A new earthquake stuck central Japan last night, epicentered about 150 km. north of Tokyo, with a 6.6 rating on the Richter scale. This resulted in losing external power to Fukushima Daiichi for about 50 minutes before it was restored. As a result, cooling water flows to all three reactors of concern were interrupted, but resumed immediately upon restoration of power. Fukushima Daiichi is about 70 km. from the earthquake's epicenter. There is no word on whether or not the new earthquake is connected to the March 11 quake.
TEPCO reports their intentional, low-activity waste water discharge is completed. Also, the discharge of ~1400 tons of water from Unit 5 & 6 is completed. Before they begin turbine basement water transfers to the waste tank, TEPCO will verify if the tank is really empty. They need every last bit of storage volume they can get.
A massive barge/tanker will be shipped via sea from southern Japan to Fukushima Daiichi, later this week. This ultra-modern barge is bigger than the combined capacity of both US Navy barges supplying freshwater replenishment to the power complex. It will be used for storage of turbine basement waters, along with the tanks and condensers inside the plant.
TEPCO analyses of the off shore sampling points reveals that all I-131 contamination levels have dropped considerably at the four near-shore locations, since the last report two days ago. The six 15 km. sampling locations also reveal a considerable decrease, with three of the locations now at or below the 0.04 bq/cc health standard. The sealing of the infamous power cabling pit crack has certainly contributed to the decreases, but the efforts to contain the outflow of contamination by erecting barricades between the port/docking area and the sea have also been helpful.
MEXT's sampling locations 30 km. from the shore have shown also shown decreases in I-131 concentrations, but now 4 of the surface locations north and northeast of Fukushima Daiichi no longer show any I-131. In addition, eight of the 10 deep water samples are totally clean, but the two due south of Fukushima Daiichi continue to show I-131 levels above the health standard.
Even with the 50 minute interruption of cooling flows, the temperature and pressure readouts of Unit 1, 2 & 3 reactors have dropped since yesterday, except for Unit #3 feedwater nozzle temperature, which is unchanged.
TEPCO has acknowledged the NISA reprimand for Health Physics air and water sampling mistakes, made April 1. TEPCO has made all upgrades in sample gathering and analytical techniques. This is yet another example of the advantages of a self-regulating nuclear community. It should be noted that while NISA is a government-funded agency, it operates in a realm of relative independence from political machinations within the government itself.
In typical Japanese gestures of abeyance, the president of TEPCO and NISA have issued formal apologies to the people of Japan for the nuclear emergency at Fukushima Daiichi.
Asahi Shimbun today reports good news for some of the Fukushima evacuees. Since last Sunday, 14 chefs from such big-name eateries in Tokyo and Osaka as La Tour d'Argent and L'osier, have taken turns, in pairs, to serve french cuisine to those who have left the evacuation zone. But don't let me tell you about it, click on the link for yourself...
Finally, MIT published a brief explanation of how regulatory standards are set by the government. This report is based entirely on the Linear, No Threshold model used by the government. Radiation hormesis is thus not mentioned, I assume because the American government (and all other world governments) refuse to acknowledge it. Regardless, the report shows the ultra conservatism used in setting radiation and contamination standards...
http://mitnse.com/ (April 7 report)
Why don't the governments of the world use radiation hormesis to set the standards? Politics! As said here before, political decisions are predicated on what the politicos perceive as the beliefs of the majority. Since TMI, the world's public has been conditioned to believe there is no absolutely safe level of radiation exposure. Radiation hormesis entirely contradicts this belief, thus the politicians have no interest in changing anything. If they did, the perceived public uproar would be politically deafening. Counter-intuitive realities have a way of doing that. Until the actuality of radiation hormesis becomes public knowledge, governments of the world will continue to needlessly frighten their citizens with no-safe-level-based standards.
Unit 1 reactor temperatures and pressures has risen slightly since yesterday, but not enough to cause alarm.
Unit 2 & 3 reactor pressures and temperatures have continued to slowly drop. The two temperature readings on Unit 3 are 97 C at the upper feedwater nozzle and 107 C at the bottom of the reactor vessel (IAEA). In a few days, both should be below the 95 C criteria for cold shutdown condition. It will be interesting to see what occurs at that point.
Pressure in the unit 1 primary containment is above atmospheric, probably due to the nitrogen injection, which seems to be continuing. Pressures in the 2 & 3 containments remain at atmospheric.
