Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Containment Breach?

New reports of higher general area radiation levels around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants in Japan are raising fears that primary containment has been breached. Since we reached the limit for number of comments on my earlier posts (here and here) I'm opening up a new thread.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For our ELT's around here, the TEPCO Press Release has isotopic analysis of the liquid.

I'll leave it to those better than I to see if the numbers match the news report. I'd say primary coolant leak, but that doesn't necessarily mean the reactor vessel is compromised.

3/25/2011 2:57 PM

Anonymous Squidward said...

I would read this as a primary coolant leak with damaged fuel elements. In a BWR, the primary is way more than just the reactor vessel. Not to mention, all that water from the seawater injection has to be going somewhere. Sure, a bunch of it is flashing to steam, but all? Its hitting the damaged fuel elements and then pooling.

Again, this isn't a huge alarm for people outside the plant, but nasty for the guys inside. Talk about calling away a spill...

3/25/2011 3:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spill? SWIMS

S - Stop
W - Walk away
I - Ignore the problem
M - Make up story
S - Stick to it

3/25/2011 3:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the "I" meant "Implicate Others"? :)

3/25/2011 5:01 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

And the first "S" stood for "Smile".

3/25/2011 6:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

as an ex a-ganger, "no problem eng I"ll just wipe it up"

3/25/2011 6:37 PM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Here was a bit of good news today, they finally got the lights on in the control rooms. Let that one sink in for about two weeks.

So here is to all the rock throwing dumbass super nukes that constantly second guessed the poor bastards at the plant. I really want to hear how you could have done things better based on the they were working in the dark with no climate control or instrumentation. Sorry to everyone else, but the steam needed venting.

It would be nice to here an apology from the dumbasses, but we will accept their silence as reward enough. If you get the chance please find the time to donate the the relief fund because these guys are nuclear heroes and deserve our gratitude and some money to rebuild their lives.

3/25/2011 7:31 PM

Anonymous YNC(SS), USN, Retired said...

Did that early last week Sandy. Thanks for the reminder though. Here's a link to where you can do it online:

3/25/2011 7:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like fuel element failure...aka Meltdown...initiated by failure of decay heat rejection systems. Followed by failure of the primary containment system to prevent release of fission products. Followed by failure of secondary containment system to prevent release of fission products.

It's between TMI and Chernobyl at this point. God Bless you engineers and technicians at Fukushima.

3/25/2011 7:50 PM

Anonymous armchair QB said...

Someone give Sandy Salt a hug!

I have a feeling that he has some deep-seated anxiety over not being on the scene and therefore not being a nuclear hero.

Anyway, well done to the plant workers, military, etc. who have battled the disaster so far. Unfortunately, this will get worse before it gets better.

As a former Sailor stationed in Japan, I also see this disaster changing our force makeup in the region. I would not be suprised if a strong push arises to move the GW out of Japan and keep other NPW's from making port calls there. Unfortunately, the government is/will not be in a strong position to defend the push.

It will be interesting to say the least and a reminder on how fragile life is and how quick things can change.

3/25/2011 8:00 PM

Anonymous T said...

That's some pretty hot water. 170 mSv is 17 REM/hour, right? A co-worker and I (both ex-navy nukes) were looking at the conversion chart online and realized how much radiation they were talking. It is a pretty serious flux, but only AT the site itself.

Contamination elsewhere (even within the prefecture itself) are still not high at all.

3/25/2011 8:17 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a horrible environmental catastrophe. The Northern Pacific will be contaminated with fission products for years. God help us in recovering.

3/25/2011 8:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Japanese resources are saying <5% core damage in a couple of the cores. That doesn't mean meltdown but it does mean clad breach and gap release into the coolant.

It also doesn't mean the North Pacific is crapped up. Ye gods, are we reaching that level of Ludditism?

3/25/2011 9:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So here is to all the rock throwing dumbass super nukes that constantly second guessed the poor bastards at the plant. I really want to hear how you could have done things better based on the they were working in the dark with no climate control or instrumentation. Sorry to everyone else, but the steam needed venting.

Well, right after the rx bldgs went boom, at work we were talking about getting oil rig diesel driven fire fighting pumps rigged to flood the SFPs. Also, it is beyond comprehension that it took almost two full weeks to get any power. Skid mounted DGs could have been put in place and wired directly into switchgear (bypassing the UATs) to power battery chargers, RHR, Core Spray, etc. They had a lot of shit to deal with, but you can bet, they also screwed the pooch. Hell, the reason the rx bldgs went boom was because they didn't do a mod the NRC mandated in the US TWO DECADES AGO!

