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Fukushima March 18 evening update, Barry Brook on the future of nuclear energy

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.

The the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has provided their 12th reactor-by-reactor status update (16:00 March 18). It doesn’t really say anything new:

Here is the latest FEPC status report:


• Radiation Levels

o At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1,000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.

o At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert.

o At 11:10AM on March 17, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 646.2 micro sievert.

o At 7:50PM on March 17, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 3,599 micro sievert.

o For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro sievert per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro sievert per scan.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor

o Since 10:30AM on March 14, the pressure within the primary containment vessel cannot be measured.

o At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.185MPa.

o At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.7 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor

o At 12:25PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.40MPaabs.

o At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.027MPa.

o At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.8 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor

o At 12:40PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.23MPaabs.

o At 6:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber was observed to fluctuate.

o At 7:00AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.22MPa.

o At 7:05AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.44MPa.

o At 7:10AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.26MPa.

o At 7:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.52MPa.

o At 7:20AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.13MPa.

o At 7:25AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.57MPa.

o At 9:48AM on March 17, a Self Defense Forces helicopter made four water drops aimed for the spent fuel pool.

o At 4:35PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.005MPa.

o At 4:35PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.95 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o At 7:05PM on March 17, a police water cannon began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool until 7:22PM.

o At 7:35PM on March 17, five Self Defense Forces emergency fire vehicles shot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, until 8:09PM.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor

o No official updates to the information in our March 16 update have been provided.

o Through visual surveys from the helicopter flying above the Unit 4 reactor secondary containment building on March 16, it was observed that water remained in the spent fuel pool. The helicopter was measuring radiation levels above Unit 4 reactor secondary containment building in preparation for water drops. This report has not been officially confirmed.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor

o At 12:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 147.56 degrees Fahrenheit.

o At 5:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 148.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor

o At 12:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 144.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

o At 5:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 147.2 degrees Fahrenheit.


This PDF of compiled radiation measurements indicates a range of spot values taken at areas >20 km distant from the Daiichi plant, from 1.7 to 170 μSv/hr; the average is hardly above background levels, which is good to see.

Finally, if you want to know my thoughts on the future of nuclear power, and why I consider it fundamental to eliminating fossil fuels, watch this — I hope you find my perspective persuasive! It comes courtesy of The Climate Show. My interview is from 29 — 56 min in the 1 hour 20 min show, if you want to skip straight to it.

By Barry Brook

Barry Brook is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. He researches global change, ecology and energy.

384 replies on “Fukushima March 18 evening update, Barry Brook on the future of nuclear energy”

The following is a link to a photo showing the extent of damage to the reactor 4 building from the [hydrogen] blast. Previous pics were of such low resolution that I had suspected that the upper portions of the building were steel frame & panels. This photo clearly shows a reinforced concrete post & beam structure with reinforced concrete infill, now shredded. Clearly a formidable explosion.


Ms. Perps, on 19 March 2011 at 4:30 PM said:

>Cooling function operable at 2 reactors

Thats reactors 5 and 6, that would be for the cooling ponds.




The World Health Organization has said radiation levels outside the evacuation zone in Japan are not harmful for human health.

WHO spokesperson Gregory Hartl made the remarks at a regular news conference in Geneva on Friday.

The Japanese government issued an advisory on Tuesday to evacuate from a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It also told people living within a 30-kilometer radius to stay indoors.

He said the amount of radiation being reported outside of the evacuation zone continued to be below the levels considered a public health risk.

He said the WHO finds no public health reason to avoid travel to Japan, except to the affected areas, or to recommend that foreign nationals leave the country.

Some countries are encouraging their citizens to leave Japan or are moving their embassies from Tokyo to Osaka.

Referring to an examination of Japanese food imports by some countries, he said he cannot imagine that any food from the quake-damaged areas was able to have been delivered. He said he concludes there is no risk that exported Japanese foods are contaminated with radiation.


