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Japan Power Hardware

Spontaneous Fission In Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 266

Kyusaku Natsume writes "Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that some of the melted fuel in reactor 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have triggered a brief criticality event. Tsuyoshi Misawa, a reactor physics and engineering professor at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, said that if Tepco's data are correct, 'it's clear that the detection (of xenon-133 and -135) comes from nuclear fission.' Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said the test results suggest that either small-scale fission occurred in the melted fuel, or conditions to trigger criticality were temporarily met for some other reason. He said the same thing could also happen at reactors 1 and 3. But because the reactor's temperature and pressure level have not changed, the fission would not have been large-scale, Matsumoto said, adding that it would not thwart Tepco's schedule for achieving a cold shutdown at the reactors. In response, boric acid water was injected again on November 2. On the plus side, the concentration of radioactive materials in the air is low enough that workers inside some areas of Fukushima Daiichi workers soon will not have to use full face masks."
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Spontaneous Fission In Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:12PM (#37937106) Homepage Journal

    Heaven forbid a moth would land on that fissle material...

    Rather a good thing that (so far) radiation tends to kill things, rather than mutate them like good ol' fiction suggested for 70, or more years.

    but all it takes is once ...

  • Re:Subject (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:17PM (#37937178) Homepage Journal

    Obviously it's fake, we all know that after shutdown there CAN'T be uncontrolled fission going on. It's physically impossible, you dumb hippies!

    I dunno .. with what happens when all hell breaks loose in a reactor losing cooling, superheating and such - granted the period would likely be very, very short, but you could get just about anything from it (much of which will have very short half-lives) but the unpredictable nature of the event and outcomes shouldn't be underestimated.

    Also .. rather like this bit: inside some areas of Fukushima Daiichi workers soon will not have to use full face masks." Right. Do I have any volunteers?

  • by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:19PM (#37937216)

    From Mainichi Daily News []

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday the detection of radioactive xenon at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, indicating recent nuclear fission, was not the result of a sustained nuclear chain reaction known as a criticality, as feared, but a case of "spontaneous" fission.

    Do you believe any explanation from Tokyo Electric at this point? They have told enough lies about Fukushima that I now assume they are lying every time they open their mouths. Has this been verified by an independent 3rd party?

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:23PM (#37937268) Homepage Journal

    I was a proponent of expanding nuclear fission electricity generation until Fukushima. Fission is a zero-carbon system and cheap at massive scale. However, my enthusiasm also assumed that the industry was regulated and transparent enough to be safe. Clearly it is not. The bigger nail in the coffin for me, however, is that the first month or more of issues with Fukushima were clouded with lies from the utility that runs the plant and from the Japanese government itself. Why should we ever trust anything the utilities say about nuclear safety ever again? They don't have the moral integrity to handle the responsibility of running a safe nuclear fission industry.

    I still hold out hope for the safe cold fusion dreams. It may not be a rational hope but it would be awesome.

    In my childhood I lived in an area where a proposed nuclear plant was to be built. The power company behind it started with a barrage of PR about clean, safe energy. Eventually, after years of changing regulations and legal battles they scrapped the nuclear plans and turned it into a natural gas plant.

    That preceeed Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and, of course, Fukushima.

    Want to conserve energy? Increase rates.

  • by shish (588640) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:24PM (#37937280) Homepage

    my enthusiasm also assumed that the industry was regulated and transparent enough to be safe. Clearly it is not

    And other industries are?

    Burning coal does far more, further reaching damage - it just does it slowly and constantly as part of normal operating procedure, so nobody cares. (Other sources like solar / wind would be best, but I don't see them being able to fill the whole planet's energy needs any time soon)

  • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:24PM (#37937292)

    Fission is a zero-carbon system.

    In other news, apples are a zero orange food...

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:34PM (#37937452)

    Judging nuclear power's safety by a first generation reactor design that was built nearly 40 years ago, and that despite a M9 earthquake and 15m tsunami has not killed anyone, and is predicted to eventually cause up to 100 deaths from cancer is foolish. It's like judging hydro power by the dams that have burst and flooded and killed thousands, or by natural gas pipeline explosions that have killed hundreds, yet you're not protesting those types of power.

