This is a long-overdue overview. (And so sorry, it’s not cursive.)
Bloomberg 5/12/2011: “Tokyo Electric Power Co. said one of the reactor cores at its stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant is more seriously damaged than previously thought, setting back the utility’s plan to resolve the crisis.” “Fuel rods in the core of the No. 1 reactor are fully exposed, with the water level 1 meter (3.3 feet) below the base of the fuel assembly, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility known as Tepco, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo.” “Holes have been found in the base of the pressure vessel, and most of the fuel has likely melted, Kyodo News reported yesterday, citing the utility. It’s possible the fuel has leaked into the containment vessel, which was damaged in the explosion, according to the report.” “Flooding the chamber was one of the steps Tepco outlined in April to bring the crisis under control.” “The plan needs to be revised,” Matsumoto said. “We can’t deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak.”
“What this means is this is probably going to be a much more difficult cleanup than they originally planned for,” said Paul Padley, a particle physicist at Rice University in Houston. The government and Tepco “have consistently appeared to be underestimating the severity of the situation.” — SOURCE: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-12/japan-suffers-setback-at-fukushima-after-no-1-reactor-s-fuel-rods-exposed.html
Too bad there’s no joy to be had in saying “told you so” when faced with a situation like this. Many if not most of the experts who’re not entrenched with nuclear special interests have been saying it for about 2 months now: it’s much worse than what TEPCO and the Japanese government are claiming. The good news is, perhaps, that the latter folks are beginning to admit that their propaganda “optimistic” statements were just that: baseless crap to shut concerned people up.
I’d start with this excellent overview by Fairewinds Associates’ Chief Nuclear Engineer Arnie Gundersen (May 13, 2011 update, summary below): See Latest Update at: http://www.fairewinds.com/ [or Click image to enter]
The Gist of the video: Unit 1: massive fuel melting, lava-like fuel has melted through containment vessel, molten fuel lying on floor of building, leaving extremely high and deadly radiation levels, no water in reactor. A dire disaster situation. [the earlier plan to fill the whole building with water has been cancelled – unfeasible, way too dangerous. The new plan will reportedly be announced next week]; Unit 2: containment leaking radioactive water like a sift, 100 tons of water per day being used per unit. Releases of radioactive water into ground water and ocean suspected; Unit 3: The observed white “smoke”, Gundersen thinks, is warm radioactive steam hitting the cold air producing thick clouds, but not a sign of a fire, as some online commentators have suggested. A new hydrogen explosion still remains quite possible at this point. Recently released underwater images indicate violent explosion took place inside the spent fuel pool. Also: they found high levels of I-131 in Unit 3’s spent fuel pool, which further confirms criticality (actual nuclear reactions) occurred in the spent fuel pool. Massive radioactive water leaking continues; Groundwater in Fukushima area: The site has sunk about a foot, widespread concrete cracking is suspected at the nuke site. Highly radioactive water quite likely has been leaking into the groundwater of the region, and has already been detected at high levels into one town’s sewage system. + Unconscionable: High school children, 50 km from the NNP, are being exposed to adult nuclear worker radiation levels, yet the school remains open. Leaking of radionuclides continues through water and steam releases, 24/7; Unit 4: The building is leaning and could collapse! Despite the fire that occurred there, fuel rod racks are intact, so the plutonium found in the area (up to 2 kilometers away) were most likely not from Unit 4.
Unit 4 alone contains over 100 metric tons of spent fuel (SOURCE: see Scientific American article below, and also: http://progressivelever.com/2011/03/22/more-on-spent-fuel-pools-at-fukushima/). IF current efforts “to prevent things from worsening” fail, there’s enough combined spent fuel on site that, if it were to all catch fire, could release many thousands of times what was released in Chernobyl’s 1986 disaster.
Scientific American, March 17, 2011: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nuclear-fuel-fukushima: How Much Spent Nuclear Fuel Does the Fukushima Daiichi Facility Hold?
” […] The spent fuel pools are of significant concern, Marvin Resnikoff, a radioactive waste management consultant, said in a Wednesday press briefing organized by the nonprofit organization Physicians for Social Responsibility. Resnikoff noted that the pools at each reactor are thought to have contained the following amounts of spent fuel, according to The Mainichi Daily News:
• Reactor No. 1: 50 tons of nuclear fuel
• Reactor No. 2: 81 tons
• Reactor No. 3: 88 tons
• Reactor No. 4: 135 tons
• Reactor No. 5: 142 tons
• Reactor No. 6: 151 tons
• Also, a separate ground-level fuel pool contains 1,097 tons of fuel; and some 70 tons of nuclear materials are kept on the grounds in dry storage. The reactor cores themselves contain less than 100 tons of fuel, Resnikoff noted. […]”
- Fukushima Fuel + Spent Fuel on site (50 + 81 + 88 + 135 + 142 + 151 + 1097 + 70 + 86(?) …… = 1,900 tons. (1,760 tons has also been reported, here)
- At Chernobyl = 180 tons.
- Three Mile Island: 30 tons.
So… a dose of realism exclusive to this Friday the 13th – wrah-ha-ha: IF the Unit 4 building collapses, the spent fuel, uncooled and possibly un-coolable in the rubble would likely go critical and catch fire, radiation on site would soar to the point emergency work would become impossible, a large portion of the Japanese and North-American population would get sick or die over the next few years and -worst case scenario-: the mother ship may have to be evacuated. To translate that into government lingo: There’s no reason for concern. Have a glass of milk.
Meanwhile… Talk about unconscionable: As the situation remains extremely unstable and -best case scenario- moderate continued releases of radionuclides are a near-certainty for the rest of the year, with a fairly high probability for a mind-bogling deterioration…
The US and Canadian monitoring agencies have quit their Fukushima-related additional monitoring. Next EPA testing? In 3 months. (SOURCE: from “one of the 4 horses of the apocalypse’s mouths itself”: see HERE, and screenshot of that (with my comments), see below)). What about frequent nationwide testing of milk, Pacific Ocean fish, large leafy greens? US Gov: “Go **c* yourself, sheeple.” We’re on our own. Sorry to put it that way, but this totalitarian government’s level of negligence in a nuclear crisis situation like Fukushima, I find inching towards criminally negligent.
It, of course, isn’t exactly surprising, given – to name just one example- executives and employees of Exelon, the Illinois-based utility that produces approximately 20 percent of the country’s nuclear power, donated nearly $210,000 to Obama’s presidential campaign, and Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped broker the merger of two utiltilies to form Exelon in 2000 when working as an investment banker at Wasserstein Perella & Co., and one of Obama’s chief political strategists, David Axelrod, consulted for an Exelon subsidiary periodically between 2002 until he started working on the Obama campaign, and Exelon officials Frank M. Clark and John W. Rogers Jr. were among Obama’s biggest fundraisers. And, not to be underestimated, Obama put “tackling global warming” on the table under the banner of expanding nuclear energy. (Oh – how gullible “environmentalists” can be…) Yup, Obama even received donations from John Rowe himself, head of NEI and Exelon’s chairman, who has been pushing for “climate legislation”. (one SOURCE among many: http://nuclear-news.net/2010/02/05/obama-beholden-to-nuclear-industrys-donations-and-backing/) But I digress…
Explore the ‘RADIOACTIVITY‘ tab in the black top bar to check radiation dose levels worldwide, sources for buying your own radiation measuring equipment (Geiger Counters, food and soil testing,…) and more.