Jeffrey LewisFEPC Info Sheet 4/3

The current problem of the moment at Fukushima is the amount of water with high levels of radioiodine flowing into the ocean from Unit 2. TEPCO tried to stop up the leak with a mixture of “polymer absorber, sawdust, and shredded newspapers.”

One wag emailed me, noting that this proves newspapers can do at least one thing that blogs cannot. He also sent along a picture of Blinky, the three-eyed fish from the Simpsons (right).

The Associated Press and Hiroko Kabchi and Ken Belson in the New York Times have additional coverage on the effort to stop the leak, which does not appear to be going well.

The other news is the arrival of US military barges (towed by JMSDF ships) carrying freshwater for pumping into the reactors.

Full-text of today’s FEPC info sheet 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 11:30AM (EST), April 4, 2011

  • Radiation Levels

o      The level of concentration of radioactive nuclide I-131 (2.5 x 101 Bq/cm3) from the seawater sampled near the seawater discharge point of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Station at 1:50PM (JST) on April 3 was approximately 625 times higher than the maximum permissible water concentration (4.0 x 10-2 Bq/cm3)  set by the government.

o      On April 4, TEPCO announced that it will discharge 10,000 tons of low level radioactive water stored at the Central Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility in order to accommodate higher level radioactive water. It will also discharge 1,500 tons of low level radioactive water which had accumulated at the sub-drain pits of Unit 5 and 6 in order to prevent important equipment of Unit 5 and 6 from being submerged. The original TEPCO press release is attached and also available at:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11040404-e.html

(At 9:30PM on April 4, NHK reported the discharge of water from the Central Radioactive Waste Facility has commenced around 7:00PM and from the sub-drain pits at 9:00PM.)

o      At 6:00PM on April 4, radiation level at main gate (approximately 3,281 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 118 micro Sv/hour.

o      At 6:00PM on April 4, radiation level at west gate (approximately 3,609 feet from Unit 2 reactor building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station: 72.1 micro Sv/hour.

o      Measurement results of environmental radioactivity level around Fukushima Nuclear Power Station announced at 7:00PM on April 4 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      On April 2, lighting was restored at the part of the turbine building.

o      At 7:20AM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool by thermography measurement: 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.299MPa.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, water level inside the reactor core: 1.65 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.15MPaabs.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, the temperature of the reactor vessel measured at the water supply nozzle: 469.0 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      As of 3:00PM on April 4, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      As of 7:00PM on April 4, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 reactor

o      On April 2, lighting was restored at the part of the turbine building.

o      On April 2, monitoring cameras were set at the trench outside the turbine building and at the basement floor of the turbine building to monitor the water levels.

o      At 9:30AM on April 2, the accumulated water was found in the pit (a vertical portion of an underground structure for housing electric cables) near the seawater intake and the radiation level of the water was over 1,000 milli Sv/hour. In addition, the water was observed entering the ocean from a crack (about 20cm = 7.9 inches) on the lateral surface of the pit.

o      At 4:25PM on April 2, concrete was injected into the pit in an attempt to stop the discharging of water. (injected again at 7:02PM)

o      At 1:47PM on April 3, polymer absorber, sawdust, and shredded newspapers were inserted in the pit in an attempt to stop the overflow of the discharge of water, until 2:30PM.

o      At 7:08AM on April 4, tracer (white colored bath agent) was inserted into the trench outside the turbine building to determine the route of the water leakage.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, pressure inside the reactor core: -0.018MPa.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, water level inside the reactor core: 1.5 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.10MPaabs.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, the temperature of the reactor vessel measured at the water supply nozzle: 282.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 11:00AM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      As of 3:00PM on April 4, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      As of 7:00PM on April 4, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor

o      On April 2, lighting was restored at the part of the turbine building.

o      At 9:52PM on April 2, TEPCO began to shoot freshwater aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete, until 12:54PM (approximately 75 tons in total).

o      At 7:20AM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool by thermography measurement: 134.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      At 9:30AM on April 4, pressure inside the reactor core: 0.005MPa.

o      At 9:30AM on April 4, water level inside the reactor core: 1.75 meters below the top of the fuel rods.

o      At 9:30AM on April 4, pressure inside the primary containment vessel: 0.1069MPaabs.

o      At 9:30AM on April 4, the temperature of the reactor vessel measured at the water supply nozzle: 194 degrees Fahrenheit. (This figure is under investigation.)

