Japan Nuke – Sequelae

It looks like we are entering the “post mortem” phase of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The site is now coming under control and we are starting to see new information that is showing what really happened in greater detail. Given that, this seemed like a good time to have a ‘reminder’ posting that the event is ‘ongoing’ (and likely will be for a couple of years…) even if it has left the headlines.

Folks wanting to revisit the older comments can hit these links:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/japan-nuke-plant-explosion/

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/japan-nuke-page-2/

If you would like to review the historic quake maps, or see a current set, they are here: Japan Quake posting complete with some historical pictures of the quake maps as it happened.

The diagram of the GE Mark I reactor as in Japan:

BWR Mark I Containment cutaway

BWR Mark I Containment cutaway

Also, a reminder that it’s always a good idea to “be prepared”. Be it floods, quakes, snow in summer, or just a local nuclear “event”; having some “stuff” and some “food & water” of known history is comforting.

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/crisis-kits-and-preparedness-packs/

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/food-storage-systems/

Meanwhile, back at the reactors

In the prior posting, Ruhroh has provided a pointer / reminder to the goings on now:

http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/japan-nuke-page-2/#comment-17769

Oopsie-Whoopsie;

The old miscalibrated water level gauge schtick again.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Fukushima_fuel_melt_confirmed-1605115.html

What does this say about the other instrumentation?

What indeed…

It had bothered me that they were pumping in a set volume / time based on assumptions about the core status. I’d have likely just pumped in water until the pressure rose in a manner indicating that the chamber was full (rapid rise) and the outlet temp was very cool. They went for “it ought to take this much” and pumped that in. Fine if the “ought to” is valid. Not so fine if you have no instruments or they are lying to you.

At any rate, per the article, it looks like a core melt happened and it is inside the containment to some degree.

Is it “time to panic”?

Nope. Things have more or less “worked as advertized” (modulo some broken pipes and leakage) and things are coming under more control (less risk, and less new damage) each day. BUT, IMHO, it certainly is time to begin asking why this generation of reactors has behaved so badly, why the response was (while valiant) a bit “ersatz”; and what the future is likely to hold. Just where HAS all that spent fuel ended up, and how DO you clean up a mess like this?

From that link:

Investigations at unit 1 at Fukushima Daiichi suggest that most of the fuel in the reactor core melted and dropped to the bottom of the reactor vessel in the early stages of the accident. Work has started on installing a structure to cover the damaged reactor building.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said that following the installation and calibration of two new water level gauges, water level readings suggest that most of the fuel in unit 1 had earlier melted and fallen to the bottom of the reactor vessel, where it has solidified and been kept adequately cooled. The company said that most of this core melt probably occurred within 16 hours after the unit automatically shutdown when the earthquake struck on 11 March.

Looks to me like “flying on instruments” doesn’t work at Mark I plants after a major accident… Maybe they need some new procedures…

And now we have a melted core stuck to the bottom of a broken reactor building. Yuck. This is not a good day in Japan.

The article goes on:

The company said that readings showed the water level in the reactor vessel was “lower than five metres below the top of the active fuel (TAF), which means the water level was lower than the original bottom level of fuel.” Tepco added, “It is estimated that the damaged fuel with control rods moved down to the lower plenum in the reactor and they are being cooled there stably.” As a result of injecting water into the unit, the temperature of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) has remained between 100 and 120°C.

In a statement Tepco said, “We would like to emphasize that due to the limitation of available data and information, the result of this analysis should be considered as provisional.” It added, “We will continue efforts to have more accurate status of the reactor core through further investigation as well as for the units 2 and 3 through similar analysis

Nothing like “steam cooling” when you thought you had “water cooling”… but it’s cool now. Maybe… and they are sure it’s all OK and just as they have described, unless it isn’t… But everything is fine and they know exactly what has happened, except for the “clueless parts”:

The low water level raises the question of where the water injected to the reactor core over the last eight weeks has gone. Tepco said that it assumes that water is leaking from the RPV, but it does not suspect significant damage to the bottom of the RPV. It suspects that the molten fuel may have created holes in the RPV and damaged the containment vessel, allowing radioactive water to leak into the basement of the reactor building. The company is therefore reconsidering its plan to flood the containment vessel of unit 1, as this could potentially affect the overall plan to stabilise the site.

There has been another death at the plant, though they are claiming it is not radiation related:

The worker had been working on the drainage system of the centralised radioactive waste store when he fell ill. He was taken to the on-site medical centre, where he lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Shortly after being transferred to a nearby hospital, the worker died. Tests showed that the worker had not been contaminated with radiation.

The next couple of links quoted below are from comments made by Ruhroh on the prior thread, I’m putting them in this article as they are the current state of information and many folks may not have read the links from an old article comment.

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105150169.html

From the “This Time For Sure!” department:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been forced to devise a difficult new step to cool a reactor at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after its attempt to flood the pressure vessel and containment vessel with water failed.

TEPCO said on May 14 that 3,000 tons of water found in the basement of the No. 1 reactor building had likely leaked from the containment vessel.

The utility had fed more than 10,000 tons of water into the reactor for cooling, hoping to flood the core vessel and outer containment vessel so that damaged fuel rods will be kept submerged, in a process called “water entombment.” However, some of the water apparently leaked through pipe joints in the containment vessel.
[...]
Although it has not measured the radiation level of the water, TEPCO said it is very likely highly contaminated.

