Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: Wrong Valve Was Open in Kurion's System

Or so TEPCO says. The company also says it was the worker's error.

From what I can figure from the TEPCO's handout for the press in English on June 23 (their English reads like Google translation...maybe it is), the problem was in the Skid No.4 of the cesium absorption. One valve was open which shouldn't have been, letting some of the water bypassing the cesium absorption vessels No. 2 and No.3.

So, will this account for 1/20 of desired performance by the Kurion system? TEPCO is running the test with this valve closed.

11 comments:

Antony said...

NHK says: "Contaminated water was supposed to pass through 3 absorbent chambers. But it was found that some water passed through only one chamber, because "open" and "shut" indications on a valve had been incorrect."

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/23_21.html

Pretty smart, eh?

netudiant said...

This is not that unusual when starting up any system that has a complicated and flexible set of flow control valves.
However, given that the setup is seriously radioactive, even after a clean water backwash, it is not easy to troubleshoot.
Imho, these problems are not especially surprising and the key development is that the process does appear to reduce the overall radioactivity of the water by more that 99%, possibly much more. If TEPCO can keep it running, they have the water problem on its way to an adequate solution.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

They are still at the bottom of a VERY tall mountain of problems and they haven't even forded the river yet. Even if they ever manage to get their glorified Brita filter working they still need to do what Chernobyl hasn't managed to do after 25 years of farting around. People act like filtering a little dirty water is going to be the end of the problems instead of just the beginning of "the undiscovered country". Any systems that have been submerged in highly radioactive saltwater for the last few months are trashed. Remember, when this all started TEPCO needed access to the basements to check on equipment and re-wire stuff. Now they need to use their very limited and friable workers just to handle the water processing and the waste it generates before they can do anything of substance .

If the remediation engineers at Chernobyl had waited for a technological means to clean up the scattered fuel and moderator we'd still be waiting. The lesson that was suppose to be learned at Chernobyl was supposed to spawn a legion of capable radiation hardened robot for the next "highly improbable" accident. Instead we have Robot Wars rejects wandering the site with taped on survey meters and steam blinded cameras. It is inexcusable that the nuclear industry hasn't designed a fleet of specialized Robotos with broad-range internal sensors (IR, SONAR, Full range radiation characterization suite etc) and the capability to traverse radioactive water. We can send a space probe to the investigate the Sun and other harsh radiation filled environments and send back detailed information but back here on Earth people are cheaper.

netudiant said...

That the reality of this task has not yet been even vaguely appreciated, in for instance the TEPCO road map, is quite indisputable. This is a decades long effort at best, assuming Japan is prepared to underwrite it.

That said, the reality is that much of the robotic infrastructure needed exists, in France and Germany particularly. KHG in Germany and Groupe INTRA in France both have a full range of nuclear hardened robots developed and have offered them to the Japanese government. These offers have been turned away, partly because operator training takes time and partly perhaps because of embarrassment, that Japan was caught short in this instance. It is also unclear whether any of these robots could function usefully given the flooding in the plant.

A global nuclear cleanup infrastructure will hopefully emerge out of this disaster, so people are not caught short like this again.

Hélios said...

Hello from France:

Take care of you in US :

http://blog.imva.info/medicine/nuclear-doom

Anonymous said...

Couple of links:

From 2007:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Seawater-Could-Trigger-the-Explosion-of-a-Large-Radioactive-Waste-Storage-Facility-in-Russia-56433.shtml

From the 50's:
http://www1.american.edu/ted/URAL.HTM

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ netudiant

"It is also unclear whether any of these robots could function usefully given the flooding in the plant".

I can clarify that for you if they aren't expressly designed to swim in nuclear soup they can't. Murky water is a major problem for devices that are designed to be submerged do your robots have active imagining sonar or do you just duct-tape one on? From What I can see your "full range of robots" encompasses a handful of specialized designed. Maybe since you're so knowledgeable you'll educate us about the exact nature of these robots instead of quoting some corporate press release found in the news.

So they have all these great robots but none of them can swim? What a waste of research and time Fukushima needed water proof robots months ago. You know as well as I do the robots you mention aren't designed to repair anything on the scale of Fukushima most are just R/C versions of heavy equipment with a few small detector bots tossed in. These robots are no more suited for the shattered reactors than AREVA's troubled water treatment plant. Their implementation would be just as haphazard a kludge as their water treatment.

"A global nuclear cleanup infrastructure will hopefully emerge out of this disaster, so people are not caught short like this again".

I heard the exact same thing said after Chernobyl and 25 years later some people are saying the same thing about Fukushima. Hell the global nuclear infrastructure can't even come up with a lid for the trash can of a mess they made out of Chernobyl.

netudiant said...

@ Robbie001 says:
I heard the exact same thing said after Chernobyl and 25 years later some people are saying the same thing about Fukushima. Hell the global nuclear infrastructure can't even come up with a lid for the trash can of a mess they made out of Chernobyl.

