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Old 03-15-2011, 02:52 PM   #81
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As much as it pains me to link to anything published by the Christian Science monitor, this is one of the only pieces I've heard or read over the past few days which actually attempts to analyze the current situation calmly and factually, and to clarify for the layperson just what a meltdown does and does not consist of.

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/03...actor-meltdown
Combine the word “nuclear” with the word “meltdown,” and you get something which sounds really scary to the average person. But all those scientists on cable news talking about what’s happening in Japan aren’t always clear about what a nuclear meltdown is, and isn’t. Is it an explosion? Will it burn a hole to the center of the earth? Does it spray radioactive stuff into the air, poisoning the surrounding landscape?

The answers: No, it’s not an explosion, though there can be some explosive side effects. We’ve seen that already in Japan, where a couple of reactor buildings have blown up. No, it would not burn a hole to the center of the earth. The movie “The China Syndrome,” which popularized that notion, was fiction. And whether a meltdown is an environmental disaster depends on a number of factors, including how extensive it is, and how well the nuclear power plant's safety features can contain it.

First, let’s consider what a nuclear reactor is: a giant, glowing red-hot coal. That’s a simplistic way of describing it, anyway. Nuclear reactors, just like fossil fuel-burning power plants, make electricity by heating up water so it turns into steam and drives a turbine, which powers a generator.

To use another analogy, the nuclear fission which creates this heat is a bit like the chaos you’d get if you toppled a giant pyramid of canned tomatoes. First, one can would fall, and then it would bounce off several more cans, knocking those over, and then they’d all bounce downhill, creating an ever-expanding chain reaction. And each time a can hit another can, it would produce a spark of heat.

In Japan, this chain reaction stopped at the time of the earthquake, when the reactors shut down as a safety response. But nuclear fission produces such enormous amounts of heat that it takes a long time for the reactor core to cool. Plus, the fissile material keeps giving off what’s called “decay heat” as it continues to emit radiation. Right after shutdown, a nuclear reactor is still producing large amounts of heat, so you’ve got a pretty big job keeping the whole thing cool.

Normally that’s done by circulating water around the core. But in Japan, the earthquake knocked out all means of moving this coolant. Once that happens, the water can turn to steam, laced with hydrogen and other explosive elements. This increases pressure in the containment building. That’s what caused the building explosions we’ve seen so far.

Japanese nuclear officials are desperately pumping sea water into the reactor buildings to try and cool things off. But the pressure from the steam and continued heat makes that much more difficult to do than it sounds. It appears that nuclear fuel rods, which contain the fissile stuff, have been exposed to air for some unknown period of time in several of the reactors. At that point, without cooling water surrounding them, the rods (which are zirconium, in case you were wondering) start to blister and buckle.

As they deform, the rods release radioactive fuel byproducts that normally they’d be able to contain. The open spaces between them – through which water normally would be able to flow – get blocked up, making it even harder for them to dissipate heat. They melt. Hence the term – “meltdown.”

At that point you’ve got a big radioactive mess. A partial meltdown means that some of the rods melted prior to coolant being restored. A total meltdown means, well, a total meltdown. It explains itself.

But “a meltdown does not necessarily mean that there will be a large release of radioactivity. This will depend on the integrity of the primary and secondary containments,” notes a helpful Union of Concerned Scientists factsheet (pdf).

“Primary containment,” in this case, refers to the steel casing which surrounds the reactor core. It’s more than five inches thick, and it’s designed to contain radiation in case of failure. The Chernobyl reactor did not have this crucial feature, which is one of the big reasons why it was such an environmental disaster.

It’s possible that this casing won’t melt through if the fuel rods have a meltdown. At Three Mile Island, which experienced a partial meltdown of its core, the casing held. On the other hand, it's possible that the casing will melt through. The building itself is a secondary containment system – it’s designed to have negative air pressure, as if a big fan was pulling air inside, so that radioactive gas does not just flow out. But, as noted above, at least two of the buildings at Japan's nuclear power plant have been heavily damaged by explosions.