I think what people are most concerened about is what levels might be reached not so much what they now. Worst case scenario IS complete meltdown. People want to know what happens then and is what they have been asking all along. How bad can this get, bad, very bad. But don’t worry American most of the radiation will be abosorbed by the oceans inhabitants before it gets to you. I wouldn’t put too much faith in the words of those who are vested in the success of nuclear energy.


LAST POST! Clearly no straight talking here, I’m going back to WOW. BTW the kids are asking questions and they will remember if they are lied too.


Any good scientist should know that sometimes experiments must be abandoned when they fail. [unsubstantiated personal opinion. Please give authoratative references and re-post]. It had not proven itself yet.



I think people on this blog have been trying to give answers to your questions. I think that there are people who are anti-nuclear who sometimes fudge the truth too. If the kids are fed lies it could be from either side of the debate. I personally don’t think we have to be scared of this going really bad, as you say. The news is better already from the plant and so far there has been no health problems for anybody from the nuclear incident. All we can do is hope it continues that way. Let us make sure that we don’t frighten the kiddies ourselves through ignorance of radiation and unnecessary hyping of the present situation.


Here are URLs of three categories of websites that I am finding useful in getting a well-rounded picture of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. I post them in case others would like to copy/paste them for their own use or to share with friends — to ease their way. I am a physics educator, so I like to read articles by scientists and nuclear engineers, to correlate events with the underlying physics, chemistry, and engineering.

KYODO NEWS. “Japan’s leading news network”
The Japanese Broadcasting System, in Tokyo. “NHK WORLD is NHK’s international broadcast service. NHK operates international television, radio and Internet services. Together, they are known as NHK WORLD.”
“The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum,Inc. (JAIF) was incorporated as the comprehensive non-governmental organization on nuclear energy in Japan on March 1, 1956. JAIF is a non-profit organization incorporated under the auspices of the industry to promote peaceful utilization of nuclear energy for the benefit of Japanese nationals in consideration of the importance of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, radioisotopes and radiation in a wide variety of fields.”

Spreadsheet of data on status of each reactor, each day, in pdf.
Tokyo Electric Power Company press releases — less information than on Kyodo News.
“The IAEA is the world´s center of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was set up as the world´s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.”
Information is broader in scope than on Kyodo News.

For educational ‘background’ articles in non-technical language, I found articles at these three websites:

1) the Union of Concerned Scientists’ “All Things Nuclear” blog: (The authors include a physicist and nuclear engineer, both of whom have extensive experience with nuclear reactors. The authors have access to the same press releases as everyone else, plus professional contacts in Japan.) They explain the physics of the events.

2) For more extensive educational background:
This blog; the specific article is fukushima-simple-explanation/ by Dr Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT, in Boston.

Nuclear Energy Institute
“The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process.
NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world.”

The Guardian.
Excellent up-to-date articles. Interactive video each day on status of each reactor.

The New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal.
Not as complete as other websites.


NHK reports that the fire trucks injecting water into reactor buildings are operating unmanned which can only be a good thing not just from the safety viewpoint but also the capacity to sustain the operation.


I have to admit I’m quite skeptical of the Union of Concerned Scientists, since they are undoubtedly an anti-nuclear organisation.

Of the thousands of physicists and nuclear engineers across the United States, they have a couple who are anti-nuclear activists.

I’m always reminded of the fact, whenever I hear about UCS, that Hans Bethe refused to join their organisation, despite working with them extensively on arms control and disarmament issues.


As of five today… The hyper rescue truck is pumping water into 3’s sfp for 7hrs continuously to hopefully deliver enough water to cover most of the tank (1260 tons)… A concrete pump truck is also on the way ( maybe they have been reading these coments) and they are still aiming for tonight for power to be usable for one and two

If I mistranslated any articles, sorry (all from nhk’s website)


In swedish media they say the radiation lvl is as high as 800 mSv at the plant. If that is correct then its reallly really bad.


Could someone with better knowledge than me try to answer Futabajin:
“I live in futaba machi, 5km from the plant. When the reactors are finally cooled will we be able to return to the surrounding area or will we have to wait for the radiation to drop? What sort of timeframe are we talking about, days, weeks, months, years??”

