Two Other Reactors of Fukushima Suffer Serious Damage May 15th

The Wall Street Journal
MAY 15, 2011, 12:30 P.M. Two Other Reactors Suffer Serious Damage

TOKYO—Substantial damage to the fuel cores at two additional reactors of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex has taken place, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday, further complicating the already daunting task of bringing them to a safe shutdown while avoiding the release of high levels of radioactivity. The revelation followed an acknowledgment on Thursday that a similar meltdown of the core took place at unit No. 1.

.Workers also found that the No. 1 unit's reactor building is flooded in the basement, reinforcing the suspicion that the containment vessel is damaged and leaking highly radioactive water.

The revelations are likely to force an overhaul of the six- to nine-month blueprint for bringing the reactors to a safe shutdown stage and end the release of radioactive materials. The original plan, announced in mid-April, was due to be revised May 17.

The operator, known as Tepco, said the No. 1 unit lost its reactor core 16 hours after the plant was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a giant tsunami on the afternoon of March 11.

The pressure vessel a cylindrical steel container that holds nuclear fuel, "is likely to be damaged and leaking water at units Nos. 2 and 3," said Junichi Matsumoto, Tepco spokesman on nuclear issues, in a news briefing Sunday.

He also said there could be far less cooling water in the pressure vessels of Nos. 2 and 3, indicating there are holes at the bottom of these vessels, with thousands of tons of water pumped into these reactors mostly leaking out.

Tepco found the basement of the unit No. 1 reactor building flooded with 4.2 meters of water. It isn't clear where the water came from, but leaks are suspected in pipes running in and out of the containment vessel, a beaker-shaped steel structure that holds the pressure vessel.

The water flooding the basement is believed to be highly radioactive. Workers were unable to observe the flooding situation because of strong radiation coming out of the water, Tepco said.

A survey conducted by an unmanned robot Friday found radiation levels of 1,000 to 2,000 millisieverts per hour in some parts of the ground level of unit No. 1, a level that would be highly dangerous for any worker nearby. Japan has placed an annual allowable dosage limit of 250 millisieverts for workers.

The high level of radioactivity means even more challenges for Tepco's bid to set up a continuous cooling system that won't threaten radiation leaks into the environment.

Tepco separately released its analysis on the timeline of the meltdown at unit No. 1. According to the analysis, the reactor core, or the nuclear fuel, was exposed to the air within five hours after the plant was struck by the earthquake. The temperature inside the core reached 2,800 degrees Celsius in six hours, causing the fuel pellets to melt away rapidly.

Within 16 hours, the reactor core melted, dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and created a hole there. By then, an operation to pump water into the reactor was under way. This prevented the worst-case scenario, in which the overheating fuel would melt its way through the vessels and discharge large volumes of radiation outside.

The nuclear industry lacks a technical definition for a full meltdown, but the term is generally understood to mean that radioactive fuel has breached containment measures, resulting in a massive release of fuel.

"Without the injection of water [by fire trucks], a more disastrous event could have ensued," said Mr. Matsumoto.

Tepco also released its analysis of a hydrogen explosion that occurred at unit No. 4, despite the fact that the unit was in maintenance and that nuclear fuel stored in the storage pool was largely intact.

According to Tepco, hyrogen produced in the overheating of the reactor core at unit 3 flowed through a gas-treatment line and entered unit No. 4 because of a breakdown of valves. Hydrogen leaked from ducts in the second, third and fourth floors of the reactor building at unit No. 4 and ignited a massive explosion.

3 reactors down. The

3 reactors down. The Doomsdayers don't looks so silly now, do they? This cannot be stopped. The only thing that can should be stopped are the nuclear power plants around the world. Hang on to your hats, folks. We are indeed in for a ride. The planet, and life as we know it, will never be the same.

Stop nuclear proliferation of every kind. There are much better ways to create energy, but first humanity must learn how to do without so many toys that use the energy. Less used, less needed to be made.

Nope, Universe 1E99999999,

Nope, Universe 1E99999999, Doomsayers still zero.

The reactors melted down 16 hours after station blackout. Expect the cores to do nothing else at this point except cool off and turn solid, all by themselves.

