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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday morning update / Fukushima Daiichi

Very little new technical data is coming out of Japan, likely because the situation is not nearly so fluid as it was before. Here are some updates.

The level of radioiodine in the water south of the plant has spiked to an incredible 3300+ times the allowed limit. No one has yet said how this is getting into the water; the likely suspect is No. 2 plant.

The condenser hotwell is full at No. 1 plant, leaving roughly 20cm of water in the turbine building. Now the water transfer problem becomes more elaborate.

The most recent temperature data I have seen on No. 1 plant is a feed nozzle temperature of about 305C, or where it was when I last reported it. No. 2 plant is also heating up; not nearly as high, but the temperature is increasing. It seems as if TEPCO is trying to play both ends, as it were, and maintain core cooling with as little water injection as possible. The most recent JAIF status report now reflects this data, although it isn't recent enough to reflect the increase at unit 2:


NHK has reported a barge on the way to be brought into the breakwater or next to it to receive contaminated water.

All four plant control rooms have lights. They do NOT have I&C.

There was a fire at No. 1 plant late on the 30th, at 5:56 PM. This was a fire in what was described as a power panel for a 'drawing water pump to the outdoor duct.' This sounds like a motor controller for a seawater pump, and actually no fire was observed but smoke issuing from the equipment. Once deenergized, the smoke stopped and the damage is limited to just that panel.

Unsurprisingly TEPCO's upper management has admitted that Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 through No. 4 will be decommissioned. No mention was made of No. 5 and No. 6 or for that matter the planned but not under construction No. 7 and No. 8 at the same site by TEPCO. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano is advocating the decommissioning of all reactors on the site. The latter position is the one we figured would be taken, and wrote about here a while back.

9:10 AM Eastern Wednesday 3/30

UPDATE: Various Japanese media are saying that the controller fire occurred at the Fukushima Daini site's No. 1 plant, but there are two TEPCO press releases stating that this was at the Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 plant.


  1. Will - I wondered what you thought about the recent Onagawa trouble on the 29th:
    "The report was received, regarding the accident and trouble etc. in Onagawa NPS of Tohoku Electric Power Co. Inc. (the trouble of pump of component cooling water system etc. in Unit 2 and the fall of heavy oil tank for auxiliary boiler of Unit 1 by tsunami), pursuant to the Article 62-3 of the Nuclear Regulation Act and the Article 3 of the Ministerial Ordinance for the Report Related to Electricity. (11:16 March 29th)"

    Those reactors should be in cold shutdown conditions, right?

  2. Yes, those plants are shut down. I did see that report but didn't comment on it publicly because, frankly, at this moment it's a non-event. Included in there is one notification of a tsunami-damaged oil tank and one pump that cools components of the plant ... like motors. Right now it does not look serious.

  3. Well, I noticed it because I am trying to figure out the economic effect in Japan, and it does suggest that it will be longer before plants can be restarted. Then I thought, gee, I'd better make sure so I came over here.

    But a 25% reduction in summer power for industrial users is economically daunting.

  4. Hi. I've just added your blog to my "Fukushima follow-up" tag in my RSS reader. :)

    Do you know how many mSv/hr are "3300 times the allowed limit"? I just see "3355 times" everyehere...

    I've just posted this question at BraveNewClimate, but I take the opportunity to put it here too, in case you can give me a clue:

    As many people, I've been digging into nuclear energy following the Fukushima incident, so I'm not much knowledgeable on the subject, and I didn't know how to reply a criticism from an acquaintance today. This colleague suggested that any increase in radiation poses a great risk to our health because of possible internal radiation (the chance that you inhale or swallow radioisotopes), which has a lot bigger health impact than external radiation, and that statements about radiation safety around Fukushima are therefore meaningless, because they are based on external radiation, instead of internal (which is what evel scientists want to hide from us [sigh]). He backed up his argument (so to speak) with this text. I know the text sounds like crap, but I didn't know how to reply or how to give a proper context. I speculated that we may be constantly swallowing and inhaling radioisotopes from natural background radiation and nothing happens, but I don't know if it is so and I didn't sound quite convincing. If you could give me any hint or context, it would be most welcome. Thanks! :)