO was concealing information, Muto said the
    company has no intention of doing so.
    He also said every day is full of events, and that TEPCO will quickly share
    information of high importance so that it can swiftly consider countermeasures.
    Vice President Muto added that the plant operator will confirm the flow of
    information and have it thoroughly implemented in order to avoid
    misunderstandings.

  107. I imagine most of you have seen that the three workers who were exposed to the high dose rate water were discharged from the hospital – I post this only because while I’ve seen statements along the lines of all could walk just fine and so on, this is the first I’ve seen that was as clean cut:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Contaminated_pools_to_the_drained_2703111.html

    …The three workers have now been discharged from hospital. Tepco said they would be counselled and their future wellbeing monitored closely, but that they showed no signs of ill effects….

    I’ve also seen a report that the dose estimated by examination – which is a miserable way to estimate dose, by the way – was reduced to 2-3 Sv to the skin/legs (I’m sorry, didn’t note the link and ran across it some time ago).

    That dose wouldn’t be expected to cause more than transient erythema – no burns. Other reports were that they worked in the areas for 3 hours, but stood in the water less than 1 hr (then we’d have to add the time until they came out and were decontaminated, however). Regardless, it is sounding as if it is unlikely that they will wind up with beta burns. Similarly, with chest level dosimeters reading 170-180 mSv, there shouldn’t be any health effects either. That said, if the dose calcs are off and significantly underestimated, there could be consequences – it just is sounding less and less likely.

    What is odd, however, is that on the last few TEPCO reports, the total number of workers exposed to over 100 mSv jumped from 17 to 19, with no explanation of where the other two came from… of course, we don’t have details on each and everyone anyhow, so perhaps that’s not surprising.

  108. from http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/29_22.html

    More water pumped into No 1 Fukushima reactor

    Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun pouring more fresh water into the No.1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to cool it down.

    TEPCO says the surface temperature of the No.1 reactor rose from 212.8 degrees Celsius as of 6 AM on Monday to 329.3 degrees 20 hours later.

    It blames heat generated by the reactor’s nuclear fuel. The reactor is designed to operate up to 302 degrees under normal conditions.

    The power company raised the volume of water into the reactor from 113 liters a minute to 141 liters at 8 PM on Monday. As a result, it says, the reactor’s temperature fell to 323.3 degrees as of 6 AM on Tuesday.

    TEPCO says it will continue closely monitoring the reactor while fine-tuning water volume.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 14:36 +0900 (JST)

  109. hoping to be useful, I link here some graphics made by an italian resident in Tokyo, based on the data supplied by Japan authorities.
    they are continuously updated, so please check the blog’s homepage http://giappopazzie.blogspot.com/ or the page dedicate to the updates http://giappopazzie.blogspot.com/2011/03/comunicazione-e-aggiornamenti-upd-3003.html

    after some days dedicate to the central only, they widened the range, up to obtain a graph for the central and a graph or each prefecture interested by the event. scrolling the update page you can check everyone, and zoom it by clicking on it.
    I’m sorry all the explanations are in italian, but they are not o difficult to understand, and anyhow the figures are universal

  110. ‘Some plutonium found in soil on the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may have come from its earthquake-damaged reactors, but it poses no human health risk, the plant’s owners reported Monday.

    The element was found in soil samples taken March 21-22 from five locations around the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company told CNN late Monday. The company said it was equivalent to the amounts that fell on Japan following aboveground nuclear weapons tests by other countries in past decades.

    “It is not a health risk to humans,” the company said. But it added, “Just in case, TEPCO will increase the monitoring of the nuclear plant grounds and the surrounding environment.”

    Plutonium is a byproduct of nuclear reactions that is also part of the fuel mix at the plant’s No. 3 reactor. It can be a serious health hazard if inhaled or ingested, but external exposure poses little health risk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.’

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/28/japan.nuclear.plutonium/index.html?hpt=T2

    In the TV broadcast they expanded this to say that they do not know as yet which reactor it is from, but it is clear that it is from one of their reactors not old weapon’s test residuals due to the composition.

  111. This is an old report. I was going to post it yesterday, but my computer crashed and I took that as a sign to take a break from all this. NHK reports:

    “The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, raised water pumping power on Sunday to cool the No. 2 reactor in a stable manner. On Monday, the company cut back on the amount of injected water.

    The move followed the Nuclear Safety Commission’s announcement that highly radioactive substances detected in puddles of water in the basement of the reactor’s turbine building may have come directly from the vessel containing the reactor.

    16 tons of water was being injected into the reactor every hour but TEPCO now says it wants to reduce the amount to 7 tons. This would be enough to replace the amount that is evaporating.”

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/28_h28.html

    I initially thought that seemed like way too much water needed to evaporate each hour to cool the reactor. 7 metric tons of water with heat of vaporization of 2257 kJ/kg is 15,799 MJ/hr or 4.4MW of power needing to be cooled. From the following link at MITNSE I find the projected decay heat for Unit 2 (and 3) to be 10.5MW (3/20/11) and 8.8MW (4/1/11) so 7 tons is actually on the low side. Even a year after this event they will have to be removing 5MW of heat. (3/11/12, last table entry)

    http://mitnse.com/2011/03/16/what-is-decay-heat/

    If they are injecting that much water, I would think that some is leaking out directly or going into the suppression pool which would fill up and the water would have to go somewhere eventually. Actually the steam would go there anyway. Now if they are circulating that water to heat exchangers/condensers that would be a different matter. Anyone seen more direct information?

    During the initial response to this situation, all the information I’ve seen indicates that they were not circulating water, but injecting it and blowing off the steam to cool the reactor. That is a lot of water they must have and may still be injecting. Where did it all go? Could they have sucked some of it back out of the suppression pool and primary containment and reinjected it? This would be very radioactive water so I don’t think that is possible. We know where some of the water has gone. I would think that the vast majority must have been flushed out to sea as I can’t see them storing these large amounts on site.

  112. 10 tons of water for 24hrs/day*18 days is 4320 tons of water evaporated/injected. That is 4320 cubic meters of water. Or if they have an area of 40×40 meters to store it in that would be a depth of 2.7 meters. So I guess it is possible to store it on site. I’ll have to look more closely at the reactors/turbine buildings. I believe they are now cooling the reactor water so these numbers are probably on the high side. Still seems like a big problem to deal with. This is speculating to try to understand what is going on. I would like to hear other peoples thoughts on the matter.

  113. Just posting this to help with your calculations.

    It seems there may be south to north drainage at the plant.


    Japan Times

    (snip) monitoring data collected at 2:05 p.m. Sunday some 30 meters north of the drain outlets for the No. 5 and 6 reactor buildings detected radioactive iodine-131 levels in the seawater 1,150 times above the government standard.

    The level from the same monitoring place was 202 times at 8:50 a.m. Sunday and 314 times at 2:50 p.m. Saturday.

    Previously, the higher level of iodine-131 was detected at the south side. A reading of 1,250 times above the standard was detected at 8:30 a.m. Friday about 330 meters south of the drain outlets for the No. 1 and 4 reactor buildings, and it was 1,850 times at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

    But the level had declined in the latest data collected, at 1:50 p.m. Sunday, to some 250 times above the standard.

    Asked what the rising figure in the north and the decrease in the south indicates, “there are various possibilities, and it is possible that the contamination flowed from south to north,” a Tepco official said during a press briefing around noon.

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110329a1.html

  114. Question for MODERATOR — you’ve said several times “this conversation” should be moved to the open thread — but haven’t been explicit about which “this” you mean.

    Looking back over the requests I think you mean discussion of the radioactivity found outside the plant?

    (Doesn’t make sense to me but it’s those posts you’ve commented in each time). Can you be explicit? If that’s what you think needs to be out of here, may I suggest a specific thread?

    It’d be a shame to dilute the few facts we’re accumulating into that, er, highly-opinion-rich discussion in the open thread
    MODERATOR
    Hank – It is a difficult one. I will be more specific in future. Basically what we are trying to avoid is that the threads, particularly the up-date threads, don’t get bogged down, with too much technical information as these threads are used by a lot of people wanting a user friendly up-date of the current situation. A specific thread for each topic would be difficult so Barry has suggested that you make sure your comment is prefaced by the subject in bold letters so those following can easily pick it out from the rest of the Open Thread.

