At the Fukushima emergency site since Friday…

  • Unit #1 reactor temperature at the feedwater nozzle has risen to 142 oC since Friday, when the 10 ton per hour injection rate (for the two previous days) was lowered to the prior 6 tons per hour rate. Reactor pressure, which had increased slightly at the end of the 48 hour increase in water insertion, has dropped to ~ 63 psi. #1 water level indications remain unchanged. The above parameters indicate, to this writer, a full reactor vessel, with completely unreliable water level monitors. They may well have been compromised due to severe overheating at some point during the first few days of the emergency.

    Units 2 & 3 RPV temperatures and pressures continue to decrease. The feedwater nozzle temp. on unit 3 is now at 90 o C, which is well below the cold shutdown temperature criteria. Bottom of reactor temps on all three RPVs is not currently available.

  • TEPCO has reduced it’s estimated fuel damage level for reactor #1 from 70% down to 55%. They say the reduction is due to recalculation.
  • JAIF reports that TEPCO plans on filling the primary containments of units 1, 2 & 3. It seems this is planned in order to cool the vessels to some degree, but mostly to provide additional shielding around the fuel cell portion of the reactor vessels and lower the whole body exposure levels inside the rest of the building. Please be reminded that a foot of water reduces radiation fields by a factor of 10.
  • TEPCO reports it is installing an “exhauster” to the interior of the damaged Unit #1 reactor building in order to improve the working conditions. It seems the exhauster is some sort of portable air cleaning technology that will strip the air of radioactive contaminants. Kyodo News reports there will be four units installed to filter the internal air.
  • TEPCO reports there are now 1000 workers at Fukushima Daiichi, and they plan on having about 3,000 at some point in the future. By having three times the current number of workers, the radiation exposures to each individual should be lowered because each person will spend less time in higher radiation areas. Collective doses will not drop, but individual doses will. But no women. Since March 23, when it was discovered that a second woman had received an exposure level in excess of the emergency worker limit, TEPCO has not allowed any women to work at Fukushima Daiichi. No specific reason for banning women from the work effort was given, other than their gender. They really like shooting themselves in the foot, don’t they?
  • TEPCO has committed to building a 12 meter high stone levee around the Daiichi power station in order to protect it from an unlikely, but not impossible future tsunami. The main concern is a report out of Japan that an 8.0 Richter scale earthquake/aftershock is possible, and could spawn another tsunami of huge proportions. When this will happen is not reported.
  • The tunnel accesses for Unit 2 & 3 turbine buildings will have concrete poured into them to prevent possible radioactive leaks to the sea. NHK News says the accesses will be filled, TEPCO says they will be blockaded similar to Unit #4, and JAIF says they will be reinforced to keep cracks from forming.
  • As soon as debris removal permits, a steel pillar will be erected beneath spent fuel pool #4 in order to reinforce it. While TEPCO has recently reported there has been no compromise of the spent fuel pool’s integrity, the hydrogen explosion may have weakened the steel reinforced concrete supports beneath the pool. The concern seems to be the above-reported 8.0 earthquake possibility.

Hiroshima Syndrome-related political news items since Friday…

  • A TEPCO Vice President, at a village meeting in Fukushima Prefecture, was asked whether or not the nuclear emergency was a “man-made disaster”. He responded, as a personal opinion, that he felt it was in fact a man-made disaster.

    Personal, speculative statements of this sort should be avoided, because this is the sort of “juicy” quote that gets broadcast all over the world. Actually, it sounds like he was echoing our next item…

  • In a related report from NHK News, Prime Minister Kan has gone on record that TEPCO failed to “fully address nuclear safety issues that came to light before March 11.” He added that this official position is based on findings that had come from “previous accidents and warnings” that TEPCO had not heeded. He did not elaborate on what previous accidents he was referring to, nor what the previous findings may have been. However, a most probable reason for Kan’s statement follows…
  • JAIF reports the Japanese government has denied TEPCO’s request for assistance in paying out compensations to the displaced people from the 20 kilometer no-entry zone around Fukushima Daiichi. TEPCO has requested the assistance saying Japan’s laws allow for government compensatory aid in exceptionally massive national disasters. Asahi Shimbun reports the law states operators of industrial facilities are exempt from liability for off-site damages with nuclear accidents caused by “an extremely large-scale act of god.” However, Prime Minister Kan’s regime has denied that Fukushima Daiichi qualifies because the emergency cannot be classified as something unexpected. In other words, the quake/tsunami, and the resulting loss of power accident of March 11 should not have surprised anyone…it was expected. Never mind that the 45 foot high tsunami was unique to recorded history. This sort of thing happens rather regularly, it seems.

