Earthquake and Tsunami hits Japan.

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Message 1091073 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 2:38:33 UTC - in response to Message 1091071.  

They should start by moving the back-up diesel generators to the side of the buildings away from the coastline, if they are not there already.

I think in some cases moving the diesels may not be possible as It depends on if there is room to do so with.
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Message 1091078 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 2:55:52 UTC - in response to Message 1091073.  

You design it that way. If there is no room for a diesel generators behind the buildings, then there's insufficient room for the reactor.

Both coastal plants here in California are designed that way. The back up generators are behind and above the reactor containment structures.
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Message 1091084 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 3:10:48 UTC - in response to Message 1091078.  

You design it that way. If there is no room for a diesel generators behind the buildings, then there's insufficient room for the reactor.

Both coastal plants here in California are designed that way. The back up generators are behind and above the reactor containment structures.

Well that's good to know, Hopefully their up higher than a 36' Tsunami can reach, In Japan at Fukishima, Tepco went for the most likely wave height of only 18' according to the TV News, Instead of the worst case scenario of 36', Which is about what hit them, Maybe they'll fix this, Among other things, Of course now they have to somehow get control and seal It up. I wonder can something so melted be taken apart?
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Message 1091126 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 7:11:25 UTC - in response to Message 1091084.  

Of course now they have to somehow get control and seal It up. I wonder can something so melted be taken apart?

Oh, yes. They got the Three-Mile Island reactor taken apart and cleaned up, they can do for these plants, too.

The question is how much melting has taken place - have the zirconium alloy tubes melted enough to allow the ceramic fuel pellets to leak out, or have they just deformed? Will they be able to remove the fuel rods by themselves, or will they have to take out some of the support matrix as well? Those are the kinds of questions they will be looking to answer, after they get everything cooled down and clean up the contaminated water in the containment.

It may take years to clean up these 4 reactors, but it can and will be done.
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Message 1091141 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 9:48:53 UTC

Well, clearly the plant is finished as a working entity and will simply be closed down. Question is will they build another nuclear station to replace it?

"none so blind as those who will not see"
John Heywood 1546

Don't drink water, that stuff rusts pipes!



You are making Proof out of Logic, by just being dubious!

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Message 1091142 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 9:56:24 UTC

Don't get too carried away with the press hysteria. The level that was reported (in error) would have been bad, mostly because there is NO way that an inactive reactor should be able to produce it.

The reactors have been shut down and no fission has been happening for over a week, they are just dealing with residual radiation, nasty enough, but it's not going to "melt down". The control rods dropped in seconds after the quake started and scrammed the reaction.

End of the day
- deaths from water and falling buildings - ~20,000
- deaths from radioactive fallout - 0

The media likes to get on the "radio-active doom" trip, but when you stop and look at the actual facts.

The Iodine in Tokyo water? Would increase the risk of thyroid cancer by 0.02% IF an infant drank it for a year. Not a 0.02% risk, but a 0.02% Increase in risk. From the normal 100 per 10 million, to 102 per 10 million, or something like that. The Iodine has a 1/2 life of 7 days. Unless the reactors continue to spew iodine, but they have been shut off for a week now and are not producing any more.

Higher Radiation in Tokyo? They normally have a very low background radiation level. The level now is about average for most major cities. YOU are probably sitting in a higher level right now.

Radiation in the sea water? Yes, again mostly Iodine and Caesium, short 1/2 life and little long term effect. How many "Simpsons" 3 eye fish are swimming around the Nuke test atolls that got a million times the fallout?

The reactors themselves? They are pretty much junk now. They were old and due to be de-commissioned anyway. They will continue to cool them until it's safe to dismantle them. Probably a couple of years.

End of the day the power plant survived a quake 10X the power it was designed to, and a tsunami twice the height expected. It's damaged, probably beyond repair, leaked a bit of radioactive steam and water, but it DIDN'T melt down.

Next month the media will have to move on to the next crisis.

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Message 1091144 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 10:37:25 UTC

A well constructed and thought out reply Ian. But also Japan and its people have historically been very nervous of nuclear power and radiation, in contrast with other countries. Also it seems to me that there has been some tabloid style reporting here, but it could be the figures quoted that lend themselves to that.

There appears to be a very wide gulf between what is stated to be normal and "safe" levels of radiation, and the level where it becomes injurious to human health. The levels in Tokyo may be many hundreds of times higher than normal, but is that anywhere near where they would evacuate the city? Makes good headlines though.

"none so blind as those who will not see"
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Don't drink water, that stuff rusts pipes!



