Most of today’s news is about the increasing temperature of the #2 reactor at Daiichi. Seems TEPCO isn’t sure just why the temps are going up, but they’re using boron, which means they think it might be on the road to a big burp.
Tepco Injects Boric Acid Into Fukushima No. 2 Reactor
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the temperature of the No. 2 reactor at its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant has risen and it injected boric acid into the unit early this morning to prevent criticality.
It took the step between 12:19 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. today, according to an e-mailed statement.
Tepco yesterday said it had been increasing the amount of coolant circulated into the reactor since Feb. 3 to counter the rising temperature.
Temperature Soars Mysteriously Inside Fukushima Nuclear Reactor
Also: Japan’s Nuclear Exclusion Zone Shows Few Signs of Life
The temperature of Reactor #2 at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has soared overnight and remained mysteriously high Monday, despite more water being pumped through it.
On January 27th, the reactor’s internal temperature was 113º F, Monday the temperature soared to 164º F. Japanese authorities require that the reactor temperature remain below 176º F.
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Japan’s NHK TV reports:
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the temperature in the No.2 reactor remains high despite the injection of additional water.
A thermometer at the bottom of the reactor showed 73.3 degrees Celsius on Monday morning. It was around 45 degrees on January 27th and 71.7 degrees at 4 PM on Sunday.
Tokyo Electric Power Company began injecting 10.6 tons of water per hour from around 1:30 AM on Monday. That’s one ton more per hour than before.
The utility says 2 other thermometers placed at the bottom of the reactor have been giving readings of about 44 degrees.
It says the flow of water in the reactor may have changed after plumbing work, causing difficulties in cooling the nuclear fuel.
In December last year, the government and TEPCO declared the 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had been successfully put into a state of cold shutdown as their temperatures had fallen below 100 degrees. But the situation inside the reactors remains unknown.
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Japan’s Nuclear Exclusion Zone Shows Few Signs of Life
ABC News is reporting:
What’s most striking about Japan’s nuclear exclusion zone, is what you don’t see. There are no people, few cars, no sign of life, aside from the occasional livestock wandering empty roads.
Areas once home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time.Areas once home to 80,000 people are now ghost towns, frozen in time. Homes ravaged from the powerful earthquake that shook this region nearly a year ago, remain virtually untouched. Collapsed roofs still block narrow streets. Cracked roads, make for a bumpy ride.
In seaside communities, large fishing boats line the side of the road, next to piles of debris. Abandoned cars, dot otherwise empty fields. It’s a scene reminiscent of tsunami-battered prefectures Miyagi and Iwate, last March – except those communities have cleaned up a significant amount of the debris since, in preparation for rebuilding efforts. […]
In the the town of Namie, we met Masami Yoshizawa, a rancher who has defied government orders to euthanize more than 200 of his cows. His cattle, raised for premium wagyu beef, used to fetch $13,000 a head. Now they are contaminated with cesium.
Yoshizawa witnessed the reactor explosions from his farm, located just 9 miles from the plant. Radiation concerns forced he and fellow ranchers to evacuate soon after – his, boss opting to unleash all of the cows, thinking he would never return.
Yoshizawa said he couldn’t abandon the cattle, completely. He obtained a permit to re-enter the exclusion zone, so he could feed the animals. He’s been driving an hour and a half from his temporary home every day since, to look after them.
“The government didn’t even try to save the animals,” he told me. “They just wanted to kill them. I am filled with rage.”
TEPCO increases water injection in reactor showing temperature rise
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant on Tuesday raised the amount of water injected into the No. 2 reactor to the highest level since the plant achieved a stable state of cold shutdown in December, as concerns grew over the rising temperature recently detected at the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel.
Following the move, the temperature measured at the same spot on the vessel dropped to 69.0 C at 10 a.m. from 72.2 C logged at 5 a.m., Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. told a press conference, but added that the company needs more time to assess the effect of the latest step.
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Tepco Tackles Nuclear Reaction Threat as Fukushima Plant Temperature Rises
Tokyo Electric Power Co. injected boric acid into a reactor at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to prevent an accidental chain reactionknown as re- criticality after temperatures rose in the past week.
The temperature of the No. 2 reactor was 70.1 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) as of 6 a.m. today, according to preliminary data, Akitsuka Kobayashi, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone. The reading fell from 72.2 degrees at 5 a.m. this morning, and is below the 93 degrees that’s used to define a cold shutdown, or safe state, of the reactor.
