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 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake Tsunami Hits Guam

From the COMSUBPAC Facebook page:
Everyone on board is safe but USS Houston and USS City of Corpus Christi mooring lines broke free from the pier at Alpha wharf at Naval Base Guam due to the tsunami wave. Tug boats from Naval Base Guam responded quickly to the situation. Both submarines are safe and under the control of the tug boats. Crews are currently working to moor the submarines safely to the pier.
Prayers going out to everyone in Japan and throughout the northern Pacific affected by this natural disaster. Have you ever been in the middle of a major storm or earthquake?

Update 1411 11 March: It's hard to find non-hysterical reports of the reported emergency at the Japanese Fukushima Daiishu reactor complex, but this one seems to be the most level-headed. Secretary of State Clinton doesn't come off as sounding all that technically-minded ("We just had our Air Force assets in Japan transport some really important coolant to one of the nuclear plants", apparently not realizing that "coolant" is "pure water"), but you can't expect everyone to have a clue about nuclear power.

Update 0837 12 March: This CNN report says they've "begun flooding the reactor containment structure with seawater". As I remember, that's pretty far down the list of actions to take in response to a casualty (in that it means you're never planning on using that reactor again), so if true it sounds like they're in pretty bad shape.

As far as the Guam submarines, word on the street is that the duty sections of both boats did a really good job, especially the Duty Officer on the outboard unit. Those duty section training sessions where you talk through various "what would you do if..." scenarios must have paid off. (In this case, "a tsunami breaks you away from the pier and parts the lines and shore power cables while you have diver's tags hanging".)

Bell-ringer 1224 12 March: Here are English-language press releases from the owner of the plants.

Update 0534 14 March: Apparently the Reagan passed through a very low-level plume about 100nm off the coast, but it was enough for them to pick up. And the explosion at the 2nd plant apparently caused problems at the 3rd plant as well, so that they'll have to wreck it by injecting seawater too.

Update 2022 14 March: I guess I shouldn't be surprised -- many Americans are buying, and maybe using, unnecessary KI tablets.

We're about to lose the ability to see more comments as we go past about 200, so I'm going to open up a new thread on the topic.

198 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both submarines are now safely moored. COCC was moored outboard Houston with a berth shift scheduled for next week; the berth shift will no longer be required. Well done for an especially efficient disengagement from the pier.

3/11/2011 8:34 AM

 
Blogger Pike riddle said...

The only effective way of detecting people under the rubble - it's infrared camera
Оnly amphibious military hovercraft can travel on the destroyed roads and deliver food and medicines and to evacuate large groups of people.

3/11/2011 9:05 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughts and prayers out to everyone! Glad they are safely moored.

Reid

3/11/2011 9:29 AM

 
Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

Back in 1965, we were moving on board BARBEL at Puget Sound NSY at the end of overhaul when the Alaska earthquake struck. The crane operator was lowering the brow when it started to sway as did his crane. Those of us on deck moved outboard the sail in hopes we would not be hit by a falling crane. Fortunately, that was all of the ill effects we suffered. A diesel boat (I think it was ARCHERFISH) in drydock shifted on the block during the quake.

3/11/2011 9:35 AM

 
Blogger Mike said...

Had to leave Guam in a hurry, Christmas day of 1989 due to a typhoon. USS Flasher (SSN-613) rode the storm out beneath the waves. This gave rise to the phrase, "Merry f'in Christmas".

3/11/2011 10:21 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billion dollar submarines secured by $100 worth of rope. They cannot even claim it was a freak accident because it happened to two subs at the same time.

3/11/2011 11:41 AM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

The first underwater volcanic eruption was not documented until 1990. Seismometers on land still cannot detect the many, distant earthquakes that scientists believe precede submarine eruptions by months.

It is likely that tomorrow's uncharted sea mounts will have resulted from undersea volcanic eruptions.

As recently as 2005, USS San Francisco collided tragically with an undersea mountain about 350 statute miles south of Guam while operating at flank speed and more than 500 feet deep.

3/11/2011 11:43 AM

 
Anonymous Dean said...

I was on a Westpac on USS Wahoo (SS-565)in the early 70's. While on a surface transit just west of Taiwan, enroute to Kaohsiung, we felt an earthquake. I was in the head in the torpedo room when I felt the shaking, it was, I was told, just like running hard aground. The CO launched from his stateroom and only hit a couple of ladder rungs going to the bridge. He said later he was just starting up the ladder when he heard the OOD order "All Stop" and considered countermanding it to "Back Emergency", but had enough faith in the OOD to continue to the bridge to see what was going on. The OOD was LT Linc Loehr, who happened to be an Oceanography major from University of Washington, and he recognized what was happening. He said he could see the shock wave ripple across the surface toward the sub, and ordered "All Stop" to prevent any damage to the shafting or bearings due to the shaking. When we pulled in we found it was a moderate earthquake felt in Taiwan, but with no significant damage.
Fun times.

3/11/2011 11:49 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillary is one stupid bitch

3/11/2011 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do the Japanese cool their reactors with? Unobtanium?

3/11/2011 12:18 PM

 
Blogger hughmon said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12709791

Awesome photos from the BBC

3/11/2011 12:59 PM

 
Blogger Jon said...

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9LT6T580&show_article=1

Interesting development... apparently they are going to open up a pressure relief for a bit...

3/11/2011 1:28 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about having the Air Force deliver some diesel fuel and some big diesel generators instead of "Coolant"

3/11/2011 1:42 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was on the USS Haddo, in dry-dock 2 at MINSY early 1980s. There was a 4.5 over near Concord. We were on the blocks with a .1 starboard list. The boat started rolling one of the QMs watched the bubble, he claimed we rolled 6 degrees starboard 5 degrees port and I know we settled out at about 1.5 starboard. I was top side when the quake began the cofferdam was flexing with water gushing through on both sides. You could not get below decks as there was a steady stream of yardbirds coming out of the hatches, fastest I ever saw government employees move. After it was over and the basin was completely pumped dry. Several of the keel-blocks needed replacement. Exciting day.

3/11/2011 1:42 PM

 
Blogger Pike riddle said...

Seismic activity is the result of a solar flare on 13-15 February 2011.
The largest number of thermographs (Portable Thermal Imaging Cameras), to search for people under the rubble by fixing heat of the human body, have the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. Мost of these cameras mounted on military equipment. Some quantity of IR cameras have their manufacturers in warehouses.
Dubai can help to Japan more than any other. because in Dubai is concentrated 20% of construction equipment (mostly cranes) that may needed to clearing concrete rubble.
Аdequate logistics for the delivery of this equipment has the U.S. Army and the operating companies of largest aircrafts An-124.

3/11/2011 2:01 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Was in Guam for the 8.1 in 1993. That pretty much sucked. What was left of Andy's Hut (uninhabitable after Omar the previous year) fell into the lagoon.

Still amazing to me that nobody died in that one.

3/11/2011 2:23 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Looks like they've vented some steam to atmosphere from the primary since pressure is building up for some reason (water inventory?) I'm not going to pretend to guess at what's going on based on the half-assed "knowledge" of some dimwitted reporter who probably can't even set their DVR's.

http://www.businessinsider.com/fukushima-nuclear-plant-2011-3

Above link has several updates. Avoid the Guardian page like the plague unless you like the, "Oh noes!! We's all gonna DIE!1!!elevety!!!" headlines.

3/11/2011 2:32 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like they've vented some steam to atmosphere from the primary since pressure is building up for some reason (water inventory?) I'm not going to pretend to guess at what's going on based on the half-assed "knowledge" of some dimwitted reporter who probably can't even set their DVR's.

They are in BWR EOIs - as they trained to do.

3/11/2011 2:35 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Didn't see the tech info--are those plants boilers or PWR's? Anybody got a link to the type of plant, MW rating, etc?

And yeah, shutdown/cooldown protocols would be different for a PWR versus a boiler. Probably just needed a source of pure water for the plant since their on-site sources are either gone or crapped up from the tsunami. Makes me wonder how many coastal plants (like ours) would deal with a similar influx of seawater/crap/debris flooding on site.

3/11/2011 2:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another nuclear power plant issue in Japan? Radiation spewing into the Japanese environment? Oh, that's just great... Just what the world needs, another gawdamn Godzilla!!!

3/11/2011 2:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing better than making comments that make you sound stupid is making incorrect comments that make you sound stupid. Don't worry Hillary, we all know you and Barry O are in control!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

"2140: Meanwhile, officials in Washington have said the US military did not provide any coolant to a nuclear plant in Japan. Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US Air Force "assets" had been used to do so."

3/11/2011 3:14 PM

 
Anonymous 3383 said...

Some weird comments here today.

Experienced an earthquake in SoCal while aboard ship. Did not notice, since we were floating on water.

Missed the I-880 collapse by hours during the Loma Prieta earthquake in '89. Minor damage to home. Bay Bridge damage was a hassle, and took muchlonger to repair than the Northridge (LA) quake damage.

Boats in the Santa Cruz marina are having an interesting time. Today/ last night's quake caused noticeable water to rush out and into the basin.

3/11/2011 3:23 PM

 
Blogger Don the Baptist said...

NOT Prestone!?

3/11/2011 3:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't see the tech info--are those plants boilers or PWR's? Anybody got a link to the type of plant, MW rating, etc?

Fukushima Unit 1, 480MW BWR

3/11/2011 3:59 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Oh, goody--which means the public is gonna be that much more panicky. But yeah, I can see where water inventory is gonna be a real issue, and if there have been breaks in the steam piping between the Rx and the turbine, but even so, BWR's are more robust and their ECCS has greater redundancy.

I've got to think that the tsunami wiped out a lot of the auxiliary/safety-related components for them to be having these kinds of issues.