o      As of 3:00PM on April 4, the injection of freshwater into the reactor core continues.

o      At 5:03PM on April 4, TEPCO began to shoot freshwater aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete.

o      As of 7:00PM on April 4, preparation to recover and transfer the accumulated water at the turbine building continues.

o      As of 7:00PM on April 4, approximately 4,908 tons of water in total has been shot into the spent fuel storage pool.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 reactor

o      On April 2, lighting was restored at the part of the turbine building.

o      At 5:14PM on April 3, TEPCO began to shoot freshwater aimed at the spent fuel pool, with a specialized vehicle normally used for pumping concrete, until 10:16PM (approximately 180 tons in total).

o      At 7:20AM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool by thermography measurement: 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

o      As of 7:00PM on April 4, approximately 1,473.2 tons of water in total has been shot into the spent fuel storage pool.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5 reactor

o      At 2:00PM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 94.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Unit 6 reactor

o      At 2:00PM on April 4, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 70.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fukushima Daiichi Common Spent Fuel Pool

o      At 8:10AM on April 3, the temperature of the spent fuel pool: 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Others

o      At 9:10AM on April 2, a US Military barge (No.2) carrying freshwater docked at the dedicated port at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, towed by a vessel of the Marine Self Defense Forces.

o      At 10:20AM on April 2, transferring freshwater from the US Military barge (No.1) to a filtrate tank resumed, until 4:40PM.

o      At 12:12PM on April 4, a US Military barge (No.2) carrying freshwater docked again at the dedicated port at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, after refilling the freshwater.

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. yousaf (History)

    Timely new CRS reports on Japan and nuclear power:

    “The Japanese Nuclear Incident: Technical Aspects,” March 31, 2011.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41728.pdf

    “Nuclear Power Plant Sites: Maps of Seismic Hazards and Population Centers,” March 29, 2011.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41729.pdf

    “Japan’s 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Economic Effects and Implications for the United States,” March 25, 2011

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R41702.pdf

  2. FSB (History)

    I assume the US military will not be getting reimbursed by TEPCO for the nuclear power disaster.

    Everyone, even taxpayers from other countries, pay for the ills of foreign nuclear disasters.

    This is why nuclear power is “cheap”.

  3. antonio (History)

    Hellou, shouldn´t it be “FEPC Info Sheet 4/4”?
    Regards

  4. raybender (History)

    @FSB, remined us again how many people have died because of this accident? Oh yeah, NONE. Now, how many people have died from coal-mining accidents in the last three weeks? (http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/21/dozens-feared-dead-in-pakistan-coal-mine-accident/)

    How many will die from climate change?

    You really should try and get over your radio-phobia. It’s not rational, and public policy decisions based on irrational fears are harmful.

    • FSB (History)

      Raybender — remind me where I state how many people died.

      I am talking purely economics, ok?

      If nuclear energy cannot live without government subsidies 50 years on, it ought not live. These subsidies include insurance subsidies and tax-payer bailout clean ups. At least BP paid for itself.

      I care a hoot how many people died.

      I do care about bailing out the nuclear power industry with my fucking tax dollars.

      Get your facts straight and dump the straw-men.

    • Anon (History)

      Oh, and concerns over nuclear _are_ legitimate, the piss-poor economics of nuclear aside:

      http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110330/full/471549a.html?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20110331

    • FSB (History)

      BTW, Price of coal needs to be raised too to reflect its knock-on health effects.

      I’m fairly equal-opportunity when it comes to being against government bail-outs.

      They pervert the market.

    • bks (History)

      Raybender, many died. They were up and down the coast for 30 km from the Fukushima NPS, trapped or injured in freezing temperatures, but no one could come for them. They, and the fortunate ones that died instantly, are still there, mouldering corpses all, bathed in the invisible glow.

      –bks

    • Spruce (History)

      While those indirect “subsidies” to nuclear industry are true, they exist for almost all industries, not just power generation. Similar liability limitations exist either de jure or de facto in, for example, chemical industries and hydro power generation (a dam failure would create destruction and losses that dwarf anything nuclear power can cause).

      And while you may not like the nuclear liability requirements, the requirements actually guarantee a much larger capability for reparations than industries in other areas can do. The required insurances guarantee that there is capability for given amount of payment. While in other businesses there might be in theory a “limitless” responsibility, in practice in that kind of a situation the responsible company would just end up in bankruptcy where the amount of payment would be much less than what the nuclear libility insurances are guaranteed to pay out.

