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#218825 - 03/12/11 10:43 AM Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12721498

There has been an explosion at a Japanese nuclear power plant that was hit by Friday's devastating earthquake.

Pictures show a blast at the Fukushima plant and initial reports say several workers were injured.

Nuclear expert, Malcolm Grimston told the BBC that nuclear materials may have been able to escape .

The main containment system seems to be intact.

As with the others on this forum, I can't stress enough that Japan is the single best "equipped" society on the planet, we can't compare here. Even a nuke plant explosion seems to be managed in an orderly fashion there.

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#218827 - 03/12/11 12:05 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
Am_Fear_Liath_Mor Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/03/07
Posts: 3077
Quote:
Even a nuke plant explosion seems to be managed in an orderly fashion there.


From what I've seen this morning it seems northern Japan will become a nuclear contaminated wasteland. This is a terrible turn of events. The Reactor is now completly exposed and the reactor containment roof was completely destroyed i.e. more than a purely chemical explosion as occoured at Chernobyl.
Hopefully the solution which stopped the China Syndrome at Chernobyl can be replicated. The consequences if they cannot will be absolutley catastrophic.

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#218835 - 03/12/11 03:10 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
So what we've got is some type of nuclear release incident at one of these nuclear power plants. Hopefully this type of radiation release is confined to just one plant, but since several nuclear reactors are involved ... we just don't know.

I'm having some trouble understanding exactly what the Government there is saying. Their press release says that only the outside structural building has exploded. But surely the force of the explosion has been generated by a high-pressure build-up of vapor or gas from within the coolant system. It seems very hard to believe that some significant radiation has not come out of the system.

At this point the Japanese Government can no longer keep playing their cards close to their vest. They are going to need to provide accurate info to the world on what is going on. They were very tight-lipped before the reactor explosion, and they kept giving assurances that it could not happen. But obviously the earthquake damage to these power plants has been extensive.

Looking at TV, it appears that a lot of the exploded containment structure went into a cloud of debris that landed within a few hundred yards of the plant. But very likely they have now got radioactive material in the ocean as well as on land. And they are probably venting some residual gases into the air as well.

They need to get some airplanes into the sky, and some boats onto the ocean, to check radioactivity levels. My guess is that the international community will put tremendous pressure on Japan to get this information collected and released as soon as possible.

I don't think that Japan will become a "nuclear wasteland". Remember that this small country actually recovered from two full-scale nuclear explosions in 1945. The Japanese have the will and the resources to clean up their country. But it will be expensive, and it will take time. This earthquake has been one of their worst nightmares.

I am watching these events from So. California, and imagining what would happen if we had a similar series of diasasters. We have a nuclear plant located on the ocean at San Onofre. It's a pretty good bet that we would have taken worse damage than Japan, and I doubt that we could have responded as well as they can. If there is any positive outcome from this Japanese diasaster, it's probably that the people in California are really going to have to get their act together and try hard to get ready.

other Pete


Edited by Pete (03/12/11 03:18 PM)

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#218836 - 03/12/11 03:47 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: Pete]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 827
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
This news report:
http://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFTKZ00680620110312
says that they plan on filling the core with sea water, and that this will (through some unclear reaction with the sea water) ultimately shut it down.

there seems to be an important difference between the containment building, which was destroyed, and the nuclear reactor container itself, which, though leaking, is largely intact.

the article claims the explosion was caused by hydrogen gas leaking from the nuclear reactor container, which then mixed with oxygen and caused the explosion.

As I understand it, the concept of these things is that the containment building is to contain leaks etc. from the actual nuclear reactor container, so it appears the "safety" measure of the containment building is gone, and the reactor container itself is damaged and leaking, under great stress, but still largely intact and totally open to the environment.

I suspect that the workers trying to shut this thing down are pretty close, if not beyond, the fatal dose of radiation. I recall the soviet helicopter pilot who make repeated flights directly over the exposed Chernobyl core to drop sand etc. to help contain it. He quickly received the fatal dose, but kept going back again and again.

I totally agree the Japanese government owes everyone a detailed briefing on the amount of damage, the current status of and plans for the reactor.
_________________________
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

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#218840 - 03/12/11 04:27 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1347
From the various things that I've seen on the news - the idea of flooding the reactors with sea-water seems like a brilliant solution. It's actually such a good idea, that you almost wonder why the original design engineers for the power plants didn't include some sort of emergency sea water pump to perform that operation. But i do agree with you that the workers at the plants are at risk from radiation poisoning, and the news is now reporting that three of them have had exposure. I would think that they should have contamination suits as standard equipment at these power plants. But perhaps those suits are cumbersome or very hot to wear, and the workers can't use them for all their activities.

The Japanese Government doesn't seem to understand that they have fallen "behind the credibility gap" with their news relases. In general, politicians and the media never seem to really comprehend this. If you start issuing statements to the public saying that there is NOT a problem, and then subsequently your own nuclear power plant blows up - GUESS WHAT? You've got a major credibility gap. Once that happens, the general public is not going to put much faith in any subsequent statements that come out. Can you blame them?

The big thing that's missing here is some very simple data. What are the radiation levels in the vicinity of the damaged power plant? This is not rocket science. It's very easy data to gather, and they should be releasing the actual numbers. People will put much more faith in the data than they will in any general statements that risks have been contained.