3/11/2011 4:07 PM

 
Anonymous Casual Observer said...

Best report I've seen report that the BWR plant lost *all* of its diesel backup power supplies in the earthquake...thus the coolant/cooling problems.

Pressure in the containment building itself is up, which is generally not a good sign, as the article mentions.

Power is being shipped in...so we're all in wait and see mode right now.

3/11/2011 4:48 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Off SoCal submerged in summer of 1994 and it we were over an earthquake that made the boat shake like back emergency. The Vallejo came through with flying colors. DOOW had an interesting time since it was jumping around quite a bit for a almost a minute. Pulled in the next day and found out we had been pretty close to the epicenter.

3/11/2011 5:27 PM

 
Anonymous Casual Observer said...

The NYT is weighing in now, at the start of the new day in Tokyo.

Interesting that they refer to Three Mile Island as a "catastrophic emergency," particularly since no one was killed or seriously injured there.

Not necessarily trying to pick a fight, but would anything else qualify as a "catastrophy" these days...when no one is killed in the process of the event?

3/11/2011 6:18 PM

 
Anonymous ssnret said...

A sometimes contributor here is an ST who goes by the name Ken and I think lives in Japan. Not sure where. Ken are you out there?

3/11/2011 7:05 PM

 
Anonymous Carl said...

The BWR would not vent the primary to atmosphere. In the case of Fukushima, the primary is vented via safety pressure reliefs to the torus. The containment vessel would be vented to atmosphere if the torus couldn't be cooled. In this case, without offsite power or the emergency diesels, the low head RHR pumps couldn't cool the torus so the containment heats up and pressurizes.

The best technical information I've seen to date is located here:

http://ansnuclearcafe.org/

Carl

3/11/2011 8:00 PM

 
Blogger Vigilis said...

SSNRET,

Phones are out in much of Japan. Internet and electrical power have been down since this morning.

If Ken can get through regardless, and no doubt some still can, he is exceptional.

We know of Americans now travelling in NA who live and work in Japan and have been unable to reach their wives or children still in Japan.

It is a very bad scene for now.

3/11/2011 8:09 PM

 
Blogger Jon said...

Love your blog! Check out mine!

http://jon-randomtidbits.blogspot.com/

3/11/2011 8:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the linked FT.com article:
Officials worked throughout the night to relieve the pressure at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. Radiation levels in the control room at the affected reactor were reported to have surged to about 1,000 times above normal. Radiation levels near the main gate of the plant were measured at more than 70 times normal levels, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Something tells me to read "radiation levels" as "radioactivity levels"--big difference. I hope I'm not wrong about that.

3/11/2011 8:56 PM

 
Anonymous ssnret said...

Navy Times is reporting that all military personnel in Japan are accounted for. http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/03/ap-all-us-military-in-japan-found-after-quake-031111/

This paragraph helps those of us with friends and shipmates there:"The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan. The fleet’s Facebook page was updated to confirm that there were no injuries of any 7th Fleet personnel and no reported damage to its assets." The article also reported no damage to USS George Washington.
If I'm looking at the map correctly Yokosuka is about 200 miles south of Sendai

BBC reported about 10:00pmEST that the Nuc plant at Miyagi was on fire

3/11/2011 9:01 PM

 
Anonymous Cosmetic surgery said...

I have enjoyed reading. .Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

3/11/2011 11:53 PM

 
Anonymous analee said...

Glad their quick and saved very expensive vessels..let's continue pray to the victims of these tragedy.

3/12/2011 12:29 AM

 
Blogger MT1(SS)WidgetHead said...

"Something tells me to read "radiation levels" as "radioactivity levels"--big difference. I hope I'm not wrong about that.

3/11/2011 8:56 PM"

You're not wrong. This is simply a matter of the media not doing a follow up or any kind of research before sending out their latest press release. I could almost laugh at some of the misinformed sensational journalism I've seen today.

I have to say I'm happy no personnel in the 7th fleet were hurt in today's disaster. My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.

3/12/2011 12:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, "radiation levels" would be the correct terminology. I think the normal levels in a control room of a plant would be on the order of 0.01 to 0.05 mr/hr so 1000 times that would mean 10 to 50 mr/hr. Definitely not a safety concern but not anywhere near normal either.

3/12/2011 1:30 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intresting blog and reading one of the comments of the Guam 1993 8.1 quake, i was there at the time this one was a unbelieveable scenario with only a few minor casualties. My house and car were literally shaking and moving up and down left and right. The Hotel i was working for sank 25 cm into the ground separating two buildings like you tear a piece of paper with some 1800 guest at the time, luckly all that happend when guest were back into their rooms and not on the roads or just entering the Hotel lobby's as some of them colapsed. In 2005 i was in Sri Lanka when the Tsunami hit the Island and by some coincidence we cancelled that same day december 25 a trip to the place which got hit hardest, man i can tell you seeing afterwards the area's of devastation is more then scary. An earth quake you have changes to survive, A Tsunami if you are directly in its pad of destruction- No way to get out of it you just get sucked into it. Following yesterday's dissaster with such power of water coming at you i can imagine the casualties here and los of lives.My thoughts and prayers are with all of you and with all the people of Japan

3/12/2011 2:52 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope the former JOs here didn't bank on a future in nuclear power. Loss of all electrical power is never supposed to happen, especially in a land-based reactor. Huge loss of credibility for the worldwide nuclear power industry and terrible new for the US Nuclear industry.

Radiation levels 1000x normal are really, really bad. Can't remember my thumb rules 7 years out, but I do know that means:

1) Near-complete loss of core water-level

2) A shitload of primary coolant released to atmosphere (airborne radiation), implying near-complete loss of core water level.

Even money says the rods go melty by end of the weekend.

Anyone know if the control room in commercial reactors is located inside or outside of secondary containment?

3/12/2011 3:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Shit...

News Story

Catastrophic structural failure at the Fukushima #2 plant. Hopefully not the secondary containment but can't think of anything else it would be. On the plus side, maybe ambient radiation levels will

3/12/2011 4:03 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suck at links:

News Story:
http://abcnews.go.com/International/smoke-shaking-reported-japanese-nuclear-plant-facing-meltdown/story?id=13120888

Video:
http://youtu.be/DHfR_wybvw0?hd=1

3/12/2011 4:04 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

My heart goes out to all those effected by the earthquake and the tsunami. I pray for their safety and for comfort in their lose.

The US reactor do have a plan for complete loss of on-site power and they have regulations/standards for earthquake survival, but a mega-quake and tsunami are not design basis events exactly. The reactors in Japan will likely release small amounts of radioactive steam to reduce the pressure in the containment, but the activity in these releases though much higher than normal will pose little real risk to the public. The government is evacuating people to reduce unnecessary exposure, which is also a smart thing to do.

Now with all that said the media is going to have a field day with this and it is likely that there will be a whole new slew of green opposition to nuclear power and our energy problems is only going to get far worse. Just like with TMI, how many people have been killed? Zero so far and that number isn't likely to rise do to the happenings at the nuclear plant. Chernobyl was a completely different type of reactor design and not one we would even consider using for obvious reasons. So, regardless of the final outcome in Japan it isn't likely that anyone is going to actually die from the minute amounts of radiation released. The mostly likely case for deaths is the physical damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami causing stuff to fall on people.

We of nuclear power experience need to calm the media madness with truth and understanding. It was very nice to see the analysis of the 1000x normal levels. Thank you! If it gets to the rem level then we need to start worrying.

3/12/2011 5:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to remain optimistic, but I don't see any way this is anything except a catastrophic breach of secondary containment. And given the scenario, it looks either as if primary was already breached, or they had been venting excessively and lost control of pressure within the secondary containment structure. Can anyone come up with a less dire explanation?

3/12/2011 5:02 AM

 
Blogger Harold said...

Anonymous said...
Billion dollar submarines secured by $100 worth of rope. They cannot even claim it was a freak accident because it happened to two subs at the same time.


Never purchased a submarine mooring line, have you? Even at government prices, you can't get one for $100.

3/12/2011 5:17 AM

 
Blogger Harold said...

@ 1:42 PM Anonymous said...
I was on the USS Haddo, in dry-dock 2 at MINSY early 1980s...

I was sitting on a bench in the old wooden gym putting on my shoes when the shaking hit, and I watched everyone else run out. To be honest, the building was old and rickety enough that I thought the shaking was due to the basketball paling going on and all the people running...

When I got back to the 604 I heard the same thing about the boat bouncing around.

3/12/2011 5:21 AM

 
Blogger kwicslvr said...

harold,
The USS CoCC was moored outside of the USS Houston and not at it's own pier. So when the Houston broke free so did the CoCC which was still moored to the Houston.

3/12/2011 5:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Casual Observer,

I would classify it as a catastrophe for the nuclear power industry if the hysteria continues growing at the current pace; TMI is considered a catastrophe (by me, anyway) because of the long-lasting negative effect it has had on growing nuclear power in the US. Ask someone what the average capacity factor of US nuclear plants was last year, and no one has a clue (its been around 90% for the last few years, having steadily increased from the 70's - very impressive!) Ask someone about TMI, however, and almost everyone knows SOMETHING (or feels like they know something) about it.

3/12/2011 5:50 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Guys,
We who have had nuclear training need to help educate the public on the actual risks and dangers. Even in the worst case scenario with the reactor shutdown and if it completely melted it would release radioactive gas that would build up pressure inside the containment that would need to be released occasionally and since this plant is on the East coast with a strong wind from the West that release would be quickly dispersed and cause no real threat. This is a devastating PR hit because the MSM will only have liberal talking head on to discuss this, but no one died during TMI and the four guys hurt were cuts and bruises in Japan.

