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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brief Fukushima Daiichi update- Sunday 5/22

As reported on this blog on April 23, TEPCO has (again) noted the discovery of radioactive debris on the Fukushima Daiichi site which is emitting between 90 R/hr and 100 R/hr. This debris is near the No. 3 plant reactor building, reportedly, and as noted before is the highest dose rate found on site yet.. that is, outside of the plant buildings, anyway.

TEPCO has reduced the feed rate to No. 3 reactor again. According to the TEPCO press release, flow rate through the feed line has remained constant today at 12 cubic meters per hour, but feed flow through the firefighting connection has been reduced in steps. At 5:39 AM this was reduced from 9 cubic meters per hour to 8; at 8:43 AM to 7; and at 11:54 AM finally to 6 cubic meters per hour. Thus, as of now the total feed rate to No. 3 is 18 cubic meters per hour. No. 1 plant, for comparison, is at 6 cubic meters / hr while No. 2 plant is at 7 cubic meters / hr.

The "mega-float" barge is now at Fukushima Daiichi.

12:05 AM Eastern Sunday 5/22


  1. How much debris was blown into dust and sent flying to who knows where?

  2. I highly regret your reports are not mainstream and seems to be the one lone wolf carrying the water providing calm collected thorough reporting on this issue. I have a feeling the general worldwide nuclear industry is either cocky or clueless that they're facing a public relations crisis of extinction here. On NY-1 News here in NYC a nuclear engineer enthusiastically chimes about "new reactor" technologies like molten salt and liquid metal reactors in the wings that aren't prone to TMI or Fukushima Daiichi issues, without a clue that the general public and politicians don't see any difference. Nuclear power is nuclear power, a hazard under another name, that's all. What got me was he doesn't mention that Dalilchi wasn't instigated by some inherent operating flaw or instability but by a rare natural event and site situation that was overlooked and hardly common with other plants and yada yada. To me it behooves the nuclear industry worldwide just for self-interest sake to go into Japan and Germany on a P.R. education blitz and cite these facts to mitigate the fear and backlash that won't have anymore units -- no matter how advanced -- see the light of day.

    James Greenidge

  3. @jimwg: I fully agree. The nuclear industry needs a David Suzuki or Richard Attenborough (just to name 2) who can explain things, pros / cons, advantages / risks in terms us non nuclear folk can appreciate. Will is doing a top job and we all need to promote his blog where we can.

  4. @jimwg and also @oldman: I very much appreciate your kind words and assessment of my work. I thank you both. It is very reassuring to know that what I'm trying to do is hitting the mark.

  5. I would like to know more about the 6 Fukushima reactors that are safely shutdown.
    First, I assume that many repairs would be needed to restart these reactors.
    Second, I assume that the local government would be uneasy about restarting any of the 6 reactors.
    Third, has anyone inspected the 6 reactor vessels for earthquake damage? No one can look at the damaged reactor vessels but the supposed undamaged reactor vessels could provide a clue if all survived the earth quake with no piping problems.

    Your observations would be appreciated.

  6. Respectfully, I am a know-nothing, a frequent visitor to Fintan Dunne's site which featured an interview with Will, and I am getting my information here and yes, in some more "mainstream" outlets as well. The story above, however, says that "radioactive debris," in other words, bits, perhaps chunks of stuff has been found outside the walls of the reactor building and I am assuming it was blown out there in an explosion. That being the case it would mean there were even smaller particles created, radioactive dust, that may have gotten away and is headed my way 50 miles northwest of the plant. With earthquakes happening everyday, there was a level seven in Miyagi last Thursday, and windy days aplenty, I worry, a lot, in fact.

    Also, saying future plants will be safer than current ones means nothing to me under the circumstances.

  7. jimbo, it may be pieces of used fuel from the spent fuel pond, which exited the fuel pond after one of the hydrogen explosions.

  8. I appreciate this site for the technical information and updates and the competent author's interpretations. I advise you to stay out of the political debate.

    The debris is most likely originating from the most powerful explosion at no. 3 (some say from the spent fuel pool; if true then the debris will contain fuel material).

    @jimbo: You are rightly concerned about your location. I live 200km south and we have been contaminated; I probably have to move to a new home. This morning a remarkable amount of contamination was established in Tochigi prefecture. Please refer to this map, you should see it well:


    Local governments have obviously not expected this and are very slow to respond (the contamination occurred mid/end March). Academics are compiling the information and there is nothing in the mainstream media on this (yet) but academics are publishing on blogs and web sites (in Japanese). Some outskirts of Tokyo seem also affected, although not as badly as the Chiba and Tochigi prefectures.

  9. martin - I assume that you're asking about reactors #5 and #6 at the Daiichi site and all four at the Daini site. Since they were shutdown due to an earthquake, I would expect them to be defueled and inspected thoroughly. This activity might well be postponed pending a decision about the likelihood of a restart being allowed.

    jimbo, some dust will undoubtedly have been sent some distance from the explosion - absolutely true. But particles small enough to "fly" will also have very little radioactivity on them. And radioactivity is relatively easy to detect with remote instruments - so the spread of any such dust would be noticed and acted on.

    Future plants will be safer than old plants - yes, little relevance to response to the current crisis but very important to consider for future energy policy, don't you think?

  10. Further, I have heard nothing here regarding what I had read in the May 18 Japan Times. "The emergency cooling system for reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have been shut down manually before the tsunami hit March 11, according to a Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman and documents released by the utility...A worker may have stopped the condenser to keep cold water from coming into contact with the hot steel of the reactor to prevent it from being damaged." http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110518a2.html