3/25/2011 9:41 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's some pretty hot water. 170 mSv is 17 REM/hour, right?

Yes. 10 mSv = 1R

3/25/2011 9:43 PM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

I'm no nuke expert. I am an ex-spurt (ie a drip under pressure) when it comes to safety-critical engineering. I teach HAZOP analysis amongst other things, and my last military work was helping out the IDF at Haifa naval base with the ISUS-90 integrated combat system I helped make 20 years ago now.

From my view, this is a "really bad for peacetime" incident.

There have been 17 people exposed to 10+ Rem so far, including 3 to doses of 18 Rem, 2 of whom may get symptoms of local Beta-burns on the feet.

Under "normal conditions", completely unacceptable, heads will roll, radiation injury etc etc.

Under "Oh Sh1t conditions", with 20,000 fatalities, 100,000 casualties, 600,000 evacuees and an economy severely F**ked up... it's lost in the background noise.

I suspect we may have a statistical likelihood of one additional case of cancer over 100% already. It's by no means over yet, and the news regarding clean-up just gets worse and worse.

The isotope ratios reported in the water in the turbine building indicate that not so long ago it was hot water in physical contact with de-gloved fuel rods. Rods whose zirconium sheathing was "compromised".

It's not quite the ratio I'd expect from a molten puddle of corium exposed to superheated salt water at pressure. Too many volatiles, too few metals.

That it's in the turbine room strongly suggests a leaking valve, gland, cracked pipe or other damage consistent with a level 9 earthquake.

17 Rem/Hr is going to make it a gold-plated BITCH to clean up without at least some of it escaping containment. In fact, the whole clean-up effort is going to be "technically interesting", even "challenging". Constructing a pool for the umpty-ump thousands of tons of contaminated water, waiting 30 years till only the cesium is left as a significant emitter, then disposing of it by dilution in the sea is a possible solution.

Working in an area of 17 Rem/hr is going to require literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of workers to be trained, go in, work 30 minutes, then leave forever, if we are to follow "peacetime" rules here. Lots of opportunity to screw up.

I just don't have enough data to say too much about the rest of the reactors and spent fuel pools. I think it likely though that the primary coolant in units 1-3 is all in this state.

In some ways, this one's going to be more tricky to clean up than if we were dealing with corium in dry, sealed primary containment.

3/25/2011 11:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fellow nukes....does anyone see a problem with the isotopes? How do you get so much Cl-38 without a neutron flux?

3/26/2011 1:56 AM

Anonymous Tim said...

Station Blackout for two weeks and folks are suprised at core damage!

These folks got hit with the equivalent of an atoroid strike or small nuke onsite.

A hell of a mess but the brave folks on the scene are giving it their all to control and recover ( not that single watt of electricity will ever flow out of the plant again). As a design engineer at a nuclear power plant my job is to "Protect The Margin" we ensure that changes to the plant do not adversly affect its design basis. This plant got smacked by an earthquake 10 - 100 times its design basis and a tsunami ~50% latger than its design. This puts you into unanalyzed space. No procedures work, hell nothig works your ultimate heat sink is gone and you don't even have instuments to tell you what is going on in the plants.

The fact that levels around the plant are in the vicinity of limits is testimony to the courage and adaptability of the engineers and operators trying to hold things together.

3/26/2011 4:01 AM

Blogger Bernie said...

I hadn't been following the other threads, but this link is a nice summary of the plant status.

The status of Reactor Pressure Vessel Integrity had been showing "Damage Suspected" for unit 2 and "Might be ”Not damaged”" for unit 3 for a while. Now it shows "Not Damaged" for unit 3. Thats good news.

3/26/2011 5:07 AM

Anonymous dirty blueshirt said...

Here's some pretty good coverage of the impacts at the site:

3/26/2011 6:44 AM

Anonymous Squidward said...

{This is a horrible environmental catastrophe. The Northern Pacific will be contaminated with fission products for years. God help us in recovering.}

Total BS.

{Looks like fuel element failure...aka Meltdown...}

Also, not the same. A meltdown is a fuel element failure but not all fuel element failures are meltdowns. You fail.

3/26/2011 8:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3.9 X 10^5 Bq / cubic cm is equivalent to 10.5 microCurie per milliliter. That's a big number. If you took 1000 gallons of this and let it evaporate over an area of a football field, the magnitude of surface contamination would be staggering.

