NCO Club: Off Topic Discussions => The Aisles: Non-military News and Snippets => Topic started by: Rattler on 15 March 2011, 05:36:54

Title: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: Rattler on 15 March 2011, 05:36:54
Really bad news from Japan:

If you read between the lines, the Japanese government is practically admitting that the Chernobyl case already has happened, even if they both deny it officially and claim it could not happen. I am currently listening to the latest press conference of the government spokesman, and he reports (more or less):

1. Fire in reactor #4
2. Reactor #2 blew up
3. Reactors #1 and #3 are being moderately cooled by sea water injection

For me the fire in #4 is the worst news, because this reactor ws not working at the time of the earthquake and has no combustion rods deployed, those are stored in a pool outside the containment vessel. A fire there means that probably the inactive rods circonium coating reacted with oxygen and so producied the fire. As the inactive rods are not within the containment vessel and normally completely covered with water in the pool we can speculate that this pools water level sank (evaporation) and now with the fire massive quantities of radioactive material are set free.

Radiation level around the plant has risen to the milisievert range (which is 1000x the level of the microsievert range that we were listening about yesterday), and this is a serious indicator of radioactive combustible being exposed to the outside. As far as I understand there is a high probability that the #2 containment vessel has been damaged in the explosion, which is the 2nd really bad news and qualifies for the Chernobil scenario just by itself.

Dont expect this to become better, once this stage is reached even working on the reactors 1-3 or fighting the fire in #4 becomes a very challenging task, humans may only be exposed for very short times to those radiation levels: The radiation dose limit of a nuclear energy worker is 20 miliSieverts per year, the reported level now is 400 miliSieverts per hour. Make you calculation: Legally you may work there for 3 minutes before passing the allowed radiation exposure.

So, from my POV we have now reached or even passed the Chernobyl scenario, even if a core meltdown has not happened (yet) and definitely wont happen in #4 (as it was inoperative).

Another problem is the combustible used: I have heard (dont recall where, so no source) that the combustible in those reactors is of an experimental nature, a mix of uranium AND plutonium (versus the normal straight uranium filling), and - contrary to uranium - plutonium apart from being radioative is also highly poisenous, really bad thing if set free.

20 km around the plant now have been evacuated, people living in a radius of 30 km of the plant are urged to decon and not leave their houses anymore. Tokyo is just 12 hours windwards of the plant, a logistic nightmare if the worst should happen (meldown of one or more cores and damage to the stainless steel containment vessels). I dont even want to imagine the scenario where Tokyo cannot be lived in for the next 20.000 years or so, that would be the end of Japan and probably the death blow to oour economy in general.

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Title: Re: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: stoffel on 15 March 2011, 14:13:25
Allthough its sad, we cant do anything against it.
All we can do is go onto the streets and demand a ban of all nuclear energy plants (Accept a few to make products for hospitals) or a at least a lot less plants.
Governments are now rethinking some of their plans.
I say its only a matter of time before the next disaster hits us, the past few weeks saw some minor disasters already in Chile, Hawaii and New Zealand.
We have to act fast.

Title: Re: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: MontyB on 15 March 2011, 18:54:24
Allthough its sad, we cant do anything against it.
All we can do is go onto the streets and demand a ban of all nuclear energy plants (Accept a few to make products for hospitals) or a at least a lot less plants.
Governments are now rethinking some of their plans.
I say its only a matter of time before the next disaster hits us, the past few weeks saw some minor disasters already in Chile, Hawaii and New Zealand.
We have to act fast.

Whoa there big fella lets not throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.

1) If you build nuclear facilities on fault lines you have to expect that things are going to be a bit shakey especially if you have the 5th largest earthquake in recorded history followed by a 30 foot high wall of water.

2) It doesn't matter what they built there it was still going to have issues with the magnitude of the event, New Zealand is full of clean green hydroelectric dams that would have created just as big a mess.

3) The Christchurch quake was not that big a deal, it affected a very small area, a few large buildings fell over and less than 200 people are dead, the loss of life is a tragedy but 90% of the area and the city are still functioning as normal.

Title: Re: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: Rattler on 16 March 2011, 08:11:05
Update: Some bad and some good news

- Reactor #3: A white steam cloud can be observed above it (probably water filtering into the core and evaporating carrying radioactive particles outside)

- Reactor #2 containment vessel breach is confirmed

- Reactors #5 and #6 have also developed problems to maintain core cooling as water levels drop.

- Reactors #4, where the rods have been confirmed to have been in the cooling pool and the water gone there, can now only be cooled by helicopters dropping water in through a hole in the roof as the radiation level is too high for anybody working there. Another fire has broken out there but died down by itself.

