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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Now That's Hot

NISA's release, confirming radioactivity level of the water and also 400 milliS/hr at the surface of the water.

Update: Article on the reactor 3 contamination. A "volunatary" evacuation out to 30 km was recommended.

It sucks, but....

Okay, so I have been following the beta burn story. The radiation levels TEPCO reported in the water were extraordinarily high:
The company says 3.9 million becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter were detected in the water that the workers were standing in. That is 10,000 times higher than levels of the water inside a nuclear reactor in operation.

The level of radioactive cerium-144 was 2.2 million becquerels. Also, 1.2 million becquerels of iodine-131 was measured.
This seems to imply that reactor 3 has a containment breach or a very serious situation in the spent fuel pool. TEPCO said it had surveyed the area within the day and found no water and much lower levels of radiation. The workers who were trying to run the cable ignored their dosimeter indicators. Apparently two were not wearing boots, and those are the ones with the burns. As to what may be the problem, here is a much earlier post at another blog.

I am sure that experts will discuss this. One of the places to look might be the IAEA accident log.

TEPCO also released information about high levels of radiation at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station. I say high not because they are dangerous, but because they exceed the allowed levels. There is careful monitoring for radiation at and around nuclear plants. After an investigation TEPCO decided that the radiation did not come from this plant and were probably due to Daiichi's emissions. What's notable is that this plant is on the west side of Japan:

View Larger Map

Water at 18 water purification plants in six different prefectures has now tested above the 100 becquerel level at least once. Often the level will drop down in a day or a few days.

Update: ZAMG's map seems to show how the west coast plant picked up those levels (which are not high in general terms):

This is why I've been keeping an eye on this story. The lingering suspicion that one or more of these explosions did more damage than people think. Mind you, I could be wrong about that, but if that were the case then the situation could change in a hurry.
Neil, at this point further analysis needs to be done by persons with a knowledge of this type of reactor and the equipment and layout of this site.

In short, a nuclear engineer, but not a professor - one with working knowledge.
Although as a person without that background, I did revise my estimated range of the low time required to achieve substantial control of emissions beyond the site up by a few weeks.

Which has highly unpleasant implications.
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