200 tons of low activity waste water remains to be discharged to the sea. This will be finished today and the storage of waste waters from the turbine basements can resume. It is estimated that there is 50,000 tons of water that needs to be removed from the 4 basements. TEPCO says they do not have sufficient storage capacity for all of it, so they are pursuing bringing in as many portable tanks as necessary to store all of the waters.
Heavy, remote-controlled equipment has started to remove the debris from the three reactor buildings that had their external walls and roofs blown off by hydrogen explosions. All debris will be stored in safe locations at the plant site. Will the debris be sprayed with the previously reported suppressant resin and stored under plastic sheeting?
To continue one of yesterday's stories, I checked a listing of what may well be the only locations in Japan that continually monitor environmental radiation levels, for an indication of actual natural background levels. All of them are on the sea coasts of Japan. Why? Because they are all nuclear power stations. Geologically and geographically, inland levels are always higher than sea coast levels, plus nuclear plants are never built in urban areas where building materials would raise the detected levels. Regardless, six of the locations routinely have natural background levels above the “0.05-0.1” microsievert/hr range MEXT says is typical for Japan. The highest is 0.159 microsievert/hr level at Kashiwazaki Karira nuclear power station. Could yesterday's higher reported levels like the 0.42 microsievert/hr level reported at Fukushima City be typical background for them, and not due to the Fukushima emergency? Regardless, IAEA reports that gamma doses within the 30 km emergency radius around Daiichi are decreasing, and gamma doses measured daily in all 47 prefectures in Japan “tend to decrease”.
The Japanese Embassy in Beijing, has asked the Chinese to base their actions relative to Fukushima on “rationality and scientific findings”, and not on alleged public concerns about food contamination. Yesterday, China banned all foods imported from 11 Japanese Prefectures, including Tokyo which is more than 200 kilometers from Fukushima. China did this because of reports of trivial, non-health-threatening levels of contamination measured in foods from ten of the prefectures (except Fukushima prefecture, of course). Irrational fear of radiation is a prime example of the Hiroshima Syndrome at work in China.
NHK Japan reports what might be the first anti-nuclear demonstration since March 11 took place yesterday in Tokyo. Demonstrators demanded the immediate and permanent shutdown of all nuclear plants in Japan. This demonstration has been planned for over a week by anti-nuclear groups from 8 Prefectures across Japan. NHK estimates there were about 2,000 protestors...out of 127 million people. This reflects a CBC article more than 2 weeks ago where it was reported that most people in Hiroshima were quite unconcerned about what was happening at Fukushima. They felt all the hoopla about Fukushima was a terrible over-reaction. It took the CBC reporter three days to find what might be the only anti-nuclear group in Hiroshima, which had a membership of 20 citizens (out of 1.1 million). Interesting, eh?
Did TEPCO Compromise Safety for Money at Daiichi?
This morning, TEPCO released data showing the height of the tsunamic surge which occurred March 11, at both the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power stations. Numerous news sources inside and outside Japan, as well as some so-called experts, have stated that the Daiichi nuclear plants had not been upgraded to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis like Daini had been upgraded, in order for TEPCO to save money. The so-called “proof” is that Daini suffered little or no damage and no nuclear emergency, while the same quake/tsunami resulted in the Daiichi emergency. The new tsunami data places these statements in severe question.
As it turns out, the tsunamic surge at Daiichi was about 15 meters (over 46 feet) which swamped all power plant structures except the Reactor Buildings. Units 1 – 4 were subjected to an “inundation depth” of more than 15 ft. (whatever that means) These numbers come from high water marks left by the tsunami on Unit 2 reactor building, and a cell phone video made by one of the plant's workers. It seems the other two units at Daiichi were also inundated, but to a lesser degree, based on high water marks on their reactor buildings. This means that the enormous surge probably reached the emergency diesels of Units 5 & 6, even though the plant buildings are 10-15 feet further above the shoreline. At least one of the Unit 5 & 6 diesels started and operated sufficiently to prevent a complete loss of power accident the two units. This was with a tsunamic surge the diesels were supposedly not built to survive...but one did! Now, moving to the Daini tsunamic surge...it is estimated that the Daini surge was between 6.5 and 7 meters. This was also greater than the “design criteria” of a slightly less than 6 meter surge (18 feet), but the power station has survived quite well. Regardless, the tsunami at Daini was roughly half as deep and several times less powerful than Daiichi's tsunamic surge. This makes the “TEPCO compromised Daiichi safety to save money” notions questionable, at best.