With the discovery of the massive volume of contaminated water, the company is being forced to consider using the leaked water to cool the reactor core.

“We want to review our plan to circulate water to cool (the reactor),” said Junichi Matsumoto, a senior official with TEPCO.

The utility was initially seeking to pipe water from the containment vessel back into the pressure vessel after cooling the water.

But installing a system to recirculate the contaminated water for cooling will likely prove a big headache for the utility.

The radioactivity level inside the reactor building is very high, with a reading of up to 2,000 millisieverts per hour, an extreme danger to workers. That reading was taken May 13 at a site near a pipe leading to the pressure vessel at the southeastern part of the ground floor of the No. 1 reactor building.

Once again we are reminded that “Hope is not a strategy. – E.M.Smith” and that “likely” is not data…

And then there are minor other issues, like maybe the whole thing will just fall over…

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Revisions_to_Fukushima_restoration_roadmap-1705114.html

The roadmap previously called for the construction of a support structure for the used fuel pool of unit 4 as the walls of the building supporting the pool have been damaged. The construction of this is set to begin next week. In addition, Tepco said it is now considering reinforcement work at each of the other units.

In Other Sources

So I found this IAEA page that has some technical update information:

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

Deposition in 47 Prefectures

The daily monitoring of the deposition of caesium and iodine radionuclides for 47 prefectures is continuing. For the period 5 – 10 May, deposition of I-131 was detected in three prefectures, with values ranging from 1.5 Bq/m2 to 4.5 Bq/m2. Deposition of Cs-137 was detected in eight prefectures in the same period, the values reported ranging from 3 Bq/m2 to 44 Bq/m2. The reported values show that variable but low level deposition of radionuclides was still occurring in some prefectures.

Gamma Dose Rates in 47 Prefectures

Gamma dose rates are measured daily in all 47 prefectures. On 10 May the value of gamma dose rate reported for Fukushima prefecture was 1.7 µSv/h. In all other prefectures, reported gamma dose rates were below 0.1 µSv/h with a general decreasing trend.

Gamma Dose Rates in Areas More Than 30 km from Fukushima Daiichi Plant

Gamma dose rates reported specifically for the monitoring points in the eastern part of Fukushima prefecture, for distances of more than 30 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, showed a general decreasing trend, ranging from 0.1 µSv/h to 20.3 µSv/h, as reported for 10 May.

Maps of gamma dose rates, deposition of Cs-134 and deposition of Cs-137 within the 80 km zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant were produced by means of aerial gamma ray monitoring by the Nuclear Safety Technology Centre of MEXT and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The maps show that the results obtained are consistent with all previous measurements of deposition in soil and of dose rates.

So we’ve got Cs-134 “out there” (though not in large quantity)…. Though stronger near the plant:

Air Concentrations of Radionuclides On-site at Fukushima Daiichi Plant

On-site measurements at the west gate of the Fukushima Daiichi plant indicate the presence of I-131 and Cs-137 in the air in the close vicinity of the plant (within approximately 1 km). The concentrations in air reported for 10 May were 4 Bq/m3 for total I-131 and 16 Bq/m3 for total Cs-137. The values observed in the previous days show daily fluctuations with an overall decreasing tendency.

There is now, of course, a Wiki on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents

Which is jumping on the “nuclear explosion” bandwagon of “prompt criticality” in the spent fuel pool:

Possibility of criticality in the spent fuel pool

TEPCO claimed that there was a small but non-zero probability that the exposed fuel assemblies could reach criticality. The BBC commented that criticality would never mean a nuclear explosion, but could cause a sustained release of radioactive materials. Criticality is usually considered highly unlikely, owing to the low enrichment level used in light water reactors. There was, however, speculation on Russia Today by low-dose radiation researcher and anti-nuclear activist Christopher Busby that the explosion that destroyed the reactor 3 building was a “nuclear explosion” of some kind in the spent fuel pool. Similarly, as noted above, Arnie Gundersen surmised a prompt criticality for the 13 Mar 2011 explosion at the spent fuel pool located on top of the reactor 3 building.

On 11 May, TEPCO released underwater robotic video from the spent fuel pool. The video appears to show large amounts of debris contaminating the pool, but experts opined that the fuel rods, which are not visible in the clip, “were left largely undamaged despite the disaster.”

Personally, I don’t see how it could happen, but maybe there is some “trick” of which I am not aware…

There is a video (in links in the prior thread) claiming to show a glowing spot. No mention of the fact that the solid state sensors used to “film” with these days are sensitive to all sorts of radiation and any “visible” glowing spot might not be glowing from heat at all; but just from a sensor acting out of band. (Some folks take the IR filter out of solid state cameras to make IR cameras out of them, for example. If you don’t control what EM spectrum gets to the sensor, it’s not just operating in the visual band…)

It’s a fairly detailed write up, even if some parts are less than “stellar” in the objectivity… It has many pictures and graphics in it, including one on radiation patterns:

Radiation at Fukushima

Radiation at Fukushima

To see this in full detail you will need to start from the wiki page as that image is a cut down size:

Original and much larger sized image with descriptions

JUST the image, without the meta-data:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Fukushima7.png

And last, and probably least, the Straight Poop from the pooper in charge:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/index-e.html

Which has a great little map of the site that purports to have detailed radiation measures on it, if only I could read Japanese…

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/images/f1-sv-20110506-e.pdf

In Conclusion

As I read the Wiki map, nothing major is happening to folks outside Japan, and even inside Japan most places are pretty much fine. There will still be a lot of folks who “have issues” from this event, and the event isn’t over yet.

