Fukushima is worse than Chernobyl and therefore the worst nuclear disaster in history. Belatedly, it was declared a Level 7 nuclear emergency, 12 Apr, a month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2001. Right now Unit 1 is measuring its highest levels of radiation 4000 mSv since the earthquake.
Despite much flirting with the truth, Tepco, the company concerned, is having grave difficulty getting anything like control over the site – or admitting the scale. It only admitted last week that three out of six reactors at the nuclear plant suffered meltdowns within days of 11 March.
Lately a French NGO has discovered that “the radioactive cloud from the stricken reactors reached France two days earlier than officially announced. In addition, the levels of radioactive iodine-131 were 20 times higher on 22 March than announced on 24 March, according to the NGO’s findings.” Perhaps this is unsurprising for a country that relies on nuclear for 80% of its energy needs. (UK is 5%).
The Fukushima Disaster has now led Japan to renounce future nuclear power stations (it already has 54!) and Germany to undertake to rundown all its nuclear power by 2022. Contrarily, Saudi Arabia has made plans to order SIXTEEN reactors – someone has to keep the US nuclear business afloat!!
Radioactive isotopes are being found from California to New England, and tens of thousands of tons of contaminated water are affecting Japanese groundwater and flooding into Pacific Ocean currents. Japan has now ordered hundreds of steel containers to hold (future!) contaminated water.
A key commentator on the Fukushima disaster is Arnie Gunderson of Faire Winds. (Search Youtube)
In April he described the state of the plant’s 5 reactors (Units) after the first few weeks. (video, 13 Apr 2011)
Unit 3 – this suffered a large, serious explosion (a detonation with a shock wave faster than the speed of sound, as apposed to a deflagration with a shock wave slower than sound). U3 had a much more massive explosion than U1 with fuel rod parts ejected up to TWO MILES away.
U4 – fuel rods are dry. fuel racks intact.
Uranium dust has been found in Hawaii and West Coast USA. Of decay isotopes, Plutonium has been found onsite, and Amarycium found in New England.
These transuranics, heavier than U, indicate the nuclear fuel has been volatilised (become a fine aerosol) at Fukushima and so able to travel vast distances.
A large portion of the building U4 is missing. Infra red shows a heat source still on the south side.
The fuel pool was probably the base of the explosion.
U1 – had a fire, a deflagration (not explosive).
U3 had an explosion. What caused it? H and O gases alone wouldn’t do it but could have created a smaller explosion which moved the nuclear fuel in the pool which then blew upwards.
Isotopes – information has yet to be made available.
And again in May (video, May 13 2011). That the situation is still called “unstable”, is an understatement.
Tepco, the company involved, reports the Unit 1 reactor core is uncovered, and fuel has been damaged. New gauges installed show no water left in the reactor or the containment area. Tens of thousands of tonnes of water pumped onto the site have disappeared in these 2 months. This means major leakages into groundwater. U1 is dry and the nuclear reaction has probably melted through containment. It’s emitting a reported 70R an hour where 4-5 hours is deadly.
U2 – is leaking water like a sieve. Containment is leaking containment water. Cleansing is not possible at this scale. They are pumping in 100 tons of water a day but demineralisation cleanup only runs at 1-2 tons.
U3 – probably emitting warm steam now rather than a fire. The temperature is very high and the pressure very low. This means there’s no water and a severe cooling problem. H explosion still poss. U3 is a pile of rubble at this point. The fuel pool pictures are awful – showing large pieces of concrete, debris, etc, distorted fuel racks, the results of a violent explosion. The U3 explosion led to pieces of metal miles away (detonation). There are also high levels of Iodine-131 in the pool, but after 60 days thisI should be gone. This indicates a sudden nuclear explosion (“prompt criticality”).
U4 – this building is tilting at the top and may collapse. The U4 pool racks appear ok.
U1 containment is leaking and filling trenches offsite. U2 is also leaking and filling trenches offsite. All 3 nuclear containments are leaking.
US regulatory body says it’s impossible for nuclear containment to leak. Obviously this is wrong.
There is lots of water loose in the vicinity. Measurements show the site has sunk maybe a foot. The concrete foundations must have cracked. Contaminated water must be making it into groundwater and probably also into the sewage system.
Distances 50-60km away from the reactor show contamination. At one high school soil is being stripped out. The high school requires students to wear masks and long-sleeve shirts! This school should be closed!
All reactors are emitting radiation. No plan in sight to stop this as yet.
JUNE: Arnie, June 3rd Interview
Unit 1: Had an explosion and a meltdown happened. A blob of nuclear lava has ended up on the bottom. Saltwater is being pumped in but the inside of this molten mass is 5000F! The concrete containment has cracks in it and water is leaving after directly touching the nuclear fuel. It’s carrying radioactive isotopes into the environment.
U2: also has a blob at the bottom of containment and treated as above. This can’t actually get any worse!
U3: Has also had a major explosion. May also not have melted through the concrete containment but some fuel may be lying on the bottom. A re-criticality may be occurring. High I131 levels indicate a reaction may be cycling – “breathing”, as its own heat grows it shuts the reaction down. There may be a tenth of the core doing this. ALSO, the saltwater and iron reaction means the reactor bottom may break, and the core may fall out suddenly (with a violent Hydrogen steam explosion).
Following March’s earthquake, a severe aftershock will mean U3 and U4 are in severe jeopardy. (In Indonesia there was a severe aftershock 3 months later). The units are also more unstable due to the tens of tons of extra water too.
U4: There was no active core as all the fuel has been in the pool since November. But the entire spent fuel pool is visible – it’s gone dry and lots of decay heat. One US study shows a dry pool could cause 187,000 fatalities. It could catch fire and the isotopes aerosolise.
It takes enormous amounts of water to cool the units, tens of tons an hour. Hundreds of thousands of tons of water contaminated with high radioactivity. “Not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination!”
Inside, the workers are working at 15 minutes at a time and getting their annual permitted dose while the Company has raised the dose to 250mSv as the annual limit (25 rem). In probability terms, 250 rem will kill you. But if 10 people get 25 rem one will develop a cancer…
We can expect ANOTHER YEAR or so before the cores COOL DOWN ENOUGH to entomb the mess in concrete for Units 1, 2 and 3. For Unit 4 the fuel is at the top, and you can’t lift it out – which you have to do with massive cranes – underwater!! They may have to build a building around the building! But note it took FOUR YEARS to get the fuel out of Three Mile Island.