Thursday, March 31, 2011

Consume The Rich

It is possible I have the title wrong. Maybe it should be consume' the rich. Once they have been checked for nutritional value and diseases.

A link to Iowahawk.

A link to the Iowahawk post that kicked off the video.

H/T Instapundit

A Random Source Of Neutrons

We are most fortunate that the mysterious source of neutrons at Fukushima has just been found.

The risk to workers might be greater than previously thought because melted fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be causing isolated, uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions, Denis Flory, nuclear safety director for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at a press conference in Vienna.

Radioactive chlorine found March 25 in the Unit 1 turbine building suggests chain reactions continued after the reactor shut down, physicist Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, wrote in a March 28 paper. Radioactive chlorine has a half-life of 37 minutes, according to the report.
Iodine 134 with a half life of under an hour gave me the same indication when I first discussed it on Sunday the 27th. Of course the neutrons I discussed on the 23rd of March were a dead giveaway despite the lame excuse given. Based on the time frame given in the link they knew no later than the 16th and possibly as early as the 13th that they had a recriticality problem. What was the point of trying to keep the secret for two weeks? The last half of this post may have the answer.

H/T Zero Hedge

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is A Recriticality Accident Possible?

A commenter on one of my articles about the possibility of a recriticality accident said such an accident was not possible. Well actually, a study of the type of reactor now having problems in Japan (BWR) shows that a recriticality accident is possible:

From the summary of the document:

Recriticality in a BWR during reflooding of an overheated partly degraded core, i.e. with relocated control rods, has been studied for a total loss of electric power accident scenario. In order to assess the impact of recriticality on reactor safety, including accident management strategies, the following issues have been investigated in the SARA project: (1) the energy deposition in the fuel during super-promt power burst, (2) the quasi steady-state reactor power following the initial power burst and (3) containment response to elevated quasi steady-state reactor power. The approach was to use three computer codes and to further develop and adapt them for the task. The codes were SIMULATE-3K, APROS and RECRIT. Recriticality analyses were carried out for a number of selected reflooding transients for the Oskarshamn 3 plant in Sweden with SIMULATE-3K and for the Olkiluoto 1 plant in Finland with all three codes. The core initial and boundary conditions prior to recriticality have been studied with the severe accident codes SCDAP/RELAP5, MELCOR and MAAP4.

The results of the analyses show that all three codes predict recriticality – both super-promt power bursts and quasi steady-state power generation - for the range of parameters studied, i.e. with core uncovering and heat-up to maximum core temperatures of around 1800 K, and water flow rates of 45 kg/s to 2000 kg/s injected into the downcomer. Since recriticality takes place in a small fraction of the core, the power densities are high, which results in large energy deposition in the fuel during power burst in some accident scenarios
So does that mean such an accident has happened at Fukushima? Well we can't be certain and we may never be certain but the evidence points in that direction.

One must also add that without the evidence (neutrons, Iodine 134) computer codes are not definitive. When the "experiment" matches the code you may actually have something.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Exclusion Zone And Criticality

The news from the Japanese reactor incident is not getting better. Why should it? The spew of radiation is still going on.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has told Japan that radiation levels recorded at a village near a stricken nuclear reactor are over recommended levels, a senior IAEA official said on Wednesday.
The IAEA guys are not going to be very popular in Japan.
"The first assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village," Denis Flory, a deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said.

"We have advised (Japan) to carefully assess the situation and they have indicated that it is already under assessment," he told a news conference.

Greenpeace this week said it had confirmed radiation levels in this village northwest of the plant high enough to evacuate. But Japan's nuclear safety agency on Monday rebuffed a call by the environmental group to widen the evacuation zone.
Save face or save lives? For now a few extra days of exposure are not going to be very hazardous. Unless radiation levels go up considerably. But that is not all the bad news.
In a potentially negative development, Flory said the agency had heard there might be "recriticality" at the plant, in which a nuclear chain reaction would resume, even though the reactors were automatically shut down at the time of the quake.

That could lead to more radiation releases, but it would not be "the end of the world," Flory said. "Recriticality does not mean that the reactor is going to blow up. It may be something really local. We might not even see it if it happens."
Yep. It might be a minor blip or it could be really serious. But they do confirm that my suspicions expressed at

Criticality Accident?
Worst Case Scenario
Surrealistic Cement Shoes
Core On The Floor

were not unreasonable.

Why are the Japanese having so much trouble? It may be their Culture.
by chindit13 on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 01:23 #1115985


Those of you who have lived in Japan have a pretty good idea of what has been going on and why. You probably have seen the “weeping press conference” a dozen times, each a repeat of the last one save for the names and faces.

Confrontation in Japan is not good. Causing “confusion” is not good. Following the plan and the rules is everything. The unexpected is invisible. One does not say “sorry”, rather, one says “it is regrettable that…”

TEPCO probably planned for an 8.5 quake and a five foot tsunami (I’m speculating here.). Perhaps they did not plan for a loss of back-up power. Perhaps they did not plan for a destroyed infrastructure within the vicinity of the plant. When reality fell outside their expectations, they had no plan. At first they could not see reality. Next they could not admit what that reality was. After that they fell back to habit, which is to try to build consensus, deferring to the seniors and elders, even if these “respected” individuals had no clue and the underlings did. After initial discussions, there are reports to write. Then new meetings to discuss the reports. Then suggestions based on the discussion surrounding the reports. Then new reports needed to be written, etc., etc., etc.

The GoJ
[Government of Japan - ed.] could not “embarrass” TEPCO by questioning them or question anything TEPCO was doing. Certainly the GoJ could not tell TEPCO to get out of the way and let someone else take charge. TEPCO did not want to “alarm” the Japanese people or “confuse” them by telling the truth; rather they tried to keep the social order by saying “don’t worry”. Perhaps they themselves did not want to know, so they took no readings. It is not that they were trying to cover their own butts. They really did not want to upset the people by burdening them with the truth, especially at a time of great national suffering. Upsetting people is worse than killing them. This is a fine point, but very real.

Japanese can adapt, but they require time to do so. Time sensitive events are not something they are built to handle particularly well, partly because they might not have a pre-existing plan to deal with it and partly because existing rules must be followed at all cost. (Note that foreign aid for quake-tsunami victims was held up for “rules” such as the requirement to quarantine dogs---even rescue dogs sent to find survivors while survivors were still alive---and the requirement to do exhaustive studies on all imported food.) Things that look like gross negligence and incompetence are not quite what they appear to be. For example, the workers who stepped into contaminated water did not have the proper equipment, not because the bosses are cruel, but because that possibility was never considered so no one could see it, much less plan for it. Then there is “face”. Calling in outside experts, especially foreign ones, would be an admission of inferiority. Sometimes death is preferable to shame. Anyone who doubts that should read about the philosophy behind seppuku.

I am no nuclear expert. I have no idea what the worst case scenario is, though I doubt it is TEOTW
[The End Of The World - ed.], except for those unfortunate souls living within a hundred or so kilometers from the plant. I suspect we will find out, because everything that makes Japanese Japanese will lead to that worst case.

I am not trying to gang up on the Japanese. All peoples have good points and bad. This crisis has revealed some of Japan's less than optimal national traits. Certainly Americans have more than their share of bad cultural traits, too. Let's just hope that natural selection never meets the "bads" head on. Let's also hope that Japan gets its act together before more of its citizens suffer unnecessarily.
I agree. It is not the end of the world. But it is a serious setback for the world's #3 economy and thus it will be a setback for the rest of the world especially because of the supply disruptions. And we won't notice those (because they are not yet severe) for another month or two. Where will the real hit come? Products for the December holiday season which will go into production (if they haven't already started) by June at the latest.

As to the radiation dangers? They are probably only severe in Japan. For the rest of the world it is the equivalent to a few above ground atomic tests at worst. Not a good thing to be sure. Also not the end of the world.

