Jeffrey LewisAnother FEPC Statement

FEPC has released another statement. Other regular sources of information are the IAEA and the Japan Atomic Industrial Form.

This time there is no entry for Unit 4, which is the main source of debate between TEPCO and NRC Chairman Jazcko. I am told that is because there is no new information.

Update | 12:08 pm FEPC has provided an update on Unit 4 that argues the helicopter team observed water in the cooling pool.

I continue to be very worried about the possibility of the fire in the SNF cooling pools.

Another colleague has argued that the current plan is to connect an interim power line to the reactor site; the current efforts that seem so feeble are just an attempt to buy enough time to restore power.  That is more or less the view articulated in this AP article by Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamagchi quoting a senior official at TEPCO.

Update to Information Sheet Regarding the Tohoku Earthquake

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Washington DC Office

As of 10:15AM (EST), March 17, 2011

  • Radiation Levels

o      At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1,000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.

o      At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert.

o      At 11:10AM on March 17, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 646.2 micro sievert.

o      At 7:50PM on March 17, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 3,599 micro sievert.

o      For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro sievert per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro sievert per scan.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor

o      Since 10:30AM on March 14, the pressure within the primary containment vessel cannot be measured.

o      At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.185MPa.

o      At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.7 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor

o      At 12:25PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.40MPaabs.

o      At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.027MPa.

o      At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.8 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor

o      At 12:40PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.23MPaabs.

o      At 6:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber was observed to fluctuate.

o      At 7:00AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.22MPa.

o      At 7:05AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.44MPa.

o      At 7:10AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.26MPa.

o      At 7:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.52MPa.

o      At 7:20AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.13MPa.

o      At 7:25AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.57MPa.

o      At 9:48AM on March 17, a Self Defense Forces helicopter made four water drops aimed for the spent fuel pool.

o      At 4:35PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.005MPa.

o      At 4:35PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.95 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 7:05PM on March 17, a police water cannon began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool until 7:22PM.

o      At 7:35PM on March 17, five Self Defense Forces emergency fire vehicles shot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, until 8:09PM.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor

o      At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor

o      At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Update: FEPC has released more information, including a status on cooling pool at Unit 4.

Update to Information Sheet Regarding the Tohoku Earthquake

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Washington DC Office

As of 11:30AM (EST), March 17, 2011

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor

o      No official updates to the information in our March 16 update have been provided.

o      Through visual surveys from the helicopter flying above the Unit 4 reactor secondary containment building on March 16, it was observed that water remained in the spent fuel pool. The helicopter was measuring radiation levels above Unit 4 reactor secondary containment building in preparation for water drops. This report has not been officially confirmed.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor

o      At 12:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 147.56 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 5:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 148.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor

o      At 12:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 144.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 5:00PM on March 17, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 147.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Our official sources are:

  • Office of The Prime Minister of Japan
  • Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA)
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Press Releases

Comments

  1. Red_Blue (History)

    The negative (below atmosphere) and very low pressure readings from the reactor pressur vessels seem to indicate detoriating condition of the control and monitoring system, rather than actual conditions.

    There has been some speculation that for short periods the exposed top parts of the fuel rods could be cooled with conduction from the lower parts that are still submerged as well as convective flow of steam generated from the water covered parts. But these fueld rods in reactors 1-3 would have been uncovered for days now, which doesn’t seem right either.

    I think the proper way to read these water levels is “below the level where the tops of the fuel rods _used to be_” and that the top parts of the cores have most likely melted and now reside on the bottoms of the PRVs.

  2. CaptainCanuck (History)

    FEPC Style Guide:

    “When reporting radiation readings, ensure that the units of measurement are mangled in some way. Try dropping the unit of time, for example.

    Also, no more than two readings shall be reported per release, in the same units. For example, give one reading in milli-Sieverts, the next in micro-Sieverts, then toss in some CPS or rems for good measure. Roentgen and Gray should then be used for the subsequent report, etc.”

    • archjr (History)

      Not to mention the wonkblasts. Or the slurve-Sieverts. The nuclear industry, writ large, civilian and military, has mangled the language in so many beautiful ways. But the individuals are truly some of the best and the brightest. I really think they are going to figure this out.

  3. John Ainslie (History)

    With regard to the power supply, I heard on NHK that this was a secondary concern, after getting water onto reactors three and four, and that the plan was to get the new power supply to reactors one and two.

  4. marcus (History)

    red_blue, you are mistaken. nuclear reactors are operated at a negative pressure during normal operation. this is intentional. everything is going as planned.

  5. Nick Nolan (History)

    So far, most of the radiation has been released from rods in storage pools where zirconium in the rods reacted with steam.

    It would be interesting to know if these used rods can start melting and if there is possibility of zirconium reacting directly with oxygen from the air. zirconium-oxygen fire could be really dangerous.