The new data also shows that even though the 10 nuclear plants at the two stations were not “designed” to survive such an extreme natural threat, their actual ability to survive was far, far greater than their “design criteria”. “Design criteria” are the minimum technical standards any builder must meet or exceed in order to be hired for the job. With nuclear plants, these minimum criteria are always exceeded...always! How much? Before Fukushima, it was mostly speculation, backed by sound engineering assumption. With Fukushima, mother nature has given us an inadvertent test of the exceptional capacity for nuclear plants to survive the worst mother nature can throw at them. Hopefully, there will be no entombment at Fukushima, so that experts can perform detailed analyses of the plant structures and find out the technical truth of Fukushima's level of safety. It took five years to discover that TMI was a severe meltdown, and thirty years for the NRC to admit it. With Japan's nuclear community, we would hope to get the truth much. much sooner.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry has added to the previous official reprimands directed toward western news media sources. Asahi Shimbun reports “The Foreign Ministry on Thursday blasted the foreign media for 'excessive' reportage on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, asking them to be more objective in their coverage.” The Ministry requested that all incorrect and/or exaggerated information be corrected by the media. Asahi correctly points out that much of the more irresponsible reporting is spread quickly between media outlets, and the spread is accelerated by the internet. One specifically ridiculous example was the editorial cartoon in Ohio's Toledo Blade depicting three mushroom clouds rising above Fukushima 1, 3 & 4. It took a formal complaint from the Japanese Consulate general in Detroit to get The Blade to delete the cartoon from its website, but the damage had been done. Copies of the cartoon have proliferated around the world through the internet. (Yet another use of the Hiroshima Syndrome) One other extreme example noted by the Ministry comes from the Daily Mail in England, which reported the “disaster” at Fukushima has killed 5 people. The Daily Mail called it a misunderstanding, but world-wide dissemination of the Mail's story occurred minus the mail's disclaimer. Neither newspaper published any kind of retraction for their readers.
In addition, several cities surrounding Fukushima Prefecture have issued formal warnings to their citizens and foreign visitors. One city, Tsukuba (Ibaraki Prefecture) published on March 28, “There are MANY disconcerting information in regards to Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. City of Tsukuba would like to ask you to stay calm and please do not get swayed by false information.” (grammar, capitals and boldface from actual warning)
I don't recall any American government taking any kind of strong stand against irresponsible news media reporting during or after Three Mile Island. Fortunately with the Fukushima emergency, the Japanese governments are doing the right thing in trying to bring sanity to news media coverage around the world. All other governments outside of japan that have nuclear facilities should pay close attention.
Now for today's Fukushima updates -
Bad weather made it impossible for TEPCO or MEXT (Ministry of Health) to take samples of the seawater off Fukushima. As soon as the weather clears, the sampling and analyses will resume.
IAEA reports MEXT has taken surveys of radiation dose rates in 26 cities covering 9 Prefectures (States), including Fukushima. MEXT reports that typical background dose rates range from 0.05-0.1 microsieverts per hour (0.005 to 0.01 millirem/hr) across Japan. In 19 of the locations, radiation fields were at or below these typical levels. In five cities outside of Fukushima Prefecture, doses range from slightly above 0.1 to 0.21 microsievert/hr (0.01-0.021 mrem/hr). In Fukushima City, the doses vary between 0.42 and 0.5 microsieverts/hr. (0.042 – 0.05 mrem/hr) A problem immediately arises. These numbers make the tacit, albeit strong implication that the dose rates above 0.1 microsieverts/hr are the result of Fukushima's accidental releases of radioactive material, or (worse yet) the radiation field generated by the damaged reactors. First, Fukushima City is ~60 kilometers from the power plant complex. Radiation fields reduce in intensity rapidly by the naturally-occurring inverse square of the relative distance. It is unthinkable that the dose rates in Fukushima City results from the radiation field nearest the power plant complex, which is ~2.25 microsieverts/hr. In addition, the dose rates in Tsukuba, essentially the same distance from the emergency as Fukushima City, has a dose rate of 0.17 microsieverts/hr, which is a third of the dose rate at Fukushima City, and has been downwind of the emergency location much more than Fukushima City. Second, if these higher doses are the result of the deposition of airborne contamination, then both cities would already have been evacuated! It takes relatively large contamination levels to produce whole body dose rates like these...contaminations many, many times more than the mandatory evacuation limit.
