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Print Page - Japan Nuke Disaster

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Current Events - Worldwide => In the News => Topic started by: I.M.E. on April 16, 2011, 08:25:21 AM

Title: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: I.M.E. on April 16, 2011, 08:25:21 AM
Unconfirmed sources say the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the world's largest private electricity company, will be put under close government supervision before being put it into bankruptcy and thoroughly restructuring its assets.  Why didn't we do the same thing with all the huge companies taxpayers were forced to bail out?  Oh, yeah, I forgot, this is the People's Democratic Republic of AmeriKa.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: billy-bob on April 17, 2011, 02:47:36 PM
Probably because the idiots say, " it's just business."

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on April 19, 2011, 04:04:11 PM
Fukushima is a freakin' nightmare! (

High levels of radiation discovered at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could disrupt Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s timeline for a cold shutdown of the crippled facility, TEPCO officials acknowledged.

On April 18 unexpectedly high levels of radiation were detected in water in the storage pool containing spent fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor, the officials said.

TEPCO officials believe the radiation may have been triggered by damage to the spent fuel rods. One possibility being looked at is the damage was caused by debris falling into the pool when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11.

An analysis of water samples taken from the storage pool on April 16 found cesium-134 at 160,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter, cesium-137 at 150,000 becquerels and iodine-131 at 4,100 becquerels.

Ordinarily, the level of radioactivity in the pools is much lower.

Another problem area is the building housing the No. 1 reactor. TEPCO officials used a U.S.-made robot on April 16 to measure radiation levels and detected radiation of 270 millisieverts per hour in the No. 1 reactor building.

That level of radiation means a worker could spend less than an hour in the area before exceeding the allowable dosage.

The exposure would be so high workers could not re-enter the area for several years, officials said. If radiation levels remain at high levels, TEPCO's experienced workforce would all quickly reach maximum radiation exposure levels, severely slowing the effort to stabilize the plant.

Radiation measurements were also taken at another entrance to the No. 1 reactor building and found levels of 49 millisieverts per hour. Radiation at an entrance to the No. 3 reactor building was also measured at 57 millisieverts per hour.

Those are still high levels and workers who remain in that environment for five hours will reach the maximum amount of radiation exposure allowed.

Huge volumes of water contaminated with radiation are also expected to slow work to bring the Fukushima reactors under control.

Officials of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said April 18 that a pool of water about five meters deep had been found in the basement of the building housing the No. 4 reactor.

Radiation levels as high as 100 millisieverts per hour were detected on the water's surface.

About 54,000 tons of radiation-contaminated water also sits in the basements of the turbine buildings for the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors.

The radiation level in the basement of the turbine building for the No. 2 reactor is especially high.

Finding storage space for the contaminated water is a pressing issue, as is what to do with the rubble on the plant grounds that is also contaminated with radiation.

NISA official Hidehiko Nishiyama said, "The situation is very serious. It is desirable to lower the level of radiation workers are exposed to by using anything that will shield the radiation as well as by decontaminating the workers. We will have to think of ways to carry that out from now."

TEPCO officials have plans to fill the core containment vessels at the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors with water to submerge the pressure containers that hold the fuel rods.

To achieve TEPCO's road map objective of a cold shutdown of the reactors after six to nine months, officials are seeking to restore the cooling system rather than depend on pumping in water to the reactor cores.

However, the main equipment and piping used in the continuous cooling system are all located within the reactor buildings. Workers will have to work in those buildings to inspect and repair the equipment and piping.

As a contingency plan in the event the cooling system cannot be restored, preparations are being made to install heat exchangers that use cool air rather than water. That installation work will also require workers to enter the reactor buildings.

At the No. 2 reactor, holes have opened in the suppression pool connected to the containment vessel so repairs will be needed before the No. 2 reactor can be submerged. However, there is the possibility that radiation levels of several dozens of sieverts are present near the suppression pool. Such levels would lead to immediate health problems for workers.

Meanwhile, NISA officials on April 18 for the first time publicly admitted that some of the fuel rods in the No. 1 to No. 3 reactor cores had melted in the wake of the March 11 quake and tsunami.

NISA officials gave a report to the government's Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan.

NISA officials had alluded to the possibility of a melting of the fuel rods, especially after hydrogen explosions rocked the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors. However, no NISA official had actually stated that some of the fuel rods had melted until April 18.