  6. FSB (History)

    o At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1,000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.

    o At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert.

    Crap. That is not a good slope of radiation vs. altitude, interpolating down.

  7. Charles (History)

    Now, I’m not a wonk, but if there was a possibility of an earthquake and resulting tsunami hitting the coast where an NPP is sited, would it help if the site was engineered to withstand the destructive force, but was open to flooding if necessary? i.e having anything that could go critical situated below sea-level so that flood gates could be opened manually from a distance, with specific channels to these areas?

    Funnily enough, but I’m not an engineer either, however I’m sure thought would be paid to siting pumps along these channels, so that water could be circulated, while also having the pumps in an easily accessible area away from the plant (like the manually opened flood-gates). Means no damage from any nearby structures, easily repairable, safer distance from nuclear hazards, etc.

    Or am I not seeing something due to my un-wonked view?

    • MWG (History)

      I remember early on in this unfolding disaster reading in a newspaper or web posting that the Fukushima power plants were designed to withstand a 6.5 meter tsunami wave, but the waves reached 7 meters. Sorry, I don’t remember where I read this.

      This suggests that perhaps reactor designers should assume a more extreme plausible worst case. But I’m not sure that’s the right answer, given the much greater direct devastation from the tsunami itself. Where is the best place to invest the marginal dollar (or yen) for disaster preparedness?

    • Scott Monje (History)

      Nineteenth-century canals used gates and gravity to control water flow. No pumps needed.

    • yousaf (History)

      The tsunami was the problem but it was due partially to the lowering of the level of the land by two feet. The earthquake also moved parts of Japan 13 feet eastward, shifted the axis of earth’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.8 milliseconds.

      Note that terrorists can also cause such a station blackout.

      Someone posted this earlier (I do not vouch for accuracy):

      http://koti.mbnet.fi/maxt/Tsunamis/quakes1.jpg

    • Charles (History)

      I thought my watch looked a bit off this last week.

      My point being with the post is that wouldn’t it be an idea to engineer these NPP’s which will be in unstable areas so that they can be manually flooded and have water circulated in a much easier way? Works similarly for any potential blackout which can’t be easily remedied.

      Or, as other true wonks have mentioned, not storing spent rods near the top of the containment building.

      But I’ll shut up now and let the actual engineers have a go 😉

    • yousaf (History)

      Much better to take the nuclear industry out of governments’ pockets around the world and try to sell nuclear at market prices. In the US, abolish the Price Andersen Act which distorts the market by making nuclear power artificially cheap.

      Once all energy sources are priced correctly (i.e. more expensive) then conservation will result naturally.

      Homes that ran fine on 60 amps supply now have 400 amps due to artificial cheapness of power.

      Once things are correctly priced even renewables will become competitive.

    • rt (History)

      @mwg
      I first saw the 7.0 Meter Tsunami and 6.5 Meter Tsunami defenses figures at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Venting_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_3_1303111.html

      Other things I remember on tsunami damage: One major news outlet in the US has had annotated Fukushima Daiichi satellite footage showing destruction/brown stuff (mud?) around the plant and destroyed diesel tanks. There have been reports of bulldozers being send in to clear the way for firetrucks. One of the UN maps on reliefweb.int showed figures 7-8 Meter figures on the sea between the epicenter and the Fukushima coast, I figured these were measurements from buoys. Onr report mentioned that a water height meter somewhere along the Japanese coast went off scale at 4 meter.

  8. yousaf (History)
  9. yousaf (History)

    Picture of #4: (the caption is wrong — the green thing is the crane used to move the rods)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8389415/Japan-nuclear-plant-exposed-to-the-elements-nuclear-fuel-in-meltdown.html

  10. tokyorequiem (History)

    A slightly more recent update:

