AuthorTopic: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues  (Read 56092 times)

Offline Snowleopard

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Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« on: September 13, 2013, 03:26:00 PM »
From AFP via The Standard

Fukushima nuke plant spews vapor, Japanese operator clueless about cause
(09-13 13:56)

Vapor has begun rising again from a reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, more than two-and-a-half years after its core melted down, the site's Japanese operator said.
Tokyo Electric Power said it believed the steam was coming from a puddle sitting atop the reactor, but has not been able to clarify why.
TEPCO said the Fukushima nuclear plant remained stable, with sensors in and around it showing no increase in levels of radioactive release.
The steam appeared as TEPCO found more evidence that radioactive waste water at the plant was contaminating groundwater on its way to the sea.
Thousands of tonnes of water were poured on the reactors to tame the meltdowns sparked by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. TEPCO says their temperature is now stable but they need to be kept cool to prevent them running out of control again.
The continuing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima has come under the international spotlight in recent weeks as Tokyo fought off challenges from Madrid and Istanbul for the right to host the 2020 Games.
Speaking to Olympic chiefs in Buenos Aires ahead of their decision to award the Games to Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the situation at Fukushima was “under control.’’
Thousands of tonnes of radioactive water are being stored in temporary tanks at Fukushima. Much of it has been used to cool molten reactors at the plant.
TEPCO and Japanese officials are considering releasing some of it into the Pacific Ocean after filtering out radioactive materials, but face opposition from fisherman and neighboring countries
.—AFP

http://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking_news_detail.asp?id=40840&icid=a&d_str=


Fukushima's radioactive leak: 'no way to filter this stuff out' - expert



Tokyo Electric Power Company's foreign advisors Lake Barrett and Dale Klein have held a news conference on Friday to discuss the contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. On September, 11 TEPCO announced that levels of tritium, which is considered one of the least harmful radioactive elements, had increased more than 15 times in groundwater near a leaked tank at the facility. The Voice of Russia discussed the current situation with Mr. Paul Gunter, director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear.



Last month TEPCO said more than 300 metric tons of highly radioactive water leaked from one of the hastily built steel tanks at the plant, which was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011.

The reports on the increased radioactive elements at the plant come just days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the International Olympic Committee that the situation at the Fukushima facility, 230 km from Tokyo, was "under control". Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Mr. Paul Gunter, director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear.

It's been reported the levels of tritium increased more than 15 times. How do you estimate the situation with Fukushima radiation level? How dangerous is that?

In fact tritium while it is a low level admitter, it incorporates very intimately into the food chain. Tritium is hydrogen. So this is isotopic hydrogen mixed with water. There is no way to filter this stuff out and once it incorporates intimately with the biology there, this radioactive element can, clinically-proven, cause cancer, birth defects and genetic mutations. So, to trivialize the impact of tritium is a promotion of nuclear power and it takes a way to tries to obfuscate our concerns that a reverse tsunami of radioactivity is now moving back in to the ocean from the Fukushima wreckage and it is carrying radioactivity.

What areas are in danger to be affected by this because obviously the half life of any radioactive substances is a very long time. It is not going to go anywhere once it gets into the ocean. But what are the chances that we are going to see this in areas far away from Fukushima radiation source?

I think it is dependant on when the accident can finally be brought under control. Right now Fukushima is a nuclear catastrophe that remains out of control now for more than 2.5 years. Neither Tokyo Electric Power Company or the Japanese government have been able to stanch this radioactive hemorrhage that is occurring from the plant. So, the extent of the accident can spread right now is unknown. Clearly the first industry to be impacted is the coastal commercial fishing industry on the Eastern shores of Japan and this is a big concern because the fishing industry represents a vital economic business to Japan but also a pathway to radioactivity to come back into humans.

To what extent is the fish already not safe to eat in that area?

I think that the concern here is that the radioactivity will linger, it will bio-magnify up through the food chain and again the accident is not under control. There is more and more radioactivity, more and more radioactive isotopes not just tritium but we are concerned about the radioactive cesium and the radioactive strontiums, radioactive iodine. These are all now moving in grown water through the wreckage of the reactor meltdowns and into the ocean. So, this represents a very long-term problem that will only get worse over time as more radioactivity enters the food chain.