H/T Zero Hedge

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Operating Under Pressure

It appears from the latest report from Fukushima that the people trying to recover from the accident are operating under tremendous pressure while several of the reactor vessels are not according to the IAEA. This is not good news.

The numbers are given in metric but I will translate them to English. First a little explanation is in order: Gauge pressure and absolute pressure. Absolute pressure is just what it sounds like. The reference pressure is zero. Which is to say a vacuum. Gauge pressure ignores (an offset actually) atmospheric pressure. Suppose you are putting air in your bicycle tire. What matters is how much more pressure than atmospheric is in the tire not the absolute pressure. So that is why you have absolute and gauge pressure. Gauge pressures can be negative (below atmospheric) absolute pressures are always zero or positive.

The chart linked above gives two readings (A) and (B). I'm not sure why. I'm going to give just the highest one since it will provide enough information for my purposes. I have rounded the psi numbers for convenience since order of magnitude is sufficient.

Reactor 1 .491 MPaG 71 psi above atmospheric
Reactor 2 -.023 MPaG 3 psi below atmospheric
Reactor 3 .018 MPaG 3 psi above atmospheric

So how do you get a negative pressure? It could be instrument error (including errors caused by cross flows). It could be wind blowing across a hole (like a perfume atomizer). Or it could be things have gone cold and steam is condensing (not a chance in hell unless the core has moved on and that still leaves you with a big hole in the bottom of your tea kettle).

Reactor vessels 2 & 3 are breached. This is confirmation of a report I provided: Still I Look To Find The Reason Why .

How about the containment vessels?

Atmospheric pressure is exactly: .101325 MPaabs or 14.6959 psiabs

Containment 1 .230 MPaabs    33.4 psia
Containment 2 .100 MPaabs    14.5 psia
Containment 3 .1064 MPaabs   15.4 psia

Which says that containment 2 and 3 are breached as well.

Keep It From Escaping

It is critically important to keep the most seriously damaging element(s) from escaping at the reactor accident in Fukushima. And what element(s) might that be?

The Truth.

Still I Look To Find The Reason Why

What is happening at Fukushima has some people baffled.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said water taken Tuesday afternoon from the monitoring location for the troubled reactors Nos. 1 to 4 had 3,355 times the permitted concentration of iodine-131. That is the highest yet recorded at the sampling location, which is 330 meters south of the reactors' discharge outlet.

"The levels are rising and we would like to find the reasons as soon as possible so we can put countermeasures in place," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said at a press conference.
Keep in mind that it has now been 19 days since shutdown. Which means if there was no later criticality accident I131 levels should be down by about a factor of 5 since 11 March. The fact that the levels in the ocean are rising is a very bad sign.

OTOH by only reporting Iodine they will ultimately be able to show a gradual decline in radiation just from natural decay. In 80 days the amount of I131 would be 1/1,000th of what it was at day zero. More honest would be showing Iodine and Cesium levels. Cesium has a long enough half life (30 years) in relation to the accident that it is a better measure of long term effects.
The nuclear agency's Mr. Nishiyama, meanwhile, said that low pressure levels recorded for the No. 2 and 3 reactors could be a sign that the areas around valves and other inlets of the pressure and containment vessels may have weakened and may be leaking.

The scope of the water problem became clear earlier in the week when authorities announced that three trenches holding pipes had filled with radioactive water. The situation at reactor No. 2 was especially problematic: The water's radioactivity was measured at 1,000 millisieverts per hour, four times the allowable annual dose for a nuclear worker, even in an emergency situation.
Well yeah. The fittings could have cracked or broken off. That is a possibility. Another possibility is that the fuel rods melted and burned a hole in the bottom of the reactor vessel, an accident otherwise known as Core On The Floor.

There is no reason for alarm. Everything is fine so far. A little Iodine spread around. Some Plutonium in the dirt. But all at levels that are absolutely safe so far. Nothing to be concerned about. So far.

Core On The Floor

We have news from a newspaper. In this case The Guardian - UK, which has some bad news about the Fukushima reactor accidents.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.

"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."
And if we should get unlucky and that mass of junk that was formerly a reactor core has a Criticality Accident? Well all kinds of bad things could happen. Will it be an all out nuclear explosion? No. But it could be a very small one. Which will spread the radioactive fission fragments around. Or the crud might hit a pool of water causing a steam explosion. Spreading the junk around. Or it might melt into the ground and the radioactivity will get spread into the ground water by natural flows. Or we could get lucky and nothing much worse than is already happening will continue to happen. At the current time I'm not voting for Lucky. I'm voting for Murphy.

For your amusement we have a map of the aquifers of the world in pdf so you can keep enlarging it until Japan gets to a reasonable size. Now compare it to this earthquake map of Japan. From my crude measurements it appears that Fukushima is just outside the Tokyo aquifer. Or it might be close enough that it will be a problem if the radioactive sludge reaches the aquifer. I look forward to seeing better maps in the next few days as the SHTF (or if you prefer - the news gets out).

So how about a recap? We have three reactors and four spent fuel rod pools in trouble, but everything is fine so far.


You know, I just had a funny thought. Of course we couldn't have a Chernobyl "style" event. There is no mass quantity of carbon to burn. But could we have a Chernobyl "quality" of event (radiation spread) if things go bad wrong? I think so.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Murphy Strikes

My friend Frank in a comment at Worst Case Scenario, reminded me of something I had been saying implicitly and not explicitly when it comes to the nuclear accident at Fukushima.

...the fact that ever changing events are driving the clean-up effort not allowing any kind of containment plan to emerge as of now, this and Murphy's Law don't paint a pretty picture going forward.
I told Frank, "...thanks for noting that Murphy is our silent partner in this venture."

Well friends and neighbors, Murphy has struck.
NHK tv notes that a giant crane fell over and probably crushed spent fuel rods at in Fukushima reactor number 3, which contain a plutonium-uranium mix.
And of course Murphy will strike again.

What I'm seeing generally in places I frequent on the 'net is, "so far not so bad", which is true.

What I'm looking at personally is, "what direction are things going?" And from that point of view along with fairly good knowledge of the technology I'm not optimistic.

I'm a big fan of worst case scenarios. They help you make the best plan. In my estimation the Japanese have been operating with a "best case" bias. Putting them continuously behind the curve.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Reuters has a pretty good recap of events at Fukushima (thanks
Zero Hedge) but I'd like to take exception to one point they make.

The risk that the spent fuel pools could reach recriticality seems remote, as long as there are workers and firefighters willing to douse the reactors with water each time temperatures start to rise.
Criticality has nothing to do with temperature. It has to do with neutron efficiency and moderation. Water is a good moderator and a neutron reflector. Pouring water on a potentially critical mass of uranium/plutonium is the wrong thing to do if you want to do everything possible to prevent recriticality. OTOH it may be a balancing act. i.e. conflicting requirements. They may have to keep things cool enough to prevent further melt down while hoping to avoid a recriticality accident.

I think that they have already had a recriticality accident. From the lack of recent reports I estimate that the mass of junk that went critical has gone subcritical. But there is no certainty that it will remain in that condition.

If the Japanese start reporting neutrons on site (well above background) at any time or measurements of Iodine 134 ten days from now I'd be worried.

The Plutonium Report

On Sunday (27 March) I said in Tests Have Been Ordered, that if they were detecting Iodine 131 that they were also detecting any plutonium in the area. And if there was Iodine 131 there was plutonium. They knew. What I said was "we are checking" means "we will announce".

Well here is the announcement.

I was reading a thread (probably Zero Hedge) and someone asked what is to be done. A commenter said: do not panic large numbers of people but slowly "expand" the danger zone with news announcements. Let the easily panicked respond first. So what do we see today? A plutonium report. I expect plutonium finds further afield as time goes on.