My (not-that-well-informed) answer would be “it depends”. Partly on whether your particular area got heavily showered with particles (if not, move right back), and partly on how bad the earthquake/tsunami damage is close by.
Without details about your village (?) it is almost impossible to say. My guess would be most likely weeks – months. Longest time if heavily contaminated and requiring cleanup (perhaps not very likely, but possible).

Anyone here have any comments (or a better source) on this report:
Milk and spinach tainted, radiation levels exceeding the allowable


This seems to be double talk, can someone comment on how serious this is? The temp of #3 is 212F taken by a fire truck at 60′ and workers cannot approach the reactor to check the reactor because of radiation, yet they hope that pouring water in from fire trucks is going to lower that? How serious is that temp reading? and how effective can this water spraying really be?

“Temperatures were below 212 degrees Fahrenheit based on readings taken by firefighters from the Japan Self-Defense Force that drove trucks with water cannons to within about 60 feet of the No. 3 reactor on Friday.

Mr. Kitazawa (defense minister) said that the temperature readings had increased hopes that the nuclear fuel could be kept cool through further efforts to spray the reactors with water, while technicians worked on restoring power to the cooling systems.

“What we are ultimately working toward is getting to a point where water is continuously pouring into the reactors,” he said, adding that engineers were also working to find a way to assess water levels inside the reactors, which were currently unapproachable by workers because of high levels of radiation.”


This can’t be good for industry PR…

“Efforts to control Japan’s nuclear crisis were delayed by concerns over damaging valuable assets at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant and initial passivity from the Japanese government, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. was reluctant to use seawater to cool one of the six reactors at the plant and hesitated because it was concerned about harming its long-term investment in the plant…”

Missed Deadline

“Engineers today missed a deadline to restore power to the crippled plant, prolonging efforts to prevent more radiation leaks. People living within 30 kilometers (19 miles) of the Fukushima plant along the northeastern coast should wear masks and long sleeves and stay out of the rain, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said today.

Tepco pushed back its target to reconnect a power cable to the No. 2 reactor to later today after working through the night. Power may be restored to all six reactors by tomorrow, Hikaru Kuroda, chief of the utility’s nuclear facility management department, told a briefing in Tokyo.

There’s a “possibility” water pumps damaged by the quake and tsunami (and explosions), may not work once power is restored and the situation “does not allow optimism,”

People will also ask, why did it take TEPCO so long to start running a new power line to the plant? That would seem like the first thing to be done the minute flood waters had receded.


@Moquiti 4:45 PM picture of R4 building – this looks like R4 building explosion was outward, not damaged inward from adjacent R3 H2 explosion Mar 14 11:01. JAIF and IAEA both say that R4 building was damaged by R3 explosion. Latest JAIF spreadsheet info does not show any R4 building explosion. Although JAIF does not indicate it, there are Wiki reports that R4 building had explosion 06:00 on Mar 15 with fires afterwards.

Mar 14 BNC comments discussed R3 building damage but not R4 building damage. JAIF report Mar 15 10:30 shows R3 severely damaged but R4 building undamaged. Subsequent JAIF reports show progressively more damage to R4 building.

R4 had no fuel in it, so any R4 building damage could not come from venting Reactor 4 H2 to building. Diesel and lube oil (implicated in R4 building fires) do not form explosive vapors.
That leaves the R4 SFP fuel assemblies as the only source of H2 for a R4 building explosion.

Therefore the R4 SFP fuel assemblies must have become uncovered by water and heated to 850-950C on Mar 15 to generate H2 and cause explosion.


2 Shelby
“This seems to be double talk, can someone comment on how serious this is? The temp of #3 is 212F taken by a fire truck at 60′ and workers cannot approach the reactor to check the reactor because of radiation, yet they hope that pouring water in from fire trucks is going to lower that? How serious is that temp reading? and how effective can this water spraying really be? ”

You see, the fuel in pools is shielded with water, lots of water. 3m of water shield 99.999% of radiation from the fuel (tho usually 4-5m is norm). One can literally look into the pool if there is enough water :), actually its both harmless and beautiful.