3/26/2011 8:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Squidward said: "Also, not the same. A meltdown is a fuel element failure but not all fuel element failures are meltdowns. You fail."

The isotopes and their concentrations indicate the fuel elements are not containing the fission products (first line of defense).

Primary vessel containments are failing and also secondary containments failed (I watched them explode on video). The ocean is 100 yards away. Where do you think all this stuff is washing into?

You fail to recognize the issue.

3/26/2011 9:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has HUGE potential

3/26/2011 9:44 AM

Anonymous t said...

THis is a pretty good case for switching our future terrestrial plants over to thorium or some other kind of breeder reactors..

3/26/2011 10:03 AM

Anonymous Mark/MM1(SS) said...

I suspect the 17 R/hr is a beta dose rate to the skin, because the report is that the workers were soaked through their anti-c clothing on legs and feet. Gamma dose rates are probably about a tenth of that.

3/26/2011 1:32 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I suspected Japanese tsunami is going to take out more American nuke plants than Japanese plants.

The NRC is now drowning for a lack of credibility oxygen, its going Senate next week, we will be in a full fledged presidential blue ribbon commission before a month is out hoping to give artificial respiration to save the NRC. I don't think the NRC will survive.

I have asked on a emergency bases we suspend new licencing and move all those technical resources over to our domestic nuclear electricity crisis.

I have tried to explain what is happening in:

This is a once in a hundred year neutron bomb transparency detonation...bigger than TMI...its as if we x-rayed everything and we now can now see everything...all our broken truth bones.

3/26/2011 2:33 PM

Blogger David said...

"The ocean is 100 yards away. Where do you think all this stuff is washing into?"

That's actually the best possible situation. In case you didn't know, the ocean is pretty big, and a (relatively) small puddle of what is highly contaminated coolant on the deck literally becomes a drop in the bucket once it hits the big blue. Don't get me wrong, I am not in any way advocating indescriminate dumping of radioactive materials into the coastal waters, but I am attempting to counter emotionally driven apocalyptic predictions that have no scientific or mathematical backing.

3/26/2011 2:53 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Idiots, all the big ocean transport vessels that move resources into Japan, and our cell phone and cars out, they are afraid they will lose their huge transport ships by sailing through this contamination...just like our aircraft carrier.

It is freezing up the commerce of Japan.

They are refusing to go into Japan and risk their money.

3/26/2011 3:16 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Political campaign contribution has damaged our domestic the nuclear terribly, I was forcing the NRC OIG to write this, is what I was discussing to him when I wrote the parable...forced the agency to write.

You can't believe how much the NRC and the NRC OIG hates me. I secretly and illegally taped a telephone conversation with their inspectors and they sound disgusting. I already had one long discussion with the FBI agents and they are snooping around my neighborhood again. Everyone is asking for the tapes and I just say give me immunity from any illegality. Its a Mexican standoff. Everyone is thinking, we don't want to do what is right, we just want to put you Mr Mulligan jail.

Rules Faulted For Poor Data On Failures At Reactors
Published: March 24, 2011

God, in his utter prefect cold blooded wisdom...hit the absolute prefect target with the worst of this kind of thinking...

The parable of the noisy main turbine generator bearing

I used this yesterday to the investigator. (NRC OIG)

So i am out on my rounds and I walk across the turbine deck...where I hear clearly a new noisy turbine bearing. It is a drastic change from a few hours ago.

Now I am in the control room...I have explained the problem to the shift supervisor. So he goes into this burdensome rendition of I have to absolute verification and evidence that the bearing is making noise. I have to have perfect evidence that the bearing is noisy and it is damaged before I do anything.

So he gets it in his head that I might have had a stoke...I might not be giving him accurate information. He might say I need to hear it for myself...but I can’t leave the control room right now. All my control room indication tell me there is no problem.

I kid the OIG investigator, I might have to go through a court preceding in order for the shift supervisor to get off his lazy butt to check out the noisy bearing. The only way he is going to scram the plant is after we weigh the evidence of a presidential blue ribbon commission?

It is certainty/uncertainty gaming...I magnify or inhibit certainty/uncertainty in service to my needs or my groups or my organizations needs.

Who do you serve?

The shift supervisor says, I am just going to have to have a aux operator with a SRO license and a engineering PhD before I believe a word he check out the noisy bearing and be forced to do something about it.

