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How would you fix Fukushima?
4

How would you fix Fukushima?

How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
I would start by locking up the TEPCO officials who have been in charge of the response to this monumental disaster. They have been lying and procrastinating and refusing to recognize the danger from the start.

It will take trillions of dollars to stop this thing from getting worse, possibly terminal for life as we know it. How would you do it?

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

I proposed that they use cranes to put the fuel rods straight into casks with observers in helicopters or airships. Radiation is much safer at a distance. Nuclear engineers couldn't find anything wrong with my plan. It would be slow tiring work but safe and would provide a permanent solution- no more radioactive cooling water.

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RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
The radioactive water is from the melted fuel down below, which they can't get at. The latest plan is to freeze the ground below the reactor buildings to keep the radioactive water from leaking into the sea.

Latest report is that the ground below the reactors is sinking is some places, not others. This is throwing the structure that holds the spent fuel rods 100 feet above the ground into an ever-increasing list. If it goes far enough, won't need those cranes.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

They can get the melted fuel from the top- the whole contained vessel is punctured. They can't reach it from ground level- electronic robots are unreliable and too radioactive for people. Pure mechanical devices are far more reliable. The water is constantly being produced by continuous cooling.

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RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
Just how TEPCO or other authorities will be able to deal with this "radioactivity that’s essentially forever" is uncertain, he continued.

"It’s very, very unclear to me how they are going to be able to get at this molten fuel, extract it from the bottoms of these highly damaged buildings and package it for safer or less dangerous storage or disposal.

"This is an accident that’s shockingly not stopping," he warned. [Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER)]

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/10-0

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

The UN or a consortium of US/russia/china should be empowered to assist the cleanup.

There should be complete transparency on the current state of the damage so that the importance of avoiding another such event would be burned into the minds of the public .Perhaps an effort to reveal the deceptions that have been used to bring us to this point might ensue.

There should be sufficient technical capabilities to address the short term leakage issues if the problem is accepted as a global problem. Monitoring using overhead drone helicopters is a simple choice. Use of an oil-barge sized tanker to collect the waste water ,and filtering this water to allow its continued recycled use for the cooling of pit seems to be another simple choice not yet pursued. Side bore drilling under the melt zone and injection of geopolymer concrete may slow the spreading rate of teh contamination.

If significant resources were to be deployed, then one should be able to trace this effort by seeing want-ads for the appropriate technical skills, yet these indications of a strong effort are hard to find, suggesting there is no real effort to solve this issue. The ostrich mentality is alive and well.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! "

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
I agree, davefitz. So does a worker at the plant, who said in a recent interview:

"The government allocates funds to TEPCO for the management of the nuclear power plant accident, but the money is not a grant. It is a debt and must be refunded in the future. Since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is not expected to generate profit in the future, it is normal that TEPCO seek to reduce its debt as much as possible...That is the reason why 'cutting the budget, reducing the cost, and using lower price materials' for constructions and facilities in the management of the nuclear power plant accident is the order of the day...On the ground, there are no such attempts as to gather the brains of the World in order to effectively deal with the nuclear accident.

– That is quite far from gathering the brains of the World. It’s just a get-together of stingy people, right?

"Is it alright to entrust the management of a nuclear power plant accident to just one business entity such as TEPCO? As long as TEPCO is a business entity, it is in pursuit of profit and book closing at the year-end is part of that. So, I think that things won’t work if the management of the accident and the decommissioning project of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are not separated from TEPCO and entrusted to an ad hoc specialized team."

http://no-border.asia/archives/9257

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

It appears that TEPCO is managing the cleanup exactly as it managed the construction and operation of Fukushima before the typhoon.

... badly, from a global/health perspective.

... perfectly, from a corporate perspective.

Exemplary behaviors include protecting the corporation as if it were an emperor, suppressing or concealing any bad news that might affect the stock value, minimizing expenditures that do not produce immediate returns, sloughing off duties/tasks/expenditures/costs on any available target, ignoring any concept of social duty/fair play/global citizenship, stuff like that.


Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
The New York Times published a good article today on the incompetence of Tepco and other matters at Fukushima. The comments are also good:

“Japan is clearly living in denial,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a medical doctor who led Parliament’s independent investigation last year into the causes of the nuclear accident. “Water keeps building up inside the plant, and debris keeps piling up outside of it. This is all just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problems until the future.”

"The cleanup efforts to date, critics said, were grandiose but ultimately ill-conceived public works projects begun as a knee-jerk reaction by the government’s powerful central ministries to deflect public criticism and to protect the clubby and insular nuclear power industry from oversight by outsiders."

"Critics complain that the government-run committee that has overseen Tepco’s cleanup is loaded with nuclear industry insiders and overseen by the trade minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, whose ministry is in charge of promoting nuclear power. They say Japan may be able to come up with better, more sustainable plans if it opens the process to outsiders like Japanese nonnuclear companies and foreigners."

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/world/asia/error...

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

windward,

It is almost funny; is there any reason to assume that the criticisms aimed at Japan's ministry should not be equally applied to the nuclear commissions or ministries at other democratic governments? Most "regulators" become "owned" by the very industries they were supposed to regulate.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! "

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
davefitz, "People are the same all over." I am old enough to have seen the original broadcast of that Twilight Zone episode.

In the US, Gregory Jaczko was fired from the NRC mainly because he took nuclear power safety too seriously for the industry:

"He sought to address some longstanding safety problems at the 104 nuclear power reactors in the United States, but with a background in nuclear physics and nuclear policy and not in the nuclear industry, Dr. Jaczko was viewed with skepticism and mistrust by some industry insiders." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/22/us/gregory-jaczk...

I don't believe he took it seriously enough for the rest of us.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

As though the NRC operates on the basis of actual safety assessment. Reams and reams of paper are about making it actually safer or just feathering the administration system bed.

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RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

I'm gonna admit to a little lack of knowledge here. With all of this talk about fixing Fukushima Dai'ichi, I thought that it would be good to fully understand the problem. You know - the way that engineers always solve a problem, by first describing what the problem is. So, what exactly is the "problem statement" here?

And answers such as "radioactive water is leaking into the Pacific" is pretty much useless. I mean, we should have numbers, with units. And units that are relevant - I've seen in the media talk about the number of tons (or tonnes) of water leaking. Useless unit - water is a liquid and its quantity should be measured in volume units - either litres or m^3. And when talking about radiation, we should first clarify whether it is beta, alpha, of gamma; and then talk about the dose or the dose rate.

Also, does anyone actually know the status of the core? What is its temperature? What is its current cooling rate (again, heat transfer-useful units are needed)?

You can't solve a problem without first knowing what the problem is.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Since the site is not generating or somehow actually consuming water, a reasonable first assumption might be that the amount of water leaking into the sea is probably pretty close to the amount of water that TEPCO is pumping into whatever is left of the core(s).

... which they are doing to prevent accidental criticality.
... the likelihood of which is difficult to quantify because all the useful sensors appear to have melted.

How's that for a (very partial) problem statement?

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Not even close. I (almost) thought that I detected a number and unit there, but it turned out to be a smudge on my phone screen.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
TGS4, if you want data, search for it. Why do you expect it to be handed to you? For instance:

"One of the readings reached 1,800 millisieverts per hour, which is considered enough to kill an exposed person in four hours, the company said."

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/01/2028...?
lite

Today it is reported that that level has reached 2200 millisieverts.

There is enough technical information about the accident to show that it is a deadly threat to life on the planet. What we need is a practical way to deal with it. Mike Halloran has described the problem to you as well as anyone could in that many words. You want a textbook on the problem before you act? Why don't you write one?




RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Windward - you come onto this forum proclaiming to have answers to "fix Fukishima". I want to know what problem is being solved.

How about you take a read through: http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/265286/fea.... Is this article right on the money is missing some serious detail that I don't know about?

Your NBC news report is woefully lacking in details. Is the radiation alpha, beta, of gamma? That kinda makes a big difference. What radioactive isotope is responsible for it? What is that isotope's half-life?

