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Old 03-16-2011, 08:21 PM   #141
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I'm getting tired of the newscasters droning on and on about doomsday scenarios and criticizing the Japanese Government and TEPCO for their lack of candor. I want to hear something constructive! Given the conditions that we suspect exist, what can be done about it . . . I'm sick of the finger pointing and doomsaying. Talk about sensationalism. I wish the newscasters would interview someone who offers constructive suggestions, not simply the constant litany of "I told you so's"
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:41 PM   #142
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An update:

News reports are coming in that 3 helicopters have dropped 7 tons of water on the Unit 3 and 4 spent fuel pools. Assuming a pool is 40x40x40 ft and we want to fill it halfway up, I calculate that we would need roughly 400 helicopter drops (assuming a bulls-eye each time).
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:47 PM   #143
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An update:

News reports are coming in that 3 helicopters have dropped 7 tons of water on the Unit 3 and 4 spent fuel pools. Assuming a pool is 40x40x40 ft and we want to fill it halfway up, I calculate that we would need roughly 400 helicopter drops (assuming a bulls-eye each time).
Jeez, this is going to take a lot of missions because water is so dense. I thought this reactor used light water! (a little nuclear humor there. No charge.)

Seems like a helicopter dropping a hose with a grappling hook or large ballast weight on the end would be a better bet.

More helpful suggestions from afar. "Do it differently--and faster!"
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:55 PM   #144
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An update:

News reports are coming in that 3 helicopters have dropped 7 tons of water on the Unit 3 and 4 spent fuel pools. Assuming a pool is 40x40x40 ft and we want to fill it halfway up, I calculate that we would need roughly 400 helicopter drops (assuming a bulls-eye each time).
Seems like the same exercise as pi$$ing on a volcano.
Pretty desperate measure.
Saw video of the drop, not very accurate results.

Edit add: The chopper (chinok) was moving fast. Presumably working on the time, distance of minimizing exposure to radiation.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:57 PM   #145
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I watched some Japanese television footage of the drops. They're coming in high and fast, which results in substantial dispersion of the water. But who can blame them? It would take a truly heroic pilot to hover low enough to place a hose.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:59 PM   #146
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Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
An update:

News reports are coming in that 3 helicopters have dropped 7 tons of water on the Unit 3 and 4 spent fuel pools. Assuming a pool is 40x40x40 ft and we want to fill it halfway up, I calculate that we would need roughly 400 helicopter drops (assuming a bulls-eye each time).
They are also currently working on getting electrical service restored, and hope to get their pumps running and fill pools with seawater. So perhaps if the helicopters can do fill-in duty, it will still work out OK.

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Old 03-16-2011, 09:51 PM   #147
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There. As you can tell, I know nothing about this, and we're looking at a once-in-a-lifetime event affecting 40 year-old reactors (newer designs are improved). I know a little about airplanes, so next I hope some nuclear-smart folks will spout off on ways to improve air safety.
Go with pretty much any of the current Generation III designs and you'll be far ahead of the old GE boiling water reactors (BWR/1 through 6)in fuel technology, passive safety systems, and resistance to core damage.

One of the items you touched on, penetrations of the primary plant including the reactor vessel, is a key safety item. The BWR designs include the steam and condensate flow and the turbines as part of the primary system. That is, the reactor coolant that flows over the fuel is also what directly drives the turbines. That makes for lots of piping, valves, steam seals, and whatnot all involved in containing the primary coolant and any radioactive contamination it carries.

The Generation III reactor plants include both pressurized water and boiling water reactors, with simplified high reliability designs that cut down on primary piping and pressure vessel penetrations. Some designs, like the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) rely on gravity driven cooling systems and do not require pumps for their safety systems to operate.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:04 PM   #148
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Hope the helicopter pilots are good aims. That seems awfully high up to be dropping water into turbulent air of the rotors.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:28 AM   #149
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I watched some Japanese television footage of the drops. They're coming in high and fast, which results in substantial dispersion of the water. But who can blame them? It would take a truly heroic pilot to hover low enough to place a hose.
When I went to Chernobyl in 92, they had couple of plaques and short movie about the folks who went in (including helicopter pilots) to put out the fires and then build the containment vessel over the melt down area. I was pretty underwhelmed by the display. I am sure the Japanese will do a better job of honoring these men. I just hope they live long enough to see it.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:30 AM   #150
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I don't know where the WHO got its numbers, but if it's from the Ukrainian government I wouldn't trust them too much.