In the long run it is likely that it will be another ten to twenty years before the US actually build another reactor because it took ten years to get an anti-aircraft design approved, so how long will it take to get a 10.0 earthquake and million year flood design approved? We better start tapping our oil reserves and coal because our nukes are in for a bumpy ride.

3/12/2011 6:22 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would actually disagree. This couldn't have happened without systemic problems in the management/operation/maintenance of the plant, and it's not the first time Japan has had issues either.

BTW I have read some reports that say radiaoactive cesium and iodine have been detected off-site. That means primary containment failure and now release of fission products to the external atmosphere. For such an uptight people, the Japanese kind of suck at running nuclear reactors.

In reality, the health damage will probably be small (like it was at Chernobyl and TMI). That's not good enough. Coal-fired plants may hurt the environment through mercury emissions, acid rains, etc. etc., but equipment failures there don't turn large parts of land into unusable hazard areas that require specialized cleanup crews to address. The Nuclear has to accept that it has and will continue to be held to extremely high standards.

JOs - time to break out those grad-school test-prep books!

3/12/2011 6:34 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

What part do you disagree with because regardless of their failures the primary containment appears to be intact and yes radioactive gases are being released to the environment in order to reduce the pressure within the primary containment. The pressure will soon turn because with enough cooling water inside the primary it will eventually start working. The pressure will still have to me monitored and releases will still have to occur, but the frequency will be less.

The Japanese government seems to be doing all the right things with the evacuations and the iodine, so the mismanagement part does have me a little confused. I am sure that no one at the plant expected a 9.1 earthquake and then a tsunami. I don't care what disaster plans you have in place those are pretty unique occurrences on their own and to have both at the same time would be tough for anyone to deal with even the steely-eyed killers of the deep.

3/12/2011 6:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disagree with the sentiment that nukes should tell their friends "everything is fine".

As far as mismanagement, a few questions that come to mind are:

Why did the diesel generators fail? Why did the operators not vent the secondary containment before it reached design pressure? When faced with the above, why did they not immediately initiate seawater injection? Why were no plans in place to operate coolant loop cutout valves in a core meltdown scenario, necessitating evacuation of workers prior to casualty control?

It's not enough to say "Don't worry the pressure vessel is intact!"

BTW - Cesium and Iodine are solid fission products, and the former has a half-life of 30 years. You sure you're a nuke? :)

3/12/2011 7:04 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Solid nuke and been one for a long time, but I have to wonder why you are calling for the falling sky. I wonder if your system would all work after the 5th largest earthquake ever. The releases of Cs-137 and Iodine are serious, but the world is not ending and the Japanese government is taking all the right actions to minimize off-site exposure. I am sure that the tsunami may have caused several of the issues that you suggest, but it seems that they we able to get sea water injection going when they had power. The explosion seems to be due to H2 buildup, which is tough to control when you have no power due to two once in a lifetime events beyond design basis, but I am sure as a super nuke you would have done better. We need to minimize the hysteria of the MSM and deal with the realities of the situation. I meltdown is not the end of the world and neither is controlled venting. Yes is bad, but how many have died so far? If the government keeps monitoring the situation and the operators continue to take the necessary actions then the effects on the public will be minimized. Sure the plant is a useless, but who cares as long as no one dies. Be careful how you ring the alarm bells and say how incompetent people are because you aren't there and if you were you might be stuck doing exactly the same things based on your limitations. I will say again we need to minimize the alarmist BS out of the MSM with truth and facts. We don't need another 30 years of pain like what happened with TMI. We don't have Chernobyl here and again how many people have died?

3/12/2011 7:27 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Now the next thing we need to do is get some smart guys in a room and figure out how to scrub the gases being released to reduce the release of radioactive gases. I am sure there are a lot of smart nukes out there that have some cool ideas. They are not out of the woods yet, but someone should be thinking longer term on how we manage the release issue. It is going to take some time before the rock is cool and even then their are some nasties to be dealt with, but we are smart people and will come up with something better then just pour concrete half-assed over it.

3/12/2011 7:54 AM

 
Blogger Austin said...

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/index-e.html

The link above is for the Tokyo Electric Company News Updates.

Some interesting pieces of info in there you won't get from the news channels.

3/12/2011 8:12 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Question for the nuke types in here.

I've been watching the video of the explosion. It would appear to me that this explosion was much bigger than expected. If you look carefully at the explosion it appears to be much more pressurized than what a containment building would manage. Is it possible that the reactor vessel lid has blown off as well?

3/12/2011 8:12 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

The initial "ejection" of the explosion is shaped like a reactor vessel cap.

3/12/2011 8:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just it, Sandy. Hot rocks work great to make the juice--until they don't. Then there can be hell to pay.

You may know/accept the risks but many civilians don't. It doesn't take a body count, either.

3/12/2011 8:22 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I agree with knowing the risks is part of it, but we don't need to let fear mongering rule either. What we need is a reasonable discussion of the risks, without the end of the world predictions. TMI though bad didn't end the world, Chernobyl was incredibly worse didn't end the world either, so this incident though bad is not likely to end the world either. I do understand the public's fear of things nuclear because a lot of them equate nuclear power with nuclear weapons. There are not one in the same and nuclear power has only killed a small handful of people ever. Those people were not members of the general public, so we have to be very careful how we talk about serious situations as minimize unnecessarily scaring people. Do I think this is a bad situation? Yes, but it is not the end of the civilized world and no one is dead. So, I am just trying to keep proper prospective on the situation, when the talking heads are going off the deep end of overblown predictions doom.

3/12/2011 8:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like sandy salt's cool, rational approach

3/12/2011 8:57 AM

 
Anonymous Ex SSN Eng said...

Guys: as someone else posted earlier, WAKE UP and see what's actually going on out there in Japan.

EXPLOSION at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (and look at the picture just before the blast...this is not the turbine building): http://youtu.be/DHfR_wybvw0?hd=1

CONFIRMATION via Japanese power company TepCo:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11031223-e.html


These are not U.S. nuclear submarines with modern PWR technology...they are old BWRs, and they are in BIG trouble due to the earthquake's effects and loss of power/cooling.

3/12/2011 9:31 AM

 
Anonymous Ex SSN Eng said...

Current jet stream map.

Expect that we will see stateside effects in a couple of days.

Not mincing words: this does look to be a Chernobyl scale event, and we should allow for the possiblity that the distributed radioactivity may be worse. That was one hell of an explosion, and -- to my eyes -- it looked as though the reactor vessel itself became airborne due to the 'bounce' effect from the explosion...much along the lines of what happened at SL-1.

3/12/2011 9:44 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

"A huge explosion has rocked a Japanese nuclear power plant damaged by Friday's devastating earthquake.

A pall of smoke was seen coming from the plant at Fukushima. Four workers were injured.

Japanese officials say the container housing the reactor was not damaged and that radiation levels have now fallen.

...The Japanese government's chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, said the concrete building housing the plant's number one reactor had collapsed but the metal reactor container inside was not damaged.

He said radiation levels around the plant had fallen after the explosion.

Officials ordered the evacuation zone around the plant expanded from a 10km radius to 20km (12 miles). The BBC's Nick Ravenscroft said police stopped him 60km from the Fukushima-Daiichi plant.

Plans are being made to distribute iodine, which can be used to combat radiation sickness, to residents of the evacuation zone."

The containment is not gone, so that is relatively good news.

3/12/2011 9:47 AM

 
Anonymous Ex SSN Eng said...

The NY Times is now quoting Japanese officials as saying that it was the turbine building that blew up:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/world/asia/13nuclear.html?_r=1&hp

Truth will out, whatever it was. That was one nasty 'bang'.

3/12/2011 9:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope the former JOs here didn't bank on a future in nuclear power. Loss of all electrical power is never supposed to happen, especially in a land-based reactor. Huge loss of credibility for the worldwide nuclear power industry and terrible new for the US Nuclear industry.

Shows how much you know. Generation 3 plant designs do not require electricity to maintain the core covered and cooled. See AP1000.

3/12/2011 9:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the case of Fukushima, the primary is vented via safety pressure reliefs to the torus.

Wait, a donut is used in an actual nuclear power plant?

Now it all makes sense

(or at least more sense than Pike Riddle)

3/12/2011 9:51 AM

 
Anonymous 4-stop said...

Are you kidding me SANDY SALT????? Only a few people have ever been killed by nuclear power???

“The 2005 report prepared by the Chernobyl Forum, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organization (WHO), attributed 56 direct deaths (47 accident workers, and nine children with thyroid cancer), and estimated that there may be 4,000 extra cancer deaths among the approximately 600,000 most highly exposed people.” Yeah I guess 4,000 people are a small amount. Oh wait that’s less than the amount of people who perished in the world trade center towers.

3/12/2011 9:54 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as mismanagement, a few questions that come to mind are:

Why did the diesel generators fail? Why did the operators not vent the secondary containment before it reached design pressure? When faced with the above, why did they not immediately initiate seawater injection? Why were no plans in place to operate coolant loop cutout valves in a core meltdown scenario, necessitating evacuation of workers prior to casualty control?


EDGs failures: Tsunami destroyed them.

SW injection is the LAST option considered by PROCEDURE.

There are no "cutout valves" in commercial nukes, DUMBASS.

Know about what you speak or keep your fucking piehole shut!

BTW, BZ SandySalt. I know you're still in and I served with you on 677. I've been commercial for 21 years and most guys fresh from the Navy don't quite understand commercial design and ops. It's obvious from your posts that you've done some study on commercial design, dbe, pra, etc. and are on target with your comments.

3/12/2011 10:03 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in the NYT that they were injecting boron into the primary - seema rather odd to do seeing as they shut down yesterday. Maybe a PR move, an effort to do "something?"

