Jeffrey LewisFEPC Info Sheet 3/31

Busy day today; full text after the jump.

Update to Information Sheet Regarding the Tohoku Earthquake

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

As of 11:00AM (EST), March 31, 2011

  • Radiation Levels

o      At 8:51AM (JST) on March 31, it was announced that radioactive nuclide I-131 was detected from the seawater sampled near the seawater discharge point (south side) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station at 1:55PM on March 30. The level of concentration was approximately 4,385 times higher than the maximum permissible water concentration set by the government.

o      At 2:00PM on March 31, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 157 micro Sv/hour.

o      At 2:00PM on March 31, radiation level at west gate (approximately 3,609 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 99.9 micro Sv/hour.

o      Measurement results of environmental radioactivity level around Fukushima Nuclear Power Station announced at 7:00PM on March 31 are shown in the attached PDF file. English version is available at:    http://www.mext.go.jp/english/radioactivity_level/detail/1304082.htm

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

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.329MPa.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, water level inside the reactor core: 1.65 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.21MPaabs.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, the temperature of the reactor vessel measured at the water supply nozzle: 480.9 degrees Fahrenheit

o      At 9:20AM on March 31, transferring of the accumulated water at the trench (concrete tunnel which houses pipes and cables) outside the turbine building commenced, until 11:25AM. As a result, the water level at the trench was reduced from 0.14 meters to 1.14 meters below the top of the trench.

o      At 1:03PM on March 31, TEPCO began to shoot freshwater aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor

o      As of 3:00PM on March 29, the water level at the trench was 1.04 meters below the top of the trench.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 131 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.016MPa.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, water level inside the reactor core: 1.5 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 8:00AM on March 31, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.11MPaabs.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, approximately 96 tons of water in total has been injected into the spent fuel storage pool.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor

o      As of 3:00PM on March 29, the water level at the trench was 1.55 meters below the top of the trench.

o      At 9:40AM on March 31, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.016MPa.

o      At 9:40AM on March 31, water level inside the reactor core: 1.85 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 9:40AM on March 31, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.1066MPaabs.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, approximately 4,697 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, approximately 1,098 tons of water in total has been shot to the spent fuel storage pool.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor

o      At 11:00AM on March 31, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor

o      At 11:00AM on March 31, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 78.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Common Spent Fuel Pool

o      At 8:20AM on March 30, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      As of 3:00PM on March 31, approximately 130 tons of water in total has been injected to the spent fuel storage pool.

Our official sources are:

  • Office of The Prime Minister of Japan
  • Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA)
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Press Releases
  • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)

Comments

  1. Eve (History)

    Japanese Plant Had Barebones Risk Plan
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703712504576232961004646464.html

    >one stretcher
    >one satellite phone
    >50 protective suits in case of emergencies
    >fax machine
    >one fire pumping truck
    >one radiation monitoring vehicle

    Do we have other hard data sources/links?
    What was there preparedness?

    • FSB (History)

      huh? no Shinto Katana sword for harakiri?

  2. Eve (History)

    sorry “their” preparedness (in minimums)

  3. Gregory Matteson (History)

    I was led to an MIT site http://mitnse.com/ , at the top of this page, as of today, they have a discussion of the Plutonium isotope findings at Fukushima Daiichi. If I understand correctly, this should put to rest any question as to where the stuff came from.

    In the same vein, I am uncomfortable with the argument that the few isotope measurements they’ve released were not done with due diligence. Seems to me that incompetence is a self defeating argument if you’re trying to say things aren’t so bad.

    Regarding the press coverage of arguments over the size of the evacuation zone; if the cesium radioisotope contamination is over twice the standard for evacuation by the IAEA http://abcnews.go.com/International/japan-nuclear-crisis-radiation-spike-detected-evacuation-zone/story?id=13262326, which is based on the Soviet standard set at Chernobyl, what does that say to the standard for evacuation set by the Japanese?

    Regarding the ongoing thread about suicide; it is true that Japanese are more apt to commit suicide than Americans, but contrary to stereotypes it’s not generally at the drop of a hat. Personal failures causing damage beyond repair is the general trigger in Japanese culture. We tend to crawl off and accept our failures, living to fight another day.

    It would be a very bad sign indeed if responsible Japanese officials started committing suicide.

    • FSB (History)

      1. It was a joke about the harakiri, ok?

      2. You consider Fukushima to be a “drop of a hat”?

      I will not be surprised if there are some suicides. Sad but possible.