  115. @David Martin

    Yes I agree water is getting into the sea. I’m looking for the reason that they may have had to deliberately released that water, as they couldn’t handle the volumes involved. No where to store it, especially since the water is radioactive and they need to work there and so can’t let too much accumulate. They have said they are sending some of the water that was in the turbine building to the condensors. There was a report saying the condensors in one of the units may be full, but I can’t find that right now. So much information, a lot of it uncertain, it is hard to even know how close they are to getting control of the situation. Thought they were last week, but they have had some serious setbacks since then. As I said at that time, this is a dynamic situation. It will continue to surprise us. I don’t want to leave the impression everything is getting worse. Outside the immediate area and a few hotspots outside that, the radiation readings in the rest of Japan are low. Tokyo has had minor blips up in radiation levels and I-131 briefly being above regulartory limits for infants under one. Here are a few links to various monitoring sites in the Tokyo area.

    http://ftp.jaist.ac.jp/pub/emergency/monitoring.tokyo-eiken.go.jp/monitoring/past_data.html

    http://rcwww.kek.jp/norm/index-e.html

    http://park30.wakwak.com/~weather/geiger_index.html

  116. @Shelby

    I find information in the form of x number of times above the regulatory limit as particularly useless. No one is going to swim in this water let alone drink it. The only and especially long term effect is bioaccumulation in sea food. That is a concern and will have to be monitored for months to years. The measurements will be useful in determining the amount of radiation that has been released into the water, but aren’t that useful for any immediate health concerns except for maybe the people collecting the samples.

  117. dumb question: if the water is coming from the reactors, and is outside the turbine buildings, does that imply that the damage is in the turbine buildings and may have been due to the earthquake? possibly damaging the pipes between the reactor and the turbine, so when water was injected it was flowing into the turbine room(s)? this may have been covered before, my apologies, if it has let me know and I will search thru the thread for it.

  118. @Shelby

    I’m sure there are people modeling the currents, tides, and wave action at the site. This is way beyond my level of expertise, so I could not even comment on what the different readings and change means.

  119. William Fairholm, on 30 March 2011 at 1:47 AM said:

    @Shelby

    I find information in the form of x number of times above the regulatory limit as particularly useless. No one is going to swim in this water let alone drink it. The only and especially long term effect is bioaccumulation in sea food. That is a concern and will have to be monitored for months to years. The measurements will be useful in determining the amount of radiation that has been released into the water, but aren’t that useful for any immediate health concerns except for maybe the people collecting the samples.

    —-

    I just thought drainage direction might help explain radiation reading spikes in one area while radiation levels subside in other areas. I wasn’t making a statement, I was providing a possible reason for fluctuations in radioactivity.

  120. @schla

    I am guessing that the water was dumped in the turbine building when they started to circulate water out of the reactor to cool the water. It hadn’t happened before that I know of. This would imply a leak somewhere in the turbine building side of the circulatory system, but I can’t recall seeing a explaination of how the radioactive water got there. They may not know for sure. Pumps, valves and heat exchangers would be places I would suspect.

  121. 189.

    @schla

    I am guessing that the water was dumped in the turbine building when they started to circulate water out of the reactor to cool the water. It hadn’t happened before that I know of. This would imply a leak somewhere in the turbine building side of the circulatory system, but I can’t recall seeing a explaination of how the radioactive water got there. They may not know for sure. Pumps, valves and heat exchangers would be places I would suspect.

    —-

    I would think seawater is especially damaging to valves?

  122. There has been a lot of water spayed/injected into the SFPs. This water has not all gotten into SFP. There may be leaks there as well. They will have to have dealt with this water as well.
    Water has evaporated from the SFPs, and “steam” has been released from the reactors so this would reduce the amount of water they would have to deal with. This is getting fairly complicated, so I don’t think any firm conclusions can be made, but it does give an indication of the volumes of water Tepco are dealing with.

  123. @William Fairholm: it was my understanding that the SFP’s can’t be the source of all that water due to the radioactive properties of the water (fission by products). yes, at face value it appears to be the logical answer. I am wondering if the lack of adequate instrumentation on the reactors due to lack of control room power has led the TEPCO engineers astray as to what is actually happening. I thought the assumption of pumping in the seawater into the reactors was that the water was turning to steam and being vented to atmosphere or somehow going thru the suppression system? otherwise, what goes in must come out… which means water pumped in is coming out, perhaps in the turbine rooms…

  124. Well, the reactors are shot anyhow — they could start incorporating some of the different colors of fluorescent dye in the water going into variousthat could show them where the leaks are happening.

  125. @schla
    I wasn’t trying to say that the water in the turbine building was from the spraying into the SFPs, just that they have added a lot of water to the SFPs. The SFPs are at the top of the reactors. Water from the spraying and/or leaking is probably at the bottom of the reactor building. They are now injecting water into SFP 3, if I remember correctly, and are using a concrete pump truck to more precisely add water to SFP 4. So missing isn’t as much of a problem now. They may be leaking, but I’ve seen no definite information on that matter, just a credible possible source for a leak (the air filled seals of the gate at the top of the pool). That would still leave water over the spent fuel, but evaporation could then have exposed the fuel. Cracks in the pools and sloshing of water out of the pools during the earthquake have also been mentioned as ways water could have been lost to expose the spent fuel. This is all getting a bit too speculative, and the spent fuel ponds have been dealt with before. I don’t think I have anything more to add. Don’t want to clog up this thread with just one subject. I’ll look back in a few hours, but I’ve got other things to do.

    P.S. The SFPs of Units 1 & 2, appear to be fine.

  126. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/29/japan-lost-race-save-nuclear-reactor

    …. Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at the plant, said his analysis of radiation levels suggested these attempts had failed at reactor two.

    He said at least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel “lower head” of the pressure vessel and on to the concrete floor below.

    “The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” Lahey said. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.”

    The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it will react with the concrete floor of the drywell, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

    Lahey said: “It won’t come out as one big glob; it’ll come out like lava, and that is good because it’s easier to cool.”

    The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this.

    “The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core,” Lahey added. “It’s not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it’s not going to be good news for the environment.” (continued online)

  127. Regarding the guardian article I posted – Lahey is the expert, but I have to wonder if he’s seen all the data. I just don’t see how you get a bottom RPV temp of 77 C, and drywell pressure at atmospheric or slightly above, if you’ve got corium/slag in the process of melting thru the bottom RPV. Now, obviously that temp may be wrong, but it does appear to change some (e.g., its not just fixed at 77) – So… how could you possibly be melting thru, and have interaction with both water in the drywell and the drywell concrete, and still get these temps & pressures?

    doesn’t seem to add up.

  128. re post by: Hank Roberts, on 30 March 2011 at 3:53 AM

    Hank, it’s an intriguing idea, but one that I suspect isn’t practical. I mean, we’re talking massive amounts of water here. So, how do you get the dye in – and not just in, but either fast enuf or slow enuf that it would be useful. Plus, I would think it would take absolutely massive amounts of dye. Unless perhaps you’re aware of some sort of dye that would still be visible/detectable if added in relatively small amounts vs. the tons and tons of water involved here with both the reactors and the SFPs?

    Plus, it’d have to be a dye or tracer that wasn’t degraded by the heat, temps, rad levels, etc., involved.

    Then you also would have to know that it wouldn’t add to any chemistry problems. I mean, you sure don’t want to worsen any corrosion at this point, or cause seal/valve failures, or even increase the risks of problems like that – NOT because of trying to save any value or recovery capabilities, they’ve given up on that long ago I’m certain – but because you could inadvertently create worse problems than they’ve already got. I would think that unless something had a really good chance of telling you something you didn’t already know, then you’d really want to avoid adding anything to the systems.

    They’re already so mucked up as it is that I understand the tendency to think “what the heck, what could it hurt?” but don’t think that’s the prudent course of action. Gotta say that I’m close to on the fence in that regard myself tho, but would trust the judgment of any good reactor systems person or nuke plant water chemistry type.

    Plus, there are a huge number of possible pathways (including backed up sumps/drains, resins, tanks) – many of which might be able to cross paths too. In other words, I’m not sure you’d even be able to have any certainty about source even if you did see some of the dye. You know, did it come from a leak, or from steam condensation running down into the sump somewhere? That sort of question.