3/12/2011 10:10 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read in the NYT that they were injecting boron into the primary - seema rather odd to do seeing as they shut down yesterday. Maybe a PR move, an effort to do "something?"

Once again, someone from the peanut gallery chimes in without having a clue.

3/12/2011 10:12 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

US deaths, the I wouldn't wish a Russian designed reactor on my worst enemy. We need to keep reminding ourselves that we don't have charcoal moderated reactors here and neither does Japan. Those guys have some very serious issue that they are dealing with and I am sure the A-Team is getting pretty fricking tired and ready to snap. I can only hope that they are tough and can make it a little bit longer. I have to wonder how much uncontaminated fuel is left on sight because that will soon become an interesting new wrinkle. Maybe they can helo or boat some fresh diesel in.

We are far removed from the situation, so lets keep the hysterics to a minimum until we have more information.

Actually, I am now retired and working in the civilian industry. It is amazing how different the plants are but they are still pretty good designs, but do lack some cool things that we had. They also have backups upon backup, but sometimes things don't go as planned and you get a ~9.0 earthquake followed by a 23 ft tsunami. You are in a world of shit and the only thing you can do is keep moving forward doing the best you can with what you have.

The latest bad news is a couple of the other plants are having long term cooling issues, but lets hope that they get a handle on them quickly. Because as we all know there is a limited supply of smart guys to deal with these issues, but an unlimited supply of smart asses to second guess them.

3/12/2011 10:19 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The company also said its workers also added boric acid to the containment vessel Saturday night to slow down the nuclear reaction.... Both the Daiichi and Daini plants were shut down during Friday’s earthquake."*

What "nuclear reaction?" Does "shut down" mean something different in the commercial world? Care to share your enlightenment?

* http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/world/asia/13nuclear.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hp

3/12/2011 10:21 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NY Times article states that the Japanese turbine building used hydrogen for cooling, and that they'd had minor explosions from it before.

The video was a whopper, in any case.

3/12/2011 10:24 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

the boron increases the shutdown margin

3/12/2011 10:31 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair enough. Thanks, Sandy.

3/12/2011 10:36 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Concur--boron or boric acid is not a normal addition to BWR's. They did it to ensure shutdown margin only.

The media is really dropping the ball on this one, and the language barrier may or may not be hurting in this case.

Then again, what do you expect from newsies who can't program their DVR's who are trying to explain nuclear power to a bunch of people whose primary exposure to nuclear power is what they see on The Simpsons?

Hilarity ensues--or not. Jeez I hate panicky people. But one thing I do know, the NRC/INPO are going to be taking a good hard look at our plants and seismic programs, how to better protect auxiliary equipment like the DG's, circ water systems, etc. Bet on that.

3/12/2011 11:11 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But one thing I do know, the NRC/INPO are going to be taking a good hard look at our plants and seismic programs, how to better protect auxiliary equipment like the DG's, circ water systems, etc. Bet on that.

PRA will get a significant re-ANALysis.

3/12/2011 11:15 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

I just don't buy the current version of the explosion theory. Hydrogen used in a cooling system for a steam plant? Really?

From the details here is my assessment:
1. Cs release means core damage.
2. Cs release is possible because it can get out through turbine glands.
3. Zr-water reaction, mentioned in a few of the most recent articles, produces H2...remember the detonation inside the containment building at TMI.
4. The 'turbine building' is where the H2 gas would be released, see 2 above.
5. H2 builds up, detonates. Just like TMI.
6. Punch line, definite core damage. See 1 above.

it bothers me that they keep saying everything is okay, like Kevin Bacon in animal house.

To back up Sandy Salt, the relatively number of dead, directly attributable to nuclear power, world wide, is insignificant next to the number killed in coal mines, due to breathing all that wonderful exhaust, and the number killed by the frakkin tsunami. The problem, we now think the reactor problem is more of an issue than the several cities that were just erased.

3/12/2011 11:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hydrogen used in a cooling system for a steam plant? Really?

Really, dumbass. Maybe if you'd get out of your stateroom a bit, you'd know how real reactor plants and BOP systems operate.

3/12/2011 11:34 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I have heard differing theories on the H2 explosion and they both make some sense because the H2 gas is used to cool the commutator in the turbine and if this gets out with no way to check it then it is possible to raise levels enough to get an explosion. The second is as CO says that it came from the primary which is likely to have at least cladding damage and they did vent the primary to the secondary, so bang. I am not in the Kevin Bacon category because I believe there has been serious damage to this plant, but the world is not ending. All is well.

The news isn't getting better because of limited power they are having problems with several of the reactors in the area. I wonder if there is any others with core damage. They are talking about controlled releases to reduce pressure. It ain't looking good for the home team.

3/12/2011 11:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cs release is possible because it can get out through turbine glands.

Never heard of Containment Isolation, have you?

3/12/2011 11:36 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the US hasn't built any (or many) BWR's is that BWR's have a positive temperature coefficient of reactivity- the hotter they get, the more they react, the hotter they get.

I'm relatively sure that is why we don't build the heavy water CANDU reactor design either.

3/12/2011 11:43 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I think the Cs got outside the primary containment during venting, but since this is a BWR is also just as possible that it could have made it to the turbine prior to isolation. This isn't your old navy nuke, so some things are different, like no loop isolations and water goes from the reactor to the turbine.

3/12/2011 11:45 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I don't think that they have a positive reactivity quotient, but there are several BWRs in service in the US including Plant Hatch and I believe Fermi. They are just different and some people believe simpler and safer, but apparently that remains to be seen. Since they boil the water directly they can modify power by modifying the feed/recirc rate. They also have control rods, but the current design uses recirc to either increase or decrease neutron moderation thus increasing or decreasing power as required. That is about as far as my BWR knowledge runs, except on the steam side they have a dirty turbine and condensate.

3/12/2011 11:54 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

"But Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the U.S.-based Nuclear Energy Institute, said that while the situation was serious, a meltdown remains unlikely and, even if it occurred would not necessarily pose a threat to public health and safety."

I know he is a puppet for the nuclear industry, but he is saying the same thing I been saying this morning.

3/12/2011 11:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, the US hasn't built any (or many) BWR's is that BWR's have a positive temperature coefficient of reactivity-

Wrong and wrong. You DO NOT remember correctly. As a BWR core ages, MTC becomes less negative & slightly positive at very low temperatures near the end of fuel cycle. ONLY under those circumstances can MTC even be considered to be "positive."

3/12/2011 12:01 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the Japanese are claiming that a H2 explosion that destroyed a many-foot thick concrete containment structure did not penetrate the steel reactor containment vessel. I'm a PWR guy and don't know anything about their plant, but is this really possible?

3/12/2011 12:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right or wrong doesn't really matter but perception is reality in this case.

The US nuclear power industry is bracing for a big hit when the markets open on Monday.

Just when the industry was on the rise again...too bad.

My wife has talked to some of our Japanese friends yesterday. We made a lot of friends there when I was stationed at CSG-7 in the 90's. Tough times ahead for that country but if anyone can come from nothing it is Japan.

3/12/2011 12:16 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

The building that was destroyed was a steel frame with sheet metal, that can be seen from the pictures of what is left of it. If it was an H2 explosion as suspected it is entirely possible to blow the sheet metal of the frames, but it probably not damage the primary containment.

3/12/2011 12:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The US nuclear power industry is bracing for a big hit when the markets open on Monday.

If cards are played correctly, this could be a boon for nuclear power. Japan nukes provide 1/3 of their electricity. They WILL rebuild. China WILL continue their massive expansion of nuclear power. The four plants under construction in Georgia and South Carolina are third generation PWRs (AP1000) and specifically DO NOT rely on electricity to maintain adequate core cooling. They will continue to be built. Though there will be much hyperbole of the sky is falling from "green" troglodytes to be refuted, all is not lost.

3/12/2011 12:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:03

Sounds like you know a lot about executing procedures at your own plant (though I question how much you know about this particular plant). Nothing you write is relevant to this simple fact: a major utility is injecting seawater into a reactor core to prevent imminent meltdown.

The "Shit happens, you can't predict everything" argument is not good enough as an excuse for this. You certainly can't predict everything. You can, however, choose not to take unquantifiable risks (e.g. building nuclear reactors which can fail in manners like the Fukushima plant). I guess we'll see how the rest of the country feels when the next round of applications gets approved/denied.

3/12/2011 12:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard to find a number, but it's safe to assume that at least 5,ooo people are killed each year in coal mines, maybe closer to 6,000. Then add onto that how many more workers die from long-term lung issues, and the long-term medical issues from the communities downwind of the coal burning plants.

So far, there is one documented death at the Japanese nuclear plant, and that is from the explosion. We will have to wait to see what the max exposure and contamination levels are around the plant, but will that equal the number of deaths from coal mines this year? Probably not...

3/12/2011 1:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can, however, choose not to take unquantifiable risks (e.g. building nuclear reactors which can fail in manners like the Fukushima plant). I guess we'll see how the rest of the country feels when the next round of applications gets approved/denied.

It's called PRA. Look it up. The plants were/are built within those contraints. Obviously you can't build to withstand everything; You can build to withstand what is "reasonably" probable. As far as approving or denying, what is your alternative? Wind? Can't sustain baseload - non-starter. Solar? Not available on demand, not enough storage capacity, environmental nightmare. Coal? Natural gas? Live in a cave by candle light?

3/12/2011 1:09 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Injecting seawater into a reactor is a measure of last resort, but it doesn't mean the world is over as we know it. If the operators can keep this thing controlled then this just may be a win for the nuclear industry because the new ones are far better in design and operation.

The 24 hour news shows now have a bone to gnaw on that sucks viewers in. People are scared shit-less about anything with nuclear in its name, but all things nuclear are not created equal. We, who know better, need to be the calm voice of reason and sanity.