    Later in Kan’s statement, he appears to contradict himself, “The government has been promoting nuclear power generation as a national policy and cannot escape from the responsibility.” Then he tries to wiggle out by adding, “(In this case) the government intends to assume responsibility for making sure the payments are made appropriately.” Kan then promised the Lower House that he will personally insure that adequate compensation will be paid to all victims of the earthquake and tsunami, because it is a government responsibility to do this in cases of massive, unexpected national disaster….except for the nuclear emergency, of course. So how can Fukushima be an unexpected national disaster one moment, and a not-unexpected disaster in the next?

  • It looks like Kan’s government is doing it’s best to divorce itself completely from TEPCO, and also deny any responsibility relative to nuclear emergencies. The Soviet government was brought to its knees over Chernobyl, and Kan does not want it to happen with the Japanese government. He and his supporters have panicked and making statements that do more harm than good. Regardless, nuclear emergency hindsight always seems to be twisted in favor of the notion that nuclear power plants must be built to a level of perfection not demanded of any other human endeavor. This includes the ability to survive an “act of god” unscathed.
  • In another example of irrational panic, NHK News reports a small group of TEPCO share-owners have petitioned the company to shut down all of their nuclear facilities, including two multi-unit stations which are operating safely. They say that fixes to nuclear plants after severe accidents are not the issue. Each accident is a different scenario from all others that have occurred previously, so we cannot anticipate how another will occur. This is another old rhetorical gimmick…I call it the “we will never know enough” fallacy.

Sunday, Kyodo News printed an editorial by G. Balachandran, of India. While he ultimately calls for the Indian government to be stricter on nuclear safety issues, he seems to take a surprisingly rational approach to Fukushima. He acknowledges that the quake and tsunami themselves did no apparent structural damage to any of the buildings at Daiichi. He adds that none of the 14 nuclear power stations along the Eastern coast of Japan show any structural damage either, unlike nearly all of the other buildings along the “ground zero” coastline not built to nuclear standards. In addition, the numerous earthquakes common to Japan did not seem to lower the integrity of any of the nuclear power plant structures. He concludes that there is no reason to doubt the ability of nuclear plants to survive the impacts of earthquakes and tsunamis. Balachandran blames the Fukushima emergency on a lack of strict government regulatory pressure to keep nuclear plant systems as close to state-of-the-art as possible. Other countries have had portable emergency electricity generators available in the unlikely event of emergency diesel failure for a decade or more (like the USA), but Japan’s regulatory agency did not mandate such for all Japanese nuclear plants until after the accident occurred. He concludes by asking the Indian government to take a firmer, more strict control of nuclear safety innovations than the Japanese government did.

In the interest of “balancing” the above, Kyodo News gives full license to nuclear energy naysayers and their terrifying prophecies, in another Sunday editorial written by anti-nuclear author A.V. Yablokav. Yablokav is the creator of the 985,000 Chernobyl cancer death fiction. He cites Chris Busby of The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), which bases all their radiation cancer predictions on the unrealistic concept that low radiation exposures are actually more dangerous than high exposures, called the Petkau effect. Busby predicts that the radioactivity already released from Fukushima Daiichi will cause 400,000 cancers over the next 50 years. More releases will mean more cancers, of course. In order to mitigate these effects, Yablokav recommends an immediate expansion of the no-entry zone to 50 kilometers, have all evacuees checked for radiation every week for the rest of their lives, and build new hospitals to accommodate the expected 8,000 to 10,000 cancers per year from Fukushima Daiichi.

Please note that the cancer latency period generally believed to be 20-30 years by the international medical community is arbitrarily stretched to a ridiculous level by Busby and Yablokav. This seems a clear acknowledgment to the “we really don’t know the future effects of radiation exposures” propaganda inflicted on the world by rhetorically unethical prophets of nuclear energy doom. Actually, we really don’t know the dangerous future effects of the Hiroshima Syndrome.