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_09_13/Fukushimas-contaminated-water-There-is-no-way-to-filter-this-stuff-out-expert-9633/


Emphasis (bold, color etc.) is mine, typos & transcription errors sic - SL

So they are going to filter out the radiation from the stored contaminated water and release it into the Pacific.  But the radioactive tritium cannot be filtered out.  Meanwhile huge amounts of other radioactive water escapes into the Pacific every day anyway, and noone can/will say why the plant(#3) is steaming.
"A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." -  Simon and Garfunkel

Offline jdwheeler42

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 07:03:39 PM »
What areas are in danger to be affected by this because obviously the half life of any radioactive substances is a very long time.
OMFG.  Who writes this stuff?  (I know you're just quoting, SL, this isn't a dig on you.)  They shouldn't be allowed to cover anything science-based.  Half-lives of radioactive elements can be anywhere from 23x10-24 for hydrogen-7 (during which time light will travel 7 femtometers) to 2.2x1024 years for tellurium-128 (almost a quadrillion times longer than the time since the Big Bang).

In the case of tritium, the half-life is 12.32 years, so in a century approximately 8 half lives will go by, so about (0.5)8 = 0.4% will be left or in other words 99.6% will have turned into helium-3.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2013, 07:10:07 PM by jdwheeler42 »
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Offline Snowleopard

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 09:34:47 PM »
What areas are in danger to be affected by this because obviously the half life of any radioactive substances is a very long time.
OMFG.  Who writes this stuff?  (I know you're just quoting, SL, this isn't a dig on you.)  They shouldn't be allowed to cover anything science-based.  Half-lives of radioactive elements can be anywhere from 23x10-24 for hydrogen-7 (during which time light will travel 7 femtometers) to 2.2x1024 years for tellurium-128 (almost a quadrillion times longer than the time since the Big Bang).

In the case of tritium, the half-life is 12.32 years, so in a century approximately 8 half lives will go by, so about (0.5)8 = 0.4% will be left or in other words 99.6% will have turned into helium-3.

I'd say it's a valid complaint.  Even if it is Russian media, and the entire piece suffers from the lack of an editor/proofreader.  The questioner (and/or transcriptionist,) also likely lack(s) English fluency.

Much of what i read is written by those for whom English is a tertiary language, so i've gotten used to it.  I should be more aware of what is actually written, rather than automatically extracting what i think was meant, despite the time cost.  What i thought he meant was all the radioactives in question had significant half lives.

Thanks for pointing this out though.  I'll try to avoid posting pieces with language issues severe enough to detract from their meaning. 
"A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." -  Simon and Garfunkel

Offline Snowleopard

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues - The Real Danger
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2013, 07:40:37 PM »
From washingtons blog...a more complete (and coherent) Fuku status update.



The REAL Fukushima Danger



Posted on September 14, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog


The Real Problem …
 
The fact that the Fukushima reactors have been leaking huge amounts of radioactive water ever since the 2011 earthquake is certainly newsworthy.  As are the facts that:
 ■Tepco doesn’t know how to stop the leaks
 ■Scientists have no idea where the cores of the nuclear reactors are
 ■Radiation could hit Korea, China and the West Coast of North America fairly hard
 
But the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.
 
Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.
 
If one of the pools collapsed or caught fire, it could have severe adverse impacts not only on Japan … but the rest of the world, including the United States.   Indeed, a Senator called it a national security concern for the U.S.:
 

The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.
 
Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen and physician Helen Caldicott have both said that people should evacuate the Northern Hemisphere if one of the Fukushima fuel pools collapses. Gundersen said:
 

Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.
 
Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura calls removing the radioactive materials from the Fukushima fuel pools “an issue of human survival”.
 
So the stakes in decommissioning the fuel pools are high, indeed.
 
But in 2 months, Tepco – the knuckleheads who caused the accident – are going to start doing this very difficult operation on their own.
 
The New York Times reports:
 

Thousands of workers and a small fleet of cranes are preparing for one of the latest efforts to avoid a deepening environmental disaster that has China and other neighbors increasingly worried: removing spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building and storing them in a safer place.
 
The Telegraph notes:
 

Tom Snitch, a senior professor at the University of Maryland and with more than 30 years’ experience in nuclear issues, said  “[Japan officials] need to address the real problems, the spent fuel rods in Unit 4 and the leaking pressure vessels,” he said. “There has been too much work done wiping down walls and duct work in the reactors for any other reason then to do something….  This is a critical global issue and Japan must step up.”
 
The Japan Times writes:
 

In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 [with] radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. …. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task…. The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.
 
CNBC points out:
 

The radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is far from under control and could get a lot worse, a nuclear energy expert, who compiles the annual “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” warned.
 
***
 
The big danger – and it was identified by Japan’s atomic energy commission – is if you lose water in one of the spent fuel pools and you get a spent fuel fire.
 