Harsh but very true, unfortunately.
Plus you are entirely correct that afaik there are no robots available that can operate in water, much less contaminated water with no visibility. The only relevant designs are the offshore oil industry gear that was deployed for the Gulf spill, and these are not usable here, too big and too clumsy.

Still, for surveying the site, including visiting the reactor buildings and if needed recording instrument readings or manipulating switches the existing stuff is adequate and could have been useful.
That said, it should be clear to the global nuclear industry that they are all in the same boat and that unless they get their act together, the public will no longer accept their existence. Hopefully, this fear will cause some coherent response to emerge, because the alternative energy sources are not great either.

Anonymous said...

"We can send a space probe to the investigate the Sun and other harsh radiation filled environments and send back detailed information .."

@ Robbie,

Jupiter probes come to mind, very harsh radiation environment due to Jupiter's intense magnetic field.

The Cassini probe at Saturn probably has a similar amount of shielding/hardened.

Anonymous said...

Concerning that global nuclear clean-up infrastructure, well, there is one of sorts.

Witness the UK Department for Energy & Climate Change's participation in it, detailed in its "current portfolio".

However, in less than 50 years since Hanford rocked with the world's first plutonium fizz, at least one major nuclear power already collapsed - in 1991 - leaving a legacy of derelict nuke submarine bases, scorched earth, and an exploded reactor that could still total the whole of Europe, the New Safe Containment for which is not expected to be in place before 2015.

Such an organization would be required to have a contigency plan for the collapse of every current nuclear state on Earth.

But also it would require more than that - where/how would it find the resources to cope with simultaneous meltdowns in several countries?

Because, remember, the geniuses running Fukushima reputedly never modelled the combined possible effects of earthquake AND tsunami AND back-up generator failure - but all that happened in a single day.

So why not 10 reactors in meltdown across ten different countries? Or 20 in five countries? or 40 in Japan?

Plus, how much is the decades-long clean-up effort at Fukushima finally going to cost? Will the Japanese economy be able to handle it? (Not just the immediate clean-up costs, but the long-term effects on the economy as a whole.)

And if the Japanese can't afford to do it, who's going to volunteer to share the tab for decommissioning Japan's fleet of 54 ageing nuke plants, once their licenses start to expire?

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@netudiant

"Still, for surveying the site, including visiting the reactor buildings and if needed recording instrument readings"

If you can't read your taped on survey meter how are you going to record instrument readings? I think part of the reason Japan declined the robots is because they know just how superficial their usefulness would actually be in Fukushima at this stage.

"or manipulating switches the existing stuff is adequate and could have been useful".

Maybe you can point to the switches they could manipulate in this room.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/110611_05.jpg

The salt soaked switches in the basements will just snap off how does the robot handle that? Running around saying "Danger Will Robinson" won't help. Can your robots refashion a shattered reactor hulk into a operational cooling station? No, they can't. You need Bio-Robots for complicated repairs.

"That said, it should be clear to the global nuclear industry that they are all in the same boat and that unless they get their act together, the public will no longer accept their existence."

That said, I say, (again) "I heard the exact same thing said after Chernobyl and 25 years later some people are saying the same thing about Fukushima." How exactly is the public going to eschew nuclear power's existence when the media companies they own ignore the problem and allow officials to constantly lie with no concerted hard-hitting critical rebuttal?

Arevamirpal::laprimavera has toiled tirelessly since the beginning to present pertinent information well outside the international MSM scope of interest. You've commended them your self but this excellent reporting has only garnered 60 direct followers (I'm sure readers numbers are substantially higher than followers). This isn't an attack on Lapri the number has been steadily climbing but according to this list the Blogger top 50 isn't flush with hard hitting Fukushima coverage. I could be wrong I didn't check the entire list so feel free to correct me.

http://www.bloggerbuster.com/2008/05/top-50-blogger-powered-blogs.html

When 1,013,451 people like PostSecret were are doomed.

http://www.postsecret.com/

"Hopefully, this fear will cause some coherent response to emerge"

The only coherent response the nuclear industry knows is deceit and obfuscation anything substantive and effective is too expensive and complicated to implement. What about all the US and Japanese evacuation plans that now need to be expanded and revised because of the direct example of Fukushima? Won't happen because it is too expensive to implement. New York city can't be evacuated any more that Tokyo can. The NRC is already trying to explain away their 50-mile exclusion zone because "it can't happen here" (again). These are the famous last words of the Soviets and Japanese. The USSR laughed their Asses off when TMI happened swearing it could NEVER happen to them then BOOM! The Japanese double super swore their nuclear program was so safe no earthquake or tsunami could cause a fuss and the IAEA agreed. They were so sure everything was cool they follow the US lead and relicensed a "rickety old POS" for another 10 years of operation –BOOM- now they are neck deep in the big muddy and sinking fast.

"because the alternative energy sources are not great either".

Which other ones have forced permanent national evacuations and cost $100's of billions for half ass remediation? (The only thing I can think of is C.H.E.R.... no it isn't a hagged out old singer).

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