NISA officials said that based on an analysis of the radioactive material collected and their radiation concentration, there has likely occurred a melting of the fuel pellets contained within the fuel rods.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on April 19, 2011, 04:10:32 PM
At Chernobyl they're getting ready to build a new cover over the damaged reactor which will cost billions. The sarcophagus that houses the reactor now was just a temporary fix and is leaking radiation in several places. The idea is that this new cover will seal in the radiation and in 100 years it will be safe enough to go in and clean it up.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: I.M.E. on April 19, 2011, 04:45:55 PM
I thought I heard plutonium is one of the different types of radioactive materials and has a half life of 100 thousand years.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on April 19, 2011, 06:31:10 PM
Maybe they are being overly optimistic by thinking 100 years will be long enough. I think the fuel rods at Chernobyl melted right through the reactor and are embedded into the concrete below in a big melted blob. I'm not sure if the high levels of radiation are coming from the plutonium or the radioactive byproducts of fission which have much shorter half lives than plutonium.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on April 19, 2011, 06:48:03 PM
I found some info on the half life of plutonium. The half lives of different isotopes of plutonium vary greatly. Plutonium 244 has a half life of 80 million years and is found in trace quantities in nature.

The most important isotope of plutonium is plutonium-239, with a half-life of 24,100 years. Plutonium-239 is the isotope most useful for nuclear weapons. Plutonium-239 and 241 are fissile, meaning the nuclei of their atoms can break apart by being bombarded by slow moving thermal neutrons, releasing energy, gamma radiation and more neutrons. These can therefore sustain a nuclear chain reaction, leading to applications in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors.

Plutonium-238 has a half-life of 88 years and emits alpha particles. It is a heat source in radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which are used to power some spacecraft. Plutonium-240 has a high rate of spontaneous fission, raising the neutron flux of any sample it is in. The presence of plutonium-240 limits a sample's usability for weapons or reactor fuel, and determines its grade. Plutonium isotopes are expensive and inconvenient to separate, so particular isotopes are usually manufactured in specialized reactors. (

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster - It's Not Over Yet!
Post by: Admin on June 05, 2011, 04:21:21 PM
Part I: Exclusive Arnie Gundersen Interview: The Dangers of Fukushima Are Worse and Longer-lived Than We Think

"I have said it's worse than Chernobyl and Iíll stand by that. There was an enormous amount of radiation given out in the first two to three weeks of the event. And add the wind blowing in-land. It could very well have brought the nation of Japan to its knees. I mean, there is so much contamination that luckily wound up in the Pacific Ocean as compared to across the nation of Japan - it could have cut Japan in half. But now the winds have turned, so they are heading to the south toward Tokyo and now my concern and my advice to friends that if there is a severe aftershock and the Unit 4 building collapses, leave. We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed."

So cautions Arnie Gundersen, widely-regarded to be the best nuclear analyst covering Japan's Fukushima disaster. The situation on the ground at the crippled reactors remains precarious and at a minimum it will be years before it can be hoped to be truly contained. In the near term, the reactors remain particularly vulnerable to sizable aftershocks, which still have decent probability of occuring. On top of this is a growing threat of 'hot particle' contamination risk to more populated areas as weather patterns shift with the typhoon season and groundwater seepage.

In Part 1 of this interview, Chris and Arnie recap the damage wrought to Fukushima's reactors by the tsunami, the steps TEPCO is taking to address it, and the biggest operational risks that remain at this time. In Part 2, they dive into the health risks still posed by the situation there and what individuals should do (including those on the US west coast) if it worsens.

If you have not yet read Part I, available free to all readers, please click here>> ( to read it first.

Arnie Gundersen Interview (Part II): Protecting Yourself If The Situation Worsens
Friday, June 3, 2011

Executive Summary

  • Identifying the health dangers from radiation & contamination
  • Steps those living in Japan and the US West Coast should be taking today
  • Precautions to take with food
  • The implications of radioactive seawater
  • Urgent steps to take in a worst-case scenario if reactor 4 collapses

Play the Podcast (

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: billy-bob on June 05, 2011, 05:22:00 PM
In GOD we trust. That's my motto!

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on July 11, 2011, 06:20:18 AM
Fukushima: It's much worse than you think

Scientific experts believe Japan's nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also led to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed.

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water - as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"

Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

"The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor," Gundersen added. "TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water."

Independent scientists have been monitoring the locations of radioactive "hot spots" around Japan, and their findings are disconcerting.

"We have 20 nuclear cores exposed, the fuel pools have several cores each, that is 20 times the potential to be released than Chernobyl," said Gundersen. "The data I'm seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man's-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can't clean all this up. We still have radioactive wild boar in Germany, 30 years after Chernobyl."

Radiation monitors for children

Japan's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns.

TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.

Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable.

In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant.

The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.

"There is and should be concern about younger people being exposed, and the Japanese government will be giving out radiation monitors to children," Dr MV Ramana, a physicist with the Programme on Science and Global Security at Princeton University who specialises in issues of nuclear safety, told Al Jazeera.