CNN reports:
 

[Mycle Schneider, nuclear consultant:]  The situation could still get a lot worse. A massive spent fuel fire would likely dwarf the current dimensions of the catastrophe and could exceed the radioactivity releases of Chernobyl dozens of times. First, the pool walls could leak beyond the capacity to deliver cooling water or a reactor building could collapse following one of the hundred  of aftershocks. Then, the fuel cladding could ignite spontaneously releasing its entire radioactive inventory.
 
Reuters notes:
 

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.
 
Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.
 
“They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” said Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies.
 
The operation, beginning this November at the plant’s Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.
 
That could lead to a worse disaster than the March 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the world’s most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.
 
No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: “Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date.”
 
***
 
The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.
 
Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.
 
***
 
The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It’s just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.
 
Each fuel rod assembly weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long. There are 1,331 of the spent fuel assemblies and a further 202 unused assemblies are also stored in the pool, Nagai said.
 
***
 
Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe, that gets formed during the later stages of a reactor core’s operation.
 
***
 
“There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other,” Gundersen said.
 
He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn’t designed to absorb.
 
“The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can’t stop it. There are no control rods to control it,” Gundersen said. “The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction.”
 
The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said. [The pools have already boiled due to exposure to air.]
 
***
 
Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.
 
***
 
The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.
 
The chamber is then transported to the plant’s common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.
 
[Here is a visual tour of Fukushima's fuel pools, along with graphics of how the rods will be removed.]
 
Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.
 
Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.
 
“Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don’t have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods,” Kimura said.
 
***
 
Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.
 
And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away.
 
ABC Radio Australia quotes  an expert on the situation (at 1:30):
 

Richard Tanter, expert on nuclear  power issues and professor of international relations at the University of Melbourne:
 
***
 
Reactor Unit 4, the one which has a very large amount of stored fuel in its fuel storage pool, that is sinking. According to former prime Minister Kan Naoto, that has sunk some 31 inches in places and it’s not uneven. This is really not surprising given what’s happened in terms of pumping of water, the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami, the continuing infusions of water into the groundwater area. This is an immediate problem, and if it is not resolved there is an extraordinary possibility we really could be back at March 2011 again because of the possibility of a fission accident in that spent fuel pond in Unit No. 4.
 
Xinua writes:
 

Mitsuhei Murata, a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland has officially called for the withdrawalof Tokyo’s Olympic bid, due to the worsening crisis at Fukushima, which experts believe is not limited to storage tanks, but also potential cracks in the walls of the spent nuclear fuel pools.
 
Japan Focus points out:
 

The spent-fuel pool … was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, and is in a deteriorating condition. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction.
 
***
 
If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire.
 
***
 
This is literally a matter of national security – another mistake by TEPCO could have incredibly costly, even fatal, consequences for Japan.
 
Like Pulling Cigarettes Out of a Crumpled Pack
 
Fuel rod expert Arnie Gundersen – a nuclear engineer and former senior manager of a nuclear power company which manufactured nuclear fuel rods – recently explained the biggest problem with the fuel rods (at 15:45):
 

I think they’re belittling the complexity of the task. If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.
 

***
 

I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.
 
In another interview, Gundersen provides additional details (at 31:00):
 

The racks are distorted from the earthquake — oh, by the way, the roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks.
 
The net effect is they’ve got the bundles of fuel, the cigarettes in these racks, and as they pull them out, they’re likely to snap a few. When you snap a nuclear fuel rod, that releases radioactivity again, so my guess is, it’s things like krypton-85, which is a gas, cesium will also be released, strontium will be released. They’ll probably have to evacuate the building for a couple of days. They’ll take that radioactive gas and they’ll send it up the stack, up into the air, because xenon can’t be scrubbed, it can’t be cleaned, so they’ll send that radioactive xenon up into the air and purge the building of all the radioactive gases and then go back in and try again.
 
It’s likely that that problem will exist on more than one bundle. So over the next year or two, it wouldn’t surprise me that either they don’t remove all the fuel because they don’t want to pull too hard, or if they do pull to hard, they’re likely to damage the fuel and cause a radiation leak inside the building.  So that’s problem #2 in this process, getting the fuel out of Unit 4 is a top priority I have, but it’s not going to be easy. Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it’s all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it’s a really difficult job. It wouldn’t surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can’t remove it.
 
And Chris Harris – a, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer – notes that it doesn’t help that a lot of the rods are in very fragile condition:
 

Although there are a lot of spent fuel assemblies in there which could achieve criticality — there are also 200 new fuel assemblies which have equivalent to a full tank of gas, let’s call it that. Those are the ones most likely to go critical first.
 