I have searched and searched and I cannot find any of this necessary information. You, apparently, have all of the answers to the problem - so I was thinking that perhaps you could define the problem. MikeHalloran's problem statement was "water being pumped into core, water leaking into ocean". Windward's response was "There is enough technical information about the accident to show that it is a deadly threat to life on the planet". Really?? Please quantify before I call BS.

Quote (Windward)

You want a textbook on the problem before you act? Why don't you write one?
Wow - what a serious cop-out. First, I am not "act"ing in any capacity, and for that matter, neither are you. Second, ya - I think that an engineering approach to solving a problem just happens to involve understand and quantifying the problem. I'm not even looking for minutia of details, just a quantifiable big picture. Acting without knowing the problem is the best way to really royally screw things up - ever heard of Murphy?

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
TGS4, you could start your own forum if you don't like it here. I wish you would, since you are completely oblivious to the point and the facts of this one.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

And the point and facts of that would be??? I can't even get you to enunciate them?

Don't get me wrong - if there is a problem, I certainly would like to see a fix. I just don't see anyone with actual experience and expertise in the Nuclear field providing any of that in this thread. Without the input of the seasoned veterans from this forum (Nuclear Engineering), this particular thread is heading into "Conspiracy Theory" territory without some actual hard facts and data.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

The contrary posts above are a microcosm of the political problems the authorities are trying to avoid , mainly by the means of non-disclosure of the known facts. The immediate shutdown of the radiation moitoring posts is one example. One would like to believe that in the background the appropriate agencies are "on top of it", but one never can be sure. The agenda of the "authorities" likely involves other investments beyond Fukishima and beyond commericial reactors.The logic probably goes " we got past the contamination from the pacific and atmospheric testing of the 1950's, so we will use the same methods to get past this".

It would seem the main theat to society in the short term is the rate at which the nucleides are migrating into the food chain. That could likely be quantified by routine sampling of the invertibrates and algea local to Fukishima, and other life forms which are general stationary ( ie not able to migrate more than 50 mile per annum) . From this data could be extapolated the rate at which the nucleides are being brought into the higher levels of food chain.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! "

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

The NBC news link above did specify that the radiation was Beta.
They said that the higher levels were noted after using an instrument that was capable of the higher readings.

It seems a bit odd that the level would be that high, unless the contents of the tank were highly radioactive - unless the tank was weeping and depositing contaminants on the outer surface?

As far as "fixing" Fukushima - looks like there are multiple problems, and not any quick solutions.

another link

Link

Jay Maechtlen
http://www.laserpubs.com/techcomm

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Ah yes - I did see that the NBC news article, in the final line, did indicate that the radiation was beta. So, ingesting the leaked water directly may not be wise, but standing next to it with a decent haz-mat suit is fine. I still don't see enough information to justify

Quote (Windward)

...There is enough technical information about the accident to show that it is a deadly threat to life on the planet...

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
Here is the first part of the article "The Crisis at Fukushima 4 Demands a Global Take-Over" by Harvey Wasserman, and a quote which appears near the end of the article. I urge everyone to read it and sign the petition which the article presents:

"September 20, 2013 "Information Clearing House - We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.

Why is this so serious?...

Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival."

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36...

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Without hard data on the amount of radionucliedes released , most of the claims of imminent health threats appear to be hysterical and similar to the "chicken little " claims of the "sky is falling". Perhaps the reason that no data is being released is to prevent credibility being given to the dire warnings.

In any case, after Chernobyl the mfrs of water cooled reactors vociferously claimed that their designs could not possible cause the type of damage that the russian RBMK graphite moderated reactors are capable of. Such mfrs are very quiet now, and industry groups are actually recommending that no public discussion be given to the issues raised by Fukishima. Likewise, immediately prior to the TMI accident the MIT Rasmussen study claimed such an accident could not occur more frequently than once per 100,000 yrs.