Sorry Doomsayers, better luck next time.

I'm glad you can be so

I'm glad you can be so cavalier about radiation constantly coming out of this place for months, years, maybe decades. Many people including children in Japan will suffer gruesome cancer deaths because of this. Nice that you can feel so smug..

You are right... It is named

You are right...
It is named empathy.
I assume this person is telling us it is not the end of the world for all us... It is not a global problem. It is only a japanese problem...
It is only the end of the world for Japan.
At least for 25OO square kilometers of Japan.
The end of the world for the japanese east coast sea in a nearly future.

A bit of empathy... All us are JAPAN.
NPP are around all the world...
our thoughts with japanese people...

Not really going to happen

Not really going to happen that way. You are over exaggerating.

100 million liters of higly

100 million liters of higly radioactive water flooding facilities of Fukushima... BOOOOOOOOM!

Doomsayers 1E99999999, technicians less than Zero (-10) hahahahaha

What goes boom? The cores

What goes boom? The cores are already melted and in the water? The zircalloy is already exhausted; no more hydrogen.

So sorry, having trouble getting your doom boner up today?

Even at the worst 1000 sq Km off limits and nothing happening in the rest of the world. Compare to Chernobyl.

Maybe there will be no

Maybe there will be no boom.....maybe it will be more like a silent fart solwly covering the whole world, leading "civilization" to destruction. Uncontaminated food might be worth fighting over as will clean water. Maybe the boom doesn't look so bad.

How many liters of capacity

How many liters of capacity has Fukushima´s facilities? Booom!
Each week they have got 10 million MORE of highly radioactive water (teraBequerels) Booom!
I think Hawai understands me...

I hope the doomsters are

I hope the doomsters are wrong...but I was alarmed that some doomsayer said the melted lava could burn through the containment and through the earth crust which is thin there. Then it could hit water table and cause mushroom style explosion. We can't chance it. Call all your reps...everyone you know. Spread the word...the international commmunity of leaders, scientists, media, teacher, mothers, fathers...we need to all get together to solve this unprecedented crisis a.s.a.p. It takes a global village!

It's not going to happen

It's not going to happen this late in the game. Peak temps where that could happen are gone after two months.

Thank you..I hope you are

Thank you..I hope you are right. How do you know that? If you could please verify how you came up with that conclusion, I would be much relieved.

The majority if the heat

The majority if the heat from a scramed ractor are in the fission products. Once those were released in the accident, the cores cooled considerably. New fission from the cores melting down is likely ongoing, but it is not in the megawatt level of heat that would be require to reach the temperature to melt concrete.

Basically, the water that Tepco injected did have an effect in cooling the cores. Is just that they still were hot enough to cause what is called "heat knife" on the stainless steel container that the core hangs in. Once there were leaks, the water came out and the rods melted and pooled at the bottom of the pressure vessel. There was still water in the bottom of the vessel below where the water feed lines are, such that the molten blobs of corium were quenched. Even if the corium escapes the pressure vessel, there is still the concrete drywell below. Given that it's been two months since the accident started, much of the heat has been either released as steam, or been transfered to the water in and around the plant.

Detecting a concrete reaction is pretty easy because the limestone converting to a gas releases calcium precipitates that can be detected in air. To date I haven't heard anything about such a discovery.

what about cobalt60 and

what about cobalt60 and others in the water flooding Fk?
you´re only concerned about emissions on AIR, but you are not worried about water stagnament with an amount of terabequerels bigger than the amount emited in the air.
I think you are not worried thinking this in not a problem for USA.(dilution)
But I think Japan is with a GREAT problem.
People at USA are not worried because they are thinking these events are only possible because an earthquake-Tsunami ocurred...
I don´t think so...
A mayor accident at others countries at the world could be dued by a lot of another causes...
Human errors, technical failures, terrorism and another causes...
All the countries and everybody in the world is Japan.
The question is not if another mayor accident will take place or not...
The questions are: WHEN? and WHERE?
France? USA? Spain? tomorrow? next year? in 25 years?

Thanks for your response.

