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Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor | World news | The Guardian

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it reacts with the concrete floor of the drywell underneath, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Lahey said: "It won't come out as one big glob; it'll come out like lava, and that is good because it's easier to cool."

The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this.

"The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core," Lahey added. "It's not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it's not going to be good news for the environment."



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 04:56:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The data in question is available here. In the latest reports however, radioactivity in the drywell and wetwell of No. 2 sank (from 40.5 to 39.6 Sv/h resp. from 1.35 to 1.26 Sv/h).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 05:12:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I made the following diagram out of all the reactor interior radiation levels given (DW = drywell, WW = wet well or suppression chamber):

It would appear that No. 1 should be much ore of a concern continued meltdown-wise. Checking other parameters for the last big uptick in drywell radioactivity, core and drywell pressures and temperature also went up, so this wasn't simply due to venting.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:05:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait - what? Those are full Sv/hr?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:30:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yep. dry well and wet well readings

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:34:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[speechless]
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:45:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
{more than usual} ?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 06:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I could see problems with striping of paint and destruction of electronics at those levels. Do we have reference levels for what "normal operation" levels were.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:20:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I can't see any anywhere, but You would think that normally they would need to be low enough for people to work round them, charging the reactor, swapping out fuel etc. and with radiation at that level, you wouldnt really want a pool of spent fuel around either, unless that is a level under the bowels of the machine where people dont go.  (although we do know theres at least one cable run underneath, and  the bit where we had people step in puddles so there has to be some form of access down below)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 08:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do people work inside the containment, except for maintenance? Also worth to note: the drywell is not normally filled with water.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 01:34:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does the radiation make the paint stripe?
by njh on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 06:54:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was reported from Chernobyl. My surmise is that at sufficiently high radiation levels the chemical structure of the paint is attacked and it is basically burnt or evaporated off the surface. Each element responds differently to various types of radiation. Some may vaporize, some may heat up to the point that the chemical bonds are broken and/or oxidized or reduced.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:27:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a friend who used to supply specialised paints to the nuke industry. I remember him saying that if you look old paint on a house it bubbles and cracks, in a normal working nuke plant, the paint on surfaces decays at five times the rate, depending on the  exposure. However everything is painted to keep moisture away from metal surfaces, as rust absorbs radiation more than plain steel, and is much harder to decontaminate. At vastly increased radioactive rates you'll get much more cracking and bubbling as impurities occur and you get  breakdown of some molecules in the paint matrix.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 06:47:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
wow!
by njh on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 05:09:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How does fire make the paint stripe?

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 05:23:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I found some pressure/temperature data and graphs for reactors 1,2,3 here.
by das monde on Thu Mar 31st, 2011 at 09:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Update:

In the dry well of No. 1, the radiation level went further up. However, drywell pressure dropped (from 0.230 to 0.210 MPa). As for the pressure vessel, temperatures dropped, while the two pressure sensors give different data, and the lower data dropped further while the higher one rose (I guess the second device is malfunctioning).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 1st, 2011 at 04:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
40 Sv per hour? Jesus fucking christ. That's roughly what standing next to the exploded reactor in Chernobbyl gave you. In other news, I hade a nightmare last night of being exposed to half a Sievert. No radiation poisoning detected in the dream at least.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 08:59:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dream on!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 11:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When the Fukushima Meltdown Hits Groundwater | Hawai`i News Daily
The Story of Citizens United v. FEC (2011) Recent CommentsAction Alert

Rev Roger Christie has been held without bail at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center since July 8, 2010. His trial on federal drug trafficking charges has recently been set back to July 6, 2011.

You can help Roger Christie by donating to him directly through the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Please send funds to Roger at the address below:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Roger Christie
99279-022
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

The deposit must be in the form of a money order made out to the inmate's full committed name and complete eight-digit register number. Details. When the Fukushima Meltdown Hits Groundwater March 27, 2011 By Dr. Tom Burnett

Fukushima is going to dwarf Chenobyl. The Japanese government has had a level 7 nuclear disaster going for almost a week but won't admit it.

The disaster is occurring the opposite way than Chernobyl, which exploded and stopped the reaction. At Fukushima, the reactions are getting worse. I suspect three nuclear piles are in meltdown and we will probably get some of it.

If reactor 3 is in meltdown,  the concrete under the containment looks like lava. But Fukushima is not far off the water table. When that molten mass of self-sustaining nuclear material gets to the water table it won't simply cool down. It will explode - not a nuclear explosion, but probably enough to involve the rest of the reactors and fuel rods at the facility.

Pouring concrete on a critical reactor makes no sense - it will simply explode and release more radioactive particulate matter. The concrete will melt and the problem will get worse. Chernobyl was different - a critical reactor exploded and stopped the reaction. At Fukushima, the reactor cores are still melting down. The ONLY way to stop that is to detonate a ~10 kiloton fission device inside each reactor containment vessel and hope to vaporize the cores. That's probably a bad solution.

A nuclear meltdown is a self-sustaining reaction. Nothing can stop it except stopping the reaction. And that would require a nuclear weapon. In fact, it would require one in each containment vessel to merely stop what is going on now. But it will be messy.

please let there be a better way...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 08:24:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blowing a damaged reactor up with a 10 kT device is an absolutely absurd idea. Not only will it vaporize the core and the spent fuel and spread it over the neighbourhood Chernobyl-style, this kind of groundburst will contaminate vast amount of dust which will turn into fallout. Oh, not to mention the vast physical destruction created by nuclear weapons.

Basically, what is this guy smoking, and can I please have some?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Apr 3rd, 2011 at 09:06:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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