      In effect, bankruptcy rules limit the true payment capability in ANY industry. In a major catastrophe the repair costs will ALWAYS fall on government, no matter what the industry. At least in nuclear industry there is some prepardness for paying part of the costs, which is leaps and bounds above pretty much any other industry.

    • wasd (History)

      April 4 2011, raybender:

      @FSB, remined us again how many people have died because of this accident? Oh yeah, NONE.

      April 3 2011, world-nuclear-news.org – Deaths confirmed at Fukushima Daiichi:

      Two workers missing since the natural disasters of 11 March have now been found dead in the turbine building of Fukushima Daiichi unit 4.

      Kazuhito Kokubo and Yoshiki Terashima, aged 24 and 21 respectively, were found in the ‘-1’ level of unit 4’s turbine hall. The chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tsunehisa Katsumata, said they had been “working to protect the safety of the Fukushima power station after the earthquake and tsunami.” Similar basement levels of other reactors on the site have been found to be flooded, possibly by tsunami water flowing through cabling trenches close to the seafront.

      One worker also died at Fukushina Daini after suffering serious injuries and becoming trapped in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack of one of the units during the earthquake.

      These young people have been reported to be missing in a turbine building IIRC at least since the second day of the disaster. The first increases in radiation were measured in a turbine building and from the looks of things tsunami damage to stuff including generators in the turbine building is what caused a lot of the trouble. With each passing day the odds that their bodies had been covered up under (contaminated?) debris mud and/or water or washed out to sea increased.

      I myself have had the death toll among workers wrong, I misremembered the report of the crane incident that left someone stuck while dying as being at the Fukushima Daiichi plant rather than the Fukushima Daini plant. There have also been leaks and cleanups at the reprocessing plant in the North. It not guaranteed that the backup power at the other plants along the cost survived the tsunami better than the equipment at Fukushina Daiichi, this while the rolling blackout and serious potential powerline destroying aftershocks continue.

      The lack of coverage of deaths and other dangers is understandable… the cold hard fact is that the disaster itself is just a bigger deal that has large parts of the region fearing for the food and drinking water they have for their children.

      Every step along the way I felt that the situation could not possibly get worse, and then it did. That said the number of deaths so far and the number of people found with contamination at the evacuation sites pale in comparison to the number of bodies recovered from the quake and tsunami rubble, and the number of missing. The health damage, which the measurements pretty much guarantee there will be, will be long term. Especially once you consider there will be three or four massive piles of radioactive waste on the seismological fault-line coast during rising sealevels for many years to come. And that “many years” is assuming a dangerous cleanup rather than three or four new sarcophaguous like the one that is currently getting a new tomb around it because it is leaking stuff into the water near Chernobyl. They have to build it off-site because the radiation levels near the current tomb are too high.

      Even with all that as of yet the low number of deaths is a miracle, it is especially fortunate that no one was killed in the massive hydrogen explosions. In a way that is as much of a real world argument about the risks of nuclear as one can have. Just never ever make that argument while overlooking the people that DID die and that WILL have cancer. Did you hear about how there were not enough dosimeters for all the people working on the site?

    • Anon (History)

      Spruce says: “In effect, bankruptcy rules limit the true payment capability in ANY industry. In a major catastrophe the repair costs will ALWAYS fall on government, no matter what the industry. At least in nuclear industry there is some prepardness for paying part of the costs, which is leaps and bounds above pretty much any other industry.”

      Great — so the nuclear industry will help abolish the Price-Anderson Act, right?

      The point is not that IN THE EVENT of a disaster that nuclear is bailed out (this applies to other industries also), but that they can can get CHEAP INSURANCE, and are thus subsidized in price.

      Let the industry buy insurance on the free market, sans Price-Anderson and let’s see what happens.

      Also, disasters in Wind, solar etc. are few and far between.

      Nuclear is troglodytic and bailed out *continuously* by taxpayers for 50 years.

    • Spruce (History)

      “The point is not that IN THE EVENT of a disaster that nuclear is bailed out (this applies to other industries also), but that they can can get CHEAP INSURANCE, and are thus subsidized in price.

      Let the industry buy insurance on the free market, sans Price-Anderson and let’s see what happens.”

