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Japan Power

Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the prefers-diet-coke dept.
mdsolar passes along this quote from an Associated Press report: "One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool it, according to an internal examination Tuesday that renews doubts about the plant's stability. A tool equipped with a tiny video camera, a thermometer, a dosimeter and a water gauge was used to assess damage inside the No. 2 reactor's containment chamber for the second time since the tsunami swept into the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant a year ago. The probe done in January failed to find the water surface and provided only images showing steam, unidentified parts and rusty metal surfaces scarred by exposure to radiation, heat and humidity. The data collected from the probes showed the damage from the disaster was so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades."
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Japan's Damaged Reactor Has High Radiation, No Water

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @12:24AM (#39493229)

    The birth of Godzilla is near!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Holy shit! Those radiation levels would be high enough to kill a guy. If only they were isolated inside some kind of containment unit where they would pose little hazard to the public.
    • by Rei (128717)

      1) Which is why no radiation escaped, right?
      2) Can I count on you to reliably oppose any reactor design that doesn't have a pressuretight containment structure beyond the reactor vessel itself?

  • According to some [slashdot.org], it's easy to deal with [slashdot.org]. Just grind it up, extract the valuable radioisotopes, and Bob's your uncle!
  • "metal surfaces scarred by exposure to radiation"

    No pics? Booo.

  • a process expected to last decades

    Japan does not have so much habitable areas. Considering that a plant failure condemns 1000 km, how many accidents are needed to have the Japanese move to Korea/Australia? In other words, how many nuclear accidents do we need to realize that alternative solutions have to be seriously considered, everywhere?

    • (the square symbol was filtered out - it was originally 1000 km2)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      They didn't do too bad with cleaning up Hiroshima and Nagasaki...
      • Re:~space (Score:5, Interesting)

        by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @03:19AM (#39493887)
        A fission nuclear bomb consumes a large part of its fissile fuel for its explosion. And it contains a small amount of it, to begin with. When a nuclear reactor blows up, it is usually a non-nuclear explosion (steam release, graphite fire) that spreads unspent nuclear fuel all over an area. They're two different phenomena.
        • Re:~space (Score:4, Informative)

          by DrBoumBoum (926687) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:17AM (#39494553) Journal

          A fission nuclear bomb consumes a large part of its fissile fuel for its explosion

          Not really, Fat Man converted about 20% of it's Pu load into energy; also of lot of radioactive elements were probably produced by the encasing during the explosion.

          And it contains a small amount of it, to begin with

          That's most certainly the point. Fat Man contained 6kg of plutonium. Tepco estimates that about 68 tons of fuel [enenews.com] melted in Fukushima reactor no 1 alone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Considering that was only ~.25% of land, I think they'll be alright on the "running out of land from nuclear reactor fallout" for the foreseeable future.

      How rare/minor do these accidents have to be before alarmists stop condemning all nuclear activity? Condemn OLD nuclear plants that are no longer safe, sure. Quit trying to stop new plants and technology, that's why the old ones are still running in many cases.

      Booga booga, radiation!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by polar red (215081)

        Quit trying to stop new plants and technology,

        no need to do that: they are stopping themselves, by being prohibitively expensive. solar and wind are rapidly gaining economic feasibility.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        It isn't the safety of the plants they are worried about, it's the safety of the people operating them. Nuclear plants require correct operation and minimum levels of investment to be safe. Governments also tend to fail at monitoring and enforcing the rules.

      • that's why the old ones are still running in many cases.

        I don't believe that, and I think you are deluding yourself at best, dishonest at worst. The reason if much more probably because it's more profitable to let things go this way.

        • Re:~space (Score:4, Informative)

          by khallow (566160) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:42AM (#39494899)

          that's why the old ones are still running in many cases.

          I don't believe that, and I think you are deluding yourself at best, dishonest at worst. The reason if much more probably because it's more profitable to let things go this way.

          Well, reality got tedious and disagreed. Japan discontinued a bunch of new nuclear construction projects from the late 90s to early 00s. Fukushima's lifespan was subsequently extended. I'd say there's a definite cause and effect here.

