Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fukushima Evacuations Due to Heavy Rain: Daiichi Still Looking Steamy

Heavy rains led to evacuation orders in Fukushima, as reported by The Japan Times July 18, 2017:
Evacuations ordered as heavy rains lash Fukushima and Niigata prefectures Kyodo Jul 18, 2017
Heavy rains lashed Fukushima and Niigata prefectures on Tuesday, prompting evacuation orders in some areas amid fears of flooding.  The town of Tadami in western Fukushima ordered over 4,300 residents to evacuate, warning against river flooding and landslides. A local train service was partially suspended, according to East Japan Railway Co.
I saw two trucks parked at the Futaba intersection by the Fukushima Daiichi plant a few days ago, full of small rock and sand. My guess is that they were positioned for any structural collapse occurring as a result of the heavy rain.

I haven't seen any structural collapses, although the plant has looked especially steamy recently, even before the heavy rains began.

I noted a few days ago (here) that the chairman of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) was quoted by The Japan Times (here) as expressing "a sense of danger" regarding Fukushima. He also asserted that TEPCO was failing to take the necessary initiative toward decommissioning the plant.

Under the best case scenario, decommissioning Fukushima is going to be a never-ending, dystopic public works project aimed at managing radioactive flows from the plant.

Under the worst case scenario, the plant collapses in on itself from liquefaction and all the fuel at the site becomes inaccessible, potentially sub-critical or worse. See this account:
Nagata, K. (2013, August 20). TEPCO yet to track groundwater paths. Liquefaction threat adds to Fukushima ills. The Japan Times. Available

Fukushima should be a reminder of our HUBRIS, the hubris of people organized into corporations and nation states who have imposed a now-aging nuclear apparatus upon us all that is statistically likely to produce a major (Chernobyl or Fukushima style) accident every 10 to 20 years:
J. Lelieveld, D. Kunkel, M. G. Lawrence. Global risk of radioactive fallout after major nuclear reactor accidents. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2012; 12 (9): 4245 DOI: 10.5194/acp-12-4245-2012
The nuclear apparatus is afflicted by many design flaws - I would argue the entire enterprise is flawed.  In particular, nuclear plants are frighteningly vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding and power interruptions and now have been revealed to be susceptible to nuclear hacking through vulnerabilities in control systems:
Matthew Daly (2017, July 11). Perry: Threat to US nuclear reactors 'real,' ongoing. 
Fukushima demonstrates that we are completely ill-equipped to handle major nuclear emergencies.

The Fukushima 50 and plant manager who stayed were heroic and probably gave their lives trying to contain what cannot be contained.

I wonder whether the Fukushima Daiichi plant workers were surprised when reactor 1 exploded, their ideology betrayed in this violent act, or whether they secretly always feared the worst based on their daily experiences.

Fukushima Daiichi July 20, 2017 3:47