    It sure as heck would be nice if they had some good tracer that could be used in situations like this, tho, wouldn’t it?

    Seems like trying to come up with something of this nature would be an ideal project for a grad student – tho of course typically funding is still an issue there also, someone would probably have to approve a grant for it.

    Note, there are some products for leak detection use – but I’ve no idea if any of them would be suitable/useful/safe for this sort of situation. Just google something like:

    (tracer OR dye) leak detection “nuclear power”

    You’d think that if any of them were suitable – or even if a company thought they MIGHT be, that the company would be falling all over themselves to offer it to TEPCO right now. Talk about some awfully good press if your product helped out in a major emergency situation like this…. so I’ve got to think that either there’s nothing available out there – or talks are in progress right now. {VBG}
    MODERATOR
    RD – this is getting off-topic and becoming very detailed – more suited to Open Thread. Please continue the conversation there. I have advised others of this too.Thank you.]

  129. Gawd what I wouldn’t give for some decently concise tables and charts of normal operating ranges and for the days and initial weeks post scram (or even just post shutdown, although the utility is lost very quickly there, since the cooling situation is so radically different) for just some of the basic operating parameters. Things like:

    Reactor core & drywell & suppression pool & torus etc., temps, pressures, CAMS or other radiation monitoring devices. Including for any areas/rooms immediately adjacent.
    Plus typical exposure rates & types, and typical isotopic sampling data (both airborne & liquid) for the ‘worst’ areas, including things like radwaste sumps/resins/holdup tanks, and so on.

    Including for SFP liquid systems.
    MODERATOR
    Please move this topic to the Open Thread. Thank you.

  130. Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged for the first time possible damage to core pressure containers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant–the last line of defense in preventing radioactive materials from spewing out.

    TEPCO officials told reporters Monday morning that despite the continuous pumping in of water to cool down the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactor cores, water levels were not rising as expected, meaning the pressure containers may not be completely sealed off.

    The water, which is believed to be mixing with radioactive materials from the fuel rods within, is likely leaking from the pressure containers, they said.

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201103280144.html

  131. oops. I might have screwed that last post up…

    photo of one of the Browns Ferry BWR’s in construction. looks like the metal shell of the containment is INSIDE the concrete portion?

  132. @ Rational Debate 7:29 PM

    I read the Guardian article and Lahey did not specify the data that led him to his conclusion. I am not sure if he has more data than what’s available to the posters on this thread.

    I looked to see if I could find an article by Lahey that it is quoting from. I could not find one.

    That being the case, I trust the more expert posters on this site.

    Also found the following:

    http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=3217685

    Originally Posted by Cire T 1:51 PM (EST?)
    Richard Lahey is wildly speculating,

    A few points which I believe are correct would tend to disprove his assertion.

    1. History has shown via three mile island that its very difficult to melt through a reactor vessel. In the case of three mile island 70% of the core slagged to the bottom of the reactor vessel and heated it to the point where the entire vessel was glowing red. In that case only 5/8″ of inch out of 9″ was ablated.

    2. A reactor pressure vessel is a massive heat sink. I believe the drywell on both reactor 1 and 2 where flooded early on in the process; providing addition temperature relief. This doesn’t include the water that has been injected since the start of the accident.

    3. In three mile island the molten corium destroyed the temperature probes that measure the reactor pressure vessel, which is expected when you heat the sensors to this level. The temperature sensors are still functioning at the bottom of the reactor vessel on Unit 2. If the corium melted through the reactor vessel we would not have temperature data from the bottom of the reactor. I have yet to see a temperature measurement for the bottom of any of the reactor pressure vessels that comes anywhere near the melting point of steel.

    4. Three mile islands coolant loss event occurred much earlier in the reactor shutdown process then did at Fukushima. This implies the fuel rods at three mile island suffered exponentially higher heat loads then the core at Fukushima.

    finally, Richard Lahey states “The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two…”

    What indications from the reactor? The radiation readings can be explained by the known damage suffered to the fuel storage pools.

    Just my thoughts on the subject. I reserve the right to be mistaken.

    Comment on above posted by NUENG T 2:13 PM (EST?)

    TMI-2 was a PWR. Damage scenarios for fuel in a PWR begin at the Onset of Nucleate Boiling (ONB). A BWR doesn’t make any power until boiling occurs. They are concerned with a departure form Nucleate Boiling or dryout. A PWR may be closer to its limits, but anytime water level drops below the top of active fuel the fuel heatup is rapid and leads to damage in a very short time.

    Unlike Fukushima TMI makeup water was blocked at the beginning of the event. Fukushima reactors probably used RCIC as long as they had steam and battery power. That could have delayed the onset of damage for several hours, depending on how they controlled the event. Once the reactor depressurized or the suppression pool reached its temperature limit, they were forced to vent containment to keep it below its limits, without having any makeup available for the RPV water level. That is the point where heatup and damage began.

    TMI-2 was able to restore flow in the vessel and halt the meltdown before it reached significant damage to the reactor vessel. I amm not sure they have reached that point yet in Japan, so the reactor vessel could still be at risk. They have performed containment flooding, from the updates I have read, so that increases the heat sink for the reactor vessel.

    If the vessel had been breached by corium melt-through it would likely result in a massive steam explosion due to the flooded containment. I haven’t seen evidence of that yet. Further at that point you would start to see different isotopes due to interaction with concrete.
    MODERATOR
    Please move over to Open Thread as this conversation is becoming long-winded and technical and clogging the thread which is supposed to be an update of the situation, in particular, for the general public. Others have been advised to do the same.

  133. Plus, I would think it would take absolutely massive amounts of dye. Unless perhaps you’re aware of some sort of dye that would still be visible/detectable if added in relatively small amounts vs. the tons and tons of water involved here with both the reactors and the SFPs?

    Look up Uranine, rather potent. This takes about 18kg:

  134. oops, didn’t see the embedding coming. offtopic yes, but it would also be time for a new update post..
    MODERATOR
    You might want to re-post your last video. It is off-topic there and it will probably not be seen because of that. Fukushima Open Thread 2 would be a good place.

  135. NHK live TV http://wwitv.com/tv_channels/6810.htm had an interview going on with someone explaining the situation both onsite & offsite. He just mentioned that the 3 (2?) worker’s who stepped in water during in the turbine building basement – the ones who were contaminated – didn’t realize the water was there before stepping in it, because they’re working in the dark w/ flashlights (!!).

    Which frankly would explain a lot. e.g., how a puddle could have been all too easily missed on pre-work rad survey’s & why the workers would have worked in water to begin with. It’s far easier to understand a decision by non-rad workers espec if not typical nuke plant workers – and I have no idea if these particular workers always worked nukes or never did – for them to continue working in water after accidentally plowing into it when you have had to go to hassle of getting into anti-c’s and know the hassle/time it takes to get out of them and go thru contamination checks etc.

    I guess I had been assuming that they must at least have portable generators running to provide lighting where needed. It’s far easier to understand how generators may not be able to be hooked into plant instrumentation or equipment, than that they don’t even have anything in the way of significant portable lights where it is really needed. Perhaps that was stupid on my part, since multiple reports have noted control room work being done by flashlight – but even there I had been thinking that flashlights were probably only needed to read and that they might be keeping it closed up to minimize contamination – e.g., not having doors open for electrical extension cords… Shoot, for that matter, however, while it’s not needed now that they do have lights on in control rooms, before that couldn’t they at least have gotten some electrical camping lanterns or something? Although these days that may not be any better than decent LED flashlights, which can be outrageously bright, and have flexible heads and base support so you can set them down and still use them…

    I KNOW that the situation throughout Japan is nasty in terms of needing emergency equipment for all of the shelters and so on, and generators must be at a premium. Even so, I have a very hard time imagining that they don’t have as many as they need so there is at least some portable flood/room lighting for work where it’s needed.

    Maybe I’m making far more out of this than is reasonable because that report could have been in error… but good lord, if they really are doing tunnel/trench & basement or enclosed room work with nothing more than flashlights??? Unless they do have some super-whamo-dyne LED’s, but even then I would have thought it would be far better and preferable for flood lighting to be available.