The fires are believed to be started by the rods being exposed to the air (creating hydrogen) and heating, after about 1.200 degrees celcius they will start to desintegrate.

The structure of this reactor is damaged in height of floor 4 (where the cooling pond is/was, and it is now evaluated whether boric acid can be dropped on the rods (neutron brake) to slow down the reaction.

Problem is that the safety of the helicopters cannot be guaranteed as radiation levels are high and might damage electronic parts.

All workers have now been evacuated of the plant (temporarily, it seems, as the Japanese government has raised the exposure levels to 250 milisievert - from 20 - which would allow them to come back and continue working) and the company cannot confirm that work is going on at the plant.

The good news:

- The wind has turned SE and is blowing the stuff not straight to Tokyo, also it is expected that he will turn E within the next hours blowing the stuff out to sea, so the logistical nightmare of thinking on how to and where to evacuate its 35 Million of inhabitants (!) currently is postponed.

- The reactors, other than Chernobyl, were designed to pull the rods from the core at the event of an earthquake (automatic shutdown), this has most probably worked (but cannot be confirmed as nobody could look inside the containment vessel). This in turn would mean that the reaction will probably (and luckily if so) not increase (like in Chernobyl) but decrease over time, and its a relatively short time period we are talking about, days or weeks.

- Reactors #1 is fairly stable at low cooling water levels

In total, at the moment it looks a chain reaction can be avoided, which is the best good news as it will keep us from seeing the true Chernobyl scenario multiplied by 4 or 6.

Source: Same feed as mentioned before: (


Title: Re: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: stoffel on 16 March 2011, 15:50:27
Well, a few more accidents and we have a lot of shit around.
Chernobyl wasnt in an earthquake area, neither Harrisburg and neither Sallafield in the UK.
Still minor and heavy disasters struck those  plants.

We need to rethink about this stuff.
And we need to do it fast.

Title: Re: Japan going Chernobyl?
Post by: Rattler on 18 March 2011, 08:12:25
UPDATE: Some more bad and a few good news.

- It seems that the cooling pools of reactors 1-3 are empty: The rods have either fallen inside the building during the explosions or have fusioned and evaporated

- Attempts to cool #4 with water airdrops failed largely: Due to dispersion of the water only very little made it inside the building.

- #3 is now officially affirmed to be running on MOX (Plutonium) instead of Uranium Oxide, which makes keeping this one from emiting particles the top priority (in large nuclear plants this is standard: The one MOX reactor burns the fuel the others produce).

- radiation peaks at around 400 miliSievert at around 100ft above the reactors, at 1000 feet its only 70

The good news is that even in a worst case scenario a Chernobyl outcome is highly unlikely, for various factors:

- The 1986 blast in Ukraine, when the reactor exploded, contaminated large parts of Europe. Any radioactive cloud from Japan's damaged reactors is likely to be limited to Japan itself, because the explosive power is far less than the one of the reactor at Chernobyl: At the Fukushima plant, the explosive potential within the six reactors is decreasing with time as the reactors were automatically stopped at the time of the earthquake. In Chernobyl the explosion of the plant was accompanied by great heat which lifted the particles very high into the atmosphere, this is improbable in Fukushima.

- The likely outcome is rather one of a for- or sixfold "Three Miles Island" scenario, where part or all of the core melts through the containment vessel and ends at the bottom of the reactor.

As we are now over a weak after the fission was stopped, the levels of radioactive iodine will only be about two-thirds of where they were at the start, some of the other very short-lived, very radioactive material will be gone altogether by now, this means that the reults of leaks will be far less damaging than they were in Chernobyl. The longer it takes before a massive leak occurs, the better this outcome will be, a few days or a week exxtra will have a significant (decreasive) impact on what comes out in a leak.

A key warning sign for imminent radiation leak (which is not at all improbable in the Three MIles Island scenario) would be if plumes of cesium are emitted from the plant, as this would indicate that temperatures have surpassed the 4.000 degrees.

After that, the next step would produce "transuranics" such as strontium, plutonium and americium. This would indicate that the core has molten and gone to the reactor cavity.

Laurence G. Williams, Professor of Nuclear Safety at the John Tyndall Institute for Nuclear Research in Britain, believes a Chernobyl-type blast to beunlikely:

"I can't think of anything at the moment that would drive that explosive force," he said. "It will just be a melting, or a degrading, heating up of the fuel which will just crumble into a heap like what happened at Three Mile Island."

So, all bad enough, but I doubt we will see the high radiation and contamination levels in the surroundings of the plant that we saw in Chernobyl.


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