Bravo for somebody actually printing an article which summarizes some actual facts and makes a realistic assessment of the situation, rather than just fueling hysteria by speculating about what the worst-case scenario might be.
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:06 PM   #82
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Before and after satellite slider photos

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...r-tsunami.html

My heart goes out to these people. So sad to see all the lives ruined by this event.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:15 PM   #83
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Well, just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse, the Japanese have been dealt yet another crushing blow. Apple has officially announced that they are postponing the release of the iPad2 for the Japanese market.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:28 PM   #84
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I call bullshit on this one... photoshop. That boat has to be at least 100tonnes. No way those catamaran blade hulls don't punch straight through the roof of that wood/cinderblock building.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:51 PM   #85
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I swear I saw that same ship at the nuclear plant. Yep, there it is.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:17 AM   #86
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Normally I only read Coulter for the couple of chuckles her columns offer, but today's was actually pretty interesting.

A Glowing Report on Radiation

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With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.

This only seems counterintuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad. There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine.

As The New York Times science section reported in 2001, an increasing number of scientists believe that at some level -- much higher than the minimums set by the U.S. government -- radiation is good for you. "They theorize," the Times said, that "these doses protect against cancer by activating cells' natural defense mechanisms."

Among the studies mentioned by the Times was one in Canada finding that tuberculosis patients subjected to multiple chest X-rays had much lower rates of breast cancer than the general population.

And there are lots more!

A $10 million Department of Energy study from 1991 examined 10 years of epidemiological research by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health on 700,000 shipyard workers, some of whom had been exposed to 10 times more radiation than the others from their work on the ships' nuclear reactors. The workers exposed to excess radiation had a 24 percent lower death rate and a 25 percent lower cancer mortality than the non-irradiated workers.

Isn't that just incredible? I mean, that the Department of Energy spent $10 million doing something useful? Amazing, right?

In 1983, a series of apartment buildings in Taiwan were accidentally constructed with massive amounts of cobalt 60, a radioactive substance. After 16 years, the buildings' 10,000 occupants developed only five cases of cancer. The cancer rate for the same age group in the general Taiwanese population over that time period predicted 170 cancers.

The people in those buildings had been exposed to radiation nearly five times the maximum "safe" level according to the U.S. government. But they ended up with a cancer rate 96 percent lower than the general population.

Bernard L. Cohen, a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, compared radon exposure and lung cancer rates in 1,729 counties covering 90 percent of the U.S. population. His study in the 1990s found far fewer cases of lung cancer in those counties with the highest amounts of radon -- a correlation that could not be explained by smoking rates.

Tom Bethell, author of the "Politically Incorrect Guide to Science," has been writing for years about the beneficial effects of some radiation, or "hormesis." A few years ago, he reported on a group of scientists who concluded their conference on hormesis at the University of Massachusetts by repairing to a spa in Boulder, Mont., specifically in order to expose themselves to excess radiation.

At the Free Enterprise Radon Health Mine in Boulder, people pay $5 to descend 85 feet into an old mining pit to be irradiated with more than 400 times the EPA-recommended level of radon. In the summer, 50 people a day visit the mine hoping for relief from chronic pain and autoimmune disorders.

Amazingly, even the Soviet-engineered disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 can be directly blamed for the deaths of no more than the 31 people inside the plant who died in the explosion. Although news reports generally claimed a few thousand people died as a result of Chernobyl -- far fewer than the tens of thousands initially predicted -- that hasn't been confirmed by studies.

Indeed, after endless investigations, including by the United Nations, Manhattan Project veteran Theodore Rockwell summarized the reports to Bethell in 2002, saying, "They have not yet reported any deaths outside of the 30 who died in the plant."

Even the thyroid cancers in people who lived near the reactor were attributed to low iodine in the Russian diet -- and consequently had no effect on the cancer rate.

Meanwhile, the animals around the Chernobyl reactor, who were not evacuated, are "thriving," according to scientists quoted in the April 28, 2002 Sunday Times (UK).

Dr. Dade W. Moeller, a radiation expert and professor emeritus at Harvard, told The New York Times that it's been hard to find excess cancers even from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly because one-third of the population will get cancer anyway. There were about 90,000 survivors of the atomic bombs in 1945 and, more than 50 years later, half of them were still alive. (Other scientists say there were 700 excess cancer deaths among the 90,000.)

