Sunday, June 19, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: NISA's Nishiyama Indicates There Is No Plan-B Right Now

if the Kurion-Areva-Toshiba-Hitachi contaminated water treatment system doesn't work.

From Mainichi Shinbun Japanese (6/18/2011), commenting on the latest problem with the Kurion's absorption system:


Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said, "We'll have to keep solving the problems as they arise. If the system doesn't work, we'll have to look for other alternatives."

I take it to mean that they are not considering alternatives now.

There's a more fundamental problem beyond decontaminating the water at the plant.

One reason for setting up the water treatment system was to decontaminate the water enough so that it can be used as coolant that circulates back into the Reactor Pressure Vessels. But now that it's been admitted by TEPCO that the melted fuel (with other things melted with it, forming the "corium") may be out of the RPVs and possibly out of the Containment Vessels, what will the water be cooling? How can you cool the corium that's eating the concrete foundation?


Antony said...

Oh, they just want the water to be 'clean' enough to dump into the sea. I suppose they'll want to recycle some of it around the coriums and then back through the system again. If it doesn't work, the water will simply be overflowing into the sea. Right now the chances of that happening are getting higher by the day...

Anonymous said...

My plan A has always been to store the contaminated water in the backyard swimming pools at the homes of TEPCO's and GE's upper management.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

If this doesn't work look for suggestions of deep well injection this was done at Oak Ridge Tennessee and to a lesser extent at Hanford also multiple places in the former USSR.

"For more than three decades, Russian scientists have disclosed, the Soviet Union and now Russia secretly pumped billions of gallons of atomic waste directly into the earth. They say the practice continues today.

Though the Russians defend the practice as safe, it is at odds with accepted global standards for nuclear waste disposal and is contrary to what they have previously said they were doing. The disclosure has set off a debate among experts over the likely consequences of the radioactive injections, which some experts say represent a new kind of nuclear danger that might haunt the planet for centuries.

The Russians told a small group of Western experts that Moscow had injected about half of all the nuclear waste it ever produced into the ground at three widely dispersed sites, all thoroughly wet and all near major rivers."

"The Russian experts say they began injecting the waste as a way to avoid the kind of surface-storage disasters that began to plague them in the 1950's (Mayak)."

"A different method was tried at the Oak Ridge complex in Tennessee. Liquid waste was mixed with cement and injected deep into shale formations, where the mix spread out into thin pancakes. Steven L. Wyatt, an Oak Ridge spokesman, said some 1.4 million curies of radioactive waste were injected between 1959 and 1984, after which the method was dropped because of environmental worries and the discovery of radioactivity in observation wells." (D'OH!!!)

Anonymous said...

@ Robbie,

"The Russians told a small group of Western experts that Moscow had injected about half of all the nuclear waste it ever produced into the ground at three widely dispersed sites, all thoroughly wet and all near major rivers."

How many of their rivers are now destroyed by the dumping of barrels of nuke waste? Yes, in their rivers.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, do any of the regulars here (or the blogger) have suggestions on what TEPCO could/should be doing? Apart from telling the truth of course - I mean have you heard of other proposed solutions or treatments?

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

There are quite a few radiation rivers on the planet Here are a few off the top of my head I'm sure there are many others. This is the largest nuclear waste spill in the US (so far)

"While the world knew about the disaster at Three mile Island, few Americans are aware of what was actually the worst nuclear spill in U.S. history, according to officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. At 5:00 AM on Jul 16, 1979, 100 million gallons of radioactive waste water containing uranium tailings breached from a tailing pond into the north arm of Rio Puerco, near the small town of Church Rock, New Mexico."

The Tom and Techa rivers are highly contaminated because of TOMSK-7 facility and the Mayak disaster.

The Hanford reach is going to become one of many nuclear "National Monuments" actually in the good old days we called it a National Sacrifice but we weren't PR savvy.