    Are portable generators THAT scarce that even a nuclear crisis can’t get them? Or is it problems getting fuel for the generators (I find that even harder to believe). Or ??

  136. Also from NHK live, France is sending experts to help deal with deconning the high level water. 2 of those have already arrived and are in discussions with TEPCO. The others are to leave France soon.

    They’re also saying that they don’t think the unit 1 trench is getting any water/radioactivity from the unit 1 basement water – so they’re going to verify. If unit 1 trench water is clean, they’ll probably at least initially drain it to the ocean.

  137. ‘The core at reactor two of the Fukushima plant may have melted on to a concrete floor, according to experts, running the risk of radioactive gases being released into the surrounding area.

    Richard Lahey, who was a head of reactor safety research at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, said the workers, who have been pumping water into the three reactors in an attempt to keep the fuel rods from melting, appeared to have “lost the race” to save the reactor.

    “The indications we have … suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” he told a newspaper.

    “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.” ‘

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8414554/Japan-nuclear-crisis-workers-losing-race-to-save-reactor.html

    This is the first I have heard of this, but the source is quite credible.
    One hopes not.

  138. re post by: Leo Hansen, on 30 March 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Thanks for posting that Leo. I started reading that forum a day or two ago, but it’s rolling along fast and I’m a number of pages behind.

    I agree with the points mentioned, however. Well, I’m not sure that if the RPV had totally boiled dry and then breached that it would necessarily have been rapid enough to cause a steam explosion, let alone a massive one – but heck if I know if it is possible to get a very small hole that allows corium to dribble thru, or if by that point you would get the RPV bottom just dropping out. More of a theoretical issue than anything else, as I believe that the other points mentioned in my post and that more detailed one, make it really unlikely that there was any melt thru anyhow. Sure would be interesting to know just what data Lahey was coming from tho, wouldn’t it? A corium melt thru RPV just doesn’t fit in too many different ways tho, it seems to me.

    Of course, no way to know for sure just what we’ll find long after this is all over. No one expected TMI to be 40% slag on the RPV bottom either. I’d be VASTLY more surprised to find that any of the Fukushima Dai-ichi units have even gotten any distance into the RPV floor tho, than I was by the TMI melt.

  139. re post by: Hank Roberts, on 30 March 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Hank, I just skimmed the article you linked, but don’t see anything there that would indicate tracers/dyes have to be installed up front. They’re selling a very specific system to help with day to day plant control – a totally different beast than the idea of whether something might be added now to Fukushima to help trace major leaks or at least pin down if its from reactor v SFP’s.

    If we discuss this further, we probably ought to take it to the open thread 2… so if you want to do that, just post here that you’ve moved over or posted something there on this issue, and I’ll go find it.

  140. BARRY or MODERATORS – a request for you purty please.

    Could we have an open thread for discussing technical issues specific to Fukushima (e.g., rad levels, analyses issues, dye’s/tracers, etc), and a separate one for the philosophical issues (e.g., LNT v threshold, nuke safety in general, nukes v other electrical power generation sources, nuke insurance issues, stuff like that)?

    It would really make following BOTH threads far easier. You probably know I’ve posted on both tech & philo. issues, and even so, I would find it far easier to have them separated out so we keep the Fukushima technical debates separate from the Nuke/Electrical Generation Philosophy types of debates.

    Plus, I suspect there are some folks who are far more interested in reading just one or just the other – so they’d be saved from having to wade thru a lot posts they’re really not interested in.

    Thanks so much for considering this!

    p.s., would all of you beg, plead, threaten {VBG} wordpress for the ability to toggle easily and at will between a chronological view (as we’ve got here) and a threaded view? BOTH have substantial advantages AND substantial advantages, and being able to flip between them super fast really really helps. I would think it would be easy for them to add this feature (yahoo groups has had something like this for at least 5+ years now). So they just need blog owners especially, and maybe any of us also, to plague them like the devil for it….
    MODERATOR
    I’ll have to pass that one on to Barry for resolution. As I understand it, the WordPress version we have is not capable of some useful add-on options but the other version can crash during periods of high volume traffic.

  141. re post by: sidd, on 30 March 2011 at 9:20 AM

    Sidd, actually, what I was meaning was real and/or theoretical data for healthy BWR’s, the more similar to the Fukushima reactor builds the better (e.g., Mark-1 containment, etc., but heck, at this point, I’d take ANY BWR data!).

    Even so, thank you for posting that link. It is nice/convenient to see all of the Fukushima data on a single page per unit that way.
    MODERATOR
    RD – please transfer this conversation to Open Thread as it is off-topic here. I have advised others of the same. I got started late today and have only just caught up from last night so I have let comments, if long, stand in their original threads. However, from here for the rest of today I will have to delete and ask for a re-post. The Fukushima Status up-date thread should be for that only and if discussions over technical issues etc evolove and become complexthey need to move to the Open Thread so as not to clog this thread and make it difficult to read. Thank you.

    I would just dearly love to have data to compare it to – if you work at a plant, it’s fairly easy to get your hands on reference data (even if its just your own plant’s operational records). I haven’t found a good source online tho (confession, I’ve looked a little, but not spent a huge amount of time looking yet)

  142. @Rational Debate

    Just a reminder that there were specific reports of a complete dry up of the #2 RPV on and around March 15-16, where the Jaif report indicates the “water level of the pressure vessel” is “recovery after dried up”:

    http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300252224P.pdf

    and similar wording in their report $5 on the 15th:

    http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300170541P.pdf

    It might be helpful to go back and review all those old daily reports:

    http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_index.php

    I’m not posting this to suggest I have some opinion on the vessel integrity issue. I don’t. I’m just making sure this old info is considered by all… this could also be the source of Richard Lahey’s “indication of reactor condition” that was questioned above.

  143. I don’t think we have to go to the situation where the fuel has melted through the reactor vessel for there to be large radiation readings in the water found in the turbine building. The fuel could be partially melted in the vessel, and the radioactivity that has been released there is getting out in the steam and into the torus and from there out of the containment, or directly from the circulatory system. Aren’t they trying to cool the reactors more normally now? If they are taking water out of the core to cool it somewhere sounds like lots of opportunities for a leak somewhere, especially since this is hot salty (i.e. corrosive water). This seems like the most likely scenario to me.

  144. Pingback: Fukushima Technical Discussion Open Thread « BraveNewClimate

  145. @ Spark

    Hey! That’s the same stuff on eye strips used to detect corneal scratches!

    Dunno what sort of volume x kg of the stuff is (probably easy to find on web), e.g., if it would be do-able in that regard, but looks like it might.

    Apparently it’s a disodium salt, tho. Melting point 320 C. & for the material itself: “Incompatibilities with Other Materials: Strong oxidizing agents.
    Hazardous Decomposition Products: Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sodium oxide”

    Really would take folks expert in both radiochemistry (maybe moot now with sea water etc., I just don’t know) and plant systems, maybe even multiple people for systems, because they’d need to be intimately familiar with all the various pathways that could be involved, to determine if adding something like that would be safe & useful.

    Have to wonder if the thought has even crossed their minds tho….

  146. re post by: David Martin, on 30 March 2011 at 10:15 AM

    David, read this thread a bit earlier than your post, starting at: Rational Debate, on 30 March 2011 at 6:37 AM and several related posts following that one.

  147. Pingback: Fukushima Philosophical Discussion Open Thread « BraveNewClimate

  148. re post by: Barry Brook, on 30 March 2011 at 11:16 AM said:

    Rational Debate — re: technical open thread + philosophical open thread — yes, I think that’s a good idea.

    Thanks Barry! I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    With WordPress at present, the blog owner must choose whether to have all threads either chronological or threaded. So the options are limited.

    Right, I totally understand currently options are limited (and I’d pick chrono too). Maybe I wasn’t making myself clear, however. I’m asking you folks to please consider contacting wordpress to push them to add a new feature for us, e.g., a toggle between chronological & threaded versions. :0) No need to reply to this unless you feel like it, as I know there isn’t a ‘resolution’ or any change that you can make to what we’re seeing – I’m just hoping that you’ll let wordpress know this is something we would all like. Heck, tell them a bazillion of us have begged you for it and keep pestering you about it – blame us! {grin}

  149. Double breaches at Fukushima Daiichi No. 2?

    [reposted from Fukushima Open Thread 2]

    Former US Navy Reactor Operator Will Davis blogs at Atomic Power Review. Yesterday he offered a thesis for large reactor leaks at Daiichi No. 2 — essentially a “conservation of core coolant volume”. What can we infer when we observe a volume of contaminated water exiting the “controlled area” – which exit volume is almost as large as the volume of water being injected for core cooling? I’ve asked Will for links to the evidence supporting this input/output volume premise.