    • Spruce (History)

      “In the same vein, I am uncomfortable with the argument that the few isotope measurements they’ve released were not done with due diligence. Seems to me that incompetence is a self defeating argument if you’re trying to say things aren’t so bad.”

      It’s not lack of diligence, it’s the fact that samples contain levels and mixes of nuclides that no-one likely has seen before. The way the massive number of peaks with rarely-seen energies interact makes it extremely difficult to analyse correctly. Most likely even the best in the field would struggle with the kind of spectra they are seeing. I don’t think that they are incompetent, but that the time pressure for getting results and the number of samples that they would need to analyse mean that they are unable to take the time such a complex analysis task would require to get completely correct identifications.

      That said, it’s clear from the analysis result (remember, theres just ONE where Cl-38 was reported) that there is some error. Either they are misreporting a hard-to-correctly identify nuclide (Cl-38) or they are missing several nuclides that should be utterly obvious even in cursory analysis (the other short-lived nuclides). Since there’s also lack of supporting evidence for the latter, the odds are heavily in favor of the former.

    • Eve (History)

      I think it can be reasonably argued that there has been a sufficient amount of time and that isotope laboratories are not that hard to come by. Additionally there are plenty of other methods than just relying on simple gamma spectroscopy. Surely IAEA and NISA has performed a few of these analyses?

    • Spruce (History)

      Perhaps, but that just supports the notion that the Cl-38 detection was a misidentification. Only report that has mentioned it is the one gamma-spectroscopy based report. If there has been any further analysis on it, the results either haven’t been released or Cl-38 has not been detected in them – it’s hard to say from the reports exactly which sample every report refers to.

  4. FSB (History)

    Guess who will pay $12 billion? Not TEPCO.

    Yes, nuclear power is very cost competitive. Right.

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/fears-nuclear-shutdown-could-take-30-years-20110330-1cg9u.html

  5. Another Scott (History)

    Can anyone comment on the fact that the cores of reactors #2 and #3 and their primary containment are at atmospheric pressure while #1 is holding pressure? Is that a smoking gun that there has been a failure of the pressure vessel and/or the primary containment in #2 and #3? Has TEPCO been asked about that?

    I haven’t been able to find any informed comments on the differences in pressure readings of the 3 reactors.

    Thanks.

    • Wramblin' Wreck (History)

      As I understand there are a number of breeches in the pressure vessel and any one of these could leak. It would not need a very big leak to vent excess pressure in the reactor. A mis-seated PRV could do it.

      Another possibility is defective sensors and/or wiring. Getting knocked around in an earthquake, covered with mud and conductive seawater and then getting knocked around again in a hydrogen explosion is not conducive to long instrument lifespans.

      It is probably all of the above in varying degrees.

  6. bks (History)

    ” Japan’s damaged nuclear plant may be in danger of emitting sudden bursts of heat and radiation, undermining efforts to cool the reactors and contain fallout. Limited, uncontrolled chain reactions are among the phenomena that might occur at the plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo yesterday.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2011/03/31/bloomberg1376-LIXG396K50YH01-6E85C18IU9EOCLTS7EMUKR96K3.DTL

    –bks

    • Eve (History)

      A continued core melt; water playing onto melted fuel rods; re-criticallity?

  7. Red_Blue (History)

    Now TEPCO is blaming software errors for their recurring radionuclide analysis errors.

    Yesterday I already though the high Tellurium-129 detection (70 min half life) in unit 1 turbine building basement was quite suspicious.

    Perhaps they should start to release the raw spectra for independent experts to study, instead of publishing their interpretations of the isotopes present, because people are starting to lose confidence in their results.

    At the very least they should hand those samples over to IAEA, which is already shipping their own samples around the world to different laboratories for further analysis.

    • Eve (History)

      Looks like they have it “ABOUT” under control. These results do not make sense due to the severe contrast with the earlier lot.

    • Spruce (History)

      That Te-129 report is not suspicious, it’s clearly wrong. There’s no combination of any parameters, including continuous, intermittant, or single recriticality, that would result in that kind of Te-129/Te-129m/Te-132 ratio. The nice thing about that ratio is that those isotopes have identical chemical properties, so migration differences will not impact it. It looks like that whatever software they are using is just not designed for analysis of these kind of complex spectra.

      My guess from the results so far is that the coincidence peak handling is woefully inadequate in the software they are using combined with lacking precursor/daughter sanity checks. Most of the suspcious detections so far have been in the high-energy range (1 MeV and above), where the trouble from coincidence peaks would be most pronounced.