Maybe part of what we are seeing here is that the Japanese people have a tradition of putting a lot of faith in their government to do the right thing. However, to me personally this incident has demonstrated that the government there is well behind the power curve - in terms of staying on top of the situation. OK, this was the biggest quake that Japan has ever experienced - so we should cut them some slack. But maybe the Japanese people also need to wake up and learn to be a bit more proactive about their own personal safety.

My own take-away from this ... is that I might actually purchase a personal radiation meter for my survival kit. In the past, I have avoided doing this because it just seemed like a waste of money. What are the chances that a "dirty bomb" incident would happen in my neighborhood. Vastly small. But the Japanese experience today has demonstrated that governments and politicians cannot be relied upon to release basic scientific data that is essential to the public good during an emergency. Since I live on the coastline, north of an operating nuclear reactor (in a major seismic zone), I can always just get a handheld device and measure my own data. Problem solved.

There's a really good argument that we need some sort of "Wikileaks Emergency" site on the Web that allows private citizens (who are located inside disaster zones) to rapidly publish information on what's actually happening in real-time.

other Pete


Edited by Pete (03/12/11 04:36 PM)

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#218844 - 03/12/11 06:21 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: Pete]
Teslinhiker Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 1358
Originally Posted By: Pete

The Japanese Government doesn't seem to understand that they have fallen "behind the credibility gap" with their news releases.

You need to keep in mind that the scale of the overall disaster is huge and unprecedented in recent years. Misinformation due to lack of details, comms, etc are to be expected. Also the news media itself is one of the biggest culprits of misinformation due to their rush to be first. Look at any other recent event for proof: Christchurch, Australia floods/fires, Haiti, recent shootings in Arizona et al. Even today while browsing the major websites, there is a lot of contradiction in reports.

Originally Posted By: Pete

Maybe part of what we are seeing here is that the Japanese people have a tradition of putting a lot of faith in their government to do the right thing. However, to me personally this incident has demonstrated that the government there is well behind the power curve - in terms of staying on top of the situation. OK, this was the biggest quake that Japan has ever experienced - so we should cut them some slack. But maybe the Japanese people also need to wake up and learn to be a bit more proactive about their own personal safety.

Very easy to Saturday morning quarterback isn't it? I would rather put my faith in the Japan .gov in this type of situation then my own .gov (no I don't live in the USA). The overwhelming worldwide consensus is the Japanese .gov and citizens are the best prepared for an EQ. This new EQ is the 5th biggest on record, so yeah, cut them some slack.

Originally Posted By: Pete


There's a really good argument that we need some sort of "Wikileaks Emergency" site on the Web that allows private citizens (who are located inside disaster zones) to rapidly publish information on what's actually happening in real-time.

There is no Wikileaks type of conspiracy...period.

This earthquake is unprecedented in private citizen reporting. and plenty of info on the net. Remember that the Japanese people are one of the most technologically connected people in the world and there is plenty of info out there at websites such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter to name a few.
_________________________
Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.

John Lubbock

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#218846 - 03/12/11 06:54 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 854
Loc: Colorado
Using sea water as additional coolant source isn't a new idea.
That's always been part of US Submarine nuclear reactor safety steps that could be taken in the direst situation. "Disposable, sinkable container" if necessary. (Hasn't been necessary)

You'd really rather not use seawater unless all the distilled water sources are gone. Injecting sea water into a formerly corrosion-controlled system will render the system unusable in future. (chloride cracking corrosion will occur and the piping can never be trusted for ops ever again)

The reason to use seawater, or any water, is to keep the core covered in order to dissipate decay heat so that the fuel remains in its original geometry near the control rods and remains sub-critical.

Molten fuel can puddle and and go critical/super critical and once again produce heat beyond control. (The so-called "china syndrome" where the hot fuel "melts its way to China".)

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#218849 - 03/12/11 07:18 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3599
Loc: Ontario, Canada
i don't think we need wikileaks. yesterday we were discussing whether the US alerts were overkill, today we're saying that the Japanese govn't isn't giving enough or acurate enough information. there's lots of information out there already, without fanning any conspiracy theory flames. i don't think it would helpful at all. that said, i wouldn't be surprised at allif such a site is aleady in production.
_________________________
Mom & Adventurer

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#218850 - 03/12/11 07:21 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: Teslinhiker]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
In the article bws48 linked to above, the spokesperson said: "At this point, there has been no major change to the level of radiation leakage outside (from before and after the explosion), so we'd like everyone to respond calmly...". They did report the level before the explosion (I'm not a physicist, so the number meant nothing to me--something like 1,000 mSv IIRC) and they're saying it hasn't changed, so we essentially know what it is after the explosion. They also reported that the containment vessel was not breached.

Besides the points Teshlinker raised which apply to all large chaotic events, let's also keep in mind the time difference and the additional time lag of the news cycle. While we're Monday morning quarterbacking during the day here in the US, it's the middle of the night in Japan. It's noon here in California and they still won't wake up for several more hours in Japan. By the time people do more work in the morning, arrange press conferences in Japan and finally report it here, it's already quite late. Maybe too late for many of us before we go to bed, so we won't hear new information until the following day.

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#218851 - 03/12/11 07:30 PM Re: Fukushima Nuke Plant Explosion [Re: MartinFocazio]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
In everyone's quest for instant information, we should also keep in mind that Japan's most pressing need right now is not really for processing outgoing information.

Sue

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