Although it is hardly a settled scientific fact that excess radiation is a health benefit, there's certainly evidence that it decreases the risk of some cancers -- and there are plenty of scientists willing to say so. But Jenny McCarthy's vaccine theories get more press than Harvard physics professors' studies on the potential benefits of radiation. (And they say conservatives are anti-science!)

I guess good radiation stories are not as exciting as news anchors warning of mutant humans and scary nuclear power plants -- news anchors who, by the way, have injected small amounts of poison into their foreheads to stave off wrinkles. Which is to say: The general theory that small amounts of toxins can be healthy is widely accepted --except in the case of radiation.

Every day Americans pop multivitamins containing trace amount of zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, boron -- all poisons.

They get flu shots. They'll drink copious amounts of coffee to ingest a poison: caffeine. (Back in the '70s, Professor Cohen offered to eat as much plutonium as Ralph Nader would eat caffeine -- an offer Nader never accepted.)

But in the case of radiation, the media have Americans convinced that the minutest amount is always deadly.

Although reporters love to issue sensationalized reports about the danger from Japan's nuclear reactors, remember that, so far, thousands have died only because of Mother Nature. And the survivors may outlive all of us over here in hermetically sealed, radiation-free America.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:25 AM   #87
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You may want to show that article to all the idiots in CA raiding the pharmacies for potassium iodide already.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:35 PM   #88
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This may start a whole new trend in the U.S., preventive chemo.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:53 PM   #89
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You may want to show that article to all the idiots in CA raiding the pharmacies for potassium iodide already.
My gf said people have been coming into the pharmacy all week buying some kind of **** like that. I dont know if thats what it is, she didnt say the name of it. But what the ****, all the way over here in CT??
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:53 PM   #90
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so this Union of Concerned Scientists... the nuclear doodz that are quoted everywhere... My wife is sitting on the other side of that office. ok Dave Lochbaum is in Nashville... but that's where my wife works here in DC.

Apparently the nuclear guys have been working ridiculous hours between taking calls and updating their allthingsnuclear blog.

news outlets all over the world are contacting them for information. pretty crazy.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:55 PM   #91
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news outlets all over the world are contacting them for information. pretty crazy.
If not for the gravity of the situation, I imagine the temptation to pass along amusing misinformation would be pretty overwhelming.
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:49 PM   #92
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If not for the gravity of the situation, I imagine the temptation to pass along amusing misinformation would be pretty overwhelming.
they probably value their jobs.

meanwhile friends have been trying to come up with meanings for the acronym TEPCO.

Tsunami + Earthquake = Plant Crapped Out
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:40 PM   #93
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Haven't heard anything at all on this story in a while. Mostly because nothing bad has been happening, so the fearmongers have run out of fuel for the "we'll all be killed" machine. Grid power is now connected through to all six reactor units, and the control rooms at 1 and 3 have been brought back on-line. Looks like this is going to end with a nice, stable shutdown after all.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:57 PM   #94
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Negative Joe. There isn't anyway to get all the water lines, pumps, vessels, pools, etc fixed without taking a killer dose in some of the reactors. So power is just a show for the public. I predict melt down in at least two of the reactors.

The reality is...you cannot see a neutron beam if there is containment..therefore...containment HAS been breached. And the radioactive fuel creating the neutron beam has to be extremely hot to degrade into a neutron beam. So we have meltdown. All we are getting from Japan (besides radioactivity) are lies, more lies and damned lies.

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Old 03-24-2011, 02:09 PM   #95
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I predict melt down in at least two of the reactors.
You "predict" a meltdown? How can you predict something that, by all indications, already happened a week ago?

Do you know what the word "meltdown" means?
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:11 PM   #96
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i predict earthquake!
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:43 PM   #97
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The reality is...you cannot see a neutron beam if there is containment..therefore...containment HAS been breached.
Again, we seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding between the release of nuclear fuel (eg: Chernobyl) and the release of decay products (Three Mile / Fuku.)

So long as the fuel itself remains where it's supposed to be, the situation is not unsalvageable, or even remotely catastrophic.


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And the radioactive fuel creating the neutron beam has to be extremely hot to degrade into a neutron beam.
Que?

A "neutron beam" is what happens during normal reactor operation. (It's more like a neutron cloud, actually. But if it were leaking out of a small orifice, I suppose that would make it a beam.) But the point is that this is how fission reactors work. A neutron hits a uranium atom, it splits and emits more neutrons, those neutrons strike other uranium atoms, etc. That is the chain reaction process that makes the reactor operate. It says nothing about the condition of the fuel.