So, if they are able to restore water level in the pools radiation will drop sharply, what will left will be from parts “ejected” in explosions, and could be dealed easily.


“People will also ask, why did it take TEPCO so long to start running a new power line to the plant? That would seem like the first thing to be done the minute flood waters had receded.”

Because pumps does not work on regular 220V/110V electricity, they need higher-voltage – 6KV or even more. And high currents too – pumps are quite powerful devices – more than 100KW
Making such high-voltage lines is not so easy…
Due to this problem they also couldn’t use ship for giving electricity, usually military ships work with 400V
(all this is based on info from forums)

No power for two and one tonight… They hope to have them operating tomorrow… But the article says 20日以降 which basically means the 20th or later… They have to check all the pumps etc and this takes time… They are also aiming for 3-6 to be connected by tomorrow (didn’t say anything about the ability to use the power though)…

Still not getting much detailed info… I can’t see why tepco can’t live blog updates… Someone must have a keitai on the site… The lack of detailed news is frustrating


@Drew Liveblogging? Too risky, someone might say something which might expose them to legal action or something. I’m sure all information coming out of there has to be cleared through legal at some level…


The remark on the concrete pump as made on this post was passed on to tepco by email shortly after the remark was made. The use of a concrete pump makes perfect sense, since the objective here is not ordinairy fire fighting but the accurate remote delivery of controllable amounts of liquid. A concrete pump does just that.



According to the IAEA the correct term would be implosion caused by the explosion of #3? That could be a significant detail as an implosion would put its force into building 4 and its internal machinery and systems.

“Unit 4

All fuel had been removed from the reactor core for routine maintenance before the earthquake and placed into the spent fuel pool. A portion of the building’s outer shell was damaged by the explosion at Unit 3 on 14 March, and there have been two reported fires – possibly including one in the spent fuel pool on 15 March — that extinguished spontaneously, although smoke remained visible on 18 March.

Authorities remain concerned about the condition of the spent fuel pool.

On 18 March, Japan assigned an INES rating of 4 to this site.”


212 F would be the ‘threshold’ temperature. As a rule it stays like that until all water is turned into steam. This seems to me as nothing new. Unlike radiation, temperature is measured in media terms. Thus the measured value is the actual value of the unit, unless the truck itself is that hot, which i doubt.


what is really irritating me more and more is people like Ms. Perps saying there haven’t been any health problems for anybody from the nuclear incident right now.

isn’t this something we can answer in a few month or years? people are not afraid of an immediate death so much as of a creeping one caused by cancer for example.

i don’t see the not occuring health ‘problems’ as a good argument right now. it is close to …i am sorry….mockery (though i know it wasn’t meant as such. i just want to point it that it could sound like …..a bit).


I’ve read this blog in the past few days and I must admit that this is currently my primary source of news for better understanding on fukushima events.
After the tsunami and the explosions in the nuclear site I’ve started reading tons of pages about nuclear energy and its production, and read in detail what the scientists think it has happened in japan.
What I did not understand and still wonder is:
1) the seawater in some of the reactors was injected in the PVR? If so, how? I mean, is there any available access into the PVR for mechanical (since power isn’t available) injection of liquids?
2) if the containement vessel isn’t damaged, considering how thick it is, has it any sense putting water into the drywell? I mean, putting water into the CV shouldn’t cool the reactor core itself, since the thickness of the steel around the core would protect it from any convectivity
3) adding water into the PVR shouldn’t *increase* pressure, instead of reducing it? More water, more steam, more pressure. Is there anything wrong?
If so, more water, more pressure, increased need of manual depression. How could they free some gases without power? is there any valves mechanically activated?

Thanks for the answers.


@zark, I understand this but lack details is frustrating, especially since Wednesday (reports in japans ultra conservative media seem to be even more conservative now)
@bchtd1parrot, I’m glad the info was passed on, if they can get it working on number 4 then that’s a good thing right

And is there anyway pumps and valves can be sourced quickly to replace potentially broken ones at the site??? Ie has general electric offered anything???


