Fukushima One Year: Apocalypse Not – Nuclear No

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[Fukushima Nuclear Crisis|Simplyinfo]

The mainstream media continues to ignore the heroic efforts in Japan to control the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site which remains a huge mess. Some of this smells like the usual “no White Americans Were Harmed So We Don’t Have to Report this” problem because they are actually doing an amazing amount of heroic stuff to try to fix or figure out how to fix the problem, because if these reactors were at Indian Point near New York City or San Ofre near Los Angeles or San Diego we certainly would be getting daily coverage as the Japan mainstream press is reporting

This unfortunately unfortunately leaves the “progressive alternative press” to cover the nuclear crisis in the West. So if you look through their lens, be sure to also not ignore their ties to the 9/11 truth movement and the rest of the conspiracy-sphere. My view of conspiracy theorists is that they are paid by enemies of the United States and its allies to convince Americans who are unable or unwilling to tell the difference between Good and Evil to believe the opposite of the truth. For some reason there is a rats-nest of stuff that is all promoted by a network of Putin-ist Russian, Ahmadinejad Iranian, Islamist and anti-Zionist conspiracy theory Ron-Paul-Supporter and neo-Nazi neo-Confederate white-nationalist media which heavily promotes the more panic-inducing stories.

Crisis Events in Ten Seconds

Earthquake. Plant Shakes. Pipes break. Radiation leaks. Workers flee. Tsunami comes, floods up to first floor, flooding generators and turning out lights and backup systems. Waves destroy cooling system for generators and heat removal system. Fire engines pump sea water into reactor 1. Unit 1 quickly overheats with no cooling. and melts down as workers try to open vents. Hydrogen blows out roof. Units 2 and 3 melt down after steam-driven pumps also fail and seawater pumped by fire trucks into reactors. Unit 3 blows out roof and side walls just as an army unit drives up, but nobody is killed and lid stays on reactor well. Unit 4 blows out its walls and guts even though it’s not even running. Helicopter and then fire engines pump water into fuel pools. Steam carries iodine and cesium across Fukushima countryside and even US carrier, and even hits Tokyo at low levels and North America at very low levels in milk and food for a short time, and is now showing up in sewage and river fish. Radiation dies down to low levels, and Tepco calls it a cold shutdown though it is actually a warm hell-of-a-mess. Tepco puts a tent around unit 1, pokes cameras and robots around units 2, 3 and 4. They come up with a way to remove fuel from unit 4, but don’t have the slightest idea of how to dismantle units 1, 2, or 3 safely, and there is a tiny chance a unit 4 failure could destroy half the planet, but other than that by 2012 everything is just fine.

What has Japan done so far?

Nuclear Industry: ALL OF JAPAN’S REACTORS ARE SHUT DOWN due to maintenance and the small problem that nobody wants to risk starting any of them back up because they can’t prove they are 101% safe. And that’s because as Fukushima proved, you cannot design a plant or train people to handle everything Mother Nature might throw at you, no matter how much General Electric bragged about how it performed brilliantly up to “design basis”. If the combined tsunami and earthquake was beyond what it was designed to take, of course it was going to melt down and spread radiation all over the place turning the entire prefecture and fishing industry into an economic desert and no-man’s land with no possible way for any of the displaced residence to make a living there ever again, and be impossible to clean up until the end of time.

Unit 1:

This is the one the melted down first, and was soon leaking so much radiation that people sent to try to manually vent the steam had to go back because it was too high. Unit 1 also had the “white” hydrogen explosion that blew out the side walls of the top floor, and the roof collapsed onto the crane and fuel pool. The lower walls were all intact. They’ve built a huge shell over unit 1 to reduce radiation leakage from steam.

Unit 2:

This is the one whee the building did not blow up, but fuel also melted down completely after cooling system went kaput after a couple of days without electrical power. Only one small side panel on the east either blew out or people ran up and popped out that had some steam leaking out. It’s the only one where radiation is low enough they could send people into Unit 2 to send an endoscope (a camera on a cable) through a hole in the side of the containment bulb to look at the bottom of the containment pit that has just a couple feet of water covering the melted fuel there. The video showed showed flashing streaks due to high radiation. They were hoping that there was a lot of water, but instead, it was nearly dry as water drained down to the torus. They then sent a robot around the half-flooded torus basement to look for leak, but they didn’t find any visible leaks or damage. The water is emitting 100 msv which is mostly gamma radiation from cesium for which cloth protective clothing is useless and is enough to induce radiation sickness in hours.

While cameras showed metal coverings of ducts had fallen, Tepco thought it was due to the earthquake. Close ups of what _I_ saw looks a hell of a lot like there was some sort of moderate explosion that was violent enough to blow out layers of of insulation as no mere shaking would pop off the outer skin of a round duct that looked more like what a hydrogen explosion that violently expanded a duct could do, and explain the explosion that was heard.