Dr Ramana explained that he believes the primary radiation threat continues to be mostly for residents living within 50km of the plant, but added: "There are going to be areas outside of the Japanese government's 20km mandatory evacuation zone where radiation is higher. So that could mean evacuation zones in those areas as well."

Gundersen points out that far more radiation has been released than has been reported.

"They recalculated the amount of radiation released, but the news is really not talking about this," he said. "The new calculations show that within the first week of the accident, they released 2.3 times as much radiation as they thought they released in the first 80 days."

According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These are referred to as "hot particles".

"We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters."

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

"These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can't measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April."

Blame the US?

In reaction to the Fukushima catastrophe, Germany is phasing out all of its nuclear reactors over the next decade. In a referendum vote this Monday, 95 per cent of Italians voted in favour of blocking a nuclear power revival in their country. A recent newspaper poll in Japan shows nearly three-quarters of respondents favour a phase-out of nuclear power in Japan.

Why have alarms not been sounded about radiation exposure in the US?

Nuclear operator Exelon Corporation has been among Barack Obama's biggest campaign donors, and is one of the largest employers in Illinois where Obama was senator. Exelon has donated more than $269,000 to his political campaigns, thus far. Obama also appointed Exelon CEO John Rowe to his Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

Dr Shoji Sawada is a theoretical particle physicist and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University in Japan.
He is concerned about the types of nuclear plants in his country, and the fact that most of them are of US design.

"Most of the reactors in Japan were designed by US companies who did not care for the effects of earthquakes," Dr Sawada told Al Jazeera. "I think this problem applies to all nuclear power stations across Japan."

Using nuclear power to produce electricity in Japan is a product of the nuclear policy of the US, something Dr Sawada feels is also a large component of the problem.

"Most of the Japanese scientists at that time, the mid-1950s, considered that the technology of nuclear energy was under development or not established enough, and that it was too early to be put to practical use," he explained. "The Japan Scientists Council recommended the Japanese government not use this technology yet, but the government accepted to use enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power stations, and was thus subjected to US government policy."

As a 13-year-old, Dr Sawada experienced the US nuclear attack against Japan from his home, situated just 1400 metres from the hypocentre of the Hiroshima bomb.

"I think the Fukushima accident has caused the Japanese people to abandon the myth that nuclear power stations are safe," he said. "Now the opinions of the Japanese people have rapidly changed. Well beyond half the population believes Japan should move towards natural electricity."  

A problem of infinite proportions

Dr Ramana expects the plant reactors and fuel cores to be cooled enough for a shutdown within two years.
"But it is going to take a very long time before the fuel can be removed from the reactor," he added. "Dealing with the cracking and compromised structure and dealing with radiation in the area will take several years, there's no question about that."

Dr Sawada is not as clear about how long a cold shutdown could take, and said the problem will be "the effects from caesium-137 that remains in the soil and the polluted water around the power station and underground. It will take a year, or more time, to deal with this".

Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation.

"They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."

Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.

"Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."

Gundersen's assessment of solving this crisis is grim.

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."

Dr Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely.

"Until we know how to safely dispose of the radioactive materials generated by nuclear plants, we should postpone these activities so as not to cause further harm to future generations," he explained. "To do otherwise is simply an immoral act, and that is my belief, both as a scientist and as a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing."

Gundersen believes it will take experts at least ten years to design and implement the plan.

"So ten to 15 years from now maybe we can say the reactors have been dismantled, and in the meantime you wind up contaminating the water," Gundersen said. "We are already seeing Strontium [at] 250 times the allowable limits in the water table at Fukushima. Contaminated water tables are incredibly difficult to clean. So I think we will have a contaminated aquifer in the area of the Fukushima site for a long, long time to come."

Unfortunately, the history of nuclear disasters appears to back Gundersen's assessment.

"With Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, and now with Fukushima, you can pinpoint the exact day and time they started," he said, "But they never end." (

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Rick on July 13, 2011, 02:34:05 PM
That post was too big.

You should try to keep it concise and to the point. :spanked:

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: billy-bob on July 14, 2011, 08:29:34 AM
Nothing ever happens until something happens. Hindsight should be 20/20!

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: Admin on July 21, 2011, 08:08:04 AM
The point of the article is that nuclear power is not as safe as the nuke industry would have you believe. I thought all of the information in it was important and didn't want to leave anything out. The article illustrates the seriousness of the incident, which the nuclear industry would like to see swept under the rug. If for some reason that article becomes unavailable online then it's still available here. If you think it's too long to read then just ignore it.

Title: Re: Japan Nuke Disaster
Post by: billy-bob on July 21, 2011, 01:36:28 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article and believe more should be know by the public about it. What is done with the spent rods is my main irritant.