I’m surprised they actually use it. The timing indicates that this might actually be a response on the email. That would mean the ctisis management is in fact open for suggestions. Thats a very good sign. Japanese conduct and attitude can get truely amazing at times,.. seen from a europeans point of view.


@squindon – if you have a pressure vessel containing 1 tonne of water at a high temp, and you add 1 tonne of water at low temp, you pull the average temp down quite a bit, and will condense quite a lot of the steam in there, which can reduce the pressure. Depends on the actual temps & pressures, of course.

@sophia – if there hasn’t been any clear indication yet of significant releases of radioactive contaminants, there’s no evidence yet of longer-term problems that such contaminants may cause. There are different types of radiation & radioactive elements involved here – some may cause long term problems, many do not, but all will cause short-term exposure problems for workers at the plant (in fact the very short-lived isotopes are worse in this regard, while posing no threat to people outside the plant).

I think the comments you’re referring to are only talking about the short-term effects – as you say, there is insufficient info to make a call on long-term effects, as of yet. But until there is a credible report of significant contamination (not just detectable, but significant in terms of human health), there is also no credibility to comments stating that there *will* be long-term health effects.



From that photograph, it looks to me like the Unit #4 pool is almost full. I see the crane near the center of the circle and the lighter color toward the bottom of the circle looks like the pool wall behind it. If the darker color below the wall is the water, it looks like it is almost full.

Do you concur?



Latest update

The hyper rescue truck is going to continue delivering water to number three’s spent fuel tank for three more hours, the government wants them to get as much water in there as possible

And with that I’m going to watch an amazing van-damn movie… If anything pops up (in the Japanese media) that no one else posts I’ll try and translate and summarize the gist of the article/s here


Does anyone know how this is being reported on BBC, ITV and other OFCOM regulated broadcasters? I read that part of the OFCOM charter had language about misrepresenting material facts. Does this have any impact on the reporting in UK? … Just curious.


bchtd1parrot, on 19 March 2011 at 10:55 PM said:

212 F would be the ‘threshold’ temperature. As a rule it stays like that until all water is turned into steam. This seems to me as nothing new. Unlike radiation, temperature is measured in media terms. Thus the measured value is the actual value of the unit, unless the truck itself is that hot, which i doubt.

Since it was taken from 60′ wouldn’t 212F be the radiant temp of the structure itself verses the temp of the water? This would seem a critical point as the building would act as a heat sync and actually store heat thus take much longer to cool down? What I’m wondering is will spraying cool water into a small pool actually reduce temps that much if the tank and it’s structure are 212F? It would seem that would quickly heat any water back up to that temp and because the water is not being circulated would have a very limited cooling affect on the structure itself.


Sincere and highest respect for Mr. Masashi Goto on his containment structure design. After being subjected to a 9.0 earthquake + 7m tsunami + out of control reactors + the explosive disassembly of the secondary containment (building) the primary containment is still fulfilling its purpose. He must have been a very young man when he did this work. He sould be well satisfied. I stand in awe.

Props to the workers on site in their battles. Their bravery should be recognized even if they themselves cannot see it.


I just ran Google Translate on the document posted earlier with the radiation readings. All of the 300uSV readings are listed as WEST GATE. All of the 3000 have SECRETARY TATE KITIMOTO instead of a location. Is this a fault of automatic translation?


This from the latest IAEA update.

“Japanese authorities have implemented two critical measures to counter the contamination of food products by radioactive iodine. First, on 16 March, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission recommended local authorities to instruct evacuees leaving the 20-kilometre area to ingest stable (not radioactive) iodine. As an established method of prevention, the ingestion of stable iodine can help to prevent the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid. Stable iodine pills and syrup (for children) have been made available at evacuation centres. Second, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has ordered a stop to the sale of all food products from the Fukushima Prefecture.”

This is the first report I’ve seen that people have been told to take iodine and this was done 3 days ago. Before now all the reports had been they hadn’t been told to do this, and those reports were appearing quite regularly. Haven’t seen a report on that for several days though. This information took a long time to come out or I just missed it.


