Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fukushima 23 April 2011

Yes. It has been a few days since my last update. The news from nuclear Japan is just so depressing. So let me have at it in no particular order.

Evacuation Zone Widened

The government on Friday added some towns outside a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the list of areas covered by its evacuation directive due to concerns over high cumulative levels of radiation exposure.
The US Government has suggested an 80 Km exclusion zone for its citizens. But they have some where to go.

From the "it's about time" department.
The science ministry said Friday it will compile maps showing the extent of air and soil contamination as part of government efforts to enhance the monitoring of radiation levels and reevaluate evacuation zones around the crippled nuclear plant.
What is most worry some in these situations is the lack of timely trustworthy information. Like not updating the maps they do have.

International Agencies are also complaining that the data is sparse.
The chairperson of the International Commission on Radiological Protection says more checks are needed to measure radiation in the Fukushima area.

Claire Cousins told NHK that the Japanese government's decision to raise the permissible level of radiation from one millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year is in line with the levels set by the commission when dealing with emergency situations.

She said it is difficult to predict when people will be able to return to the evacuation zone, but suggested it may be a considerable length of time.

She said the area will need to be monitored to determine when it will be safe for people to live there again.
The old keep hope alive trick. In other news a no entry zone has been established around Fukushima. Just in case anyone was thinking of going home early.
A no-entry zone has been imposed for the area within 20 kilometers of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

At midnight on Thursday, the off-limits zone was set up in 9 municipalities around the plant in line with a law governing disasters.

Authorities set up 75 checkpoints on the roads leading to the areas within the zone.

On Thursday night, before the no-entry zone was established, local residents were seen moving out of the zone in cars after being allowed to return temporarily to collect things left behind.
It will be decades at the soonest.

Radiation Safety Philippines has a nice roundup. Here are some of the links I found interesting.

Fukushima Fallout Detected In Korea

Fukushima nuke workers at risk of depression, overwork death. And that is not all. Evidently worker safety is not high on the list of priorities. But I'll get to that in a bit.

Invisible Deaths At Evacuation Centers
Sai kept eating and responding to her son even after she became unable to move. But she died 20 days after the disaster struck.

Her doctor listed the cause of death as disease.

Sai's case is one of the growing number of "invisible" deaths among evacuees who have died after developing illnesses or seeing their pre-existing conditions worsen following the quake.

But since they are not officially listed as disaster-related deaths, their surviving family members are ineligible for condolence money from the government.

As of April 18, only four evacuee deaths were certified as disaster-related in the stricken Tohoku region--three in Miyagi Prefecture and one in Fukushima Prefecture. They included one death in an aftershock.
No doubt there are similar events taking place due to the Fukushima evacuation zone. Disruptions cause death and not all of those deaths will be attributed to the disruption.

Heat stroke is affecting plant workers who are wearing suits in non air-conditioned areas.

There are more links at "Radiation Safety". Supposing that you are insufficiently depressed.

Continuity will become a challenge, and core Fukushima staff may have to be cycled out soon to due dose limit considerations

The Japanese have advanced managerial and human resource management techniques for dealing with such eventualities. They are planning to double the human body's ability to handle radiation exposure after all ready increasing it by a factor of 5 over US standards.
In order to stabilize the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the government is planning to raise the radiation exposure limit for the workers from the current 250 milli-sievert/year.

The radiation exposure limit for workers at nuclear power plants is 100 milli-sievert/year, but the limit has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year to deal with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. According to the government sources, the higher limit is being considered because it is getting increasingly difficult to have enough workers to work on the plant. Also, the radiation inside the Reactor buildings is high, and the annual limit of 250 milli-sieverts may not be high enough to achieve the goals laid out by the TEPCO road map.

The international standard allows 500 milli-sievert/year in an emergency work, but it hasn't been decided how high the new limit will be. The government will carefully assess the timing of announcement, keeping in consideration the health concerns of the workers and the public opinion.

The work at the [Fukuhsima I] nuclear power plant requires skills and experience under harsh conditions, and securing workers has been a problem.
"Manage the news? Why of course not. We are just taking the views of the public into consideration. Isn't that how you do it in the US?" Afraid so pardner. Afraid so.