      • Re:~space (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:56AM (#39495973)
        Math fail.
        When one factors in the easily quantifiable expense to clean up the mess of any "accident" like this (never mind the fact that it was actually quite predictable in this case), the almost incalculable impact of such an event on the surrounding community, the expense of "safely" transporting and storing the mess associated with any nuclear power plant (spent fuel and other haz-mat), etc., etc., nuclear power does not seem like much of bargain. Now, if you want to "encumber" the poor nuclear energy industry with regulations that have a realistic chance of preventing events like Fukishima, and if your government has the will to consistently and vigourously enforce those regulations, we can talk. Seriously. Nuclear energy has the potential to be the clean and efficient power source you pro-nuke fanboys want so badly to believe it is, but as long as it is run by profit driven corporate interests, it will never be so. Never.
    • by drolli (522659)

      The contaminated area has a radius of less than 100km and Japan has enough habitable areas - actually all of Japan is habitable. the mountain ranges are - even in the low altitude valleys - nearly empty. There are huge areas covered by rice fields.

      • The contaminated area has a radius of less than 100km

        That makes 30,000 km2, even worse than what the 1000km2 of my post

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      378, based on the figure of Japan having 377940km^2 of surface area.

      I think they'll be just fine.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      a process expected to last decades

      Japan does not have so much habitable areas. Considering that a plant failure condemns 1000 km, how many accidents are needed to have the Japanese move to Korea/Australia?

      i reckon it all depends if the Japanese are able to live at/under sea or not. If they do, it will take longer.

  • Cost per kwatt/h? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what the average cost of the electricity produced over the life of the plant is now after the tangible costs of clean up are added - not even getting into the collateral radiation damage when cancer rates "mysteriously" rise.

    • What are the long term costs of anything? But that goes for all other industries just as much. Lets not forget the Santorum frot after the BP oil disaster. What are the long term costs of that? Coal isn't clean either and all that dust is another long term hassle. Will the tar sands really be cleaned up by mining it or will it create an even worse environmental area. What are the costs of mining the minerals needed for solar plants? Just how many birds are killed by wind farms. Just how sustainable is a hyd

  • Or, they could just wait for most active products of fission to hit their half lives enough times for radiation to go down to far more tolerable levels, and then decommission the plant.

    Like they do in the West even now.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:25AM (#39494587) Homepage

    Okay, some cards on the table here. I work for a nuclear industry company. I'm not a nuclear anything -- just an IT guy -- but I have seen and learned a lot over the past few years about the nuclear industry and about the Japanese nuclear industry and the Japanese business mindsets and more.

    I know the kind of hard-mindedness behind what has led up to Fukushima and what has PERSISTED it. It's the persistence that really gets under my U.S. American skin. In the U.S., we KNOW when we've made mistakes and we learn from them quickly, readily and even hungrily. Sure, we have our share of arrogant assholes too, but it's not our "culture" to be that way. Watching the Japanese in action routinely fills me with a sense of "WTF?!"

    Fortunately, not all Japanese are alike. Some think in far better ways. But unfortunately, there are too many arrogant assholes who are still trying to keep it covered up and glossed over and they simply don't want to talk about it. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) situation uses Japanese nuclear equipment and it has recently been determined that there is a design flaw in it leading to the problems they are experiencing over there. (BTW, does it help to know that the gear in Fukushima is mostly Westinghouse? I suppose not as the problems come from poor disaster planning, maintenance and other factors of implementation... the gear itself was just fine.)

    @MrKaos

    Sorry bud, but you're just wrong. Nuclear is the best thing we've got for energy. The problems you are identifying is jackasses who don't respect the danger and manage it properly. Do you also think that fire is a bad idea as well? After all, it also has incredible destructive potential but can be perfectly safe when managed properly. Nuclear incidents are rare. Extremely rare. The problem is people who don't understand running and funding these things thinking they can save a few bucks (or yen) here and there or make bad decisions because they have a business partner who could benefit from using one thing over another and so on and on. It's the PEOPLE, MrKaos, which is the problem... and actually, a relatively small number of people at that. I find most people in the nuclear industry to be quite competent and capable. But there are arrogant jackasses everywhere thinking "I could save $1 million by cutting back on...." The problems here are the same as the ones found in the BP oil catastrophe. THE SAME.