"On the south shore of the Columbia River, six nuclear reactor areas containing nine reactors were constructed and operated during various times from 1944 to 1987. The reactors produced
plutonium, and during the production process, a host of radioactive and hazardous elements were
released to the environment, much of which ultimately ended up in the Columbia River.
Throughout the history of the site, over 65 radioactive elements were released to the
environment. Most of these radioactive elements are no longer a matter of concern because they
have decayed away (short half-life). Others, due to their relative abundance and persistence
(longer half-life) are now the primary radiological contaminants of concern. These include strontium-90, tritium, cesium-137 and cobalt-60. -

And then there is always Savannah River in Georgia.

"The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has passed a proposal that would allow the DOE to leave virtually any fraction of the high-level waste, now stored in large tanks, at the Savannah River Site in grouted form, if approved by the State of South Carolina. This proposal would convert SRS into a vast high-level radioactive waste dump in the watershed of the Savannah River. The State of South Carolina has already allowed high-level waste to be grouted in two tanks.

I have performed some calculations to illustrate the potential effect on the Savannah River of this proposal. In principle the proposal would allow any fraction of the radioactivity in the tanks to be left there permanently in grouted form in the tanks at SRS. There are currently about 400 million curies of radioactivity in the high-level waste tanks. Strontium-90 and cesium-137 each are about 100 million curies, plus an equal amount of the decay products of each in equilibrium with each of these radionuclides.

If only 10 percent, i.e., about 10 million curies, of the strontium-90 presently in the tank farms were left behind and grouted, the grout would have to work nearly perfectly for hundreds of years to prevent the Savannah River from becoming polluted above the present Safe Drinking Water limit of 8 picocuries per liter. Leakage of even a small fraction of the strontium-90 at SRS into the Savannah River would be disastrous to the river. This threat will persist for centuries".

Anonymous said...

There's several things they should be doing, and of course, they may be doing them already, though it doesn't seem so.

1) They should have assumed worst-case at the start and set themselves up to at least monitor under the reactors, maybe drilling pilot holes to peek in the reactor, and below, to definitively identify if corium is out and ablating downwards.

2) They should have planned for several ways to isolate the site physically from the sea and ground water, maybe digging trenches and pouring concrete to provide a vertical barrier to radioactive releases.

3) As with Chernobyl, they should have been ready to cool under the reactors in order to stop the progression of the corium, if it escaped, which it may well have. The Russians round up massive amounts of liquid nitrogen for this, and essentially built a heat-exchanger under the reactor, though it was not in the end, needed.

Monitor, isolate, cool. Assume worst-case.

Instead, what have they done: assumed the cores are intact and set up cooling through water injection. At Fukushima, the damage was done, the cores were melted in the first few hours, and we'll be dealing with this, perhaps for the rest of humanity's time on Earth.

To give a sense of scale, dealing with the radionuclides for a bone scan, you might have a 3 cm3 dose of 10 MBq. This is moved around in a lead pot, and dropping one is a big deal.

At Fuku, they have similarly active water, actually worse, with Uranium and Plutonium and Cesium, in quantities of thousands of tons. It is hair-raising.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 Sez:

@Anon 7:55 it seems my answer to your question is caught in the spam filter hopefully Areva notices. Here is something to tide you over until it reappears.

In the good old days we didn't have a waste problem. I'm sure the government monitored everybody's health after this happened. For all we know radiation could be a factor in the growing cancer rate.

"You Are What They Eat: A glowing Report on Radioactive Waste in the Sea"

by Douglas Foster Mother Jones July, 1981

@Anon 10:40

If there was a sure course of action in nuclear accidents of this magnitude it wouldn't be a problem. The simple fact of the matter is the human race isn't mature enough to use nuclear power, all we can do is play like a child and leave the mess for others to clean up.

The hard truth is if you want to make an omelette you gotta break some eggs. TEPCO has been avoiding killing workers but they are running out of options. The USSR had 100,000's of Bio-Robots and they killed quite a few and that was only one reactor and it is still a mess 25 years later. Japan doesn't have 100,000's of people they can order into battle. As a matter of fact Japan stands to lose a good portion of their nuclear workers due to exposure issues. Once they reach a certain level they can't work near the reactors anymore. This is why the nuclear industry uses throwaway day laborers for the dirty work, then they can rightly claim their salaried workers never exceed yearly minimums. But day laborers can't do everything in an accident of this size some salaried workers may "burn-out".