It strongly suggests a breach of at least one level of containment (depending on where they measured / observed it) but says absolutely nothing about the condition of the core apart from the fact that it's not yet in a cold shutdown state.

We already know that the fuel rods have decomposed to some degree or another, however, by the fact that there was significant production of hydrogen as well as the release of fission byproducts such as Cs-137 and I-131. Again, this is old news.
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:30 PM   #98
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Grid power is now connected through to all six reactor units, and the control rooms at 1 and 3 have been brought back on-line. Looks like this is going to end with a nice, stable shutdown after all.
?

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You "predict" a meltdown? How can you predict something that, by all indications, already happened a week ago?

Do you know what the word "meltdown" means?
Yes, the fuel rods are no longer in the operational shape. Which means they are no longer able to be cooled by water without secondary explosions. Which means its now time to tomb them in concrete ala Chernobyl. As far as my prediction, really what I should have said is that I predict the Japanese Gov or Tepco to admit to this soon. How you can say that the situation is under control because they have power is beyond me.

Were the 40 years of spent fuel rods in the pools in the containment vessel or were they on top of the vessel beingcracked by Hydrogen explosions?

Will the fresh rods in the pools reheat the older cooled rods?

Will this "meltdown" leak into the ground water/ocean?

Is the situation far worse than whats being reported?

Is this worse than Chernobyl?

Were they using (MOX) weapons grade rods in some of the reactors?

Are they current workers taking leathel doses?

Is it already in the drinking water in Tokyo in leathal amounts?

Yes to all...

I'd like you to explain how electricity helps at all? Thats like snapping your timing belt and then buying a fresh battery to fix it.

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Old 03-24-2011, 08:20 PM   #99
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Looks like this is going to end with a nice, stable shutdown after all.
?
[voice of Val Kilmer from Real Genius] Which words didn't you understand? [/ voice of Val Kilmer]




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Will the fresh rods in the pools reheat the older cooled rods?
By "re-heat", do you mean from the standpoint that it will increase their radioactivity? No, this would seem like a very remote possibility. You can do something similar to this by inserting old rods into a breeder reactor, but that assumes a very highly optimized geometry, with neutron reflectors and all sorts of fanciness. It is highly unlikely that there would be any increase in the state of reactivity of the spent fuel just sitting there in the pool, regardless of whether they are on fire or not.


Quote:
Will this "meltdown" leak into the ground water/ocean?
It's not completely inconceivable (this would be the so-called China Syndrome) but it seems unlikely. There are still two levels of containment between the damaged fuel rods and the environment: the reactor pressure vessel and the drop pit at the bottom of the containment building itself. While there's some evidence to suggest that these containments may be compromised in some way (eg: your earlier reference to the neutron "beam") there's nothing to suggest that either one individually would be unable to continue to contain the molten core until it solidifies and stabilizes. (If it is even still molten.)


Quote:
Is the situation far worse than whats being reported?
It'll be impossible to know this with any degree of certainty for quite some time, and I'd posit that much depends on which reports you are looking at. Looking back over the past week's worth of news reports, much of it appears quite hysterical in hindsight. Eg: "The reactor building exploded!" Well... In reality, the steel shed that they built over the reactor building to keep the rain out exploded. But it sure looked impressive on TV.

Etc.



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Is this worse than Chernobyl?
Not even remotely close.

Yet again, I point out that at Chernobyl, fissile material (the uranium fuel itself) was explosively ejected from the core, pulverized, and deposited onto the ground over a large area, intermixed with burning graphite which lofted powdered core remnants further into the atmosphere for 10 days. Nothing even remotely approaching that is even physically possible with a BWR-style reactor.

I cannot imagine any combination of factors (plausible or not) which would allow the situation at Fuku to devolve into anything even remotely like what happened at Chernobyl.

What is your basis for making this observation?




Quote:
Were they using (MOX) weapons grade rods in some of the reactors?
No, on two counts.

