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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi... Sunday 5/29

Some updates from Fukushima Daiichi...

-TEPCO does not at this time believe that the rain and wind from the approaching tropical storm will cause any severe problems at the site. TEPCO had sandbagged a number of electrical distribution panels, and has taken other measures to ensure continuity of AC power during the heavy weather.

-Cooling injection at No. 3 plant is now solely through the feed system at about 13.5 cubic meters per hour.

-Feed system cooling injection has begun at No. 2 plant, at a rate of 5 cubic meters per hour. This supplements the 7 cubic meters per hour from the fire extinguishing line in use previously.

-It would appear that further outflow.. from source or sources not yet determined.. is driving up contamination rates again inside the near breakwater. TEPCO is investigating the exact source.

-There is some press about the temporary loss of circulating system (seawater) at No. 5 plant driving up plant and spent fuel pool temperatures. There was no serious effect, and plant temperature and spent fuel pool temperature are back on the way down. It appears that no pump was running for as long as 15 hours. The loss of the pump was first detected at 21:24 on May 28th, according to TEPCO, and work on replacement began at 8:12 the morning of the 29th. At 12:31 the newly installed, spare pumps were started and at 12:49 the normal cooldown lineup was re-established, and cooling of the reactor plant began again.

-All four plants, No. 1 through No. 4 now have their spent fuel pool cooling systems restored. These are being used to inject cooling water as needed at the moment, with no recirc cooling capability yet. Recirc cooling (as designed) is expected to be operational for all four plants sometime in July. This removes the need for the long arm concrete spray trucks on a continuous basis, although they remain on site (moved to a safe location due to the impending storm) as backups to the installed (original) systems for spent fuel pool cooling.

-For reference.. and because we have not mentioned it lately.. with only a couple brief interludes due to equipment malfunction, TEPCO continues to pump nitrogen into the dry well of No. 1 plant. At this time, the total injected volume of nitrogen to this plant stands at about 34,300 cubic meters (total from April 7 until May 29.)

9:00 PM Eastern Sunday 5/29


  1. "Tokyo Electric Power Co. is coming to the view that it will be impossible to stabilize the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by the end of this year, senior company officials said Sunday"

    It makes you wonder, with all the updates, info, data, measurements, roadmap, leaking/plugging holes, what substantial progress exactly has been achieved in the last two months?

    Despite the undoubtedly relentless work on site, I can't think of anything really.

  2. ashen:
    I thought a lot had been achieved in the last two months. They now have temporary cooling system in place, and they are making progress towards stopping the emission of particles into air and water.
    Of course, the situation there is still bad, but I don´t understand how anyone can say it is still the the same as 2 months ago?

    And I would like to thank Will for writing this factual, down-to earth blog with easy explanations for us non-experts.

  3. ashen:
    I thought a lot had been achieved in the last 2 months, with temporary cooling system now established, and steps to stop the emission of particles being made.
    I wonder how Tepco defines "stabilize the crisis" here. Of course the situation is bad, but it surely is better than 2 months ago?
    Maybe Will can explain.

  4. Presumably the progress to date is mostly preparation, notably for the water treatment facility that AREVA is setting up. That should be up by mid June.
    The rest of the site work is pretty much housekeeping, pending the arrival of the external heat exchangers for the cooling lashup.
    A few larger scale area overviews would help greatly to put the activities in perspective.

  5. If that report's accurate, it could also be that they've different definitions of crisis. They bumped the severity from level five to "Chernobyl" seven, but one asks how'd they come to that what the resultant rad readings and physical damage. But I've small doubts that's their conservative opinion and they'll progress faster than we grant them for. I remember media and officials stating it'd take Three Years to snuff Sadaam's oil fires and two years to repair the destroyed freeways in the last L.A. quake -- both put away in only manners of months. Japanese pride and reputation's at stake here too, so that's a great incentive to resolve this in as least time as possible. I mean this was the anti-nukers' worst nightmare x4 and Japan's still there plugging away with a casuality and damage tally far less that of the most infamous and deadly industrial failures. I got to hand it to them!

    James Greenidge

  6. Thank you Will.

    My main concern is that Tepco seems to be supplying crucial knowledge with a month or more lag time.

    Unless their management style changes, I imagine we are still and will continue to receive delayed information.

    As this is an international event I would expect that all country's reporting of progress would be more forthcoming. This does not seem to be the case.

  7. Re. "temporary cooling system now established" - that was established about two months ago and consists of showering the spots with water from concrete pumps and putting in water into any hole they can, then having to deal with large amounts of water they cannot store or dispose of. Not a "system" in my book, rather than a stop gap measure

    Re. "the situation is bad, but it surely is better than 2 months ago?" How exactly is the situation substantially different now than at the end of March? We may know more, etc. but the facts on site have not changed at all.

    Re. "Japanese pride and reputation's at stake " I would say was at stake. As previous commenter barrywilliamsmb said, this is an international event, always has been, and neither Tepco nor the Japanese government has shown themselves from their best side here. Not at all. Remember that important information has been deliberately withheld, academics put under pressure, workers without dosimeters or insufficient briefing about dangerous site areas, evacuation of heavily contaminated areas delayed, radiation limits for children raised to adult nuke worker levels. If, like me, you live in Japan and have worked for Japanese organisations, this "management style" will not surprise you.

    Sorry, I don't want to be a party pooper here, but saying "look at all the great work they have done so far" just doesn't cut it. The situation is clearly difficult, no doubt, but all I am saying is that we have not seen much change by now. Thus the new timescales are not a surprise. Now with the extended time we wonder how many more workers they will have to engage over time.

  8. ashen:

    but all I am saying is that we have not seen much change by now.

    I beg to differ. I live in Japan, and the situation now is TOTALLY different from 2 months ago. Back then the experts guessing, Tepco tried the strangest things from riot police water cannonst to forest fighting helicopters, the Putzmeister concrete pump was somewhere in the US, there were no robots on site, shall I go on?
    From where I am, the situation now is TOTALLY different. Of course it is bad, but they have a lot of temporary systems in place and are doing all sorts of things that there was no talk of 2 months ago.
    I don´t know how one can dismiss all that as "nothing".
    Two months ago, I was contemplating running away; now at least I know basically what is going on and that it is very slowly getting better.

  9. We now know more of what happened and is happening, thus we tend to think it has improved or changed. But it hasn't, at least not much.

    At late March "Freshwater is now being pumped into all three reactors." and heavily contaminated water was found to be leaking into trenches and turbine buildings.

    The helicopter stunt was much earlier, on 16 Mar and its purpose was a PR event staged for the US president by the way (see here: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105200150.html).

    I agree that "they have a lot of temporary systems in place and are doing all sorts of things" but the net result is the same as end of March.

  10. ashen:

    I am not sure what "net result" you expect at such an early date. The fuel needs a lot of time to cool down. As long as they have a functional cooling system in place, no matter how ugly, it is getting gradually better every day. And that they have.

  11. @ashen:
    Re. Re. "temporary cooling system now established"
    The temporary cooling system being talked about is the continued implementation of recirculated/exchanged cooling. Not dumping water onto the spent fuel pools.