    • by NeoTron (6020) <kevin@scaryg l i d e r s . n et> on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @07:31AM (#39494849) Homepage
      I live in Japan, my house in Koriyama is just 33 miles (about 58 kilometers) due west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. My Japanese in-laws have a remote mountain house "2nd home" just 21km (1km outside the exclusion zone) in Tamura city where myself, my wife and son lived for a year and a bit before moving to Koriyama.

      I completely and utterly agree with what you said, and well said it was too.

      It's not the nuclear technology that's wrong, it's the people in charge of running it who are entirely at fault for what happened. The Error Cascade is monumental for Daiichi - not placing the emergency generators up the nearby hill behind the plant, for example.Ignoring people who have been stating for years if not decades, that a 14 meter+ tsunami was more than likely in that area (and others), is another.

      There are ancient stone markers all around the coastal areas of Japan, on high ground, left there by previous generations of Japanese, all saying things like "do not build below this level".

      And yet, they did. And this is what happens, and their coastal cities and towns get washed away by massive tsunami. And they're planning on rebuilding homes, towns, and cities on the very places that got inundated by tsunami.

      After 5+ years of living in this country, I've come to the conclusion that Japan is like a real life gigantic game of Lemmings. If the quakes and tsunami don't get you, then the volcanoes, sulphur gas, flooding, landslides, avalanches, and typhoons will.

      But I still agree with you 100% though that civilization cannot live without the energy provided by nuclear power stations, and that's including the Japanese. They just need to re-think the design and layout of any new nuclear plants they might build in the future.

      And for those who proclaim that wind and solar are the answer - your grasp of reality is severely depleted. I can see great potential for Japan to use its Geothermal resources, but wind and solar do NOT have the capability to offer a stable and reliable energy supply for a country like Japan, nor do they have the energy density required to supply the cities and towns of that country.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:14AM (#39495485) Journal

      In the U.S., we KNOW when we've made mistakes and we learn from them quickly, readily and even hungrily.

      How do you explain 30 years of Reaganomics, the war on drugs, private health insurance, etc.?

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:43AM (#39494655)

    Whoever submitted this story didn't even read the content of the link s/he provided. There is enough water, although less than thought and it is sufficient to cool the reactor. It is certainly a deliberate lie to claim there was no water.

    I also cannot imagine anybody thought that standing right next to the core of a nuclear reactor within the containment was anything less than deadly or that anybody should be concerned about this, the area being, as it was, on the inside of an over 1m thick concrete shell.

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      I try to keep close to the original headline given the slashdot limit. Sometimes editors change the headline, but this time it went through. If you RTFA I think you'll agree that I caught their tone pretty well. And, certainly, there is no water where they expected it to be suggesting a major problem. I used to write my own summaries pretty often, but now, if the writing is not too atrocious, I just quote because nuts will claim I'm making stuff up either way, but it is quicker to reply when it is a quo
  • This isn't an actual commercial solicitation leading up to any kind of authorship. Unless you count authoring a comment (below).

    Q: What in your estimation is the worst-case scenario involving critical mass left uncooled and resting on a surface attached to the ground?

    Allow me to instigate some imaginings:

    * Melting through to the center of the earth, causing a singularity

    * Turning into a carrot

    Please respond, I'm really concerned about what this lump of actively fissile material is apt to accomplish.

  • Three quarts per minute for about a week. I've been fretting about it ever since that 'quake busted the reactor in Livermore.
    Maybe next time the incident will be a significant enough issue that others, too, will notice

  • Probably should point out the original AP story has had the headline updated to little water. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5izZXHoP17G8R-yOYb9RjczkhL1UQ?docId=dff2ed1434ab430c86596f672dab8414 [google.com] .

    Also, I wonder how money people stop to think that other non-damaged reactors also contain dangerously/lethally high radiation, ya know ... cause they are reactors.

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