Saturday, May 07, 2011

Fukushima 7 May 2011

Over a week has passed since the last update. A few things have happened since then.

I posted this link about the Japanese Government upping the radiation safety limit for workers - Japan's Ministry of Health to Get Rid of Annual Radiation Limit for Nuclear Plant Workers - in the last update. Now we know why. #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 2 Workers Exceeded 200 Milli-Sieverts and Two male Plant workers in Fukushima are just under their 250 milliSievert limit

Plans to restart a reactor sitting on an earthquake fault are meeting resistance.

Fairly recent video (around 22 April) of the Fukushima I plants.

We have here a shining example of a Japanese official whose face was not saved. He was none too happy about it.

The Minister is not too happy about Koriyama City removing the radioactive surface soil from the school yards to reduce radiation for the kids.

The public officials in Koriyama City in Fukushima are doing something to proactively protect children by removing the big source of radiation (soil in the school yards) that could harm them gravely. A very rational and compassionate thing to do, though it's just too bad that Fukushima I Nuke Plant continues to spew out radioactive plume far and wide and Koriyama's effort may be in vain in short order.

But it still seems infinitely better than letting the children play outdoors based on an arbitrary number (3.8 micro-sieverts/hr) picked by the national government for this emergency.
That is about 33.3 milliSieverts a year if exposed 24/7/365. About 3.33 REM for those of you who are old school. That is a LOT for some one not working in the field. Especially if they are children. Of course the exposure is limited. Not counting what they drag in from the playground.

Some of the parents from the area have deposited some playground material with government officials.
Furious parents in Fukushima have delivered a bag of radioactive playground earth to education officials in protest at moves to weaken nuclear safety standards in schools.

Children can now be exposed to 20 times more radiation than was previously permissible. The new regulations have prompted outcry. A senior adviser resigned and the prime minister, Naoto Kan, was criticised by politicians from his own party.
If they didn't just bring the dirt in bags but also spread it around the area will have to be declared a rad hazard area until it is cleaned up.

This may be a case of no choice but it does seem unwise. Some women working at the Fukushima plan exceeded their allowable dose. There is some question about how this should relate to monitoring children.
This incident raises a very interesting point: Since school children outside of the exclusion zone are allowed a recent and upwardly revised 20 mSv/yr maximum allowable dose (essentially the same amount allowed for female Tepco nuclear employees), will these kids have their doses individually monitored also? Will they be pulled from school if they exceed 5mSv over a 3 month period, as is the practice with female nuclear employees when they exceed their doses?

I would expect the Japanese authorities to exhibit a greater sense of caution with the children. Their upper level limit is generous, to say the least. Parents should be informed of the statistical and potential risks associated with these exposures, and should be presented with other educational alternatives should they choose to opt out.
You can bet the parents are not too happy. Fury over 20-fold increase in 'acceptable' radiation limits in schools
LIKE MOST Japanese parents, two months ago Takayuki Sasaki barely knew what radiation was. Today, he thinks about little else. “I’ve sent my kids to my wife’s family in Tokyo,” says the baker and father of two. “I told her to stay there until it’s safe, but who knows when that will be? We’ve all been left in the dark.”

Seven weeks since the start of Japan’s worst nuclear crisis, political tremors are intensifying in the prefecture that hosts the ruined Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Sasaki is among thousands of parents in the prefecture, about 250km northeast of Tokyo, demanding that the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan reverse a decision to raise radiation limits for schools in the area by 20 times.

The decision has come in for withering criticism by government adviser Toshiso Kosako, who announced his resignation on Friday after denouncing what he called the prime minister’s “whack-a-mole” policies on the crisis.

“The government has belittled laws and taken decisions only for the present moment,” said a tearful Kosako.

He added that new guidelines upping the acceptable annual radiation exposure in Fukushima prefecture’s elementary schools from one to 20 millisieverts “are inconsistent with internationally commonsensical figures.

“They were determined by the administration to serve its interests.
From what I have seen so far most of the decisions made have taken only the most immediate concerns into consideration. Like the decision to silence Toshiso Kosako after he resigned in protest.
Ministry of Education and Science has set the annual radiation exposure limit of 20 milli-sieverts for children to use school yards. According to Mr. Soramoto, "Professor Kosako thinks the radiation level that children could be exposed to is 5 milli-sieverts per year at most. It is regrettable that Professor Kosako's point of view cannot be aired."
Considering that 5 milli-sieverts per year is roughly equivalent to the US average dose per year (including diagnostic radiation) a doubling of that for a year's exposure seems reasonable. And since the exposure will not be 24/7/365 then there is also a safety factor built in. Which is a good thing. It means the exposure effect from the tail of the statistical curve will be minimal.

In the mean time the radiation is being distributed in sewage sludge. And the sludge is being turned into cement. Just swell fellers.
Highly #Radioactive Sewage Sludge in Koriyama City, 3,500 Tons Already Burned, 500 Tons Already Sold to Cement Company


Price to pay, I suppose, for slowly forming a "consensus" on how to deal with the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. While the political heads gather to discuss what's safe to tell the general public, the radioactive materials have been doing what they are supposed to do under the circumstance: to spread.
Radiation Safety also has a report.
Highlighting the ongoing problems that continue to make life hazardous in surrounding areas of the plant, wastewater end-products from Koriyama that are trucked out and used for construction are clocking high dose rates originating from Cesium 137 in the sludge.