1: MOX fuel is not "weapons-grade." It merely denotes that the fuel assembly consists of a blend of different fuels; Mixed-Oxides. The quantity of Pu-239 present in a typical MOX assembly (as a percentage of the total material composition) is around 5-7%. One common point of origin of the plutonium in MOX assemblies is indeed from weapons-grade sources (it's an environmentally-friendly way to dispose of decommissioned thermonuclear bombs) however it is reprocessed into a non weapons-grade state long before it gets anywhere near a reactor.

Since Pu-239 occurs naturally in the ground in many areas, it would be analogous to claim that the entire state of Idaho is made of weapons-grade material. Well, yeah- there's a lot of it there, but it's pretty spread out, and in order to make a nuclear weapon out of it, plutonium (or uranium, for that matter) must be refined to a level of purity many times greater than that found in a reactor fuel assembly.

2: MOX fuel was used only at Unit #3. (I admit that this is a fairly trivial difference, but I'm striving for clarity and accuracy here.)




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Are they current workers taking leathel doses?
We probably won't know this for quite a long time. However, if we put on our "pragmatic glasses" and suppose that every one of the 180 or so workers who have been rotating through the plant have been exposed to a lethal dose, then this means that, on average, the same number of people are killed as a result of nuclear power generation every 40 years in Japan as are killed worldwide every seven hours as a result of particulate emissions resulting from fossil-fuel-based power generation.

So, I guess you need to tell me: Is it better that 180 people sacrifice their lives once every 40 years (and receive a hero's burial and lifelong benefits to the family), or that 225,000 anonymous people are killed annually?




Quote:
Is it already in the drinking water in Tokyo in leathal amounts?
I'd need to ask you for a source on that. The most recent data I have seen on the topic all more or less mirrors this report, dated today:
Concerns about food safety spread Wednesday to Tokyo after officials said tap water showed elevated radiation levels: 210 becquerels of iodine-131 per liter of water — more than twice the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants. Another measurement taken later at a different site showed the level was 190 becquerels per liter. The recommended limit for adults is 300 becquerels.
So, it's somewhat above the recommended limit for infants, and somewhat below the recommended limit for adults.

(Of course, if you assume that everyone is lying, then we could just as easily posit that the drinking water is also contaminated with lethal levels of wasabi. We should probably ban sushi in the US, just to be safe.)

You can take anything to the extreme if you try hard enough. Eating several hundred-thousand bananas will give you a lethal dose of radiation in the form of Potassium-40, which has a half life of around a billion years, for those of you who like to quote long half-lives as evidence that something is scary or dangerous.



Quote:
Yes to all...
Unless you can show me some reliable sources to back up of these claims, I'm afraid I'd have to respectfully disagree. My assessment would be somewhere between "No to all" and "no to most, moderately to highly improbable to the remainders."



Quote:
I'd like you to explain how electricity helps at all?
Once again, the same way it helped at Three Mile Island. Even after more than 50% of the core (roughly 20 tons' worth) at TMI-2 melted and formed a solid pool of slag at the bottom of the pressure vessel, restoring flow to the primary coolant loop provided sufficient cooling capacity to allow the reactor to eventually reach a cold shutdown state. After several years, it was able to be opened for inspection, and by 1993, the core had been completely dismantled and transported offsite for disposal.




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Thats like snapping your timing belt and then buying a fresh battery to fix it.
No, I'd say it's more like losing your alternator and then buying a fresh battery to fix it. It's not a permanent solution, but it addresses the immediate problem sufficiently well to give you enough time to get home and fix it the right way.
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:37 AM   #100
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Will the fresh rods in the pools reheat the older cooled rods?

By "re-heat", do you mean from the standpoint that it will increase their radioactivity? No, this would seem like a very remote possibility. You can do something similar to this by inserting old rods into a breeder reactor, but that assumes a very highly optimized geometry, with neutron reflectors and all sorts of fanciness. It is highly unlikely that there would be any increase in the state of reactivity of the spent fuel just sitting there in the pool, regardless of whether they are on fire or not.