***
 
Some pictures that were released recently show that a lot of fuel is damaged, so when they go ahead and put the grapple on it, and they pull it up, it’s going to fall apart. The boreflex has been eaten away; it doesn’t take saltwater very good.
 
Like Letting a Murderer Perform Brain Surgery On a VIP
 
What’s the bottom line?
 
Tepco has an abysmal track record:
 ■Engineers warned Tepco and the Japanese government many years before the accident that the reactors were seismically unsafe … and that an earthquake could wipe them out
 ■The Fukushima reactors were fatally damaged before the tsunami hit … the earthquake took them out even before the tidal wave hit
 ■An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster,  caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design
 ■Tepco knew right after the 2011 accident that 3 nuclear reactors had lost containment, that the nuclear fuel had “gone missing”, and that there was in fact no real containment at all.  Tepco has desperately been trying to cover this up for 2 and a half years … instead pretending that the reactors were in “cold shutdown”
 ■Tepco just admitted that it’s known for 2 years that massive amounts of radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean
 ■Tepco – with no financial incentive to actually fix things – has only been pretending to clean it up. And see this
 ■Tepco’s recent attempts to solidify the ground under the reactors using chemicals has backfired horribly.  And NBC News notes: “[Tepco] is considering freezing the ground around the plant. Essentially building a mile-long ice wall underground, something that’s never been tried before to keep the water out. One scientist I spoke to dismissed this idea as grasping at straws, just more evidence that the power company failed to anticipate this problem … and now cannot solve it.”
 
Letting Tepco remove the fuel rods is like letting a convicted murderer perform delicate brain surgery on a VIP.
 
Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima.   An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.
 
The stakes are high …

See original for the many embedded links to sources:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/09/the-real-fukushima-danger.html
« Last Edit: September 14, 2013, 08:07:43 PM by Snowleopard »
"A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest." -  Simon and Garfunkel

Offline RE

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Humankind’s Most Dangerous Moment
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 10:41:41 PM »
Humankind’s Most Dangerous Moment: Fukushima Fuel Pool at Unit 4. “This is an Issue of Human Survival.”

The world community must now take charge at Fukushima

By Harvey Wasserman
Global Research, September 20, 2013
freepress.org
Region: Asia
Theme: Environment
plutonium

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.

Why is this so serious?

We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool.Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.

Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific.

The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.

More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.

Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.

Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.

The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.

Just prior to the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.

Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.

 Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.

According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged.

The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection.

Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.

Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.

 Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”

Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers.

We have two months or less to act.

For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

 You can sign the petition at: http://www.nukefree.org/crisis-fukushima-4-petition-un-us-global-response

If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now.

The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight.Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor of the Columbus Free Press and Free Press. He edits Nuke Free.

For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.
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Offline RE

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2013, 09:32:23 PM »
Boggles my mind these guys go into work every day.

Fearful about the future?  Ya think?

RE


Plummeting morale at Fukushima Daiichi as nuclear cleanup takes its toll

Staff on the frontline of operation plagued by health problems and fearful about the future, insiders say


    Justin McCurry in Fukushima
    theguardian.com, Tuesday 15 October 2013 11.15 EDT

   

Workers constructing water tanks at Fukushima
Workers wearing protective suits and masks constructing water tanks at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Dressed in a hazardous materials suit, full-face mask and hard hat, Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, left his audience in no doubt: "The future of Japan," he said, "rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you."

Abe's exhortation, delivered during a recent visit to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was only heard by a small group of men inside the plant's emergency control room. But it was directed at almost 6,000 more: the technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world's most dangerous industrial cleanup.

Yet as the scale of the challenge has become clearer with every new accident and radiation leak, the men working inside the plant are suffering from plummeting morale, health problems and anxiety about the future, according to insiders interviewed by the Guardian.

Even now, at the start of a decommissioning operation that is expected to last 40 years, the plant faces a shortage of workers qualified to manage the dangerous work that lies ahead.

The hazards faced by the nearly 900 employees of Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] and about 5,000 workers hired by a network of contractors and sub-contractors were underlined this month when six men were doused with contaminated water at a desalination facility.

The men, who were wearing protective clothing, suffered no ill health effects in the incident, according to Tepco, but their brush with danger was a sign that the cleanup is entering its most precarious stage since the meltdown in March 2011.