3/26/2011 3:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have asked on a emergency bases we suspend new licencing and move all those technical resources over to our domestic nuclear electricity crisis.

Really? Well I've asked everyone from Vermont Yankee to double tap your ass on sight.

3/26/2011 3:51 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Mr. Mulligan, what you've just written is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this thread is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Oh, and Sandy--any chance that their BWR's have RSS (Remote Safe Shutdown) panels like ours? I'd think they have something similar to it in case the Control Room became uninhabitable. Another consideration is that the water may not have come from the primary but from the spent fuel pool. Still haven't heard definitively one way or the other.

Oh, and anon--don't hold your breath on Vermont Yankee. Last I heard they haven't even purchased fuel for the upcoming outage. Screw Vermont--let the hippies cut their own damn throats and freeze in the dark.

3/26/2011 10:05 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I go through this a lot, it makes much better sense once we go through history. Real reality is rambling rationality until we make sense of it. In a week's time you will come to understand I often talk about and represent the future. I talk crazy until history catches up to me. I tell you the inside story that supports future history.

I mean, Entergy got these humpty dumpty pro nuclear senators running around the country forcing the NRC to give them a licence...why would they do that if they were going to shutdown VY...don't believe that for a second.

Again, my intent is to fundamentally reform the NRC and nuclear industry...

I submit it is your insufficient world view that can't understand the making of history.

3/27/2011 6:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

100 rem/hr (on contact, I presume) coming from the water of a shutdown reactor is a 'zoinks!!' level of radioactivity.

3/27/2011 6:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

M2, you sound like a paranoid schizophrenic. When you come back from the future next time, bring us the winning lotto numbers.

3/27/2011 7:23 AM

Blogger Sandy Salt said...

No matter if they had a remote panel or not the whole site was without reliable power for almost two weeks. They had very limited access by road and it was difficult to get the power hooked up because it was a couple of miles to the nearest line and the distance in between was a wasteland of rubble and debris.

Sure, I arm chaired quarterbacked all the things that could have been done from my big leather chair while watching basketball and drinking a cold beer. Those poor bastards we in a world of hurt dealing with one significant crisis after another and then to have the arrogant ass from the NRC basically tell them they sucked was an all time high for American-Japan relations.

The Japanese spent $300 Billion helping us clean up TMI and teaching their engineers how to handle a similar disaster. They did a pretty damn good job considering they were beyond design basis on six plants and without reliable power for quite sometime.

The current issue with the contaminated water is somewhat expected and they should have had waders on under the outer anti-Cs, but it is also the guys fault that stood in the stuff for two hours without checking, but then again I have seen conflicting reports on that too, so who the heck knows.

I am willing to bet we are also going to see some cool new mods for our plants like battery powered Hydrogen release vents that detect hydrogen build up and open a grating to allow it out of the building. The problem with anything like that is the hydrogen is usually accompanied by nasties that you don't want to let out, so it becomes a trade off of prevent hydrogen boom or release nasties, tough choice all around.

It is good to play the guessing game and what if, but hold the rocks until you have the facts because you aren't there and don't know jack.

3/27/2011 7:25 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

I don't know about new toys, but you can bet your ass the ones we have are going to work. INPO and the NRC have directed ALL US plants to check their b.5.B equipment, along with performing various assessments over the next several weeks. Pretty aggressive actions, if you ask me. It might even involve designating certain equipment as safety-related that wasn't previously designated as such.

And Mulligan, seriously? STFU. VY does a hell of a lot less environmental damage than those idiot hippies over at Ben and Jerry's. The only reason there might be an issue is because the governor and the legislature there are vehemently anti-nuke. Nevermind they have nothing to replace VY--they just care about sticking it to "the man", even if it means freezing in the dark.

3/27/2011 7:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

100 rem/hr (on contact, I presume) coming from the water of a shutdown reactor is a 'zoinks!!' level of radioactivity.

Otoh, maybe they measured it wrong

3/27/2011 7:57 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

I know the confusion with the regulations and policies...basically the NRC discovers a violation of a regulation sometimes five times before the utility gets it. The utility had to write up a mandatory report on this, the NRC in their inspection report saying they discovered it over and over again, then the utility in their rendition of the event says they discovered it. And nobody for decades has a issue over this dichotomy.

I know the utilities are writing these things according to a ultra strict interpretation to the language of the NRC legal rules and policies of writing up these report...but the outcome is the NRc says they discovered it and the utilities say they discovered it in their documents, and you can go to jail if you falsify these documents (but nobody ever does until the recent poor sod at TVA). On the same event I am playing off the NRC interpretation of what happened against the utilities interpretation. I know this represent something bigger than the event and reports, something bigger than the utility and the US regulator, I know all the players here knows I am banging around that.

