Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kyodo News: "TEPCO believes stabilizing Fukushima reactors by year-end impossible"

Oh what a surprise.

From Kyodo News English (full article by subscription only; 5/30/2011):

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is coming to the view that it will be impossible to stabilize the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by the end of this year, senior company officials said Sunday, possibly affecting the timing for the government to consider the return of evacuees to their homes near the plant.

The revelation that meltdowns had occurred at the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors at the plant, most likely with breaches to pressure vessels encasing nuclear fuel, has led the officials to believe that ''there will be a major delay to work'' to contain the situation, one of them said.

The plant operator, known as TEPCO, announced on April 17 its road map for bringing the troubled reactors at the plant into a stably cooled condition called ''cold shutdown'' in six to nine months.

Well, as late as May 17 when the revised "roadmap" was disclosed, TEPCO said there would be no change in the target time-frame for the "cold shutdown".

The Kyodo Japanese article has a bit more information "leaked" by the TEPCO execs:

  • One executive said "6-9 month time-frame is only a target to strive for, and not a binding one." [So the "roadmap" is a wish-list.]

  • About the Reactor 1 whose Containment Vessel is now found to be leaking water, "We have to find the leak and stop it. If we don't know the extend of the damage to the Containment Vessel, we don't know how long it takes to stop the leak."

  • Another exec says "it will take 1 or 2 additional months" to bring the reactors in "cold shutdown" because of the bigger cooling system now envisioned.

  • Yet another one says "the works at three reactors [1, 2, 3] are not progressing simultaneously, as planned. We'll have to ask workers to work during the New Year holidays."

These executives are no doubt from the TEPCO's Tokyo headquarters and probably the same ones who ordered a fancy "roadmap" at the government's request, not people at Fukushima I Nuke Plant trying to contain the on-going crisis for the past 2 and a half months.

"Cold shutdown", as Kyoto University's Koide has repeatedly said, assumes the Reactor Pressure Vessel intact, and the fuel rods intact. There is no word for bringing the broken reactor with totally melted fuel into a stable condition so that it won't emit any more radiation. There is no established process to do that, particularly when the melted jumble, corium, is possibly eating away the concrete beneath the Containment Vessels.

As long as TEPCO (headquarters) and the Japanese government are fooling around with the impossible idea of "cold shutdown" of the reactors that are broken, with the corium already outside the Reactor Pressure Vessels, or Containment Vessels, there will be no end in sight, I'm afraid.


Anonymous said...

Hi Areva,

without sounding too alarmist, could you elaborate what you meant by "with the corium already outside the Reactor Pressure Vessels, or Containment Vessels, there will be no end in sight, I'm afraid." ? Is this the so called China syndrome everyone is talking about? Are we still talking about more chances of explosions? Trying to grasp the gravity of this event......

finance said...

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Anonymous said...

Wonder whether the IAEA presence has anything to do with it… They probably had a good laugh when they were on-site, so TEPCO had no choice but to say it first.

netudiant said...

The road map TEPCO posted was a list of things that needed doing, with a super optimistic first cut guesstimate on the time line. The document had the desired effect, it told everyone that this was going to be a long term problem. The site will take decades to clean up, even disregarding the residual soil contamination.
The most positive part is that it seems the reactors are pretty much done, with only modest heat still generated. That allows for the work to proceed fairly routinely. The melted fuel mass is not going anywhere, if the Three Mile Island experience is any indication.
It is most likely sitting in a lump mostly mixed with the remains of the control rods at the bottom of the reactor vessel. With the residual heat now generated down to only about a megawatt, the corium is not going to melt through further unless there is a recriticality, which would be a very unhappy surprise.

Apolline said...

Perhaps useful for you...

Anonymous said...


What's this presentation supposed to convey? It's a collection of all the "facts" and "lessons learned"… the facts are totally questionable and it seems a little early for lessons learned. I think the author of these slides has some wishful thinking that everything is understood and under control. I doubt that whoever made this PPT is particular critical towards what we have heard from Tepco, JP government etc.