This has to make you wonder why the sludge shipped out from various Fukushima prefectures wasn't checked for high radiation content before this particular incident. Apparently it was caught a bit late in the process - the article mentions "The solidified slag made from it contained 334,000 becquerels per kilogram" - indicating finished construction. I wonder how many structures have been built with the sludge, because they will have to be torn down.

Any wall made from this stuff would be humming with radioactivity - 334,000 Becquerel/kg throws off 45 microSieverts per hour at a 10cm distance, and that's just the gamma component of the calculation. From just 1 kg of this material, Beta exposure at a 1cm distance is a whopping 67 milliSieverts/hr, ensuring that anyone leaning against the wall is getting his/her butt massively irradiated.
He ends with this note:
This wastewater plant may be emitting radiation numbers as high as parts of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant. Now they have to go in there and calculate doses for the sewage treatment staff, plus everyone else who was in close contact with the material.
I dunno. Radiation contaminating the water and the water run off in the area? How totally unexpected.

More than 1,000 Times the Normal Level of Radioactive Cesium on the Ocean Floor Off the Coast of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: High Level of Cesium-137 from Ocean Floor Near Reactor 1

Thanks to a tight supply chain and demands for cement for rebuilding tsunami damage it turns out the cement has been shipped.
928 tons of the sewage sludge [from Koriyama facility?] have been used since the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, and the cement has been shipped to Tochigi, Gunma, and Ibaraki Prefectures and other locations. [The article doesn't say where.]

Radioactive cesium of 26,400 becquerels per 1 kilogram has been detected from the sewage sludge.
And that is not all the bad news.
There are 22 other treatment centers in Fukushima that sell sewage sludge. No news on them yet.

Well the government is finally starting to figure things out. Govt to screen contaminated debris
The Environment Ministry has ordered municipalities near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to wait before removing radiation-tainted debris from the March 11th quake and tsunami.

The ministry will start monitoring radiation levels in debris next week to determine proper disposal methods for contaminated materials.

Vice Minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters that his ministry wants to quickly carry out the checks to allow local authorities who clear radiation screenings to remove the debris as soon as possible.

Municipalities subject to the order are those in the no-entry zone within 20 kilometers of the plant and some designated areas beyond the 20-kilometer radius.
I'd call that a start. But just a start.

Radioactive Materials Leak in Cooling Water in RPV at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant. This is not too serious so far.
JAPC suspects there are minute holes in the cladding, through which the radioactive materials are leaking.
What is serious is that it will put another crimp in the electrical power supply in Japan until they can get the reactor refueled. Another report: The situation is not bad just yet, but we've got another problem at another nuclear site in Japan.

Japanese Government releases some radiation exposure data. And Japanese Government Finally Divulges What It Has Been Hiding: SPEEDI Radiation Simulations from March 12. And the reason for the delay?
The Japanese government is about to begin releasing data projecting the spread of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that it initially withheld for fear of causing panic.

The data in question is in a computer system called SPEEDI that predicts the spread of radioactive substances based on actual radiation measurements at various locations and weather conditions.
I guess the time for panic is over. Unless you count radioactive cement and school yard dirt.

Small victory. Radioactive Gas Ventilation System Installed. Well part of it anyway. The duct work for Reactor 1.

Unit 3 running hot.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, says it has increased the cooling water flowing into the Number 3 reactor after an increase in temperature occurred over the past week.

On Wednesday, TEPCO increased the flow of cooling water from 7 tons to 9 tons per hour for the Number 3 reactor. The temperature at the bottom of the reactor was 143.5 degrees Celsius at 11 AM on Thursday, about 33 degrees higher than Wednesday last week.

TEPCO has been using temporary pumps to inject cooling water into reactors Number 1, 2 and 3. Their fuel rods are believed to have partially melted down after the tsunami disrupted normal cooling functions.

The operator says the temperature rise was apparently caused by a temporary decline in the amount of cooling water flowing into the Number 3 reactor.
I'd love to see some of the more technical reports rather than just the news summaries. Or even better: be a fly on the wall that could understand Japanese. I wonder if they have any way of finding out the condition of the junk piles? And of course you have to ask yourself. Is it just lack of cooling? Or something else? Like occasional recriticality?

Alert: Speculation and unconfirmed report
Unofficial: More possible "high density" radioactive venting on May 8

Nuclear power is losing its popularity in Japan. Shareholders call for nuclear plant closures
NHK has learned that shareholders of five electric power companies in Japan are calling for the utilities to decommission their nuclear power plants in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

About 400 stockholders of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, submitted official documents in support of the proposal.

Shareholders of at least four other power companies --- Kansai Electric, Chugoku Electric, Kyushu Electric and Tohoku Electric -- have made similar proposals.

On Monday, a group of 232 stockholders of Tohoku Electric submitted documents calling for the company to abolish its nuclear power plants.

The group says the potential risks of nuclear power generation are too great for any single company to afford.
Yep. And in a way the Japanese Government agrees.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Monday there should be no upper limit set on the amount of compensation to be paid by Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the accident at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
No wonder stockholders want to bail on nuclear power.

Getting back to basics.
The company hopes that the workers can enter the building on Sunday to install a water level monitoring device.

The workers are also expected to check piping inside the building as preparation for creating a cooling water recycling system in the reactor.
I look forward to the plumbing report.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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