A spent rod gets very hot from radioactive decay, the process which generates its intense radioactivity. These rods have to be cooled in ponds for many years (6-8) then transfered to another holding take for up to 20 years before they can be taken to a dry storage facility. A nuclear reactor fuel is not like an Optima battery, slowly going flat. The used fuel rod is pulled out of the reactor not because it is “flat” but because the fuel "uranium or uranium & plutonium in the case of MOx" has been changed into other radiactive elements that are no longer capable of sustaning fission
There is a real possibility that Criticality has occured due to the rods making contact after the damage from the earthquake and subsequent draining of the pools. So yes I would say the pools needed a fresh cool supply of water to keep them from being radioactive. I believe they need at least 8 feet of fresh cool water to minimize radiation. So at the moment even if they haven't moved in there racks and created critical fission they are heating up and releasing tons of radiation. Outside of the water bath, the radioactivity in the used rods can cause them to become so hot they begin to catch fire. These fires can burn so hot the radioactive rod contents are carried into the atmosphere as vaporized material or as very small particles. MOX fuel that contains a mix of plutonium and uranium. Plutonium generates more heat than uranium, which means these rods have the greatest risk of burning. That’s bad news, because plutonium scattered into the atmosphere is even more dangerous that the combustion products of rods without plutonium.


Will this "meltdown" leak into the ground water/ocean?

It's not completely inconceivable (this would be the so-called China Syndrome) but it seems unlikely. There are still two levels of containment between the damaged fuel rods and the environment: the reactor pressure vessel and the drop pit at the bottom of the containment building itself. While there's some evidence to suggest that these containments may be compromised in some way (eg: your earlier reference to the neutron "beam") there's nothing to suggest that either one individually would be unable to continue to contain the molten core until it solidifies and stabilizes. (If it is even still molten.)

(Reuters) - Japanese scientists have found measurable concentrations of radioactive iodine-131 and caesium-137 in seawater samples taken 30 km (18 miles) from land, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday.
Now this radiation in the ocean and the radiation in Tokyo very well could stem from fallout. I'm willing to bet the radiaiton in the ocean is the by product of pumping salt water into the reactors that most likely have massive damage and are leaking that radioactive salt water back into the water table and ocean.


Is the situation far worse than whats being reported?

It'll be impossible to know this with any degree of certainty for quite some time, and I'd posit that much depends on which reports you are looking at. Looking back over the past week's worth of news reports, much of it appears quite hysterical in hindsight. Eg: "The reactor building exploded!" Well... In reality, the steel shed that they built over the reactor building to keep the rain out exploded. But it sure looked impressive on TV.

Etc.

Just the fact that the US has sent its own team out there to measure radiation and there own IR plane tells me the US believes they are being lied to by the Japanese government. It seems the international media is always one to two steps in front of TEPCO anouncments. Have they even admitted to how many spent fuel rods were being stored on sit and how many are MOX? The estimated total is around 60,000 rods.

Is this worse than Chernobyl?

Not even remotely close.

Yet again, I point out that at Chernobyl, fissile material (the uranium fuel itself) was explosively ejected from the core, pulverized, and deposited onto the ground over a large area, intermixed with burning graphite which lofted powdered core remnants further into the atmosphere for 10 days. Nothing even remotely approaching that is even physically possible with a BWR-style reactor.

I cannot imagine any combination of factors (plausible or not) which would allow the situation at Fuku to devolve into anything even remotely like what happened at Chernobyl.

What is your basis for making this observation?

This situation is very sad for the Japanese people. Only one Chernobyl reactor blew, it was only three months old at the time with relatively little radiation absorbed compared to Fukushima. Fukushima’s reactors have been operating for 40 years, and would hold some where near 30 times more radiation than Chernobyl. That is also not counting the above reactor fuel storage ponds or the main pond on site that hold all 40 years of spent rods. This is also not counting what is going on with the active MOX fuel rods or the stored spent MOX rods. They were not utilizing a dry storage facility yet. Chernobyl might have had a reactor core explosion, but they had no where near the level of radioactive material in play, nor did they have MOX.

Were they using (MOX) weapons grade rods in some of the reactors?

No, on two counts.

1: MOX fuel is not "weapons-grade." It merely denotes that the fuel assembly consists of a blend of different fuels; Mixed-Oxides. The quantity of Pu-239 present in a typical MOX assembly (as a percentage of the total material composition) is around 5-7%. One common point of origin of the plutonium in MOX assemblies is indeed from weapons-grade sources (it's an environmentally-friendly way to dispose of decommissioned thermonuclear bombs) however it is reprocessed into a non weapons-grade state long before it gets anywhere near a reactor.