Commenting on the leak, the head of Japan's nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, told reporters: "Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don't make silly, careless mistakes when they're motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems."
Shinzo Abe Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, wearing a red helmet, during a tour of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Photograph: AP

The radiation spill was the latest in a string of serious water and radiation leaks, which have raised fears over the workers' state of mind – and Tepco's ability to continue the cleanup alone.

According to sources with knowledge of the plant and health professionals who make regular visits, the slew of bad news is sapping morale and causing concern, as the public and international community increase pressure on Japan to show demonstrable progress in cleaning up the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

"Very little has changed at Fukushima Daiichi in the past six months," said Jun Shigemura, a lecturer in the psychiatry department at the National Defence Medical College who heads of a team of psychologists that counsels Fukushima plant workers. "Tepco is doing its best to improve matters, but you can see that the situation is severe."

Shigemura is most concerned about the 70% of Tepco workers at Fukushima Daiichi who were also forced to evacuate their homes by the meltdown. They have yet to come to terms with that loss and many live away from their families in makeshift accommodation near the plant.

"They were traumatised by the tsunami and the reactor explosions and had no idea how much they had been irradiated," Shigemura said. "That was the acute effect but now they are suffering from the chronic effects, such as depression, loss of motivation and issues with alcohol."

Their anxiety is compounded by uncertainty over the future of their embattled employer. Tepco is coming under mounting pressure to resolve the worsening water crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, which recently prompted the government to step in with half a billion dollars (£312m) to help contain the build-up of toxic water.

Its ability to stem the water leaks by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020 – as promised by Abe – could be hampered by a looming labour shortage.

As Tepco was reducing costs and attempting to calm public anger over its handling of the crisis, it imposed a 20% pay cut for all employees in 2011. From a total workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm, between April 2011 and June this year. The firm did not hire any employees in fiscal 2012 and 2013.

The utility plans to take on 331 employees next April, according to Mayumi Yoshida, a Tepco spokeswoman. "[The employment] system will change so it will be easier for talented employees to gain promotion and for unproductive employees to be demoted," she said.

But there is little the firm can do about the departure of experienced workers, forced to leave after reaching their radiation exposure limit.

Tepco documents show that between March 2011 and July this year, 138 employees reached the 100-millisievert [mSv] threshold; another 331 had been exposed to between 75 mSv and 100 mSv, meaning their days at the plant are numbered. Those nearing their dose limit have reportedly been moved to other sites, or asked to take time off, so they can return to work at Fukushima Daiichi at a later date.

Some workers have left because of exhaustion and stress, while others have decided to find work closer to their displaced wives and children.

"They are less motivated and are worried about continuing to work for a firm that might not exist in a decade from now," Shigemura said

.
Tepco employees wait for a bus at J Village Tepco employees wait for a bus at J Village, a football training complex now serving as an operation base for those battling Japan's nuclear disaster. Photograph: Reuters

Workers who have stayed on do so in the knowledge that they risk damaging their health through prolonged exposure to radiation and in accidents of the kind that occurred this week.

Earlier this year, Tepco said that 1,973 workers, including those employed by contractors and subcontractors, had estimated thyroid radiation doses in excess of 100 mSv, the level at which many physicians agree the risk of developing cancer begins to rise.

"These workers may show a tiny increased risk of cancer over their lifetimes," said Gerry Thomas, professor of molecular pathology at Imperial College, London University. "One hundred millisieverts is the dose we use as a cut-off to say we can see a significant effect on the cancer rate in very large epidemiology studies. The numbers have to be large because the individual increase is minuscule."

But she added: "I would be far more worried about these workers smoking or feeling under stress due to the fear of what radiation might do to them. That is much more likely to have an effect on any person's health."

While Thomas and other experts have cautioned against reaching hasty conclusions about a possible rise in thyroid cancer among Fukushima Daiichi workers, there is little doubt that their punishing work schedule, performed under the international spotlight, is taking a toll on their health.

"I'm particularly worried about depression and alcoholism," said Takeshi Tanigawa, a professor in the department of public health at Ehime University in western Japan. "I've seen high levels of physical distress and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder."

Many of the casual labourers employed by subcontractors live in cheap accommodation in places such as Yumoto, a hot-spring resort south of the exclusion zone around the plant. The number of workers has declined in the past year amid complaints from hoteliers and inn-keepers about drink-fuelled fights. These days, more seem to prefer the bars and commercial sex establishments of nearby Onahama port.

A 42-year-old contract worker, who asked not be named, confirmed that alcohol abuse had become a problem among workers. "Lots of men I know drink heavily in the evening and come to work with the shakes the next day. I know of several who worked with hangovers during the summer and collapsed with heatstroke."

