Third explosion reported, 3 cooling systems failing, 3 meltdowns can’t be ruled out, 1 spent fuel pool boiled over

Posted on  

"Third explosion reported, 3 cooling systems failing, 3 meltdowns can’t be ruled out, 1 spent fuel pool boiled over"

Germany, Switzerland suspend nuclear plans as U.S. right-wing calls for faster nuclear permit process!

The spent fuel scenario I raised last night (detailed below) appears to have begun.  The  NY Times reports as of Tuesday 9:36  “… late Tuesday Japan’s nuclear watchdog said a pool storing spent fuel rods at that fourth reactor had overheated and reached boiling point and had become unapproachable by workers.”  Here’s their front page:

NYT 3-15

An “explosive impact” occurred Tuesday morning at the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, a day after a hydrogen explosion rocked another reactor, the plant’s owner said….

Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, said he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at all three troubled reactors.

The situation in Japan is unprecedented, as the CNN story from 7:32 pm EDT makes clear.  I don’t believe there’s ever been more than one reactor with a malfunctioning cooling system seriously facing a possible meltdown at one time.  Yesterday 2 were and now 3 are simultaneously.

The NY Times has updated a story as of 8:03 pm EDT that lays out the situation and the risks, “New Blast Reported at Nuclear Plant as Japan Struggles to Cool Reactor”:

An explosion early Tuesday morning may have damaged the inner steel containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, leading to the wide release of radioactive materials there and forcing the evacuation of some emergency workers, the plant’s operator said.The blast appeared to be different “” and more severe “” than those that at two other troubled reactor at the same nuclear complex because this one, reported to have occurred at 6:14 a.m., happened in the “pressure suppression room” in the cooling area of the reactor, raising the possibility to damage to the reactor’s containment vessel.

Any damage to the steel containment vessel of a nuclear reactor is considered critical because it raises the prospect of an uncontrolled release of radioactive material and full meltdown of the nuclear fuel inside. To date, even during the four-day crisis in Japan that amounts to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, workers had managed to avoid a breach of a containment vessel and had limited releases of radioactive steam to relatively low levels.

The underlying situation is also grave:

The new blast came after emergency operations to pump seawater into the same reactor failed, leaving the nuclear fuel in that reactor dangerously exposed late Monday into early Tuesday morning.Tokyo Electric Power said late Monday that a malfunctioning valve made it impossible to release pressure in the reactor, which in turn thwarted efforts to inject seawater into it to cool the fuel. The water levels inside the reactor’s containment vessel fell and left its fuel rods exposed “” perhaps completely exposed “” for some hours.

Workers had been having difficulty injecting seawater into the reactor because its vents “” necessary to release pressure in the containment vessel by allowing radioactive steam to escape “” had stopped working properly, they said.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday Tokyo Electric announced that workers had finally succeeded in opening a malfunctioning valve controlling the vents, reducing pressure in the container vessel. It then resumed flooding the reactor with water.

But the company said water levels were not immediately rising to the desired level, possibly because of a leak in the containment vessel…..

“They’re basically in a full-scale panic” among Japanese power industry managers, said a senior nuclear industry executive. The executive is not involved in managing the response to the reactors’ difficulties but has many contacts in Japan. “They’re in total disarray, they don’t know what to do.”

It still seems unlike there will be massive amounts of radioactivity released from a meltdown.  That said, I listened to a press call today, which included one of my former DOE colleagues, Bob Alvarez, which spelled out a problem potentially equally as large but not receiving much attention.

Sharon Begley, the science columnist and science editor of Newsweek, has a good write-up of the call, “The Japan Nuke Problem No One’s Talking About,” which I’ll excerpt:

To the growing list of worries at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant … add this: could the spent nuclear fuel sitting in a nearby storage pool pose an even bigger threat to people and the environment? The spent fuel produced by reactors has been a challenge since the dawn of the nuclear industry, with most reactor operators opting to store it in pools of cooling water on site. At the 40-year-old Fukushima plant, which was built by General Electric, the fuel rods are stored at a pool about three stories up, next to the reactor (a schematic is here). Satellite photos raise concerns that the roof of the building housing the pool has been blown off, says Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a senior policy adviser to the secretary of energy and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999. He and other experts are now warning that any release of radioactivity from the spent-fuel pool could make the releases from the reactors themselves pale in comparison.

The spent-fuel pools are rectangular basins about 40 feet deep, made of four- to five-foot-thick reinforced concrete lined with stainless steel. That was thought to be sufficient to prevent a breach. But the disastrous combination of an earthquake (which knocked out power form the electricity grid) and a tsunami (which swamped the diesel generators serving as backup power) forced the power-plant operators to turn to batteries for core cooling.When battery-powered cooling failed, hydrogen in two of the units exploded, damaging the reactor buildings””and, apparently, the spent-fuel area as well. Satellite photos appear to show that two cranes used to move spent fuel into the pool “are both gone,” Alvarez told a press conference organized by Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit environmental group that opposes nuclear power. “There has definitely been damage to the pool area.”

The pools “contain very large concentrations of radioactivity, can catch fire, and are in much more vulnerable buildings,” he warns. If the pools lose their inflow of circulating cooling water, the water in the pools will evaporate. If the level of water drops to five or six feet above the spent fuel, Alvarez calculates, the release of radioactivity “could be life-threatening near the reactor building.” Since the total amount of long-lived radioactivity in the pool is at least five times that in the reactor core, a catastrophic release would mean “all bets are off,” he says.

Of particular concern: cesium-137 in the pool, at levels Alvarez estimates at 20 million to 50 million curies. The 1986 Chernobyl accident released about 40 percent of the reactor core’s 6 million curies. In a 1997 report for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory estimated that a severe pool fire””made possible by the loss of cooling water””could leave about 188 square miles uninhabitable and cause up to 28,000 cancer deaths.

Once again, warnings from scientists were ignored that could have dramatically reduced the risk here:

The new concern at Fukushima Daiichi highlights an ongoing controversy about the way spent fuel gets stored: what if Tokyo Electric Power had heeded the growing scientific consensus and moved the spent fuel out of the storage pool and into dry, hardened casks for storage? Germany did this 25 years ago. The NRC has rejected this recommendation, but a 2006 analysis by the National Academy of Sciences warned that “breaches in spent fuel pools could be much harder to plug [than those in dry casks], especially if high radiation fields or the collapse of the overlying building prevented workers from reaching the pool. Complete cleanup from a zirconium cladding fire would be extraordinarily expensive, and even after cleanup was completed large areas downwind of the site might remain contaminated to levels that prevented reoccupation.”The NAS report … concluded that “recovery from an attack on a dry cask would be much easier than the recovery from an attack on a spent fuel pool. Breaches in dry casks could be temporarily plugged with radiation-absorbing materials until permanent fixes or replacements could be made … It is the potential for zirconium cladding fires in spent fuel pools that gives dry cask storage most of its comparative safety and security advantages.”

The NRC counts almost 100 spent-fuel pools in the United States.

The NYT has just published a story on this, “In Stricken Fuel-Cooling Pools, a Danger for the Longer Term.”

Both Germany and Switzerland suspended their nuclear plans.  The Wall Street Journal reports, “Germany Rethinks Atomic Power”:

Fears of a nuclear disaster in Japan have revived Germans’ angst about atomic energy two weeks ahead of important regional elections, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to suspend her contested plan to extend the life of Germany’s nuclear reactors.Ms. Merkel said Monday her government would hold a three-month safety review of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors while weighing options for drawing more energy from alternative sources.