So, if it's not the “radiation glow” or contamination from the Fukushima emergency, what might cause these two relatively high readings? I would suggest MEXT look at the geology in and around both cities, as well as the amount of naturally radioactive building materials existing in both. Background radiation levels can vary greatly between locations due to elevation above sea level, types of bedrock, radon levels, building materials, and etc. I would also ask if natural background dose rates had ever been measured in these cities surrounding the Fukushima emergency before March 11, 2011? If not, then the above dose rate numbers are essentially meaningless with respect to the Fukushima emergency.
Workers at the power complex continue to erect barriers between the port/dock area inside the break wall and the sea itself. The seawater intake for Unit #2, the outlet point for the waters leaking through the cracked power cabling pit (which has been stopped), will be barricaded with steel sheeting. While the flow of contaminated leakage has been reduced by about 50%, it has not stopped flowing into #2 inlet. The steel sheeting ought to restrict the leakage even more.
Nitrogen gas injection into Unit #1 primary containment continues, along with the search for other possible leakage paths to the sea, and the removal of waters from the turbine basements of Units 1 & 2. There is no information as to when the removal of the waters from Unit 3 & 4 basements will resume.
Reactors 1, 2 & 3 temperatures continue to drop. Unit #1 upper vessel (feedwater inlet pipe) temperature rose about 40 degrees C during yesterday's 7.1 level aftershock, but dropped back to it's previous level soon after. Reactor pressures have also dropped since yesterday, in expected relation to the temperature drops. IAEA reports that all three reactors must have all temperature read-outs below 95 degree C before they can be declared to be in the optimum safety condition of “cold shutdown”.
Although several western news services have reported that the discharge of low contamination waste waters have ended, there is nothing in any of the reports coming out of Japan to support this. In fact, Kyodo News reports the discharge continues. The discharge has been intentionally kept as slow as possible to allow for as much dilution and dispersion in the sea as possible. Regardless, the activity levels of the intentional discharge pale in comparison to the activity levels already the case form the plant's leaks. This being the case, why not empty the tanks as soon as possible and start transferring the turbine basement waters ASAP? The sooner the basements are drained, the sooner equipment can be restarted to bring the three reactors to cold shutdown and resume normal fuel pool cooling operation for all four fuel pools.
Finally, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has upgraded their emergency improvement mandate of March 30. Now, NISA wants at least 2 back-up, mobile diesel generators for each power plant complex. NISA originally mandated one per location. This has been done because the yesterday's 7.1 aftershock caused the Higashidori nuclear power station to have but one emergency diesel operating until external power was restored. Higashidori does not yet have the first mandated mobile diesel generator, but NISA feels adding one more improves the overall reliability of emergency power supplies.
TEPCO is now injecting Nitrogen into the primary containment of Unit #1. They say this is a preventative measure in case considerable water radiolysis (by gamma radiation) has occurred which would separate water into its two separate elements, hydrogen and oxygen. In a Boiling Water Reactor system, these gasses would be removed from the condenser, on the turbine exhaust. An air ejection system, connected to the condenser for the removal of gasses, would then strip the hydrogen and oxygen from the system. Oxygen is not desirable in a system designed to be essentially non-corrosive during routine operation. Without oxygen there will be nearly zero corrosion inside the pipes to and from the reactor, inside the reactor vessel, and inside the turbine. If corrosion products did occur, they would be carried through the reactor core where the neutron radiation field will make them radioactive isotopes.
Thus, with no flow through the condenser, any radiolysis occurring inside the 3 reactors at Fukushima will produce both free hydrogen and oxygen which can build up in concentration internal to the reactor vessel. Now, here's my question. If there is actually hydrogen building up inside #1 primary containment, outside the reactor vessel, how is it getting there? Primary containment pressures have either not changed or decreased slowly for more than a week on Units 1, 2 & 3. The occasional pressure increases inside the reactor vessels, both intentional and unintentional, have not seemed to affect primary containment pressures. This is a strong indication that the reactor pressure vessels are not leaking into their primary containments. I would love to know the suspected pathway from the reactor vessel to the primary containment. Regardless, it is planned to inject nitrogen into all three primary containments, not just Unit #1.
TEPCO is planning on building some sort of barrier between the port/docking area inside their break-wall, and the open sea at Fukushima Daiichi. Previously, it was reported this barrier would be made of wood, but the Japanese Press now states the barrier will be made of rubber boards.
