Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fukushima Updates May 25: A Tragedy of Epic Proportions

Here are the main points derived from the news articles excerpted below:

1. Fukushima Containment Vessels are Leaking (where we do not know but we can assume radiation is leaking into ground water, into the sea, and into the air). Already over 11,500 tonnes of radioactive water has been released into the ocean

2. TEPCO currently has no way of storing all the radioactive water accumulating at the site

3. TEPCO is still not releasing needed information about radiation at the plant, especially pertaining to plutonium and uranium

4. Radiation levels remain so high at the plant that workers can only spend minutes near reactors (and reactor #1 is probably too hot for workers to near at all). Cesium levels are increasing over reactor #1

5. Only 10% of plant workers have been tested for internal radiation

6. "When officials in Fukushima prefecture discovered 75% of the region's school sites had radiation levels above the existing safety standard of one millisievert a year, they upped the standard to 20 millisieverts a year, the maximum annual exposure allowed German nuclear workers" (Goodspeed, 2011)

7. Japan is experiencing an energy crisis: only about a third of the 54 nuclear reactors are operating.To avoid crippling power shortages, Japan must cut energy consumption by almost 20%..." (Goodspeed, 2011)

CONCLUSIONS: The situation at the plants is out of control. Radiation may rise to the point that workers cannot function at the plant. Japan is sacrificing its children. Japan's economy cannot function as it did prior to the disaster because of massive energy shortages. This is a tragedy of EPIC PROPORTIONS.


Fukushima Containment Vessels May Be Leaking, Tepco Says. May 25, 2011, 2:47 AM EDT
By Yuji Okada and Tsuyoshi Inajima

"May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the containment chambers of damaged reactors at its Fukushima nuclear plant were likely breached, identifying additional source of radiation leaks that may exceed Chernobyl.

"Computer simulations of the meltdowns of three reactors in March indicates holes formed in chambers, the company known as Tepco said in a report.

"The analysis confirms what independent researchers have said occurred after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit the plant. The report to the government raises fresh questions about how Tepco, which took more than two months to acknowledge fuel rods had melted, is handling the crisis, a nuclear researcher said.

“Unfortunately I can’t find any consistency in the report,” Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University, said by phone. “Tepco hasn’t released sufficient radionuclide analysis of leaked contaminated water. Now they’ve confirmed fuel rods melted, they should also release more data including plutonium and uranium readings.”

"Containment chambers surround the reactor vessel, which holds the fuel rods, and are meant to stop radiation and coolant leaks in the case of overheating...."


NHK: "TEPCO: reactor damage includes holes" May 25

"The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says data analyses suggest damage to its reactors may have caused cracks and openings in the reactor containment vessels equivalent to a 10-centimeter hole.

"Reactors 1 through 3 at the plant suffered nuclear fuel meltdowns after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. This is likely to have created holes and cracks at the bottom of the pressure vessels protecting the reactor cores and damaged the containment vessels.

"Massive amounts of highly radioactive water also leaked from the structures.

"Tokyo Electric Power Company analyzed the changes in pressure levels inside the pressure and containment vessels to gauge the scope of the damage.

"TEPCO said the analyses show that holes in the Number 1 reactor containment vessel amounting to 3 centimeters in total may have formed 18 hours after the quake. It said that may have expanded to 7 centimeters at least 50 hours after the quake.

"The utility said holes and cracks equivalent to 10 centimeters in diameter may have formed in the Number 2 reactor's containment vessel about 21 hours after the quake. It said a similar amount of holes could have been created in the suppression pool chamber by an explosion heard coming from there on March 15th.

"TEPCO said these results were obtained through data calculations, and that it has yet to confirm whether such holes actually exist.


National Post (f/k/a The Financial Post) (Canada). May 21, 2011 Saturday National Edition

"A Perilous future; Nuclear catastrophe will haunt Japan for years to come"

BYLINE: Peter Goodspeed, National Post

"Radioactive isotopes have spewed into the air, contaminated the soil and been flushed into the sea, but the threat of even more dangerous exposures remains as nuclear experts try to determine the full extent of the damage.

"Radiation levels in the three damaged reactors are so high emergency crews can only spend a few minutes at a time near the buildings. They have been able to enter only two of the damaged structures to restart monitoring equipment...

"...If everything goes smoothly, the reactors could reach "cold shutdown" by early next year.

"But that timetable depends on how badly damaged the reactors are and how well the company manages to contain thousands of tonnes of contaminated water.

"The reactors are being cooled by circulating water that had leaked into the reactor containment vessels or basement areas after it has been cooled with heat exchangers.

"The aim is to extract hot water and inject chilled decontaminated water into the chamber containing the reactor fuel rods.

"To do this, TEPCO is building tanks to store up to 16,000 tonnes of contaminated water a month.

"It has already released 11,500 tonnes of the water into the ocean. Last Saturday, it discovered a further 3,000 tonnes that had apparently leaked from the damaged containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor into underground areas of the reactor building.

"Working with and storing so much radioactive water may slow repair work considerably.

"Even after TEPCO achieves a cold shutdown, it may take decades to decontaminate the plant….

"Even now, two months later, only 10% of the plant's workers have been tested for internal radiation exposure caused by inhaling or ingesting radioactive materials. That's because most of the testing equipment is inside the contaminated buildings….

"…when officials in Fukushima prefecture discovered 75% of the region's school sites had radiation levels above the existing safety standard of one millisievert a year, they upped the standard to 20 millisieverts a year, the maximum annual exposure allowed German nuclear workers….

"…But the combination of the Fukushima disaster and emergency inspections of existing nuclear plants has created a new energy crisis -only about a third of the 54 nuclear reactors are operating.

"To avoid crippling power shortages, Japan must cut energy consumption by almost 20%..."


High levels of cesium detected above No.1 reactor

"The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the density of radioactive cesium above the No.1 reactor is 18 times the permissible level for the edge of the plant's compound.

"Large amounts of radioactive substances have been released into the air since reactor cores and buildings were damaged, but measurements were not available.

"On Sunday, Tokyo Electric Power Company began measuring the density of radioactive elements above the No.1 and No.4 reactors....

"TEPCO detected 360 becquerels of cesium-134 per cubic meter above the No.1 reactor, where most of the fuel rods are believed to have melted. The amount is 18 times the allowable limit for the plant's perimeter.

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