The AP reports, “Swiss suspend plans for new nuclear plants”:

The Swiss government has suspended plans to replace and build new nuclear plants pending a review of two hydrogen explosions at Japanese plants.

The head of the Swiss federal energy department, Doris Leuthard, said Monday’s suspension affects three requests for “blanket authorization for nuclear replacement until safety standards have been carefully reviewed and if necessary adapted.”

In the reality-free zone of the U.S. conservative media, however, Media Matters reported today:
Right-Wing Media Push For Removal Of “Obstacles” To Nuclear Power In Wake Of Japan’s Nuclear Crisis
In the wake of the crisis at Japanese nuclear reactors, the conservative media have pushed for the removal of “obstacles” to nuclear power and a faster nuclear permit process for nuclear plants. Nuclear energy experts, meanwhile, agree that Japan’s nuclear crisis is cause to reevaluate whether nuclear regulations contain sufficient protections for public safety.

Seriously!

« »

125 Responses to Third explosion reported, 3 cooling systems failing, 3 meltdowns can’t be ruled out, 1 spent fuel pool boiled over

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Fukushima, 8200 micro sievert outside the plant reported, the equivalent to the exposure someone gets within a year. Now northerly winds reported, CNN live http://edition.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=stream3&hpt=T1

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    So how do you seal the container “radioactive fountain”?

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I thought it a little, shall we say, imprudent, to build nuclear power stations on a coast with such a history of tsunamis, a Japanese word, after all. But storing the spent fuel on-site has now possibly added a new dimension to the disaster. The Japanese nuclear industry has a long history of secrecy and looseness with the facts, so I’d expect the situation to be graver than so far appears. And how very typical of the Right to deny the implications of this disaster outright, in their manic attempts to push nuclear so as to derail renewable energy, which they oppose for the entirely sufficient reason, in their twisted psyches, that it is the hated ‘Left’ and the viscerally despised Greens who are calling for it. I believe that the US is not exactly tectonically stable, either.

  4. BBHY says:

    In the midst of a major disaster, or maybe two simultaneous major disasters, it is important to have a solid, reliable source of energy to help with the search, rescue, cleanup and rebuild efforts.

    Not only has nuclear failed to be helpful in providing energy to help in this crisis, it has now added a third, very serious dimension to the disaster. When dealing with two disasters the last thing you need is a third disaster.

  5. Bill Waterhouse says:

    CNN doing great coverage of this now. Fox in denial mode. Haven’t seen network news here on left coast.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Japanese look to ancient traditions for strength http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-15-japanspirit15_ST_N.htm

  7. Lauren says:

    Did the Japanese have nuclear waste stored at their affected power stations where the Tsunami hit?

    Was any of this waste washed away or lost or opened to the environment?

    And how much waste would be lost if a Tsunami hit an American nuclear power station?

    I haven’t word one about this nuclear waste issue.

  8. malcreado says:

    “CNN doing great coverage of this now. Fox in denial mode. Haven’t seen network news here on left coast.”

    BBC’s website is doing a good job on the coverage.

  9. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Poland says it will continue with nuclear because they don’t have many earthquakes.

    I think Ol Ma Nature may have a few more tricks up her sleeve yet, ME

  10. Lou Grinzo says:

    Regarding explosion number 3 (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-14/tokyo-electric-confirms-explosion-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant.html):

    —————————————–
    “So far, as far as we have been monitoring, the radiation levels have not risen to the level immediately harmful to the human body,” Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations Noriyuki Shikata said on Bloomberg Television. He said some workers have been evacuated from the site and the government is “very closely watching” the situation, which is “evolving.”
    —————————————–

    Excuse my rampant cynicism, but “the radiation levels have not risen to the level immediately harmful to the human body” sounds like a particularly tortured way of saying “we’re on the brink of a really big radiation problem”.

  11. Bill Waterhouse says:

    All three reality-based US TV network news shows (ie not including Fox) had good coverage. NBC network news was live on West Coast.

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    “… with a built-in charcoal trap to catch escaping radioactive products.”
    http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&tab=pw&q=use charcoal to catch radioactive#&q=use+charcoal+to+catch+radioactive&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=use+charcoal+to+catch+radioactive

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    fixed link http://is.gd/hB9gyC

  14. David Gould says:

    There are not many magnitude 9 earthquakes around the place, and there is purportedly not much risk of a Chernobyl or anything like it eventuating here. So, I think that the anti-nuclear kneejerk reaction because of this is based on hyperbole.

    [snip]

    [JR: This is almost exclusively straight news reporting. Where is the hyperbole? If you don't like the facts, go elsewhere, but don't make up nonsense about my views.]

  15. Mike Roddy says:

    I’ve lived and worked in Japan, including building 300 housing units after the Kobe earthquake. Impressions of posters here are unfortunately correct. Japan excels at disaster preparedness and response, but designs for both housing and reactors tend to be too rigid and dependent on past practices. In the case of the reactors on the coast, the results are evident.

    This derives from the country’s basic conservatism and reverence for tradition, a much better excuse than our own, where corruption rules.

    I have little knowledge of reactors, but couldn’t help noticing the towns that have turned into matchsticks, from the quake as well as the tsunami. The same thing happened in Kobe, as weak post and beam houses failed, even small one story homes, where seismic loads are not very strong- they are a function mostly of weight and connector strength.

    Commercial buildings in both Kobe and Fukishima fared much better, even though their size made them more vulnerable. That’s because traditional Japanese housing is sacred, and it takes a lot to alter both material specifications and engineering practices.

    This is not a good time to criticize, though. GE built those reactors, after all, and we’re the “atoms for peace” perpetrators. Japan is an incredibly beautiful country, full of magic, artistic creativity, and many things that we have become too alienated and commercialized to comprehend. I don’t pray, but my heart and thoughts are with them. I lived in Japan in the first grade (my dad was an Army colonel), only 8 years after Hiroshima, and the kindness and forgiveness of the Japanese is something that will always stay with me.

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    Spent fuel is burning in reactor 4?

  17. David Gould says:

    Joe,

    This secondary headline was what sparked my comment:

    “Germany, Switzerland suspend nuclear plans as U.S. right-wing calls for faster nuclear permit process!”

    I interpreted it as you finding faster nuclear permit processing a bad thing based on this one-off event. Slower or faster permitting would appear to me to be irrelevant to the seriousness problems being experienced at these reactors. The punctuation – the exclamation mark – made me read the sentence in a particular way that I did.

    I apologise for my error.

  18. adelady says:

    Lauren, this item gives a quick rundown on how they run the storage pools for spent fuel rods at these reactors.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/15/3164151.htm

  19. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

    —Oppenheimer

    He was referring to the blast at Trinity, but who knows what Japan will bring? Humanity has never been evolved enough for nuclear anything, we fight too much, we’re too careless, we’re in denial, etc. etc.

    And yes, I have downwinder friends who are now dead – Las Vegas and Utah atomic tests, so I’m not a big fan of nuclear.

  20. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    And for you nitpickers out there, I do know he was quoting the Bhagavad Gita.

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    Singh’s $175 Billion Nuclear Dream Threatened by Japan Quake

    Manmohan Singh, who risked his premiership to secure India’s access to atomic reactors and supplies, faces opposition to his $175 billion investment plan after Japan’s strongest earthquake triggered a nuclear accident. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-14/japan-earthquake-threatens-singh-s-175-billion-nuclear-dream.html

  22. Greg says:

    NYTimes now says, basically ,all workers being evacuated and plant being abandoned. Ominous. Prime minister live at 11 est.