    • rwendland (History)

      http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110401-703491.html

      (Dow Jones) [TEPCO] said Friday that problems with the computer analysis of radioactive materials only involved tellurium, and that it believes its measurements of radioactive iodine and cesium found in water and air at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are accurate.

  8. Red_Blue (History)

    It appears the first link in my post above is not showing (at least not in FireFox 4.0), so I’ll put my sources again here:

    NHK
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/01_28.html

    Kyodo
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/04/82524.html

  9. anonymous (History)

    While they are releasing raw data,

    1. Where are the high res closeups of the spent fuel pond from the global hawk?

    2. Where are the neutron detector realtime value charts from each unit and each spent pool?

    They have the photos for sure. Why hold them back. Unless the neutron detectors have been wiped out in each rpv (you can google and see they were installed: google fukushima neutron detector and you will find the 1990 paper describing their placement on the rpv).

    My conclusion: they are hiding the full extent of damage and subsequent recriticality events.

    • Eve (History)

      Likewise if there is I-131 in seawater near the Fukushima plant reportedly rose to 4300 times the regulated safety limit on Tuesday afternoon, please give us the hard facts on the OTHER radionuclides as well!

    • Eve (History)

      Some hi-res images copied from the comments yesterday. We are still waiting on the inside guts of Cluster Fukushima.

      http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp/daiichi-photos.htm

      There are also some higher res pics in a zip file to download.

    • bks (History)

      How can the levels of I-131 in the ocean be rising? According to the Official Story, we’re over two half-lives past the point at which it was being created.

      –bks

    • John Schilling (History)

      We are more than two half-lives past the point at which I-131 was being created in substantial quantities at Fukushima. That still leaves one-sixth of the I-131 present in the core at shutdown, still undecayed. And almost all of it still trapped in the spent fuel in the core. If there is a process by which I-131 is transported from the core to the outside environment at a significant rate, we would expect to see environmental I-131 increase even as total I-131 diminishes due to decay.

      Such a process is known to exist. Water (sea or fresh) is being injected into the reactors to cool the cores. Thanks to residual decay heat, this water boils – indeed, it is the boiling that carries away most of the heat. Boiling-hot water being rather corrosive, it leaches fission products from damaged fuel elements. I-131 being volatile, it is carried away with the steam – which is necessarily vented even if it does not leak.

      The hypothetical generation of I-131 in post-shutdown criticality events, is irrelevant. The total I-131 production due to the largest plausible post-shutdown criticality events would still be small compared to the one-sixth of the original core inventory. The presence, absence, rate of increase and/or rate of decrease of I-131 in the local environment is dominated by the transport of the original inventory, with any hypothetical post-shutdown I-131 creation being lost in the noise.

      No conclusions regarding post-shutdown criticality can be reasonably drawn from I-131 in the local environment. The conclusion that hot steam is leaking/being vented from the reactors, is amply supported by other evidence and comes as no surprise.

  10. China Hand (History)

    Since this is an unprecedented situation, and I am not afraid to make a fool of myself, let me propose a modest solution to the Fukushima problem. Instead of pouring in water, pour in lead or spent uranium. As I understand it, the most hair-raising problem is that one of the reactor vessels has breached, and a hot, nasty turd of plutonium-rich metal may be bubbling on the floor of the containment building. Seems to me trying to use evaporative cooling to try to get this thing chilled from the surface in is not going to work. Instead, melt slugs of metal in the sludge dilute the concentration of plutonium in the mass, and basically turn it into cool,low-grade MOX. Entomb and repeat on the other units as needed. The minor issue of how to deliver tons of metal into the lethal rubble I leave to the brave engineers of TEPCO. You’re welcome!

  11. Aldritch Parsons (History)

    Any information on the situation at The experimental fast reactor(JOYO) in Oarai; or the Plutonium reprocessing facilities in Tokai(which is near the Hitachitanaka thermal power plant which was reported damaged)?

  12. Gregory Matteson (History)

    Perhaps I should have said “poor judgement” rather than “incompetence”, but in my view those are at best close cousins. Even allowing for the enormous pressure they’re under, TEPCO knows they’re under global scrutiny. Unfortunately, the few results they announce are full of red flags, and then they issue corrections. There seems to be a lot of opinion agreeing that they’re not doing “sanity checks” When they get red flag results, that aren’t making sense to outside experts, they surely should double down, get a second opinion? Have someone else look at the raw data?

    They’re not building a lot of confidence out here.

  13. FSB (History)

    Is Shima the name of the head of TEPCO’s technical division?

    It would make sense then: Fuk U Shima!

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