"there isn't much communication between workers. People want to look after number one. Newcomers are looked down on by their colleagues and some don't really know how to do their jobs."

Another worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had seen hungover colleagues collapse with heatstroke just minutes after beginning work.


Tepco's logo at its headquarters in Tokyo. From a workforce of 37,000, 1,286 people left the firm between April 2011 and June this year. Photograph: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters

In the long term, Tepco and its partner companies will struggle to find enough people with specialist knowledge to see decommissioning through to the end, according to Yukiteru Naka, a retired engineer with General Electric who helped build some of Fukushima Daiichi's reactors.

"There aren't enough trained people at Fukushima Daiichi even now," he said. "For Tepco, money is the top priority – nuclear technology and safety come second and third. That's why the accident happened. The management insists on keeping the company going. They think about shareholders, bank lenders and the government, but not the people of Fukushima."

Naka, who runs a firm in Iwaki, just south of Fukushima Daiichi, that provides technical assistance to Tepco, said the lack of expertise afflicts the utility and general contractors with a pivotal role in the cleanup.

"Most of their employees have no experience of working in conditions like these, and all the time their exposure to radiation is increasing," he said. "I suggested to Tepco that it bring in retired workers who said they were willing to help, but the management refused."

Faced with labour shortages and a string of accidents, Tepco has in recent weeks come under pressure to accept more specialist help from overseas. At the start of this month, Shinzo Abe, told an international science conference in Kyoto: "My country needs your knowledge and expertise."

But this apparent spirit of openness is unlikely to turn the decommissioning operation into a genuinely international effort, said Ian Fairlie, a London-based independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. "Japanese officials ask for help, but Tepco and the government are not in the business of saying: 'This is serious, please come and help us,'" he said.

Tepco's unshakable belief in its ability to complete the decommissioning operation rules out any meaningful co-operation, even with Japanese government officials. "Tepco has always wanted to do its own thing," said Akihiro Yoshikawa, a Tepco employee of 14 years who recently left the company. "It doesn't want the government stepping in and telling it what to do; it just wants the government's money."

Yoshikawa said the spirit of resilience his former colleagues had displayed in the aftermath of the accident had turned to despondency amid mounting criticism at home and abroad, forcing younger workers to leave and older ones to take early retirement. "They felt like they were being bullied, even though they were putting their lives at risk," he said.

"Tepco is spending its money on fixing the technical problems, but it also needs people to carry out that work. I'm very worried about the labour shortage. If they don't do something about it soon, the employment system at Fukushima Daiichi will collapse first, not the plant."

For the thousands of non-Tepco employees hired across Japan to perform backbreaking, dangerous work for contractors and subcontractors, the lure of earning decent money in return for working close to lethal levels of radiation has proved an illusion.

Once money for accommodation has been subtracted from their wages, labourers are typically left with a few thousand yen at the end of each day. In some cases, smaller companies withhold danger money, which can amount to more than half of a worker's daily wage because, they say, they need the extra cash to keep their business afloat.

The poor pay has forced growing numbers of men to quit and take up jobs decontaminating the area around the plant, for which they can earn similar momey but with much less exposure to radiation.

"The real work at Fukushima Daiichi is being done by the general contractors, with the smaller companies picking up the crumbs," Yoshikawa said. "They outbid each other for contracts and so end up with less money to pay their workers. They have no choice but to hire cheap labour."

Conditions for Tepco workers living in J Village – a football training complex just south of Fukushima Daiichi – have only recently improved.

For two years after the disaster, those living in prefabricated units at J Village had to walk hundreds of metres to use communal toilets at night. Tepco belatedly installed private toilets earlier this year after the firm's incoming president, Naomi Hirose, heeded health experts' warnings that the lack of facilities was compromising employees' health.

"The managers at Tepco headquarters have little idea of how their Fukushima Daiichi employees live," said Tanigawa, the public health professor. "The company's management is focused on the compensation problem and doesn't want to be accused of only looking after its own when there are still evacuees who haven't been compensated."

But as concern grows over Tepco's ability to address the myriad technical challenges facing Fukushima Daiichi – starting next month with the removal of 1,300 spent fuel assemblies from the top of reactor No 4 – the unfolding human crisis is being largely ignored.

There is still no full-time mental health counselling available at the plant, said Shigemura, whose team visits about once a month to talk to workers and administer pharmacological treatments. "That amazes me," he said.