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    Nuclear ‘meltdown’ no ‘China Syndrome,’

    Without water to cool nuclear fuel rods, temperatures above 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit can melt the metal that covers uranium pellets inside the rods, said nuclear consultant Douglas Chin of MPR Associates in Alexandria, Va., an engineering firm. That causes the release of radioactive material inside the rods and the metal to blister and peel away. If the rods grow hot enough, uranium disc pellets, the fuel in the fuel rod, slump into the center of the reactor, where they are cooled by the water still at the bottom of the reactor chamber and pile up in lumps.

    Just don’t call it a meltdown, some engineers say.

    “Meltdown is a Hollywood term; nobody really uses it,” said radiation safety specialist Bruce Busby of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “What we are really talking about is core damage.”

    Core damage sounds bad enough, but the distinction does matter.

    “Meltdown is what I call the ‘Jane Fonda scenario,’ ” said nuclear consultant Lake Barrett, a former Energy Department and Nuclear Regulatory Commission engineer, referencing the 1979 movie The China Syndrome, in which a melting reactor core breaks through the containment barriers below it.

    In such a meltdown, the fuel rods inside a reactor melt together into a mass, hugging the steel floor of a reactor chamber. In this Hollywood depiction, the process goes out of control, the hot fuel eats through the 8-inch steel floor, and goes all the way to China. It reaches the groundwater and spreads radioactivity for hundreds of miles.

    In reality, “that’s impossible; it didn’t even happen at Chernobyl,” said Barrett, referring to the 1986 disaster in Soviet Ukraine, the worst nuclear reactor disaster in history.

    Busby calls the fuel-rod disintegration more of a “crumbling,” where the discs fall apart. Others use different analogies.

    “In reality, first (the rods) drip down to the floor of the reactor like a candle melting,” Barrett said. “There is still water at the bottom of the reactor. That cools the fuel off.”
    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2011-03-15-1Anuke15_VA_N.htm

  24. adelady says:

    Sorry Lauren, I was switching too quickly between half a dozen news services. The info on the pools is in the post above.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    The Bhagavad Gītā (Sanskrit: भगवद्गीता, IPA: [ˈbʱəɡəʋəd̪ ɡiːˈtɑː], Song of God), also more simply known as Gita, is a Hindu scripture produced from the colloquy given by Sri Krishna to Arjuna during the Kurukshetra War. Its philosophies and insights are intended to reach beyond the scope of religion and to humanity as a whole. It is at times referred to as the “manual for mankind” and has been highly praised by not only prominent Indians such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but also Aldous Huxley, Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Carl Jung and Herman Hesse.[1][2] It is considered among the most important texts in the history of literature and philosophy.[3] The Bhagavad Gita comprises exactly 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of God (Parabrahman) Himself,[3] and is referred to within as Bhagavan, the Divine One. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita

  26. Valerie says:

    The NYT reports that a triple meltdown is “likely” with all three plants being abandoned, and that the “situation is spiraling out of control.”
    HORRIBLE.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/world/asia/15nuclear.html?hp

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Worst Nightmare? Nuclear meltdown threat as Fukushima fuel rods ‘fully exposed’

    It’s feared nuclear fuel rods may have partially melted at the 2nd reactor of the stricken Fukushima power plant. This comes after reports they were fully exposed for a short period of time. Shaun Burnie, an independent atomic energy consultant from Scotland says Japan’s nuclear crisis is much worse than it seems. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVCWGc173ic&feature=youtu.be

  28. Tim says:

    Reuters reports 400 mSv per hour (400,000 uSv per hour):

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/15/japan-quake-pm-highlights-idUSL3E7EF08P20110315

    Reactor No. 4, which was shut down during the earthquake, has had an explosion and is on fire.

  29. Joan Savage says:

    CNN Live /NHK World has confirmed the cover was previously blown off one the storage pools, as Alvarez suspected.
    Repeated warnings to population within 20 kilometers to evacuate. The 20 to 30 kilometers radius population to stay inside, not move from place to place, do not bring in laundry.
    The water in #2 reactor down, rods exposed.

    http://edition.cnn.com/video/flashLive/live.html?stream=3

  30. Prokaryotes says:

    ‘Freakish weather’

    Friday’s quake was the strongest recorded in Japan since modern readings began 130 years ago and the fourth largest in the world since 1900, according to the US Geological Survey.

    Mr Jones says the weather that day was very strange.

    “It was just a regular day and suddenly for about 20 minutes there was just a white-out blizzard, you just couldn’t see anywhere,” he said.

    “And then 20 minutes later – sunshine again. The weather has been freakish .The last few days have been very hot. It was 17 degrees yesterday when it should only be six or eight degrees, but it’s colder again now.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/15/3164437.htm?section=world

  31. Colorado Bob says:

    What have we learned low these many years ?

    You can’t bombard stainless steal from the 1960′s with electrons for forty years and hope to have it hold up on in the worst earthquake in modern Japanese History.

  32. Colorado Bob says:

    All these GE designed stainless steel pills from the 60′s have cracked. It’s called “embrittlement”, and when we needed them to hold together, they cracked.

    #1 …… #3 ……. #2.

    It’s clear, that all 3 won’t hold water, that means we are well and truely screwed with this problem. Like the “Deep Water Horizon” 10 months ago, when all the engineers said not to worry.

  33. Prokaryotes says:

    Colorado Bob, “Like the “Deep Water Horizon” 10 months ago, when all the engineers said not to worry.”

    Indeed some eerie parallels. Both worst case scenarios, both should never happen and still things go wrong. Fermi Paradox.

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    Jr corrected me today, he said the the Russians were worse, that maybe true. But this is 6 reactors, and 3 have exploded.

    Everybody get their head around that, “observed events” folks.

    “Observed Events”

    There were no explosions at 3- Mile Island, and the Ukraine only has one pile of nuclear junk, this is 3 piles of nuclear junk.

    That’s a factor of 3 , when one compares.

  35. Colorado Bob says:

    Cracked like 40 year old boiled eggs.

  36. John Hollenberg says:

    msnbc just reported that the Japanese Prime Minister has confirmed that radiation is leaking from the damaged nuclear plant. People are urged to stay indoors if they are within 30 km of the plant to avoid radiation sickness:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42066534/ns/world_news-asiapacific/

    Obviously the situation is completely under control, no need to worry about radiation release…

  37. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Situation alarming. There has to be alternative power like solar,wind in such calamities.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  38. Colorado Bob says:

    Think of eggs that have boiled for decades, that is our problem.

    The shells have cracked.

    I never thought I’d live to see it.

    These reactors are more like 6 inches of glass, not 6 inches of stainless steel.

  39. Colorado Bob says:

    All the nuclear engineers see stainless steel, not glass. If we ever try to move these things, they will shatter in a thousand pieces.

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    The greatest gift nuclear power ever got, was the 2005 Energy Bill . Wall Street invested 35 cents in this balloon. Their bonds have been shit for 6 years. It ins’t bearded hippies that hold back nuclear power, it’s the bond market.

  41. Hal says:

    There is no “Kneejerk” reaction to this nuclear problem. The “risk” has been known since they started building them. They are great while they are working, but if they get screwed up, it can be very, very bad. Another example of Play now, pay later. As far as the waste being stored in plants, that’s an old story too. Too many people sticking their heads in the sand for too long and putting down those that raise concerns.