IMO this is basically what needed to been done early in the accident this assumes the fuel has breached the RPV if it hasn't then substitute RPV for PC.

1) First and foremost they have to find the location and distribution of the loose fuel. This could sentence quite a few workers to death but it must be done to even hope to fashion a closed cooling loop that isn't 30,000 tons in volume.

2) If the fuel is found to still reside in primary containment (PC) they they need to seal any leaks in the PC. (If it is outside the PC they are S.O.L)

3) Once PC is sealed they would need to reestablish a circulatory cooling path in and out of primary containment using the lowest volume of water possible.

4) SFP's also need to be sealed, supported
and piped into the cooling circuit.

5) Rinse and repeat for every fuel bearing vessel count and honor the noble volunteer dead and compensate their families. (Harsh Reality off)

Instead they insist on proving just how inadequate the nuclear industry is at handling the major problems with their technology.

The nuclear industry really needs "no one" to die from radiation exposure at Fukushima. They had suicide volunteers but that would be too much of a black eye for the industry. Imagine the headlines around the world "Kamikaze workers give all to stem the tide". They want a proper Fukushima myth in the future and the center piece has to be low or no "provable" causalities. Once again where are all the robots that were supposed to be developed after Chernobyl to handle future problems? A couple of glorified Roombas isn't going to fix this mess or patch a leak.

netudiant said...

As long as the site is flooded, there is no use for sacrificial volunteers. Until the water problem is solved, the cleanup is on hold other than for peripheral issues such as shoring up the SFP of reactor 4.
The current plan is to have the water treatment take about a year, once it starts working, so there is time to do a solid job on the real cleanup, which will start next year.
In the interim, there is a major effort needed to clean up the Japanese countryside, which will be much less glamorous but equally difficult and expensive.

Anonymous said...

>A couple of glorified Roombas isn't going to fix this mess or patch a leak.

Perhaps some footage of Asimo falling down the stairs into a flooded reactor basement might provide some much needed levity.

It's been a terrible surprise just how useless the Japanese robot field has been. Sure they build cars, but that and a few novelties seems to be as far as robot tech has traveled.

Meanwhile in the US, Google robot cars are driving on public roads.

Anonymous said...

@ Robbie,

Hanford w/strontium & cobalt. Nice.

Savannah River watershed as a vast high-level radioactive waste dump. Even better.

"This threat will persist for centuries".

Here is a picture of the "elephant's foot" corium from Chernobyl that melted through the floor,

10,000 Roentgens/hour on surface

super hot's%2Bfoot%26hl%3Den%26biw%3D802%26bih%3D511%26gbv%3D2%26tbm%3Disch&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=312&vpy=231&dur=105&hovh=169&hovw=298&tx=158&ty=153&page=4&ndsp=6&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:18&biw=802&bih=511

Anonymous said...

Another image,

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ netudiant

The current plan and time table is shot to hell the water problem isn't going to magically go away without direct human intervention to close the cooling loops. Once the treatment plant actually starts working it may be ankle deep in radioactive water that will make it inaccessible like unit #4 is becoming. You act like they have all the time in the world to screw around with the constantly flooding buildings. If they had sacrificed workers early in the disaster they may have been able to close the cooling loops and avert the current pending disaster. Standing around and watching it for three months while they hoped against hope that an untested slap dash water purification plant would save them hasn't worked out at all. TEPECO might manage to pull a plum out of their butt at the last minute but that is looking less and less likely everyday.

As for cleaning up the countryside I'm sure lots of evacuees wish they could go into the exclusion zone to tidy up but that isn't going to happen until they get the water problem under control along with a laundry list of other problem that haven't even reared their heads yet.

Post a Comment