Thanks for your response. Again, I hope you are right. My understanding is that new info was just released about Reactor 1. Is it possible Tepco has not made all the data available such as data related to the concrete? What do you think about Reactor 3? The Greenpeace nuke engineer was warning about explosions?


>The Greenpeace nuke engineer was warning about explosions?

At what point did Greenpeace warn about explosions? Was it March, in April, this month? Do you have a link to the statement from the Greenpeace nuclear engineer? I didn't know they had one, by the way.

I don't think anyone

I don't think anyone understands you.

ATENTION Engineers ... TEPCO

ATENTION Engineers ... TEPCO desperately needs a 'plan B'. May 15th
EDITORIAL: TEPCO desperately needs a 'plan B'.
2011/05/15 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 14

New discoveries about the condition of a crippled reactor at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant have cast doubt on the plant operator's plan to bring the nuclear crisis under control.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted on May 12 that the fuel rods in the No.1 reactor had probably melted and fallen to the bottom of the pressure vessel housing them.

Huge amounts of radioactive water may have been leaking from both the pressure vessel and the containment vessel enclosing it.

The leak is threatening to thwart TEPCO's efforts to flood the container vessel with water and cool the fuel rods.

In mid-April, the utility said the work to submerge the fuel in water would cool the reactors to a stable level in about three months.

That plan is now in jeopardy. TEPCO's estimate that the reactors can be brought to a stable state known as cold shutdown in six to nine months is also in doubt.

The new findings have delivered a blow to hopes that a successful stabilization of the No. 1 reactor could be replicated at the other troubled reactors.

The fact that fuel had melted became clear after workers entered the reactor building and adjusted a gauge measuring water levels in the pressure vessel.

One major issue complicating the effort at Fukushima No. 1 is unreliable data. Workers are having to guess what is happening within the reactor. Containing a stricken reactor involves a series of difficult challenges. It is like fighting an invisible enemy.

It is possible that remote-controlled cameras and robots might uncover a totally unexpected situation at the plant.

Under TEPCO's blueprint for bringing the crisis under control, the principal means to cool the reactors to a cold shutdown state is flooding the fuel with water.

Engineers involved in responding to the disaster considered other approaches but did not develop specific plans quickly enough. TEPCO has therefore gone ahead with the flooding plan.

New discoveries demanding a rethink of the plan have caused deep disappointment and distrust of the operator in foreign countries, in Japan and in the local communities most directly affected by the crisis.

The company should be offering more than one scenario in its new game plan. It should have a "plan B" to resort to immediately if "plan A" falls apart, and the firm should talk candidly about what it would do in a worst-case scenario.

Whatever approach is adopted, it is clear that efforts to cool the fuel at the bottom of the pressure vessel will continue for years.

It is worrisome that pouring on water to cool the fuel rods will increase the amount of contaminated water. TEPCO must expand its water storage capacity to prevent leaks off the compound.

It should start working immediately to establish a system to decontaminate and circulate water for cooling the fuel without increasing polluted water.

TEPCO must also now bear the crushing burden of figuring out a way to dispose of the melted fuel, a massive new headache for the beleaguered utility. After it accomplishes the urgent mission of bringing the reactors to a cold shutdown state, the company will have to tackle this colossal challenge.

How will they ever "dispose of the melted fuel"????

Will they ever be able to get close enough to the fuel to be able to
actually remove it from the site and then transport it? And if by
some miracle they are able to, what then? Where do they put this stuff?

Maybe they can transport it to Yucca Mountain? Oh, wait. That project
got dropped after spending $11 billion. Sorry Japan. We don't even have
a place to put our own waste.

$3T on wars in the past ten

$3T on wars in the past ten years and you are yammering about a measly $11B?

I'm "yammering" about zero action

At least the $3T resulted in the intended *activity* (wars). And
yielded *some* results. I don't care to get into a debate about
whether those wars were just or not. Or if they achived their
intended goal. That's a topic for another forum. But, we've spent
$11B for absolutely nothing. Not one ounce of nuclear waste has
been transferred. And we are still surrounded (especially the US
east coast) by nuclear time bombs.