The US government has suggested that any one within 80 km (50 mi) of the melt down leave the area. I expect that area or perhaps 100 km (60 mi) will be the final size of the exclusion zone.

My guess (based on what I think is going on) is that eventually Tokyo will be in part or wholly evacuated. They are lucky most of the junk is blowing out to sea. So far. The big problem is the pile of molten (possibly critical or recently critical) sludge melting into the water table. I believe that is the water for Tokyo. If the sludge is critical there is no way to get under it to provide a barrier. Too much radiation. Back in my Naval Nuke days we called this the China Syndrome accident. The idea wasn't that the molten pool of sludge would go to China but that it stopped when it wanted to not when we wanted it to.

There is another possibility for spreading the radiation around. If the sludge contacts enough water either from the earth or cool down water then there could be a steam explosion spreading radioactives high into the atmosphere. A wind blowing out to sea would be a good thing if that happens.

The lives this costs will not be Japanese (not many anyway). It will be those killed by a faltering economy as the broken Japanese production machine causes bottlenecks.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, March 28, 2011

Prejudice Against Breast Feeding Women?

Yeah the video was gratuitous. And there are more of them here. I especially liked the cradle hold. A very instructive video. Uh. Where was I? Oh. yeah. Prejudice.

Is there prejudice against breast feeders?
Asked to rate the woman as a job candidate, the students (men and women alike) gave the lowest rating to the breastfeeding woman, with second-lowest rank going to the strapless-bra lady. But the woman going home to bathe her baby did roughly as well as the one who received the neutral message. In other words, signs of parenting didn't trigger perceptions that the hypothetical woman was less capable. Rather, that result appeared after people were primed to think about the woman's breasts. It didn't matter much if they were being invoked as a source of food or as a source of pleasure.
So thinking about breasts makes people think that the big breasted are not so smart? Or is it that just thinking about breasts makes people stupid? I think this topic will require further research. Preferably hands on.

Some good research materials can be found here:


This looks especially promising:

The Big Book of Breasts in 3-D

This could also be helpful:

The Breast Book: An Intimate and Curious History

from a review:
Using over 600 illustrations and photographs, BREASTS is about changing social mores and attitudes, from classical Greek statuary to the Victorian corset to Twiggy to Pamela Lee. BREASTS is about envy and etiquette, differences-why 90 percent of French women do not breastfeed, for example-and adornment, including make-up, tattooing, nipple rings, and more. BREASTS is about politics, art, religion, kitsch, and burning the bra. About perceptions-90 percent of men prefer a size C over a D. About high art-whether the humanist breast in Renaissance painting or its feminist send-up by photographer Cindy Sherman-and pop art, from Vargas girls to World War II bomber mascots to Madonna. BREASTS is about getting them right-falsies, bust improvers, gadgets, pumps, and creams-and showing them off, like Jayne Mansfield's, immortalized in cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.
And don't forget they provide brain food for infants and an obsession for post pubescent men (a different kind of brain food).

And a bit of advice: what ever the size of your female partner's breasts, they are the perfect size and the size you prefer over all others. That is my story and I'm sticking to it. Fortunately it is true for me. My mate cross checks. She watches to see who (or what) I'm ogling. So be careful out there.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Surrealistic Cement Shoes

The wacky Japanese are at it again:

The government believes highly radioactive water detected at the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is due to a partial meltdown of fuel rods there, its top spokesman said Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference that the government believes that the meltdown was only temporary.
What? The melted reactor is going to spontaneously reassemble itself? Or maybe they mean the spewing of radiation is only temporary. But on what time scale? Weeks? Months? Years? Decades? Centuries?

I'm beginning to detect a very serious further flight from reality.

Some further research may give us an answer.
"Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over)," TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.
So they expect the plant to keep spewing for months or years? And was "concrete schedule" a slip of the tongue? i.e. the only solution is the Chernobyl solution. Bury the reactors in concrete and sand.

As we used to say in the US Navy, "Someone has screwed the pooch."

My estimation of what is going on:

Criticality Accident?

Uncontrolled Criticality Accident Confirmation

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Worst Case Scenario

Yeah. I know. I'm a damned alarmist and hysteric when it comes to the Japanese reactor difficulties. It seems I'm not the only one. Michio Kaku describes how things could go if they go bad wrong.

...the worst case scenario is quite different. If radiation levels continue to rise, then at some point the workers may have to evacuate. (A secondary earthquake or pipe break may also aggravate the situation). If the workers abandon the ship, it means that cooling water (which is being shot into the reactors by fire hose) will begin to fall, exposing the rods, and eventually creating 3 simultaneous meltdowns. Then perhaps a steam or hydrogen gas explosion will completely rupture the containment. This will create a nightmare beyond Chernobyl.
Here is a video of Mr. Kaku saying pretty much what he said in the excerpt above:

I'm not optimistic at this point. At all. I expect to see dead zones in Japan by the time the situation is under control.

Dr. Kaku in his latest blog post has some very disturbing news.
The reactor situation in Japan suffered yet another setback today, with water levels in Unit 2 registering 10 million times normal levels. The radiation was so high that workers fled the reactor rather than take a second reading. Radiation levels were an astonishing 1,000 msv/hour (which will cause radiation sickness within an hour and even deaths starting at 6 hours). Given this near-lethal radiation field, workers evacuated Unit 2.

One question is: where did this radiation come from? Most of it was in the form of iodine-134 (with a half-life of 53 minutes) and iodine-131 (with a half life of 8 days). This indicates that the radiation came directly from the core at Unit 2, rather than the spent fuel pond (where most of the iodine has already decayed). So there seems to be a direct path way from the core to the outside, meaning a breach of containment, similar to the situation in Unit 3. In other words, there could be a crack in the pressure vessel surrounding the super hot uranium core, as well as a crack in the outer primary containment vessel surrounding the pressure vessel.
A little math is in order. For ease of calculation let us say that the half-life of I134 is 1 hour and the measurement was made 10 days after the accident started. So let us see 24 hours in a day for 10 days = roughly 240 half lives. Or 1/2240 as much I134 as there was at shutdown. That would mean about 5E-73 as much I134 as there was at shutdown. i.e. basically none. If I134 is detectable the reactor is either not shut down or it is operating in some kind of meltdown mode. Which is to say things are very, very, bad when there are detectable amounts of I134 ten days or more after "shutdown".

This all fits in well with my discussion Criticality Accident? Unfortunately.

Update: 28 March 2011 0812z

I have been advised that I134 is a daughter product of the decay of Tellurium 134. And the half life of Te134? About 42 minutes. That will not be a steady source of I131 over time. So my analysis stands. We have a criticality accident. Which is very bad news.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Radioactive Japan Then And Now

This is not an exact comparison but will give you some idea of the order of magnitudes involved: The Hiroshima bomb contained about 64 kg of Uranium. The Nagasaki bomb had about 6.2 kg of Plutonium plus maybe tens to hundreds of kg of Uranium.

The Fukushima reactors and spent fuel rods amount to a total of 1,814 tons of Uranium. Say we go with just plant number three which has likely suffered a melt down. That would be 88 tons of Uranium. Roughly 1,000X as much Uranium as the Hiroshima bomb.

Now this is not a direct comparison of the two events. It is not a technical analysis. It is just to give you a very rough idea of the amounts of radiation involved. Will the dispersion be as good as it was from a bomb? No. And that is good and bad. There will be hot spots. Maybe if we are lucky a lot of the radioactives will remain on site.

Anyway you look at it the contamination will be much worse than that from a single primitive bomb.