TEPCO has announced it has stopped transferring water into the turbine basement of Unit #4 because the drainage trench of Unit #3 was filling up and they wanted to see if there was a connection between the two. Once they stopped the water flow into turbine #4 basement, the water level in Unit #3 trench stopped increasing. So, where was the water coming from that was being transferred into turbine #4 basement?
Since the stoppage of contaminated water flow through the cracked power cabling pit, seawater contamination along the shoreline nearest to the power plant complex has dropped by 50%. Because the seawater contamination level withing 330 meters of the Fukushima Daiichi shoreline has not completely vanished, this indicates there are yet other leaks to be discovered. TEPCO reports they continue to search for these other leaks.
The discharge of the very low level contamination waters from the Waste Treatment Facility and Unit 5 & 6 drainage tunnels, continues. World-wide outrage also continues, now amplified by the local fisherman's association of Japan. This aspect of Hiroshima Syndrome-based radiation phobia also continues to amplify (of course).
Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has posted the latest TEPCO-reported radioactive iodine concentrations in seawater off the coast of Fukushima Daiichi. All sampling locations at 30 km and 40 km distances, west and north of Fukushima have iodine levels either below the 0.04 Bq/cc regulatory limit or are completely undetectable. At 15 km distance, the levels are below the limit southwest of the power complex. West and northwest of Fukushima, the iodine radioactivity concentrations are slightly above the limit. Samples taken immediately along the shoreline (out to 330 meters) remain above the limit. MEXT (the Health Ministry) has taken their own samples in the same locations as TEPCO, and their results are either the same or lower in Bq/cc. MEXT has also taken deep water samples at mostlocations, the Bq/cc levels of iodine are 5 to 10 times lower than at the surface. Thus, there is no reason for fishermen to not fish beyond thirty kilometers from shore, but their phobic fear of radiation has resulted in no fishing whatsoever in these safe waters.
IAEA reports the reactor vessel temperatures for Units 1, 2 & 3 continue to decrease. All reactor vessel pressures remain stable. Unit No. 3 reactor temperature is now below atmospheric boiling level (85 degrees C) at the feedwater nozzle, high up on the vessel and above the water that covers the core. Temperature at the vessel's bottom is 115 degrees C. This is inverse of what ought to be the case, where the feedwater nozzle have the the higher temperature. (heat rises) Reactors 1 & 2 temperatures are higher at the feedwater nozzle and lower at the vessel bottom, as expected. This writer suspects that the degree of fuel damage to Unit #3 is greater than in the other two, resulting in some sort of insulating effect for the lower part of the vessel. This reminds me of the post accident temperature situation with TMI's severe meltdown, more than 30 years ago.
All three reactors have no indication of fuel core temperatures. All reactors have core temperature monitors, but the three sets at Fukushima are not working. This is further indication of an over-heating condition having occurred in all three cores the first few days of the emergency, The temperature sensors are made of materials that would experience failure at temperatures below those that would cause Zirconium to embrittle (and release free hydrogen) and well-below the fuel damaging temperatures of uranium. Thus, it it not surprising that the core temperature monitors are not working.
IAEA supports and applauds the NISA emergency-response regulatory changes we reported yesterday. Mobile power supply trucks and temporary pumping trucks are already being sought out for immediate placement at all Japanese nuclear power plants, where they will be housed in water-tight rooms or buildings at the plants. The rapidity with which these emergency “fixes” are taking place has this writer flabbergasted! This sort of thing would take years with the politically-driven regulatory environment in America. Self regulation is not merely vastly superior to political regulation...it's infinitely superior!
300 police wearing full anti-contamination clothing and dosimetry are now starting to look for the remains of the bodies of those drowned by the tsunami inside the 20km evacuation zone around Fukushima. It's about time!! Once again, irrational phobic fear of radiation-itself has kept this most necessary circumstance from happening for several weeks. I'm disgusted.
NHK Japan reports that schools have closed in South Korea because it is raining. This is no April-fool's joke! 42 schools and 85 kindergartens in the Province north of Seoul (the capital) have closed for fear that the rain will drop “radiation” from Fukushima on the children. This is the most ridiculous example of Hiroshima Syndrome-inspired over-reaction I have yet encountered. News media around the world commend the school districts for what they are doing, which only promotes the rest of the world to similarly panic over the radiation bogey man. Korea should be sternly admonished for this absurd move, and not commended.
Finally, the Japanese government has formally requested all foreign news media to stop sensationalizing and exaggerating what is happening at and around Fukushima. I am giving the Japanese government a full, five minute standing ovation on this one. <pause> Here's the link to the Kyodo news report...