Tanks were prepared to fight in contaminated environments. Tanks and APC trucks often have environmental seals, so why army is not using such devices to secure situation around reactors? I see in NHK that fire trucks are used and a lot of concerns about firemans exposure is in consideration. Are there any anti contamination vesels in hands of Japan army or at last US Army based in Japan?


Michael Strickland

I can’t tell anything from that picture about water level. It is relatively dark inside that building and this picture is from a low angle. If I saw a shiny patch I would conclude that was water, but not a dark patch.


Joshua I made a mistake that’s the main office building (事務本館北) 正門 is main gate 西門 is west gate

Sorry, now it’s back to van-damn


I’ve been looking back at older JAIF reactor status reports. The first mention of the SFP of unit 4 was 19:00 March 15. It says “SFP level low, Injecting Water”. By 8:00 March 16 it changes to “SFP Level Low” If they actually had a method to inject water I wonder how they loss control of that method and what that method was. Regular or jury-rigged.

Click to access ENGNEWS01_1300189582P.pdf

Click to access ENGNEWS01_1300240000P.pdf


> undoubtedly an anti-nuclear organisation.

They’re an anti-stupid-careless-nuclear organization, I’ll agree with Luke only that far. I think Luke could meet them halfway, as the UCS is quite well aware of climate change from the biology as well as the physics side, and know biological systems can detect changes before our measuring and statistical tools do so. Look at phenological work on climate; to the ecologists there’s clear evidence all over the world that climate has started changing. It’s a very small signal emerging from a very noisy background.

Well, duh. Same applies to any public health concern. If Luke will quit thinking of UCS as “anti-nuclear” and start thinking of them as “anti-stupidity” some progress could be made toward Gen4.

Personally I think a decade or generation of serious conservation efforts worldwide, buying time to leap past the current plans for building more Gen2 plants (as China is doing) let alone more Gen3 plants, or Gen3+ — is something everyone could come to agree should be done.
“But, alas, I’m an optimist” — Cassandra


William Fairholm:

Maybe I’m being too optimistic but I wouldn’t expect water in the pool to look shiny. The illumination (sun) appears to be coming from behind and to the left of the camera viewpoint. Therefore it seems the building debris is blocking the direct sunlight.

As I said before, below the crane I see a light green area (tank wall?) and then a darker green area (tank wall seen through water?). Also the smoke/vapor plume emanating from the pool seems to be water vapor indicating water in the pool.

If you look carefully, the vapor/smoke plume starts at the border between the light and dark green areas (at about 7 o’clock on the circle, halfway in to the center) . This is consistent with the light/dark green border being the surface of the water and the plume being vapor coming off the hot water on a cold day. It is not consistent with the plume being smoke from the fuel rods further below the light/dark green border since there would be an unexplainable discontinuity in the smoke plume (at the 7 o’clock, mid-radius area of the circle).

Links to picture:



Harvey, I guess I don’t get where you are coming from. Perhaps they should bottle the stuff and create a new energy drink called Godzilla juice. It would help people understand the benefits of gamma radiation and make the cleanup more profitable.


Hank Roberts

I agree. As soon as I saw Luke Weston’s pronouncement I went to the UCS website. I have found there information very detailed and fair with less slant than I have found here. I haven’t read the report they have prepared and released early, because of this accident, so don’t know I would agree with their conclusions or any obserbable bias, but the technical explainations are fair and accurate as far as I can tell. In fact it looks like Barry has used their table of the fuel loads in the reactors and SFPs in his lates update on the situation.

UCS blog:
Go down to Fuel Amounts at Fukushima


Shelby, i’m trying to provide some factual background information so you and others can estimate what will be the “fallout” from this accident.
You have not provided any facts, so I was just trying to help you along.


Michael Strickland

I wasn’t saying it was likely to see a reflection of light off the water in the SFP, I just said that the picture wasn’t clear enough to make any judgment. Also, I agree that isn’t smoke but steam. Your still don’t think you can come to the conclusions you have on the level of water in there. I don’t think this steam/water vapour is continuously being emitted as it would be if water was always present. Not enough information from one picture.


