Photo taken by the AP photographer David Guttenfelder:
Photos of Fukushima Daiichi. Journalists were allowed to tour the facility.
Friends abroad have asked me how things are going here in Japan. Here’s a good summary of just how far we haven’t come in eight months. Keep in mind that as the fuel has melted out of the containment vessel, measuring the temperature in the vessel will not be a completely accurate measurement of the true temperature of the fuel. So when authorities say “We have achieved cooling of reactor Number whatever”, take it with a large grain of salt. Correct me if I’m wrong.
8 months into nuclear crisis, progress and uncertainties
Temperatures have cooled, the amount of radioactive substances released is lower and emergency equipment is working at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.
But eight months after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis, TEPCO still doesn’t know exactly what is going on within the damaged reactor buildings.
The government and TEPCO plan to bring the plant to a stable state of “cold shutdown” within this year. The limited amount of information available indicates that progress has been made toward that goal, despite the use of temporary facilities to cool down the reactors.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is checking whether TEPCO is on track under its road map for a cold shutdown.
Two requirements in the road map to declare a state of cold shutdown are that temperatures at the bottom of the pressure vessels in the reactors must remain below 100 degrees and that the amount of radioactive materials discharged must be curbed.
On Nov. 12, Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear accident, said the government will add another requirement: The temperatures of melted fuel that leaked from the pressure vessels must also stay below 100 degrees.
But under the current circumstances, it will be difficult to measure such temperatures.
High radiation levels make it difficult for work to be done inside the reactor buildings. Instruments that could have provided a clearer picture of the internal situation at the reactors were rendered inoperable by the March 11 tsunami.
TEPCO officials will have to depend on other data to calculate the temperatures of the melted fuel.
The instruments that work showed that the temperatures at the bottom of the pressure vessels of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors, which suffered meltdowns, were all below 100 degrees in late September.
On Nov. 12, the temperatures were between 30 and 70 degrees.
The systems in place to cool the reactors, including 4 kilometers of hoses, are temporary measures.
TEPCO says the current equipment can withstand another big earthquake or tsunami. But to be on the safe side, it has also constructed temporary sea walls and multiple water-supply systems to maintain the cooling capabilities.
TEPCO is also considering setting up smaller but more powerful cooling facilities.
The discharge of radioactive materials from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors has decreased to 100 million becquerels per hour, or one-8-millionth the amount just after the accident started in March.
Under the road map, the annual amount of new exposure to radiation on the edge of the plant’s compound will be reduced to 1 millisievert or lower. TEPCO released provisional figures showing that the level has already been cut to 0.2 millisievert.
TEPCO this year plans to complete the installment of air purification equipment in the No. 1 to No. 3 reactor buildings to further reduce the amount of radioactive materials that leak out.
Accumulated radioactive water is another problem that must be addressed at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
In late October, the utility started constructing shields to prevent contaminated water in the reactor buildings from leaking to the sea, even if it seeps into the ground first.
Water pumped into the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors becomes highly contaminated by radiation from the damaged fuel. In addition, underground water has flowed into the reactor buildings, increasing the amount of radioactive water that must be dealt with.
A total of 90,470 tons of water has accumulated in the reactor buildings, waste disposal facilities that store the water, and other facilities at the site.
The water is processed at purification facilities, and part of the purified water is used to cool the reactors. But the remaining water is stored in tanks, and totaled about 89,000 tons as of Nov. 8.
After about three years, the government and TEPCO plan to start decommissioning the reactors. After 10 years, they plan to remove the fuel from the reactors. The process is expected to continue for more than 30 years.
Power plant chief details Fukushima nuclear disaster
OKUMA, Fukushima — Masao Yoshida, head of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, elaborated on the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, saying he and other plant workers thought at the outset of the disaster that they were going to die.
He also said in the first post-disaster interview with the media at the plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 12 that Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant staff did not know initially what was going on at the plant’s reactors, including a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor on March 12.
Read entire interview at:
INPO Report on Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident
The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) based in Atlanta, Georgia has issued the report on the early days of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident with overview and timeline of the accident.
The 104-page document is available here:http://cryptome.org/0005/daiichi-inpo.pdf
Read more at:
and from ENENEWS:
Reactors No. 5 and 6 were NOT in cold shutdown after quake, implies report by US nuclear industry — Cooling at Spent Fuel Pool No. 5 stopped until cables installed — Fresh fuel had been loaded into both reactors
Special Report on the Nuclear Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, INPO (Institute of Nuclear Power Operations), November 2011 [Emphasis Added]:
- “Four of the five emergency diesel generators on units 5 and 6 were inoperable after the tsunami”
- “One air-cooled emergency diesel generator on Unit 6 continued to function and supplied electrical power to Unit 6, and later to Unit 5, to maintain cooling to the reactor and spent fuel pool.”
- “Unit 5 had been shut down and in an outage since January 3, 2011. Fuel had been loaded into the reactor and the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) reassembled.”
- “Unit 6 had been shut down and in an outage since August 14, 2010. Fuel had been loaded into the reactor and the RPV reassembled.”
- “The Unit 6 air-cooled EDG and portions of the electrical distribution system survived the tsunami and were used toreestablish cold shutdown on units 5 and 6.”
- “After the tsunami impacted the site, operators were able to use the 6B emergency diesel generator (EDG) to provide power to cooling systems for the Unit 6 spent fuel pool. After installing temporary cables, the 6B EDG [generator] provided power to Unit 5 spent fuel pool cooling.”
Panel to analyze long-period motion from quakes
A panel for Japan’s Meteorological Agency has begun looking into measures against long-period ground motions caused by earthquakes.
The agency set up the panel to better understand the impact of long-period ground motions, whose cycle is more than several seconds. Long jolts, which often occur during powerful earthquakes, are known to violently shake high-rise buildings.
In the first meeting of the panel on Monday, the agency explained the effects of long-period ground motions during the March 11th earthquake.
It says that more than 30 surveyed high-rise buildings in Tokyo did not suffer structural damage, but that people inside half of the buildings had difficulty standing because of the swaying.
It says long-period ground motions damaged a tall building in Osaka, hundreds of kilometers to the southwest of the quake’s epicenter. It also damaged large oil tanks in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast to the west.
The agency plans to develop a scale to indicate any impact of long-period motions on buildings and release the information to the public immediately after a quake.
The panel will discuss what exactly should be told to the public and through what media. It plans to come up with a recommendation by next spring.
Monday, November 14, 2011 15:11 +0900 (JST)
Antinuclear-plant protesters rally in Fukuoka
FUKUOKA — A series of large antinuclear rallies took place in Fukuoka on Sunday with the organizer saying more than 15,000 people, including from South Korea, took part calling for dismantlement of all nuclear power plants in Japan.
|Antinuclear protesters, which event organizers say numbered more than 15,000, make themselves heard on the streets of Fukuoka. KYODO PHOTO|
Yukinobu Aoyagi, a leading member of the events, told a gathering in a park in the southwestern city, “We’ll work together so as not to see our soil contaminated with radiation.”
Lee Dae Su, an antinuclear activist from South Korea, said, “An accident could affect South Korea, so we can’t tolerate nuclear plants anymore.”
Saeko Uno, 40, who moved to Fukuoka Prefecture from Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, told event participants that she hopes to see “a world free of nuclear plants.”
The protesters then took to the streets marching through downtown Fukuoka, holding placards and signs bearing antinuclear messages.
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More photos and commentary at: