Tag Archives: fallout

George Monbiot: "...the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all"

George Monbiot, environmentalist and journalist... and once a strong opponent to nuclear power has faced an "unpalatable truth": the anti-nuclear lobby lied to us.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/05/anti-nuclear-lobby-misled-world

The article is only about 30 years overdue... but I cannot stop smiling when I read this. Monbiot did what everyone should do: check the facts, think for yourself, dare to think you may have been either right or wrong.

The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all

I've discovered that when the facts don't suit them, the movement resorts to the follies of cover-up they usually denounce

George Monbiot

Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

Thank yo so much for this George. Along with Mark Lynas and Patrick Moore, you have shown that "green" does not have to mean "unscientific zeal".

A litte riddle... solve it and win pins.

This is not so much an April Fools joke as it is a little riddle. It connects to a current event... and to things that happened in the last century. And of course it has something to do with nuclear power.

What are these equations?
What are these equations?

This is a comparison between two estimated values... what are they?

Update: we have a winner! Tony scored a perfect bullseye. I'm quoting him here:

‘a’ is the number of iodine atoms that would fill the known universe, if the iodine were at ‘normal’ temperature/pressure.

the second number is the number of radioactive iodine atoms you would have needed, when Chernobyl exploded, in order to have one radioactive iodine atom left today.

An added trivia is that the estimated number of atoms in the known universe is approximately 10^80.

The upshot of all this is this: there is not a single atom of Iodine-131 released by Chernobyl in existence today. The last atom decayed in no more than 4 years after the accident.

/Michael

Day 20 after the tsunami

Update 12:00(CET)/10:00(UTC)/19:00(JST)

New JAIF update for today, I will compare it with the NISA update from yesterday.

Reactor 1:
Water level in the core: 1.65 (1.60) meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 133 liter/minute
Core pressure: 612(592) kPa
Containment pressure: 210(230) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 251.2 (270.1) Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): 130.2 Celsius
Dose rate within containment: 37.7 Sv/hour

Reactor 2:
Water level in the core: 1.5 (1.5)   meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 133 liter/minute
Core pressure: unknown
Containment pressure: 110 (100) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 174.3 Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): Unknown
Dose rate within containment:  39.6 Sv/hour
Spent fuel pool temperature:  48 Celsius

Reactor 3:
Water level in the core: 2.3 (2.25)  meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 116 liters/minute
Core pressure: 121 (119)  kPa
Containment pressure: 173 (164) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 75.3 Celsius (under review)
Core temperature(bottom head): 116.0 Celsius
Dose rate within containment:  26.8 Sv/hour
Status with the reactors are pretty much unchanged. Work is proceeding with pumping away junk water from turbine halls so one can repair the coolant pumps. Work is slow however due to lack of any place to put the radioactive water.

IAEA released a new estimate on ground fallout yesterday and its not pleasant reading. Here is a quote:

Based on measurements of I-131 and Cs-137 in soil, sampled from 18 to 26 March in 9 municipalities at distances of 25 to 58 km from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137 has been calculated. The results indicate a pronounced spatial variability of the total deposition of iodine-131 and cesium-137. The average total deposition determined at these locations for iodine-131 range from 0.2 to 25 Megabecquerel per square metre and for cesium-137 from 0.02-3.7 Megabecquerel per square metre.

This is Chernobyl level ground deposits of Cs-137 around the plant and indicates one might have to expand the evacuation zone around Fukushima. The basis of the IAEA estimate is from the dust samples published by MEXT.

 

Links(English)
Bloomberg Fukushima workers face risk of uncontrolled reactions
Reuters Japan under pressure to expand evacuation
Kyodo news Kan to review plan to build more nuclear power plants from scratch

Blogs(English)
MIT nuclear information hub Plutonium in the environment
Depleted Cranium Great presentation on Fukushima Daiichi
Where are the clouds Ibakari analysis for 21 march
Atomic Insights Detectable radiation versus dangerous radiation

Links(Swedish)
Expressen Vattenbombningarna kan ha skadat reaktorerna
Aftonbladet Nivån av radioaktivt jod når nya toppmätningar
DN Kärnkraftverk kan stängas för gott
SvD USA styrka skickas till Fukushima

Blogs(Swedish)
Dr Angels Redan 1999 protesterade Greenpeace mot Fukushima
Linn Tummen upp för kärnkraft
Norah4you Dags att tala klarspråk Japan

 

Day eighteen after the tsunami

Update 19:00(CET)/17:00(UTC)/02:00(JST)

New NISA and JAIF updates. NISA from 06:00 and JAIF from 20:00. Same as usual JAIF number first and NISA after within ().