    I heard that they planned to protect the plants from tsunamis also with like a 25 foot wall. Too bad the tsunami was more like 40 feet…

    Can it happen here? Sure? Is it very likely? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean it could not happen. When an expert was asked if our plants could take a 9.0 quake, do you know what his reply was? It was something like “All of the plants are built to withstand the largest quakes that have historically been recorded.” So as long as plants in Minnesota or New York don’t get quakes over what, 3.5 or so, I guess they will be fine. Taken collectivly, Earthlings are stupid.

  42. Colorado Bob says:

    The gas drillers killed nuclear power, not old fools like me.

  43. Colorado Bob says:

    A nuclear engineer, a gas driller, and a hippie are sitting at the same table.

    The hippie brings a dozen cookies. The gas driller and the engineer shoot each other over the crumbs.

  44. Colorado Bob says:

    When death smiles at men , there is but one choice, to smile right back.

  45. Vic says:

    Radiation level jumps 1000 fold.
    Evacuation zone increased.
    Tokyo irradiated.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/15/3164595.htm?section=justin

  46. Roger says:

    Colorado Bob (and others),
    Thanks for the comments.

    If I close my eyes and project the feeling coming from this experience, I can pretty well sense what ‘The End Time’ will feel like…

    –For those who may still have power–and some connectivity–reports of death and destruction will quickly circulate through cyberspace.

    –For those who have lost such trappings of “civilization,” reports of death and destruction will slowly circulate by word of mouth.

    “What was it like to live in the time before people knew?” a grandchild will ask. “Time for bed,” I’ll say, mind wandering, eyes moist, mouth dry.

  47. Wes Rolley says:

    In California, the spent fuel pool for the Diablo Canyon plant is in a position where the harbor would funnel any tsunami directly at it.

    Hope that there are none planned soon.

    There is a recently discovered fault just a few miles directly off the coast at Diablo Canyon, but this is a slip strike fault rather than a subduction fault and therefore not at all likely to produce any tsunami. The real tsunami risk on the left coast is from the Cascadia subduction zone off the coasts of Oregon / Washington

  48. Dana Pearson says:

    It’s all horrendous…and Obama’s continued support for billions in nuke loan guarantees while mouthing meaningless soft peddled support for solar is infuriating. I truly feal betrayed by this man…

  49. Wait a minute…How many explosions were there in nuke plants in Japan? Five?

    Where where was the third explosion?

    Supposedly there are 6 reactors in two plants, and 3 have exploded. But some reports say multiple explosions at one plant.

    Just how many explosions were there?

  50. adelady says:

    Dana, I fear your characterisaion of Obama is a bit off the mark. He’s expressed plenty of good intentions. But it seems to me that every time he does venture into this dangerous terrain, the Lilliputians fetch stronger ropes from their unseen sponsors and tie this not so very big Gulliver’s hands and feet ever more tightly.

    Don’t complain too much that all he seems to do is talk – all avenues of real roll-up-your-sleeves or get-a-move-on action are blocked by bustling hordes of small, mean-minded, greedy, ignorant people.

  51. adelady says:

    richard. Some of them aren’t really explosions. They’re releases. Unfortunately they’re telling us that the valves are getting harder to operate. So fewer releases possible. Whether that leads to more explosions depends on how much seawater they can get, and how fast, into the reactors themselves.

  52. Steve Bloom says:

    CB, in #22 that should be neutrons, not electrons.

  53. Steve Bloom says:

    Adelady, if the pressure can’t be reduced via the valves, the seawater can’t be forced in. If that’s what’s happening, truly unfortunate consequences become unavoidable. This is starting to sound entirely unmanageable.

  54. Richard Brenne says:

    Oh my God what’s next, Godzilla (who was also radioactive and the result of a nuclear explosion)?

    The people I know and see on TV are among the world’s most civil, disciplined, communitarian, hard-working, nature-loving and undeserving of this. I second Mike Roddy’s wonderfully heartfelt post at #15.

  55. Paul K2 says:

    David B. Bensen has commented here repeatedly, directing people to links at a pro-nuclear site run by Barry Brook called Brave New Climate. The moderators there have now gone into censorship role to control information flow on the Fukushima nuclear accidents. Here are a couple of posts showing censorship:

    Paul K2, on 15 March 2011 at 4:26 PM said:

    [Deleted for accusations of censoring, deliberate misinformation etc. In doing this, Paul K2 has repeatedly broken the commenting rules and is now banned. He can now go elsewhere and complain about this if that makes him feel better.]

    Paul K2, on 15 March 2011 at 4:37 PM said: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Ms Perps, on 15 March 2011 at 4:21 PM said:

    Alex Smith – your quotes below are all wrong:

    “Again, the government of Japan believes the containment vessel of Reactor #2 at Fukushima Dai-ichi has been breached in an explosion”
    NO THEY DON”T!

    But the NY Times says:
    “We are on the brink. We are now facing the worst-case scenario,” said Hiroaki Koide, a senior reactor engineering specialist at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University. “We can assume that the containment vessel at Reactor No. 2 is already breached. If there is heavy melting inside the reactor, large amounts of radiation will most definitely be released.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/ 2011/ 03/ 15/ world/ asia/ 15nuclear.html?hp

    And in the press conference, Edano, the spokesman for the Japanese PM said at one point, that there was a “hole in the Unit 2 pressure vesel” and at another point, that “there is confirmed damage to the Unit 2 pressure vessel”.

    Hmmm, who to believe? Ms. Perps or the Japanese experts and government officials in charge of the accident response? Brave New Climate or the Japanese?

    David B. Bensen, so what about this David? I have spent a lot of time over on the site you are promoting, only to see the long arm of censorship reach out from Barry Brook and his team. Why can’t they admit the damage that the Japanese experts and Japanese government admits? (and the NY Times publishes)? What a completely biased propaganda site!!

  56. Christopher Yaun says:

    Burning Down the House

    The China Sybdrome (1979): TV reporter Kimberly Wells (Jane Fonda) yearns to do hard news and suddenly gets her wish while she and cameraman Richard Adams (Michael Douglas) are covering a routine story at the local nuclear plant. As they’re escorted through the power station, they observe (and covertly film) a near-meltdown. Working with a whistleblower (Jack Lemmon), Wells and Adams try to get the truth out, but corporate interests behind the scenes have other ideas.

    In the movie the reactor is built over a geological fault and the near-meltdown is caused by an earthquake.

    Thousands of conservative reporters owe Jane Fonda a sincere apology.

    By the way who in Japan guarantees the relief payments to the injured?

  57. Mikhail Kropotkin says:

    @Richard

    What’s next is the site becomes so hot that it is no use sending people in because they can’t stay long enough to do anything useful. With measurements of 400 mSv per hour staff are not supposed to stay around for more than a number of minutes before being moved to a safe venue and not re-exposed for sometime (it’s months at least). According to the information discussed here:
    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2011/03/13/fukushima-summary/#comment-268757
    100 mSv is the dose for a US worker over 2 years.
    Once you can no longer put people on site, all the processes will follow to their “natural” conclusion. If any of that includes exposing much of the spent fuel stored in all 6 reactor buildings to the air, then, well, it is up to wind patterns at that stage and whether various components explode as well as “just” burning.

  58. vic says:

    It seems the kamikaze spirit is alive amongst the wreckage of Fukushima.

