Fukushima 19 April 2011

Time for another update of the Fukushima Follies.

Gov't mulls raising consumption tax to 8% for reconstruction. But as is usual almost every where these days some are more equal than others. Japan studies easier capital rules for quake-hit banks and Japan mulls hiking power charges to help cover damages payments.

The government is considering increasing electricity charges to help cover damages payments to people who have suffered losses on the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., government sources said Tuesday.

It is planning to increase the tax on electricity source development, which is collected from consumers as part of electricity charges, and use the hike for providing a portion of the damages payments that TEPCO may not be able to shoulder, they said.

When was the last time a utility had to raise rates because of an accident at a natural gas or coal fired plant?

And it is not just Japan that is at risk. Tornado Forces Shut Down Of Two Reactors At 1.6 Gigawatt Surry Nuclear Power Plant

One of the more surprising victims of this weekend's dramatic tornado flurry that ravaged numerous states causing the deaths of 45 people, were two nuclear reactors operated by Dominion Resources in Surry County, Virginia on April 16. Luckily, it appears that the shutdowns have been contained. From Reuters: "Dominion Virginia Power said the two nuclear reactors at its Surry Power Station shut down automatically when a tornado touched down and cut off an electrical feed to the station
I keep telling these guys that reactors designed without intrinsic safety are accidents waiting to happen. What do I mean by intrinsic safety? The reactor can cool down on its own without any electrical power. Only designs that meet that criteria should be approved for future construction.

Japan seeks 'calm response' to Fukushima accident at Chernobyl confab. Well sure. No point in getting people upset. With something like the truth.

Radiation inside Nos. 1, 3 reactor buildings up to 57 millisieverts. Which is 5.7 REM per hour. Which means that a worker can get the total allowed worker dose (5X higher than American limits) in under 5 hours.

The radiation levels inside the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were up to about 57 millisieverts per hour as of Sunday, the government's nuclear safety agency said Monday, acknowledging that such a level imposes time constraints on restoration work that must be conducted there.
And of course that is just one measurement inside the buildings. There are no doubt hot spots where a worker has even less time to get something done. It appears that the Japanese only surveyed low radiation areas.
According to TEPCO, there were a lot of debris inside the Reactor 3 building, and the robots had a hard time moving forward and didn't go much beyond the door.

TEPCO also did the dust sampling.

Part of the reason why they had the robots enter through the north door was because of the high radiation level at the south door.

On April 16, the radiation level at the south door to the Reactor 1 building was measured at 270 milli-sievert/hr. The distance between the north door and the south door is about 30 meters, according to TEPCO. The radiation right outside the north door was also measured on April 16, and it was 20 milli-sievert/hr.

This was the first time the radiation level was measured inside the Reactor buildings (other than Reactor 4 building) since the March 11 earthquake.

The annual limit for radiation exposure for nuclear plant workers has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. Working in the Reactor 3 building for 5 hours would exceed that number.

Another minor obstacle for the workers.

Workers cannot approach reactor buildings.

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, high levels of radiation have kept workers from approaching the buildings housing the first 3 reactors, which lost their cooling functions in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

On Friday, the highest radiation level measured outside the double-entry doors of the Number 1 to 3 reactor buildings was 2 to 4 millisieverts per hour.

Radiation levels measured between the double doors of those reactor buildings was 270 millisieverts in the Number One reactor, 12 in Number 2, and 10 in Number 3.

The radiation level detected at the Number One reactor exceeds the national exposure limit of 250 millisieverts for nuclear contract workers.

Just another minor obstacle for the Japanese plan to have this disaster wrapped up in 6 to 9 months.

And speaking of obstacles for the workers. Even robots can't stand the working conditions.

TEPCO couldn't get enough data on the radiation level in the Reactor 2 building. Two remote-controlled robots went through the door to the Reactor 2 building on April 2. But after measuring 4.1 milli-sievert/hr near the door, the camera lens quickly became foggy due to high humidity (94 to 99%) and couldn't record the radiation level.
Too steamy? I wonder what constitutes a steamy novel for a robot? And did you know that robot is synonymous with serf? They are too dumb to know they are being exploited. Probably a good thing.

Recent wind patterns in Japan are likely to have deposited radioactive particles all over the country. How are the Japanese dealing with it? They are not reporting it. And there is confirmation of that stance. Gov't panel releases 2 of over 2,000 radiation dispersal estimates. Nothing to see here (because we won't let you). Move along.

In Japan the vegetables don't just get showers before they are measured for radiation. The must also get timely showers.

Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University says in his April 19 blog post that:
after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident the government suddenly changed the procedure to measure the radiation level in vegetables, and issued a notice that "the vegetables to be analyzed for radioactive materials should be taken out of the boxes, washed carefully under running water, and then analyzed."
Professor Takeda continues (my quick translation, not necessarily literal):
That caused the total loss of confidence in the safety of the vegetables.

The reason? It is easy to remove the radioactive materials on the vegetables when they are about to be shipped, soon after having been harvested. By the time they reach the consumers, it would be difficult to remove the radioactive materials as they stick fast on the surface or have penetrated inside the vegetables.

You can't trust the radiation level numbers on vegetables and other farm produce announced by the government.

