… well… TEPCO decided to measure the level of radioactivity in old No. 2… and it was 530 sieverts/hour… far, far, far above the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour measured at the reactor in the days following the initial disaster.
Holy crap! It’s getting hotter in the Dai-ichi reactor!
Yes, a human being would die if exposed briefly to this amount of radiation.
Yes, a robot would cease functioning if exposed to this radiation for two hours.
Flee! Run away!
No, wait a minute.
While the number is far higher than anyone expected, we should note that THIS recent measurement was taken near the reactor core… a place it had not been able to get near in the past.
No Robots Were Harmed Tell your Roomba to relax. No robots were harmed during the latest round of radiation level tests.
Using a long, remote-controlled camera and radiation measuring equipment, TEPCO discovered a one-meter (3-foot) wide hole in a metal grate in No. 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel.
Tepco believes that some of the melted fuel escaped from this gash.
Uh… why aren’t people and robots running away?
The National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan says:
- one sievert of radiation = infertility, hair loss, cataracts;
- four sieverts of radiation = death for half the people exposed to it.
What… half the people? Wouldn’t everyone be sick and dying? Half of how many people? Don’t you hate it when the news doesn’t give you the full story? Lazy.
Let’s see… when it comes to radiation, weight and density are two factors that affect how a radiation dose will affect a person. But in this case, that means nothing, as we are talking about a uniform dose of radiation across the entire body… so if four people are standing facing a stream of radiation, they should all receive the same dose… so why would only half die?
Apparently the safe answer is that human beings have different levels of ability to absorb things like radiation… or in this case, dangerous radiation (you do know we get solar radiation every time we go outside… and cosmic radiation, too).
So… maybe only HALF the people in Fukushima should be fleeing. Robots can take a bit longer to flee in non-emotional terror.
So… why hasn’t the order been given to abandon Japan?
Truthfully, if there was a danger, alarms would have gone off sooner… recall… this is the first time a reading has been done so close to the nuclear core of No. 2.
Mmmmm, can’t wait to see what they find in No. 1 and No. 3. It is possible that even higher numbers could be found here, but then again, maybe not.
Radiation measurements are being taken all over the facility… and if there was a present-time radiation issue, we would know about it…
Also… Tepco says regarding the radiation measurement, that there was a 30% margin of error.
That’s not comforting.
Yes, it could be 30% less… then again, it could be 30% more.
Could there also be a 30% chance of error in TEPCO’s statement about margin of error… could it really be 70%… 90%? Sure… but while I am unsure about the quality of TEPCO’s work nowadays, they still released this data about the high level of radiation… so maybe they aren’t trying to hide things.
Then again… if we need not be so concerned, should we be more concerned?
Why are these radiation levels so high nearly six years after the events? Should they have gone down a bit since then?
Maybe they DID go down over the past six years… in which case… how high was the radiation level six years ago.
In Rod We Trust
I keep mentioning robots… the reason being is that TEPCO’s plan was to utilize robots to go down into these highly radioactive areas to remove the fuel rods… a plant scheduled to begin in 2021 as part of the plan to decommission Dai-ichi.
But… at present radiation levels, a robot can only work within the environment for a two-hour period… not only might it not be enough to complete even the removal of one fuel rod, even if it can do one rod before dying, how many robots will need to be sacrificed to get all the fuel rods out… and just home much does it cost to purchase and program one of these suicidal ‘bots?
Did you know there are about 1,500 fuel rods in each reactor?
There are six reactors at Dai-ichi… three of which are what we in the uneducated field of nuclear power would call: “Holy fug! That sh!t is effin’ glowing hot!!!”
That’s a lot of robots… which is only good news for companies involved in the manufacture and programming of such robots. Just so you know… the radiation destroys the wiring… maybe robot manufacturers could create a flexible ceramic that would enable the robots to last longer?
I know… shut my mouth… it’s like battery companies making batteries that last so long that people no longer need to buy batteries as often… killing battery companies…
The radiation robots can swim under water and negotiate obstacles in damaged tunnels and piping.
Did you know that each robot has to be custom-built for each of the four buildings, and it takes two years to develop a single-function robot.
Did you know that TEPCO has been trying for years to get permission from local Fukushima fishermen to dump the treated radioactive water back into the sea? Yes, it’s treated… but the fishermen seem highly suspicious of TEPCO…
Did you know that as of 2017, TEPCO has finished about 12 percent of the clean-up at the Dai-ichi site? It expects to be done in 30 years… or maybe 40… or maybe longer now that the higher radiation levels have come to light.