    “According to government statements, most of the 800 workers at the plant had been withdrawn, leaving 50 or so workers in a desperate effort to keep the cores of three stricken reactors cooled with seawater pumped by firefighting equipment, while the same crews battled to put out the fire at the No. 4 reactor”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16nuclear.html?src=twrhp

    This same article mentions the spent fuel rods described by Joe above. The storage pool at reactor #4 ran dry and its rods ignited, spewing out millisievert (forget microsievert) levels of radiation. The 50 workers left behind have since managed to extinguish them. Bless their souls.

    The following report is saying the wind is blowing toward Tokyo and that “minute” levels are already being detected in and around the city, at up to 40 times normal levels.
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/03/15/3164595.htm?section=justin

  59. Eve says:

    Guess what folks – we are human – even the Japanese. And 8.9 earthquakes + tsunamis happen, if rarely. The climate change situation
    is truly grave – but nuclear power cant be even part the answer. Perhaps its utopian – but those of us with a different vision need to call for a massive crash program to conserve, develop alternative sources of energy, public transportation and the end of the consumer culture (simple living). Will it work – I am deeply pessimistic (having recently returned from a visit to Mumbai -where there are 500 more cars on the road each day)- but we need at least to voice our views

  60. Zetetic says:

    Oh good grief!
    Storing spent fuel on the 3rd floor of a building located on the coastline of one of the world’s most earthquake prone areas?!

    Unbelievable….

    This just keeps getting worse, it’s almost like a case study in Murphy’s Law and the human inability to adequately prepare for future catastrophes.

    If humanity doesn’t learn from this, maybe we do deserve (as a species) to go extinct.

  61. norcal says:

    Where’s Jack Bauer when you need him. The writer’s of 24 could predict such things….why can’t engineers?

  62. jyyh says:

    My friend works at a place where the standard Chicken Kyiv is still referred as ‘Chicken Becquerel’, and keeping in line with this there could be a cooking techinque called ‘Teriyaki Fukushima’ henceforth (~30 years). Excess usage of (non-radioactive) Kalium Iodine salt should prevent some cancers, to my knowledge. My condolences to Japanese people.

  63. Prokaryotes says:

    Things start to get really ugly now. And we learn the hard way how fast civilization could collapse and together with human technology fail make things very permanently grim. If you look at humanity at the hall, we lost a high advanced nation or a lot of it.

    I think you cannot prevent panic now, because nuclear contamination in a ongoing disaster zone can not be dealt with with current technology.

    The best thing now would be to utilize an army of autonomous robots. But in real people will start slowly getting ill and i fear that the officials are already overwhelmed.

  64. Prokaryotes says:

    Another serious risk involves the more than 200 tons of spent nuclear fuel that is stored in pools adjacent to the reactors, Alvarez said. Those cooling pools depend on continually circulating water to keep the fuel rods from catching fire. Without power to circulate the water, it heats up and potentially boils away, leaving the fuel rods exposed to air. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-quake-web-20110315,0,7521768.story?page=2

    Fuk

  65. jyyh says:

    correction: Kalium = Potassium, sorry my finglish…

  66. Prokaryotes says:

    And, depending on the mission’s requirements, the Supertanker’s versatile application system will disperse retardant under high pressure, for an overwhelming response, or drop retardant equivalent to the speed of falling rain.
    http://www.evergreenaviation.com/supertanker/cpb.html

    Could fire exhausting airplanes could be used to keep the radiation a local event?

  67. Richard Brenne says:

    Eve (#49) – Good points. Listen, Germany is building 26 new coal plants to burn their dirtiest lignite coal and more coal that they import.

    We don’t want nuclear for all the good reasons Joe and many others are saying here. Fine. BUT WE CAN NOT BURN MORE COAL AND EXPECT TO SURVIVE AS A CIVILIZATION AND POSSIBLY SPECIES!

    I do not see anything positive coming out of any of the immense tragedy in Japan unless people like us convince the intelligentsia of the world that we need to conserve, increase efficiency and build WAY, WAY, WAY more solar, wind and the best of the other renewables without burning any more coal but less and less all the time.

    If we kill nuclear just to burn more coal it will ultimately kill not just some, but all of us.

  68. Zetetic says:

    @ Richard Brenne #53:
    But as I pointed out in the other thread (here) , and the “With new nuclear power on pause” thread also makes clear, that is a false dichotomy.

    Nuclear is not the the only alternative to fossil fuels, and it’s not even the best alternative. Yes, using renewables is more complicated than just building more nuclear plants, but it’s already being done. Plus renewables are ultimately cheaper and far safer (as what’s happening in Japan clearly shows).

  69. catman306 says:

    I wish this wasn’t in this morning’s news:

    Georgia’s reactor plans questioned
    By LEE SHEARER – lee.shearer@onlineathens.com
    Published Tuesday, March 15, 2011
    Buzz up!
    As fear over a nuclear disaster in Japan mounted and European countries put a temporary freeze on nuclear construction, Southern Co. officials told Georgia regulators on Monday that they plan to move ahead with two new reactors in Georgia.
    http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/031511/new_799772970.shtml

  70. Stephen Watson says:

    Mulga Mumblebrain says:
    “The Japanese nuclear industry has a long history of secrecy and looseness with the facts, so I’d expect the situation to be graver than so far appears.”

    I think you will find that the word “Japanese” in that sentence is redundant.

  71. Vic says:

    The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was informed by Japanese authorities that the fire took place at a storage pond for spent fuel rods at the plant’s number 4 unit, and that radioactivity was released directly into the atmosphere at dose rates equivalent to 4,000 chest X-rays every hour.

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/east-pacific/Dangerous-Radiation-Levels-Reported-at-Japans-Stricken-Nuclear-Plant-117995699.html

  72. Robert says:

    Events like the Japenese tsunami get labeled as “natural disasters”. I prefer to think of it as a man-made disaster.

    Before man came along a tsunami would just have uprooted a few trees and moved some silt around. A couple of years later you would hardly notice anything had happened. It takes man, with our houses, boats, cars, nuclear power stations, fragile stock markets and so on to convert it into a “natural disaster”.

    BTW, how could the China syndrome” ever have happened? Surely the uranium would have found it’s way to the centre of the earth and stopped, 4000 miles short of China?

  73. jcwinnie says:

    Joseph, Joseph, Joseph, you are missing the point here. Of course, the powers at be don’t listen to scientists. Scientists have null hypotheses and never prove anything. Can’t take that to the bank, now can we, me boy?

    Technology, that’s the key. You can buy and sell technology, and toss it away. Science deals in principles; technology is product.

    Do you see? Science is the real problem because it gives those government regulators jobs. Coal ash ponds, spent fuel pools, all the fault of scientists, just ask our TVA bosses.

    Do you worry where your smartphone will go when it is outmoded next year? Heck,no. Toss it away and get another one.

    Climate Progress, eh? Where’s the progressive thinking? As cute Grist commentator progressisbest posted about your Japan Syndrome post reposted on Grist:

    Am I the only one who is thinking this disaster is being used to condemn a climate friendly energy source? While I’m cautious and critical of nuclear power; I also believe it can be utilized safely and effectively to diversify our energy portfolio. While historically there have been serious public threats (Three mile island, Chernobyl), there have also been energy systems, like the one in France, that have had relatively few problems using nuclear power to supply 70% of their electricity needs.

    I would like to live in a world where wind, solar, and waste-sourced fuels are taken seriously and develop enough to combat climate change, but until then, I would like to continue utilizing nuclear power in safe ways. How about some improved location planning? How about better structural engineering that addresses a wide scope of natural and human error disaster scenarios?