Tests Have Been Ordered

In keeping with the theme that the Japanese running the reactor rescue are lying, I bring you this bit of news:

Making things much worse is that, apparently for the first time, TEPCO has ordered tests for highly toxic and extremely lethal plutonium on the site:
If they have been testing for other contamination they already have some plutonium numbers. You can pick it up rather easily with a standard GCMS test. What they are actually announcing is the release of the plutonium numbers.

My guess is that they are worried. Very worried. Here is a comment from the above site that gives reasons why they might be worried.
by Confuchius on Sun, 03/27/2011 - 13:06

Two days ago we watched a video of a meeting last week with the most senior Russian scientist who also advised on the sarcophagus construction at Chernobyl. He was in Japan at the request of the government for advice on their problems. He said that after giving them his best advice, they totally ignored all of it and were merely seeking to save face.

He said that he told them to immediately evacuate everyone in a 100 km diameter circle around Fukushima. He also measured the radiation in the soil 60 km from Fukushima and found it was twice as bad as the same measurements taken at the same distance from Chernobyl in 1986. He also said there would be no food grown there again. Ever. Not only that, but the irradiation of the ground water would affect Tokyo itself. He said that there is no safe water in Tokyo at present, nor will there ever be again. Evidently the bureaucrats have given no thought to the evacuation of Tokyo (30 million residents). His most telling comment was that the problems at Fukushima have not even started yet. It will get worsr & worse until they put it all in a proper containment structure, which will take years.

And the best of British Luck to all the world's incompetent bureaucrats. (Which is ALL of them)
Of course I can't verify any of that. But it does fit in with my prejudices on how I expect things to unfold from here.

If Tokyo becomes a ghost town nuclear power will be dead for 50 to 100 years. And Japan may be beyond its last legs already.

OH. Yeah. just for your amusement. The focus of the above linked article is VERY HIGH measured radiation levels. Which are "officially" being discounted as anomalous. Of course they are. Until tomorrow's discounted reported levels.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Master Manipulators

I'm noodling around the net and what do I find? Another conspiracy. One I call The Master Manipulators. Now if you watch the first few minutes of the video you will hear a startling revelation:

Happy People Are Docile.

And from this the master manipulators get the idea: "The way to control people is to make them happy."


Unfortunately they are competing with "The way to make people (well a lot of them anyway) happy is to leave them alone."

I predict trouble.

In the end it always comes down to: "We did everything we could to make you happy and you are still not happy. You ingrates. Now we will have to shoot you."

Of course there is some truth to the statement about happy people. It is the essence of civilization. You only get civilization where there is enough to eat for long enough. And ultimately if you use agriculture to assure food plenty control is complete. And that happened a very long time ago.

You can read about it here:

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Radical Islam

I know you are not going to believe this but the above is an image of Radical Islam. Pretty radical for Islam isn't it? Well at least it is very radical for her father.
...the daughter of firebrand cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, Yasmin Fostok might be expected to share his fanatical beliefs.

But the radical Muslim's daughter has ditched his extreme interpretation of Islam - as well as most of her clothing.

The busty blonde has been revealed as a topless, tattooed pole dancer.
Her father denounces the news as a fabricated attack.
Perhaps predictably Bakri, now exiled to Lebanon, dismissed the news as a ' fabrication' and described it as an attack on him and Islam.

'The more you put pressure on me, the stronger I become. Islam will conquer Britain,' he said.

'I have not seen my daughter for nine years, but because she is a member of my family people want to make things up about her.

'You are going to pay a heavy price. You can read it any way you like. The time is now.'
I'm no expert but the only thing I see that appears fabricated in the photo are the protrusions on her chest. But that is just a guess.

So is America falling behind in the exotic dance race? Are we about to lose the pole position? Not if these Christians can get in the swing of things. They are Pole Dancing For Jesus.
church-going ladies in suburban Spring are taking their Jesus-loving to the pole. It's all part of the Pole Fitness for Jesus program that goes down every second Sunday of the month at Best Shape of Your Life studio, following the traditional church worship service.

The gym's owner, Crystal Dean (a professional pole dancing alumna), believes she connects clients to God by directing them towards a more joyful life.

During sessions, she spins "upbeat contemporary Christian music." These women aren't concerned about what their neighbors think of their avant-garde Holy Grail workout.
There are a bunch of links in the comments - videos and such. If you like that sort of thing.

The best strip club I ever went to was run by a former minister.

Frank Gay's Marquee.

He treated the girls well. He treated the patrons well. No sleazy hustles.

The best time I ever had at a strip club was at Frank's. After one of the girls finished dancing she came to my table, we held hands and talked about our families.

Yeah. Frank's was different.

To learn the basics:

Pole Dancing - A Beginners Guide DVD

If you need to improve your grip on the pole:

Mighty Grip for Fitness Pole Dancing

And for those who like dancing on a greasy pole:

Astroglide Personal Lubricant

In any case the above story fits in well with my thesis that sex will destroy Islam. Here are a couple of posts I have written on the subject:

Defeated By Pornography
Jewish Porn Sweeps The Arab World

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Saturday, March 26, 2011

And Now For Some Good News From Japan

It looks like the Japanese utility company, TEPCO, is starting to tell the truth. That is some very good news. And the first truth they are telling? "We have been lying." By omission to be sure. Still a lie.

TEPCO's Fukushima office acknowledged Saturday that it had known earlier that the radiation in the underground level of the turbine building of one of the reactors was extremely high, but had not made the information available to pertinent parties.

Edano criticized the utility's handling of the data, saying unless it reports necessary information to authorities in a timely manner, "the government will not be able to give appropriate instructions and (TEPCO) will make workers, and eventually the public, distrustful" of the firm.
Under the circumstances I believe it is wise to adopt the motto: "It is probably worse than we thought and certainly it is much worse than we are being told."

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Right Amount

You should balance military spending against disasters prevented. Since there is no way prevented disasters can be quantified, military spending will get reduced until there is a disaster.

See world history 1920 to 1945.

Rinse - repeat.

Ill Wind

That report is now about two days old. Since then there have been "developments". That is an euphemism around here for MSHTF. M = more. I'm sure you can take it from there.

Here is a good one: Reactor 3 containment feared breached.
A suspected breach in the core of a reactor at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could mean more serious radioactive contamination, Japanese officials revealed Friday, as the prime minister called the country’s ongoing fight to stabalize the plant “very grave and serious.”

A somber Prime Minister Naoto Kan sounded a pessimistic note at a briefing hours after nuclear safety officials announced what could be a major setback in the urgent mission to stop the plant from leaking radiation, two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami disabled it.

“The situation today at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant is still very grave and serious. We must remain vigilant,” Kan said. “We are not in a position where we can be optimistic."
FWIW I haven't been optimistic since day 3 or 4. Hydrogen explosions are a very bad sign. At least the Japanese government is starting to tell the truth: things will be getting worse for a while.

There is also some technical data available.
Workers were also trying to fix a pump using an outside power source that had been pumping seawater into the No. 5 reactor, but which stopped Wednesday night.

Figures obtained from instruments indicate that between half to one-third of the approximately 4-meter long fuel rods are exposed, but TEPCO officials do not know what the actual situation is like.

The temperature of the core of the No. 1 reactor at one time reached about 400 degrees, above the design limit of 302 degrees. To cool the core, the amount of seawater being pumped in was increased early Wednesday from 2 cubic meters an hour to 18 cubic meters an hour.

The temperature decreased to 243 degrees as of 1 a.m. Thursday, leading one TEPCO official to say the situation was improving.

However, pressure within the containment vessel that holds the pressure container in the core of the No. 1 reactor increased from about 1.7 atmospheres (atm) at 11 a.m. Tuesday to 3.6 atm at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The amount of seawater being pumped in was reduced to about 10 cubic meters per hour from 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

At a Wednesday night news conference, Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission, said: "Personally, I am concerned about the increase in pressure in the No. 1 reactor. We may have to open the vent (to release steam)."
So why are they so slow to vent reactor #1? My guess is that they can't pump make-up water into the reactor and venting will cause the fuel rods to be uncovered. Another alternative is that they fear a hydrogen explosion. What ever it is they are holding off venting until the last possible moment. Of course if their judgment is wrong and they go beyond the last possible minute....