In the article "Doctor warns Japan nuke workers are at their limit". An excerpt from the article.
"Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant operator, said 245 workers from the company and affiliated companies were stationed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant Wednesday. Soldiers, firefighters and police officers also were at the site."

"The nuclear workers have been toiling around the clock to stabilize the plant. Tanigawa said they get little rest, no baths or fresh food and are under the constant threat of exposure to radiation, which remains so high in many places that robots are being used to take measurements."
There was a funny bit on how snoring causes lack of sleep (no hearing plugs on site?). And the not so funny part of the story: tired men make more mistakes. I think that can officially be considered "not a good thing".
"The workers, most of them middle-aged men, suffer insomnia and show signs of dehydration and high blood pressure, he said. One had gout. Tanigawa said he is concerned they may develop depression or heart problems."

"Tanigawa said the mental stress of the job is deepened by the fear of radiation exposure, the concerns of their loved ones — many don't want the men to stay on at the plant — and the fact that many of the workers themselves lost homes or family in the tsunami."
Radiation is a crap shoot. If in a given area there are say 100,000 radiation induced cancers a year from natural back ground radiation and an accident increases that to 110,000 radiation induced cancers a year (that differentiation is probably near the limit of detection). Every single one of those 110,000 will be sure that he would have lived longer were it not for the accident. Which is why acceptable doses must be kept so small. With one or ten excess deaths a year in that population those few are lost in the noise. Which is how it should be.

Some people are of the opinion that insufficient attention has been given to nuclear safety.
The two recent natural calamities that hit Japan -- the massive earthquake of 11th March and the subsequent tsunami -- not only resulted in massive loss of life and property damage but also resulted in the unfolding of the subsequent drama at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that is still to be satisfactorily resolved.

The loss of emergency diesel power resulting in a loss of coolant at the plant, a partial meltdown of the fuel in the reactors there and the radioactive leakage from the site to the neighboring prefectures have all not only resulted in anxiety over the suitability of nuclear power in Japan but also cast a shadow over the global expectation of a nuclear renaissance.

Not unnaturally, in India, where there is a program of vigorous expansion of nuclear energy generation, this has resulted in some doubts over the wisdom of relying on nuclear power to solve national energy demands.

Before analyzing the safety and reliability of nuclear power, it is necessary to pause and examine what really happened and did not happen at Fukushima.

Notwithstanding the severity of the earthquake and the age of the reactor, nearing its nominal lifetime, there was no structural damage to the reactor installation as a result of either the earthquake or the tsunami.
The damage was all functional. Which is small comfort. What does it mean for the future: we can design reactors to withstand very severe events. What is lacking is a cooling mechanism that doesn't require electrical power. It is possible to design and build such a system. It is the only kind we should be building from her on out. I like to call it intrinsic safety. We need to get some.

Some on the citizens of Japan are mad as hell.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. will have to delay the restart of two nuclear reactors currently undergoing regular checks at its Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture beyond May due to a lack of consent from the local community, the prefectural assembly chief said Friday.
In the US we would sic a zoning board on them. TEPCO has a similar problem.

Losses mount due to radiation radiation leakage.
A government panel agreed Friday to recognize financial losses caused by restrictions on shipments of farm products as damages from radiation leakages at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power complex, government officials said Friday.
You think that is bad? The Japanese Government thinks a study of drinking water is in order. The government thinks a breast check is in order as well.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday he has urged the health ministry to investigate whether women's breast milk has been affected by radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Now I have a commenter who is always complaining that I am overestimating the dangers of radiation. Let me just say here and now that I would be willing to give those breasts a taste test to make sure radiation hasn't affected the flavor. It is all about risk vs reward. To make that ratio work out for me I will only be testing C pluses and larger. With a stop limit at E plus. OK I'm picky. But you know how it goes. My risk - my reward. Free to choose. At this time I'd probably be more in danger from irate husbands than radiation in the milk. But still. And I could fix the radiation in the milk problem rather easily. Only test non-lactating women. But that might raise suspicions.