    Update to Information Sheet Regarding the Tohoku Earthquake
    The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) Washington DC Office
    As of 10:15AM (EST), March 17, 2011
    • Radiation Levels
    o At 9:20AM (JST) on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 1,000ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 4,130 micro sievert.
    o At 9:20AM on March 17, radiation level at elevation of 300ft above Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 87,700 micro sievert.
    o At 11:10AM on March 17, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 646.2 micro sievert.
    o At 7:50PM on March 17, radiation level outside main office building (approximately 1,640 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 3,599 micro sievert.
    o For comparison, a human receives 2,400 micro sievert per year from natural radiation in the form of sunlight, radon, and other sources. One chest CT scan generates 6,900 micro sievert per scan.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor
    o Since 10:30AM on March 14, the pressure within the primary containment vessel cannot be measured.
    o At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.185MPa.
    o At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.7 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor
    o At 12:25PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.40MPaabs.
    o At 12:50PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.027MPa.
    o At 12:50PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.8 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor
    o At 12:40PM on March 16, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.23MPaabs.
    o At 6:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber was observed to fluctuate.
    o At 7:00AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.22MPa.
    o At 7:05AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.44MPa.
    o At 7:10AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.26MPa.
    o At 7:15AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.52MPa.
    o At 7:20AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.13MPa.
    o At 7:25AM on March 17, pressure inside the suppression chamber: 0.57MPa.
    o At 9:48AM on March 17, a Self Defense Forces helicopter made four water drops aimed for the spent fuel pool.
    o At 4:35PM on March 17, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.005MPa.
    o At 4:35PM on March 17, water level inside the reactor core: 1.95 meters below the top of the fuel rods.
    o At 7:05PM on March 17, a police water cannon began to shoot water aimed at the spent fuel pool until 7:22PM.
    o At 7:35PM on March 17, five Self Defense Forces emergency fire vehicles shot water aimed at the spent fuel pool, until 8:09PM.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor
    o At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor
    o At 2:00PM on March 16, the temperature of the spent fuel pool was measured at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

  11. tokyorequiem (History)

    *ahem* or not. The time signature, at least, is the same. Sorry…

  12. gbettanini (History)

    I’ve read of a 7th ‘common pool’ in the Daiichi facility for the spent fuel already cooled by the single ractors for 18 months.
    http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/6-1_powerpoint.pdf

    The spent fuel ponds (by the reactors) dimensions seems to be 10x10x15 m, so between 11 and 15 march around 1000 tons of water could be evaporated from the pond of reactor n.4, the pond of the n.3 could be damaged.
    To mantain some cooling they need to put at least 200 cubic meters/day in each pond.
    So trucks/helicopters must throw daily at least 1000 tons of water.

    • yousaf (History)

      Japanese Earthquake Update (18 March 12:25 UTC)

      Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that, prior to the earthquake of 12 March, the entire fuel core of reactor unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had been unloaded from the reactor and placed in the spent fuel pond located in the reactor’s building.

      Clarification

      Contrary to several news reports, the IAEA to date has NOT received any notification from the Japanese authorities of people sickened by radiation contamination.

      In the report of 17 March 01:15 UTC, the cases described were of people who were reported to have had radioactive contamination detected on them when they were monitored.

    • John Ainslie (History)

      NHK yesterday indicated that the used fuel ponds normally have 2000 tons of water. To cover the rods requires 600 tons. Once this level is restored it would require 50 tons per day to retain that level.

    • gbettanini (History)

      Sorry John, but if 1400 tons are disappeared in 5 days how can 50 tons/day retain the level?
      I think that if they want REALLY fill the ponds they need a big fireship to throw a contionuos flux of seawater.

    • rwendland (History)

      gbettanini, the NYT probably has the answer to why 1400 tons disappeared, the pool is damaged:

      “a senior Western nuclear industry executive said Friday that there also appeared to be damage to the floor or sides of the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, and that this was making it extremely hard to refill the pool with water. The problem was first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

      Engineers said Thursday that a rip in the stainless steel lining of the pool at Reactor No. 4 and the concrete base underneath it was possible as a result of earthquake damage. The steel gates at either end of the storage pool are also vulnerable to damage during an earthquake and could leak water if they no longer close tightly.

      The senior executive, who asked not to be identified because his comments could damage business relationships, said that a leak had not been located but that engineers had concluded that it must exist because water sprayed on the storage pool had been disappearing much more quickly than would be consistent with evaporation.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/asia/19japan.html

  13. yousaf (History)
  14. Allen Thomson (History)

    > Contrary to several news reports, the IAEA to date has NOT received any notification from the Japanese authorities of people sickened by radiation contamination.

    This is good because my lay understanding of the matter is that symptoms appearing within a few hours or days of exposure result from doses northward of 1 sievert (100 rem for us old guys). That would have implied hours-long exposures to dosage rates at least as high as the highest we’ve seen reported. Or shorter exposures to much higher rates.

  15. gbettanini (History)

    Another way to throw a substantial and continuos flux of water on reactor n.3 could be bring there a fire engine fueled from a big trailer tank full of diesel oil (that could last many hours).
    Then you unroll a stiff hose 200m long to suck seawater from the sea or from the basin basin.

    • gbettanini (History)

      Quite there:
      The Tokyo Fire Department plans to use a temporarily unmanned fire engine to spray water into the No. 3 reactor’s storage pool at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
      The operation is expected to last for 7 hours.
      The fire engine has a foldable arm that can spray water from a height of 22 meters.
      A vehicle equipped with a large pump is parked at a dock 300 meters from the fire engine to suck water from the ocean.
      http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/19_16.html

      But a professor on NHK said that in the first explosion the pressure on the crane on top of reactor n.3 could have ripped away the pool.

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