You know, you can write a report according to the ultra strict accurate interpretation to the regulators rules and policies, and the report and the whole of all the reports can end up being a absolute falsification of the event and the meaning of what happened. Following the rules don't automatically mean you are doing got to be serving a high ideal. We are all following rules and we don't give a shit about grander ideals.

The nuclear industry says their reports describe accurately the events of their plants in their license event reports. I am making a case to the regulators that the lot of the reports they enforce thought their required rules and policies is corrupted beyond imagination. This shit is hard to do!

Come on, everyone knows you can make a interpretation of a word or sentence in a paragraph according to the agenda that sets up the organizational culture you are entrained in. I am painting you a picture of a large organization culture, more a set of organizations, and we are going to watch how reality interacts with a large organization on a grand scale...this is how history is made. You are watching history being made and you can anticipate how history is made. We are at the intersection of a huge cascading accident and where history happens. I am giving you a front row seat. I know there are huge forces fighting me, but I got a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

I am in a official NRC process two months ago...I am taking to about 15 NRC big wigs, everything is on the record, and everything is being transcribed and its going to be disclosed. We are talking about 3 decades of wasted time in colleges and universities.
I mean, these guys are terrified of going to jail, I don't give a shit if they put me in jail, it will just amplify my message...

Here is some of my e-mails:

3/27/2011 8:18 AM

Anonymous Stsc said...

What I've been told is every 'spare' 1120 on shore in Pearl has been sent TAD over there to help out where possible. Soon after the quake we sent over a bunch of ELT's for monitoring. Would love to hear from any of them now.

NPC sent out an update for ppl heading over there. 30 day Ordmods for all as we watch and see how things play out. navadmin MSG here:

3/27/2011 10:20 AM

Anonymous just saying said...

1000 millisieverts per hour in pools of water near reactor 2. By the way these heroes are not radiation workers they are ordinary firemen with no special training. Probably duped into it. The nukes, who are not dumbasses themselves, will not set foot in the place.

3/27/2011 10:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As some have said, the true heroes of the nuclear disaster have been firemen, policemen and military personnel who have rushed in to fight the casualty.

3/27/2011 11:31 AM

Anonymous T said...

Dollars to donuts the 1120's are going to the base. What the hell is your average 1120 going to do at the reactor? This is so far out of the realm of experience for most nuke officers...

The regs are different, the plant is different, everything is different!

That said, I got a message from my reserve XO asking for volunteers as well. I assume it's for supervising radiation stuff on base.

3/27/2011 12:30 PM

Anonymous Squidward said...

1120s? Please. I could see them trying to scrape up every ELT on active duty or reserve, though. That would actually make sense.

BTW, these are not ordinary firemen. Its a special unit of the Tokyo FD that handles really severe emergency conditions (the Hyper Rescue Squad).

MM: Shut up. No one likes you.

3/27/2011 1:46 PM

Anonymous Former Squadron Rider said...

1120s were sent to supplement the staff at the ECC in Yokosuka. They grabbed one from my command right after the reactor problems started popping up.

3/27/2011 2:48 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That makes sense. NPC ECC stateside is still manned 24/7 to answer calls but not very busy. I'd imagine the 1120's are at least able to speak intelligently over the phone (in colloquial English) to answer layman radcon & such questions from all the Sailors and dependents living there who are trying to fare through all the inaccurate media reporting as well as help out with evac & Tomadachi stuff. Yokosuka base Facebook page & their F&FSC (also manned 24/7 now) have a lot of good info on them for those living this nightmare instead of just watching it.

3/27/2011 9:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does anyone else wonder what Chinese province Mike Mulligan is actually from????

3/27/2011 11:10 PM

Anonymous inacone said...

It's just you.

3/28/2011 6:07 AM

Anonymous watchbill writer said...

Plutonium in the soil? Any such thing as "naturally occurring plutonium"? Like maybe they just found some laying around the yard? Like maybe it blew over from some Korean or Chinese bomb test?

3/28/2011 11:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Mulligan is a 14 year old who trolls websites all day until his mommy comes to change his diaper, give him a bath and put him to night night. He gets his information like everyone else... Google.

3/28/2011 12:12 PM

Anonymous Bubba Bob said...