    Meanwhile I’ve re-reviewed the status reports. E.g., the latest March 29 IAEA presentation shows Unit 2 “Core and Fuel Integrity” has jumped to “Severe damage”. On the previous day March 28, unit 2 was reported the same as units 1,2 = “Damaged”.

    The RPV pressure reports are: unit 1 = “Slightly increasing” (due I think to restricting the volume of core cooling water); while units 2,3 = “Stable”. Looking for confirmation of Will Davis’ thesis, I’ve examined the reactor status reports for evidence of RPV pressure drop on unit 2. I don’t see it – TEPCO continues since around 20 March to operate unit 2 below one atmosphere – about 0.074 MPa, or 3/4 atmosphere absolute. I read unit 3 as stable around 1.3 atmospheres = 0.135 MPa.

    A contrary opinion on large leaks, as I reported earlier regarding unit 3 leak concerns, nuclear chemist Cheryl Rofer observes that…

    (…) If there is a leak, it is not a big one.

    It’s not a big one, because reactor #3 has been pressurized. If you try to blow up a balloon with a big leak, nothing happens. You can blow up a balloon with a pinhole leak, though. The steel reactor containment vessel is equipped with pressure gauges to measure the pressure. With a big enough leak, the pressure wouldn’t rise, but it has been rising as water is pumped in and turns to steam.

    So where is the radioactive water coming from?

    Obviously I don’t know the source. But I don’t understand the RPV pressure quite the same way Cheryl does. I think the feedwater flow rate into the RPV is a function of the relative pressure (feed pressure must be higher than RPV pressure).

    As to where is the unit 2 water coming from, I found the following plausible. Barry Brook tweeted the link to this article, which was originated by anonymous poster KBMAN on daily Kos. I’ve not posted anything at BNC on the KBMAN diaries as I expected Barry would post something unless he found the source not credible. But we know Barry is just wee bit busy, so I will stick my neck out – check it out, see what you think.

    I’ve done a quick survey of KBMAN’s credentials and other writing on nuclear topics. My judgement is the writer is not a crank, he looks to know his subject, and intellectual integrity looks solid. I’ve assembled some KBMAN resources here, and here. Yes I know he is posting in a place where I would not normally expect to find informed commentary on matters nuclear, but don’t let that deter you:-)

  150. fyi, NISA report, EQ/tsunami related problems at Onagawa NPS. Note, the three stations at this site are all in cold shutdown.

    http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110330-1.html

    ….The report was received, regarding the accident and trouble etc. in
    Onagawa NPS of Tohoku Electric Power Co. Inc. (the trouble of pump of
    component cooling water system etc. in Unit 2 and the fall of heavy oil tank for auxiliary boiler of Unit 1 by tsunami), pursuant to the Article 62-3
    of the Nuclear Regulation Act and the Article 3 of the Ministerial
    Ordinance for the Report Related to Electricity. (11:16 March 29th) ….

  151. Rad discharge into the ocean is distinctly dropping. I wouldn’t be surprised if it bounces up and down for awhile tho as they try to get a handle on things & depending on how much they spray spent fuel pools, handle the trench & basement water, etc…

    http://nei.cachefly.net/newsandevents/information-on-the-japanese-earthquake-and-reactors-in-that-region/

    …New analyses of seawater about 1,000 feet from the discharge point of reactors 1 through 4 show “a significant decrease” in radiation levels from March 26, IAEA said.

    Readings for iodine-131 went from 2,000,000 picocuries (1 picocurie is one-trillionth of a curie) per liter on March 26 to 297,300 picocuries per liter on March 27. Readings for cesium-137 went from 324,324 picocuries per liter on March 26 to 51,351 picocuries per liter on March 27. IAEA said that radiation readings in seawater “will be quite variable in the near future depending on water discharge levels.” …

  152. ‘Meanwhile, tests revealed radioactive iodine at more than 3,000 times the normal level in ocean water near the plant — a new high, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said Wednesday.

    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said monitoring data collected Tuesday afternoon detected the I-131 isotope at 3,355 times the normal level.

    The sample was taken 330 meters (1,080 feet) away from one of the plant’s water discharge points, the agency said.

    Radiation readings from seawater outside the plant have fluctuated. They spiked Sunday, then dropped a day later.

    Officials did not pinpoint a particular cause for the higher readings.

    But officials and experts have noted that workers at the plant face a difficult balancing act as they struggle to keep reactors cool and prevent radioactive water from leaking into the ocean.

    Water has been a key weapon in the battle to stave off a meltdown at the facility. Workers have pumped and sprayed tons of water to keep the plant’s radioactive fuel from overheating, and the plant is running out of room to store the now-contaminated liquid.

    “They have a problem where the more they try to cool it down, the greater the radiation hazard as that water leaks out from the plant,” said Jim Walsh, an international security expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.’

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

    Perhaps they have decided to flush, but are doing it quietly so as to avoid being stopped due to politics?

  153. ‘Smoke was spotted at another nuclear plant in northeastern Japan on Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

    The company said smoke was detected in the turbine building of reactor No. 1 at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant around 6 p.m. (5 a.m. ET).

    Smoke could no longer be seen by around 7 p.m. (6 a.m. ET), a company spokesman told reporters.

    The Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where workers have been scrambling to stave off a meltdown since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems there.

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. owns both plants.

    After the dual disasters, Japanese authorities also detected cooling-system problems at the Fukushima Daini plant, and those living within a 10-kilometer radius (6 miles) of Fukushima Daini were ordered to evacuate as a precaution.

    But since then, officials have not expressed any concerns about possible meltdowns there.

    Earlier Wednesday, the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum, a trade group, said cooling functions were recovered and all the plant’s four reactors were in cold shutdown.’

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.daini/index.html?hpt=T2

  154. ‘Complicating matters, the tanks storing the contaminated water are beginning to fill up. Pumping at one unit has been suspended since Tuesday night while workers scramble to drain a new tank after the first one reached capacity. And the water just kept coming Wednesday, when a new pool was found.

    In another effort to reduce the spread of radioactive particles, TEPCO plans to spray resin on the ground around the plant. The company will test the method Thursday in one section of the plant before using it elsewhere, Nishiyama said.

    “The idea is to glue them to the ground,” he said. But it would be too sticky to use inside buildings or on sensitive equipment.

    The government also is considering covering some reactors with cloth tenting, TEPCO said. If successful, that could allow workers to spend longer periods of time in other areas of the plant.

    Meanwhile, white smoke was reported coming from a plant about 10 miles (15 kilometers) from the troubled one. The smoke quickly dissipated and no radiation was released; officials were looking into its cause. The Fukushima Daini plant also suffered some damage in the tsunami but has been in cold shutdown since days after the quake. ‘

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/setbacks-mount-in-japan-at-leaking-nuclear-plant-2257470.html

  155. ‘Tsunami likely filled trenches
    30 March 2011

    Analysis of the trenches at Fukushima Daiichi indicates they were probably flooded by the tsunami. Low radioactivity in one trench may result from capture of radionuclides from the air but high levels in another are unexplained.
    Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) announced the flooding of three large trenches yesterday. Each of the four units in the main part of the site has an underground trench for piping and cabling that runs from the basement of the turbine building. These were separately found to be flooded some days ago, leading to speculation about possible pipe breaks in the reactor circuits, but it now appears likely that both flooding effects are direct results of the tsunami that overwhelmed the power plant.
    But while an answer appears close on the presence of the water, the levels of radioactivity remain unexplained.
    The trench at unit 2 is a serious concern due to radiation levels from surface measurement in excess of 1000 millisieverts per hour. Further sampling has not yet taken place due to this extraordinary level, and it is not clear if the dose rate is representative of the whole 6000 cubic metre body of water, although it does match the level in the basement of the turbine building. Unit 2 suffered suspected damage to its torus suppression chamber on the morning of 15 March.
    At unit 1 the dose rate at the water’s surface is low at 0.4 millisieverts per hour. Tepco said it considers that this trench at least was filled by the tsunami, while “radioactive materials that have been released to the air were captured by rainfall, taken to the trench and diluted by the seawater.” The company will treat the water – up to 3100 cubic metres – in the same way as the water in the basement of unit 1′s turbine building. This is being pumped to the condenser unit higher up in the building for temporary storage.
    The pools of water in the turbine buildings had led to speculation about pipe breaks in the reactor circuits, but it now seems more likely that the tsunami filled the trenches and simultaneously caused the internal flooding.
    Radioactivity of the trench at unit 3 is due to be sampled today, after the removal of tsunami debris that obstructed work yesterday. It was in unit 3′s turbine building pool that workers were exposed to over 170 millisieverts in a matter of hours.
    At unit 4, Tepco said, it is not safe to take a sample because of obstacles around the trench. “We need to study the procedure in advance,” said the firm.’