3/12/2011 1:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another source for factual, non-hysterical information is the Nuclear Energy Institute site (www.nei.org)

3/12/2011 1:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Using humor as a defense mechanism, do you suppose the Japanese have an equivalent for the phrase "China Syndrome"? Unfortunately, the lat/long on a normal line through the globe ends up well off the coast of Brazil, so it's not as evocative. But with a little geographic license we could call it the Brazil syndrome and talk about things like Brazil waxes, blame it on Rio, etc...

3/12/2011 3:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now core cooling has failed at another one of the units at Fukushima....not good.

Time to hang up the spurs on this thread - I'm just gona watch and see what happens on Monday. (looks like I won my rods go melty bet with time to spare)

If you want to stay informed go to twitter.com and search for "meltdown". Technology is awesome!

3/12/2011 3:57 PM

 
Anonymous Kissimmee Kid said...

"I am sure that no one at the plant expected a 9.1 earthquake and then a tsunami."

Well, they should have. Japan has regulations in place for buildings which allows them to be designed to withstand a 9.1. Are the nukes not as smart as the regular engineers?

3/12/2011 4:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read on article (Associated Press, I think) that said "meltdown" was *not* a technical term. I thought it was: Fuel assemblies falling due to overheating.

Comments from the industry?

3/12/2011 4:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read on article (Associated Press, I think) that said "meltdown" was *not* a technical term. I thought it was: Fuel assemblies falling due to overheating.

Comments from the industry?


Technical or not, the term IS used in the industry, particularly in operator training and re-qual.

3/12/2011 4:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Meltdown" is a media term, as it evokes emotion-transfer not information-transfer. Emotion-transfer => money-transfer.

The term is not officially defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency, nor by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Wikipedia' article points this out as well, but the article in general is pretty weak...can't recommend it.

Correct nuclear terminology does include "partial melting," "localized melting"...etc. But the term 'meltdown' is media/Hollywood style communication.

3/12/2011 4:53 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as a sell-off on nuclear related stocks on Monday, it's beyond question that the smart money will be buying into the sell-off.

Buy low. Sell high. Basic financial physics.

As others have pointed out here, in the near-mid and approaching long-term, there is no other feasible alternative to fossil fuels.

3/12/2011 5:05 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Anon said

"But one thing I do know, the NRC/INPO are going to be taking a good hard look at our plants and seismic programs, how to better protect auxiliary equipment like the DG's, circ water systems, etc. Bet on that."

That said, I can hardly wait for that fallout to occur at work in the near future....

3/12/2011 5:40 PM

 
Blogger Ken in Yoko said...

Sorry I haven't seen this post yet. We've had the TV on since we got home Friday night. The destruction up there is mind boggling!

We were very lucky here in Yokosuka. There was very little damage here. Although we did have two signigicant temblors and at least 100 aftershocks so far.

If my wife is any indicator, the Fukushima pressure releases are causing a lot of "The sky is falling" type thinking.

Fuji News just reported that the USS Ronald Reagan has arrived.

If you are interested, a quick google search will give you the URL for Fuji or NHK news.

3/12/2011 5:44 PM

 
Blogger Chap said...

Back in the 90s there were two incidents that got badly covered up by the power company TEPCO in Japan: one mistake in bituminization when a couple of guys poured too quick at Tokai and got critical, killing 1 IIRC, and another earlier sodium leak at the Monju breeder reactor that crapped up a lot of stuff while the company kept saying all was fine. After that big mess they had a bit of a culture shift, but I don't know if it took. Therefore I take stuff from TEPCO with a grain of salt until proven otherwise.

Here's an article from a random Google. This stuff was all over the local press in the late 90s when I was stationed there.

3/12/2011 6:42 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in 100% agreement with Chap in his call to be very skeptical of what the reactor owner is saying about what's happening.

Looked at the video link again for the explosion, and there is absolutely ZERO doubt that the northernmost containment building of the four there is what blew up.

Compare the video to this photo and see for yourself.

Best call based on the Cs and Iodine distribution: it's clear that they've had a partial melt at their #1 unit, that this resulted in H2 release due to zirc-water (or high temp metal) reactions, and that the containment building got blown up in the process.

Just amazing.

One outcome I do think that we'll eventually see is a fairly quick global attempt to update the older nukes over the next several years...or not, depending on how much governments step in to do the right thing in the for-profit nuclear power industry.

3/12/2011 7:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a Google satellite overview of the four reactor containment buildings (square) and accompanying turbine buildings (rectangular) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station where the explosion took place.

VERY apparently, the northernmost containment structure is what blew up. The parsing of words we'res seeing from the owner is that the 'metal housing' (primary containment) for the affected reactor is still relatively intact.

3/12/2011 7:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new nuclear low in terms of being forthright with the public:

"Chief Cabinet secretary Yukio Edano told an urgent press conference that the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has confirmed there is no damage to the steel container housing the reactor, although the 3:36 p.m. explosion resulted in the roof and the walls of the building housing the reactor's container being blown away."

Technically true...and yet full of dishonesty. Magnificent.

3/12/2011 7:56 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One outcome I do think that we'll eventually see is a fairly quick global attempt to update the older nukes over the next several years...or not, depending on how much governments step in to do the right thing in the for-profit nuclear power industry.

Really? Just what would they update? Would they do a simple design change to eliminate the need for electrical power? You are fucking clueless.

3/12/2011 9:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looked at the video link again for the explosion, and there is absolutely ZERO doubt that the northernmost containment building of the four there is what blew up.

Man, you really are clueless. Uh, no Sherlock, those big squary lookin' buildings ain't "containment buildings."

3/12/2011 9:16 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 3/12/2011 7:44 PM

You do realize there are primary and secondary containment buildings, right? Which one do reckon that square one is? Do you s'pose people who know what they're talking about refer to the SECONDARY containment as containment? Uh, no. That square building would be the Reactor Building - which houses the Primary Containment aka the Drywell and Wetwell (or Torus). Where do you s'pose the reactor sits? You've got a lot to learn, Reactor Bob.

3/12/2011 9:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Buy low. Sell high. Basic financial physics.


People who know markets also know the phrase "don't catch a falling knife." Unless you're planning to hold stock for 25 years, I would stay away from Nuclear pure-plays for the next 6 months or so, unless you're day trading (like a moron).


As others have pointed out here, in the near-mid and approaching long-term, there is no other feasible alternative to fossil fuels.


After today, some might amend that second part to "There is no feasible alternative to fossil fuels."

3/12/2011 11:01 PM

 
Anonymous 3383 said...

CNN Hong Kong overnight had a talking head who stated the plant had a steam powered circ pump. Good idea if true, but apparently insufficient to the task.

And the reactor situation is still nothing compared to the tsunami's direct effects.

3/13/2011 3:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the Incident Report after this one.

Very unfortunate for Japan and its residents.

3/13/2011 5:35 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Reports from Japan are now quite clear in that the source of the explosion was H2 generated in the core. There may not be a meltdown yet, but they have a lot of core damage.

Talk about your complex casualty:
-Earthquake shuts down your reactor and all others in the area.
-Backup generators come on.
-Tsunami kills backup generators
-no pumps available "."
-discsuss

One thing I don't get though: Since the steam and coolant are one loop, how exactly do you have primary containment if the primary piping and turbine generators use the same fluid but are not in the same building?

3/13/2011 6:17 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey angry anonymous (1134, 2116, 2120, etc.), you seem like you might know a lot about this sort of reactor. How about bringing more light and less heat to the conversation? As it stands right now you're barely contributing anything and you come off like a giant douche.

3/13/2011 7:25 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This morning I choked on my coffee as I watched an Army Colonel talk about nuclear power. He stated I haven't heard the word SCRAM which means that Japan is trying to solve the problems online. WTF? I thought the Army's Nuclear program was shutdown. Can we get a Navy Nuclear Engineer type school these idiots? Please this is painful.
empills

3/13/2011 7:39 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This NY Times interactive graphic of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station sheds more light than heat on the situation.

Some people have called this situation correctly. Others...not so much.

3/13/2011 8:16 AM

 
Anonymous food for thought said...

Maybe the news networks understand that if they brought in a Navy nuke to "explain" things he would wind up calling everyone else in the room a dumbass. And if there were two or more Navy nukes they would all be calling each other dumbasses.

3/13/2011 9:10 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I don't get though: Since the steam and coolant are one loop, how exactly do you have primary containment if the primary piping and turbine generators use the same fluid but are not in the same building?

That particular GE design BWR has a Drywell (aka PRIMARY Containment - a large steel airtight enclosure maintained at a slight vacuum) in which the reactor, recirc pumps, etc. are housed. The Drywell is attached by piping to the Wetwell (aka as the Torus or Suppression Chamber).


The large building surrounding all of this is the Reactor Building (aka Secondary Containment). The Rx Bldg is rather flimsy and normally has blowout panels to equalize pressure from high dp events such as tornados. It is only a "containment" by its ventilation alignment designed to keep bad stuff in.

Any systems with piping going from the Drywell out to the Rx Bldg and beyond (Turbine Bldg) like Main Steam (which is a straight shot from the reactor) have primary containment isolation valves both internal and external to containment (one AC powered, one DC powered) to ensure automatic closure upon recepit of accident signals. The Primary Containment Isolation System (PCIS) takes signals monitored by the Reactor Protection System (RPS) and isolates based upon those redundant inputs.

3/13/2011 9:43 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: food for thought said...

ROFL!! Who said that the truth can't be funny!

I hear a report on TV last night stating that it can not be determined it there was a melt down...WTF?

Old chief from the dark ages
Jerry

3/13/2011 9:48 AM

 
Blogger Chap said...

Sez here that the diesels they trucked in after the tsunami didn't have the right connectors.

