Skip to comments.LIVE thread & Breaking News ~ Japan
Posted on 03/15/2011 8:13:35 AM PDT by SE Mom
click here to read article
Japan Battles to Avert Nuclear Power Plant Disaster
March 14, 2011
The Fukushima plants were built to endure peak ground acceleration of .18 g (a measure of the force of gravity), according to data provided to National Geographic by the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). The earthquake at its epicenter reached a peak ground acceleration of .35 g, said the NEI, which represents the U.S. nuclear industry, including General Electric, the company that designed the Fukushima plant.
But NEI warned against drawing any conclusions from the figures, since the actual measure of ground acceleration at the Fukushima site is not yet known. Shaking measurements can vary widely during an earthquake even across small distances. And NEI spokesman Mitch Singer added that it was not the earthquake itself, but the subsequent tsunami, that touched off the crisis by knocking out the backup diesel power generators needed to operate the plants cooling system.
The reactors maintained their structural integrity despite an 8.9-magnitude earthquake,Singer said. All the systems performed as they were expected to do when the tsunami compromised the fuel source of the generators.
But others believe the temblor itself cannot yet be ruled out as a contributing factor in the Fukushima crisis. You can infer that most of the damage may have been done by the tsunami, says Makhijani, but whether the generators came loose from their moorings or were cracked by the earthquake, at this point, who knows?
How Is Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Different?
Fukushima Daiichi may be no Chernobyl, but it has overshadowed Three Mile Island.
For National Geographic News
Published March 16, 2011
At this point in the Fukushima disaster, Wilmshurst said, the tsunami appears to be the immediate culprit, since the plants shut down as they were designed to do following the earthquake. When the tsunami hit an hour later, it damaged the site infrastructure, he said. So while the earthquake had cut the reactors’ external power supply, which is needed to keep coolant pumps doing their job, the tsunami killed the diesel backup generators needed to provide power for the cooling system. Batteries provided power for only up to eight hours. Mobile generators were brought in to take over.
Still, it’s too early to know for sure what sequence of events led to what outcome, said David Lochbaum, who directs the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Program and has worked at three nuclear plants in the United States similar to the General Electric plants in Japan.
According to the 1979 Kemeny Commission report on Three Mile Islandthe definitive document of that disaster”equipment failures initiated the event,” but “operator error” was the “fundamental cause of the accident.” Emergency cooling systems were shut down, with dire consequences. Three Mile Island would have been a “relatively insignificant incident,” the commission found, if the plant operators (or those who supervised them) had kept the emergency cooling systems on through the early stages of the accident.
Press Release (Mar 19,2011)
Plant Status of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (as of 0:00 PM Mar 19th)
[significant new items only]
Unit 5 (outage due to regular inspection)
- At 5 AM, Mar 19th, we started the Residual Heat Removal System Pump (C )
in order to cool the spent fuel pool.
- At Units 5 and 6, in order to prevent hydrogen gas from accumulating
within the buildings, we have made three holes on the roof of the
reactor building for each unit
Japan Cites Radiation in Milk, Spinach Near Nuclear Plant [low levels]
Tainted foodstuffs but also some good signs found in Japan nuke crisis
TOKYO, March 19, Kyodo
Edano said, however, that conditions at the plant’s most dangerous No. 3 reactor unit have likely become relatively stable after firefighters threw some 60 tons of water at a boiling spent fuel pool there shortly after midnight from outside the damaged building housing it.
Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa separately said the surface temperatures at the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors were found in the morning at 100 C or lower by a Self-Defense Force helicopter, adding their conditions remain more stable than expected.
At the No. 3 reactor, the Tokyo Fire Department’s ‘’hyper rescue’’ team began in the afternoon an unmanned operation of having its heavy fire trucks continue shooting a total of 1,260 tons of water at its spent fuel pool for seven hours, the department said.
Engineers inch closer to restoring power to Japanese nuke complex
Tokyo, March 19, 2011
Connecting a power line to the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is expected to be completed during the day, the Japanese Kyodo news agency said.
Engineers have now connected a power cable to the outside of the plant. Further cabling is under way inside to try to restart water pumps in four of the six reactors, the BBC said.
We are scheduled to restore electricity at number 1 and 2 [reactors] today, an official of the nuclear safety agency said.
Reactors number 5 and 6 also will be powered today.
They are scheduled to restore power to number 3 and 4 tomorrow [Sunday], the BBC quoted the official as saying.
Agreed. My circle of experts at work is looking at this through the eyes of direct experience with BWRs like Dresden and Quad Cities here in Illinois. These are guys that have worked for decades as operators and now work on the state oversight agency end of things, and their view has been that while this is a raw deal for the folks at Fukushima, it is not the apocalyptic catastrophe that the third-stringers would have us believe. From the beginning, the people who have substantial, direct knowledge of how these things work have been right on the money about progression and consequences.
So yes, things are bad locally in Japan, and yes, the physical cleanup will go on for many years, and yes the foibles of the human response will be scrutinized for decades, but for those who should know better to peddle China Syndrome hysteria is purely cold political manipulation, with opportunists aplenty jumping on the panic bandwagon to flaunt their wares. In one conversation at work I predicted a scalper’s market for potassium iodide pills. Still waiting on that to make the news. You could probably sell sugar pills in CA right now for a good price as long as you promised protection from radiation. Irrational fear, i.e., fear unguided
Steve, thanks for manning this thread with so many good links and updated information. For me, the clearest sign that progress is being made, and the situation may be on its way to stablizing, is the fact that the story is dropping off the front pages of most news media. Of course the situation remains fluid, volatile, and quite serious, but the media’s short attention span is growing weary of waiting for something to explode. I take that as a good thing.
Once again, the depth and quality of the various FReepers shines through, as in the detailed truths JEH_Boston provided in this post; many thanks to you, Steve, and Mom among so many others.
I heard a program on NHK Online where they stated that the tsunami's high has been set as 7.5 meters, yet it overtopped a 10 meter wall built at Todo (?) specifically to stop ingress of the waves. The estimation from there was a 13 meter height, double the official figure.
In the aftermath, and if we are brutally honest, we should find that the plans and procedures that were in place were as good as our time and treasure will allow. Are there other things that can be done; of course and they will be, as no one wants to lose the equipment never mind the actual and potential loss of life.
The newly restored generator is being used to activate a cooling pump in the No.5 reactor. The 2 generators can now generate enough power to maintain the cooling functions of the No.5 and No.6 reactors.
I'm surprised they lasted on it as long as they did. They're all giddy that Hussein took another vacation and there's headline making video of the downed plane. From vaious reports, the radiation counts are down but I don't think Japan (or the rest of us) is out of the woods yet on this thing. Anything can still happen.