The following is not a significant new update on the situation at Fukushima (see here for the 18 March morning update), because so little information has emerged since my last update this morning. But there is some new information.
Below I summarise what news and data I’ve gathered today, and then provide a 25 minute video of me, recorded just a few days ago, talking about the potential impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident on the future of nuclear power deployment, and the prospects of new technologies.
First to Fukushima News. Here is what I’ve gathered so far today:
1. There have been no new updates from World Nuclear News or NEI updates. The IAEA provided an ‘update’ on Temperature of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which didn’t really say anything new. The latest TEPCO news release doesn’t add much.
2. NHK news shows some footage of the fire trucks of the self defence forces and Tokyo fire department (including some borrowed trucks from the locally deployed US military), in the act of hosing down units 3 and 4 with the aim of raising the water levels in the open-topped spent fuel storage ponds (see here for more details) — they are doing this in serial rather than parallel, due to the difficulty in site access because of debris. They think this will be just as effective anyway. There was clearly steam rising as a result of this addition of some 50 tonnes of water, and a measured drop in on-site radioactivity as a result, so it does seem to be having some effect. I can’t say much more than this.
3. The external power line is now stretched to the site and they hope to have AC power connected by early Saturday (JST). The goal is to allow operators to restart Emergency Core Cooling System and Residual Heat Removal pumps for the reactor. TEPCO continues to install cables, transformers and distribution equipment to restore offsite grid power to Fukushima Daiichi reactors 1 and 2. Reactor 1 has now been included in the power restoration plan. Radiation around the reactor buildings are still around 20 mSv/hr, which although much lower than previously, is still hampering operations.
4. Kyodo News reports the following (extract)
The Tokyo Fire Department is slated to join in the operation at the Fukushima plant with 30 trucks capable of discharging massive amounts of water to high places and some 140 firefighters of its ”hyper rescue” team, who are specialists in rescue operations in large-scale disasters.
But a Tokyo police water cannon truck, whose contribution Thursday was revised Friday to 44 tons from the initially reported 4 tons, and the SDF choppers were not mobilized Friday.
Radiation readings at the troubled nuclear plant have consistently followed a downward path through Friday morning, according to data taken roughly 1 kilometer west of the plant’s No. 2 reactor, but plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. stopped short of calling the move a trend.
The radiation level at 11 a.m. dropped to 265.0 microsievert per hour from 351.4 microsievert per hour at 12:30 a.m. Thursday. It measured 292.2 microsievert per hour at 8:40 p.m. Thursday, shortly after SDF trucks sprayed water at the No. 3 reactor pool as part of efforts to avert any massive emission of radioactive materials into the air from the facility.