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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Guess You Call It Wiggle Room

I was looking at the Daiichi radiation monitoring levels releases. The detail in the tables for the last few days consistently shows the "South Side of Main Office Building" reading to be about 1,200 milliSieverts, or greater than 1 sievert/hr. This is quite a high level, because if you got a full sievert you'd be at risk of death. On the little diagram thingie, the measurement unit is listed as microSieverts.

Here's the link. I enlarged the text of the tables to check, and it does seem that it is a comma instead of a period in the tables. So I don't know. It's a very large difference; 1 milliSievert is a thousand microSieverts.

I like the microsieverts interpretation better, but is it true??? The working and living conditions at the plant are reputed to be very bad, so it would only be surprising if fatigue were NOT a major factor for the workers. It is probably unfair to blame those who are preparing the figures. Nonetheless, I find this a mite disturbing; this is information released by NISA, well, quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Don't they look at it first?

NISA main link. I foresee more scrubbing in my future. So far no word on what they will do about the super-rad water in Reactor 2's basement and access tunnel. Fresh water floats on top of salt water, so maybe the water is not all as hot as estimated. Maybe the recent effluent is more contaminated. It might be worth trying to rig up a gadget to sample further down the tunnel.

I guess Will Davis at Atomic Power Review would be the best source to follow. At least read his last two posts. They are trying to pump the water out of 1's basement but apparently it isn't clearing very quickly. The transitory theory yesterday seemed to be that less water should be put into the reactors to prevent rapid outflow. That plan has been abandoned due to a minor technical detail. Will has all sorts of little tidbits of info.

The press just seems to pick up one number or one verbal statement or the other and run with it. And the result is that they report old news as if it is new news and if you are trying to follow along you get terribly confused. As far as I can tell, not much NEW damage is happening right now, but it is just that we are finding out how much damage was done.

There is still an open question as to just how bad the condition of the fuel in Reactor 2 may be. They do have to get that water out of there to work on it. From my POV, since the same thing is happening at all the reactors with fuel in them, the logical thing to do is to drain one and measure the ratio of the refill rate to the rate of water pumped in. That would at least give you a range of possibles for the others, and it would help in forming plans to get the water out of there into some sort of temporary storage.

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