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Tsunami_likely_filled_trenches_3003112.html

  156. More detail on the resin spray:
    ‘Tokyo Electric said it would begin Thursday testing a solution aimed at preventing the scattering of nuclear particles. The solution is comprised of water and a synthetic resin known as Kuricoat C-720G, which envelops the particles and also adheres to other particles, such as dust. It will be sprayed on the grounds and on the sides of the reactors at the Daiichi plant. If the three-week test is successful, the spraying will continue for as long as necessary, the company said in a statement.’

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/30/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

  157. ‘Overall at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the situation remains very serious.

    With respect to the water that is present in the turbine buildings. In Unit 1, water has continued to be pumped into the condenser with 3 pumps (6.5 ton/hour each) and the water level has reduced from 40cm to 20cm. In Unit 2 from 07.45 UTC, pumping of water from the Condensate Storage Tank into the Surge Tank was started so that the that condenser can be drained to the Condensate Storage Tank and contaminated water can be pumped out from the Turbine building into the condenser. The same process of pumping the water from the Condensed Water Storage Tank into the Surge Tank was started on Unit 3 at 08.40 UTCon March 28.

    Near the Unit 3 building, 3 workers spilled water over themselves when removing a flange from seawater pipes on the residual heat removal system (RHR). After showering, contamination was not detected.

    Fresh water has been continuously injected into the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) through feed-water line at an indicated flow rate of 8.0 m3/h at Unit 1. The pumping of freshwater into the RPV has been switched from fire trucks to temporary electrical pumps with diesel generator. At Units 2 and 3 fresh water is being injected continuously through the fire extinguisher line at an indicated rate of 7 m3/h using a temporary electric pump.

    The indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV of Unit 1 has decreased from 323 oC to 281 oC and at the bottom of RPV remained stable at 134 oC. There is a corresponding decrease in Drywell pressure. At Unit 2 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV has increased from 154 oC to 177 oC and at the bottom of RPV has increased from 78 oC to 88 oC. Indicated Drywell pressure remains at atmospheric pressure. For Unit 3 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV is about 75 oC and at the bottom of RPV is about 116 oC. The validity of the RPV temperature measurement at the feed water nozzle is still under investigation. ‘

    http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

  158. TEPCO Washington Office Update:

    Here are updates on March 30 at Fukushima-Daiichi and Fukushima-Daini NPS

    (1) Result of nuclide analysis of water sampled at the trench of unit 1: Water in the trench was determined as seawater.
    (2) Smoke from the turbine building at Fukushima Daini NPS unit 1: It turned out not a fire, but fault in power panel.

    Contacts:
    TEPCO Washington Office :202-457-0790
    Kenji Matsuo, Director and General Manager
    Yuichi Nagano, Deputy General Manager,
    Masayuki Yamamoto, Manager, Nuclear Power Programs

    (1) Result of nuclide analysis of water sampled at the trench of unit 1.
    As to the water found in the trench of Unit 1, we conducted radiation measurement of sample collected on Mar 29th. Today, we informed the result of nuclide analysis to NISA and Fukushima prefecture.
    We will conduct analysis for Units 2 to 4 on the samples collected from trenches at each unit.

    Nuclides (Half life)

    Density (Bq/cm3)

    Nb-95
    (approx 35 days)

    Approx 4.7 x 10-3

    Tc-99m
    (approx 6 hours)

    Approx 2.0 x 10-1

    Ru-106
    (approx 370 days)

    Approx 4.3 x 10-1

    Ag-110m
    (approx 250 days)

    Approx 3.6 x 10-2

    Te-129
    (approx 70 minutes)

    Approx 2.1 x 101

    Te-129m
    (approx 34 days)

    Approx 4.1 x 100

    I-131
    (approx 8 days)

    Approx 5.4 x 100

    I-132
    (approx 2 hours)

    Approx 1.8 x 100

    Te-132
    (approx 3 days)

    Approx 1.8 x 100

    Cs-134
    (approx 2 years)

    Approx 7.0 x 10-1

    Cs-136
    (approx 13 days)

    Approx 5.1 x 10-2

    Cs-137
    (approx 30 years)

    Approx 7.9 x 10-1

    La-140
    (approx 2 days)

    Approx 8.1 x 10-2

    - Interpretation of the result
    — We determined the water in the trench was seawater. For the cable trench is 5 meters higher than the level of water in the turbine building of Unit 1, we don’t believe that the water in the turbine building seeped out to the trench.
    — The seawater entered the trench because of Tsunami. We believe that the reason of radiation was, radioactive substances released to the air was captured by rainfall, ran into the trench and was diluted with seawater.
    — Volume of the trench is approximately 3,100 m3. We estimate remaining capacity before spilling over is 150m3. (Water in the trench is under3000m3 (about 3100-150))
    - Actions
    — The radioactive concentration measured at the trench is almost same as the current seawater level. However as radiation was detected, we will consider treating it in the similar way as the puddle water in the turbine building.
    — Plans for analysis for other units:
    For unit 2, as the radiation level is very high, we can not determine the timing of sampling now. We will consider proper timing with examining the safety (dose) of personnel.
    For unit 3, we are planning to collect sample on Mar 30th.
    For unit 4, as it is unsafe to conduct sampling because there are rubbles around the trench.

    (2) Smoke from the turbine building at Fukushima Daini NPS Unit 1 At approximately 5:56 pm, March 30th, after a unit operator inspected the field when a thermal trip alarm in auxiliary potential transformer of control circuit in the power panel sounded, the operator discovered smoke from power panel (*) at the turbine building Unit 1 (Reactor is in cold shutdown status).
    At 5:57 pm, March 30th 2011, TEPCO immediately reported this incident to the local fire department.
    Subsequently the fire brigade consisting of TEPCO employee inspected the area. On approximately 6:13 pm, we confirmed the smoke stopped after we stopped electrical supply to the power panel.
    At 7:15 pm, the local fire department made a judgmental decision that this incident was caused by a fault of the power panel, they found no signs of fire.
    (*) power panel: power supply board to supply electricity to the motor of a drawing water pump to the outdoor duct.