We'll never know how many victims Chernobyl really caused.
Indeed. But if it was a substantial number, it would be showing up in the cancer statistics in Western Europe by now. I'm not aware of any evidence to that effect.
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Here in Belgium the cloud passed on 3 May 1986 and our government knew but, to avoid any panic, didn't inform the population.
Is that necessarily a bad thing, if the radiation problem is not actually severe and people can be expected to over-react ?

Nobody wants to be irradiated. Nobody wants to be murdered either. In both cases, people over-estimate theuir chances of being affected because of the "OMG" factor. I don't want to die in a road accident or of heart disease, but I still drive a car and eat fried food.

The acute and the relative grab the headlines, but it's the chronic and the absolute which will get you 99 times out of 100.
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Old 03-17-2011, 10:57 AM   #151
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If the nuclear reactors continue to fail and the efforts made to contain the radiation are not successful, Japan will be in for a bad time. Don't want to add more doom to the situation, but the photos are remarkable. I can't imagine going through something like that. Friend emailed me some more "before and afters" he down loaded. If interested, go to ABC News-Japan Earthquake: Before and After, for some great photos.
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:57 PM   #152
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If the nuclear reactors continue to fail and the efforts made to contain the radiation are not successful, Japan will be in for a bad time. Don't want to add more doom to the situation, but the photos are remarkable. I can't imagine going through something like that. Friend emailed me some more "before and afters" he down loaded. If interested, go to ABC News-Japan Earthquake: Before and After, for some great photos.
Watched nightline last night. Japanese physicist stated theyre wasting time dropping water. Stated this could be worse than Chernobyl and recommended bombing the reactors with cement and boric acid(?) to seal them shut.

Wbbm radio chicago is reporting radiation alarms have been going off at o'hare airport today.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:08 PM   #153
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The only reason they would be going off at O'Hare is that passengers arriving from Japan haven't changed their clothes or had a shower.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:30 PM   #154
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Pulled this info from the IAEA website. This is a very recent update only 4 hours or so old. Sounds like they will have power soon. Based on this report they are making progress and the dose rates at 30km from the site are low.

Perspective on dose rates..... 10 microsieverts = 1mrem, so 170 microsieverts would be 17mrem. The normal annual occupational dose limit is 5 Rem or 5000 mrem.



Japanese Earthquake Update (17 March 17:55 UTC)

Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that engineers were able to lay an external grid power line cable to unit 2. The operation was completed at 08:30 UTC.
They plan to reconnect power to unit 2 once the spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building is completed.
The spraying of water on the unit 3 reactor building was temporarily stopped at 11:09 UTC (20:09 local time) of 17 March.
The IAEA continues to liaise with the Japanese authorities and is monitoring the situation as it evolves.
IAEA Briefing on the Fukushima Nuclear Emergency (17 March 2011, 14.00 UTC)

