Daily Archives: March 25, 2011

Stardust Ends Its Mission

This just in from NASA:

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Stardust spacecraft sent its last transmission to Earth at 4:33 .m. PDT (7:33 p.m. EDT) Thursday, March 24, shortly after depleting fuel and ceasing operations. During a 12-year period, the venerable spacecraft collected and returned comet material to Earth and was reused after the end of its prime mission in 2006 to observe and study another comet during
February 2011.

Continue reading Stardust Ends Its Mission

There is now little doubt that Fukushima Reactor 3 experienced post-tsunami fission but it is leaking

The water within Reactor Number 3 (where three workers were exposed to high levels of radiation yesterday) is 10,000 times more radioactive than the average water inside a nuclear reactor and contains radioactive iodine that is generated during fission and has a half-life of 8 days. Japanese engineers are pretty sure that this means that fuel rods within the reactor have contributed to fission reactions.

Here’s an important bit: The physical container that holds the fuel rods inside the reactor is very robust and is probably not leaking. However, as you might guess, the reactor container has a number of holes in it for pipes (etc.) that communicate between the inside and outside of the container. The reactor vessel need not be ruptured or broken for stuff to get out. The engineers in Japan think that highly contaminated water probably exited from the reactor containment via these pipes, though they are not sure.

There will be those who will claim that this does not constitute a leak. But it is.

Reactor containers 1 and 2 are also leaking, according to the engineers.

Source: NHK live report. You can also check the IAEA site for updates.

Regarding the workers (from the IAEA site):

Continue reading There is now little doubt that Fukushima Reactor 3 experienced post-tsunami fission but it is leaking

Japan quake, tsunami, nuke news 09

Ana’s Feed starting at about 2PM Thursday 24 March:

Finally found some info on that simulation mentioned earlier: “…the model showed that areas where cumulative exposure over 12 days reached 100 millisieverts–the government’s maximum for infants–extended beyond the evacuation zone. A map based on data from the center showed areas that received a cumulative 100 millisieverts extended as far as about 40 kilometers northeast and south from the plant.”

Radiation 10,000 times normal level in water where nuke plant workers irradiated -kyodo news

  • 1.3 million Bq of iodine 131. (NHK)
  • Workers stood in 15cm of water – TEPCO says the day before, there were no puddles. (NHK)
  • Safety agency has instructed TEPCO to revise and review their safety measures. (NHK)

There is very little being reported from Daiichi so far today, but here’s what I’ve gleaned :

  • Lights are on in control room no.1. Temps. in the reactor reached 400C degrees. To cool, seawater was added and temp. dropped to 243C, but this increased pressure – the delicate dance of regulating temp. and pressure continues. (NHK)
  • High levels of radiation in reactor no.2 are hampering work efforts. (NHK)
  • Preparations are still underway to test the pump at reactor no.3. (NHK)
  • No word on reactor no.4.
  • White steam is seen rising from reactors 1-4. (NHK)

Cesium 137 was detected in mustard spinach in a field near Tokyo – 890Bq/kg (limit is 500). It was grown in a research plot and is not intended for consumption. (NHK)

Reactor vessel of Fukushima plant No. 3 unit may have been damaged: Gov’t panel -kyodo news … “The containment vessel is working to a certain degree” in reactor no.3, but it is leaking. -safety agency

Iodine 131 in water at 18 water purification plants exceeds the limit for infants. (NHK)

Edano: The government encourages those living in the 20-30km radius around the plant to move for easier living. (NHK)

  • This statement was followed by something that sounded like there might be a future mandatory evac. order for this area, and perhaps beyond.
  • “[1:15 a.m. ET Friday, 2:15 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] A Japanese official described the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis as a “difficult” situation, and said the government will provide transportation to those seeking to evacuate with…in 30 kilometers. … Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said authorities will provide transportation in response to growing demand among those living between 20-to-30 kilometers hoping to get farther away from the stricken plant.”(cnn live blog)

Police working to provide supplies to those in the evacuation zone have “suffered damages…to themselves.” They have asked for a resupply of uniforms, and for any protective equipment. (NHK)

South Korean water bottlers are diverting product from the domestic market, have amplified production, but still cannot meet Japanese demand. (NHK)

The 2 beta-burned workers have been transferred to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences. (NHK)

In which TEPCO confirms the presence of Zirconium 95 in seawater: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu11_e/images/110324e6.pdf

“It seems that somehow the containment function could have been compromised somewhat.” -safety agency briefing
Pressed by reporters on whether this is the case in all of the first 3, after a consult with men in the wings it is explained that given the reading of 500mSv in No.2 and also high readings in No.1, that similar things could be happening there, though the scale may be different.
Due to the spraying (necessary for avoiding total meltdown), water has accumulated in the basement-level turbine rooms (originally flooded by tsunami). Due to the containment leakages, this water cannot be worked in. On acknowledgement of this situation, a reporter asks “How will you proceed with the work?” The NISA spokesman says, “So far, we have not heard about how to proceed with the work.”
The 3rd contaminated worker, “with an abundance of caution,” has also been sent to hospital.
In the press briefing, the NISA spokesman is very careful to make clear that there is no confirmation of leaks/cracks in the containment, but that even so, “when we look at the composition of the water” it seems to have come form the core (it is more likely to have come from the core than the spent fuel area). Half an hour later, kyodo news reports that there is: No data suggesting No. 3 reactor core cracked: nuke agency

(Ana’s Feed is a collection of Analiese Miller’s facebook status entries posted as she takes in the news live in Japan.)

Links to news stories and updates:
Continue reading Japan quake, tsunami, nuke news 09