Now begins the “sequelae” the “aftereffect of disease, condition, or injury”.

Now we find out how bad it really will be.

IMHO, the largest damage will come from the freeze this is likely to put on new nuclear power. The damage from that “lack of electricity” will be giant, but largely unseen as a consequence of this event. It will be blamed on a thousand and one other things.

At present, the “greens” are defining as unacceptable: Oil, Coal, Nuclear, Tar sands, and to some degree: natural gas – though with tepid acceptance in limited use. What that leaves is wind and solar as “good” (in their minds). Unfortunately, they can not power the world. Not even close. The infrastructure does not exist and could not be built in time even if we were trying. (You would need massive cross continental scale and transoceanic scale DC transfer cables to avoid the need for duplicate power generation via other means. Facilities that scar the land and would not be allowed unchallenged.)

So the looming electrical shortages will be ascribed to all sorts of other things. Population growth. Immoderation. A “needed sacrifice”. Who knows what all.

At any rate, it looks like “cold” is going to be joined by “dark” unless folks realize that coal and nuclear are needed to keep the lights on.

Personally, I’m not too worried. I lived under Governor Gray “grayout” Davis in California when we had rolling blackouts and general chaos in the power system (all that loverly government “order”…) so I’ve got the equipment needed to do just fine. It may actually motivate me to finish that battery box / inverter installation I was working on when the government stopped “fixing” things and power became stable again ;-)

Home heat is via natural gas. I’ve got a nice 1 kw Honda gasoline generator (but if it gets bad, I’ll likely add a 3 kw ‘multi-fuel’ Honda with a natural gas connection and optional gasoline / propane if desired.) We’ve lived on the system as it stands a dozen times (or more); and though I’ve not used it in a few years now, a bit of cleaning and it will be fine. What folks in New York will do, I don’t know. Not my problem…

The agitation has begun to shut down our older nuclear plants (and just incidentally throw a lot of nuclear decommissioning business at GE? Along with booking up their Gas Turbine and Wind Turbine business?…) in places like Indian Point. This will cause chaos in the electrical grid given the present “alternatives” available.

At any rate, expect new nuclear to be largely a “China Thing” and an “India thing”. France is already “full up”. Germany is rapidly heading to “none” (if it isn’t there already). England is shutting down and tilting at windmills. Spain, Italy, Greece etc. have no money to buy anything with anyway. The USA will be in political stewing mode for the next couple of years as nothing is resolved. Canada and Australia are likely to follow the British lead, though more slowly and after a lot of fretting about it. South America is once again flirting with The Socialism Shiny Thing and Chavez will be looking to addict them to Venezuelan oil as a means to influence. Japan will be “on the rocks” for new nukes for a very long time. The Koreas, well, that’s just a non-starter as they face their next war from a frozen and hungry north looking at a warm and well fed south. Russia is likely to just sit pat as they have a good mix of power as it stands and new nukes are, er, um, ‘a worry’ for them…

So as I see it, aside from Iran who will likely be bombed if they get too far along, only India and China are likely to build a lot of nuclear power in the next decade or two. That also means they will be the global locations with both cheap plentiful labor and cheap plentiful power. It will assure their economic growth for a few decades to come. While month to month investment timing needs to be checked against the present charts (to see what the hedge funds and Whale Traders are doing to them) the very long term prospects for China and India are looking much better vis a vis “The West”…

Welcome to our Brave New World…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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17 Responses to Japan Nuke – Sequelae

  1. Level_Head says:

    Foolish people, it seems to me. They are equating risk with impossibility, and focusing on the potential issues while ignoring the deaths of thousands, and also ignoring the secondary effects of their “precautions.”

    They were willing to let millions die in Africa by denying them DDT — an oversight just now being corrected. The same situation holds with denying them cheap and reliable electrical power, because it uses fossil fuels.

    So now we turn the same “let them suffer/die” rationale on first world nations.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, the charts here:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/nuclear-stocks/

    are continuing a slide into oblivion…

    At some point they will be “great buys”, but as long as Japan is “off line” and the USA is in paranoia land and Europe is stagnated and the UK is bent on self flagellation … well, let just say there isn’t any sign of a turn around just yet…

    The RSI says “soon”, but the trend has not yet begun to stabilize…

    @Level_Head:

    That is the sort of thing that actually bothers me. Not “carping comments” (that are, at their strongest, a dissapointment) and not ignorance (that can be cured).

    No, it’s seeing a very clear “path to modernity and prosperity for the entire world” and knowing in my bones that it will never happen and that “the powers that be” are doing everything possible to prevent it.

    And, as you pointed out, being unsatisfied with the “let them starve” in Ethiopia and the “let them be murdered” in Darfur / Sudan and the “let them be slaughtered in their homes” in Kurdistan and the let them freeze and starve in North Korea, and “let them be slaughered in the streets” in Syria (or pick the Arab Spring Country of your choice)… no, that’s not enough. They must now turn their incompetent muse on that part of the world that, having put 2 centuries into the Industrial Revolution and Libertarian Freedom, have managed to just climb out of the swamp…

    There seems to be an orthogonal relationship between technical competance and the ability to grasp after political power…

    Frankly, I suspect the only real reason the USA did so well in the first 200 years was that for most of that time the Federal Government was, in fact, starkly limited in what it could do. I don’t think it matters what form of government you nominally have, so long as it is small, weak, and kept out of the way of folks who just want to make a decent life for themselves.