    Nuclear power has caused fewer deaths per TWh [] generated than any major power source, including wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, or fossil fuels. Nuclear power is the safest power source yet tried, and that's even with the older reactor designs and the Russian RBMK design (e.g Chernobyl) that is inherently unstable and should never have been built.

    Gen III reactors have passive safety designs that allow full cold shutdown with no external power. And thorium fueled reactors don't produce usable quantities of plutonium so they're not a proliferation concern, and doesn't require uranium enrichment (which is itself expensive and dangerous). And using fuel reprocessing dramatically lowers the nuclear waste (by a factor to 10 to 100).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:36PM (#37937500)

    So you stopped being a proponent because:
    1) A seriously outdated nuclear power plant has some problems after it is hitten by an earthquake and a tsunami that would level to the ground any american city;
    2) The specific company that owned the plant lied about security in case of an tsunami of that scale;
    3) You are ignorant of the past 30 years of advancements in nuclear power generation;
    4) You are ignorant of what negative temperature coeficient of reactivity means;

    Welcome to the world where advanced technology is stopped by idiots that can't and don't want to understand it.

  • Re:Subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @12:46PM (#37937666) Homepage

    There were also some very heroic company workers. Though I wonder how many of them performed their tasks out of a sense of duty versus told they had nothing to worry about, the levels were safe and their suits would protect them.

    You write as if those conditions have been proven untrue.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:20PM (#37938186)

    I'm half expecting Godzilla to emerge from off shore and stomp the rest of the plant to bits.

    Truth may be the first casualty of war, but it seems to be bound up and stuffed into a file cabinet in a disused lavatory in the basement of a building with a sign "Beware the leopard" on the door, when there's a disaster and a business involved.

    It's so quaint when people are surprised that the nuclear industry lies to the public about the risks involved, or that the government is almost always complicit in the perpetration of those lies. The truth about nuclear energy, they way it is typically delivered (as cheaply as possible), is that it is staggeringly dangerous. Incidents are, happily, fairly rare, but they are catastrophic when they do occur. That truth is bad for business if it is dealt with honestly, by anyone, in the public square. So yeah, duh... They are going to lie about it, always.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:29PM (#37938322)

    Burning coal does far more, further reaching damage - it just does it slowly and constantly as part of normal operating procedure, so nobody cares. (Other sources like solar / wind would be best, but I don't see them being able to fill the whole planet's energy needs any time soon)

    Citation needed

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:07PM (#37938904)
    In the case of Fukushima Daiichi at least, the issue was indeed lack of regulation actually put in place - long before the accident. []
  • by Darth_brooks (180756) <`clipper377' `at' `'> on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:16PM (#37939936) Homepage


    After reading reading Tuesday's account of the first 24 hours at Fukishima, it's pretty clear that the scope of the accident exceeded what the engineers thought was possible. From there there chain of "we believe" and "probably" and "fairly certain's" began flowing until several days later when the full extent of the accident became clear.

    With any major incident, hindsight allows us to say "Look! You were bullshitting us when you said XYZ!" Did the head of TEPCO say everything was hunky dory an hour after the tsunami? Maybe. But was that because the various people charged with reporting the situation to him told him that things were okay, or because he was a genuine piece of shit who knew that they were 24 hours from the worst nuclear disaster in his countries history, and wanted to cover his own ass? Proving what everyone up and down the chain of command knew at what point in time is almost impossible, because we know the people on the ground couldn't get a good handle on what was going on for a couple days.

    On top of that, you honestly expect that information to filter up and back down through the proper channels and out to the media (all of whom immediately started checking how to correctly spell "Chernobyl" the instant someone said "nuclear power plant") AND expect that information to be disseminated out responsibly? YEAH. RIGHT.

    Fukushima is not some watershed moment that finally drives the stake in the evil demon of nuclear power. At least it shouldn't be. This accident (a top 25 all time earthquake followed by possibly the worst Tsunami in the nation's history, proved that a positively ancient nuclear plant wasn't as prepared as it could have been. Even in those circumstances there still wasn't ANY loss of life.) should be a signpost that says we need to modernize nuclear power, not bury it.

    OJ Simpson killed more people than the Fukushima disaster.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.