Sunday, March 13, 2011

Problems plague Fukushima nuclear plants


UPDATE 10:00 PM 2000 PST
SECOND Fukushima Explosion: Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked By Hydrogen Explosion (this blog, 3/13/11)

All Things Nuclear - Sunday Update on Fukushima Reactors (MARCH 13, 2011)

As of 7 pm EDT Sunday 3/13/11 -
We reported earlier about the situation at Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor Unit 1. The nuclear crisis in Japan took a turn for the worse as serious problems developed in reactor Unit 3.

Officials from Tokyo Electric reported that after multiple cooling system failures, the water level in the Unit 3 reactor vessel dropped 3 meters (nearly 10 feet), uncovering approximately 90 percent of the fuel in the reactor core. Authorities were able to inject cooling water with a fire pump after reducing the containment pressure by a controlled venting of radioactive gas... more

Ace Hoffman's blog -- mostly about nukes - This blog contains essays written by Ace Hoffman, who has been observing the follies of the nuclear industry since approximately the early 1970s
Sunday, March 13, 2011 - Meltdowns and false assurances...

If you think things are getting better in Japan, find another news source...

"We're still expecting to see another 7 to 8 earthquake..." -- expert interviewed by the BBC just now. He stated that at least one aftershock is usually within a digit of the main quake, although this main quake was the fifth largest ever recorded, so historic data are rare. Anything could happen.

So every nuclear reactor in Japan that isn't in dire trouble already, might be at any moment. A least three nuclear reactors in Japan have been ruined permanently, two of which have had "partial" fuel melts, many are releasing unmeasured volumes of radiation into the air and water, and the nuclear industry just watches and assures us they are "clean and green" and -- oh look, those highly skilled workers (who don't know when to call in the bucket brigade) may have managed to prevent a catastrophic explosion / meltdown!

(Note: That explosion yesterday at Fukushima 1 was NOT the reactor pressure vessel exploding, which may yet happen and if it does, that could start spent fuel pool fires and additional meltdowns of nearby reactors.)

There have been more than 200 earthquakes of 5.0 or greater in the area recently, and more than 20 above 6.0. "NO one can predict earthquakes" added the expert.

Below are some recent communications from the BBC, followed by a comment in the New York Times by former NRC commissioner Nils Diaz, an apologist for the nuclear industry... more

BBC: Japan crisis 'worst since WWII'

Two days after the alarm was first raised about safety at Fukushima Daiichi plant, uncertainty still surrounds the situation on the ground and the status of the three reactors that were functioning at the time of Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

It appears that a partial meltdown did occur in reactor 1.

On Sunday, officials said the same thing was suspected in reactor 3 - although later, they appeared to retract this statement.

What is certain is that engineers are still struggling to pump enough water past the reactors to keep the cores cool...

...Although the term "meltdown" is hugely emotive, the main threat to the public from nuclear accidents has been through plumes of radioactive gas rising into the air.

In both the Chernobyl accident of 1986 and the UK's Windscale fire of 1957, reactor components smouldered for days - in the case of Chernobyl, preceded by an explosive release of gas.

This meant radioactive substances could be carried huge distances depending on the vagaries of the wind - in the case of Chernobyl, initial detection was in Sweden, more than 1,000km (620 miles) away.

This type of explosive release has not happened at Fukushima
{so far!},
nor have there been reports of fires - meaning it is unlikely that contamination will go further than the immediate vicinity...

BBC: What went wrong at Fukushima?

Officials in Japan are scrambling to cool a second nuclear reactor at Fukushima 1 power plant following a huge blast on Saturday.

The explosion blew apart the building housing reactor No. 1, where technicians had been venting steam. Reactor No. 3 is now the subject of concern and a state of emergency has been declared.

Cooling systems to both reactors failed after the 8.9-magnitude quake struck off the north-east coast on Friday.

A state of emergency has also been declared at a second nuclear facility, at Onagawa, after excessive radiation levels were recorded. But Japan's nuclear energy agency said the rise in local radiation levels might have been caused by the Fukushima leak... Japan's nuclear fears intensify at two Fukushima power stations

Authorities scramble to control overheating reactors at one plant, as state of emergency declared at second nearby

Fears of a major nuclear accident in Japan have intensified as authorities scramble to bring under control several overheating reactors at one power station, and declared a state of emergency at another, where radiation levels soared above normal limits.

Workers at the Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant in the north-east of the country pumped seawater into three reactors in a last-ditch attempt to make them safe after emergency cooling systems failed to stabilise the radioactive cores...

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) - - -

Problems still plague Fukushima nuclear plants

"Cooling system problems continue to plague two nuclear plants in earthquake-hit Fukushima Prefecture.

"The level of coolant water in the Number Three reactor at the Fukushima Number One power plant dropped on Sunday, leaving the fuel rods exposed by two meters. The situation continued for at least until 3pm, possibly causing a partial melting of the rods.

"As a result, masses of hydrogen gas have accumulated in the inside top of the reactor building. The gas may cause an explosion similar to that which occurred at the Number One reactor on Saturday...

"The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the amount of seawater should entirely fill the reactor structure, and that the building should be safe as long as the water flow continues."

- - whats happening with this? - they are contaminating seawater?

Evacuation advised for 80,0000 near nuclear plants

Fukushima prefectural government says on Sunday 70,000 to 80,000 people living near the Fukushima No.1 and No.2 Nuclear Plants are subject to an evacuation advisory.

They live in 10 cities and towns near the nuclear plants including Minamisouma-city, Tamura-city, and 8 towns.

About 62,000 people are confirmed to have already evacuated.

The prefectural authorities plan to help evacuate those remaining in the area.
Sunday, March 13, 2011 16:35 +0900 (JST)

Radiation screening to start

"Health authorities in the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima will conduct radiation screening for residents who lived near the prefecture's quake-hit nuclear plant...

"On Sunday the prefecture confirmed 19 people had suffered radiation exposure, bringing the total to 22. Authorities deny the victims' health is at risk."
Sunday, March 13, 2011 18:59 +0900 (JST)

-- no level of exposure is safe!

See also:

fallout alert (this blog, 3/13/11)

Japan nuclear power plant - blast, partial meltdown (this blog, 3/12/11)

Nuclear Power Kills; here's how (this blog, 3/12/11)

Nuclear Crisis at Fukushima (this blog, 3/11/11)

ring of fire

GOOGLE SEARCH LATEST NEWS FOR "Fukushima nuclear plant"

NHK WORLD English (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

UPDATE 10:00 PM 2000 PST
SECOND Fukushima Explosion: Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked By Hydrogen Explosion (this blog, 3/13/11)


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