In any case, a sure sign that the core has been breached is radioactive iodine. About 99.9% of it is gone 90 days after a shutdown. There is a lot of it in a core that has just shut down. So spent fuel is not going to provide much radioactive iodine. I have been saying total containment breach - rods, reactor vessel, containment bldg. - since the radioactive iodine was reported. Nice to get confirmation.

More evidence of a meltdown. Radioactive zirconium found. Follow the link for the whole dismal story.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Level 6

The accident at Japan's nuclear reactors officially just got worse.

Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, crippled by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, has discharged more radiation than the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the United States, according to calculations by the central government.

It has already reached a level 6 serious accident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).

Separately, calculations made by experts place the level of soil contamination in some locations at levels comparable to those found after the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

With the Fukushima plant continuing to release radiation, there is the danger that the contaminated land will be unusable for many years.
Such a short report. So much information.

Comparable to Chernobyl in spots? Well that is the good news. Why good? Because the radiation is only really bad in spots. Bad news would be "Comparable to Chernobyl over a wide area." Well not to worry. The accident is not over.

And contaminated land unusable for years (they probably mean decades)? Well at least no one has died from the radiation. So far. But as I keep saying:

Coal plants may be more dangerous on a day to day basis but when they go tits up you don't have to evacuate everyone who lives within 50 miles of the plant.

Tyler Durden has some thoughts on the latest development.
Only Chernobyl is a Level 7 event. We believe Fukushima should get there within 2 weeks as ever more of the current devastation becomes public. Of course, all of this is a paper-pushing formality. What isn't, are people who may be developing serious diseases as the government continues to misrepresent the severity of the situation.
Is an evacuation of Tokyo possible? I would currently put that action at the outer limit of possible dangers. If it does happen I'd have to say the accident is worse than I thought. And I thought it was pretty bad.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

A Nuclear Attitude

I found a comment at The Telegraph UK that pretty well describes my current attitude and understanding towards events at Fukushima, Japan.

J.P. Craig-Weston [says,]

Look I apologise for being a bit rude with you, (although to fair you somewhat invite it,) but a couple of points that keep cropping up here irritate me.

First of all the casual and witless assumption that I'm opposed to Nuclear Power, I’m not in fact, quite the contrary I simply do not regard any of the so called alternatives as being, well realistic or practical alternatives, for the kind of large scale energy production that we use to drive everything from this computer to CERN.

The second, is the persistent attempst by certain blindly uncritically pro nuclear elements to disregard or dismiss the well documented and thoroughly understood effects of radiation poisoning, ( another commentator posted, “so - Chernobyl - according to WHO and a slew of UN bodies the probable final result is that the incidence of cancer amongst those in the immediate vicinity will be raise by just 3 and a bit percent,” I pointed out that 3% actually translates into a massive number of potential fatalities, 30,000 in every million in fact so the effect is neither small nor trivial.)

I also agree that the design of the Japanese reactors is superior to the Russian one at Chernobyl, but then so was the design of the Titanic, so to speak. It didn't save them.

If the events at Fukushima have demonstrate nothing else it is that nuclear power despite it's many advantages and merits still remains an extremely hazardous technology and one that still need to be deployed with caution and circumspection. When it fails, as it seems to have done at Fukushima, (after 40 years of earthquakes culminating in a 9 on the Richter scale event, followed immediately by inundation by a 10 meter tsunami,) it fails catastrophically and massively. I would have thought that this lesson would be entirely self evident to anyone who has observed this or previous nuclear disasters.

So statements such as,”So the second lesson is that nuclear power is even safer than we thought,” seem to me, to be in this context, not merely wrong headed but just inane.
This also bears repeating:

When it fails it fails catastrophically and massively.

We are about to learn that lesson about Just In Time (JIT) inventory management. It does free a lot of capital. It is less resilient. Taxing inventory reduces the resilience of the system by increasing the cost of inventory. JIT fits in well with the tax system in places where inventory is taxed. It does not fit in well with resilience.

Nuclear Is Safer

When a coal plant blows up you do not have to evacuate 140,000 people (currently - the numbers may go up). You do not have to stop drinking the water. You don't have to stop eating the vegetables. You don't have to divert trucking around exclusion zones. You don't have to test everything for radiation.

Other than that nuclear is safer.

Escape From Tokyo

Everybody knows nuclear power is safe because the death rate per watt produced is so low. So true. Now can someone tell me the last time an explosion at a coal fired plant caused the evacuation of 140,000 people? Could Tokyo be next?

Radioactive cesium 1.8 times higher than the standard level was found in a green leafy vegetable grown in a research facility in Tokyo, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Tokyo Metropolitan government.
Swell. Just swell.

Not to worry. The Japanese are considering expanding the exclusion zone.
The government is reviewing its current directive for people living in a 20 to 30 km [12 to 18 mi - ed.] radius of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to remain indoors, and may recommend they relocate farther away, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano indicated Thursday.

But Edano stressed in a news conference that reconsidering the directive does not mean the risk of radiation leaking from the plant is increasing.

"We are reviewing whether people (in the area) can continue living under current conditions," Edano said, noting locals have become dependent on Self-Defense Forces members for their supplies.

As trucking companies are shunning the designated no-go zone, residents there are finding daily necessities such as gasoline and food increasingly hard to come by.

Edano emphasized that the government would proceed with caution if it decides to revise the directive, to avoid sowing fear that the radiation danger is rising.
There are a couple of possibilities here. Either the danger was greater than originally stated and the government was blowing smoke or the danger is increasing and the government is blowing smoke.

Of course the trucking problem is serious. What if truckers decide it is no longer safe in the Tokyo area? Where exactly will Japan relocate their industries and people? Fortunately the death toll from nuclear is quite small. But you have to balance that against the economic costs of an accident. And the death toll. And we will not even have a clue on the magnitude of the death toll for at least a year because radiation in most cases is a slow poison.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Remember my story about Tokyo water being unfit for infants due to radioactivity? Evidently it is giving one Westerner in Japan crazy ideas.

“It’s unfortunate, but the radiation is clearly being carried on the air from the Fukushima plant,” Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said Wednesday. “Because it’s raining, it’s possible that a lot of places will be affected. Even if people consume the water a few times, there should be no long-term ill effects.”

As authorities tried to maintain calm in Tokyo, residents were racing to buy as much bottled water as they could, clearing the shelves of the city’s stores. Mr. Edano said Thursday that officials were considering a plan to import water from overseas, to supplement the bottles they planned to begin distributing across the city.

Despite the frequent rain in recent days, it was not entirely clear why the levels of iodine were so high, said a senior Western nuclear executive, noting that the prevailing breezes seemed to be pushing radiation out to sea. “The contamination levels are well beyond what you’d expect from what is in the public domain,” said the executive, who insisted on anonymity and has broad contacts in Japan.

It was possible that the levels were an indirect indication that the problems at the plant were deeper than had been publicly acknowledged.
Compare and contrast "no long term ill effects" with "importing water" and then restudy "deeper than had been publicly acknowledged."

The US Military began evacuating Military dependents from Japan six days ago.
The exodus from Japan is intensifying as the United States announced plans to evacuate as many as 20,000 dependents of military personnel and foreign rescue teams were told the search for tsunami survivors is virtually over.

"Don't panic," Capt. Eric Gardner, the commanding officer at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, said in a video message for personnel announcing the voluntary evacuations.