  159. Update to Information Sheet Regarding the Tohoku Earthquake
    The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Washington DC Office
    As of 10:00AM (EST), March 30, 2011
    • Radiation Levels
    o On March 30, it was announced that radioactive nuclide I-131 was detected from the seawater sampled near the seawater discharge point of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station at 1:55PM on March 29. The level of concentration was approximately 3,355 times higher than the maximum permissible water concentration set by the government.
    o At 6:30PM on March 30, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 159 micro Sv/hour.
    o At 6:30PM on March 30, radiation level at west gate (approximately 3,609 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 106.3 micro Sv/hour.
    o Measurement results of environmental radioactivity level around Fukushima Nuclear Power Station announced at 7:00PM on March 30 are shown in the attached PDF file. English version is available at: http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/detail/1304082.htm
    o For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro Sv per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro Sv per scan.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor
    o At 7:30AM on March 29, transferring the water found at the turbine building to the condenser was suspended because the water level of the condenser became almost full. (Correction of the previous day’s report that stated as of 3:00PM on March 29, transferring the water found at the turbine building to the condenser continues.)
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.34MPa.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, water level inside the reactor core: 1.6 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.23MPaabs.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, the temperature of the reactor vessel measured at the water supply nozzle: 518.2 degrees Fahrenheit
    o As of 4:00PM on March 30, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor
    o At 4:45PM on March 29, preparation work to recover and transfer the water found at the turbine commenced.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.023MPa.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, water level inside the reactor core: 1.5 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    o At 1:00PM on March 30, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.1MPaabs.
    o As of 4:00PM on March 30, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.
    o As of 7:00PM on March 30, approximately 96 tons of water in total has been injected into the spent fuel storage pool.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor
    o At 1:30PM on March 30, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.018MPa.
    o At 1:30PM on March 30, water level inside the reactor core: 1.85 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    o At 1:30PM on March 30, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.1064MPaabs.
    o As of 4:00PM on March 30, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.
    o As of 7:00PM on March 30, approximately 4,697 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor
    o At 2:04PM on March 30, TEPCO began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete.
    o As of 7:00PM on March 30, approximately 960 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor
    o At 2:00PM on March 30, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 99.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor
    o At 2:00PM on March 30, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 79.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Common Spent Fuel Pool
    o At 8:30AM on March 29, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
    o As of 7:00PM on March 30, approximately 130 tons of water in total has been injected to the spent fuel storage pool.

    Our official sources are:
    • Office of The Prime Minister of Japan
    • Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA)
    • Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Press Releases
    • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

  160. JAIF Update #37:

    No. 37
    Today’s NHK news regarding status of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station as of 21:00 on March 30
    ●Kaieda urges safety steps at other nuclear plants
    Japan’s industry minister has urged power companies across the country to secure emergency energy sources for their nuclear power stations. Banri Kaieda told reporters on Wednesday that the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was due to a failure to secure emergency electricity and a loss of cooling systems at the reactors. Kaieda urged utility companies to secure mobile generators as a source of emergency power that can safely cool nuclear reactors, and to ensure water-supply routes for fire engines. He demanded that the companies confirm emergency steps and conduct drills within a month, or stop operating their nuclear power plants. Kaieda added that putting an immediate end to operations at nuclear power plants is out of the question, because Japan relies on them for about 30 percent of its electricity. NHK has learned that 90 percent of the 15 nuclear power stations nationwide, excluding the 2 quake-hit plants in Fukushima, have decided to introduce new emergency power generators, including mobile generators. Some utilities have already conducted simulations for cooling procedures based on a scenario in which emergency generators have failed to work at their nuclear reactors.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 16:57 +0900 (JST)
    ●TEPCO halts work to remove radioactive water
    The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has suspended work to move highly radioactive water from the basement of the turbine building into the turbine condenser at the No. 1 reactor. Tokyo Electric Power Company suspended the operation on Tuesday morning after the condenser became full of water. The work began on Thursday after water in the basement of the turbine building was found to contain radiation about 10,000 times higher than would normally be found inside an operating nuclear reactor. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the water is now about 20 centimeters deep, half the initial level. TEPCO is studying a plan to move water from a tunnel outside the turbine building into an on-site waste disposal facility with a capacity of more than25,000 tons. The water contains radioactive substances, and its level is only 10 centimeters below the top of the tunnel. TEPCO also planned to move highly radioactive water from the basements of the turbine buildings of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors into turbine condensers with a capacity of 3,000 tons each. But both condensers turned out to be full. Plant workers are now using pumps that can draw 10 to 25 tons of water per hour to move water from the condensers’ storage tanks into other tanks. They then hope to move water inside the condensers into the storage tanks and fill the condensers with the highly radioactive water from the basements.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 16:37 +0900 (JST)
    ●Air may be leaking from reactors No. 2 and 3
    Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says air may be leaking from the No 2 and No 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The agency was responding at a news conference on Wednesday to speculation that low pressure inside the 2 reactors was due to possible damage to the reactors’ pressure vessels. It said some of their data show pressure is low, but there is no indication of large cracks or holes in the reactor vessels. The agency said fluctuations in temperature and pressure are highly likely to have weakened valves, pipes and openings under the reactors where the control rods are inserted.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 15:15 +0900 (JST)
    ●Radioactive elements in No.1 reactor tunnel
    Japanese nuclear safety officials say radioactive iodine and cesium have been found in water at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant coming from a tunnel outside the turbine building of the No.1 reactor. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the levels of radioactive substances detected are low, at one-to-ten percent of those occurring in an operating nuclear reactor. The agency says the type of radioactive substances found in the water in the tunnel indicates some relation to the contaminated water in the basement of the No.1 reactor turbine building. It says the water in the tunnel will not be released into the sea.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:57 +0900 (JST)
    ●High radiation levels in waters off Fukushima
    The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says radioactive iodine in excess of 3,300 times the national limit was found in seawater near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Tuesday afternoon. This was the highest measured in waters off the plant. The level of radioactive iodine-131 found 330 meters south of a water outlet of the plant was 3,355 times regulated standards at 1:55 PM on Tuesday. The outlet is used to drain water from the plant’s No. 1 to No. 4 reactors. Radioactive iodine-131 measured 50 meters north of the water outlet of the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors was 1,262 times the regulated standards at 2:10 PM on Tuesday.
    This was also the highest reading at this location. An agency official told reporters on Wednesday morning that people in a 20-kilometer radius area from the troubled plant have been ordered to evacuate and the radioactive substance will be significantly diluted in the ocean by the time people consume marine products. The official added that efforts need to be made to prevent the contaminated water from flowing into the sea. Airborne radiation levels continue to decline in most prefectures, including Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki. Municipalities measured the radiation levels between 00:00 AM and 9:00 AM on Wednesday.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:23 +0900 (JST)
    ●Aerial photos reveal Fukushima plant damage
    Aerial photographs of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant show the scope of the devastation caused by tsunami and hydrogen explosions. NHK obtained the high resolution photos taken from an unmanned plane on March 20th and 24th. An aerial survey firm in Niigata Prefecture, Air Photo Service, took them at the request of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company. One photo shows a large hole on the roof of the turbine building of the No.3 reactor. It was apparently created when debris hit the roof in a hydrogen explosion. Part of a pipe is missing between the reactor building and an exhaust stack. Heavy oil tanks were swept away from the pier by the tsunami and drifted 150 meters westward, blocking a road for vehicles needed for restoration work. Containers and passenger cars are piled up at the foot of a hill to the west of the No.4 reactor. Another photo shows pump trucks connected by hoses in a line that stretches from the pier to the first four reactors.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 08:48 +0900 (JST)
    ●Radiation levels falling in waters off Fukushima
    The science ministry says levels of radiation in seawater near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are on the decline. The ministry has been collecting seawater samples at 4 locations 30 kilometers off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture since March 23rd. The locations were at intervals of 20 kilometers from north to south. The ministry started the research after waters near the plant’s drain outlets were found to be contaminated with a high density of radioactive substances. The ministry said 1.5 to 3.9 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per liter were found in seawater samples taken on Sunday. The amounts represent 1,000 to 2,600 times the levels measured in the same area 2 years ago. But the current levels are only one-fifth to one-tenth of those detected on March 23rd. The density of radioactive iodine-131 is also decreasing. It now stands at 5.4 to 15 becquerels per liter. The ministry said radiation density in the seawater is higher than normal, but it is declining.
    Cesium-137 is said to remain in the environment for a longer time than other substances as it takes roughly 30 years to lose half of its radioactive intensity. The Marine Ecology Research Institute says cesium-137 will not be directly absorbed into fish through gills but some species can accumulate the element by eating plankton and smaller fish. It’s believed that through this process, the density of cesium in fish can increase 10 to 100 times the level in the seawater. It usually takes some time for radioactive material to be detected in fish after it flows into the sea. In many cases, such substances are found in flatfish and Japanese seaperch 2 to 3 months after a confirmed leak into the sea. However, unlike mercury, such elements are eliminated from fish in several weeks.
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011 06:25 +0900 (JST)

  161. Radiation levels in the sea up to 4385 normal, cesium-137 527 times standard, high levels in village outside exclusion zone:

    ‘- The levels of radiation in ocean waters off Japan’s embattled Fukushima Daiichi plant continue to skyrocket, the nation’s nuclear safety agency said Thursday, with no clear sense of what’s causing the spike or how to stop it.