Harvey, thanks, I appreciate reading official industry propaganda on radiation sickness, and I hope you appreciate my appreciation.


Also Luke Weston assured me and then wrote in a feature on this site:

that they were not injecting seawater into reactor vessel itself. This is after the JAIF reactor status reports were clearly showing this. If he didn’t believe these reports or he had some direct information that this was not true, I didn’t see any documentation to back up his assertion.


Harvey, where I am coming from is that I am a highly intelligent average citizen that is agnostic to nuclear power but highly suspicious of those humans that try to control its power. This was first played out in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The gist of this classic is not that nuclear bombs are dangerous, but the fallibility of human beings mixed with nuclear power is. Forget those who are against nuclear power itself, they will never be convinced. If you want to convince people like myself, the agnostic middle, that nuclear power is safe, you have to convince me that the people who design and deploy nuclear power are 100% competent. That’s a tall order that won’t be reached with stunts like see how this or that disaster wasn’t all that bad in the long run. We want to know that corners were not cut in the name of design cost or profit, we want to know that officials don’t lie or cover up the truth before or after the fact. [unsubstantiated personal comment/appraisal. Please re-post with authoratative references] I hope to god that these brave workers bring this under control with the least loss of life and limb. But don’t try to tell me that bad isn’t really all that bad. I’m not buying it and you only harm your credibility in the process. These reactors were old and poorly designed and clustered together in a poorly designed complex. If they do bring this under control that still must be addressed. There was a natural disaster that caused this nuclear accident but those will continue to happen on this planet and this will not be the last time or the most severe natural disaster. Not to mention the threat of attack or terrorism on a plant, which is another thing all together. Sorry for the long rant, but spinning the affect of a nuclear disaster is not the point. Avoiding the nuclear accident all together is. [unsubstantiated personal opinion/appraisal. Please re-submit with autthoratative references]



I can see how you can assert that ” these reactors are old” but what is your justification for “pooly designed”? Do you claim that clustering them was a bad design decision? If so can you honestly tell me that if they were spead out before this accident you would not be claiming that having them all over the place putting more people and land area at risk was poor design.

The area impacted by these four reactors is not much if at all greater than the area that would have been impactee by any one of them.


This is looking better thank goodness.

Japan ends water spray on No.4 reactor at troubled nuke plant 2011-03-20 11:35:42 FeedbackPrintRSS

TOKYO, March 20 (Xinhua) — Japan’s defense ministry said Sunday that it succeeded in putting water into the No. 4 reactor at the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

About 80 tons of water was believed to have been shot into the reactor’s spent fuel pool in a 70-minute mission which ended at 9: 30 a.m. local time (0030 GMT).

In a separate move, the Tokyo Fire Department shot over 2,000 tons of water into a spent fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor in an overnight mission that lasted more than 13 hours until 3:40 a.m. local time Sunday.

The cooling system was reactivated at the No. 6 reactor, thanks to restoration of electricity supply and the temperature of its overheated spent fuel pool has dropped to around 40 degrees Celsius, according to the operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The company is trying to restore electricity to the No. 1 and 2 reactors later Sunday to restart the cooling system.

The power plant, about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was stricken by catastrophic March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, triggering a series of explosion and fire at four of its six reactors following failure of their cooling function due to damaged power supply.


From the article I just posted (at the same time as your post) it would seem that problem is under control now.

BTW Barry – hope we are going to get another update tonight from your sources. These are invaluable.
I just hope you don’t collapse with fatigue – I saw you were still on the blog at 4.30am today. Wow – that is dedication. You should take a holiday when this is resolved.


Thank you Barry, your contribution is remarkable and selfless. Like you, I hope that one day an alternate, renewable resource can be found. In all likelyhood, it is right in front of our eyes and may have already been seen but not identified as such. In the interm, we have the limited choice of reducing our life style and power lust or accepting the status quo. Neither solution is fully or likely acceptable. For the short term we could close/de-commision older nuclear and coal fired plants as soon as possible and replace them with the newest generation. Of course this is expensive, but as the events show, it is less expensive than allowing things to continue as they are in terms of material cost and human suffering. Do not be hurt by your critics, they have just not thought this through as far as you have. thanks, david


Joshua, on 20 March 2011 at 7:10 AM said:


I can see how you can assert that ” these reactors are old” but what is your justification for “pooly designed”? Do you claim that clustering them was a bad design decision? If so can you honestly tell me that if they were spead out before this accident you would not be claiming that having them all over the place putting more people and land area at risk was poor design.