There are all kinds of ways to fake the numbers. You just learned another one.

There are other concerns. Like plutonium in the sea.

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will examine the seabed off the facility to ensure that no plutonium has leaked into the ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday it will conduct the inspection as plutonium is heavier than other radioactive materials and could have accumulated on the floor.

Plutonium is a radioactive substance that could cause lung cancer if inhaled.

TEPCO detected earlier small quantities of plutonium in the soil around the plant. But it said the amount is too small to harm human health.

Unless it gets in the lungs.

The Japanese are concerned about the safety of their drinking water. A commission has been appointed to whitewash the issue.

Japan's health ministry is to set up a panel of experts to discuss ways to safeguard tap water from radioactive contamination.

The move comes after radioactive iodine at levels higher than national limits was detected temporarily in tap water in parts of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures amid the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The ministry on Tuesday held a meeting of advisors including environment experts and water utility industry representatives to discuss countermeasures.

Some participants asked that tap water safety be promoted publicly whenever radiation levels are low. Others said water in rivers and reservoirs should also be tested for radiation.

Ah. Yes. Promote safety when radiation levels are low. When they are high? Don't mention it.

I have a policy these days of writing something happy after I do one of these updates. Otherwise the news is just too depressing.

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 04.19.11 at 06:54 PM


The bright side is that Radio Japan (English service) hasn't mentioned global warming, whaling or removing the US from Okinawa since the quake, topics that used to take up most of every daily broadcast.

rhhardin   ·  April 19, 2011 7:24 PM

I'm having a little trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of having steam build up because a cooling system doesn't have power.

Steam is power.

Dishman   ·  April 20, 2011 4:14 AM


It is not much power if your system doesn't hold pressure.

And the power goes down from something like 6% max plant output at shut down (given a long continuous run) to about 1% a day after to about .5% and slowly declining 1 month after shutdown. To be intrinsically safe the cooling must be done by natural convection.

M. Simon   ·  April 20, 2011 6:01 AM

While I appreciate your interest in making nukes safer, you continued scare-mongering over radiation and radioactivity is causing a lose of respect and credibility.

You're not putting what facts we're getting from the Japanese in any sort of perspective about the relative health risks.

While Fukushima is a very messy place, it needn't be scary to someone with a cooler head and better facts.

"Chicken with its head cut off" is a phrase that comes to mind.

Joseph Somsel   ·  April 20, 2011 6:54 PM

Uh. A 20 Km (or is it now 40 Km, I forget) exclusion zone is the official scary fact. If enough radioactive material gets spread around that zone will get larger. And it is still spreading. Not so fast as at first. But we have a long ways to go.

People have all kinds of things they are unnaturally afraid of. I see no point of inflicting scares on such people without necessity. Hence my call for intrinsically safe reactors.

And the Japanese instituting measurement methods that do not reflect the real world? Well it makes you wonder. I would not do something like that.

M. Simon   ·  April 20, 2011 7:42 PM

Ah. It is 20 Km:


According to the IAEA that amounts to some 200,000 people unaffected by the radiation. Other than losing their homes.

M. Simon   ·  April 20, 2011 7:54 PM

As to better facts. Well would all love them wouldn't we? No meltdowns. No explosions. No radioactive spew. No significant contamination of the reactor buildings.

I'd love better facts. You got any?

M. Simon   ·  April 20, 2011 8:02 PM

Joseph Somsel--

While I appreciate your interest in making nukes safer, you(r) continued scare-mongering over radiation and radioactivity is causing a lose of respect and credibility.

M. Simon has first hand knowledge of nuclear reactors. When someone with his background is concerned, it should be a wake up call. Having surfed a number of internet sites that have taken up the Fukushima disaster, I think if anything he has downplayed the potential risks.

For instance, zerohedge.com has been all over this since it happened. The comment section there has been especially informative. Several of the regulars obviously have either worked with nuclear energy or are now working in plants. Their view of this is more worrisome by far than M. Simon's. In fact, M. Simon has posted very reasonable posts there and been "junked" because he isn't alarmed enough apparently.

You're not putting what facts we're getting from the Japanese in any sort of perspective about the relative health risks.

The facts the Japanese are giving out have been contradictory, misleading, and at times purposely deceptive. M. Simon has posted about this. For instance, they take measurements with devices that will only measure up to a certain point, and then release that reading as the radiation amount.

While Fukushima is a very messy place, it needn't be scary to someone with a cooler head and better facts.

A messy place? The total amount of fuel either in reactors and melting, or in some kind of open storage, far exceeds what was at Chernobyl. The big difference apparently is that so far they haven't had an explosion equivalent to Chernobyl, rather a number of smaller ones that have destroyed the containment buildings of 1, 3 & 4, and blown who know how much material who knows where.

The bottom line is that unlike the Russians who took their disaster seriously and moved mountains, sacrificed lives, and went all out to stop the spread of radioactive contamination as quickly as possible, the Japanese, in what can only be viewed as a cowardly attempt to save face, have dithered, obfuscated, and lied to the world and worst of all their own people.

I believe they don't have a viable plan because they won't admit the gravity of the problem, even to themselves.

Frank   ·  April 20, 2011 10:21 PM

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