You are making Proof out of Logic, by just being dubious!

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Message 1091146 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 10:58:06 UTC

A well constructed post Ian, but I do see some problems..
The cores have not FULLY melted down, but there is increasing evidence of
partial melting, and things keep heating up. Once the containment is breached
(which seems to be the case) the radioactivity will come out, whether it is in smoke, steam, or overflowing water(which would explain how it is reaching the ocean).

It is helpful to know what the helpful levels are only IF we can get accurate
levels, and that seems to be a problem. The estimates based on the Japanese
numbers are suspect. actual numbers locally seem to be well hidden, although most likely available on the web somewhere.

Much like Chernobyl(which this incident may well surpass before all is said and done) we will get information about what the levels were long after any risk/hazard has past.

There is fair cause for concern. It should not be dismissed as panic, which serves no purpose. For Japan, the potential for further devastation remains.

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Message 1091150 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 11:30:39 UTC - in response to Message 1091146.  

Arrgh.. I had a long and well though out reply, and hit the wrong key

Anyway it's easy for the media to pick up on "radiation is 10X more than normal" and equate that 10x as many folks are going to die of cancer, when that is NOT true.

You are correct that they have a problem with reactors that are damaged and not fully stabilised, but they are not at all likely to "melt down" and kill anyone outside of the actual plant

Compared to the tsunami, the nuclear issues are nothing.

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Message 1091163 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 12:51:36 UTC

Why does this start to feel like a politics thread?

You have to distinguish between high radiation dosage (those workers at the plant? 1000 mSv an hour? as good as dead.) and cancer etc. from low radiation.
Look at Chernobyl - Leukemia rates have gone up. The younger you are the more vulnerable. Not to mention teratogenic effects. And some of the very dangerous radioisotopes accumulate in the body. Plutonium accumulates in the bones. Where are white blood cells produced? No, you might not see the increase in cancer above the statistical means. Values shouldn't lead to panic - especially outside Japan - but a small amount of worry [ and a fairly large amount if you have small children] should lead to some care.
25 years after Chernobly woodland mushrooms are still contaminated and no more than one wild mushroom dish a week is advised in Germany.
And do not forget - there is no such thing as a 'safe' amount of radiation. Life has learned to cope with the amounts we are getting as 'background' but we still get cancers from it.
Playing with probabilities isn't rational. It's one thing to risk a small amount of money in the lottery. it's another thing to risk lives using nuclear technology on this scale. We had Chernobyl (no OUR reactors are prefectly safe) we are having Fukushima (ok maybe they are not that safe, let's make a show of shutting down a few until the press dies down). Apparently we need one to actually go up big style before the lesson is learned. It may be tomorrow. It may not be in my lifetime. You know what's funny about those small probabilities? They happen...

If this gears up to a real (and probably heated) discussion - decamp to Politics/Non-seti Science please. This is the Cafe after all.
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Message 1091213 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 18:06:48 UTC

I have no idea how this issue with the radiation will evolve but one thing is sure:
Japanese people all over the land but specially those close to the disaster areas, are behaving themselves greatly.....no riots, no looting and such,
which only would have made it much more difficult to deal with.
There is not much I can do for them but post this kanji which means "Best" or "Number one" of course, dedicated to them--->




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Message 1091215 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 18:10:42 UTC

I would like to see this not be made political. This is a cause for world wide concern, and absolute tragedy in Japan.

Latest: A tunnel between all the reactors seems to be filled with dangerously high radioactive levels, and now Plutonium has been found in their soil.

The valiant efforts of the nuclear workers is unfortunately seeming like an ever losing game of whack-a-mole. The scale of 4 core meltdowns, as well as that of the spent fuel pools is staggering. And that is the potential of what we are facing.
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Message 1091223 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 18:53:08 UTC

I am hearing what Soft^Spirit and Miep as Moderators are saying. I agree, and I think we should keep this thread to inform about any major developments only. Comments about nuclear power in general should rightly be designated to the politics thread.

"none so blind as those who will not see"
John Heywood 1546

Don't drink water, that stuff rusts pipes!



You are making Proof out of Logic, by just being dubious!

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Message 1091226 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 18:59:30 UTC - in response to Message 1091215.  

I would like to see this not be made political. This is a cause for world wide concern, and absolute tragedy in Japan.

Latest: A tunnel between all the reactors seems to be filled with dangerously high radioactive levels, and now Plutonium has been found in their soil.

The valiant efforts of the nuclear workers is unfortunately seeming like an ever losing game of whack-a-mole. The scale of 4 core meltdowns, as well as that of the spent fuel pools is staggering. And that is the potential of what we are facing.