    Scrapping a carbon neutral energy source because of a random event may not be the best policy considering nuclear power’s ability to help address, in my opinion, a greater environmental threat-climate change.
    —-
    Nicely put, eh? The Chooster could not have done better.

    Best get with what has been decided as The Program, Professor Joe. How come my laptop isn’t nuclear powered, eh? I best everyone is going to have them at the 2014 Democratic National Convention.

    Let’s be Thing King Ahead, shall we?

  74. S. Majumder says:

    loved the line : “In the reality-free zone of the U.S. conservative media” .. so apt.

  75. catman306 says:

    Robert, there’s an old saying in the US that “if you dig a hole straight through the Earth you’ll get to China” which is where “The China Syndrome” (1980 movie) got it’s name. It’s inaccurate because I think you’ll wind up in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

    As to whether anyone could have predicted this I present this 2005 music video
    Coldplay Don’t Panic

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1horffGyO0

    Notice the power plants.

  76. C. Vink says:

    15.10 GMT

    According to TEPCO the spent fuel pool cannot be filled with water anymore, which can give rise to further escallation.

  77. C. Vink says:

    Gov’t eyes using SDF choppers to cool spent fuel pool at nuke plant

    TOKYO, March 15, Kyodo

    The government is considering using Self-Defense Forces helicopters to pour water on the spent fuel pool of one of the troubled reactors at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture to help cool it, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Tuesday.

    Read more: http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78308.html

    One shouldn’t be suprised if – not unlike at Tsjernobyl – in a next stage the military will desperately begin to dump sand, latex, concrete, borium etc from the air…

  78. Vic says:

    Wind direction has changed. Radiation cloud now heading east.
    Unconfirmed reports of cooling problems in reactors 5 & 6.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/tens-of-thousands-dead-as-japan-scrambles-to-avert-nuclear-catastrophe/story-fn84naht-1226022115856

  79. J Bowers says:

    Someone’s notes on Sir John Beddington’s talk with the British Embassy in Tokyo today:

    “15 March 2011 10:31AM [GMT]

    At around 5 PM Japan time today the UK government’s Chief Scientific officer John Beddington spoke to the British Embassy in Tokyo, and to others listening in on the teleconference, and gave us some information about worst case scenarios at the Fukushima plant.
    I made the following notes on what was said and found it very reassuring:

    1. Worst case scenario (reactor explodes) problems would only affect a 30 km radius around the plant.
    2. No health problems expected outside this 30 km area. Today’s reports of increased radiation in Tokyo are trivial. The increase in radiation they are reporting is not significant. It would need to be 100s of times that level to cause any problems.
    3. An allowable dose would be 100 times the background radiation.
    4. They can monitor radiation levels in the area from outside Japan, so there is no cover up going on. Conspiracy theorists stand down.
    5. In Chernobyl the top blew off the reactor and then the core caught fire and burnt. This convection pushed all radioactive material higher and higher into the air where it reached 30,000 feet and so the spread was much larger.
    Here, a build up of pressure as the radioactive material interacts with the containment floor would cause an explosion that would only reach as high as around 500 meters. This would contain any dangerous material within the 20 to 30 km exclusion zone.
    6. If all attempts at cooling the reactors fail, a worst case scenario, then there would be an explosion, but this blast would only throw radioactive material up to 500 meters, and the 30 km containment zone stands.
    7. Acceptable levels of radiation are based on the most susceptible members of society (children and pregnant mothers). So right now, the levels outside the 30 km zone are fine for all members of society.
    8. No matter how strong the wind, the radioactive material released after an explosion of the core wouldn’t make it to Tokyo.

    These are just the main points I picked up, a transcript/podcast will apparently be uploaded to the British Embassy’s Japan Web site. It was reassuring to hear a calm but informed perspective.”

  80. lizardo says:

    Remember when here on Climate Progress we were lamenting that the media still kept referring to the BP oilaclipse as a “spill”? Well here we still have the media using the word “leak” and I’m wondering at what point is a leak a [insert best word here] i.e. the dumping of the bulk of the contents of the reactor to the air, soil, water, ocean etc.

  81. John Hollenberg says:

    Well, at least we don’t have human error contributing to the problem–NOT:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-quake-web-20110315,0,3885072,full.story

    “Engineers had begun using fire hoses to pump seawater into the Unit 2 reactor — the third at the plant to receive the last-ditch treatment — after the emergency cooling system failed. Company officials said workers were not paying sufficient attention to the process, however, and let the pump stall, allowing the fuel rods to become partially exposed to the air.

    Once the pump was restarted and water flow was restored, another worker inadvertently closed a valve that was designed to vent steam from the containment vessel. As pressure built up inside the vessel, the pumps could no longer force water into it and the fuel rods were once again exposed.”

  82. J Bowers says:

    Glenn Beck just went a step too far.

    Japan disaster ‘a message from God’, warns Glenn Beck

    Certifiable.

  83. PurpleOzone says:

    Large chunks were rising and falling in the plume from the 3rd explosion (I think, the TV replays stuff). These were visible but barely in the brown smoke. There were 10 visible at least the size of a bus.

    I suppose these were chunks of concrete.

  84. Bob Doublin says:

    Why do the [**] mormons have to wait until they’re dead before they get another planet to rule over?Why can’t they give Beck one now?-several thousand light years away and preferably around a sun soon to go nova

  85. C. Vink says:

    @J Bowers March 15, 2011 at 10:53 am:

    ‘Worst case scenario (reactor explodes) problems would only affect a 30 km radius around the plant.’

    Only??? It seems you’re very serious, so I’m afraid I can’t take you very serious anymore.

  86. Prokaryotes says:

    #77 jcwinnie “Am I the only one who is thinking this disaster is being used to condemn a climate friendly energy source? ”

    No, if you factor in climate disruption, nuclear energy generation simply does not work. Because even today france has to important every year electricitiy because they need to shut down nuke plants from to hot river waters. And earthquakes are more common in a climate disrupted world.

  87. Prokaryotes says:

    I think what we see today in japan will happen everywhere in the years ahead, because of catastrophic climate disruption.

  88. Mike # 22 says:

    Mikhail @ 60 “Once you can no longer put people on site, all the processes will follow to their “natural” conclusion. If any of that includes exposing much of the spent fuel stored in all 6 reactor buildings to the air, then, well, it is up to wind patterns at that stage and whether various components explode as well as “just” burning.”

    Also, let’s not forget the several hundred tons of spent rods in the swimming pool behind no 4.

    TEPCO states that there was a total of 1760 tons of uranium stored at Daiichi as of March 2010. Some at each reactor, several hundred tons in the swimming pool, and also in some dry casks.

  89. Richard Brenne says:

    Zetetic (#71) – In theory we are in complete agreement that nuclear doesn’t need to be replaced by coal.

    In reality, which is a helpful place to at least occasionally visit, people demand energy, waste it, and coal companies, utilities, their PR machine and every other mechanism of reality will replace nuclear energy with coal, as they’re doing with 26 new coal power plants in Germany, which is the best example of the commitment to renewables of any large nation.

    You and I and everyone here can and need to work together to do everything we can to prevent coal replacing nuclear, but denying basic reality is not a good place to begin.

  90. Paul K2 says:

    Excerpts from J Bowers March 15, 2011 at 10:53 am comment covering worst case scenarios in Sir John Beddington’s teleconference:

    5. In Chernobyl the top blew off the reactor and then the core caught fire and burnt. This convection pushed all radioactive material higher and higher into the air where it reached 30,000 feet and so the spread was much larger.