It brings to mind the way manual rug-makers of the far east deliberately weave an error into each rug, to remind them that every action made by a human involves an error, without exception.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! "

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

(OP)
good one, davefitz. According to the long and detailed Wikipedia article "Radiation effects from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster", it seems that no authorities on the subject are very alarmed yet about the long term effects of the initial and continuing contamination. But the article does not discuss the probability that three of the cores have melted into the ground. I don't believe anyone has any good idea how to deal with this problem, or how bad it could be.

The greatest danger otherwise is the spent fuel rods in the pool at Unit 4. TEPCO and the Japanese government, with the help as reported today of the French and maybe the Russians, intend to start removing them in November. The potential for a catastrophe during this operation cannot be dismissed:

"...A lot depends on what blows up, if anything. If only Unit 4 blows up, Japan is at risk, including Tokyo, and the nuclear dust will pass across the Pacific to the U.S. People on the West Coast will be warned to keep their windows closed for a while.

If the whole facility blows up, one scientist is talking about moving her family to the southern hemisphere. From the article quoted above:

Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries..."

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19073-risky-rep...

I wonder whether it would be possible and effective to build a large structure under the spent fuel pool at Unit 4, to anchor it in place against any earthquake, ground liquifaction, tsunami or other threat from nature. Then the fuel rods could be left in place with cooling as needed, instead of risking the enormous danger of removing them.





RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Building a structure under a dump, without first removing and storing the dump, seems, um, ambitious. ... and if you can remove and store the dump, you don't need the structure.

Could we find enough able- bodied and suitably skilled terminal cancer victims to do either? ... in exchange for an uncontrolled but free radiation 'treatment'?





Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Please explain how one of these cores could "blow up".

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

"Please explain how one of these cores could "blow up". " Hopefully, that was a facetious question !??!

Totally impossible - not improbable - impossible. Civilian nuke fuel is about 3.5% enriched. It is theoretically possible [per some DOE 'leaks'] to make a nuclear fission device - bomb - out of 80% enriched fuel. But that takes a sophisticated design that they are NOT releasing.

A uranium bomb can be made 'gun-type' like Hiroshima's "Little Boy', as uranium metal can be exposed to air and moisture. Plutonium requires 'implosion' to reach critical mass, using layered explosives fired with incredibilly precise timing. It required the invention of thyratrons for the switching and a special blasting cap.

So there is not the necessary minimum concentration. And there is not the necessary geometry of assembly. Nor is there the extreme speed of attaining the required geometry. Totally impossible for three different reasons.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Nuclear cores are actually at critical mass. There is no requirement for any that for a uncontrolled nuclear fission. Note they have control rods in a normal nuclear reactor- expressly to stop nuclear explosions. Don't confuse nuclear weapons with uncontrolled fission reactions. They have those device and implosives so they cause a nuclear explosion exactly when they want in a reliable manner.

Plutonium and uranium don't any of that to cause uncontrolled nuclear explosions- lump enough of it together depending on its surroundings(its a factor in the critical mass) and it will have an uncontrolled nuclear explosion- albet a rather small one.

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RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Duwe6 - you and I may understand that it was a facetious question, but I wanted to know if Windward really truly understands that. I completely agree with you. cloa confuses uncontrolled fission with "blow up", which is akin to an explosion - and terminology like that raises the specter of nuclear weapons. That's intentional, though not technically correct.

It's the same as confusing a birthday sparkler burning brightly and vigorous with a BLEVE or a TNT explosion, and even that difference with deflegration.

If you really think that that the nuclear volume in a fee reactor cores, if somehow made into a "dust" and instantly ejected into the air were going to be the end of life on this planet, then you really haven't been paying attention to both history and math. You are aware that from 1945 until recently, there have been a large number of above-ground nuclear bomb tests (including two that weren't tests...) - the total mass of fissile material is likely orders if magnitude greater than what exists at Dai'ichi. And last I checked, life on this planet was doing just fine, thank you very much.