    At any rate, for whatever reason, it looks like we’re going to be fighting that “shortage” meme for another 50 years… (How they can sell the idea of “shortage” when you are standing on a 6000 mile diameter ball of resources is beyond me, but it seems to sell…)

    Right now it is below 60 F in San Jose (per my yard thermometer). I have the heater on. The sky is full of thick clouds and we’ve had small amounts of cold rain.

    Spring? I don’t think so…

    If it were not for natural gas and electricity I would be cold and feeling miserable. In California. In “spring”… 5 weeks from the Summer Solstice… and “they” want to shut down the use of the coal and nuclear power that are keeping my lights on and my home warm.

    Maybe I’ll move to Florida afterall…

    Saw a show on feral pigs in Florida. The implication being that there were lots of them. As I’m quite fond of ham and bacon, “I can live with that” ;-) Wonder if anyone sells dirt with a “hog problem” cheap? When hunting was basically unregulated and common, there was no wild hog problem because folks just ate them. I remember when there was “no season and no limit” on hogs (in Texas IIRC). Guess it’s been “regulated” now ;-) at least in Florida…

    FWIW, on one occasion I helped a friend go “pigging”. She was working on her masters and we helped tend a line of traps. Only got “treed” in the back of the pickup truck once!

    It was a very big boar and when he woke up was very pissed! We’d dart them in the trap, then measure and weigh them, tag, remove any ‘foxtail stickers’ in places they did not belong and give them a shot of antibiotics as payment for the trauma… Usually they would just be groggy and stumble off. This guy was full of piss and vinegar and wanted to make something of it. At about 200+ pounds, he was a big one. We had left the dart gun in the cab, and he “came round” sooner than expected (due to the size / dose) and we hopped in the truck bed. Then realized where the dart gun had been “stowed”…

    Ooops…

    At any rate, I’m experienced at hog trapping. So, one chunk of dirt too far from cities to be interesting, warm climate, “hog problem”… all the comforts of the Brave New World Homestead.

    Hey, it’s not me wanting to tear down civilization, I’m just reacting in a rational way to the process at hand… I can be very happy with pigskin boots, bacon and eggs for breakfast, ham for dinner, and the occasional roast ‘gator for variety… It’s the Mrs. that will have problems with it ;-)

    I know, it’s wrong of me, but the idea of “lunch” that comes and delivers itself to you has a certain charm… So you plant some corn, and then just wait for the motion sensor to wake you up… My style of “hunting”…

    (In many states a farmer has a right to ‘protect crop and livestock’ without regard to ‘season’…)

    Though I’d rather live in a nice place with a heater / AC and pool, with bacon from the store in a package. Less work that way. If “they” will let me…

  3. Level_Head says:

    Up not far from Cape Kennedy — well, the Kennedy Space Center now — is a little town called Hog Valley. It had, when I was last there, one bar, one gas station, and one church. That was it.

    And residents who mostly raised hogs — and lots of flat land to the west, upon which escaped stock had gone feral. That town, and its similarly tiny neighbor called Aurantia, might be an interesting place to look while staying close to civilization. Titusville and Cocoa Beach and Merritt Island are just a few minutes drive away, less than an hour for the most distant of these.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. Ruhroh says:

    Now #3 is found to be leaking baaaad hot water into the ocean;

    “Results announced by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) today showed the water found leaking to sea from a cable pit near unit 3 was contaminated with iodine-131, caesium-137 and caesium-134 to levels far beyond regulatory limits. ”

    (is that another way to say ‘pegged the meter’ ? )

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Water_poses_questions_for_Tepco_1205111.html

    Interesting about the ongoing, frequent use of the word ‘reactor core’ , when the big cooling issue would be the slag at the bottom, of #1 anyway.

    Not easy to hook up the recirc pump to pipes which contain highly contaminated (with radioisotopes) water.

    One other question; what are the chances that some of the applied kilotons (bad word, I know) of water are going into the ground water.
    Seems like that area will be significantly contaminated for a long time.

    The keyword phrase that really got my attention, (but is rarely expressed) was ‘portions of fuel rods were found 2 miles from the reactor’. Purportedly NRC expressed this.

    That video guy from

    http://www.fairewinds.com/updates

    emphasized the difference between two kinds of ‘explosions’ ; Deflagration (shock wave slower than Speed of Sound) , vs. Detonation, Shock faster than SoS. He asserts that Hydrogen ‘explosion’ can only create deflagration, whereas #3 video seems to show detonation.

    The #3 ta-ra-ra-boom-de-aye might have included or started with a Hydrogen explosion, but the conveyance of metal pieces ~2 miles implies some significant ‘muzzle velocity’. The ‘spent fuel pool’ looks more like a really short barrel blunderbuss than a rifle to me.

    The decision to suspend the spent fuel pool up near the roof, seems to be a really bad one. What was the ‘savings’ that led to this decision?
    RR

  5. Ruhroh says:

    I see that the fairewinds guy was a VP at TMI after the waterless operation.
    He has transcripts of the various updates. He announces his speculations as such, but you have to keep track yourself.

    for example,
    Here’s a quote from the link which follows;
    ” What does this mean? The amount of water in those trenches is enormous. It’s very difficult to get demineralizers to remove that radioactivity in such high quantities. Basically, if the demineralizer absorbed that radioactivity, it would become so radioactively hot that personnel couldn’t go near it.