    Here, a build up of pressure as the radioactive material interacts with the containment floor would cause an explosion that would only reach as high as around 500 meters. This would contain any dangerous material within the 20 to 30 km exclusion zone.

    6. If all attempts at cooling the reactors fail, a worst case scenario, then there would be an explosion, but this blast would only throw radioactive material up to 500 meters, and the 30 km containment zone stands.

    7. Acceptable levels of radiation are based on the most susceptible members of society (children and pregnant mothers). So right now, the levels outside the 30 km zone are fine for all members of society.
    8. No matter how strong the wind, the radioactive material released after an explosion of the core wouldn’t make it to Tokyo.

    The worst case scenarios don’t seem to have been brainstormed and organized (affinity organizing) properly. Here are some additional worst case scenarios, some which have reasonable cascade failures:

    A. The water cover on the spent fuel pools is lost, resulting in the large quantity of spent fuel overheating and causing a continuous thermal plume of air, that could carry radioactive material up over 1000 meters. Then one of the reactors melts down and a steam explosion occurs, heating the existing plume of radioactive contaminated air to over 3000 meters. The wind shifts, such that this radioactive plume is carried over Tokyo, resulting in the evacuation of over 20 million people.

    B. Unit 3 undergoes a steam explosion in the torus, and the radioactive and thermally hot core is expelled from the reactor and ends up in the tidal zone at the beach. The plutonium fuel used in Unit 3 begins to dissolve into the extremely hot sea water surrounding the core, and a continuous flow of plutonium contaminated seawater is circulated along the Japanese coast. Eventually the plutonium contaminated seawater moves with the ocean current up into the Gulf of Alaska, and then down along the west coast of North America, resulting in a large area of plutonium contaminated ocean surface layer.

    C. Unit 3 undergoes an explosion in the torus similar to what likely happened on Unit 2, but larger, creating a plume of plutonium contamination up to 500 meters. Then (because of interruption of cooling water flow due to the explosion of Unit 3?) Unit 2 and Unit 1 explode in a domino fashion, propelling the plutonium plume to over 3000 meters. If the wind directions are toward Tokyo, then the plutonium contamination can cause lethal doses across the entire Tokyo-Yokohama region.

    Could the experts address these worst case scenarios?

  91. Aaron Lewis says:

    “Corium” is the result of reactor fuel melt. it is material that includes fuel, cladding, steel, and decomposed concrete, all fused into a mass.

    It looks like we are going to have a good chance to learn a lot more about “Corium” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corium_(nuclear_reactor) in the next few . . . . Well, as soon a things cool down so we can go in and look. (I am not going.)

    We have pools of fuel at reactors around the world. Maybe we should put it someplace, a whole lot safer?

    Whether or not we build new reactors, we need to do something about the fuel pools around the world.

  92. C. Vink says:

    The Guardian reports:
    http://tinyurl.com/6goea9t

    17.53 GMT: The radiation plume from Fukushima could reach Tokyo, a US scientists’ organisation has warned.The Union of Concerned Scientists said in a telephone briefing that the plume could travel hundreds of miles.

    17.02 GMT: One of the men brought in to clean up Chernobyl has strongly criticised Japan and the IAEA over the current problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Reuters reports. Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev said a fire today, which released radiation, involving spent fuel rods stored close to reactors, looked like an example of putting profit before safety. Andreev said:

    The Japanese were very greedy and they used every square inch of the space. But when you have a dense placing of spent fuel in the basin you have a high possibility of fire if the water is removed from the basin.

    He said of the IAEA:

    “This is only a fake organisation because every organisation which depends on the nuclear industry – and the IAEA depends on the nuclear industry – cannot perform properly.
    It always will try to hide the reality. The IAEA … is not interested in the concentration of attention on a possible accident in the nuclear industry. They are totally not interested in all the emergency organisations.”

    Best online updates (text) on the Fukushima-disaster:

    ZDF (Heute, German): http://www.heute.de/
    ARD (Tageschau, German): http://www.tagesschau.de/nachrichtenticker/

    Second best:

    The Guardian: http://tinyurl.com/6goea9t

  93. Prokaryotes says:

    Live Tokio Geiger Counter, till 500 it is considered relatively safe.
    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/geiger-counter-tokyo

  94. Aaron Lewis says:

    Re # 83

    That Fate and Transport schema is already failing: See what a real weatherman says about current transport of current emissions: http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1764

  95. Prokaryotes says:

    Reactor Design in Japan Has Long Been Questioned

    The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a Mark 1 nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.

    Questions about the G.E. reactor design escalated in the mid-1980s, when Harold Denton, an official with the N.R.C., asserted that Mark 1 reactors had a 90 percent probability of bursting should the fuel rods overheat and melt in an accident. A follow-up report from a study group convened by the commission concluded that “Mark 1 failure within the first few hours following core melt would appear rather likely.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16contain.html?_r=1

  96. Prokaryotes says:

    Several utilities and plant operators also threatened to sue G.E. in the late 1980s after the disclosure of internal company documents dating back to 1975 that suggested the containment vessel designs were either insufficiently tested or had flaws that could compromise safety.

    Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project with Beyond Nuclear, an organization opposed to nuclear power, says that regulators and utilities began raising concerns about the containment design as far back as the 1970s.

    “The key concern has always been that the containment structure was undersized, and that a potential accident could overwhelm and rupture it,” Mr. Gunter said.

  97. Zetetic says:

    Richard Brenne @ #93 said:

    In reality, which is a helpful place to at least occasionally visit, people demand energy, waste it, and coal companies, utilities, their PR machine and every other mechanism of reality will replace nuclear energy with coal, as they’re doing with 26 new coal power plants in Germany, which is the best example of the commitment to renewables of any large nation.

    First of all, I did a little digging about your “26 new coal plants” line that you keep repeating and found that it dates from 2007 and with a little more digging I found that the plans were scrapped. So yes, reality is a helpful place to visit. It’s also a good idea not to place too much faith in Wikipedia. ;)

    Secondly, as far as wasting energy goes most of that can be solved by setting (and enforcing) energy efficiency regulations. Once again the solution is already in place in most countries, it just needs to be taken further.

    You and I and everyone here can and need to work together to do everything we can to prevent coal replacing nuclear, but denying basic reality is not a good place to begin.

    As has already been shown in this thread here…
    With new nuclear power on pause, here’s a practical, affordable (and safe) clean electricity plan

    The fact remains that nuclear is both more expensive and much less safe than renewables. To ignore that is to deny basic reality. To state that we can only get at most 10% from renewables after a 10 year massive WWII style push (as you did in the other thread) is also to ignore reality when many countries (and some states) have already exceeded that target without the massive push of WWII style effort.

    Some links for additional plans to move forward with renewables can be found in my recent reply to you (on the other thread) here.

  98. C. Vink says:

    Perhaps my comment dated March 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm has been filtered out for same reason? In my opinion it is fairly on topic and I’ll not keep on posting follow ups – so I hope the comment will be published. Thanks.

  99. dbmetzger says:

    A worst case pictorial scenario
    Views of Chernobyl
    Various views of Chernobyl, Ukraine. http://www.newslook.com/videos/297925-views-of-chernobyl?autoplay=true

  100. windsong says:

    Mother Nature finally started fighting back this year!
    Lesson: don’t f– with Mother Nature!!