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...
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!
Technical/Physical update -
IAEA reports temperatures inside reactors 1, 2 & 3 (RPVs) continue to decrease. Still no word on how the decay heat is being removed from the water circulating through the reactors.
JAIF data shows that pressures inside RPVs 2 & 3 remain at or below atmospheric. Unit # 1 RPV remains at about three atmospheres pressure, which correlates well with its higher temperature than the other two reactors. This remains as ongoing proof that all three RPVs have not been physically compromised.
IAEA reports all waters from Unit #1 condenser have been transferred to the Suppression Pool Surge Tank. This is the final operation needed prior to transferring the basement floor waters into the #1 condenser.
The transfer of water from Unit #2 condenser to it's replenishment water storage tank is underway. If it all fits in the storage tank, workers can begin the transfer of Unit #2 basement waters into #2 condenser.
The efforts to remove the waters from the Units 3 & 4 turbine basements have stalled, awaiting the discharge of 10,000 tonnes of the barely-detectable contaminated waters from the Waste Treatment Facility storage tanks to the sea. NHK reports the discharge began this morning, April 5. (more on this below).
More and more of the electrical systems of the Fukushima Power Plant Complex are being recovered every day. The improvement is relatively slow, but steady. Once the turbine basement waters are removed to storage tanks (condensers), the work to re-energize the cold-shutdown systems for Units 1, 2 & 3, and the Spent Fuel cooling systems for all four units, ought to move faster.
TEPCO has discovered that one of the drainage trenches for Unit #3 was filling up. At the same time, water was being pumped into Unit #4 turbine building from somewhere else (source not identified), raising the water level in the Turbine #4 basement. TEPCO says they realized there might be a connection between the pumping of water into #4 turbine building and the increasing Unit 3 trench water level. They stopped the pumping into Unit #4 basement and the level of water in the trench stopped rising.
Radiological update -
IAEA has been performing off-site radiological assessments of foodstuffs, air, water, and soil samples taken across the 12 prefectures contingent to Fukushima for more than a week. Today, IAEA reports that they have done this to be an independent source of data other than TEPCO. This strongly implies that the world's loss of confidence in TEPCO's radiological information has compelled IAEA to take the upper hand.
Of the 135 food and milk samples analyzed by IAEA since April 1, 134 were found to either be totally devoid of Fukushima contamination or had levels so low as not to be of health concern for consumption. The one that exceeded health standards was a shiitake mushroom sample from Fukushima Prefecture.
IAEA also reports that the flow from the cracked power cable pit has not stopped, as of midnight, April 4. Early in the day on April 5, NHK News reported that the flow through the crack has slowed because of TEPCO's use of a “hardening agent” behind the cracked concrete wall. Later in the article, NHK says the agent is a kind of liquid glass.
NHK also reports that the use of dye has revealed that at least some of the water in the cracked power cable pit is coming from the gravel outside and below the concrete walls of the pit. TEPCO believes the water originates from a broken or cracked pipe. The suspected pipe has not been identified, as yet.
TEPCO is making plans to barracade their off-shore dike's opening to the sea. NHK says they will “board up” the opening. This ought to help contain the contaminated waters inside the dike and restrict them from reaching the open sea.
Hiroshima Syndrome update -
The Hiroshima Syndrome results from fears generated by public misunderstandings of nuclear realities. One of the subtle but significant contributors to the Hiroshima Syndrome is the common use of big numbers representing tiny things when nuclear phenomena are described. For example, one fission releases 200 million electron volts of energy. That's a huge number. But the reality is that 200 million electron volts is a vanishingly tiny amount of energy relative to the world we experience. It takes millions of fissions every second to generated enough energy to illuminate one 5 watt night light. Big numbers for tiny things. But big numbers, all by themselves, can sound terrifying to most people. With respect to radioactivity, we again run into big numbers for tiny things.
The discharge of the ever-so-mildly contaminated waters TEPCO is dumping into the sea has the world on edge. In fact, South Korea has filed a formal complaint with the Japanese government demanding this not happen. News media around the world (Including the Japanese) have questioned TEPCO's concern for human life. Why? First off, widespread phobic fear of radiation in general, based on the no-safe-level fallacy, is a major contributor. Second, the volume of water to be discharged sounds enormous (11,500 tonnes). Third, the contamination levels in the discharging waters are in the 200-300 becquerel per milliliter region, which sounds disturbingly big.
