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Friday, December 29, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 6

The Dai-ichi nuclear disaster is one of the biggest events to ever hit Japan - disaster-wise. Brought on by a March 11 9.0 Magnitude earthquake that spawned a tsunami wave of a height not observed except in major disaster movies... that breached the protective seawall in front of the nuclear power plant and caused all sorts of hell to be unleashed on the already reeling Japanese people in the northeastern part of Japan.

We're on Part 6 today - how long can this go on? Actually, quite a bit longer... but I may amend it it a bit so we're only doing the juicy bits... still, we're on March 24. Not quite two weeks after everything began.

For your refresher, I would suggest you familiarize with what has gone on before with Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE. Part 3 is HERE. Part 4 is HERE. Part 5 is HERE.

After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

If you are up to speed, having read along as I publish these blogs, we are now on March 24. The relative calm of the past two days is about to be shattered. Oh... TEPCO is the Tokyo Electric Power COmpany, who own the Dai-ichi nuclear power generation facility and other similar plants around Japan.

Let's begin with Reactor No. 1:

The core of Reactor No. 1 nearly reaches 400°C (752°F). How hot is that? Well... the core's upper design limit is 302°C (575.6°F)
... so uh-oh.

Smoke is seen coming from Reactor No. 1.

And Reactor No. 2...

And Reactor No. 3...

And Reactor No. 4.

Have you heard about the Fukushima 50? Back on March 24, 2011, I wrote about who they are, and I'd recommend you give it a read: 50, but if you don't, I'll sum up and tell you that they are a group of 180 men, who enter the Dai-ichi reactor buildings 50 at a time for no more than an hour to try and get the reactors under control and working properly.

These "Fukushima 50" are volunteers, and are made up of low- and middle-ranking technicians, operators, soldiers and firefighters.

Their names, at the time, are shrouded in mystery - even to this day... but they are brave people... and that's the important factor here. That's a photo of them at the very top of this article.

We do know that at least one of the men has come forth claiming he was a Fukushima 50, and that he developed cancer a couple of years after volunteering.

Unfortunately, on this day, March 24, two of the Fukushima 50 are taken to hospital after being inside Reactor No. 3 too long, suffering from radiation burns.

These workers were trying to install electrical cables to provide power to different parts of the reactor when they walked through knee-high levels of irradiated water, seeping through their protective clothing, exposing them to 180 millisieverts of radiation for their one hour jaunt.

1 sievert of ionized radiation = 100 rems.
0.01 rem = an average exposure from a chest X-Ray.

1 sievert of exposure is supposed to mean a 5.5% chance of one's body developing cancer.

So... while they got a strong dose - perhaps getting about a 1 percent chance of developing cancer... but it was the radiation burns that are causing them the most problem now.

Reactor No. 3 (left) and Reactor No. 4... the cores are in those buildings (up front) that are badly damaged with their roof blown off.
Oh... and Reactor No. 4... it's getting hot in there again, as it burns off more and more of the cooling water around it causing more steam that's going to have to be vented... but really... the water levels are so low, that TEPCO has to inject 135 metric tons (148.812 US tons) of seawater.

How did it get so low? Shouldn't that be constantly monitored?

By the way... you know how TEPCO and everyone else has been pumping the readily available seawater into all of these reactors?

You know that has always been a last ditch effort... as seawater is corrosive, and in the long-term, it will have quite the negative impact on the containment vessels' ability to ... contain.

Hot Town, Summer In The City
March 25, the government of Japan advises (but does not enforce) residents living between 20 and 30 kilometers (12.43 - 18.64 miles) from the Fukushima power plant to consider voluntary evacuation.

Why would they do that if there wasn't already a clear and present danger?

The good news: Reactor No. 1 receives freshwater into it, rather than seawater.

Not the other reactors, however

Is it a coincidence, that Reactor No.1's temperature drops from 400°C (752°F) to a reasonable and safer 204.5°C (400.1°F). Maybe... the seawater may be corrosive, but it does not have a greater or less effect on temperature than freshwater... at least not to THAT extreme.

And, the bad... for some reason a pair of Japanese travelers to China, departing from Tokyo are found to be sick, suffering from very high and dangerous levels of radiation, and are hospitalized in China.

That's weird. Unless they were IN the evacuation zone area while the early crap was hitting Dai-ichi, there's no reason for them to be so affected... there's a bigger story here, but I don't have ANY answers for it without talking to those two people directly. And that ain't happening.

Still... a collection of radiation data from outside the facility shows the seawater collected to contain Iodine 131 - a very radioactive element - to be at 103.9x the safe and legal limit.

On March 26, 2011, Reactor No. 2 gets an injection of freshwater!

But... seawater collection from a site 330 meters south of Dai-ichi shows that yesterdays 103.9x legal limit of Iodine 131 is up to 1,250x the legal limit.

To me, that suggests that radiation from the reactors is seeping out from the supposedly contained facility at a faster rate... because the crack in some floor is getting larger... and/or because one of the reactors just got a boost of more water... whatever... something bad is leaking from Dai-ichi and leeching its way down and into the seawater in and around the facility.

At 1,250x the legal amount, we could be talking about an ecological disaster in the waters around Fukushima.

Cesium 134 is at 117.3x the legal limit.

Cesium 137 is at 79.6x the legal limit.

A few days later on March 28, 2011, TEPCO discovers water leaking INTO the turbine buildings of Reactor No. 1, Reactor No. 2 and Reactor No. 3 contain radiation levels as high as 1,000 millisieverts... which is to say that exposure to that amount of radiation is enough to kill a person within four to five hours.

I'm skipping a day, because while stuff happened, it wasn't epic. On March 30, guess what...

Smoke at Reactors No. 1-4... that's 1, 2, 3 and 4. But it's white smoke, not black. That's good right? Or is it a different type of bad?

Is it smoke or is it actually steam being vented? People say it's smoke, but people at that time are saying a lot of things. Take a grain of salt with this factoid.

Well... in Reactor No. 1, the water levels fall, so they pump freshwater in via electrical pumps (instead of fire trucks)... so at least things are getting back to their old self .. er, as far as electricity goes.

But why are temperatures rising in Reactor No. 2 again? Holy crap... they pump more freshwater in there, too!

And to end the month (March 31) on a high note, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) of Japan says that water sampled near the plant's seawater discharge point contains 4,385x the safety level, which is an increase from the March 29 sample where it was only 3,355x above the safety limit.

That's all for today... after this, we hit April... and while it is inanimate, Dai-ichi continues to play tricks on the people around it, and causes concern of a very dangerous situation where Japan could be host to a new type of fish, that the 2D people of Springfield know as Blinky.

If you don't get that, you will tomorrow.

Andrew Joseph

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