    I’ve also had people say, “Why don’t you take that water and pump it back into the nuclear reactor?” Well, the radioactivity in that water is over 100 rem per hour, and basically that means that anybody who stands near it for three or four hours receives a lethal dose of radiation. So, if you were to pump it back into the reactor, the pumps would become so radioactive that personnel couldn’t operate the pumps. There’s not much tankage space available on the site. They’re trying to pump the water into the unit condensers. ”

    http://www.fairewinds.com/content/update-fukushima-discovery-plutonium-leakage-and-highly-radioactive-water

    This is interesting in light of #1 meltdown.
    Hard to detect bursts of neutrons;

    http://www.fairewinds.com/content/newly-released-tepco-data-provides-evidence-periodic-chain-reaction-fukushima-unit-1

    Here’s his take on #3 boom box;
    The video on this one is compelling to compare the #1 and #3 explosions.
    Ahh, crud, no transcript on the ‘prompt criticalty post.
    This one is where he differentiates Deflagration from Detonation Explosions.

    http://www.fairewinds.com/content/gundersen-postulates-unit-3-explosion-may-have-been-prompt-criticality-fuel-pool bb

    Here’s the most recent;

    http://www.fairewinds.com/content/fukushima-one-step-forward-and-four-steps-back-each-unit-challenged-new-problems

    So, ongoing ~gross air/water contamination onsite, and reliable source of badnews bytes for the foreseeable future.

    RR

  6. Myrddin Seren says:

    E.M.

    Re your sensible back-up power supplies.

    If we move into the scenario of energy constrained ( demand managed ) first-world nations with intermittent power supplies, many people will seek to do what you have done.

    And the Greens will either note rising sales of fossil-fuel powered home generators, or those Greens that have traveled will recall how those developing countries with intermittent power supplies have a lot of homes and business that have their own back-ups, like India.

    None of which will accord with their views on ‘eco-friendly’ austerity.

    Therefore, I am confident in predicting an upcoming Green political campaign against unconstrained sales of home generators.

    Stand-by to having to stash your genie from the prying eyes of some green-shirt eco capo.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    @Ruhroh:

    I get really sceptical when anyone with an agenda (and that guy at Fairewinds makes his money of suiing nukes) says something is “impossible”.

    What we know of the world is a fraction of what is “possible” and rarely can one say catagorically that there are no circumstances whatsoever where flamables can not detonate… especially when energized via nuclear flux…

    http://thesis.library.caltech.edu/4529/

    Jet initiation of deflagration and detonation
    Citation

    Krok, James Christopher (1997) Jet initiation of deflagration and detonation.

    Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechETD:etd-11122003-181337

    We have constructed a facility for the study of jet-initiated deflagration and detonation in hydrogen-air-steam mixtures. The facility is built around two pressure vessels. Mixtures of hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are spark-ignited in the driver vessel, generating a hot mixture of combustion products. The pressure rise ruptures a diaphragm, venting the products into the receiver vessel through nozzles of 12.7-92 mm diameter. The receiver is filled with hydrogen-air and hydrogen-oxygen mixtures diluted with either nitrogen or steam.
    [...]
    The tests indicated that shock focusing plays an important role, promoting strong secondary explosions with or without prompt initiation of detonation. Mixtures with steam dilution were prone to DDT near the detonation limit, as the slower flame speed allows shock reflection and pressurization to occur before the reactants are consumed. Tests with nitrogen dilution had no DDT regime. Because of DDT and shock focusing, peak pressures were highest in mixtures that were slightly less sensitive than the detonation threshold. Schlieren movies confirmed the formation of a detonation near the nozzle exit.

    So, about that “hydrogen can’t detonate” assertion…

    @Myrddin Seren:

    One of the wonderful things about the Honda is that it is 56 db. That is quiter than typical speech. It is hard to hear it when inside a single wall (i.e. in the garage or in a shed, which I have… or even inside a purpose built box with foam lining…)

    It’s just incredibly quite and functional.

    The other factoid, though, is that any car can become a ‘generator’ (just not as convenient) and one can also make a battery box and attach an inverter (for which I bought all the parts just before we dumped Gray-out… and still have.)

    The minimalist approach is in my backpack at all times:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/minimalist-emergency-power/

    I have 100 W in my pack. 300W in my car. 1000 W in the garage (not installed, packed). And a 1000 W Honda generator. I can run on gasoline or Diesel (or other “exotic” fuels in a variety of interesting ways, including fumigating propane into the air intake of my Diesel… or dripping alcohol into the air intake… or…)

    So it’s not gonna bother me what “they” do, as I’m a couple of steps ahead. I’ve already dealt with Gray and his friends for “a while” here in Kalifornia…

    Also, given the State approved advice to have standby generators for “The Quake”, it would be very hard for them to backpedal on that one…

    Sidebar on Wood:

    Though they have already made it illegal to use wood to heat your home, so on cold “spare the air” days there are ‘fireplace police’ that run around looking for folks who’s chiminies are hot. It’s OK for you to freeze to death, as long as you die sucking a clean last breath… and your neighbor does not need to actually smell any wood smoke…