    The amount of radioactive iodine-131 isotope in the samples, taken Wednesday some 330 meters (361 yards) into the Pacific Ocean, has surged to 4,385 times above the regulatory limit. This tops the previous day’s reading of 3,355 times above the standard — and an exponential spike over the 104-times increase measured just last Friday.

    Officials have downplayed the potential perils posed by this isotope, since it loses half of its radiation every eight days.

    Yet amounts of the cesium-137 isotope — which, by comparison, has a 30-year “half life” — have also soared, with a Wednesday afternoon sample showing levels 527 times the standard.

    “That’s the one I am worried about,” said Michael Friedlander, a U.S.-based nuclear engineer, explaining cesium might linger much longer in the ecosystem. “Plankton absorbs the cesium, the fish eat the plankton, the bigger fish eat smaller fish — so every step you go up the food chain, the concentration of cesium gets higher.”

    On Thursday, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Japanese nuclear safety official, reiterated that seawater radiation doesn’t yet pose a health risk to humans eating seafood.

    Fishing is not allowed within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the plant, and he claimed that waterborne radiation should dilute over time.

    Still, authorities don’t know where the highly radioactive water is coming from.

    Nishiyama said it may be flowing continuously into the sea. Another explanation is that water, which authorities have pumped and sprayed in by the tons in recent weeks to stave off a meltdown, became contaminated by overheating nuclear fuel in the process and ended up in the ocean without having any room to settle in the nuclear plant.

    “They have a problem where the more they try to cool it down, the greater the radiation hazard as that water leaks out from the plant,” said Jim Walsh, an international security expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Persistent rain and wind forced the plant’s owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, to postpone Thursday a new fix to contain the spread of radiation: a water and synthetic resin mix to envelop radioactive particles. The plan is to spend at least three weeks spraying the solution on the grounds and sides of reactors at the Daiichi facility.

    The nuclear plant has been in a state of perpetual crisis since being rocked by the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and there’s no clear end in sight.

    This has all left the plant’s owner reeling, with the ordeal taking a significant toll on both its reputation and bottom line.

    On Wednesday — the same day the company announced that its president, Masataka Shimizu, had been hospitalized due to “fatigue and stress” — Tokyo Electric’s chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said it had no choice but to decommission four of the plant’s six reactors.

    He acknowledged reports Japan’s government is mulling nationalizing the company after the disaster, saying, “We want to make every effort to stay a private company.”

    Beyond the recovery and clean-up expenses, Toyko Electric will likely be asked to pay those who suffered because of the nuclear crisis.

    A report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates the utility firm will face 1 trillion Japanese yen ($12.13 billion) in compensation claims if the recovery effort lasts two months, rising to 10 trillion yen if it goes on for two years, said Takayuki Inoue, a spokesman with the financial giant.

    That might include farmers, their livelihoods shattered after the detection of high radiation in several vegetables prompting the government to ban sales. Contaminated tap water also has prompted officials to tell residents in some locales to only offer bottled water to infants. Businesses have been hit hard, too, by rolling blackouts tied to the strained power grid.

    But those most affected have been the thousands, living within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the stricken plant, who have been ordered to evacuate.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday urged Japanese authorities to “carefully assess the situation” — and consider expanding the evacuation zone further — after high radiation levels were found in Iitate, a town of 7,000 residents 40 kilometers northwest of the nuclear facility.

    The U.N. agency did not say how much radiation it had detected, though the environmental group Greenpeace said Sunday it found levels more than 50 times above normal.

    Koboyashi Takashi, Iitate’s manager for general affairs, said radiation levels in soil and water were decreasing. Residents had temporarily evacuated, but later returned to take care of livestock, he said.

    Another village official, who declined to be named, was irked Thursday after the earlier radiation readings surpassed the IAEA’s evacuation criteria but not those of the Japanese government. He said local officials have urged tests on soil from 70 locations around the village.

    “We (have to) believe what the government tells us,” said the Iitate village official in apparent frustration. “There is no other way.”

    Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Thursday the “IAEA results will be taken into consideration,” but said “there is no plan” to expand the evacuation zone to 30 kilometers or beyond.

    “There is no immediate health hazard,” Edano said. “If the exposure continues for a long period of time, (a negative) impact can occur. We will continue to survey the situation.”‘

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/31/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

  162. Tens of thousands evacuated from around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant may not be allowed home for months, a Japanese minister said Friday, with no end in sight for the nuclear crisis as fresh concerns mount about alarming radiation levels in beef, seawater and groundwater.
    While he didn’t set a firm timetable, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said people who’d lived within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the nuclear facility would not return home permanently in “a matter of days or weeks. It will be longer than that.”
    “The evacuation period is going to be longer than we wanted it to be,” Edano said. “We first need to regain control of the nuclear power plant.”
    The plight of the evacuees and those within a 20-to-30 kilometer radius of the facility, who have been told to stay indoors and encouraged to leave, is one of many storylines still playing out in relation to the crisis. Many are rooted at the northeast Japan power plant where dozens of workers, soldiers and others are rushing to prevent the disaster from worsening, while further afoot farmers, citizens and officials are dealing with the effects of already released radiation.
    That includes news Thursday, from Japan’s health ministry, thatradiation higher than the regulatory limit has been found in beef from Fukushima prefecture, the same province as the embattled nuclear plant.
    The levels were slightly above the guidelines set by Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission — 510 becquerels (a measurement of radioactivity by weight), compared to the official limit of 500 becquerels. For reference, Japan earlier set a
    Evacuees not to be allowed to return for months.
    Radiation in beef just above safety standard.

    100-becquerel threshold at which infants shouldn’t drink tap water, with a 300-becquerel maximum for adults.
    The meat will not be sold and will be retested, the ministry said.
    The finding is the first such in beef, although authorities have banned the sale and transport of numerous vegetables grown in the area after tests detected radiation.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/31/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

  163. @ David Martin
    It seems that the chosen quotes from the article omit the assessments by officials as to the possible harmful effects to humans. It always pays to follow the link to the story and read it all to get the full-picture. Journalists appear to prefer to overhype the news by relegating appraisals of the situation to the end of the article. Maybe they think we have a short attention span:-)

  164. Ms Perps,
    If you mean that the areas I selected did not include information given later there involving concentration in the foodchain, I did not include that as the audience here would be well aware of that and in earlier posrs I had mentioned the cesium 137 in the sea and the iodine levels.
    Any selection necessarily omits something, but I do so in the interests of making the post reasonably concise and not overburdening the thread, the same reason why I now provide the main points just above them.
    If on the contrary you are referring to an article from which the CNN post was drawn, I did not spot it, so please provide the link.

  165. Ms Perps
    You are of course quite at liberty where you feel I have omitted information which seems to you important to provide that information in another quote with the links preferably rather than in an unlinked opinion as to the importance of the information left out.
    Everyone’s selection will of course differ from other peoples.

  166. @ David Martin
    As I was referring to the article from which you were quoting I saw no reason to repeat the link. However, if you insist:

    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/31/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T2

    And this is another quote from that article:

    “Officials have downplayed the potential perils posed by this isotope, since it loses half of its radiation every eight days. Still, authorities don’t know where the highly radioactive water is coming from, how it reached the sea or how it might be stopped.

    On Thursday, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Japanese nuclear safety official, reiterated that seawater radiation doesn’t yet pose a health risk to humans eating seafood.”

    I merely suggested that, folk reading the blog should always check the links provided to get the whole story.

  167. [Comment deleted. Violation of citation rule.]
    MODERATOR
    A throw away statement with a link is not good enough.
    Please read this section of the commenting rules before re-posting.
    BARRY BROOK This is not a forum for cut-and-pasting slabs of text, with no other comment other than a link. Tell people why you think they should be interesting in reading this, and what it means for this discussion. Otherwise, you’re not thinking and not contributing. Simple as that.

  168. Pingback: 45th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs | Japan Nuclear 5

  169. Pingback: Eine Zusammenfassung der Probleme bei Fukushima I | physikBlog

  170. Pingback: Searching for Accurate Maps - Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident – 26 March status « BraveNewClimate#comments

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