So in summary, the thing is not very useful.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Helios, thanks for the link! That will be a fun read for me. The person who created this presentation is a Tokyo University professor very well known to have been bought and paid for by the government of Japan to spread the good news from the government. I didn't know he did such a presentation.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Sekimura's slide No.18 is a blatant lie. EDG didn't work even before the tsunami, and off-site power went down because of earthquake only.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

"Defense in depth" is what his government deliberately removed from nuke plant design, building, and operation. What is Sekimura talking about? This is a pathetic presentation, full of typos and meaningless references. I guess it fitted the audience.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

The is is not surprising. TEPCO's road map to ruin is based on the same blind optimism that sited a known inferior reactor design in a future disaster zone. Japan has about as much of a chance controlling Fukushima in less than a year as they have in landing a man on the moon in the same amount of time.

The Japanese don't have the luxury of forcing hundreds of thousands of Bio-Robots into action. The USSR did but after 25 years they still haven't done any more than to put a poorly crafted band-aid on the gaping wound. None of the Chernobyl coruium has been dealt with in the last quarter of a century and they are begging the world for money for a newer band-aid to cover the mess.

Instead of "cold shutdown" they are going to use a "SOLD shutdown" instead. They are going to sell the world on the fantasy that they can close the cooling loop in each shattered reactor.

Carlos Willinais said...

Since, the "Elitist" aren't going to give "the small peeple", even a Cancer Cure, then I will;

Carlos Willinais said...

It's called; Dichloroacetate (DCA)

Just Google it!! It's a natural product. And can't be patented. Same for Silver & THC, etc, & etc....

Anonymous said...


This is what my Google search found.

"So many people have sent me this sensationalistic article, "Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice", that I guess I have to respond. I sure wish it were true, but you should be able to tell from how poorly it is written and the ridiculous inaccuracies (mitochondria are cells that fight cancers?) that you should be suspicious. The radical, exaggerated claims make the truth of the story highly unlikely".

"There have been no clinical trials of dichloroacetate (DCA) in cancer patients, so there is no basis for claiming they have a cure; some, but not all, cancers might respond in promising ways to the drug, while others are likely to be resistant (cancer is not one disease!); and there are potential neurotoxic side effects, especially when used in conjunction with other chemotherapies".

BTW colloidal silver is useless one of my neighbors raved about it for a few years until they got tired of getting sick all the time.

Colloidal silver is a suspension of submicroscopic metallic silver particles in a colloidal base. Long-term use of silver preparations can lead to argyria, a condition in which silver salts deposit in the skin, eyes, and internal organs, and the skin turns ashen-gray. Many cases of argyria occurred during the pre-antibiotic era when silver was a common ingredient in nosedrops. When the cause became apparent, doctors stopped recommending their use, and reputable manufacturers stopped producing them. The official drug guidebooks (United States Pharmacopeia and National Formulary) have not listed colloidal silver products since 1975.

I would suggest you shatter some of your illusions with a visit to debunkatron.

Anonymous said...

you tripped my humor trigger so I must respond.

"The melted fuel mass is not going anywhere, if the Three Mile Island experience is any indication."
Seriously, did TMI actually melt through the vessel? I suspect it did not, so TMI is not an indication.

"It is most likely sitting in a lump mostly mixed with the remains of the control rods at the bottom of the reactor vessel."
Melting point of graphite is quite a bit lower than that of uranium, so I seriously doubt there's much graphite mixed with molten uranium.

"With the residual heat now generated down to only about a megawatt, the corium is not going to melt through further unless there is a recriticality, which would be a very unhappy surprise."
This figure, "a megawatt", where did you acquire that?

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

Fukushima: "The Triumph of Stupidity"

Hey, does anybody think the Fukushima braintrust is suffering from the Dunning–Kruger effect?

"Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

Dunning–Kruger effect was put forward in 1999 by Justin Kruger and David Dunning. Dunning and Kruger quote Charles Darwin ("Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge") and Bertrand Russell ("One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision")".