Relatives and nonessential workers at Atsugi and three other US military bases were offered the opportunity to leave. They will be flown to the United States aboard US-chartered planes or via commercial flights with their fares paid by the Department of Defense, officials said.
Well I'm going to take Capt. Gardner's advice. I'm not going to panic. But I don't live in Japan.

The troubles with the reactors got a little worse today.
Steam rising from 4 reactors at Fukushima plant.

An NHK helicopter crew has confirmed what appears to be steam rising from No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactor buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

This is the first time that steam has been seen coming out of the No.1 reactor.
And there appears to be other troubles according to Zero Hedge.
And more bad news, this time from Reactor 5, which was previously considered safe, via the NYT:
The cooling system at Reactor No. 5, which was shut down at the time of the earthquake and has shown few problems since, also abruptly stopped working on Wednesday afternoon, said Hiro Hasegawa, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric....“When we switched from the temporary pump, it automatically switched off,” he said. “We’ll try again with a new pump in the morning.”
Lost cooling to #5. Uh. Oh. And now they have to install a new pump? Probably in a high radiation environment. Dang.

Speaking of radiation. The casualties are coming in.
Japan's nuclear safety agency said three workers had been injured when their feet came into contact with radiation-contaminated water while laying cables in the turbine area of reactor 3.

They were exposed to radiation levels of 170-180 millisieverts, he said, which is lower than the maximum level permitted for workers on the site of 250 millisieverts. Two of the workers were taken to hospital.

"Although they wore protective clothing, the contaminated water seeped in and their legs were exposed to radiation," said a spokesman.

"Direct exposure to radiation usually leads to inflammation and so that's why they were sent to the hospital to be treated."

Most people are exposed to 2 millisieverts over the average year, while 100 millisieverts is considered the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is clearly evident.
So at minimum the workers are at elevated risk for cancer. Some think certain death.
They're known as the "Fukushima 50," and they're Japan's only hope of avoiding a Chernobyl-like catastrophe.

The men, unidentified technicians and emergency workers, are desperately battling to save potentially millions of their countrymen -- knowing that even if they succeed, they'll likely die from lethal doses of radiation.

Chernobyl workers who stayed at their stations when the Ukrainian reactor exploded in 1986 died within three months of exposure.
Radiation is a slow poison most of the time. We will not get a true body count until the mess is cleaned up. And for now it can't be cleaned up because it is not under control.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Set And Setting

I have been saying this here and there around the 'net since the reactor malfunction in Japan started on the 11th. I think it bears repeating in my most clear and concise manner so far:

My guess is that the mindset of those running the operation was to "preserve assets" rather than to "prevent disaster". Which is why I think that at this time commercial entities are not a good match for nuclear power. It will have to be a LOT more fail safe.

And in case you were wondereing: Set and Setting.

Criticality Accident?

Things are getting better and better all the time when it comes to the Japanese Nuclear Reactors in Fukushima. Take this report from 19 March, 2011.

-- Reactor No. 4 - Under maintenance when quake struck, no fuel rods in reactor core, temperature in spent-fuel storage pool reached 84 C on Monday, fire Tuesday possibly caused by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, fire observed Wednesday at building housing reactor, pool water level feared receding, renewed nuclear chain reaction feared, only frame remains of reactor building roof.
The Monday and Tuesday in question would be the 14th and 15th.

OK. Now we get this wonderful bit of news from 23 March that ties in with the old news.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.

TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear plant, said the neutron beam measured about 1.5 kilometers southwest of the plant's No. 1 and 2 reactors over three days from March 13 and is equivalent to 0.01 to 0.02 microsieverts per hour and that this is not a dangerous level.
Well isn't that interesting? Not at all. Look at the attribution of the beam in the latest report.
...the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant's nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.
The neutron beams are evidence of criticality. Random bits of U235, U238, and Plutonium scattered about the universe do not generate neutron beams. I'm sorry. But unless you have neutron multiplications of above 1.0000 you are not going to see a lot of neutrons coming out of a "shut down" reactor. And it might not have been a reactor even. Spent Fuel Rod Pool #4 is a prime candidate. The "pile" need not be very orderly if the pile is big enough. Such disorder in fact might very well generate beams rather than the more even flux you get from a reactor operating as designed.

Of course criticality accidents are very bad news. Because there is no guarantee that the "pile" will not restart at some later date. Very inconvenient.

Oh. Yeah. Just for the record. It never happened, sort of.
In the latest case at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, such a criticality accident has yet to happen.
Of course it hasn't happened. If it had actually happened the news would be very inconvenient. Proof positive it never happened. And the Emperor willing it is not going to happen under any circumstances.
Han Solo: [sounding official] Uh, everything's under control. Situation normal.
Yeah. Right.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

We Will Have To Bury You

Burying the Fukushima Site is going to be quite a trick if it needs to be done.

H/T TerraHertz

Japan Has More Troubled Assets - No Relief In Sight

Another nuke site in Japan is in trouble.

Q: What is the status of nuclear reactors as of Monday?

A: There are nine units under states of emergency - three at Fukushima Dai-ichi, three at Fukushima Daini and three at Onagawa. All are north-northeast of Tokyo, along the eastern coast, and all are boiling water reactors.


Q: What is the situation at the nearby Fukushima Daini facility?

A: Japanese officials say units 1, 2 and 4 retained offsite power after the earthquake and tsunami, but were experiencing increased pressure inside their containment vessels and equipment failures. As a result, plant operators vented steam at each unit and were considering additional venting to alleviate pressure increases.

Q: And now there are concerns about a third complex?

A: Yes, as of late Sunday, there are states of emergency at each of the three reactors at the Onagawa nuclear site. Officials have said only they've detected higher than permitted radiation levels there.
Nuke Plants leaking radiation is usually a bad sign. If the leakage is continuous it is a very bad sign.

And what kind of equipment failures? Instruments? Pumps? Valves? Wiring? Piping? Switchgear?

It is just possible that after this accident the Japanese may sour on nuclear power.

Worst Of Nuclear Crisis Is Over

So says America's very own Secratary of Energy.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the Obama administration believes the worst of the crisis is over. Unit 2, where Tepco connected a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) power cable March 18 as it tried to revive cooling systems knocked out by the magnitude-9 temblor and tsunami, is the main source of concern, Chu said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.

“Because of the higher levels of radiation there, we take that as evidence that there might be a breach in that containment vessel,” he said. “But they’re not extraordinarily high, so it appears if there is a breach, it would be a limited breach. But, again, we don’t really know.”
Of course that was reported on the 21st of March. Since then there have been shall we say "developments".
Tokyo Electric Power workers began restoring power to the Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear plant even as radiation leaked into the sea and contaminated some food.

Engineers were unable to connect power to one of four damaged reactors. Electricity helps circulate cooling water to the units.

A level of 500 millisieverts per hour days ago at the No. 2 reactor turbine forced workers to suspend repairs and they have yet to restart, according to a spokesman for the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Lights are on in the control room at the No. 3 reactor and there is some lighting working at No. 4, the company said today.

Temperatures at the No. 1 reactor pressure vessel exceeded 400 degrees Celsius (752 Fahrenheit) before water spraying brought it down to 390 degrees, Nishiyama said.
Just to give you some perspective: a 500 millisieverts per hour radiation field can give you a lifetime dose in about an hour. No matter what Ann Coulter says an hour in a field that strong will not improve your health.

More really good news. The power lines are installed.
The progress on the electrical lines at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was a significant advance after days of setbacks.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned that workers still needed to check all gear for damage before switching the cooling system on to all the reactor units — a process that could take days or even weeks.

Emergency crews also dumped 18 tons of seawater into a nearly boiling storage pool holding spent nuclear fuel at Unit 2, cooling it to 122 degrees
[C or F? it makes a difference - ed.], Japan’s nuclear safety agency said. Steam, possibly carrying radioactive elements, had been rising for two days from the reactor building, and the move lessens the chances that more radiation will seep into the air.