3/13/2011 9:50 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ 3/13/2011 8:16 AM

By far the most accurate info on the net thus far.

3/13/2011 9:50 AM

 
Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

wow. if you haven't read the post referred to by Chap at 0950, you are missing out. What a fantastic description and timeline. Great stuff.

And thanx for the education on the design. Oh, and the NYT interactive piece is quite informative.

3/13/2011 10:16 AM

 
Blogger Harold said...

Anyone want to explain safety control rod ax man to the talking heads?

3/13/2011 11:31 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean those DUMBASSES on TV...? ;-)

I'm sure we could scare up more than a few old, angry, and bitter current/former Navy nukes for the job.

3/13/2011 11:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those with an eye for detail will see that the 3rd graphic of the NY Times piece indicates that a "spent fuel pool" is housed high inside the secondary containment building that blew up.

The things that would be scattered by such a thing may be one reason why they really don't know if they have a melt situation yet.

3/13/2011 11:56 AM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Well a new day dawns and finally some real information surfaces. It is bad that there the core/fuel is likely damaged in unit 3 and definitely in unit 1. The good news is that the plant has not exploded and no giant radioactive cloud has hit the jet steam to irradiate the West Coast.

It seems the operators at the plant are doing the best they can under extremely difficult circumstances and that the Japanese government is taking all the necessary precautions.

I would say that this would qualify as a bad situation, but it was not the end of the world. Considering everything that has happened, it is about as good as it can be.

I know some people were a little pissed that I called for calm and reason, but I won't apologize. Those of with training should know the risks and the dangers, unlike most of the talking heads on the TV over the last few days. We needed to keep to the facts and minimize the hyperbole. I think in the end reason and sanity proved out.

A thanks to all those that provided input and even those that called people out. It only made the discussion more rounded and filled in holes. Hopefully we can remember this the next time something bad happens.

3/13/2011 12:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A report on CNN a little while ago referenced an "administration offical" stating that the licensing process for new plants in the US will be temporarily suspended effective Monday.

I can't find anything on the CNN website but the ball has already started rolling.

On the bright side, this may help nuc retention on the boats.

3/13/2011 12:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I know some people were a little pissed that I called for calm and reason, but I won't apologize."

Nobody should be mad at someone asking for "calm and reason" in a crisis. You were just stating the obvious. After all, calm and reason is the hallmark of a submariner, regardless of his job or training.

3/13/2011 12:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About the Army Colonel using the word SCRAM, well obviously he was speaking of a different meaning such as "get the heck out of dodge real fast"! :-)

3/13/2011 12:15 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A report on CNN a little while ago referenced an "administration offical" stating that the licensing process for new plants in the US will be temporarily suspended effective Monday.

The administration has no say in that process.

3/13/2011 12:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The administration has no say in that process."

True statement. However, congress has oversight responsibilities and as with all politics, it is a matter of give and take.

Should be an interesting period coming up for the nuclear power industry. It is time to man up because it is their game to win or lose.


http://www.nrc.gov/

3/13/2011 4:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the explosion? As speculated above, they were venting directly into the Reactor Building. When the H2/O2 combination reached explosive levels - ka-boom! If you'll notice the aftermath, the Reactor Building blowouts panels are gone - the building frame and panels not designed for blowout still remain.

US plants of that particular GE design were backfitted, as required by the NRC, with hardened wet well vents. This was specifically to pipe high pressure steam/gas to the plant discharge tower for dispersal.

3/13/2011 6:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More details here on the GE BWR plants in the U.S. with an identical or similar design to Fukushima Daiichi's "Big Bang."

Notably, this shows the "spent fuel pools" being located near but not at the top of the secondary containment...though it's hard to say what shape Fukushima's are in after the Big Bang.

3/13/2011 6:23 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like we'll have to start numbering the Big Bangs: reliable reports are coming in that the Fukushima #3 reactor building has had a hydrogen explosion as well.

Sources so far: MarketWatch, Washington Post

3/13/2011 8:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's history: YouTube video of #3 reactor building exploding.

This one looks to be quite a bit more powerful than the earlier one...has more of a mushroom cloud effect to it.

3/13/2011 9:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, reactor #3 was/is loaded with MOX plutonium oxide, uranium oxide mixture.

No worries. Remain callllm. Allll is wellll. Cuddle up with your snuggle bunnnnnny. SandySalt is on waaaaatch. He knows what's going onnnnn. It's alllll okaaaay. "Take Sominex tonight and sleeeeeep..."

3/13/2011 9:15 PM

 
Blogger Rudder Amidships said...

I'm still waiting to hear a truthful report from someone/anyone. Who knows how long it will be before we get actual facts.

Latest press release from TEPCO is 20 µSv/h at the property line and stable. (This was post 2nd explosion)

The media will keep fearmongering on this though, since they have no idea what that means.

---
MM1/SS

3/13/2011 11:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like the RONALD REAGAN steamed through the plume -


http://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/world/asia/14plume.xml

Guess the ELT contamination surveys will be a little more "interesting" for quite awhile...

3/14/2011 4:18 AM

 
Anonymous Essay Writer said...

The topic that your blog deals with demands lots of research. Thanks to you who has provided the intricate information in simple words.

3/14/2011 4:33 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allrighty, then. My last comment seemed to post just fine, at first.

Let me try this again piecemeal. I'm a layman. Based upon what I've learned from pubs DOE makes available to the public on line, the decay heat is the only source of heat once the reactor shuts down, it produces about 7% of the heat produced by an active reactor, a lot less once you shut it down, and then it keeps decreasing. It remains a significant heat source and the reactor's still got to be cooled.

Fission stopped over 72 hours ago. At what point should the Japanese have a handle on the situation?

It seems to me that at some point the decreased coolant requirements of the reactor should be met by the Japanese engineers' ability to cool it. But as I said, I'm just a layman.

Also, if the fuel rods partially melt themselves, aren't they still losing heat? Which can't be used to melt something else? Like the containment vessel.

3/14/2011 5:08 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Guess the ELT contamination surveys will be a little more "interesting" for quite awhile...

According to what I heard, a few choppers flew through the plume and the guys got crapped up on their flight gear. The news report said, "Detected with sensitive instruments", and I can't see a regular frisker being "sensitive", whereas I can with other stuff we use like a PRM-5N.

As to last commenter, heat is still being added but fell below 1 percent within about a day or so. But keep in mind the THERMAL output of that reactor is still significant (460MWe means roughly 1350MWth output), so even 1 percent of that (13.5MWth) is a whole lot of energy. Decay heat for any BWR/PWR is an issue, such that during shutdown/refueling cycles the "time to boil" is always a consideration. And when you're adding heat with no way to take it out...

3/14/2011 5:20 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Oh, and according to a blurb being put out at our plant, highest dose rates at Fukushima Daiichi are around 125-130 mr/hr. Fuel damage suspected at both Units 1 and 3.

At Fukushima Daini, power is available but pumps are having a hard time getting cooling water into units 1, 2, and 4. The blurb they give is that the "suppression pools" at all three of those units are saturated, which I'm assuming to mean the torus. No radioactive releases from those sites yet.

3/14/2011 5:26 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/14/2011 7:39 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Layman here too, but the so-called "officials" at the Japanese plant can tell the public all it needs to believe. Judging from both explosions, both reactor vessels are ruptured. Look at the first explosion, especially the disruption of air. In the second we see a similar event.

IMO, and again, layman here, both vessels are ruptured and the cores are fully exposed. I also understand that such H2 events are brought on by core exposure.

3/14/2011 7:42 AM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

You would be incorrect.

3/14/2011 8:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The detonation of the reactor plants' secondary containment buildings is certainly adding visual drama - and undermining the credibility of "those who know" (as opposed to us, "the unwashed") - but from a pragmatic standpoint the radiation levels are what matters, and those are well within limits by all reports so far.

Some of the language in the press reports is clearly overly provocative. Saying that fuel rods were "exposed" (some even go so far as to say "to air") understandably gets peoples imaginations going the wrong way.

Closer to home with respect to Navy nukes' understanding and natural questions, the NYT reported that the problem with using the portable diesel power supplies wasn't connectors so much as it was the state of the electrical systems: apparently, like the permanent diesel generators on site, the electrical switchgear sits physically down low (NYT: "the basement"), and was flooded by the tsunami as well.

Net-net: a for-real "plant blackout" at Fukushima Daiichi, regardless of trucked-in power.

3/14/2011 8:58 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things just got worse:

Fuel rods in earthquake-damaged Japanese nuclear reactor have become exposed again, Kyodo News agency reports

3/14/2011 10:35 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

(Reuters) - Nuclear fuel rods at a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear reactor are now fully exposed, Jiji news agency said, quoting the plant's operator, Tokyo Eletcric Power Co .

So much for being incorrect.

3/14/2011 11:27 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, Steve...even though you're a skimmer and deserve it, before you get bitch-slapped let me provide some clarity.

The media is using the nuclear world's term "exposed" without understanding its meaning. "Uncovered" is the more accurate term that applies here, and it means that the core's fuel elements have spent time without being immersed in water...which means that they've been in a water vapor/steam environment, which is much less conducive to heat transfer. Thus the melting concerns.

So "exposed" here doesn't mean that the reactor is actually exposed to the air. The core is still inside of it's steel pressure vessel, which from all appearances is inside of a primary containment of steel-reinforced concrete.

What we've all seen blow up on our computer screens is the housing around the steel-reinforced concrete of the primary containment.

So...yes, you need to stifle before you get bitch slapped. Don't come here for answers because you're a 'layman' (and a skimmer at that) and then immediately disrespect what people are telling you.

The Fukushima mess is going to be a disaster - it already is - but a contained one.

