Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fukushima Reactor Restart?

Yep. The Fukushima reactor #4 may be in the process of an accidental restart.

-- 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.
You can read more about the status of the six reactors at the link.

The authorities, such as they are, claim to be getting things under control. I'm not seeing it. I see efforts. I do not see results. But of course that could change.

As to the dangers from an accidental restart? There are a lot of them. More radioactive stuff. Maybe a blast of photons (X-rays and Gamma Rays). Maybe a steam blast. Maybe a hydrogen blast. It is hard to say because it is happening by accident.

There seems to be a credibility gap in Japan.
"A senior Japanese minister also admitted that the country was overwhelmed by the scale of the tsunami and nuclear crisis. He said officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were.
Dang. Telling the truth works better than lying? Hard to believe.

And there are more lies by omission.
According to the latest Digitalglobe overflight, the situation in Reactor 4 continues to deteriorate. We wonder where precisely in the Reactor 1,3, and 4 wreckage are the working water pumps that are about to be electrified? Far more importantly, since heat appears to be the biggest issue, why have no thermal or IR photos been released to the public, and most importantly why is the Japanese government actively covering up thermal data? From the JPost: "As the world continues to gaze with concern at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, hi-tech security cameras installed by an Israeli defense firm are recording events at the troubled core from an insider’s vantage point. The Arava-based Magna BSP company, which specializes in producing and installing stereoscopic sensory and thermal imaging cameras, had been contracted to place cameras around one of the plant’s six cores – the core that has been experiencing explosions and overheating. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Magna’s head, Haim Siboni, said the thermal cameras also had the ability to detect the presence of radioactive clouds in the air, but added that Magna had not been able to gain access to the images recorded by the cameras at this time."
I guess the images are too hot to handle. The Charlie Foxtrot continues. No Bravo Zulus for management. The guys who have gone in to fight the fires and do what they can on site? BZs all around. Even if they were among those who screwed the pooch at the beginning.

Ah more bad news.
March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Engineers missed a deadline to restore power to the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi atomic plant, prolonging efforts to prevent more radiation leaks as Japan’s government told people nearby to cover up and avoid the rain.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. pushed back its target to reconnect a power cable to the No. 2 reactor to later today after working through the night. Power may be restored to all six reactors by tomorrow, Hikaru Kuroda, chief of the utility’s nuclear facility management department, told a briefing in Tokyo.

Troops and firefighters again started pumping seawater on the plant today in an attempt to prevent fuel rods from overheating, as Tepco cautioned the tsunami-damaged cooling systems may not work even after electricity is restored. Weather forecasts indicated changing winds could start moving radiation closer to Tokyo this weekend.
Yeah. The tsunami. No mention of hydrogen explosions. I wonder why?

In any case, I was saying the same thing two days ago.
They are bringing in electrical power. Excellent. But some one had better be checking the pumps, the pumped coolant, and the coolant pipes so that the pumps last beyond a few minutes.
I expect more surprises from this situation. Bad surprises. Very bad surprises.

In the very best case world GDP with a big hole in the Japanese supply chain should fall no more that 5% this year. Possibly as little as 2%.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

mw said...

"...officials should have admitted earlier how serious the radiation leaks were."

We have been hearing a lot about the afflicted Japanese people have remained stoic, patient, respectful of authority, and - in general - not creating problems or make waves throughout the disaster. Certainly these are admirable qualities in the face of the destruction and deprivation they are confronting now.

Still - I cannot help but wonder whether those same cultural traits contributed to the severity of the nuclear plant problems. I for one, would have preferred some nuclear engineer who understood what was happening at the plant breaking ranks and making one hell of a ruckus right from the beginning - no matter who in his company or government was embarrassed.