Now, cloa does have point that there is a such thing as critical mass, and that is the reason for control rods. However, the real concept that you need to understand is critical density. Suppose that the critical mass of fissile uranium is 2kg (example only). You can only get a sustained reaction if it has a rather high density - suppose it is 10,000 kg/m^3. All of these reactors are actually designed so that the critical density is barely achieved. And in the unlikely, but as we have seen not impossible, scenario of a meltdown, they are designed to dissipate the molten fissile material so that it is no longer at the critical density.

So, as Duwe6 said, no explosion, not even a detonation, deflegration, or even a conflagration. As a matter of physics, it just can't. Trying to say otherwise is fearmongering.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

The phrase "fuel fire" was used-
Is graphite used in those reactors? If not, exactly what would be combustible?

Jay Maechtlen
http://www.laserpubs.com/techcomm

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Uranium metal, like magnesium and titanium, requires fanatical housekeeping around machining operations, because when finely divided, as in chips and grinder swarf, it is extremely easy to ignite and burns strongly in air. I'm guessing there may be some uranium metal in the fuel.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Zirconium is used to make the jacket for fuel rods. And it burns like magnesium.

Just like everything else at Fuku -- if it is kept wet, there is no problem. They ran out of water, less than 100 yards/meters from the ocean!

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

"All of these reactors are actually designed so that the critical density is barely achieved."- refers to one rod (multiple rods are kept separate by their design) in good shape - not a lot of debris from several rods- they were not designed for this upset situation- it was designed to avoid ever getting in this situation- there was a water pressure release valve that none of the onsite personnel even knew about. They don't uranium

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RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Actually - these things were indeed designed for this worst case scenario. That worst case scenario is that there is a complete melt-down of the fuel rods, and the molten fuel gathers in a molten lump at the bottom the reactor vessel. It will quickly "burn/melt" through the reactor pressure vessel and fall to the concrete containment vessel. There, the bottom is shaped to NOT have the molten fuel sit together in a lump, but to be spread out - spread out sufficiently so as to be below the critical density.

Yup - burning (as in rapid oxidation of the zirconium cases would be pretty bad - but the uranium itself won't burn because it's in the uranium-oxide form (already burnt...). Furthermore, the uranium oxide itself won't even melt because it's melting point is so ridiculously high, it stays as a powder.

Worst case scenario of a zirconium fire would be the release equivalent to a "dirty bomb", which, while locally bad, it still far less radiation than an above-ground nuclear test, of which this planet has been exposed to likely over 500... And survived...

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Thank you TGS4 for correcting my misunderstanding of which metal might possibly be burning.

I'm curious now about whether the shaped(?) concrete bottom of the containment vessel actually did spread out the detritus that fell on it.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

I am curious, too. Numerous simulations show that it should, this would be the validation of the simulations. I suppose that this may depend on the damage to the concrete secondary containment from the beyond-design-basis earthquake.

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

I am not too certain of the details, but the above discussions related to a 3.5% enriched uranium fueled reactor core is not totally relevant to the main issue at fukushima- the major issue seems to be the stored fuel pool, and a mixed fuel ( uranium /plutonium) was apparently used. It is not clear if the concrete foundation of that pool was designed to prevent agglomerating past critical mass.

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad "

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

Certainly, the short-term wet storage pools losing water is a concern. I would be very doubtful that a complete water loss event would result in a run-away reaction. But, I'm not a nuclear physicist, just an engineer. Definitely losing water in a storage pool is a credible failure scenario - if that hasn't been accounted for (and based on what I have seen from my dealings in the nuclear power world I have no doubt that it would), I would he very surprised. I feel quite confident that there are contingencies in place to deal with that - even if it means just tossing the damn storage canisters in the ocean...

RE: How would you fix Fukushima?

TGS4- Doesn't that involve the big assumption that the fuel rods become totally molten after zirconium induced hydrogen explosion- the estimated melting point is 2800C-much hotter than the chemical explosion (furnace/jet engine/magma temperatures). More likely Fukushima has a pile of hot stripped fuel rods whether there is effective water or just air cooling- its simply never going to get that hot. The rods are seriously heavy- 2/3 ton so not slightly to easily shift around- even a powerful earthquake would need considerable sideways motion to be a problem- more of problem is human/robot accident in removal.

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