Now...what you should be concerned about is that the "spent fuel pool" for Unit #3 looks to me like it got whacked hard in the detonation of its enclosure. That's a BFD category problem, but a localized one...nasty as it may be.

Tomorrow will have it's own set of problems, but that's the status quo.

3/14/2011 11:37 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That simply means that the fuel was uncovered by water! Not necesarily that the pressure vessel or the primary containment has been breached!

3/14/2011 11:44 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Anon, an explosion as big as we've seen...I know the vessels are supposed to withstand such explosions, but judging from those aerial views of both containment structures I would even venture to say that at least one of two vessels went airborne. But none of us really know the truth at this time; all we're doing is speculating....gotta remember that bit.

3/14/2011 11:47 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

So...yes, you need to stifle before you get bitch slapped. Don't come here for answers because you're a 'layman' (and a skimmer at that) and then immediately disrespect what people are telling you.

No disrespect toward anyone in here. But what kind of response is THIS above?

3/14/2011 11:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's as nice as you're ever going to hear a submariner talk to a skimmer puke...that's what it is.

I leave you to truly be bitch slapped. Good luck with that.

3/14/2011 11:53 AM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Anon, I'd venture to say you were a failure in the Navy judging from your less than professional response.

3/14/2011 12:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanity-check: if the reactor's primary boundary were fully open to atmosphere, it would quickly vent/boil off all of its remaining coolant, and there'd be an on-going, full-bore, active nuclear core meltdown in progress with gargantuan radiation levels that could not possibly be hidden from anyone.

That's not what's happening. So no reactor vessels have been launched into the air. "Speculating" otherwise is possibly just ignorant, but given the plain facts also borders on stupid.

3/14/2011 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to use the magic word: "Dumbass!"

3/14/2011 12:06 PM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Sanity check: Do you actually believe what the "officials" are telling the media? Look at the aerial views. I'd still maintain that both reactor vessels have ruptured and both cores are exposed to the outside. Again, just an un-educated opinion, but if you want to get upset like this over my opinion, you probably have some serious mental issues.

3/14/2011 12:07 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the visually curious: here's a photo of Fukushima Unit #3's control station from last September, and accompanying article.

3/14/2011 12:08 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from concerns over "high airborne reactor vessels," the situation at Fukushima is getting much worse after the explosion of Unit #3...but at Unit #2, where the fuel now appears to be headed for a full meltdown as the core has reportedly become completely uncovered.

3/14/2011 12:16 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Again, just an un-educated opinion

And when people present you with FACTS, you ignore them, hence why others will bitch-slap you.

Dumbass.

3/14/2011 12:18 PM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

NHS Sparky: So, you know the truth on what happened? You know the facts, and that it is fact that both reactor vessels remain fully intact? Open forum here. I maintain I am not an expert; just remember however that no one has presented any proven facts yet on the Fukushima disaster.

So, the question: It is FACT that both reactor vessels remain intact? Just answer the fucking question.

3/14/2011 12:23 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

Steve, you are currently out of the box and no the reactors didn't blow through the roof. Hydrogen at levels as low as 8% are extremely explosive and add pure oxygen and you can get a rather siginificant bang. A big bang doesn't me that the reactor is a smoking pile just yet.

The situation is bad with now three of the reactors likely to have fuel damage, but the amount of radiation released and the levels outside the plant are still very low and reasonable considering that they haven't had reliable power or pumps for four days.

Keep throwing rocks because that will make the situation better.

3/14/2011 12:29 PM

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

Not qualified to weigh in on this issue, but my daughter in western Washinton is really concerned. She's been listening to the talking heads on television. After discussing the earthquake and tsunami, and the aftermath, I referred her to the illustration here so she can see roughly where things are in relation to each other, and that if there's no power that coolant get back into the reactor vessel without outside help.

Don't know how to post an active link, so you'll have to cut an paste, sorry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Schema_reacteur_eau_bouillante.svg

3/14/2011 12:41 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, Sandy. Just because Steve is both extremely ignorant and extremely opnionated, that's no cause for using words like "skimmer."

3/14/2011 12:48 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Redundant?

3/14/2011 12:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, an explosion as big as we've seen...I know the vessels are supposed to withstand such explosions, but judging from those aerial views of both containment structures I would even venture to say that at least one of two vessels went airborne. But none of us really know the truth at this time; all we're doing is speculating....gotta remember that bit.

As a BWR SRO on this same mod plant, I can say you are COMPLETELY CLUELESS! They vented primary containment into secondary containment. They had no power to evacuate secondary containment. At some point the atmosphere became explosive. Blow out panels and the roof departed. The reactor building is still there, along with the primary containment. Inside the steel/concrete primary containment sits the reactor, contrary to your claims of seeing it in orbit.

Oh yeah, you're a DUMBASS!

3/14/2011 12:54 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

The NEI site is keeping an up to date status of the affected reactors on its site:

www.nei.org/newsandevents

I know that these guys are just shills for the nuclear industry and nothing they say can be trusted, but it is worth a look.

3/14/2011 12:56 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

I would never call any one such a name because regardless of their level of intelligence or lack there of, they can always serve as a bad example, so they are at least worth something.

3/14/2011 1:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NHS Sparky said:
Oh, and according to a blurb being put out at our plant, highest dose rates at Fukushima Daiichi are around 125-130 mr/hr. Fuel damage suspected at both Units 1 and 3.

Did they say how far from the cores they got these readings? "Highest" to me would mean "as close as we dare get to the thing, time to turn around!" Also curious if these readings are from the cores/building themselves, and/or what any airborne/surface contamination may be? (don't expect you or anyone else to know these answers. Shoot, I'd be surprised if anyone releases that info into the open anytime soon!)

If the readings were taken on the ground, and looking at the pictures, my complete guess would be a large % of those values are from airborne and/or surface contamination. My reasoning: the tops of the buildings blew off, but the sides look pretty intact. Unless some cracks/seams were blown open in any shielding and those readings are like "spot beams' of radiation (not unlike an x-ray, eh?), then much of the shielding is probably intact so readings from ground level could be from airborne/surface 'crap'.

On the other hand, this is a BWR, so if there's fuel-rod damage (sounds like there is), then all the piping to/from the Rx are probably filled w/ fission-products, so my above theory may be ENTIRELY false.

Any BWR experts care to chime in?

3/14/2011 1:02 PM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Nope, no BWR experts in here since the Navy's subs all run on PWR only...unless u want to own up anon and tell us what BWR plant you work at? God help us all if YOU worked on a submarine, anon!

3/14/2011 1:05 PM

 
Anonymous NHSparky said...

Steve--several of the posters are SRO-licensed at BWR's. I myself am not, but the company I work for has several BWR's which I have worked on from time to time.

Sandy Salt is right--hydrogen is flammable at 4 percent, and explosive between 8 and 70 percent. If in fact the primary containments were breached, there would be:
--Zero pressure in the primary and torus. There is pressure above atmospheric in both.
--Far higher concentrations of fission products in the atmosphere.
--Far higher concentrations of the stuff added to the primary: sodium, chlorine, magnesium, boron, etc. That is not the case.
--The guys on the Reagan that got "crapped up" got less dose than you or I would on a commercial flight from Boston to Chicago.

Bottom line, the primary containment IS currently intact.

3/14/2011 1:10 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

When children act up it is best to ignore them that way you don't feed into their misbehavior.

3/14/2011 1:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wanting to see some close-ups of Unit #3 after its big bang...anyone seen any truly close-up photos?

Best I can tell, it took a much bigger hit that Unit #1. Who knows why, but a LOT more stuff went straight up in the air in that second blast.

Not getting stupid/going skimmer on anyone, but very suspicious that the former contents of the 'spent fuel pool' is lying on some Japanese countryside right now. Not cool...but at least it's there and staying there, not coming here.

3/14/2011 1:26 PM

 
Blogger Eric said...

Steve, you have mentioned that these are uneducated guesses. Many of us have had a lot of time and education in nuclear power. Sure, we aren't on the ground in Japan, but if things truly got out of hand, we would know it by now. If the reactor cores exploded and were currently exposed to atmosphere, detectors in the entire Pacific region would be going crazy right now. I am stationed in Hawaii, and I can assure you that they weren't going crazy this morning because I just got off duty. Look at how far away the detected Chernobyl when she blew up. The Soviets kept quiet, but we knew things were bad when nuclear plants in France were detecting large amounts of contamination.

All of the other guys have a very clear and valid point. The facts support the claims. Have you every seen a Hydrogen gas explosion? They do it on a small scale in high school chemistry and I assure you it is quite impressive.

I don't want to insult you too much, but I ask respectfully, bring some facts to the table if you insult our years of training and expertise, otherwise you are no better than the talking heads on the major news networks.

Unless, of course, you are trolling "for the lulz." If that is the case, you are doing a very good job.

3/14/2011 1:32 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

The pressure is inside the containment part of the building due to the boiling of the surpression pool water casued by hot steam being quenched in the pool from the core heating it up. Once that pool starts to boil then you need to release the pressure inside the primary containment and you do that by venting it to the secondary containment.

If you have fuel damage or water mixing with Zr at high temps then you have some nasty stuff inside the primary that is going to be vented to the secondary. If it is just H2 and O2 you can get an explosive mix in the secondary, which has already blown the top off units 1 & 3.

If you also have fuel damage then you can have some fission product gases in the mix like Cs and Iodine that you have been hearing about, but the amounts depend on the amount of damage. When the pressure is relieved these gases also make their way out of the plant and can be detected off site.

Based on the reports there does appear to be at least some damage to the fuel on units 1&3. The radiation levels will drop quickly if they are coming from the venting only, which has also been the case.

If the primary were breached then you would be getting a steady stream of radioactive gas going into the atmosphere, which there has been no indication of so far.