Look, I am totally interested in the events in Japan, but, as a skimmer my ability to follow the science it poor. Hitting a MM post just sends me spinning.

Can you change the color of the his comments so I can skip over them?

But, more importantly, what do the Cessium readings mean. (Yes, I am a dumbass.)

3/28/2011 1:54 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

Our national nuclear safety review committe...NRC...the Petition Review Board (PRB)chairman...he unexpectedly retired or got retired by firing today right during my transcripted testimony today.

He says at the end with a trembling and a squeaky voice...Mr Mulligan I got a special announcement for you. I am immediately retiring and you won't see me any more. Is the NRC signaling a new era?

I thought his announcement was, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task is right outside your door...?

They schedule two of my petition, that is entering historic was scheduled, today is the 32nd year anniversary of TMI. When you get up this far in history, the symbolism, all these things are scheduled around history in mind.

My testimony, we need a overhaul of the nuclear safety petition review board and truth-telling has to be is our sacred duty to tell each other the truth. I talked about what honor is to each other Americans...we have to tell each other the truth.

Thirty two years ago today I was stationed on the brand new experimental fast attack submarine the USS GP Lipscomb SSM 685 and we was on a special mission in the med. I believe the Iranian hostage crisis and the ruskies were invading Afghanistan, was going on or building up. My wife, I didn't even meet her yet and she wasn't even my girlfriend, couldn't imagine ever seeing her bra, she was in the army and living in the tent with a million men army out in the field and in Germany, as a military police, right abutting the Czechoslovakia boarder. She is way better with a gun than me. She was going to kick those ruskies assess if she had too. I heard bits and pieces of TMI on the boat...only when I read the newspaper in Israel did I begin to understand what happened.

My wife and me are so little compared to our military heroes today...

3/28/2011 2:23 PM

Blogger Curt said...

At least he's got the balls to log in under a 'real name.'

I know - AD types, but they could still post under a handle, so that we would know which ones to read and which ones to discount.

Sure, MM's 'just a truck driver,' but...

3/28/2011 2:24 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

By the way, the NYT's came out shortly after my testimony at noon with a article about safety and security at US nuclear Power plants today. It was a outline of my earlier testimony in the morning.

So the NRC then mysteriously cancelled my second testimony and they are going to re-schedual it sometime later...

We think it is really about no chairmen of PRB available...

3/28/2011 2:36 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@bubba bob

I'll try my best in laymans terms...

Isotopes of Cesium are typical fission products or decay daughters of fission products. When Uranium is split by fission, it typically breaks into two neutron heavy isotopes (chemical elements that are not entirely stable). They decay to become stable, but emit radiation in doing so. Hence, they are "radioactive." Normally, the fuel rod construction contains these fission products and their decay daughters to a high degree of certainty, but this is obviously the problem they are running into.

Cesium-137 is a relatively longer-lived isotope, meaning it will be around a lot longer than a lot of the shorter-lived isotopes (like Iodine-131).

3/28/2011 5:39 PM

Blogger Bill Lapham said...

If the Japanese government permitted it, would any nuke live within 30 miles of that plant?

3/29/2011 8:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Bill Lapham

I'm no nuke, but I'd live within 30 miles of that plant.

For the simple reason that 30 miles is a lot farther than 20km, the ordered evacuation zone, or 30km, the "voluntary" evacuation zone.

I've been checking the Japanese Atomic Industry Forum, METI's NISA site, MIT's nuclear science and engineering blog, the NEI site, TEPCO, and the IAEA on a daily basis. Unless they're all in on a massive conspiracy, I can find no source that reports radiation that could be remotely harmful beyond 40km. Or 24.85 miles.

But my opinion is not the WAG of an expert. So I offer it up not so much to demonstrate I know what I'm talking about. But to demonstrate how much I have to rely on expertise of others in this matter.

If I had a question about how to kill silently, I'd turn to a SEAL. But I have questions about what might kill me silently, specifically radiation, so where better to turn than to a bunch of bubbleheads.

I'm having trouble quantifying the levels of radiation outside the perimeter of the plant. Basically, the summation is that right now there are some spots that are uninhabitable. They're safe to visit, you just don't want to stay there for years and years.

Right now, radioactive iodine, I'm told, is the predominant concern. But that has a short half life, and in the long term it's cesium that's the big worry. But, I'm told, weather will take care of some of that. Japan does get a lot of precip this time of year. Some of the contamination will get washed out to sea, where it should be sufficiently diluted to cause no harm.

