Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Kyoto University Researcher "Reactor 1 May Be Undergoing "Recriticality"

Evidence? Chlorine-38.

I posted this on my Japanese blog for the Japanese readers. I'm putting out the summary for the English readers here, too.

A nuclear researcher at Kyoto University (which is considered one of the two most prestigious national universities, the other one being Tokyo University) has reversed his opinion and now says the Reactor 1 may be experiencing the "recriticality".

His name is Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute who belongs to the Nuclear Safety Research Group at the Research Reactor Institute. He has given interviews on TV and radio, mostly in Kansai stations and not aired in Kanto (where Tokyo is), and would be considered one of the "sceptics" of the official story about Fukushima I Nuke Plant that everything is safe, getting under control.

There ARE researchers in Japan who go against the mainstream government scholars. Koide is one of them (and far from being the most critical), and there are others from universities other than the top few schools (and therefore they don't get hardly any airtime on the Japanese MSM). But thanks to talk radio shows and the Internet (hey it's the same as in the US), at least a small portion of the Japanese people are getting the "alternative" reality other than what's given by the government and the MSM.

This is from the transcript of the interview (in Japanese, NOT the literal translation) Koide gave on April 5, 2011 on Osaka's MBS Mainichi Broadcasting Radio:

"The Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident is not winding down at all. I think I have to revise my opinion which was too optimistic."

- What was too optimistic?

"We thought the reactors "cold stopped", which means the uranium fission stopped. But now I've started to think the fission has started again. In other words, the reactor has become "critical" again - which we call "recriticality"."

- Professor Koide, you were of the opinion that the recriticality was not happening.

"Yes, and I've changed my mind. It may be happening."

- On what evidence?

"First, the level of iodine[-131] is not decreasing; it is increasing. Iodine[-131]'s half life is 8 days. It has been more than 3 weeks since the accident, so the level of iodine[-131] should be about 1/10 of the initial level measured. Second, the presence of chlorine-38 was detected from the contaminated water in the turbine building [he doesn't say which one]."

- What about chlorine-38?

"Well, if chlorine-38 was detected [according to TEPCO], and that can only mean "recriticality".

Chlorine-37 is a stable isotope, and it exists in salt in the sea water. TEPCO had poured literally tons and tons of sea water into the Reactor Pressure Vessels at Fukushima. The way the stable chlorine-37 becomes highly unstable chlorine-38 (half-life 37 minutes) is for chlorine-37 to acquire neutron.

The only way for neutron to be present near chlorine-37 is for uranium to go critical and emit neutron.

That's what Fairewinds Associates' Arnie Gunderson said in his April 3 video, and that's probably why IAEA mentioned the possibility of "recriticality" on March 30.

Koide thinks the recriticality may be happening in the Reactor 1 where the fuel rods may have been melted down most (Koide thinks there is no cladding left, and the tiny uranium pellets are forming a heap at the bottom of the RPV), but says the other two reactors (2 and 3) are also vulnerable if TEPCO cannot cool them sufficiently and the core melt continues.

He also suspects TEPCO is not pouring enough boron to prevent fission.

Maybe that's another item at Fukushima I that's missing: boron.

It took almost 3 weeks for TEPCO to admit they didn't have enough dosimeters for the workers.

Don't hold your breath for a TEPCO's announcement that they are out of boron. Maybe they can dump bath salt in the pressure vessels and that may stop the fission.

And remember, repeat the mantra of the Japanese government: it is safe.


Anonymous said...

Great site and info!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for the great analysis and updates!

Anonymous said...

TEPCO was soliciting other nations for boron quenching samples early on in the disaster I would imagine they would burn through astronomical amounts given the massive quantities of waste the various open cooling loops are generating. I wouldn't be surprised if TEPCO only had a paltry amount of boric acid on hand given all the other failures.

* They only used 13 kg of "special tracer" in "Operation Onsen"
* They only had 50 tyvek contamination suits (actually glorified painters outfits).
* No requirement for waterproof footwear for wet workers
* Horrible lack of proper dosimetery with no excuse. If Fukushima had thousands of devices that were lost in the flood shouldn't that mean all the other undamaged NPP in Japan have thousands to offer in an emergency?
* Our detectors only go to 1,000 milli-sievert because this kind of accident can't happen it is absolutely impossible. What we are seeing is the equivalent of a square circle or an honest TEPCO spokesman.
* As I posted in the neutron article of this blog the CD V-718 can read from .001mR/hr to 10,000 R/hr (100,000 milli-sieverts!)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the blunders that led up to current events and with all that in mind I'd be willing to wager TEPCO is thinking about injecting Boron rich foods after they run out of boric acid.

M. Simon said...

Look at the neutron capture of Boron for thermal neutrons vs fission neutrons (2 MeV). If there is criticality caused by fast neutrons (ala fast breeders) boron will not be very effective.

So it is possible they are pouring boron in and it isn't doing much.

Anonymous said...

Arevamirpal, this has been one of the most interesting and comprehensive blogs related to Fukushima. I have few questions for you, I hope you have time to respond:
1. where do you live exactly? Not address of course, just approximate location. I am currently living close to Shin Yokohama, and have been following developments constantly.
2. what would be your threshold until you decide it is good time to bail out from where you live, assuming you live in Japan?

Informations come and go so furiously on this subject, although you won't see it much anymore on Japanese TVs now....

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

My family lives in Tokyo, relatives in northern Japan, friends in Tokyo and Chiba (right on the ocean). I'm so far safe (but increasing dose of iodine-131 and cesium 137, apparently) in CA.

I've pleaded with my family to leave Tokyo, and that was, let's see, more than 3 weeks ago. They don't have any other info source but what's spewed in the media there.

My friends with higher education are in denial, just like politicians (well they've gone to same schools after all..) My friend from elementary school sends me all sorts of alternative net sites and blogs by Japanese who are scrambling to get reliable information, a scarce commodity. (That's why I started to write about Fukushima on my Japanese blog, too.)

When would I bail, if I were living in Japan? Like right now, if I live in Kanto. I'd move west and south. Take a look at ZAMG's iodine131 forecast. Northern Kanto look finished. Ibaragi's been having a very high radiation level, though it's hardly reported in Japan. (I saw it in an English blog.) Always under iodine131 plume, almost constantly since the accident.

I am even thinking of bailing from CA, not just over the nuclear stuff. Southern hemisphere.

Thanks for reading. I'll do my best and keep digging up the news and blogging.

Anonymous said...

Arevamirpal, thx for the prompt response,I appreciate it. There are few sources of air radiation data I am using:
2. provided by my own company (we have live geiger counter here in office, Tokyo area)
None of them are showing high level of radiation that are worrying actually (for reference, normal radiation in Yokohama is about 0.004-0.008 microsievert/hr).

The ZAMG forecast, I saw it but beyond the colors to indicate, I dunno what levels are we seeing here actually. So...I am a bit curious here on the nature of you using specifically ZAMG data only as your reference of bailing out of Japan.


arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

I also look at German data and French data. Norway and England, too. Check this out.

But more than the data, I look at the Japanese government. When they start trying to censor out the so-called "rumors" and when they and their partners in the industry start to force companies to serve contaminated vegetables in the company cafeterias, I see some SHTF event coming.

Sure vegetables may be totally safe for babies to eat, but judging from these past 4 weeks can we trust them?

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