(1) The phobic impact of fear of radiation in general has been addressed many times in these updates, so I don't feel we need to address it further here. The no-safe-level notion is a fiction that does nothing to quell fears, but greatly amplifies them needlessly.
(2) Next, the volume of water being released to the sea sounds enormous, until one compares it with the billions upon billions times greater volume of water already in the sea around Japan. The dilution factor is enormous. The many-times greater concentrations of contamination in the much, much larger volumes of waters that have leaked into the sea prior to this have not threatened anyone's health, so why think this relatively small volume of mildly contaminated water is to be rationally feared?
(3) But most importantly, the reported concentrations of radioactivity in the waters being discharged sound enormous. A thousand becquerels per milliliter means a million becquerels per liter. This means there are billions upon billions upon billions of becquerels being discharged into the sea as this is being written. But, what is a becquerel? A becquerel is one radioactive decay per second. Every bite of that banana you ate yesterday (every day, for me) emits thousands of radioactive emissions per second from Potassium-40. Same with broccoli. We eat thousands upon thousands of becquerels of naturally occurring radioactivity with every mouthful. To continue, eating a banana every day puts billions of becquerels into your body every year. The radiation from a banana a day has never hurt anyone, but rather improves the consumer's health. (improved nutrition plus radiation's beneficial hormetic effects) Without placing the Fukushima water discharge into this kind of real world context, combined with fear-amplifying effect of the no-safe-level fiction, it really sounds scary. It sounds like TEPCO doesn't give a hoot about anyone's health. TEPCO may be informationally inept, and have an HP staff at Fukushima that make some unacceptable mistakes, but they are certainly not insensitive to human health.
However, the appearance of public protection means votes in the next election. Why has Korea (among others) protested this relatively harmless act? Votes! Votes garnered from a combination of nuclear misunderstanding and the phobia resulting from the Hiroshima Syndrome. Fear sells in the news media, and protection from fears means votes at the polls. Political opportunists never fail to take advantage of catastrophes.
Not much has changed since yesterday with respect to the work going on at Fukushima. The transfer of water from turbine condensers to other tanks inside the four power plants continues. This would be a much faster operation if the installed pumps on each unit could be operated, but the loss of normal electric supplies makes this problematic. Temporary pumps have been installed to send water to reactors 1, 2 & 3, powered from the cable strung into the plant more than 10 days ago. How TEPCO is transferring waters out of the turbine condensers and to the other locations has not been explained. Temporary or installed pumps? But, we can be sure it is happening because of another topic of interest we will address later, in some detail.
TEPCO's efforts to stop the flow of highly contaminated water out of the notorious power cable “pit” and into the sea have been unsuccessful. It seems the attempt to plug the cracks in the pit with concrete have failed, but did restrict flow a bit for a time long enough to see if the reduced flow from the pit lowered the sea contamination levels close to the shore. There was no change. Now TEPCO will use a “tracer” injected into the pit as see if any shows up in the sea near the shore. The term “tracer” is more than a bit open to exaggeration and speculation, because it is the same term used to describe radioactive isotopes for medical diagnostics (like some CAT scans). It seems the TEPCO “tracer” is common industrial dye, and nothing radioactive. At least this is how TEPCO reported their plans late yesterday. Regardless, we have yet another example of informational naivety from TEPCO. They should avoid using needless descriptive terminology that can be misinterpreted, if possible.
IAEA reports that the the temperatures and pressures inside reactors 1, 2 & 3 have either slightly decreased since yesterday, or remained essentially the same. This has been the case for a few days, so I will now use a term we find continually being used in IAEA and JAIF reports...reactor conditions appear to be “stable”. I did not use notions of reactor pressure and temperature stability while things were in parameterical flux. Now that the pressure and temperature levels have not increased for several days, and all of the subtle changes have been in the downward direction, I feel the use of the term “stable” can be utilized with confidence.
IAEA continues to identify the water levels inside all three reactors as “Around half the fuel is uncovered (stable)”. If half the fuel is actually uncovered, the situation is far from stable. As explained in a previous update, the IAEA status statement either needs to be explained or modified according to what must surely be the case. By all logic and water level readings, the three fuel cells are certainly covered with water.
Returning to the water transfer issue (form above)...
