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Monday, June 06, 2011

Since The Daiichi Situation Hit Drudge

The "admission" the article linked on Drudge reports is nothing new - it is the different meltdown models I referred to in a link in the comments earlier on the Fukushima Daiichi incident. Note the date on that link - May 26th. The situation is serious but not changing terribly - it's just that more is being discovered about the reactor states.

The current issue is more about what is happening under the floor at reactors 1 & 2. Especially on 2 - TEPCO did cool the spent fuel pool there, but that did not lower humidity in the building and now they are thinking about trying to remove radioactive dust and debris inside the building at 2 and then perhaps opening the building to vent the humidity. See one of the articles in this JAIF link. The situation in 1 made me wonder about the real state of 2, and perhaps TEPCO is doing the same.

It's not clear what is happening and there are various possibilities. The success of the plan to control the reactors is very dependent on getting in there and being able to work. If there's further significant damage below the floors in the containment structures combined with chunks of fuel down there it is going to make the plan to deal with the water in the basements extremely difficult to execute.

Anyway, the press just noticed the earlier info that was released, and they are not doing a very good idea of conveying the significance. That's hardly surprising given the technical nature of the problem. You could try Atomic Power Review with questions.

From my perspective, the meaningful fact is that these reactors are not going to blow up. There are potential dangers to those trying to work on them. There are implications for being able to deal well and efficiently with all that contaminated water. There are implications for the speed with which significant control of what's left of the reactors can be established - but there isn't likely to be any dramatic change. TEPCO built a more significant barrier on the sea side to try to prevent leakage, and it is bringing in hundreds of containers to be able to store the water to try to prevent overflow. How much of this stuff is getting into groundwater and where is a geological question but the natural drainage on the site should be a great help.

Of course TEPCO is also quite anxious to limit further atmospheric emissions. High humidity in reactor 2 means that the air-filtering TEPCO set up for reactor 1 isn't likely to work well, so now they have another roadblock. They'll just have to see. TEPCO had a plan to reseal the suppression vessel where they thought it was ruptured - basically they were going to dig up the floor and grout around the torus with a special compound. Let's hope that's all they have to deal with.

Japan is undertaking a large-scale ground survey of radioactive contamination in the surrounding areas to be able to control human exposure. They are currently making excellent progress at containing seawater contamination. The situation is bad, but in some ways getting better, and time should still be on their side.

The most important thing is that they're throwing everything they've got at it, including extraordinary and inventive solutions. That was what was so frightening about the first few weeks--they were just using standard on-site resources, personnel, and procedures.
Well said. It is a unique situation - one which would have been considered wildly unlikely before it happened.
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