Tepco hopes to flood the containment with water, but in my view it’s obvious that the torus and containment was never designed to cope with the enormous water pressure of flooding the containment rather than just the pressure cooker rpv, and the fact that the basement is flooded up to the torus deck (and wall stains show it may have flooded much higher) proves that there are small leaks. In my mind the only way to flood the containment is to somehow cut and seal off all of the “downcomers” which were meant to send steam to the basement.

Unit 3:

This unit had a more advanced steam-turbine driven cooling system which conked out after a few days, causing a meltdown and violently exploded sending debris sky high in a dark plume. This was the one where it is thought that uranium from the core was found miles away, and the largest amount of radioactive materials was spread by the steam plume. Even though the reactor cap remained in place even during the violent explosion, plumes of steam from the edges of the cap show that it obviously leaked contaminated steam for weeks which containinmated the countryside, and to much lesser extent even reached Tokyo though at levels that only created widely isolated hotspots and caused alarm in tea grown around Tokyo. Tepco thinks it was a hydrogen explosion, Atomic Arnie thought it was prompt critical heating of the fuel pond though new photos show the stored fuel rods did not show any damage. Ian Goddard thinks melted fuel hit water on the floor and caused a steam explosion which isn’t widely accepted either. The idea that it was Israeli nuclear charges sounds like a story promoted by the state of Iran along with 9/11 conspiracy theories.

There is also a theory that there was a SECOND meltdown days later indicated by black smoke seen in photos which produced a second round of even more fission byproducts that were scattered across the nearby countryside and, to a lesser extent, Tokyo.

The press never did give a good description of the damage which completely blew out the walls and roof panels, and all of the roof girders north and south of the reactor core, collapsed the crane and top floor west wall, blew all of the concrete walls and some of the massive concrete pillars of the two floors below the fueling level. It completely collapsed the northwest corner of the refueling floor. The fueling pool was feared to be in danger of drying so helicopters tried to dump water on it before fire engines sprayed water onto it. Only in the past month have cameras shown that the fueling platform fell into the pool, and all of the fuel assemblies so far appear to be undamaged, though covered with debris. Both this pool and #4 are open to the air, filled with debris from explosions, and saltwater which can corrode the fuel and become radioactive from contact with spent fuel.

Unit 4:

2 workers were drowned in the turbine building when it was flooded by tsunami. The reactor was already dormant, filled with water but with fuel and hardware removed. Tepco believes that hydrogen travelled by ducts from unit 3 into unit 4 where it also exploded, blowing out the roof deck, and most of the walls of the top floor, along with many of the lower walls. This explosion was not caught on video, but was quite visible when a helicopter fly-by showed the damage, and the building just looks like hell. Some photos were believed to show the building to be leaning though TEPCO says it has reinforced the fuel pool with extra struts and concrete. A concrete pump was used to put water into the pool which was mistakenly believed to be dry by early American intelligence estimates

TEPCO has unveiled a plan by which they will build a new building over the pool, with a crane which will be able to pull the fuel out, and put it either in the reactor well or equipment pool, or put it into a water-filled container where it can be lifted out and down to ground level where it can be place presumably into the ground-level fuel pool which is safer. They’ve already removed much of the Unit 4 roof structure, though they did it so quietly American bloggers were wondering if pieces had collapsed when they first saw live video showing girders missing

The doomsday scenario being promoted by Alex Jones and the conspiracy-sphere is that an earthquake or tsunami could cause the damaged building to collapse, and once in open air, the fuel is hot enough that it would burn uncontrollably and require not only evacuating Tokyo but the entire US West Coast if not the entire northern hemisphere. Rod Adams, nuclear industry apologist on the other hand says these fuel rods aren’t nearly that hot and could be cooled by air, which is news to me, but if that’s right, that’s very reassuring.

Overall Lessons:

My view, as a former pro-nuclear guy is that I still believe that on a death per kilowatt basis, nuclear still produces the fewest deaths of any power source, and it’s fine when it works properly for the most part. However, all bets are off when there is damage to fuel rods or pipes, especially if there is a full melt down. Once that happens and radiation is released at Chernobyl or Fukushima levels, there is no safe way to operate, fix or dismantle the plant. Fukushima is not a safe worksite today and can never be operated or salvaged safely.

The only sure way to have prevented Fukushima would have been to not build a plant on that site in the first place next to the ocean in an earthquake zone. There’s lots of evidence that 50 ft tsunamis happen once in a long while all over the world. The Fukushima Daiichi was placed 30 ft up on a hill, so no seawall could have protected it, and all of the cooling apparatus that was at sea level was destroyed by the violence and flooding by the waves anyway. Arnie also points out that if happened on a weekend instead of Friday, there might have been a meltdown at the 2nd Daini plant as well for lack of workers. I’ve been the only observer so far to note that the waves only by mere luck went only up to the first floor – if they had gone up one more floor, they would have flooded the control rooms and killed the skilled nuclear operators who were in charge, and not just the two in the turbine building.