TEPCO has announced they will be discharging 11,500 tonnes of low-level contaminated water to the sea, in order to make room for all of the remaining waters in the turbine basements to be stored. They are running out of space. They need to use storage tanks in the Central Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility common to all units at the power plant complex, with a combined capacity of 10,000 tonnes. The contaminated waters are described as “low level radioactive waste water” inside these tanks and discharging their waters to the ocean will result in sea contamination levels well below the legal standards. These levels are technically barely detectable relative to the naturally radioactive levels found in the ocean, lakes, and streams around the world. The remaining 1500 tonnes will be discharged from the cable pits and drainage network connected to Units 5 & 6, which also have barely detectable contamination levels.
Just saying these radioactive levels are “low level” leaves the door open for exaggerated speculations based on the no-safe-level myth. These waters come from the processing of low level waste produced inside the plant during routine work done by plant employees. To be technically correct, the contamination levels in the waters to be discharged are detectable, but not in any way hazardous. The levels reported in the waters are actually many times less than the levels commonly found in natural springs and outdoor “hot pools” at resorts and health spas around the world. In fact, the legal limit for contamination levels in waters to be discharged to natural bodies of water are many times lower than the levels people routinely bathe in (and drink) at these spas. The legal limit is entirely based on the mythic no-safe-level-of-radiation model used by governmental standard-setting bodies around the world. Using the radiation hormesis model, such legal limits are ridiculous exaggerations. Their use only exacerbates the existing phobic anxieties caused by the Hiroshima Syndrome.
In addition, while these harmless radioactive waters are being described in technically correct terminology, the use of such terminology can only add to the hopeless confusion now prevalent in the public mind. Radioactive waste?? Hiroshima Syndrome site readers understand that the gross, overly exaggerated phobias associated with nuclear waste issues ought to be associated with spent fuel from reactors, and not applied the low level trash often too low level to be detectable with even the most sensitive equipment in the world. However, the world's billions who are not correctly informed have no idea of the necessary distinction between the two. To the world at-large, nuclear waste is nuclear waste, and TEPCO is dumping raw nuclear waste into the Pacific. The radioactive waste connotation is another example of TEPCO's informational naivety. ALL of the contaminated waters at Fukushima are technically radioactive waste. Pointing this out relative to perhaps the least radioactive waters at Fukushima is logically deplorable.
To continue, NHK Japan and KYODO News have broadcast TEPCO's plans to discharge these waters into the sea. While the Japanese Press is doing the responsible thing and just reporting the factual situation, the typically irresponsible American news media is blowing it way out of proportion and “spinning” their reports to make it sound like the 11,500 tonnes of water to be discharged are part of the highly contaminated waters found in and around the four turbine buildings. CNN projects the distinct impression that this is a desperate move to get rid of the radioactive water at Fukushima. Absolute rubbish! However, it provides excellent fodder for nuclear-phobes around the world to scream bloody murder, and gives the American Press even more future headlines and lead stories that will increase phobic fears and increase ratings.
TEPCO has done the entirely correct thing in letting the world know about the impending discharge. Japanese news media has done the responsible thing by reporting without fear-inspiring spins and the subtle but significant open-ended what-if scenarios common to western news media. Undeterred, the western news media has performed as expected with reports on anything nuclear...spinning wildly out of control....aiding and abetting nuclear phobias...becoming tacit accomplices of any violence or mayhem resulting from their odious mode of informational dissemination.
Today's Hiroshima Syndrome update-
Perhaps the first salvo in the War Against The Atom III : Battle Fukushima, has been fired. A notoriously irresponsible anti-nuclear international organization, European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), has made an estimate of cancer deaths from Fukushima. It purports that 200,000 will die from Fukushima-induced cancers, at least. The reasoning drips with numerous scientifically unethical assumptions, but it all can be summed up as follows...ECRR believes the Liner, No Threshold (no-safe-level) model for cancer death estimates grossly underestimates the ability of low level radiation to cause cancer. I would call the author and staff at ECRR crack-pots, but that would be unprofessional. Regardless, there should be no doubt that so-called “expert” estimates of Fukushima-induced cancers, of this sort, will become factual paradigms of nuclear-phobes around the world. Before going to the below link, if you haven't done it already, read the “Radiation : The No Safe Level Myth” page of this website in order to gain an objective perspective on the absolute repugnancy of ECRR's claims.
Busby, Chris; “The health outcome of the Fukushima catastrophe : Initial Analysis from the risk model of the European Committee on Radiation Risk ECRR”; http://www.fairewinds.com/content/health-outcome-fukushima-catastrophe-initial-analysis-risk-model-european-committee-radiatio