    So there ARE some “issues” about being into “urban preparedness”. But I still use my fireplace insert if I feel like it. I just make sure it’s really heated up, then let it burn out. That way one can say “I heard the ‘spare the air’ announcement and put it out.” Once the fireplace et. al. is hot, it will coast for a day anyway ;-)

    Besides, I can run the heater off the generator in alternation ;-)

    “Oh, you are the fireplace police. You need to go get the Generator police. …. Hello Generator police, as you can see, I’m heating with the fireplace…. Oh, I see you both have come together? But as you can see, I’ve got a 1 kW inverter from the car running a clean electric heater… ” repeat as needed…

    The things you learn to do in a communist Progressive Workers Paradise…

    @Level_Head:

    I’ll check it out next time I’m there. July looks like…

    FWIW, my “ideal” place will have a water approach and a driveway. The water side will have a bamboo wall between it and the driveway area, isolating it to a water approach. You can come by land, but only to half. Or by water, but only to half. A small canoe lets me move between them… And the fact that any edible trash is set out for the gators ought not to discourage anyone from attempting to wade around the end of the bamboo ;-)

    Yeah, it’s a fantasy… It takes about 5 years to get a 5 foot thick wall of Bambusa Oldhami established to the point of being “impossible to pass” without explosives or a bull dozer… and by the time I could get everything set up I’m likely not going to be interested in paddling a canoe to get to the car… but it’s a FUN fantasy ;-)

    The reality is likely to be a 1500 sq ft home with a pontoon boat / dock and fishing gear… In a hurricane alert, you pull the boat onto the trailer, hitch up and leave. The boat then becomes a sort of a travel trailer until the storm is gone. As 99% of the time you go nowhere, fuel burn in the truck and boat are just not important. At least, that’s the fantasy I have a hope in hell of selling to the Mrs…. as long as it’s inside a 1 hour drive to Disneyworld ;-)

    The real reality is likely to be a 1500 foot house in the suburbs 1/2 hour from Disneyworld and I own 4 acres of swamp that I never get to visit as I’m busy with the “honey do” list… but I can dream about it ;-)

    Unless, of course, I never get to move anywhere and just keep living in the Workers Paradize of Silly Con Valley….

    I need to stop now, I can feel my aspirations fading with a 2 minute half life …

  8. gallopingcamel says:

    E.M Smith,
    You summed up the likely future of NPP construction around the world quite brilliantly. Later in your first comment you hinted that governments get in the way of doing what makes economic sense on the road to prosperity.

    “Frankly, I suspect the only real reason the USA did so well in the first 200 years was that for most of that time the Federal Government was, in fact, starkly limited in what it could do.”

    The quaint idea that government should serve the people rather than the other way around has never been put into practice better than it was here in the USA. Lincoln summed this up so well when he spoke of “…..government of the people, by the people, for the people…..”.

    I can’t see much hope of the USA finding its way back to its old dynamic ways or any sign of an upstart state ready to pick up the torch.

    Let’s hope we are not destined to end up like your namesake Winston Smith, living in a socialist Utopia.

  9. Level_Head says:

    More like Woodrow Wilson Smith, who made his own utopia — and then moved on to the next planet when it got confining. From Wikipedia: “A rugged individualist with a distrust of authority, Lazarus [Lazarus Long, born Woodrow Wilson Smith] drifts from world to world, settling down for a while, and leaving when things get too regimented for his taste—often just before the angry mob arrives.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Level_Head:

    Ah, yes… from one of my “formative texts” ;-)

    I do have wanderlust (sometimes rather fierce…) and I’ve been trying desperately to NOT do a “trip of a lifetime” that I’ve thought about for a few decades.

    Why?

    Because I know just how hard it would be…

    Yet…

    I still find myself planning and plotting just what it would take to leave here, and reach the Arctic Coast at the peak of summer, then point the car at Florida and end at the furthest keys you can reach… running ahead of the snows the whole way… Eventually doing a return back to California … In the more exotic versions after a run up to Maine then down to San Diego; so the whole trip becomes a “bow tie” with BOTH diagonals of the country from corner to corner….

    As I’ve done the “coast to coast” on I-80 a couple of times, I-90 once. I-10 a few times. I-40 a couple. The odd bit of I-20 sometimes. … and once I did the “box around the lower 48″… Up to Washington, over to Maine, down to Florida, back to San Diego, home… Well, it’s sort of all that’s left ;-)

    On the “box” trip about ’73 a friend and I swapped driving. It was in a VW Fastback (’67) with no AC (a bit of an issue in Arizona in the summer… but at 75 MPH windows down and slamming a soda every 20 minutes it was OK ;-). We stayed in parks as much as possible, sometimes one of us slept while the other just drove. Once or twice stayed with family or friends. Did the whole trip on about $265 IIRC (gas AND food!) as we mostly ate food we fixed (propane camp stove and ice chest). Gas was about 35 cents /gallon I think… maybe 45 in some places.

    At any rate, I’ve “earned my chops” on road tripping… so I know exactly what I’d be getting into… which is most likely why I have not actually done it…

    Yeah, now it would be much better. The Benz is more comfortable by far. I’d stay in a motel every few nights and eat some meals in restaurants (especially in “bear country”… doubly especially in “polar bear country” ;-) but…

    As much as I like not seeing anything but empty for 100 miles in all directions; it’s getting much harder to find and there’s a lot more “sore situpon” at the end of the day of driving than in the past…

    But I still have the urge to go somewhere a bit less regimented. And Alaska is one of the few such places left.

