Saturday, March 26, 2011

Don't Like It

According to yesterday's release from NISA, the Japanese nuclear safety agency :

a) hefty chunks of the fuel rods are exposed to the air in reactors 1, 2 and 3

b) there's no information on spent fuel pool temperatures in reactors 1, 3 and 4 (2 is OK at 28C).

c) there seems to be uncertainty about the sources of the smoke observed at all four reactors. Yesterday 1, 2 and 4 were all emitting, 3 was emitting the day before.

d) pressure in #1 is far higher than in 2 or 3.

NHK reports that there's highly radioactive water in the basements of 1 and 3 - not totally surprising given they're being sprayed. TEPCO's latest assessment of the reactors says that the company believes of reactors 4, 5 and 6 that "we do not consider any reactor coolant leakage inside the reactor happened", while remaining silent on 1, 2 and 3. Some are interpreting the radioactive water as the result of a possible breach.

"Water was also discovered in Units 2 and 4, and the company said it suspects that, too, is radioactive. Officials acknowledged the water would delay work inside the plant.

Plant officials and government regulators say they don't know the source of the radioactive water discovered at Units 1 and 3. It could have come from a leaking reactor core, associated pipes, or a spent fuel pool. Or it may be the result of overfilling the pools with emergency cooling water."

I get the impression that the 'injection' of water and seawater into the cores is not accompanied (deliberately, at any rate) by removal of hot water from the cores. Looks like they're just pumping more in. I can see that will reduce pressure in the short term as the temperature drops, but surely that can't go on indefinitely? Yet apparently the fuel is still exposed - where's all the water going? Hopefully not the basement.

Looks like the struggle continues, with number 3 being the beast to tame, because of the plutonium hazard. Best of luck, lads (and lasses - there's at least one woman on the team).


Anonymous said...

probably a stupid question but why couldn't they just take the fuel rods out and put them somewhere else? (I know that doesn't stop the immediate problem)

That way if there was anything like a meltdown there wouldn't be as much fuel in the system and the reaction wont last as long.

I'm not saying it would be easy and I'm sure some people would be affected by the radiation but out of desperation I would have thought they ourt to have an emergency way of getting as much nuclear material out as possible.

Anonymous said...

Anon: "why couldn't they just take the fuel rods out and put them somewhere else?"

That would be because of the hysteria whipped up by the Greens. Sellafield could have handled the reprocessing of the spent rods, earning the UK a nice little penny in the (re)process(ing).

The fact there were years worth of accumulated fuel rods in the ponds is a result of the Green fascists.

Furor Teutonicus said...

All the news seems to be coming from one power station. When all this began there were THREE power stations deep in the shit. One closer to Tokyo, and one further North than fukyoushima, or whatever it is called). What has happened to the other two? Any one heard what is happening there, that may, or may not, have been reported by our news channels?

Anonymous said...

(Going off on a tangent)

The other day Laban said he learnt SI from "Nuffield Science", which is interesting because I only learnt SI when I started university.

That's fukked up ain't it?

One of the things the kids always used to complain about at school was that they never learnt anything useful. Which is true really isn't it? Can't do workhorse Euroscience without a full understanding of the metric system now can we?

Dead Dog Bounce said...

@Anonymous 5:27

The issue with the fuel rods is that they actually produce a lot heat. Not "light a city" heat, but they're being kept under tonnes of water, and possibly boiling that water off.

And the spent rods especially have some very nasty radio-activity associated, so the "moving" needs to be very secure. If you add to that the fact that it's quite dangerous near the rods ATM, so much so that they cannot easily get water in there, it's obvious that removing the rods isn't practical ATM.

Anonymous said...

Laban here - they can't move the rods because

a) the reactors are still at high temperature and pressure - they need cooling, and baby I'm not fooling.

b) the overhead machinery that moves them is probably wrecked

Furor - don't know about the others, I presume they're OK.

re SI - in the late 60s some schools did the Nuffield Science syllabus - I was lucky that mine was one.

Anonymous said...

Yes I realise ideally you don't take the rods out because of the radiation risks and damaged machinary etc.

But still, if there was the prospect of a meltdown, surely there ourt to be a way of extracting as much nuclear fuel as possible to reduce the size of the reaction.

I read they have over 1000 tons of the stuff still in the reactor, compared to 170 tons in Chernobyl.
A priority must be to reduce that?

Anonymous said...

I dont think meltdown can happen with the spent fuel, 1000 tons or not, and we are not looking at a Chernobyl.

Anonymous said...

A spent fuel rod still contains a lot of uranium, they replace the fuel rods long before they are 100% used up.

I wasn't suggesting the 'spent' fuel rods would cause the meltdown, rather if the main part of the reactor did get out of control, that spent fuel might inadvertantly get into the mix..

I don't like scare-mongering etc, it just seems an odd place to store them, especially if there is not an emergency way of getting them out.

Furor Teutonicus said...

But still, if there was the prospect of a meltdown, surely there ourt to be a way of extracting as much nuclear fuel as possible to reduce the size of the reaction.XX

Yes. It is called "normal operation". It is how a nuke WORKS.

The trouble is, once a problem happens it is no longer "normal operation". That is the whole POINT of having a melt down.

If you could "pull the fuel out", there would have been no melt down to start with.

Squander Two said...