Added up, the power lines and concerted dousing bring authorities closer to ending a crisis that has complicated the government’s response to the catastrophes that killed an estimated 18,000 people.
Days or weeks yet before things are under control. At that is optimistically.

And BTW how much water is 18 tons? Less than 5,000 gallons. With a mess this big that is not a lot of water.

And finally some "good news" from Tokyo.
Radiation exceeding health limits for infants has been found in a Tokyo city water purifier.

Authorities are now advising that the water not be given to babies, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government official has said.
Don't drink the water? I expect a renewed run on Saki. For various reasons.

This accident is so not over.

Uncontrolled Experiment Continues

And what is the nature of an uncontrolled experiment? They are commonly referred to as accidents. Things are heating up at the Fukushima Experimental Station. Here is the latest status of the experiment.

Despite hopes of progress in the world's worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that left at least 21,000 people dead or missing, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it needed more time before it could say the reactors were stabilized.
Translation: "We got no fookin control. All we can do for now is stir the rubble."

Now how about the good stuff?
Earlier smoke and steam were seen rising from two of the most threatening reactors, No.2 and No.3, stoking new fears of radiation. Officials later said smoke at reactor No.3 had stopped and there was only a small amount at No.2.

There have been several blasts of steam from the reactors during the crisis, which experts say probably released a small amount of radioactive particles.

Concern has also grown over the core of reactor No. 1 after its temperature rose to 380-390 Celsius (715-735 Fahrenheit), TEPCO executive vice president Sakae Muto said. The reactor was built to run at a temperature of 302 C (575 F).

Reuters earlier reported that the Fukushima plant was storing more uranium than it was originally designed to hold, and that it had repeatedly missed mandatory safety checks over the past decade, according to company documents and outside experts.
It is getting so that it is difficult to even guess at why this is happening. A reactor restart? Total Loss Of Coolant Accident (TLOCA)? Just plain lack of cooling? If the vessels are pressurized how are/were they maintaining the pressure and level without power?

I have a very bad feeling about this.

Zero Hedge has some thermal image pictures.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I have no idea if this report is true. But since it fits in with my generally gloomy mood on the subject I'm going to repeat it anyway.

This is from the Google Translate version of this article (via @Makro_Trader)

The people who work day and night in the Fukushima nuclear power plant to prevent a catastrophe from happening has been hailed as the nation's heroes,

But there is a much darker picture of the fight, according to the välansedde German foreign correspondent Robert Hetkämper.

He claims there is evidence that Tepco exploiting society's most vulnerable individuals and that there are people who can not get any other job that is now sent into the radiation fields.
And just in case you don't get the "joke": Delousing.

What Would He Say Pessimistically?

In another bout of sunshine and happiness or as some prefer, happy happy joy joy, an American propaganda nuclear "expert" says that Japan almost has its nuclear reactor problem under control.

Meanwhile, officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission upgraded their assessment of the situation at the plant, saying it appeared the reactor cores at the most damaged facilities remained contained.

"I would say optimistically that things appear to be on the verge of stabilizing," said Bill Borchardt, the NRC's executive director for operations
I would say pessimistically that things have already gone to shit. That's because I ain't vergen around. And unlike Bill I have evidence.
According to New York Daily News: "Cooling pumps at one of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors are damaged beyond repair and will need to be replaced, officials learned Monday. The revelation dashed hopes for a quick resolution to the ongoing nuclear catastrophe at the leaking Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. An emergency order has been placed for new pumps for Unit 2 at the plant, but it's unclear how quickly they would arrive, officials said." And as readers will recall, and as the below satellite photo will confirm, reactor 2 is the only one of the critical 4 which did not in fact suffer massive explosive damage. So if that one is beyond repair, what happens to the other three? And just what will this much praised power supply at Fukushima actually be connected to? We really urge some journalist to actually ask questions that have a semblance of relevance at the next TEPCO presser, instead of continuing to fill the air with the same kind of fluff that accompanies every single Obama press conference.
Well I have a few questions: how will you install the pumps in a high radiation environment? Is the rest of the plumbing intact? If you can't keep fluid in the system where will it go?

Fortunately the radiation problems continue to decline.
Of particular note weighing on the markets has been the news from Kyodo that, in confirmation of our fears that zones "Under Survey" are nothing but hotbeds of unprecedented radiation, reported radiation levels are 1,600 times higher than normal 20 kilometers from the power plant. Recall that the first evacuation radius was just 10 km. Assuming a power rate of declining fall out strength, means that the radiation within the 20 km diameter circle centered on Fukushina is currently hundreds of thousands to millions of time higher than normal.
And at the plant itself? Just to get a rough estimate let us look at an inverse square rule and 100 meters (the edge of the plant) vs 20 Km. That is 200 to 1. Square that and you get 40,000 to 1. Do I really expect radiation at the plant to be over ten million times normal? No. But it does give you some idea of what is going on. If the relationship was linear you would wind up with 32,000X normal at the plant. And that is still a lot. You can withstand normal radiation for a lifetime and to make the numbers easy we say 100 years is a lifetime. What is 1/32,000th of a lifetime? - This ignores a whole bunch of stuff like self repair etc. but bear with me. - So in a little under 28 hours you get a lifetime dose at 100 m (330 ft.) from the reactors. I do not believe they have enough trained "jumpers" to do anything significant. The pumps are a distraction. In my opinion the site will be allowed to spew and cool for another month and then it is going to be borax, cement, and steel all the way.

So do I have a problem with nuclear power? Well yes and no. Its military advantages (no fuel required) are tremendous. What is not so clear is its civilian advantages. Especially given current deployed plant designs.

My biggest problem with nukes is that the dangers are not localized for this kind of accident.

But we shall see. Things appear to be getting steadily worse. Worst case? Draw a 50 mi circle around the plant. That is the exclusion zone. For 50 or 100 years. We are already up to a temporary 20 mile (30 Km) exclusion zone. And it is not over.

We don't draw 20 mile exclusion zones around busted coal plants. And a coal plant total failure - even inside a city - does not have the potential of a trillion dollars in economic damages.

Suppose there are 400 nuke plants in the world worth $5 billion each. That is $2 trillion total. If this is a trillion dollar accident the effective capital invested in nuke power will have gone up 50% in a matter of hours. The death of a 1,000 coal miners couldn't do that to coal fired plants.

Let me repeat: advanced designs could reduce the risks by factors of hundreds to thousands. But at this time we have no operationally proved advanced designs.

Update: 22 March 2011 1521z

Control of the reactor situation (including spent fuel) appears to be evaporating.
Workers desperately battling to contain a meltdown at Japan's crippled nuclear plant today faced a fresh crisis as a pool for storing spent fuel began heating up.
The news is sketchy but it could be reactor two or reactor three. Or both.

And it looks like the radiation is getting spread around.
Japan's science ministry says radiation exceeding 400 times the normal level was detected in soil about 40 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The ministry surveyed radioactive substances in soil about 5 centimeters below the surface at roadsides on Monday.

The ministry found 43,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per kilogram of soil, and 4,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram about 40 kilometers west-northwest of the plant.

Gunma University Professor Keigo Endo says radiation released by the iodine is 430 times the level normally detected in soil in Japan and that released by the cesium is 47 times the norm.
Note that radiation is now a problem (at least in hot spots) out to 40 Km (25 mi).

Of the radiation species mentioned the cesium is the more worrisome long term threat. The iodine problem will be gone in about 80 days. Also note that the measurement is from 5 cm (2 inches) below the surface. I wonder what the surface reading is?

And let me be perfectly clear: no matter what lurid reports you read about goings on in Japan and "radiation plumes across the Pacific" (sounds like a Tom Leherer song)the odds of this accident having any more significant effect on the US than a cosmic ray burst or three are about nil.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reactor Leak

We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous.