The area impacted by these four reactors is not much if at all greater than the area that would have been impactee by any one of them.

Hi Joshua

Industry experts are already making the case and they will continue to elaborate the case as the situation unfolds. From my understanding thus far, the GE Mk1 reactor was a robust low budget work horse reactor in its day. It wasn’t cutting edge in 1965 and its badly outdated (poorly designed) by today’s standard. They have already exceeded their 40 year design life. Many experts assert that all GE Mk1 reactors should be decommissioned rather than retro fitted and recommissioned. An analogy would be comparing the efficiency and crash safety of a 1965 car to a 2011 model. There is no comparison. The clustering of 6 reactors and 11k fuel rods into one complex was mainly done to save operational expenses. That makes sense to the bottom line. But it vastly increases the danger of one accident causing a cascading failure at the other units. If one of those units goes into meltdown, it can and almost did cause so much gamma radiation that workers could not get into the other units to save them from also melting down. It also has caused power failure and backup systems to fail throughout the plant. Which brings us to another design oversight, the proper level of redundant backup systems were not in place to deal with a large scale disaster. It has also been reported that Tepco knew before this accident that the reactors were vulnerable to this type of natural disaster, yet failed to design proper disaster strategies. This type of negligence cannot be tolerated. It has in part lead to this outcome. The saddest part for me is the negligent officials are not fighting and dying to bring this reactor under control, the low and mid level managers, firefighters, and other heroes are the ones paying the price.

All older reactors should be decommissioned immediately.

All reactors in natural disaster zones should be decommissioned.

Any new reactors should be the safest most modern reactors built in the safest places. It’s not like we don’t have a national power grid to get the power from safe locations to densely populated or danger prone areas.


Joshua wrote:
I just ran Google Translate on the document posted earlier with the radiation readings. All of the 300uSV readings are listed as WEST GATE. All of the 3000 have SECRETARY TATE KITIMOTO instead of a location. Is this a fault of automatic translation?

Drew wrote:
@Joshua, google translator fault, that’s the main gate… It’s closer to the reactors

Drew wrote:
Joshua I made a mistake that’s the main office building (事務本館北) 正門 is main gate 西門 is west gate

事務本館北 means Main Office Building (North) and that seems to be the white rectangle right in the middle of the diagram which is two buildings away to the north-west from reactor #1. (BTW, the smaller red building next to reactor #1 is the Main Office Building Annex.) The character for north doesn’t appear on the map next to the characters for “Main Office Building” but because of the high level of 3000 i suspect it is that building due to its proximity to the reactors.

This is the map showing the plan for bringing in electricity 2011031900004_2.JPG 1,002×709 pixels
from here 東京電力福島第一原発、電源引き込み工事始まる – 法と経済のジャーナル Asahi Judiciary – WEBマガジン – 朝日新聞社(Astand)


Links did not come through in previous post.

from here


If one was brutally honest TEPCO has made little real progress for the last 5 days. To find out what is going on in the buildings why don’t they take a building site crane which has a telescopic boom and mount a TV camera and other radiation sensor equipment on it and send it in over the site. They could leave it their to monitor what is going in. They could do this for each of the 4 sites. This would give them precise info, not guess work and supposition.

And if anyone thinks electric pumps which have had sea water through them are going to work when you switch the current on needs to think again. Try doing that with your hair dryer after its been in the bath!!. Too much linear thinking is going on at TEPCO. They need more PlanB’s and C’s all to be progressed at the same time.

From a risk management perspective this plant has been operating way outside its design spec for almost 2 weeks. They cant continue to be “lucky” that it remains relatively stable.


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