Personally I like this version of Russell's thoughts better, I think it is blunt and to the point.

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell, "The Triumph of Stupidity" (1933-05-10) in Mortals and Others: Bertrand Russell's American Essays, 1931-1935 (Routledge, 1998, ISBN 0-415-17866-5), p. 28

Anonymous said...

"Hey, does anybody think the Fukushima braintrust is suffering from the Dunning–Kruger effect?"

Yes, many are, and a more than mild case of it, at that.

A recent example comes to mind, where someone well-informed of the details as reported at Fukushima described multiple releases of highly radioactive water into the ocean as not a disaster. I mean, WTF?

If you were living in east Asia, let alone the rest of the world, would you eat seafood harvested from that area. Fishermen's death knell is not a disaster?

netudiant said...

I'm always happy to trip a humor trigger and ready to stand corrected. So I looked it up.
The decay heat for the Fukushima cores at this point after the accident is about 4 megawatts for unit 1, about 6 each for 2 and 3, according to MIT here
More than I thought, but a far cry from the 1200-2000 megawatt thermal output of these reactors when running.

The control rods for BWRs are usually made of a steel alloy with boron carbide or hafnium inserts such as these
They melt along with the core fuel rods.
Graphite control rods are not commercially used, afaik.

The reactors here were scrammed and melted down because the decay heat was not removed, while the TMI reactor was starved of water while operating, so it melted while generating much higher power. If it did not flow through the bottom of the pressure vessel there, I'd be surprised if the Fukushima cores do. Obviously there is earthquake and explosion damage and leaks sluicing contaminated water from the core into the plant, but if TMI is any guide, the bulk of the cores is still in the pressure vessels.

Apolline said...

Sorry to have sent the PDF. I do not know english enough to determine if it interesting or not.
I dont know too this person paid by the government.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

@ Helios

I don't think you need to apologize the criticism is directed at the report not you as a matter of fact arevamirpal::laprimavera thanked you for the link on May 30, 2011 10:03 AM.

Anonymous said...

Graphite seals are used in this reactor design, I've seen this referred to a number of times.

Little hope should be placed in remnants of any type of control rod hindering burn through.

Purging of wishful thinking in the form of uranium in any way cooperating with the desires of humans should have been well underway, by now.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@Helios, I'm thanking you! It's very interesting. It shows how shallow and superficial these "elite" scholars approved by the government are. In fact, I will mention this to my Japanese blog readers.

@netudiant, isn't MIT article about decay heat in a normal reactor where SCRAM worked and fission stopped as designed and the RPV was not broken?

netudiant said...

Afaik, the Fukushima reactors were all successfully scrammed and were in a normal shutdown when the tsunami hit and killed the cooling pumps.
The fission is inhibited by the scram, but not stopped.
The core elements will continue to fission spontaneously essentially forever, but the rate at which that happens decreases over time as the more short lived fission products decay completely.
The problem is that this residual fission still generates a lot of heat, enough to melt down a core within hours if new water is not added. The only ray of light is that the bottom of a reactor is a forest of control rods and actuators, so the molten core gets diluted with inert or even inhibitory material. That seems to have helped avoid the melt through feared in the case of TMI. Whether the Fukushima experience is similar is not known.
The unknowns at this point are whether there is a possibility of a steam explosion if a large amount of molten core material falls from the reactor pressure vessel or if there is a recriticality for any reason.
Judging that risk is up to TEPCO, working with the expertise of NISA and the IAEA.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

-Even TEPCO admits the corium may have already escaped the RPV, and possibly the Containment Vessel, at least in Reactor 1.
-Reactor 1's RPV was already damaged in the EARTHQUAKE.
-NISA has no expertise. \
-Decay heat may be less, but the corium temperature can remain very high inside.

Anonymous said...

also @ netudiant,

TEPCO has since stated that RPV temperatures reached levels capable of melting stainless steel.

Unless someone has info that has not occurred, it seems safe to assume it has occurred.