  101. Prokaryotes says:

    Problems surface at another nuclear reactor at Fukushima plant
    A fire — now extinguished — at a spent fuel pool on the roof of reactor No. 4 has authorities concerned. The fuel rods in the pond are not enclosed in a containment vessel
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-sci-0316-japan-reactor-damage-20110315,0,2517772.story

  102. Prokaryotes says:

    Japanese Victims Flee Area Near Power Plant

    First there was the earthquake, then the tsunami, and now the crisis in Japan is only getting more complicated with the nuclear plant. After another explosion and fire was reported at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japan’s prime minister announced in a televised address that those living within about a 20-mile radius of the nuclear complex should stay inside their homes. But people did the exact opposite. Some packed their cars, others got into buses, and residents simply headed west — many toward Koriyama City. http://www.npr.org/2011/03/15/134573310/Japanese-Victims-Flee-Area-Near-Power-Plant

    Many with no food and water supplies nor electricity.

  103. Prokaryotes says:

    Japan safety agency: roof cracked at Fukushima No 4 reactor

    Two workers are missing after Tuesday’s explosion at one of the reactors at a crippled Japanese nuclear plant, the country’s nuclear safety agency said.

    The agency did not identify the missing workers, but said they were in the turbine area of the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami.
    Agency official also told a news conference there was a crack in the roof of the reactor building.
    Authorities are desperately trying to prevent the water which is designed to cool the radioactive cores of the plant’s reactors from running dry, which would lead to overheating and the release of dangerous radioactive material into the atmosphere.
    It was possible the water in the reactor was boiling, the agency said.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42097058

  104. Prokaryotes says:

    They should position a ship with several pumps and spray the entire site with water. They should use robots to go inside and direct target water spraying where it is required.

  105. adelady says:

    10% renewables after a 10 year WWII effort? That’s just silly.

    Here in South Australia our windpower delivers 15ish% of electricity. Most importantly, the only reason it’s that low is the grid inadequacies near a few ideal wind farm sites. A WWII effort would upgrade the grid in a few months in many more places than just the few now affected. It would also extend the grid to the geo-thermal source areas and develop those, pronto.

    A WWII style effort in places like Oz and US with abundant natural energy sources would deal with the issue in much less time than anyone has yet seriously proposed.

  106. Prokaryotes says:

    From reddit

    To the people working to fix the reactors: Thank you.

    http://i.imgur.com/f5vWZ.jpg

  107. Zetetic says:

    @ adelady:
    Not to mention Australia’s huge solar potential…

    People that seem to defend nuclear as a more practical alternative to coal seem to drastically underestimate how much untapped potential energy there is, as well as the cost of nuclear. Some of these same pro-nuclear power advocates seem to mistake a lack of progress due to political resistance (and laziness) in some countries as “proof” that renewables can’t be used in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

    If the USA devoted just a small portion of what it spends on the military on renewables and improving efficiency instead, the country could be energy independent (and off of coal) for power generation in a decade easily. I wouldn’t be surprised if a true WWII style effort could turn the USA from a major carbon emitter to a carbon sink (or at least completely carbon neutral) in the same time span.

  108. Prokaryotes says:

    Reactor IV roof collapsed and burning again. Desperate situation +++ NHK announces they cannot burry the dead because of the order to stay inside because of the fallout plumes. +++ They have not enough diesel +++ They asking people now for shelters …

    Ladies and gentlemen we witness the worst human suffering in human history.

  109. Prokaryotes says:

    Now they report about influence threats, some areas are covered today under snow and some areas experience bush fires. Supplies are scarce.

    I have trouble to think of a more apocalyptic scene.

  110. Prokaryotes says:

    The Fuk -uh chima, “die itchy” nuclear plant … atm covered in smoke!

  111. Prokaryotes says:

    ONAGAWA, Japan — Armed not with rifles but long poles to poke for bodies, soldiers in camouflage fatigues on Monday completed another small mission in the Japanese military’s most gruesome battle since World War II. They hoisted the remains of an elderly woman into the back of a white Suzuki pickup.

    Entombed for four days in a heap of debris, all that remains of her home, the woman was one of 5,700 people who, according to local residents, disappeared in this once placid, picturesque seaside town Friday afternoon. That was when a tsunami thundered in across the harbor, rose to nearly 100 feet tall and pulverized the community.

    The discovery Tuesday of more bodies by the Japan Self-Defense Force added evidence for a conclusion that survivors here still desperately hope is wrong — that most of those who vanished Friday are dead. That would mean that more than half of Onagawa’s population of fishermen, cannery workers, tour guides, bureaucrats, Pachinko parlor staff and others perished. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/in-onagawa-japans-tsunami-destroys-community/2011/03/15/ABxUi9Z_story.html

  112. Prokaryotes says:

    Could someone please instruct CNN / NHK to not say “die itchy”?

  113. sailrick says:

    Somewhere today, I read that 24 nuclear plants(out of 104) in the U.S. are the same type as those in Japan. That’s nearly one in four.

  114. Prokaryotes says:

    Expert: Too Early to Criticize Japan Nuke Crisis
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZAzK-dM008&feature=player_embedded#at=107

  115. Bill Waterhouse says:

    sailrick – I heard 23 of them on CNN. Their expert said time to shut them all done. Where are they?

  116. Bill Waterhouse says:

    oops – down not done

  117. Bill Waterhouse says:

    OMG – smoke coming from plant and all workers pulled due to high radiation levels.

  118. adelady says:

    The workers have been allowed back in. They were only off-site for less than an hour.

  119. Artful Dodger says:

    Fukushima Dai-ichi Reactor Unit 3 runs on mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. That’s right, Uranium and Plutonium.

  120. Mary Ellen Marucci says:

    THis unfolding catastrophe has been my nightmare since 1986 when I realised that the NRC and DOE were hell bent on getting the nuclear “spent” fuel into niceneat concentrated containers for eventual shipment for porcessing into mixed fuel or for bombs.
    I had the experience to hear first hand of the unfolding of a near spent fuel meltdown at a Connecticut plant in the early 90′s. On the forth or fifth of jJuly!

    Loss of power, badckup generator1 out for maintenance, b.gen2 working but then one pump failed to pump water and the second was connceted to a cooling system that did not work! Having just received a full core download the day before the pool was less than two hours to boil-off. The operators from the control room initiated the Emergency Core Cooling System, which was not needed for the reactor since it was now empty of fuel, and switched it over to cool the pool. A worker who just happened through the reactor building called the control room and inquired about the water on the floor of the building. A valve that should have been closed after they transfered the fuel from the reactor to the pool was left open and the ECCS water was flowing out of the pool along with water that was originally in the pool. In my College tech class exam we were asked how long it would take for the pool to heat up and loose enough water to leave just 2″ of water over the rods.
    The 2″ was used because the pool outlet was that high. So an accidental draining would not uncover the fuel. But this case included accidental draining and failure of heat removal pumps to work. Two things went wrong. Besides the worker stujmbling into the water, another thing happened right, the power came back up in time to both cool and refurbish the lost water. the event was reported but not in any deetail, and the NRDC did not do anything about it. In fact they allowed the company (Northeast Utilities) to not have any criticqality monitors in the pool! The reason I was aware of it was my organization was challenging their packing the fuel so close in the pool that we thought it might go critical when the borated panels crumbled with age, but they would not hear it and granted NU& the paper fix to the overpacked pool. NU though was more conservative and I heard later that they put control rods into the spent fuel assemblies to keep them from going critical when the borated panels finally disintegrate. But that is only 1 waste pool out of almost 100 here in the USA!
    me_marucci@hotmail.com