 

Reactor 1:
Water level in the core: 1.60 (1.60) meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 141 liter/minute
Core pressure: 603(603) kPa
Containment pressure: 285(280) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle):323.3 Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): 139.4 Celsius
Dose rate within containment: 36 Sv/hour

Reactor 2:
Water level in the core: 1.5 (1.5)   meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 117 liter/minute
Core pressure: unknown
Containment pressure: 100 (110) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 153.7 Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): 77.7 Celsius
Dose rate within containment:  40.4 Sv/hour
Spent fuel pool temperature:  45 Celsius

Reactor 3:
Water level in the core: 2.3 (2.3)  meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 200 liters/minute
Core pressure: 135 (135)  kPa
Containment pressure: 108.5 (108.5) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 61.5 Celsius (obviously error)
Core temperature(bottom head): 120.9 Celsius
Dose rate within containment:  29.2 Sv/hour

Number one is quite hot, otherwise no major change. Running a bit short on time so Kyodo has a good summary of the situation and IAEA.

Update 08:30(CET)/06:30(UTC)/15:30(JST)

JAIF and NISA updates. NISA hasn't released any new information on flow rates, temperatures or containment dose rates. There is no big change in the pressures or water levels of the reactors so I will omit the normal list of parameters I write down. If NISA release temperatures I will include it.

The Asahi Shimbun reports that TEPCO admits there is possible damage to the lower parts of the reactor pressure vessels. TEPCO states that the breaches can not be very large since the pressure in pressure vessels are maintained at a higher level than in the containment structure.

There seems to be a problem again in keeping the number 1 reactor cool. The temperature of the core increased to over 300 degrees celsius again and TEPCO had to increase the flow of water into the core.

Links (English)
Reuters Japan finds plutonium at stricken plant
NEI nuclear notes We should stop running away from radiation
Union of Concerned Scientists Where did all the water in the spent fuel pools go

Links(Swedish)
SvD Plutonium sprids i Fukushima
DN Plutoniumfynd vid Fukushima
Aftonbladet Plutonium i marken vid Fukushima
Expressen TEPCO chefen kan ha flytt från Japan

Röda Malmö
Krassman
Jinge
Röda berget
Uppkäftiga Uppsala

 

Day seventeen after the tsunami

Update 23:20(CET)/21:20(UTC)/06:20(JST)

NISA has not released any new update today, JAIF has released one more update since this morning. I won't paste updated tables this time, but they can be seen in the link provided. There is no major changes to any reactor. Both number 2 and number 3 reactors are now getting their freshwater pumped with temporary electric pumps that have replaced the fire pumps used up untill now. In their latest written report they say that they have found highly contaminated water in a tunnel with pipes and cables connected to the turbine hall, the activity level is similar to the water found in the turbine hall basement and they are investigating the source of the water. They continue to se high levels of, among other things, I-131 in the seawater and suspect it is due to the contamination in the tunnel.

Kyodo reports that plutonium has been found in the soil outside the reactors.  The source of the plutonium is unknown and the level is comparable to what was found in japan after the nuclear tests done by Russia and the US during the cold war. TEPCO has provided a report that gives the concentration as about 1 Bq/kg of soil of Pu-239 and less than 0.5 Bq/kg of soil of Pu-238. The levels are very low and one could practically eat tons of soil before ingesting getting a dangerous amount. There is 0.44 billionths of a gram of Pu-239 per kg of soil*, a lethal dose of plutonium-239 is half a gram. So one would have to eat more than one million metric tons of soil to get a lethal dose of the plutonium contained within the soil. That is how low the amount is (that also gives a good example how exceptionally low concentrations of radioactive materials can be detected).