    To do it now, though, would be a bit harder. Used to be they let you take a rifle with you if you were making the drive (as otherwise your name was ‘bear lunch’), now the risk is higher if you end up stranded with a breakdown at the “bear lunch counter”… and it used to be you could go with just a drivers license… So now I’d need to get a passport and all that. And then there is that whole “PDO shift to cold” that is going to make the Trans Alaska Highway the frozen nighmare it used to be all over again.

    I may have “missed my window”.

    We’ll see.

    In the less exotic version of it, I fly to Fairbanks, drive to Barrow (actually “as close as you can get” as there is no road TO Barrow) in an “unlimited miles rental car” then head straight to Florida and turn it in ;-) Ending with a flight home. A whole lot less road miles and a net lower cost and a lot less “time” issues… An alternative ‘low cost’ method starts with buying a cheap used car in Florida and driving it to (“near”) Barrow, selling it for really cheap then flying home…. That lets you travel north only as the road is clear enough to do so and eliminates the ‘snow caught up with me’ mis-schedule issues.

    But both of those seem tawdry somehow. Like a staged “reality show” that isn’t as “real” as you would like. Somehow the idea of setting out in My Car with My Camping Gear and a fist full of dollars and “getting it done as best I can with what I’ve got”… that’s the soul of it…

    (Yes, it’s been chomping at me again this winter… thinking about how there isn’t a lot of time left in which to scratch that itch… and then thinking about some things that are not a good idea to scratch…)

    I think I’m going to need to do The Mantra again… “I will not drive to Alaska… I will not drive to Alaska… I will not drive to Alaska… “

  11. Ralph B says:

    I see them twisting terms concerning the dead subcontractor. You can die from radiation exposure and not have any contamination. Contamination is radioactive substances somewhere they don’t belong. Years back at a plant I worked we had some guys accidentally over exposed. They went to an area by accident where they should not have been during a fuel move. They were there only a few seconds but picked up a healthy but non-lethal dose. If there is some fuel slag in an unexpected place and some unfortunate soul spends a couple minutes there (he should have an alarming electronic dosimeter, but what if it isn’t working right) he could pick up a lethal dose pretty quick.

    I am willing to bet during the first few hours of the crisis the plant managers didn’t flood the core/drywell because they wanted to minimize damage. Their thoughts were to keep the plant so it could be quickly restarted, totally losing sight of the real situation. By the time they realized their mistake it was way way too late. The tsunami took away any chance they had of preventing core damage.

    I just finished reading a book called Shattered Sword about the Japanese loss at Midway. Looking at the response to the nuke disaster it parallels the reaction to the Midway loss. Japanese culture back then and possibly now…well maybe I better keep my opinion to myself.

  12. Ruhroh says:

    Another day, another bit of news;

    “Data shows meltdowns occurred at the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, creating huge problems for the plant operator that had presented a more optimistic scenario.

    And like the No. 1 reactor, the melted fuel appears to have created holes in the pressure vessel of the No. 3 reactor, according to the data of Tokyo Electric Power Co. released May 16. ”

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105170428.html

    The responses of Tepco seem to be based on intact ‘cores’, as if the only issue was to cool down the rods.

    A whole other kettle of fish to cool poorly-characterized slag of unencapsulated radioisotopes.
    Can local criticalities occur?

    One-pass cooling creates kilotons of moderately contaminated water. Recirc would create highly contaminated water, and any cooling facilities that might be used with such a plan. Those facilities are in dubious condition and were not designed for such service.

    I expect that massive ocean discharges are inevitable and the only resource of sufficient capacity to deal with the heat.

    RR

  13. Ruhroh says:

    The data from March;

    “Inside the pressure vessel at the No. 2 reactor, pressure began dropping precipitously on the night of March 15, falling to almost the same level as the outside atmosphere.

    The following day, March 16, pressure in the surrounding containment vessel rose in the afternoon.”

    “At the No. 3 reactor, pressure in the pressure vessel started to fall on the night of March 15.

    Similarly, as it fell to almost the same level as the outside atmosphere around midnight March 16, pressure in the containment vessel surged.

    Again, the bottom of the pressure vessel may have been damaged in a manner similar to the No. 2 reactor.

    Pressure in the containment vessel jumped March 20. It is believed this was caused by melted fuel rods dropping to the concrete bottom of the containment vessel through damaged piping, some of it used to gauge neutron levels.

    As a result, gray smoke rose from the No. 3 reactor building shortly before 4 p.m. on March 21.

    Like the No. 2 reactor, robot data indicated that it is unsafe for humans to work in the No. 3 reactor building, with radiation levels in some areas above 100 millisieverts per hour. ”

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105170429.htm

    Apparently the data was in the #1 control room? only recently retrieved?

    We’ll see if they keep talking about ‘cooling the core’ , or shift to ‘cooling the fuel’ which is no longer in rod form.
    RR

  14. Ralph B says:

    Firstly…to have criticality takes a specific geometry, very unlikely in melted fuel

    Those descriptions in your second posting are written by someone who has never worked in a BWR of this type. Any water leakage would be from the control rod penetrations, the energy needed to melt through the pressure vessel is not going to be there.

