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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi / Japan Update: Wednesday July 6, 2011


NHK is reporting that a poll it took of 28 prefectures and local governments has revealed that five municipal governments have indicated that they wish to KEEP nuclear, fifteen of the respondents indicate no decision yet, and that four have come out anti-nuclear. Specifically mentioned is Shizuoka Prefecture, which actually wants to immediately end nuclear energy. This is not particularly surprising given that Hamaoka Nuclear Station is in this prefecture, which station is the one shut down by request of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and which has been fighting a legal action since 2003 over the plant's supposed siting over a serious fault line. Chubu Electric Power does not appear to agree with the shutdown, or with plans to scrap all nuclear energy, although of course it did submit to the government request to shut down the undamaged Hamaoka station. The three other anti-nuclear government bodies (either municipality or prefectural, but not stated) are not directly identified in the NHK report. Fukushima Prefecture was not included in the poll, for reasons that are only too obvious. It is this writer's opinion that no nuclear station will ever operate again in Fukushima Prefecture, which would mean that Fukushima Daini would be affected as well.

It is too early to tell how all of this will play out. What is clear that several owner-operator utilities have voted down attempts by shareholders to scrap nuclear, as reported here; among these are TEPCO, Tohoku and Kansai. (It is my unconfirmed belief that Chubu also voted down such a plan.) Also clear is that five of the respondents in the NHK poll are FOR KEEPING nuclear energy, and that the vast majority of respondents are undecided. Only one respondent is in the "scrap all now" camp. Given that 28 bodies were polled, this is certainly not the death knell for nuclear in Japan yet, whatever it may turn out to be.

There is also news of a round of "stress tests" to be conducted on all Japanese nuclear plants. This phrase is so acidic to those in favor of nuclear energy because of its clear (and probably deliberate) connection in the minds of most persons to medical testing done in search of circulatory and heart related problems. However, this phrase is, in a technical sense, so vague as to be quite useless in and of itself. These tests will include assessment for earthquake and tsunami, and very long term SBO events. It is probable that many of the 'undecideds' in the NHK poll discussed previously will become decided after the results of the tests at particular nuclear plants.

Now, for Fukushima Daiichi updates:

-TEPCO will be making radiation field measurements inside No. 3 reactor building shortly to determine if measures taken recently (vacuuming of debris, covering of floor with steel plate) have attenuated the rad level enough to allow long enough stay times for commencement of nitrogen injection and installation of temporary local gauges. TEPCO has only 11 days as of now to meet its own deadline for these actions; No. 3 plant is the only one left for this work. The measurements will be taken by the US-made robot that performed the vacuum work, carrying a radiac while being elevated on the hydraulic lift platform of a work vehicle.

-Water injection to the installed reactor cores follows essentially the same details as reported many times here; injection rate for No. 1 plant continues to be adjusted up and down slightly as needed. No. 3 plant remains the hottest, with the highest injection rate but all are essentially steady. Further, the recycling contaminated water filtration system is now reported in the Japanese media to be operating at about 80 percent efficiency and is certainly on line much more than not - taking these things together, the time for declaration that stable cooling is achieved without causing further spread of contaminated water to the environment is approaching fairly soon.

-Spent fuel pool cooling continues on installed systems with some modifications at No. 1, 2 and 3 plants while damage at No. 4 plant continues to force TEPCO to direct inject water instead of using closed-loop cooling. TEPCO also occasionally continues to inject water to the storage wells at the refueling floor of No. 4 plant to keep radioactive components covered with water for shielding. Having noted this, TEPCO has uncovered and operated one of the valves in the spent fuel pool cooling system at No. 4 plant and is working diligently to achieve closed loop cooling for this plant as well. This would then mean stable, closed-loop cooling for the spent fuel pools at all four affected plants which is another major milestone on the plant recovery road map.

-Nitrogen injection continues normally at No. 1 and No. 2 plants (direct to the dry wells) with by this point over 60,000 m³ of nitrogen injected to No. 1 plant and about 2,300 m³ to No. 2 plant. Dry well pressure at No. 2 plant continues to rise as expected, as also reported in a previous post.

-Construction work continues on the reactor building enclosures, with delivery of some major components expected on site today.

11:00 AM Eastern Wednesday July 6, 2011


  1. Japan needs some serious nuclear energy education damage control along the lines of how Tylenol's crack PR firm saved their bacon. I wonder if any blog or spokesperson over there ever brought up nuclear energy's lifelong unbelievably low casual rate -- including infamous massive failures -- and pit that against other industries. Shortly after the bombs were dropped there were many who wrote off Hirsoshima and Nagasaki as uninhabitable radioactive deserts forever! Someone should remind them of such! Would they be out with pitchforks to ban LNG had one of those tankers exploded? The quake killed and maimed, not the nukes. Hammer that in, Japan!

    James Greenidge

  2. Where do you see the drywell pressure rising on R2? The TEPCO data doesn't show that happening.

  3. @sheff: Latest reading on No. 2 plant drywell is 2,700 m³ of nitrogen charged with a dry well pressure of 20 kPa. Pressure was roughly atmospheric prior to nitrogen charging. At this time, however, it does appear that after a brief spike at 25 kPa when about 1500 m³ were in the pressure reading is stabilizing... making one wonder if the gauge they're using is accurate, or else if the suppression chamber is leaking badly enough to relieve it.

  4. Hi, I've been graphing up the TEPCO data ... http://www.ianbradshaw.co.uk/multimedia/fukushima/tepco.html ... no change in R2 for a while according to the csv's they release. Where abouts do you get the 20kpa from? I noticed before the JAIF data and the TEPCO data hardly ever align for example - not saying your pressure change is wrong, it could as easily be the csv exports they do ... just different, which is strange.

  5. p.s. excellent website, its been good reading something impartial from someone that knows the topic area.

  6. @sheff: Thank you. The data is coming right from the TEPCO press handouts.

  7. Can you give me a link? Be interesting to compare their press releases with their csv releases. the csv dumps are from here (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/index-e.html) about 3/4 of the way down the page.

  8. @sheff: Look at the link on the page you linked for Handouts at Press Conferences.

  9. found them; any ideas why the csv and the handouts done align? Seems weird.

  10. @sheff: No clue. However, when TEPCO or NISA or JAIF quote figures they seem to line up with the press handouts - probably because they are derived from them, or else (in the case of NISA) supplied directly.