A famous Han Solo line from Star Wars. You can read the whole thing here. So what is going on with the reactors on Japan? As you would expect the news is that the situation is improving. And while the situation is improving the news is worse.
Meanwhile, the government's task force to tackle nuclear accidents instructed municipal governments near the crisis-hit Fukushima plant on Monday to ease conditions under which they require people to undergo mandatory decontamination.

A radiation level of 100,000 counts per minute will be introduced as a new standard for decontamination, up from 6,000 counts per minute, the government said, adding that raising the bar will not endanger health.

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the decision was made based on advice from domestic nuclear experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As the number of people who want to undergo radiation checks has surged, a lack of staff and equipment for the tests and decontamination was feared.
So upping the level of radiation required for decontamination by a factor of 16X will not affect health? Maybe. But you are starting to seriously eat in to your safety margins.

And with everything well under control officials have pulled all workers out of the area.
Emergency workers lost precious hours Monday in their fight to prevent a full-scale meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after mysterious gray smoke seen emanating from the facility prompted a mass evacuation.

The smoke was spotted just before 4 p.m. coming out of the building that houses the No. 3 reactor, the most badly damaged of the plant's half-dozen reactors. It tapered off after two hours, but more smoke was seen near reactor No. 2 about 20 minutes later, according to officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

Though authorities concluded the smoke was steam and not coming from the overheated spent fuel pool, they acknowledged that radiation spiked one kilometer west of the facility, rising from 494 microsieverts at 5:40 p.m. to 1,932 at 6:30 p.m.

The level dropped to 442 at 8:30 p.m., but officials suspended operations for the day until further notice and the 700 employees who had been working to restore electrical power at the plant were evacuated.

"If we find the levels of radioactivity go down, we'll go back to work," Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a news conference Monday night at the Prime Minister's office in Tokyo.
Well then. Every thing is fine.

And you know what else is fine? The weather.
Far greater amounts of radioactive iodine and cesium were found in rain, dust and particles in the air in some areas over a 24-hour period from Sunday morning due to rainfall, the science ministry said Monday.

''Considering the results of a separate test, radioactive materials in the air and drinking water are confined to levels that would not affect health,'' an official of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said. ''The impact on agricultural crops needs to be examined mainly by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.''

In a notice to the nation's 47 prefectures, the health ministry called on local governments on Monday to advise residents to stop giving babies water in forms such as baby formula if radioactive iodine is found in drinking water at levels greater than 100 becquerels per kiloliter.


In Fukushima Prefecture, where the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is located, the prefectural government said 23 becquerels of iodine was found per kiloliter of water.

Yamanashi appeared in the latest iodine list, after not being listed in the previous survey based on samples taken Saturday.

Cesium was detected in a sample in Tokyo on Saturday but was not detected Sunday. It was detected in Gunma on Sunday, though the prefecture was not cited in the previous survey.
Well nothing to worry about then. Except that the presence of those elements is an indication that containment has been breached. That of some fuel rods in the spent fuel pools for sure. Possibly even a reactor or three. In fact since Iodine 131 levels go down by a factor of 1,000X just 80 days after a shutdown, its presence is almost proof positive of a reactor containment breach. Nothing to worry about. For now. And of course the breach could be minor. Or it could be a crack down the middle of the containment building.

H/T Zero Hedge where you can get a sceptics view of what is going on along with some fairly knowledgeable commenters (plus the usual compliment of idiots and wags).

Update: 21 March 2011 2049z

Well the news just keeps getting better. Thermal images have finally been released. And what do you know? There is a hot spot that is only 128 deg C. Water boils at about 100 deg. C (depending on pressure, impurities etc.)
Next, a picture from Die Welt, emphasizing Reactor 3 and confirming that previous lies that all temperatures at Reactors 1 through 4, were under 100 degrees Celsius, were nothing but. Note the area indicating 128 oC Celsius. We would assume that is the reactor core area (which refutes the lie). If, instead, that is the spent fuel rod area, then we have some very big problems, even if TEPCO is telling the truth for once.
BTW the hot spot looks to be 128 C from the outside. Inside it is probably hotter. Tokyo - we have a problem.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Better Or Worse?

We now have the definitive word on the current status of the Japanese nuclear reactor problems. Things are getting better but they could get worse. Isn't that the way life always works?

So how about better?

Japan took a step toward possibly getting its nuclear disaster under control Sunday as electricity to power some reactor cooling systems was restored and previous efforts to lower reactor temperatures with seawater at the battered Fukushima atomic energy plant appeared to have had an effect.
And now for the bad news:
...increased optimism by Japanese officials and Western scientists alike was tempered by a newly emerging crisis -- radiation contamination was found in some food and water supplies in a nation already suffering from a cascade of troubles.

Although Japan's Health Ministry said the contamination levels were not immediately harmful to humans, the discovery of higher-than-normal radioactivity in batches of milk and spinach -- and of traces of radioactive iodine in tap water in Tokyo and elsewhere -- stirred new angst in a public already weary from earthquake aftershocks, blackouts and the threat of a full-fledged nuclear meltdown.
The contamination is not serious so far. The levels are supposed to be such that if you ate the contaminated food for a year it would be equal to a CT scan.

The physical consequences for the US are going to be very mild even in the worst case (and uncontrolled criticality accident). The economic consequences will be more severe. Physically Japan and the Japanese are suffering terribly and that is without the nuclear accident to contend with. Give what you can to the charity of your choice. Even a rich country can have cash flow problems in an emergency.

Update: 20 March 2011 1455z

This may or may not be new bad news. It is definitely bad news.
Edward Morse, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, added that it will take huge amounts of water to compensate for the cracks in the containment pools that were uncovered by U.S. surveillance aircraft on Friday.

"The best thing to do is use as much of the Pacific Ocean as possible," he said.

Not only will water absorb heat, it also forms a protective barrier against radiation, making it safer for workers at the plant, said David Lochbaum, a former nuclear plant operator and head of nuclear safety policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"If they can cover the fuel, it will reduce the radiation levels and they can use the plant equipment," Lochbaum said.

If the fuel overheats, as it has already done in some cases, it will release additional radioactive contamination into the environment.

That possibility, which the plant operator said could not be ruled out, would destabilize the situation further and vastly complicate future efforts to clean up the plant.

While the spraying continues, workers continue to be exposed to relatively high levels or radiation, with doses of 20 millisieverts per hour measured in the control room at the site.
That is about 3 years of an average first world radiation dose (including X-rays etc) in one hour. Not instantly lethal by a long shot. But definitely dangerous. And that is not all we have to worry about:
The French nuclear agency IRSN said Friday that Fukushima had already released 10 percent as much radioactivity as Chernobyl, but the agency has been criticized for being alarmist.
Well of course. And suppose it was only 1% of Chernobyl? Just great.

And just to blacken the rest of your Sunday:
Company workers were able to lay a new power line to the plant early Saturday morning and began connecting it to reactor No. 2, whose containment vessel is believed to be cracked. They will then hook up the buildings housing reactors No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4, which they hope to have connected by the end of Sunday, they said.

But experts think it is unlikely that cooling pumps in the three reactors that were operating when the magnitude 9 Tohoku quake struck will work even with an outside source of electricity. Those pumps were probably damaged in a series of hydrogen explosions that occurred in the first four days of the crisis. The power lines could provide needed electricity to valves and controls, however.
Assuming the wiring and devices are intact following the earthquake and tsunami. Given that they would all have to be checked out as well as possible by guys in moon suits - I'm not optimistic. Checking stuff in shirt sleeves is difficult enough.

It is not over.

And if the pumps don't work? Well it is back to water injection + venting. Charlie Foxtrot.

Cross Posted at Classical Values