Do any of you guys foresee areas that will be uninhabitable for decades?

Sincerely, the anon who isn't using Elliot Spitzer's old client number.

3/29/2011 5:50 PM

Anonymous News Reader said...

The exclusion zone imposed by the Navy is a 50 mile radius.

Greenpeace tested the radiation in the town of Iitate that is 40km from the meltdown, and people living there would receive the maximum annual dose of radiation in 100 hours of living there. The radiation is a dose rate of 88 millisieverts per year. The maximum allowable dose for civilians is 1 millisievert per year. The international standard for radiation workers is 20 millisieverts per year maximum.

A lifetime dose of 350 millisieverts was the criterion for declaring areas around Chernobyl uninhabitable. You would get that much radiation in 4 years of living in Iitate ... 40km away from the reactors.

3/30/2011 11:43 AM

Blogger tennvol said...

Yes, I always turn to Greenpeace for my objective information about anything nuclear.

3/30/2011 12:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regardless of the source, this helps illustrate the problem I'm having.

Say the Greenpeace numbers are true, for the sake of argument.

What's the radiation coming from? If it's primarily Iodine, it's not going to be there to give you that lifetime dose for very long. Not long enough, anyway.

My grasp of the concept is this: without the energy of a reactor who's fission process has gone wild aka Chernobyl, the actual fuel rods and certain other heavier bits shouldn't get scattered across the countryside. Which is what made Chernobyl, well, Chernobyl.

I know this is a huge problem. Especially if you work for TEPCO. I imagine there are employment opportunities for expendible gaijin who are greedy in the short term and in the long term have little regard for their personal futures right about now at that company.

It seems that if you know what fission products are causing the radiation, though, you ought to be able to take a WAG at how long you need to stay out of the area.

3/30/2011 1:37 PM

Blogger Bill Lapham said...

Hey you guys, don't leave the conversation yet. What does this mean?
From Bloomberg:
"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."

"Nuclear chain reactions" shouldn't be happening in a shut down reactor, right? WTF?

3/30/2011 3:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should turn this place into a penal colony for CEOs who refuse to pay their corporate taxes.

3/30/2011 5:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

For Bill Lapham:

There is always fission in a reactor but when shutdown it on the order of 10-15 fissions per second. When at power it is on the order several billion per second. (Any current nuc's jump in, I'm 30+ years out...)

Could there more fission with melted fuel? I guess so but neutron flux can be measured so any risk can be analyzed. I’m pretty certain the Japanese don’t want the workers to start dropping like flies.

I just wonder why the hell he would say something like that without supplying some kind of concrete evidence…I could just as well speculate that it is too late as the cores have already melted through to Uruguay. (I think my geography is about right)

Old Chief from the dark ages

3/30/2011 7:03 PM

Anonymous News Reader said...

The question is does Greenpeace have the funds to hire anyone with the competence to operate a Geiger counter, and I think the answer to that question is clearly Yes.

Anyone who doubts their published result is free to go to the same town, and tale their own radiation readings. Does a meter reading depend upon the politics of the person taking the reading? I think not.

3/30/2011 8:19 PM

Anonymous News Reader said...

Greenpeace identified the location (Iitate, Japan), distance from the meltdown (25 miles) the date (Monday) and the meter reading (10 microsieverts per hour).

That is descriptive enough for anyone else to reproduce the results using his own equipment.

Note that the Navy will not let anyone within 50 miles of the meltdown; twice as far away as Greenpeace's readings.

3/30/2011 8:33 PM

Anonymous News Reader said...

"Some areas over 40 kilometres from the plant pose more dangers to human health than others located inside the current evacuation zone.
In rural regions around the area of Tsushima, not affected by the evacuation order, the team detected 100 microsievert per hour.
"That would mean that someone could exceed the maximum annual dose of 1,000 microsievert... in about 10 hours," Jan van de Putte said."

3/30/2011 8:43 PM

Blogger Curt said...

Obviously we can't call it the China Syndrome... Maybe the Peru Syndrome??

Talk about fissioning of a core in meltdown -

understand that we've lost control of the geometry and density of the fuel (when it collects at the bottom of the vessel).

The Clad of the Fuel Plates is really the first boundary (then the vessel, and lastly the containment building).

3/31/2011 4:24 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

NRC chairman Jazcko upon returning from a week of giving advise to Japanese concerning the nuclear disaster...disclosed for the first time in senate testimony yesterday that a hurricane, along with a 9.0 earthquake and Tsunami, had also hit the Fukushima facility on March 11. He didn't disclose the size of the hurricane that the agency alone detected.