The operators are doing what they can based on the limitations that they have, so lets hope they will soon be rounding the corner and seeing pressures within the containments dropping.

3/14/2011 2:09 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The contents of the SFP are a valid concern. The pool sits on the upper floor of the building that had the explosion. It's a large steel/concrete pool w/ typically a minimum of 20+ feet of water over the spent fuel. The water is circulated by pumps through heat exhangers to maintain pool temperature. Obviously w/out power, there is no circulation.

As implied above, during the H2 explosion, were contents of the pool sucked out and deposited elsewhere? Assuming they get the reactor vessels and/or primary containment flooded, the SFP & whereabouts of the contents could be the real problem.

3/14/2011 2:12 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From TEPCO:

UPDATE AS OF 11:00 A.M. EDT, MONDAY, MARCH 14:

Fuel rods in the reactor vessel of Unit 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant were temporarily uncovered from cooling water today, but seawater injection has raised the water level to the halfway point, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said. Seawater is now being used to cool all three Daiichi reactors that were shut down after the March 11 earthquake. Unit 2 had lost its emergency cooling capacity. Workers were preparing to remove hydrogen from the reactor building, and TEPCO has opened the steam relief valve of the reactor.

The primary containment vessels and reactor cores of reactors 1 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi facility are intact, following earlier hydrogen explosions in the secondary containment buildings of both reactors.

At Unit 1, seawater injection continues to cool reactor. Safety regulators consider the reactor’s pressure an indication of a stable condition. The hydrogen explosion on March 11, which occurred between the primary containment vessel and the containment building, did not damage the primary containment vessel or the reactor core. To control the pressure of the reactor core, TEPCO has been injecting seawater and boric acid into the primary containment vessel of Unit 1 since March 12.

A hydrogen explosion Monday at Unit 3, similar to the unit 1 explosion, did not damage the primary containment, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said. The control room remains operational, and a government official said that pressure in the reactor vessel is stable. After the explosion, the few hundred people remaining in the 12.5-mile evacuation zone were asked to stay indoors.

At the Fukushima Daini site, cooling capability has been reestablished for Unit 4 at the reactor. Units 2 and 4 are in cold shutdown.

3/14/2011 2:21 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) contents: gallows humor, perhaps...but at least there shouldn't be any trouble finding them.

Talk about 'hot.'

3/14/2011 2:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

{Sanity check: Do you actually believe what the "officials" are telling the media? Look at the aerial views. I'd still maintain that both reactor vessels have ruptured and both cores are exposed to the outside. }

Sigh. The officials were probably lying, early on. That being said, its quite unlikely the primary is fully open to atmosphere at this point.

You seem to think that because the fuel is "uncovered" and that there is clearly damage to fuel elements, that this means the primary reactor containment has been physically ejected from the site.

Uncovered does not mean open to air, it means steam. That's still pretty bad but not the same. At the same time, a "meltdown" isn't really a term of art. What's really happened is that the fuel elements have been damaged by heat, including partial melting and a breakdown of their coating (cladding). If that cladding gets hot enough and exposed to water, you can get bad things happening - see Zirconium-Water reaction.

For the primary to be breached, you would need bad enough fuel damage for the fuel elements to melt through the very thick reactor vessel. That is very unlikely, because those vessels are very tough. Of course, we probably will get a more-or-less intact primary full of nasty melted crap which will have to be removed by robots for the next ten years. Of course, the (necessary) seawater will make it even tougher.

We will know if the reactor vessels catastrophically fail - its impossible to hide.

I don't know BWRs very well, but there are enough folks here who do - the "BWR SROs" - refer to Senior Reactor Operators, which is the highest level reactor supervisor watch in the civ world.

BTW, folks need to secure the sub vs surface thing, unless they think a cone knows better about this stuff than a surface nuke. Steve, of course, is neither.

3/14/2011 3:24 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered that, tsunami aside, having the plants near the ocean has enabled use of seawater as an ECCS? I'm not sure what they would have done without seawater close at hand. Perhaps not worth pondering.

3/14/2011 3:25 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they probably wouldn't have had a tsunami take out their edgs, which is the reason they're in this mess.

3/14/2011 3:52 PM

 
Blogger Steve Harkonnen said...

Eric, not at all criticizing anyone in here, it was just my response to "anon" who apparently hides behind a keyboard. Your training (and your response) is deeply respected. Unfortunately, I have to question anon's credentials. Anyone can be a "nuke expert" and I highly question his abilities to even discuss this in a decent manner as you have demonstrated that not all you guys are like that.

3/14/2011 5:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The third unit at Fukushima Daiichi, Unit #2, has now exploded (Tuesday morning in Japan).

Looks a lot like #3 when it went up.

This should be the last one at Fukushima Daiichi, as the other reactors were in shutdown mode prior to the tsunami.

3/14/2011 5:47 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be a pretty good description of what is probably going on at Fukushima:

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

3/14/2011 6:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a separate report on the third explosion (Unit #2).

The suppression pool (located at the bottom part of the reactor) is being reported as damaged in Unit #2...that would seem to mean that it is leaking.

Unit #2 was reported separately as being fully uncovered (no water surrounding the fuel elements) for 2.5 hours.

Trouble in Mudville.

3/14/2011 6:30 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Anonmous@6:30. Interesting detail: they brought in backup generators to connect when the tsunami took out the diesel generators, but the connectors didn't match. TSSBP indeed.

3/14/2011 6:33 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...but the connectors didn't match."

Actually, I'm not seeing any valid confirmation of that claim. What makes more sense to me is the report from the New York Times that the electrical switchgear for the plant is located down low, like the emergency diesels, and it got flooded by the tsunami as well.

Not stupid...just not built for the actual, 7x more-powerful-than-planned earthquake/tsunami that was assumed to be the expected worst-case 40-50 years ago.

3/14/2011 6:39 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, the plant operators & managers are going to need to be watched carefully for a while. It's got to be a horrible experience losing your plant and knowing what's going on outside as a result. With the culture I wouldn't discount some of those folks wanting to settle up with their ancestors when things quiet down a little... however long that takes...

3/14/2011 6:44 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a layman I'm still trying to get a handle on this. Let me ask again, in different terms.

As time goes on, is this a fire that's burning down?

Or is brewing up & about to go all 'splodey on us like a Japanese carrier at Midway?

As time goes on, doees it get better or worse?

Be completely honest.

After 20 years in the Nav and then working my way into the position of being an employer, with all the envisioned Obama mandates I'm sort of neutral about the survival of the human race, anyhow.

So no amount of embittered Navy nukes calling me a "dumbass" or a "skimmer" can hurt my feelings. But if the world's going to end a week from tomorrow, I'm putting that bottle of scotch I was saving for a special occasion to work right pronto.

3/14/2011 7:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say drink up, because anything less would be alcohol abuse!

3/14/2011 7:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This just in:

At approximately 0700 local (Japan) time, 15 March 2011, sensitive instrumentation on USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) pier-side in Yokosuka, detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. While there is no danger to the public, Commander, Naval Forces Japan is recommending limited precautionary measures for personnel on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including:



A. Limiting outdoor activities.

B. Securing external ventilation systems as much as practical.



These measures are strictly precautionary in nature. We do not expect that any United States Federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken. We are continuing to analyze the situation and will update you as we learn more.

3/14/2011 7:58 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a delicate situation here.

My wife's family doesn't understand the concept of putting the cork back in the bottle.

If we open the good stuff, it's gone.

On the other hand, everybody seems OK on the Sangria. And if we drink the scotch and the world doesn't end tomorrow, I'll have to buy another bottle.

Which isn't cheap.

So, back to this reactor business. Is it time to resort to virgin sacrifice yet, or do we have other options?
So, back to this reactor b

3/14/2011 8:07 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

It looks like they have finally turned a corner on Units 1 & 3, but things have definitely gone South on Unit 2. If they can't fill up the area surrounding the reactor with seawater then things could get really bad in a hurry. It appears they lost the suppression pool, which means that the steam coming off the reactor is just filling the containment and will require a hell of a lot more venting and since the fuel has been uncovered it is very likely that a lot of nasties are also to be found inside the containment. I don't know if anyone can predict how ugly this is going to get, but as long as they keep trying to put water in and venting off they may keep this thing from completely melting into a smoking pile of crap in the bottom of the vessel.

3/14/2011 8:11 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel: We're about to lose this thread when we go past the 200-comment mark (can only see comments past that when in the process of posting a comment...that won't show up on the regular blog page).

Suggest you dedicate a separate, new thread to the Japan nuclear reactor situation.

3/14/2011 8:19 PM

 
Blogger Sandy Salt said...

UPDATE AS OF 9:40 P.M. EDT, MONDAY, MARCH 14:
An explosion in the vicinity of the suppression pool at Fukushima Daiichi 2 just after 6:20 a.m. Japan Standard Time (5:20 p.m. EDT) may have damaged a portion of the reactor’s primary containment structure.

Pressure in the suppression pool has been reported to have decreased to ambient atmospheric pressure shortly after the blast. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has reported possible damage to the reactor’s pressure-suppression system. Radiation levels at local monitoring stations have risen but are still in flux. TEPCO has evacuated some workers from all three Fukushima reactors with the exception of approximately 50 workers involved in sea water pumping activities into the reactors as part of emergency cooling efforts.

Based on this one, you might want to go ahead and drink up and enjoy the buzz because the ride just got a whole lot bumpier. If the primary has been breached then things become much harder and lots of nasties are going to get out. With that sad it still isn't likely to reach Chernobyl because it isn't likely to explode and send the fuel raining down on the countryside.

3/14/2011 8:20 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

We're about to reach the limit on readable comments, so I'm closing this thread and moving it here.

3/14/2011 8:33 PM

 

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