TEPCO has also stated that at an early point the rods must have been completely uncovered. This would allow maximum temperatures with complete rod melt.

As they have not yet reported directly examining the RPVs, it also seems safe to assume they have been burned through.

And the only reason they have not examined them directly is because the radiation levels are much too high, high enough to fry the robots' electronics.

Looks like TEPCO's greatest concern was to avoid panicking the residents of the Tokyo area and avoiding an evacuation.

Anonymous said...

"At the four hour and 20 minute mark, the temperature of the bottom of the pressure vessel had risen to 1,642 degrees Celsius, close to the melting point for the stainless steel lining, probably damaging the pressure vessel."

Home Inspector Expert said...

My comment is for all of you interested in following the incident. Focus on information that gives you and understanding of the Iodine-131/Cesium-137 concentration ratio. Iodine-131 as all short lived isotopes are created by fission, and should be decreasing to half in terms of Becquerels/m2^ or Liter or m^3 every 8 days.
Don't care about anything else you hear, just look for sources that allow you to estimate this ratio. If you don't see it go to half every 8 days, then fission is still on-going and the drama is alive, meaning that the worst case scenarios are still possible. Once you see that this ratio keeps on going down, then we are in territory where even talking about controlling the disaster starts to make sense. Before that, we are in a bomb defusing scenario with thousands of tons of nuclear fuel involved. An Engineer has given some examples of the levels of energy involved in just 1 nuclear reactor in lunatic outpost.

Anonymous said...

"Focus on information that gives you an understanding of the Iodine-131/Cesium-137 ratio.
If you don't see it go to half every 8 days, then fission is still ongoing and the drama is alive, meaning that the worst case scenarios are still possible."

That is it, Home Inspector Expert. ex-SKF had a report several days ago where the I-131 level nearly quintupled in one day from the same sample spot.

Fission is ongoing, the RPVs have got to be toast, like literal sieves.

Anonymous said...

In case anyone hasn't figured it out yet, TEPCO is either dumping water in the ocean more than they report, or the water has found a pathway to the ocean and they don't bother to test for it.

"Having higher iodine levels than caesium indicates that there is a significant, ongoing discharge of contaminated water coming from the damaged plant - despite the authorities only officially admitting to three releases into the ocean to date."

Anonymous said...

And here we have it.

"TEPCO also said robots with cameras that entered Unit 1 -- one of the three reactors whose cores have melted -- found Friday that steam was spewing from the floor. Nationally televised news Saturday showed blurry video of steady smoke curling up from an opening in the reactor floor."

This obviously means something 'heated' is beneath the floor. Read 'corium'.

"The radiation level near the smoky area reached as high as 4,000 millisieverts per hour .."
4 Sv/hr.

This should be direct confirmation of burn-through as the basements are ostensibly flooded.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the bot could take some time in its busy schedule to directly examine the RPV?

Get right on it, TEPCO.

Anonymous said...

TEPCO is saying the hole in the floor is near the southeast corner of the building and from the suppression pool (torus).

Unless the earthquake produced the hole, the hole would have to be from the explosion delivering force to the torus. If that occurred, the suppression torus could be said to be no more.

RPV should be able to be examined from ground floor level,

Anonymous said...

The hole in the video is rather regular in outline and does not appear to be a rupture. In other words, it is manmade of building design.

Perhaps the reporters could be more descriptive.

The observed steam is the second piece of evidence beyond isotopes that containment is breached, significantly.

Has TEPCO observed steam leaks elsewhere ground level or above in that building?

Anonymous said...

one last attempt to clear netudiant's vision,

"It is most likely sitting in a lump mostly mixed with the remains of the control rods at the bottom of the reactor vessel. "

Arne Gunderson says the control rods insert from the bottom of the RPV, some 70 of them. He also gives temps for the corium at well above that required melt graphite seals and probably control rods.

Do remember also that uranium is far denser than graphite, so "mixing" is not likely. The corium would tend to boil graphite away from itself.

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