NHK reports that the 3 exposed workers have been sent home and that they don't show any symptoms of radiation sickness.

It seems like the number 2 reactor is leaking quite significant amounts of radioactive water. It's not clear if it is coming through a breach in the containment or if it is through some of the pipes. If for instance the valves, closing the reactor from the pipes that are coming in through the containment, is leaking. The highly radioactive water is a big problem since it prevents access to the turbine halls and delays work to restore the reactors internal coolant pumps. They have found similar build ups of radioactive water in the number 1 and 3 reactors turbine halls, but not as strongly radioactive. Since it is a problem in all three reactors to some extent my bet would be that it is the valves that are leaking.

 

Update 09:30(CET)/07:30(UTC)/06:30(JST)

JAIF has released their update but not NISA. I will wait to write down the status of the reactors until the NISA update arrives and for now I just paste JAIF's tabels.

Kyodo reports that TEPCO measured the radionuclide content of the water in the turbine halls wrongly, they overestimated it by a factor of a hundred. Confirming our suspicion that they are measuring wrong. Kyodo also reports that the Nuclear Safety Comission states that there has been a partial meltdown in the number 2 reactor. I am a bit surprised by this statement because it has been quite clear since the first few days that there has been a partial meltdown.

The workers that where exposed to radiation while working in the turbine hall basement have left the hospital and are reportedly in perfect health.

According to TEPCO's latest update they have switched the cooling of the number 2 reactor from the fire pumps to temporary electric pumps.

Reuters report that the levels of radioactive material in the sea outside the plant is dropping.

 

Links(english)
Kyodo FOCUS: Little sense of crisis over tsunami in Japan's nuclear power industry
Reuters Japan raps nuclear operator over radiation mistake

Links(swedish)
DN larm om hög strålning var fel
DN samtidigt ökar oron för Fukushima
Aftonbladet strålningslarmet var ett misstag
Expressen Härdsmälta i kraftverket

Regarding the contaminated water in turbine buildings

Two days ago we first got the report that there is highly radioactive water in the turbine building basement of reactor 1. NISA released this list of isotopes found in the water and its activity per cubic centimeter. I added half lives to the list to make it more understandable.

       
nuclide activity(Bq/cm³) half life Q value (keV)
Cl-38 1,60E+006 37,24 min 4916,53
As-74 3,90E+002 17,77 days 2151
Y-91 5,20E+004 58,51 days 1544,82
I-131 2,10E+005 8,025 days 970,86
Cs-134 1,60E+005 2,065 days 1233,38
Cs-136 1,70E+004 13,04 days 2548,22
Cs-137 1,80E+006 30,08 years 1175,63
La-140 3,40E+002 1,679 days 3762,22



We see that there is one peculiar things, a high activity of Chloride-38. The only way for Chloride-38 to be created is by Chloride-37 in seawater absorbing a neutron and turning into Cl-38. This would indicate there is still a considerable neutron flux in the core. Forum discussions have been going on about it. The other peculiar thing is the activity levels, the activity per cm³ is just crazily high. I suspect they are really measuring activity per liter and mistakenly report it as cubic centimeter and I will give 2 arguments for that.

1. The activity of the water
They reported that 3 workers had been working in the water for more than an hour, their dosimeters showed a dosage close to 200 mSv and two of the workers didn't wear rubber boots so they got a large surface dose on their ankles and feet from beta radiation(some reports say up to 6 gray). But this does not match with the activity levels seen in the table I pasted above. If one multiplies the activity in Bq/cm³ with the Q value, i.e the energy released in the decay of one atom, and massage the numbers a bit to get the numbers in joules instead of keV and in cubic meters instead of cubic centimeters. Then one finds that the water is putting out 1.68 Watts per cubic meter of water. Something like 20% of that energy is from gamma rays, the rest is beta rays and recoil energy in the decaying nuclei.