    There are cooling mechanisms in the torus which go through secondary heat exchangers so I doubt any large discharge of water will happen. The water does need to be filtered and ion exchanged. The problem there is the sea water, it will require many regen cycles of the IX media, that water generated will have to be stored and filtered as well. Not an easy task. Time is on their side though…remember it hasn’t been that long since the quake, cleanup and recovery won’t be done on these units for 10-15 years or more

  15. Ruhroh says:

    News of the week;

    Tepco has run new sims with lowered water levels;

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Large_scale_melt_predicted_at_units_2_and_3_2605111.html

    Running out of room for the hot water;

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105240141.html

    Volunteer repair team;

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105240134.html

    RR

  16. E.M.Smith says:

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Cold_shutdown_a_must_for_fukushima_return_1905112.html

    Prime minister Naoto Kan said yesterday that Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) needs to get all the Fukushima Daiichi reactors into ‘cold shutdown’ before he will judge when the 150,000 evacuees can return.

    Kan wants to hit the cold shutdown milestone “no later than mid-January next year” with there being “nearly no release of radioactivity.”

    [...]
    The term shutdown means that nuclear processes have halted within the reactor, with cold shutdown meaning that the heat from radioactive decay has been removed effectively enough for coolant water to be below 100ºC. Nuclear reactors normally achieve this state within a few hours of shutting down, but the term is less meaningful for Fukushima Daiichi units 1, 2 and 3 with badly deformed and damaged cores cooled by ad-hoc methods.

    Someone needs to tell Francisco that now is the time for high concern and, in his case, a bit of well deserved “gloating” over the actual status of things.

    Looks like we do have the “core melt” he was worried about and they are clearly having some kind of issue getting the melted fuel blob cooled down if they are talking next year to get it done…

    I would hope that by now they are heavily borating the water being pumped in… but if the fuel is a solid chunk even that is not going to do much good.

    Per the radioactive water:

    Both Caesium and Iodine are prone to making very soluable salts. It’s going to be pain to find things that precipitate out, but it can be done:

    http://www.patents.com/us-5144063.html

    lists hydroxytriphenylborates as working, while:

    http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4466950.html

    says the permangante is a precipitate.

    For Iodine I know that Silver Iodide is a precipitate (used in photography…. so you would get a self exposing photograph paper ;-)

    It looks like you could use lead nitrate to preciptate out lead iodide, but only if you refrigerated the water….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead(II)_iodide

    but it might be easier to just pass it through a starch bed or similar absorbent… (Maybe some of those activated plastics that preferentially absorbe different ions?)

    At any rate, it looks like a mess in the making.

    FWIW, “Mustard” plants of various types are used in remediation of metals in the soil. Some of them “hyperaccumulate” metals, and have modestly deep roots, so can be planted to suck all the bad stuff out of the dirt.

    Then you just “snip and sequester”….

    At Bikini, the island was found “safe enough” then after some folks returned, they started showing Caesium in them… eventually they figured out the coconut trees et. al. were picking up deep caesium from the water way down below the top of the soil and moving it into the part the folks were eating. So everyone left the island again.

    In this case, I think Japan needs to “consider it a feature” and start planting mustards all over the contaminated area so they can collect the caesuim for disposal…

    Though it looks like some of the Amaranth family work too:

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2197438

    “Pigweed”:

    A field study was conducted to investigate the potential of three plant species for phytoremediation of a 137Cs-contaminated site. Approximately 40-fold more 137Cs was removed from the contaminated soil in shoots of red root pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.) than in those of Indian mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czern] and tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray). The greater potential for 137Cs removal from the soil by A. retroflexus was associated with both high concentration of 137Cs in shoots and high shoot biomass production

    Looks like Strontium 90 too:

    https://www.soils.org/publications/jeq/articles/31/3/904

    Uptake of Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 from Contaminated Soil by Three Plant Species; Application to Phytoremediation
    Mark Fuhrmann *, Mitch M. Lasatb, Stephen D. Ebbs, Leon V. Kochian and Jay Cornish

    Concentration ratios (CR) for 137Cs for redroot pigweed, Indian mustard, and tepary bean were 2.58, 0.46, and 0.17, respectively. For 90Sr they were substantially higher: 6.5, 8.2, and 15.2, respectively. The greatest accumulation of both radionuclides was obtained with redroot pigweed, even though its CR for 90Sr was the lowest, because of its relatively large biomass. There was a linear relationship between the 137Cs concentration in plants and its concentration in soil only for redroot pigweed. Uptake of 90Sr exhibits no relationship to 90Sr concentrations in the soil. Estimates of time required for removal of 50% of the two contaminants, assuming two crops of redroot pigweed per year, are 7 yr for 90Sr and 18 yr for 137Cs.

    But it looks like it’s gonna take a while…

    I wonder if you could use it for mining:

    Indian mustard was tested because it has been used extensively in phytoremediation of metals, especially lead and uranium (Salt et al., 1995; Blaylock et al., 1997), but had not been tested with radionuclides.

    Uranium concentrating plants…. odd turn of phrase…

    “No sir, we not making uranium, sir, we just growing mustard, sir…”

    The more I learn about plants the more amazed I am by them…

  17. Ruhroh says:

    Fukushima Milestone;

    http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201109290269.html

    All 3 below 373K.
    Some pesky problems of Hydrogen buildup, but as the oxygen is at 0%, the 63% hydrogen is non-explosive at this moment…
    RR

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