There have been but a few new developments since yesterday in the technological and radiological conditions relative to Fukushima. However, the Hiroshima Syndrome effect has amplified considerably. First, we go to Fukushima…
- The use of a silicate coagulant, injected into the gravel bed beneath the surface of the ground which surrounds the cracked concrete power cabling pit, has been successful. This specific pathway of contaminated waters getting to the sea has been blocked. However, TEPCO reports they are making efforts to see if there are other leakage paths yet undiscovered. They also have concern that the water influx into the below-surface gravel will continue, and the blockage of the pit will force the waters to migrate elsewhere. They have also checked the water level in #2 turbine building adjacent to the cracked power cabling pit. It has not raised in level since the pit’s outflow has ceased, indicating that the source of the water has not been from Unit #2 turbine building, but rather somewhere else. This writer applauds TEPCO’s current efforts in leak mitigation. I’ve been bashing them severely up until now, and it’s time to give them earned credit. Once again, it’s the operational staff that gets the job done.
- TEPCO suspects that a concentration of hydrogen has accumulated in the upper reaches of the primary containment of Unit #1.
- As a result, they are considering the injection of nitrogen into the primary containment to prevent another hydrogen explosion. There has been no actual verification of the existence of the hydrogen inside #1 containment. It is prudent speculation. Or is it? If there is a hydrogen build-up sufficient to detonate, we have a most telling example of what would probably happen. Three Mile Island! There was a hydrogen detonation inside the TMI containment building and there was absolutely no damage to the building. Another TMI memory comes immediately to mind…the infamous, fictitious “explosive hydrogen bubble” inside the reactor. Will this be yet another nuclear “oops” on TEPCO’s ever-dwindling level of credibility with the world? Before running to the Press with what amounts to pure speculation at this point, they should have verified it. The primary containment will not be compromised, no matter what happens, so make sure what your current “suspicion” is real and not imaginary. The damage, however, has already been done. The specter of another explosion like those which ripped off the exteriors of reactor buildings 1, 2 & 4, blowing apart the primary containment, has been unleashed. Once again, if TEPCO had a Public Information Officer with actual operational and/or engineering experience, this sort of public relation’s damage might be avoided.
- TEPCO will be blocking off a portion of the damaged break-wall surrounding the port-docking area on the power complex shoreline. This will be done using sandbags. It seems the tsunami broke down a portion of the break-wall.
- Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has proposed a set of emergency safety measures for all Japanese nuclear plants to implement, in order to avoid the tsunami-induced Complete Loss of AC Power (CLOP) situation which has caused the emergency at Fukushima. These improvements are designed to enable the rapid recovery of emergency cooling functions lost with a CLOP, for both the reactor(s) and spent fuel pool(s). These modifications are to be implemented as soon as practicable on every nuclear power plant in Japan. For a detailed breakdown, go to…http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/files/en20110406-1-2.pdf
Which leads us to…
Hiroshima Syndrome update –
CNN reports Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey has gone public with his intent to allegedly improve the safety of all American nuclear power plants through proposed legislation spawned by the Fukushima emergency. This is a prime example of irresponsible political opportunism, on all accounts. American nuclear plants are already safe enough…in fact way, way over-built with regard to safety because the safety regulations are all based on the fictitious no-safe-level-of-radiation notion. Further, looking at the before-quake and after-tsunami pics of Fukushima, prior to the first hydrogen explosion, we find all of the buildings were undamaged and intact. (Below, the picture at the left is before the quake, the second a few minutes after the quake, and the third several hours later after the tsunami waters receded.)
It was the loss of emergency electrical supplies that caused the emergency at Fukushima, and not a loss of any of the physical structures. All physical safety considerations were unquestionably more than adequate for an earthquake 12 times more powerful than the “design criteria” and a tsunamic surge at least 15 feet higher than the criteria. Like all nuclear plants, Fukushima was severely over-built…and survived relatively unscathed, except for the emergency power loss. Emergency power loss mitigation should be the only issue of improvement. The NISA proposals (above) will surely reduce the likelihood of future CLOP situations to nearly-zero! America should take serious note of this, because our legislative methodology relative to nuclear safety promises a long, laborious time frame before anything will be done, whether reasonable and unreasonable in nature. Every political opportunist like Markey will want to add their two cents with “further safety improvements” as well, and stretch out the course of events over a ridiculous and needless amount of time. Markey knows this, so he is also proposing a moratorium on new nuclear plant construction until the politicized safety modifications are in place and legally mandated. Did I mention that Markey has been one of the staunchest nuclear opponents in Congress since he was first elected? If we can use the political after-shocks following Three Mile Island as an example, the moratorium on new nuclear construction will last years! All the while, the fossil fueled power plants the new nukes should have replaced will puke out trillions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses, and produce billions of tonnes of radioactive fly ash. But, anti-nuclear political opportunists don’t think this way. They have a “let’s make political hay while the nuclear sun shines” agenda.
- The Hiroshima Syndrome has spawned governmental over-reactions throughout Asia and Europe. In Asia, governments in India, South Korea, China, and Australia have generated political statements to their public concerning the fear of airborne contamination reaching their shores, and radioactive foods coming from Japan. China has also said they are considering cutting back on some, if not all, of their plans to build nukes for their future power needs. Though unsaid, “no-nukes” means more coal-fired, greenhouse gas-belching, radioactive fly ash-producing electrical generation from China.
- The tendrils of the Hiroshima Syndrome are working their way around the world. Many nations have advised their citizens to evacuate some of Japan’s cities (e.g. Tokyo), and in some cases the whole country. These nations include the United States, Sweden, Norway, Germany, China and Indonesia. Why? Are their people actually at risk? No! These are politically motivated actions that cater to their citizen’s widespread phobic fears of radiation relative to levels of exposure that have never hurt anyone and never will.
- Perhaps the worst example is Germany. Asahi Shimbun reports that immediately following the onset of the Fukushima emergency, German news media irresponsibly exploited the situation with ridiculously fearful headlines such as “Tokyo faces fear of death”, with the attendant article saying 40 million Japanese were placed in mortal risk. Several days later another German paper reported that “Many foreigners are leaving Tokyo. Even the Japanese are preparing to leave.” Then came the worst of all, “Armed tanks of the Self-Defense Forces appeared (near the disaster-struck areas). The government has begun to prepare for panic among the public,” which was a total fabrication (i.e. lie). This spurned the German government to move their consulate from Tokyo to Osaka, and eventually to Kobe. Germany is the only foreign consulate in Tokyo to do such a thing. To show the ridiculous nature of the official German response, Asahi reports the following, “An executive of a Japanese subsidiary of a German company said, ‘The German media is exaggerating,’ but added, ‘Since the Chernobyl accident, Germans have become very sensitive about nuclear accidents. Even though the amounts were minimal, the media filed daily reports about mushrooms that contained radioactive materials. The latest reports are based on that history.'”The Hiroshima Syndrome infects the world. It’s remediation is an international necessity.
Oh yes…almost forgot…reactor pressures and temperatures continue to drop in Unit 1, 2 & 3 reactors, cooling water flows to the reactors continue, as do the periodic replenishments of the four spent fuel pools….as the decay heat levels continue to inch lower and lower.
*Addendum* – Emailer “Dan” has done a rather detailed calculation of the total number of becquerels we have with TEPCO’s release of the low contamination water to the sea, and the relative number of bananas of equivalent becquerels. The TEPCO release was/is about 1,725 trillion becquerels. This would be the same number of becquerels consumed by the human race in three weeks if everyone ate a banana every day. Thanks, Dan. Good stuff!