Since Pu-239 occurs naturally in the ground in many areas, it would be analogous to claim that the entire state of Idaho is made of weapons-grade material. Well, yeah- there's a lot of it there, but it's pretty spread out, and in order to make a nuclear weapon out of it, plutonium (or uranium, for that matter) must be refined to a level of purity many times greater than that found in a reactor fuel assembly.

2: MOX fuel was used only at Unit #3. (I admit that this is a fairly trivial difference, but I'm striving for clarity and accuracy here.)

Yes, MOX fuel was being used. It is also a known fact that MOX spent fuel rods have a greater danger of catching fire is the fuel ponds are drained, are more radioactive than other methods of fission and have a greater danger of going critical. The question is how much was active? Is it damaged? How much is stored in fuel ponds? Was it damaged? Plutoniums half life is some where in the 1,000's of years range.

Are they current workers taking leathel doses?

We probably won't know this for quite a long time. However, if we put on our "pragmatic glasses" and suppose that every one of the 180 or so workers who have been rotating through the plant have been exposed to a lethal dose, then this means that, on average, the same number of people are killed as a result of nuclear power generation every 40 years in Japan as are killed worldwide every seven hours as a result of particulate emissions resulting from fossil-fuel-based power generation.

So, I guess you need to tell me: Is it better that 180 people sacrifice their lives once every 40 years (and receive a hero's burial and lifelong benefits to the family), or that 225,000 anonymous people are killed annually?

5 workers are already confirmed dead as of Tuesday. If you believe TEPCO/Japangov as much as I do it's probably close to 10-15. Was it worth them sacraficing their life...yes.

Is it already in the drinking water in Tokyo in leathal amounts?


I'd need to ask you for a source on that. The most recent data I have seen on the topic all more or less mirrors this report, dated today:
Concerns about food safety spread Wednesday to Tokyo after officials said tap water showed elevated radiation levels: 210 becquerels of iodine-131 per liter of water — more than twice the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants. Another measurement taken later at a different site showed the level was 190 becquerels per liter. The recommended limit for adults is 300 becquerels.
So, it's somewhat above the recommended limit for infants, and somewhat below the recommended limit for adults.

(Of course, if you assume that everyone is lying, then we could just as easily posit that the drinking water is also contaminated with lethal levels of wasabi. We should probably ban sushi in the US, just to be safe.)

You can take anything to the extreme if you try hard enough. Eating several hundred-thousand bananas will give you a lethal dose of radiation in the form of Potassium-40, which has a half life of around a billion years, for those of you who like to quote long half-lives as evidence that something is scary or dangerous.

I'm not even going to comment on your bantering.

I'd like you to explain how electricity helps at all?

Once again, the same way it helped at Three Mile Island. Even after more than 50% of the core (roughly 20 tons' worth) at TMI-2 melted and formed a solid pool of slag at the bottom of the pressure vessel, restoring flow to the primary coolant loop provided sufficient cooling capacity to allow the reactor to eventually reach a cold shutdown state. After several years, it was able to be opened for inspection, and by 1993, the core had been completely dismantled and transported offsite for disposal.


Again your making the comparison to a reactor that didn't have earthquake damage. For a week and a half now they have been pouring water through there. And it’s salt water, right? You pour salt water on a hot pan and what do you think happens? You get salt. That salt will get into all the valves and cause them to freeze. They won’t move. This will be happening in every reactor they tried to cool with salt water. With the compounded problem of rust from the boiling salt water, yes stainless can rust. We also need to factor in the amount of pump/pipe/pool/mechanical destruction occured from the earthquake. Then we need to account for who is going to run the reactors when they run out of crash test dummies. So I can’t believe that it’s just a simple matter of you reconnecting the electricity and the water will begin to circulate. If it was just a problem of power than generators could easily have kept the situation under control since this disaster started, which they haven't.

Thats like snapping your timing belt and then buying a fresh battery to fix it.

No, I'd say it's more like losing your alternator and then buying a fresh battery to fix it. It's not a permanent solution, but it addresses the immediate problem sufficiently well to give you enough time to get home and fix it the right way.

No, because in your relation the car will then run again until the fresh battery drains. I'll stick with my relation. Multiple reactors are toast.
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