1.68 Watts doesn't sound like a lot given that a normal water kettle can have a power of 1000 W. But in terms of ionizing radiation 1.68 W is just crazy. Radiation dose is measured in Grays, one Gray is equal to one joule absorbed by one kg of tissue and a Watt is as we know one Joule per second. A one Gray whole body dosage is enough to get radiation sickness, 10 Grays will kill you slowly(over a few days) and 100 Grays kills you instantly.

These workers where working in water that is putting out watts of radiation, that means they should have gotten hundreds of Grays in an hour. It was stated they where knee deep in this water! Now if we instead consider that perhaps they mean activity per liter, misstakenly reported as cubic centimeters, then everything goes down by a factor of 1000(there are one thousand cubic centimeters in a liter). Instead of hundreds of Gray the workers would have gotten hundres of milligray, that is consistent with their dosimeter readings.

2. The neutron flux needed to create Cl-38
The probability that a Cl-37 atom will absorb a neutron and turn into Cl-38 is quite low, 1 barn(this probability is measured in a unit called barns, one barn=10^-24 cm², uranium has as comparison a fission probability of  about 600 barns). So one needs a lot of neutrons to create any significant quantity of Cl-38. If one assumes the water concentration of Cl-38 has dropped by a factor 1000 when traveling from the reactor vessel to the water in the turbine hall basement(dilution, decay etc).  Then one can make a rough approximation of the neutron flux needed in the core in order to create the Cl-38 concentration seen in the turbine hall(technically solving the Bateman equation for a equilibrium case with one group cross sections).

Neutron flux ends up being around 10¹²  neutrons per square centimeter and second. A reactor running at full power produces on the order of 10^14 n/cm²*s. The core would have to be running at about 1% of its full power(10-20 MW thermal) to produce that flux, but I might as well be off by a factor of 10 in my estimate of dilution, which would put the power in the rage from 1-100 MW. We can exclude 100 MW since we have not seen a pressure and temperature spike that high in reactor number 1. We can not exclude 1-10 MW power levels because it is on the same order as the decay energy. But if we also again here assume they mean Bq/liter instead of Bq/cm³ then the needed flux to produce the Cl-38 goes down to something around 1*10^9 neutrons/cm²*s. That kind of neutron flux could plausibly be around from radioactive decay or a very very low power level.

Those 2 factors together makes me believe they are reporting activity levels wrongly. Lets see if I will have to change my opinion when new information arrives.

Notes for the interested.

To convert from the unit eV(electron volt) to joule one multiplies 1 eV with 1.602*10^-19

The Bateman equation describes the time dependent concentration of radionuclides. For the case of a nuclide created by a neutron flux and destroyed by decay one gets this equation

dN/dT= N_37*sigma_37*flux - N_38*lambda_38
Where:
N_37=number of Cl37 atoms per cubic centimeter(I assumed saturated salt water at 100 degres, which gives 0.39 grams of salt per cm² which gives 9,74*10^20 Cl37 atoms per cm³)
sigma_37=neutron capture cross section, around 1*10^-24 cm²
flux=neutron flux in neutrons per cm² and second
N_38= Number of Cl-38 atoms per cm³.
lambda_38 = decay constant for Cl-38(equals to Ln(2)/half life)

If one assumes equilibrium then dN/dT=0 and one gets that

flux=N_38*lambda_38/(N_37*sigma_37)

One get N_38 from dividing activity with decay constant and then multiplying by a dilution factor.
Here are all the numbers I plugged in in case someone can spot an error.

Find flux
           
Avogadros number 6,02E+023        
Salt density(gram per cm3) 3,90E-001     Dilution factor(from vessel to puddle) 1000
Molar mass sodium 2,30E+001     Cl37 capture cross section 1,00E-024
Molar mass chlorine 3,55E+001     Cl37 number density (per cm³) 9,74E+020
Moles of NaCl 6,67E-003     Cl38 lambda 3,10E-004
Fraction Cl-37 2,42E-001     Cl38 number density (per cm³) 5,16E+009
Moles Cl-37 1,62E-003        
Number of Cl-37 per cm³ 9,74E+020     Flux 1,64E+012

 

Links(english)