3/31/2011 2:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's funny because there is no such thing as a hurricane in the Western Pacific.

Typhoon season typically runs Jun-Nov. give or take a month or two. Athough thay can form anytime of the year, so far none have formed this year.

3/31/2011 5:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good hi-res photos of the plant proper, you can see they have really taken an enormous degree of damage to the facility. These were taken on 20 March via drone fly-by.

3/31/2011 8:26 PM

Anonymous novalidwork said... has updates with contamination levels in the environment around the plant.

450 uuCi/100 cm^2 = 1665 Bq/m^2
1 mrem/hr = 10 uSv/hr

4/01/2011 12:21 AM

Anonymous novalidwork said...

Another potentially useful conversion factor for that link:

1e-9 uCi/mL = 37 mBq/L

4/01/2011 12:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second team made additional measurements at 7 locations in the Hirono area, South of Fukushima-Daiichi NPP. The measurement locations were at distances of 23 to 39 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The dose rates ranged from 0.5 to 4.9 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.04 to 0.34 Megabecquerel per square metre.

Peak surface contamination 40,000 to 340,000 Bq/m2. 20-200x the Navy limit, 14-25 miles from the site. Yikes. Hope the winds don't drop a clump on nasties on Tokyo. That would be a bitch to clean up...

4/01/2011 2:39 AM

Blogger Rhys said...

I'll stand by all my previous comments. At least in this case it was the design that let down the operators, not vice versa. As bad as Chernobyl and TMI were, in each case it was the operators who completely poked the pooch.

At Fukushima, the design just was not robust enough. Still, I cannot fathom how you cannot make an electrical connection with portable gear inside of 2 weeks with an advanced technological society. If we blew out all the cables in a sub it would not take two weeks to fly in a generator that could power 1 pump.

I'm sure the after action report will be legendary, but let's not forget the really important statistics:

More people killed directly by the coal mining industry than at Fukushima and TMI (both still 0).

4/01/2011 3:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concrete goo pumpers on their way. Still need to stop the spill.

4/01/2011 7:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CNN's reporting (as well as other outlets) that there's a roughly 8-inch crack in the concrete in a sump/pit outside Unit #2 which is letting contaminated water dump directly into the ocean. No wonder they haven't exhausted the storage capacity on-site, it's being discharged overboard!

4/02/2011 2:31 AM

Anonymous DanielFBoone said...

Reuters is reporting that TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company which owns the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, is offering workers exorbitant amounts of money in a bid to persuade them to help stabilize the reactors damaged in the March earthquake and tsunami. .....

"Ordinarily I'd consider that a dream job, but my wife was in tears and stopped me, so I declined," said (an) unidentified worker who is in his 30s, "The working time would be less than an hour, so in fact it was 200,000 yen an hour, but the risk was too big."

Another worker, Ryuta Fujita, 27, was offered twice that amount, but declined, citing fears of radiation and the need to provide for his wife and 3-year old son, "I hear that guys older than 50 are being hired at high pay," Fujita told the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.

4/02/2011 10:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spill? SWIMS =
Walk Away
Ignore It
Make Like It Didn't Happen
Stop for a Coke on your way forward

4/02/2011 11:31 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

200,000 yen per hour = $2379 per hour at current exchange rates.

Where do I sign? I'm too old for kids anyway.

4/02/2011 12:30 PM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

No doubt the NRC chairman had been traumatized by what he'd seen in Japan...and I imagine, a part of him will never be the same again.

4/02/2011 2:24 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From NHK World, excerpt of an interview summary published today.

"A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation. The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant's No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places. Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility. The monitor said he takes measurements as soon as he finds water, because he can't determine whether it's contaminated just by looking at it. He said he's very worried about the safety of workers there."

Hope they get their industrial robotics up & functioning quickly, or maybe they're relying on jumpers at this point. Either way, not good news.

4/05/2011 4:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn...a 7.1 aftershock! Wonder it two big ones close together were factored into the design of the plant?

Old Chief from the dark ages

4/07/2011 10:59 AM

Blogger Mike Mulligan said...

The French say their contamination has gone past insignificant...they say our West Coast dose is 7 to 8 times there's.

We got cesium already in our milk from this at extremely low levels...

What about the NYT's story of the low paid and abused maintenance people that Tepco was build upon.

4/11/2011 5:58 AM


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