Since Feb. 1, temperatures at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor vessel have risen by more than 20 degrees Celsius, according to the company’sdata. Tepco, as the utility is known, and the government announced that the Fukushima plant reached a cold shutdown on Dec. 16, nine months after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami wrecked the nuclear station, and caused three reactors to meltdown and release radiation.
“It was too early to say the plant is safe in December. They declared cold shutdown even though nobody is sure about the location of melted fuel,” Tetsuo Ito, the head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University in western Japan. “A similar incident will probably occur again.”
Tepco increased the rate of cooling water being injected into the unit to 13.5 cubic meters per hour from 10.5 cubic meters per hour at 4:24 a.m. today, it said. A cold shutdown describes a reactor’s cooling system operating at atmospheric pressure and below 93 degrees Celsius, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“Tepco is in a dilemma,” Ito said. As Tepco maintains water injection at a high rate, more radioactive water will be accumulated in the basements of plant buildings, he said.
About 95,000 cubic meters, which is enough to fill 38 Olympic-sized swimming pools, of highly radioactive water may still be in the basements, even after the company has processed more than 220,000 cubic meters of contaminated water, according to Tepco’s latest estimate on Feb. 1.
Tepco replaced coolant piping on Jan. 26 to improve reliability of equipment following water leaks caused by freezing temperatures, Taichi Okazaki, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone today. This may have led to insufficient cooling water reaching inside the reactor, according to Tepco.
Tepco found a total of 28 water leaks between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, according to the utility. The average temperature in Namie town near the wrecked plant in January was 0.5 degrees Celsius, compared with the 2.1 degrees Celsius January average between 1981 and 2010, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency’s data.
No traces of xenon 135, which is associated with nuclear fission, were found when Tepco conducted a gas sampling of the reactor yesterday, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
In November, Tepco said it detected xenon, signs of nuclear fission, in gases taken from the No. 2 reactor, raising concerns that radiation emissions may increase. Tepco later announced the xenon was caused by “natural” nuclear fission and the plant isn’t in a critical state.
Messages show conflict within NRC after Japan earthquake and tsunami
By Steven Mufson, Tuesday, February 7, 9:39 AM
In the confusion following the earthquake and tsunami last March that damaged Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was standing by to help.
But a trove of e-mails posted on the NRC’sWeb site shows an agency struggling to figure out how to respond and how to deal with the American public while cutting through what one official called “the fog of information” coming out of Japan.
“THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” said an e-mail from the NRC operations center early on March 11, hours after the quake. “This may get really ugly in the next few days,” said one NRC official later in the day after a report that Tokyo Electric Power Co. was venting gas from a containment building.
Three days later, another official said, “It’s frustrating, but we have very little factual info as an agency.”
Now, as the first anniversary of the Fukushima catastrophe approaches, the initial response by regulators still holds lessons for the nuclear industry and policymakers.
The NRC e-mails reveal disagreement about how to advise the Japanese. The NRC staff chafed at some unorthodox advice coming from an ad hoc group of scientists assembled by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Famous physicist Richard Garwin, one of Chu’s group, proposed setting off a controlled “shaped” explosion to break through the concrete shield around the primary steel containment structure to allow cooling water to be applied from the outside. One NRC scientist called the idea “madness.”
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Pro-nuclear energy town councillor’s firm had 700 million yen in nuke plant contracts
TAKAHAMA, Fukui — A town assembly member here calling for the continuation of nuclear power is also president of a company that has received at least 700 million yen in nuclear-related construction contracts, it has been learned.
Akio Awano, 62, is vice-speaker of the municipal assembly of Takahama, which hosts a Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear plant. He is also part of a local organization promoting nuclear power plants.
According to the Fukui Prefectural Government and other sources, Awano’s firm, a metal processing company, has around 15 employees and earned about 200 million yen in fiscal 2010. It has an office in the Takahama nuclear plant and has expanded its business on a diet of nuclear plant-related construction.
Construction records show that Kansai Electric began contracting Awano’s firm directly in the 1990s, and has forked out some 536 million yen to the company for 67 jobs in the past five years. Furthermore, Awano’s company took 66 subcontracted jobs at the utility over the same period. Most local construction businesses get at most about 15 power company jobs per year.
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Experts on nuclear panel got funds from power industry
Three university professors on a government task force to draw up new nuclear power policy guidelines received substantial cash donations from the nuclear power industry and related companies or organizations. (February 7) [more]
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