      Be careful what you wish for. If you repeal Price-Anderson, you also repeal the requirement to buy the disaster insurance. While nuclear power can get cheaper insurance, the other risk industries don’t require that insurance at all – and don’t carry it as rule.

      So, despite that support for insurance, nuclear power plants are forced to pay MORE for disaster insurance than equivalent other industries. Even subsidized insurance is more expensive than no insurance.

    • BungalowJill (History)

      @Raybender. There is mounting evidence that the impact on health of Chernobyl have been seriously underestimated over the longer term (WHO Minority Report on Chernobyl). You might be interested in these as a start: http://www.llrc.org/health/subtopic/russianrefs.htm
      http://www.ippnw-students.org/chernobyl/powerpoint.html
      http//www.bmu.de/files/strahlenschutz/schriftenreihe_reaktorsicherheit_streahlensschutz/application/pdf/schriftenreihe_rs688_appendix9.pdf.

  5. FSB (History)
  6. Anon (History)

    FSB is quite correct: the Nuclear Power “industry” gets much bigger bailouts from taxpayers than almost any other actual free-market industry.

    This has been going on for more than 50 years. Nuclear Power cannot survive without bailouts.

    The nuclear industry may be the most subsidized in U.S. history, in fact.

    It is completely a product of U.S. government research and development. Having emerged from massive government investments, the nuclear industry has never cut its umbilical cord tie to the government.

    One critical, ongoing support for the industry is the Price-Anderson Indemnity Act, which limits the liability of the nuclear industry (both plant operators, and suppliers and vendors) in the event of a major nuclear accident. Under Price-Anderson, each utility is required to maintain $200 million in liability insurance per reactor.

    If claims following an accident exceed that amount, all other nuclear operators are required to pay up to $83.9 million for each reactor they operate. Under the terms of Price-Anderson, neither the owner of a unit which has a major accident nor the entire utility can be held liable for more than these sums. As of August 1998, this system capped insurance coverage for any accident at $9.43 billion.

    When the Price-Anderson Act was adopted in 1957, at the dawn of the commercial nuclear industry, “the Act was intended to overcome reluctance to participate [in the transition to private nuclear industry] by the nascent industry worried by the possibility of catastrophic, uninsured claims resulting from a large nuclear accident.”

    Leaving aside for the moment the ecological and economic risks which should disqualify continuation of, let alone support for, the nuclear industry, assume that such a rationale was defensible at the time, as the government tried to promote development of an energy source which many believed would be safe, cheap and abundant.

    But watch how the rationalization perpetuates itself. “By 1965,” the NRC reports, “when the first 10-year extension of the Act was being considered, a handful of nuclear power reactors was coming into operation, and the nuclear industry considered itself on the verge of expanding into large-scale nuclear power generation. Thus, the need for continued operation of the Price-Anderson system for the forthcoming 10 years was believed to be critical for the unrestricted development of nuclear power.”

    A decade later, when another extension of the Act was being considered, the industry was more buoyantly optimistic than it ever had been or would be again. “With dozens of plants in operation or under construction and with hundreds more being contemplated to be in operation by the end of the century,” the industry urged that the Act be extended rapidly so that “any uncertainty about extension would not disrupt nuclear power development,” says the NRC.

    Now the industry is in decline. There have been no new orders for nuclear plants for the past 25 years, and aging plants are beginning to be shuttered. The original rationale for the Act is no longer plausible. But nothing has changed with respect to Price Anderson. Indeed, the NRC argues, “Given industry perception of the continuing need for Price-Anderson, and in view of the lack of new orders in plants, the situation is in some respects similar to what it was when Congress saw the need for enactment of the original Price-Anderson Act.”

    (In one way, things are worse than they were in 1957: with nuclear plants closing due to aging, safety concerns, inefficiency and license expiration, the Price-Anderson liability cap will progressively decline in future years. If the upper end of nuclear plant closing projections occurs, available insurance funds could shrink to $4.5 billion in 2013.)

    The industry has gone through a full life cycle, but somehow it never outgrew the need for a federal insurance scheme and liability cap. The result has been a massive subsidy to nuclear power companies. Using the NRC’s conservative numbers for the upper limit on a worst-case scenario accident and on the probability of such an accident occurring, Professors Jeffrey Dubin and Geoffrey Rothwell estimated the cumulative Price-Anderson subsidy to the nuclear industry through 1988 to be $111 billion in 1985 dollars. This estimate is based on NRC data on the cost of worst-case accidents — data which is conservative because it does not include health effects.

    If, again, we leave aside the demerits of nuclear power, there could be justification for a federal scheme to promote risk sharing in a context which poses a (hypothetically) very small chance of an extremely large loss. (It should be emphasized, however, that this is exactly the situation for which the private insurance and reinsurance markets are designed.) But there is no justification for combining such a scheme with an overall liability cap.

    The $9.4 billion liability is nowhere near sufficient to pay for the human health and property damages that could result from a nuclear meltdown. Nuclear Regulatory Commission studies have estimated costs in a worst-case scenario at more than $300 billion for a single catastrophe.

    The nuclear industry’s real insurance program is not the $9.4 billion scheme of Price-Anderson, but the free insurance provided by the public. In the event of a catastrophic accident, after the $9.4 billion was spent, it is the federal government that would inevitably cover the costs — with some costs probably absorbed by victims who have their injuries compounded by inadequate compensation.

    Price-Anderson is a textbook example of the hybrid insurance-liability cap program that should be prohibited per se.

    “Many nuclear suppliers express the view that without Price-Anderson coverage, they would not participate in the nuclear industry,” reports the NRC.

    If an industry which has benefited from massive government research and development and other subsidies for more than four decades, and which creates staggering, environmentally dangerous waste disposal problems and poses enormous risks to human health, cannot survive without government support, then it should not survive.

  7. bks (History)

    “Plant radiation monitor says levels immeasurable

    A radiation monitor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers there are exposed to immeasurable levels of radiation.

    The monitor told NHK that no one can enter the plant’s No. 1 through 3 reactor buildings because radiation levels are so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. He said even levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places.

    Pools and streams of water contaminated by high-level radiation are being found throughout the facility.

    The monitor said he takes measurements as soon as he finds water, because he can’t determine whether it’s contaminated just by looking at it. He said he’s very worried about the safety of workers there.

    Contaminated water and efforts to remove it have been hampering much-needed work to cool the reactors.

    The monitor expressed frustration, likening the situation to looking up a mountain that one has to climb, without having taken a step up.

    Tuesday, April 05, 2011 19:51 +0900 (JST)”

    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_38.html

    –bks

  8. FSB (History)

    Spruce’s business model for nuclear power companies is intriguing: bankruptcy. i.e. we will make money, but when a nuclear accident happens we will declare bankruptcy.

    All modes of power should have their prices raised to have an amount set aside for accidents. Only, in the case of nuclear, the accidents are much more massive and expensive to clean up than in other modes of power generation.

    That is why nuclear has never been an economically viable solution. That is why no one will insure nuclear power plans without the Price-Anderson Act.

    Coal too is bad and ought to have its price raised.

    Bankruptcy and tax-payer bailouts as an implicit part of the nuclear business model is true, but flawed.

    • Spruce (History)

      “Spruce’s business model for nuclear power companies is intriguing: bankruptcy. i.e. we will make money, but when a nuclear accident happens we will declare bankruptcy.”

      Are you intentionally misrepresenting my point? That business model is the standard for OTHER industries that have small but existing risk of a catastrophic accident. Industries like hydro power generation, chemical plants, and oil refineries. As a rule, they don’t carry any insurance that would cover that kind of catastrophic insurance for the very reason that it’s cheaper just to declare bankruptcy. Those insurance rules and limits in nuclear industry mean that what is the standard fare in those other industries is NOT possible with nuclear power.

      “Only, in the case of nuclear, the accidents are much more massive and expensive to clean up than in other modes of power generation.”

      Except hydro power. A big dam break would dwarf everything that nuclear could possibly cause. Case in point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banqiao_Dam#1975_Flood

      Especially some of the big dams in the west US would cause huge devastation as there are big cities and large number of expensive industries directly downstream.

  9. Eve (History)

    Three eyed fish pop up….

    “High level of cesium detected in sand lances”
    http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/05_34.html

  10. Magpie (History)

    Anon at al: What’s the Price-Anderson Act got to do with a plant in Japan? Hard to argue that no new plants are being built, and that “the industry” can’t exist without a particular US law when… well, look. New plants. Different laws. People who talk funny.

    Welcome to earth. It is round.


    On topic: do we know how near the outlet the sample was taken?

    I mean, “near” could reasonably be anything from a few centimeters to 50 kilometers away, depending on who’s talking and in what context. Without more detail the figure given is pretty meaningless.

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