APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Further plant recovery process details

From a few different sources, here are a few points:

Water injection to the primary plants is going to be shifted over to the normal feedwater system, and it looks like that's being done at No. 3. However, at No. 2 plant workers attempted to approach the area to work on the feed system to operate it for seawater injection but encountered a radiation field of at least 500 millisieverts per hour. That's 50 R/hr. This area, to be clear, is in the turbine building.

At this moment all restoration work has stopped at all four plants. Apparently shortly after the new, second appearance of the black smoke at No. 3 plant the TEPCO officials ordered a further site evacuation.

All three reactors have had measurements made on their external vessel temperatures and all were high, at least one being over the design limit of 575 F, and increased cooling was underway at all three in one form or another when the latest evacuation was ordered.

So far, radiation levels at the site have not gone up -- which makes us pretty sure here that the spike the other day was due to a release from the No. 2 plant, and not the No. 3 plant. Just what is burning, however, in the No. 3 plant isn't very clear.

More details as they become available.

6:30 AM Eastern Wednesday 3/23

11:00 AM Weds UPDATE: We've had a couple people email here noting that somehow the original report was high as to rad levels in the turbine building at No. 2 plant. Considering the situation, 50 R/hr seems possible, even if unlikely.... However, that was the amount reported in several Japanese media at the time. Whatever the case, it appears that high rad levels are still as of late Wednesday (Tokyo time) holding up work at No. 2 plant; NHK television's overnight loop analysis spot mentions the lack of progress at No. 2 compared to the other plants and notes the high rad levels at No. 2 as being the cause. So, even if that initial report on rad levels is high, it's still a problem at No. 2.

FURTHER UPDATE: After looking at some Western media, they're correcting a story from Wednesday about "highest rad levels yet on site" which they ran on Wednesday. The story really covered a reading, wrongly reported, from the 18th. So what happened was that one western media outlet got it wrong, and all the others parroted it.

This is why I only read the technical papers and files from the authorities and only listen to the technical bodies, the plant owners and the Japanese government and media. I highly recommend the western media figure out how to do that, and stop promulgating and then re-correcting garbage reports.

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