Well some one has done the proper test and the results are not looking good.
Breast milk from a woman in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo tests at 36.3 Becquerel

Something is officially wrong with Japan's official radiation numbers

Here's the deal: They tested a 120-130 milliliter sample of breast milk from this woman and discovered an amount of I-131 that is equivalent to a 36.3 Bq per kilogram concentration.

The safety limit is 100 becquerels per kg for tap water consumption by infants under 1 year old, but that is besides the point - if we evaluate the official I-131 readings in water from, officials will be hard pressed in explaining how she accumulated even this amount in her breast milk.
The site has the numbers.

What we are seeing is radiation hot spots. The question is where? Some where in the food chain? Somewhere local? Where you work? Hiding the decline will have short term benefits and long term losses. So it goes.

Japan Summer weather is nigh, and here's the change we can expect in wind direction. Inland then off to China (so to speak). The guy writing the article thinks that there will be no major problems if there are no major problems. Otherwise the opposite is true. Prediction is difficult. Especially about the future. Nice maps and graphics.

For the first time
Radiation levels of over 100 microsieverts per hour were measured at four locations 2 to 3 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from late last month, the science ministry said Thursday as it released such data for the first time.
Month old data is just getting out? Maybe the latest numbers are getting better? I would expect so providing we don't get a recriticality accident. Or an earthquake directly below the plants of sufficient magnitude given the current status of the plants. You know. Enough to stir the rubble.

This is the Joke Of The Day.
The Japanese government has expressed concern about the structural strength of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant's Number 1 reactor. It says the ongoing water injections may be making the vessel less earthquake resistant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is planning to fill part of the containment vessel with water to cool the reactor.

TEPCO wants the water level to reach the top of the fuel rods in reactors one and three by mid July, so it can cool them under more stable conditions.

At the Number 1 reactor, where fuel rods are believed to be the most seriously damaged, six tons of water are being injected every hour.

TEPCO believes the water is vaporizing, then condensing in the containment vessel.
Let me get this straight. They are pumping 6 tons of water an hour (about 1,500 gallons an hour - 36,000 gallons a day) into the reactor vessel. Then the water condenses. And goes where? Re-evaporation and recondensation? Well it could be venting. Or it could be filling the lower levels of the plant. Or just trickling out to sea. Six tons an hour is going into the reactor vessel. It is coming out somewhere.

Robot video inside reactor buildings 2 & 3. More Robot Videos.

Isotope Data Suggests Ongoing Criticality in the junk piles.
During full-power operation, numerous "fission products" are in approximate steady-state equilibrium, meaning roughly equal becquerel of I-131 and Cs-134, with a slow buildup of Cs-137. But they all cease to be created when the reactors are scrammed. Japanese regulators NISA and MEXT seem oblivious of the mysterious fact that I-131 Bq "reactor density" is still often reported double the Cs-134/137 Bq. The TEPCO data suggest that fission is ongoing despite the reactor shutdowns. This is bad news.
Yes it is. H/T on the above link to Philippines Radiation Safety.

Isotope ratios in radioactive leaked water.

I've had enough. The most worrisome of these reports is the indication of ongoing criticality. If that is in fact happening (another month should give us definitive results) this accident will not be over any time soon. As in years to decades.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


ryanshaunkelly said...

river STYX in front of Dr Caldicott MD

Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
dōmo arigatō misutā Robotto

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

News this morning that Tepco pumped 200 tons of water into No. 4 on Friday and another 140 tons Saturday. Temperature in No. 4 is now at 92c.

A lot of radioactive steam, or radioactive water going somewhere.

Clearly, SFP in No. 4 either sporadic critical events or re-critical. Water could cause it, right? As moderators.

What is going on in No. 4?

Anonymous said...

And another thought ...

Realizing this is an "open air event" at No. 4, is there any chance of a steam explosion given this huge amount of, presumably, un-boronated water?

Is No. 4 the Godzilla in the room?

DrPete12 said...

Given that 25 years after Chernobyl Welsh sheep regularly exceed the 1000 becquerels/kilo limit, how come the japanese figures are so low?