All cause of not building for the worst and hoping for the best.
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Message 1091232 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 19:14:36 UTC

I'm not trying to be political, but I keep hearing the term "meltdown" and that simply hasn't happened, and is VERY unlikely to.

The reactors are OFF.

Now that's different to "SAFE" as they are still glowing in the dark, and badly damaged, and leaking / venting contaminated cooling water. So things are not "all fine and dandy".

But I bet more people have been harmed worrying about the problem than have been harmed by the fallout? I read a few days back where people have been getting sick in the US from taking too many Iodine tablets!!! Not from any radiation, heck their own bodies are more radioactive than any fallout the US is getting, but from unnecessary panic.

I'm not saying that there is no problem, just that the media, and certain people with "political" motives are beating it up way beyond what's actually happening. Not directed at anyone here, folks are just commenting on what they see in the media, and the media are very good at throwing around numbers that sound scary. Radiation level in Tokyo 2 X normal sounds scary. Yeah, might be fatal after 100,000 years.... That sort of thing.

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Message 1091236 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 19:48:52 UTC - in response to Message 1091232.  

the problem is, in order to prevent meltdown from occuring the cores need to be kept cool. This is where the problem is. No water=no cooling. cracked containments(many indications though no confirmation of this) makes it even more difficult to do.

Now the reactors are in the "off" position. This means the control rods are(or were) lowered to stop the reaction. This did not stop the heat. And cooling has been in an on/off stage for a long time. 1 step forward, 2 steps back.
Which has most likely allowed some of the material to melt, falling to the bottom of the containment, which makes it no longer controlled by the rods.
Cooling can slow this, but there is no further ability to stop this reaction.
So it needs to run its course while being kept cool. And the problem is no one knows how much this has already happened with. Sticking their head in to look would not be helpful(macabre humor?)

Plutonium from what I have read/heard is only from reactor #3. The safe level of plutonium is NONE. any can be deadly. Having this in the soil in japan is VERY bad news. It indicates an opening directly from the core of reactor #3 to the atmosphere.

If the workers are unable to continue to work at the plant, we do face the very real possibility of the meltdown, complete and uncontrolled. Any of these reactors reaching this state would make it impossible to save the others.

I agree, taking iodine in the US at this point is not indicated(based on what information I can get). But someone having it on their shelf right now is not a really bad idea.(I have none on my shelf, and it is not on my shopping list).

Japan has suffered a terrible tragedy already. A triple whammy. And unfortunately, it is not over. My heart goes out to the people of Japan.

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Message 1091241 - Posted: 28 Mar 2011, 20:01:45 UTC - in response to Message 1091232.  

I am not a nuclear physicist, I do not have any special knowledge of what's going on in Japan, and I don't want to be political but I think there has been a meltdown.

The reactors are off, but that does not completely prevent a meltdown. Here is a link to the latest new with substantial facts that I could find.

The key facts are:

"fuel rods that partially melted down and came into contact with water"

"radiation emissions and evidence water has leaked out of the No. 2 reactor's containment vessel"

"the plant's operator, said it doesn't have sufficient data to be sure that a partial meltdown occurred." (I love political double speak. These means that they have a partial meltdown to me. They might not have sufficient data to be sure... But it means they have data that indicates it happened.)

We might be arguing over the definition of meltdown. If you think the term means that the whole core melts down and escapes the containment vessel then you would be right. But if you look up the word, meltdown means "Severe overheating of a nuclear reactor core, resulting in melting of the core and escape of radiation." Those conditions have occurred.

The automatic shut down does not stop all the heat generation. Even after a shut down it takes weeks (in the best situation) to cool the core. So I have disagree. with the statement that there is no meltdown.




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Message 1091475 - Posted: 29 Mar 2011, 15:03:03 UTC

I have to agre with Carlos. It was a meltdown. Maybe a partial but still a melt down. I just googled 3 mile island. I have to believe that in Japan it is worse.
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Message 1091491 - Posted: 29 Mar 2011, 23:23:19 UTC - in response to Message 1091475.  

I have to agre with Carlos. It was a meltdown. Maybe a partial but still a melt down. I just googled 3 mile island. I have to believe that in Japan it is worse.

Yeah, Country about the size of California, with a population of almost the US in size and all the shelters are full. And the toll is still rising, Somehow I don't know where It will stop, But I think It might top 6 figures, hopefully not, But that's My feeling, that It will.
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Message 1091513 - Posted: 30 Mar 2011, 2:07:19 UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population

I think your figures are a bit off Vic.
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