"Tepco workers worry about their health, but also about whether Tepco will take care of them if they fall ill in the future. They put their lives and their health on the line, but in the years to come, they wonder if they will just be discarded."
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Offline luciddreams

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 03:22:23 AM »
over 1000 rods, capable of releasing 15,000 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Japan, perched 100 feet about the Earth that will spontaneously combust if contacted by air with hungover, depressed, underpaid, and vastly underqualified Japanese workers trying to do the precise job usually tasked to a computer under perfect conditions.

Let's not forget that a few cores are missing and "steam plums" are indicating they are critical. 

Then this gem from the last article that RE posted:

Quote
"Tepco is spending its money on fixing the technical problems, but it also needs people to carry out that work. I'm very worried about the labour shortage. If they don't do something about it soon, the employment system at Fukushima Daiichi will collapse first, not the plant."

We are fucked.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 03:24:54 AM by luciddreams »

Offline luciddreams

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2013, 03:27:29 AM »
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/x3QZ6MGPBog?feature=player_embedded" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/x3QZ6MGPBog?feature=player_embedded</a>

Offline JoeP

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2013, 05:16:29 PM »
Radioactive water overflows barriers at Fukushima plant during heavy rain

By Antoni Slodkowski
Oct. 21, 2013

TOKYO — Highly radioactive water overflowed barriers into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operating utility said on Monday, after it underestimated how much rain would fall at the plant and failed to pump it out quickly enough.

The utility, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has been battling to contain radioactive water at the nuclear complex, which suffered meltdowns and hydrogen explosions following a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Dealing with hundreds of tons of groundwater flowing through the wrecked nuclear plant daily is a constant headache for the utility and for the government, casting doubt on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s promises that the Fukushima water “situation is under control.”

After heavy rain on Sunday, water with high levels of radioactive strontium overflowed containment areas built around some 1,000 tanks storing tons of radioactive water at the plant, TEPCO said. The radioactive water is a by-product of an improvised cooling system designed to keep the wrecked reactors under control in case of further disaster.

TEPCO said it had planned to pump out the accumulating rainwater into empty tanks, check it for radioactivity, and if it was uncontaminated, release into the sea. But the company was overwhelmed by the amount of rainwater.

“Our pumps could not keep up with the rainwater. As a result, it flowed over some containment areas,” said Tepco spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai. The company had planned for 30 to 40 millimeters of rainfall on Sunday, but by late afternoon the rainfall already stood at around 100 millimeters, he said.

The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant highlights the immensity of the task of containing and controlling radioactive water and eventually decommissioning the plant, processes expected to take decades.

In the latest incident, containment areas surrounding 12 of 23 groups of tanks overflowed, with one of them containing Strontium-90 as highly concentrated as 710 becquerels per liter - 71 times higher than the level set by the company as safe for release.

Strontium-90 is a by-product of the fission of uranium and plutonium in nuclear reactors as well as nuclear weapons, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says on its website.

TEPCO said it will prepare some 30 extra pumps and lay additional 10 kilometers of pipes to prevent overflowing from happening again.

The utility has come under increased scrutiny after it found in August that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hastily built storage tanks at the Fukushima site.

TEPCO is seeking permission to restart its only remaining viable plant - Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world’s largest nuclear power station, to cut high fuel costs and restore its finances.

just my straight shooting honest opinion

Offline JoeP

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2013, 05:18:24 PM »
Strontium-90 is really bad newz in case you didn't already know this boyz and girls.  From Wikipedia:

"Strontium-90 is a "bone seeker" that exhibits biochemical behavior similar to calcium, the next lighter group 2 element. After entering the organism, most often by ingestion with contaminated food or water, about 70–80% of the dose gets excreted. Virtually all remaining strontium-90 is deposited in bones and bone marrow, with the remaining 1% remaining in blood and soft tissues. Its presence in bones can cause bone cancer, cancer of nearby tissues, and leukemia. Exposure to 90Sr can be tested by a bioassay, most commonly by urinalysis. Strontium-90 is probably the most dangerous component of the radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon."
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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 08:36:52 AM »
Fukushima nuclear plant operators prepare for dangerous procedure

Hundreds of radioactive rods must be removed at Fukushima without exposing them to air

Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Sunday, 27 October, 2013

   
Workers wear protective suits and masks are at the No 4 reactor in Fukushima Dai-ichi. Photo: Reuters

The operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is making final preparations before starting the most delicate and dangerous procedure attempted at the plant since three reactors were wrecked in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Engineers from Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) need to remove 1,533 rods of highly irradiated spent fuel from the damaged storage pool alongside the Number 4 reactor without exposing them to the air. The rods must then be carefully transported to a safer location for longer-term storage.

