• The latest posting of Fukushima Daiichi parameters are quite encouraging. RPV bottom head temperature for unit #1 has dropped considerably since TEPCO effectively doubled injection flow last week, and now reads at 41oC with a sharply decreasing trend. This should keep the enclosed structure around unit #1 at a satisfactory level of humidity. Temperatures for units 2&3 RPVs are at 68oC and 62oC, respectively, and both are experiencing a constant, gradual decrease. The amount of decontaminated waste water stands at 154,000 tons, while the mass of water that remains in the four plant basements remains at 78,000 tons. No word as yet on how TEPCO plans to stanch the ingress of groundwater which is keeping the contaminated waste water volume relatively constant in the four basements. Also, area radiation levels at the plant property boundary and main gate continue to drop. The plant boundary reading is ~5 microsieverts/hr, and the main gate is ~28 microsieverts/hr. (JAIF)
  • TEPCO analyses of Cesium concentrations in the various basement sub-drains at Fukushima Daiichi are also encouraging. All drains for units 3 through 6 are below detectability (<0.03 Bq/cc). The drains attached to units 1&2 are below national standards, but detectable at roughly 1.3 Bq/cc.
  • TEPCO has more evidence that the hydrogen for unit #4’s explosion was due to unit #3 backflow during its venting on March 14. Employees have accessed the unit #4 fifth floor refueling deck and visually inspected the stored fuel bundles in the pool. All bundles appear to be intact, virtually eliminating the spent fuel pool (SPF) as the source of the explosive hydrogen volume. Visual inspection of the fourth floor, just below the
    refueling deck, revealed the ceiling appears to have been pushed upward which suggests the explosion may have started on the fourth floor and propagated upward to the fifth floor. Plus, a fifth floor air conditioning intake duct seems to have been blow outward and counter to its designed direction of flow. With its interconnected ductwork leading down to the fourth floor, the evidence further points to the blast initiating on the fourth floor. None of the fourth floor hydrogen could have come from the #4 SPF. This points to the conclusion that unit #4’s hydrogen could only have come from unit #3 through piping and ductwork interconnections, as well as auxiliary rooms common to both units being open since unit #4 was in the midst of a refueling and maintenance outage. (NHK World, JAIF, Asahi Shimbun) Asahi Shimbun unilaterally reports this runs counter to TEPCO’s original suspicion of the hydrogen coming from #4 SPF. However, we can find no record of TEPCO ever saying such a thing. There’s little doubt the false speculation came from the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman on March 16, which TEPCO immediately challenged and denied. TEPCO is clearly innocent of this informational blunder.
  • TEPCO’s Xenon gaffe of last week continues to reverberate. Please be reminded TEPCO had no reason on earth to openly speculate that the trace levels of Xenon might have come from recriticality. Why they
    made such a ridiculous statement lays beyond all logical, rational thought for a company that’s supposed to know what it is doing. Now, due to considerable government and news media pressure, TEPCO is taking costly, albeit unnecessary measures to detect recriticality on all three damaged units. They plan to install devices to constantly monitor Xenon concentrations and add several temperature monitors to more precisely follow RPV temperatures. (JAIF) Here’s the bottom line…if all three fuel cells are totally melted, the probability of recriticality was zero! Not merely unlikely, but patently impossible. Therefore, TEPCO is spending money on equipment that will never be needed…and they only have their own nuclear naivety to blame. Deplorable!
  • A new government panel has been formed to assess the health risks of 20 millisievert exposure. Nuclear Accident Minister Goshi Hosono monitored the first meeting. A new panel of independent “experts” is
    looking at the 20 millisievert level of exposure which is the government’s trigger point for mandatory evacuation, because of acknowledged distrust of government standards. The panel will hear testimony from international experts on the issue, including those critical of nuclear energy. (JAIF) Two problems here…first, the panel is charged with establishing the level of risk for 20 millisieverts. Why not keep the door open to possibly establish the level of safety? Millions of people around the world live in background levels of 50 millisieverts/yr and statistics show they have no negative health effects. The panel is clearly being told to create risk numbers using categorically flawed no-safe-level concepts. Second, using
    so-called “experts” critical of nuclear energy is tantamount to giving street-corner prophets credibility in a court of law.
  • While the decontamination and recovery planning due to Fukushima Daiichi gets heavy Press coverage, little has been posted concerning recovery efforts due to the tsunami itself beyond the impact of Fukushima…or rather the lack of recovery efforts. Millions of tons of rubble and debris continue to lay moldering and unattended along a 100 kilometer coastline covering three Prefectures; Iwate, Fukushima, and Miyagi. Out of the dozens of municipalities affected in each Prefecture, only 8 in Iwate and 7 in Miyagi
    have drawn up preliminary plans for material removal and disposal. None have plans for permanent relocation of the roughly 200,000 residents forced to flee their homes due to the huge waves, who remain refugees. The Tokyo government says they will not let people return to the devastated area because it is prone to future tsunamis, but there are no plans for construction projects for relocated residents, and no criteria for compensating people for their lost property. (NHK World)
  • In the eight months since March 11, the world is still being shown pictures of off-duty emergency workers at Fukushima being forced to sleep on floor mats and eat sub-standard foods, making it seem like TEPCO
    doesn’t really care about men working at Fukushima Daiichi. Well, that has seriously changed. The “J-Village” for off-duty workers has been dramatically upgraded with comfortable beds, modern dining hall, and even a fully-staffed medical clinic. (NHK World)
  • Japan’s supermarket chain, Aeon, has gone off the deep end. Asahi Shimbun reports Aeon will now check all marine, animal products, farm produce and rice for radioactivity, and literally “yank off the shelves” everything that registers even the slightest trace. Aeon cited growing public concern about contamination as the reason for tightening its radiation standards. The supermarket chain says it has received some 6,000 inquiries concerning radiation contamination since March, and has obviously lost its corporate mind over the issue. To date, Aeon has expunged all products of 30 suppliers from their inventory because they register at 50 Becquerels or more, which is 10 times below national  standards and barely detectable. What will happen when they find out nearly all green, leafy vegetables are naturally radioactive? What about bananas? The ramifications of Aeon’s decision should be interesting to follow, to say the least.