Kyodo News Woes deepen over radioactive waters at nuke plant, sea contamination
Reuters Soaring radioactivity deals blow to Japan’s plant
BBC Radiation soars at japan reactor
NHK extreme radiation detected at number 2 reactor

Links(swedish):
DN Arbetare evakueras efter akut strålning
SvD Fler svenskar misstror kärnkraft
SVD Nya bakslag vid Fukushima
Aftonbladet tio miljoner gånger högre strålning
Röda berget
Jinge
In your face
Kunskapssamhället
Svensson

Day sixteen after the tsunami

Uppdate 20:00(UTC)/22:00(CET)/05:00(JST)

NISA updates

Reactor 1:
Water level in the core: 1.65 (1.65) meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 120 liter/minute
Core pressure: 508(517) kPa
Containment pressure: 270(270) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 224.8 Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): 143.4 Celsius
Dose rate within containment: 34.6 Sv/hour

Reactor 2:
Water level in the core: 1.2 (1.2)   meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 270-280 liter/minute
Core pressure: unknown
Containment pressure: 110 (110) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 123.6 Celsius
Core temperature(bottom head): 111.2 Celsius
Dose rate within containment:  41.6 Sv/hour
Spent fuel pool temperature:  67 Celsius

Reactor 3:
Water level in the core: 2.3  meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: 220 liters/minute
Core pressure: 130 (133)  kPa
Containment pressure: 107.3 (107.6) kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): 13.6 Celsius (obviously error)
Core temperature(bottom head): 121.6 Celsius
Dose rate within containment:  33.7 Sv/hour

No major changes to the status of the reactors. Pressure in all containments seem ok. There is total confusion regarding the measured isotopes in the water in the basements for the turbine halls. It seems impossible to sort it out in any way and we can only wait for TEPCO or NISA to give final word on what they are actually measuring. It is pretty much beyond a doubt that the activities they published yesterday are wrong, it isn't consistent with the given dose rates.

 

 

 

Update 10:00 (UTC) / 12:00 (CEST) / 19:00 (JST)

No new update from NISA during the night, but a new update from JAIF(link 1, link 2).

Reactor 1:
Water level in the core: 1.65 meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: no new data
Core pressure: 508 kPa
Containment pressure: 270 kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): no new data
Core temperature(bottom head): no new data
Dose rate within containment: no new data

Reactor 2:
Water level in the core: 1.2   meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: no new data
Core pressure: unknown
Containment pressure: 110 kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): no new data
Core temperature(bottom head): no new data
Dose rate within containment:  no new data
Spent fuel pool temperature:  no new data

Reactor 3:
Water level in the core: 2.3  meters below the top of fuel assemblies
Flow rate of injected water: no new data
Core pressure: 130  kPa
Containment pressure: 107.3  kPa
Core temperature(feedwater nozzle): no new data
Core temperature(bottom head): no new data
Dose rate within containment:  no new data

Acording to TEPCO the dose rates from the water found in the turbin hall basement:
Reactor 1: 60 mSv/hour
Reactor 2: More than 1000 mSv/hour
Reactor 3. 750 mSv/hour

They have started to drain the water so that work can proceed to restore the pumps.

Links(english)
Kyodo News Woes deepen over radioactive waters at nuke plant, sea contamination
Reuters Soaring radioactivity deals blow to Japan's plant
BBC Radiation soars at japan reactor
NHK extreme radiation detected at number 2 reactor

Links(swedish):
DN Arbetare evakueras efter akut strålning
SvD Fler svenskar misstror kärnkraft
SVD Nya bakslag vid Fukushima
Aftonbladet tio miljoner gånger högre strålning
Röda berget
Jinge
In your face

Fukushima Answers - new site

There is a new website where you can see answers about the Fukushima events.

http://fukushima-answers.com/

Don't fear the unknown. Ask!

Anxiety, fear, panic or resignation and passiveness . That's what many people experience under the current overload of information spread by media and various interest groups. We believe that a sound mind doesn’t need other people to tell it what to think, what to fear or what to trust. It needs clear facts.Here you can find explanations in plain language from nuclear professionals . Ask questions, learn the facts and form your own opinion.