Did you know that there was a release of some radioactive fuel? Yup… TEPCO has been trying to find it using muon rays via X-Ray… but still can’t figure out where it went.
Hey… at least by finding that one meter gash in No. 2, they know where the radioactive fuel escaped FROM.
Tepco is also focusing a large part of its energy (not much of a pun intended) to stop groundwater from entering the basements of the nuclear reactors in Fukushima.
The reactors still leak radioactive water, and when it comes in contact with the groundwater, it has a chance to continue flowing to enter the Pacific Ocean.
Don’t worry, though… even if radioactive water is entering the Ocean, it’s not high levels or even large amounts of radioactive water… and when it is diffused into the groundwater, its strength is lessened even further.
However, TEPCO says that the leaks of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean have halted after it built a wall along the shoreline near the nuclear plant - a wall that goes down to the seabed… and deeper into the seabed. So no Blinky the Three-Eyed fish a la The Simpsons.
Nothing To See Here, Folks So… there’s nothing to worry about, is there?
That recent radiation finding of 530 sieverts… wellll… that reading, while taken very close to the nuclear core in Reactor No. 2… the closest they have been able to take a reading… wellll… it still wasn’t necessarily taken from within the hottest (radioactivity-wise) part of the reactor’s core.
So… it is still possible that the hottest area could offer a 600 sieverts reading… or 1,000 sieverts reading, heck 5,300 sieverts reading… you get the picture.
Further testing is required of the radiation levels… and then to see if it is going down, or maintaining its “heat” level over a period of time… and then determine if robots can withstand those temperatures to begin removing the nuclear fuel rods.
So let’s not assume that the decommissioning of the reactor will begin in 2021, or even that it will be completed in 30 or 40 years.
Now… anytime I have mentioned Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo (surname first) recently, I haven’t been too harsh on him… certainly not like I was at the beginning, when I feared his hawk-like ways would spiral Japan into a war it had little chance of winning against… say… China… or North Korea… or Russia.
But… now.. Abe still has this idea that Japan should begin to restart its nuclear power production program…
After the 2011 debacle, and certainly after the Dai-ichi reactor nearly went ka-bloooey at least three times over a two- or three-month period… Japan shut down all of its nuclear reactors after it was discovered there were either unsafe fail-safes, cracks, or other possible catastrophes waiting to happen… and that a re-haul of its safety and quality assurance procedures was required.
Abe wants to restart the Japanese reactors… at least the one’s that have passed the safety protocols…
Nuclear Power? Candu
Me? I’m pro-nuclear power. When done properly, it’s a great resource to create electricity… and I’m not just talking about Japan.
The U.S. has slowed its nuclear power production, with coal use jumping up to produce electricity, which means that for all of you suckers who are thoughtfully using electrical cars… you are helping to wreck the environment. Though you are giving jobs to poor families in Kentucky… and hopefully aren’t slowly killing miners with Black Lung.
My issue with nuclear power has long been the choice of nuclear fuel that countries have been opting for.
There are two types of common uranium:
- U-238, which is about 99.28% of all uranium;
- U-235, which is about 0.71% of all uranium.
Canada and its Candu reactors use U-235… maybe because we have a lot of it…
The interesting point is you can not make nuclear weapons from any part of this type of uranium or waste… certainly unlike what you CAN make from U-238, which is the more popular type of nuclear reactor fuel, as favored by countries like the U.S., Russia, China, North Korea… oh, and Japan, too, amongst many others.
Yes… I’m sure Canada would sell Japan some of its U-235… I’m sure it’s more expensive than U-238… then again, there’s not as dangerous an issue in disposing of the nuclear waste… but you are also unable to resell it for making nuclear weapons.
Please note that I am dumbing things down quite a bit here in my explanation… but that is the gist of things…. and is why I am pro-nuclear power… more pro-Candu nuclear power… because it also means if everyone used it, no one would be making nuclear bombs… but I suppose people/countries have to be greedy if capitalism is to flourish.
Fukushima… that’s flourishing, right?
Anyhow… 530 sieverts…
Andrew “high horse” Joseph
PS: I didn't even mention that current costs to clean up after Dai-ichi is US$180 billion... now wait until it's actually completed... in 30 or 40 years... 50 or 60 years... and they get a final tally for all those poor robot deaths... how do you value that? Pretty easily, actually... so let me get back to you in 60 years with a final tally.
PPS: It kind of sucks to suddenly realize I probably will not be around to do that... If you are 15 or 20... or so right now... hopefully you will be around to hear the final tally for Dai-ichi.
PPPS: Just as I finished writing this, I found THIS article!