- The airborne activity levels inside Reactor Building #1 have decreased considerably since the six air filtration units have been operating. Workers reopened the building on Sunday and began analyzing the atmosphere with portable air samplers to check on airborne levels, make detailed radiation area scans, and examine the condition of containment water level instruments. This morning, the initial results of area (whole body) radiation levels revealed a general exposure level of 1 REM/hr., with localized “hot spots” of up to 70 REM/hr. TEPCO will use these readings as a planning base-line, and then re-scan after the containment is flooded. While it seems everyone expected a puff of airborne activity to be released when the doors were opened, monitoring devices covering all of the plant property showed no increases at all. It seems the air cleaners have done a good job.
- The temperatures and pressures inside the RPVs (reactor pressure vessels) for Units 1 & 2 continue their steady decreasing trend, so TEPCO will continue water “injections” of 8 tons/hr. and 7 tons/hr. respectively. Reactor #1 feedwater nozzle temperature has dropped to 120 oC, where it was before the “injection” flow was fluctuated last week. Temperature indications on the #3 RPV continue to climb, with the feedwater nozzle now at over 200 oC, and the bottom head at >150 oC. However, the #3 RPV pressure indication remains essentially unchanged at below atmospheric. One or both sets of detectors must be malfunctioning. Vapor pressure for ~200 oC is ~235 psi. The obvious disparity ought to be explained.
- All Japanese news media report that Strontium isotopes (Sr-89&90) were detected at three on-site sampling points on April 18. The levels warrant workers wearing full face masks when toiling in the areas from where the samples were taken. However, the wearing of full face masks was mandated for the entire power complex at the time, and it still is for many locations. Regardless, this is old news that ought to have been reported weeks ago.
- Today, NHK Japan reports NISA and the “Ministry of the Environment” are starting to analyze for surface contamination levels in the 20 km. evacuation zone. This needs to be done before tsunami debris can be removed and recovery can proceed. It seems the debris removal companies have serious concerns about getting their people contaminated. Today ~120 locations will be scanned and sampled.
- How bad was the March 11 earthquake? One very telling item has been portions of the Japanese coastline closest to the off-shore epicenter dropping more than a foot. Kyodo News reports one city, Ishinomaki, experiences knee-high waters in their near-shore streets two times a day at high tide. Also, geographic monitors indicate that Tokyo has moved nearly 4 inches west of it’s former location. Imagine the incredible forces that can move a huge land mass like Japan with such significant geological after-effects. Further, consider that the earthquake/tsunami had little or no damaging effect on the nuclear power stations on the coast. (It was the loss of power that doomed Fukushima.) The nuclear community has broadcast long and loudly, for decades, that the only buildings built to survive the worst that nature can throw at us, are nuclear power plants! This continues to be correct. Technically, all Japanese nuclear power stations need to have sufficient portable/mobile electric supplies available in order to reasonably avert another Fukushima. This either has been done, or is in the process of being done at all Japanese nuclear facilities. Plus, tsunami-mitigating sea break-walls have been constructed as an added safety factor for many of the Japanese nukes, and are planned for all of the remaining ones. Regardless, political attempts to quell public fear of radiation, and accommodate Hiroshima Syndrome-inspired “concerns”, proceeds undaunted…
- On Saturday, May 7, Asahi Shimbun reported Prime Minister Kan was only “suggesting” the shutdown of Hamaoka NPS because he does not have the legal authority to actually order it’s closing. His suggestion was due to the hypothetical 87% chance of a severe earthquake occurring sometime over the next 30 years. Kyodo News reports that the Board of Directors at Chubu Electric, Hamaoka’s operating company, has taken the Prime Minister’s suggestion as an order and decided to comply with Kan’s wishes. The Board points out that Hamaoka provides 10% of the region’s electricity, and a shutdown might make energy conservation measures (rolling blackouts) necessary this summer. Chubu Electric is also seeking new, additional sources of “thermal fuels” (mostly oil) as a replacement for the nukes. The utility has plans to replace the existing 10-15 meter Hamaoka tsunami sand dune break-wall (more than a mile long) with a concrete one. Steel-reinforced concrete buildings survived the tsunami, so the wall should, too. The utility is in the process of implementing all NISA emergency electricity requirements. Kan wants Hamaoka shut down until all of these jobs are completed. He argues that public concerns and safety must not be “compromised in the slightest”. (What about the reduced level of safety during power shortages?)NHK Japan reports Kan’s move has spawned considerable criticism from some of the major party leaders in the Japanese government. For example, the Secretary General of the Liberal Democratic Party, Nobuteru Ishihara, said he wants to confront the prime minister in the Diet itself, and ask him if he ever considered Japan’s overall energy needs before making his statement. NHK also reports nuclear opponents are expected to grill Kan on his decision to close down only Hamaoka, rather than all nukes. However, everyone wants the Prime Minister to explain his vision for how Japan will meet its mid-to-long-term energy needs with such a large power supply removed from the grid for more than a year (to build the new break-wall). Many Diet politicians feel the Prime Minister’s move was made “prematurely”.
What nearly no-one seems to consider; some researchers say the Greenland ice sheet has a chance of being gone in as little as 30 years, raising the seawater levels of the world ~23 feet. Shutting down nukes that produce no greenhouse gasses and replacing them with fossil fuels (the only rational alternative) will only speed up the demise of Greenland.
- On Sunday, NHK Japan reported on a nuclear protest concerning the Hamaoka NPS. About 1000 attended the protest to demand the utility comply with Kan’s shut-down order immediately, dismantle the three operational power plants, and replace them with conservation and renewables. It’s “shut them down at all costs”. NHK identified one student attending the rally, who said, “Demonstrators must take responsibility for the consequences of their protests if they’re successful.” Amen!