At the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Graham Andrew, Special Adviser to the IAEA Director General on Scientific and Technical Affairs, briefed both Member States and the media on the current status of nuclear safety in Japan.
Current Situation
The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants remains very serious, but there has been no significant worsening since yesterday.
The current situation at Units 1, 2 and 3, whose cores have suffered damage, appears to be relatively stable. Sea water is being injected into all three units using fire extinguishing hoses. Containment pressures are fluctuating.
Military helicopters carried out four water drops over Unit 3.
Unit 4 remains a major safety concern. No information is available on the level of water in the spent fuel pool. No water temperature indication from the Unit 4 spent fuel pool has been received since March 14, when the temperature was 84 degrees C. No roof is in place.
The water levels in the reactor pressure vessels of Units 5 and 6 have been declining.
Radiation Monitoring
We are now receiving dose rate information from 47 Japanese cities regularly. This is a positive development. In Tokyo, there has been no significant change in radiation levels since yesterday. They remain well below levels which are dangerous to human health.
As far as on-site radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants are concerned, we have received no new information since the last report.
In some locations at around 30km from the Fukushima plant, the dose rates rose significantly in the last 24 hours (in one location from 80 to 170 microsievert per hour and in another from 26 to 95 microsievert per hour). But this was not the case at all locations at this distance from the plants.
Dose rates to the north-west of the nuclear power plants, were observed in the range 3 to 170 microsievert per hour, with the higher levels observed around 30 km from the plant.
Dose rates in other directions are in the 1 to 5 microsievert per hour range.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:18 PM   #155
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To add to Steve's report, here are two reports from today. The first, from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, indicates that the RPV water level in Units 1, 2 and 3 is about halfway up to the top of the fuel rods. (distance is in millimeters from top of fuel, negative numbers mean it is lower than the top of the fuel) By no means ideal, but better than it was. And stable, which is good.

http://www.nisa.meti.go.jp/english/f...20110317-2.pdf

The second is from the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum and it says essentially the same thing.

http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_i...300368041P.pdf

I looked at the pictures taken from the helicopters today. It appears that steam is rising from Unit 4. Since the unit was shut down and defueled at the time of the tsunami, the source of the steam would seem to be only the spent fuel pool, and the presence of the steam implies the presence of water in the pool. Maybe TEPCO was right and Chairman Jaczko of the NRC was wrong yesterday. In any event, they seem to be concentrating on the Unit 3 spent fuel pool today.
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:37 PM   #156
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Watched nightline last night. Japanese physicist stated theyre wasting time dropping water. Stated this could be worse than Chernobyl and recommended bombing the reactors with cement and boric acid(?) to seal them shut.
I guess they just keep working their Roladex until they find someone who will say something totally irresponsible but exciting, then put that person in front of a camera.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:02 PM   #157
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In any event, they seem to be concentrating on the Unit 3 spent fuel pool today.
If I remember correctly, that is the reactor that uses mixed oxide fuel containing plutonium. I believe that is where they are attempting to get an electrical hookup completed today, but I haven't seen any report of success, except one from last night which must have been in error.

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Old 03-17-2011, 06:07 PM   #158
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You are correct that Unit 3 uses MOX fuel. However, all the spent fuel in each unit has at least some plutonium in it, since plutonium is created as byproduct during the use of pure uranium fuel.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:08 PM   #159
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I see. Thanks.

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Old 03-17-2011, 06:42 PM   #160
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I guess they just keep working their Roladex until they find someone who will say something totally irresponsible but exciting, then put that person in front of a camera.
This reminds me of what happened in the European heat wave of August 2003. French TV picked up on a story that more old people than usual were dying in the heat, at a time (double whammy) when half the medical personnel in the big cities were on vacation. For about ten days they escalated the number of estimated deaths, basically by this technique: phone half a dozen doctors or professors of something and whoever was prepared to come on TV and say the biggest number, got the gig.

Meanwhile, the same heat wave was affecting Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, etc. Apparently, not a single extra old person died in any of those countries, or at least, nobody noticed enough to declare a "wave of death" on national TV.

As a result of the "something must be done" hysteria, it was determined that something like 0.6% of GNP would be poured into, among other things, air-conditioning old folks' homes (most buildings in Europe don't have a/c). To pay for this, a national holiday was abolished; in theory, everyone works for free that day, out of "solidarity" (don't even think of asking how this works; 8 years on, they haven't even decided which holiday has been abolished). But that's just a footnote, really; once "the huge problem" had been identified, something silly was bound to happen. The real shame is that there really wasn't a major problem in the first place. Fragile old people die in heatwaves, a couple of months before they would anyway.
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