The 18-month project is due to start in early November.

Nothing remotely similar has been attempted before and while everyone - nuclear experts, government officials, environmental groups and the public - agrees that the rods must be moved to more secure storage, it is feared that any error of judgment could lead to a massive release of radiation into the atmosphere.

Tepco says the building surrounding the reactor has been reinforced and a crane has been constructed that will be used to lift the rods from the pool - which is 30 metres above the ground - and lower them to the ground.

Unit 4 at the plant contains an alarming 10 times as much caesium-137 as was at Chernobyl, experts say.

"We have taken a number of security measures before starting the procedure, including strengthening the tolerance of the storage pool by reinforcing the bottom, monitoring the building to make sure that it is not tilting, conducting visual checks for any hazards and carrying out inspections of the integrity of the building four times a year," a spokesman for Tepco said.

He admitted, however, that it was not clear whether any of the rods were damaged or if debris in the pool would complicate the recovery effort. But the company was taking every measure to ensure safety, he said.

That promise cuts little ice with Aileen Mioko Smith, of Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, who points out that Tepco has presided over a catalogue of errors, miscalculations and failures since the disaster.

And that is without looking into the shoddy safety and operational procedures at the plant before March 2011.

"They're incompetent," she said. "For example, how could they not realise that a typhoon was going to bring rain that was going to flood the areas around the storage tanks for radioactive water? A child could have comprehended that."

Mioko Smith has a number of fears about the recovery process, the biggest of which is that another major earthquake brings down the building or causes the storage pool to fall, exposing the rods to the air and triggering a release of radiation that could be catastrophic and extremely difficult to remedy.

Others have made even more strident warnings, including Charles Perrow, a professor emeritus at Yale University.

"Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable," said Perrow.

"The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo," he said. "Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years."

As well as the technical and engineering problems that Tepco is facing, it has been suggested that corporate pride is preventing the company from accepting meaningful outside advice and assistance.

"I would prefer to have had some US companies that are experts on spent fuel decommissioning brought in to assist," said a nuclear energy expert who has been monitoring Tepco's handling of the crisis.

The problem of 400 tonnes of radioactive water leaking from the site every day could be fixed in a matter of days if the company would listen to external experts, he said.

"The issues are not primarily technological, they are political," he added.

When asked for giving advice to anyone living in Tokyo should the worst happen at the Fukushima plant, he said the winds were unlikely to blow most of the radiation towards the capital.

But the winds can be fickle and some of the contamination would undoubtedly reach Tokyo, he said.

"If so, go up to a very high floor," he said. "Radioactive particles are heavy, so keep out of basements."
 
just my straight shooting honest opinion

nobody

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2013, 04:03:39 PM »
In the short time I spent researching this so far, it has been stated that the (wrecked) cranes on site cannot be used to deal with these rods which are 4 floors up.  Are they just running up against a clean-up deadline and this is why they are making noise about "this has to be done.." and then just shuffling their feet some more?  As well as all this 
"When asked for giving advice to anyone living in Tokyo should the worst happen at the Fukushima plant, he said the winds were unlikely to blow most of the radiation towards the capital."

...Should the worst happen?  What do they imagine is the worst?  Nuclear breezes?

Offline RE

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2013, 04:14:40 PM »
...Should the worst happen?  What do they imagine is the worst?  Nuclear breezes?

The worst would be some of these spent fuel rods come into contact with each other and go Supercritical.  AKA uncontrolled Nuclear Fission.  AKA BOOM!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/GydJiD7v76w?feature=player_detailpage" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/GydJiD7v76w?feature=player_detailpage</a>

RE
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Offline JoeP

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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2013, 04:21:34 PM »
...Should the worst happen?  What do they imagine is the worst?  Nuclear breezes?

The worst would be some of these spent fuel rods come into contact with each other and go Supercritical.  AKA uncontrolled Nuclear Fission.  AKA BOOM!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/GydJiD7v76w?feature=player_detailpage" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/GydJiD7v76w?feature=player_detailpage</a>

RE

Not likely to happen...but wait, aren't the humans "handling" this shit drunk and depressed?  Hmmm.
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Re: Fukushima Clusterfuck Continues
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2013, 04:34:22 PM »

Not likely to happen...but wait, aren't the humans "handling" this shit drunk and depressed?  Hmmm.

Nice Going Out Statement for the Suicidal TEPCO worker.  Takes Self-Immolation up a few orders of magnitude.


RE
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