There is much evidence that the earthquake alone caused enough damage to pipes that radiation alarms were going off even before the tsunami drowned the diesel generators, and operators mistakenly turned off the Isolation Condensor IC system because wierd stuff was happening. Boiling Water Reactors were predicted to blow up as they did after a meltdown, but Pressurized Water Reactors are just a dependent on diesel power to power cooling systems. As to US-based BWR reactors such as the one at Hanford in Washington State, they may have zero chance of being hit by a tsunami, but it’s still a matter of a LESSER than than a zero liklihood that of some scenario that could cause a similar meltdown

The economy and public safety system is not designed to work with a disaster of this magnitude because the radiation gets into food, fish, wood, and even sewage and used cars, and once that happens everything in the economy has to factor in whether it is radiation-safe. US plants are just as bad, unless we are willing to put in place systems from food to fire departments and put a geiger counter into every home and food processing plant and fishing dock.

Running these reactors brew tons of nasty radioactive stuff that has to be disposed of safely effectively until the end of time. What is the cost of storing anything until the end of time? I would say the cost would have to be infinite, and if you can’t put a finite limit on it, that’s a price we should be wary of paying, especially since the US of all places still doesn’t have a permanent, much less even interim place to put spent nuclear fuel. My position on Yucca mountain is that it may have problems, but we should build SOMETHING for now until we can figure out a better place for beyond 1000 years later.

I’d say that compared to Chernobyl, fewer people died of direct radiation in the first year, but as many as small hundreds have died due to secondary causes by the panic of evacuation as medially fragile patients were essentially abandoned, and others have committed suicide to loss of livelihoods on the order of hundreds.

Some people have died under mysterious circumstances, such as perfectly healthy workers at the Fukushima plant who quickly developed symptoms remarkably like radiation poisoning (“acute lukemia” for example) and died within a day or so. The Japanese government and TEPCO official maintain none were caused by radiation, but even if those were radiation related they don’t sound like they amount to even a dozen cases.

I’d say for Japan and Germany, it’s probably time to shut down all of the reactors. In the US, where nuclear power is still much safer and opinion isn’t ready to shut down everything right away, I’d say we should start thinking some economical and practical way of eventually shutting them all down when we had plants in 2011 that were nearly inundated by river floods and had their earthquake design limits exceeded as it appears the low-probability of failures aren’t anywhere near as low as we thought as when these plants were designed.

Rod Adams The Anti-Arnie

So here is Rod Adams. He is much less popular than Uncle Arnie, but he is one of the nuclear industry apologists that I see a lot of in countering some of the alarmist stuff that is almost always only one or two links from some conspiracy theory or enemy disinformation website or author. Technically I like a lot of what Arnie says, but I’m much more comfortable with Rod’s lack of friends who are dedicated to the destruction of capitalism and Judeo-Christian western civilization.

Debunking Fukushima Fuel Fable

Exposing Robert Alvarez, Arnie Gundersen, Kevin Kamps and Paul Gunter as spinners of tall tales with regard to their predictions of catastrophe due to imaginary problems at the Fukushima Daiichi unit 4 spent fuel pool.

Robert Alvarez Exposed on No Agenda Show

So with proper introduction, here is the “time to panic” side of the story:

Atomic Arnie on 9/11 Truther Alex Jones Internet TV show

Mike Adams presents a Fukushima mega-meltdown special on the Friday, May 11 edition of the Alex Jones Show. Adams talks with Arnie Gundersen, the chief engineer of energy consulting company Fairewinds Associates and a former nuclear power industry executive. Mr. Gundersen continues to warn about the cataclysmic potential of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant and is now warning about serious problems at the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego. This segment includes Alex Jones hawking water filters for the coming apocalypse

Arnie’s Errors

  • Photo of reactor 3 shows fuel pool damage The shot was looking at the northeast corner, which was indeed a collapsed mess, but he fuel pool was NOT VISIBLE in the opposite corner, photos available long before showed an intact fuel pool from above
  • Prompt critical explosion blew fuel bits a mile away: Photos inside the pool showed the explosion blew the fueling platform INTO the pool, and the fuel assemblies are intact, not twisted wreckage.
  • Borax II explosion was like unit 3: Borax II was a deliberate increase in power which blew the fuel and reactor guts sky high. This is exactly what happened at Chernobyl (by accident), but not at Unit 3 where the reactor had already melted down due to lack of cooling, not taking out control rods.
  • “tents [Unit 1]– increase the dispersion of radioactive gases…pump radiation out through stacks, which will push radiation up to a higher elevation, dispersing it even further around the world. link but Nancy
    Foust of SimplyInfo found that Unit 1 air handling system filters the air before sending it out by the stacks

About the Author

MIT electrical engineering computer science graduate has written conservative columns on politics, race / culture, science and education since the 70s in MIT The Tech and various publications in including New Republic and National Review.