Chap 7 quote
The head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said getting the problems at the nuclear plant under control would take days and "possibly weeks".
Beginning of the End
The time between R1 and R3 exploding was a frustrating experience for many of us. Never having investigated nuclear issues, I had to start from
scratch and learn fast. At the same time new data was coming down the pipe constantly that was making no sense whatsoever.
The depth of knowledge needed to understand nuclear issues is massive, from quantum mechanics in the here and now, to the health and well being of
generations thousands of years into the future. Mind-boggling really. And it became a major stumbling block for much of the world. In the million of
Fukushima threads that sprang up overnight, people were screaming for nuclear knowledge.
There were many threads that were of note, each one with a little different tact. One particular thread was extremely active and informative, entitled
"Japan declares 'nuclear emergency' after quake", from a conspiracy forum site called Above Top Secret (ATS). It was a site that I had used before for
data collection, and had joined during the BP oil spill, but didn't monitor at this time. Conspiracy forums in general tend to have a strong presence
of jerks out to cram something down your throat, along with the highly intelligent and advanced posters one sees, and that might have been why I ended
up in scientific forums with a nuclear bent instead. I mean, after all, those people knew what was going on, right? Wrong.
In hindsight I can see now, that from day one, Tepco and the nuclear mafia planted shills everywhere. Seemingly knowledgeable people who took control
of sites and steered them away from sensitive issues. This did an enormous disservice to the human race. What was desperately needed was an honest and
intelligent presentation of what might be happening, and what might lie ahead. What we got was alot of industry propaganda shoved down our throats.
Since people were so desperate for knowledge, especially in those early days, they treated someone with nuclear expertise like a rock star. The game
played by the shills was to come across sincere and knowledgeable and gain people's trust, then in subtle ways ridicule anti-nuclear posters and make
them feel small, downplaying and obfuscating important data they brought forth, while painting rosy scenarios for the future. I saw that game play out
time and again. And it disgusted me every time.
If you were a pro nuker, no problem, you got shown the light with a gentle lift. If you were anti-nuke you got subtle sarcasm the first time growing
in intensity to an outright roasting if you tried to persist.
Many of us were learning radiation from scratch, with a million basic questions that needed asking and answering. It was easy to make mistakes or say
something stupid in the first few weeks. People were scared to post, i know I was, for fear of being treated like an idiot. In essence the net was
being shut down, and unless you knew nuclear power backwards and forwards and could compete with the sharks, you stayed in the background.
I would come to learn that this was a basic method of operation for the nuclear power industry ever since that day long ago when a couple of bozos lit
up some lightbulbs at Hanford using thousands of kilowatts of radiated power. They are right and you are wrong and it doesn't matter the question as
they already have the answer waiting in the wings. And the reason for their intense surety that nuclear power is safe, affordable and necessary is
simple. They know they're wrong.
And the reason for their intense anger at anti-nukers is also simple. Dai-ichi was slowly pulling the rug out from underneath them.
So anyway, not monitoring the ATS thread was a big mistake. Much of the learning that I had to go through, to get to a place where the issues made a
basic level of sense, was presented early on from a number of informed posters better than it was on the scientific engineering sites. Peeps there
were involved and on top of the issues, asking the right questions, way before anyone else.
Minutes after Japan declared the initial nuclear emergency this thread sprang into action. Welshbeliever started it before most of the world knew
anything had happened, begging that it not be deleted and stuck in the rumor bin.
Before the first tsunami wave hit Hawaii, XXXN30 stated that Fukushima would be "one of those disasters that will be remembered for quite a long time
as the full effects have not yet hit.......It would be difficult to coordinate when theres flooding everywhere and damage."
Minutes later robrobby would post "It is the Fukushima Nuclear Plant which has problems with a reactor. They shut it down, but the water pumps have
packed in and won't pump cooling water to the reactor core, hence the evacuation of 2000 locals. Rueters are just reporting that water levels are
'dropping' - that REALLY sounds serious.
And on and on it went from there. All I know is, if I had monitored that thread, the two days between R1 and R3 exploding would have been a hundred
times more informative than what I experienced, and left me much more prepared for the R3 explosion than I actually was.
R2 and R3 From the Beginning
Long before the first explosion, the other two loaded reactors were most likely already beginning to melt down. However, the only way to know for sure
if systems were failing was by monitoring pressure and temperature levels inside containment, and radiation levels outside containment. Unfortunately,
all instrumentation at this time was lost. And all but one of the monitoring stations at the plant were disabled by the earthquake and tsunami. She
was sailing blind and there is no way to know what transpired in the early hours.
The spike in radiation at a monitoring post (MP) before the tsunami knocked out emergency power is the only hard piece of evidence we have of early
trouble. And these findings were downplayed and eventually ignored by Tepco, labeled as faulty equipment, which is a pattern that would repeat itself
There were also worker reports in Japanese news media that stated prior to the tsunami steam was seen venting from the short stacks attached to the
reactor buildings of R2 and R3. These are not the main stacks that tower between units but rather the small ones that snake up the sides of the
reactor buildings and end only a few feet above the roof top. This has never been confirmed though, and the article is now 404'ed and lost to the
ethers, another pattern that would repeat itself ad infinitum.
During the first 24 hours the work environment deteriorated rapidly. In the R1/R2 Main Control Room (MCR), the night of the EQ, they had to pull car
batteries out of cars, haul them into the MCR and wire them into the system in the dark with radiation levels "1000 times normal," just for basic
instrumentation to work. (I have no idea what a normal level inside a nuclear reactors control room might be, but '1000 times' doesn't sound good).
Confirming Coolant Delivery to the Cores
Both R1, R2 and R3 were in an event Tepco described as "ECCS was unavailable to inject water into the reactor." All instrumentation and emergency
readouts had ceased to function. At 21:02 on March 11th Tepco stated that "Due to uncertainty about the water level and RCIC operating status, the
authorities were informed that TAF might be reached."
This was rescinded when R2 finally received reactor pressure and water level instrumentation readings showing that TAF had not been reached and there
was a cushion. Then shortly after midnight they began working on restoring functionality for the reactor and RCIC instrument racks in the reactor
building. This was not considered a priority though as water levels showed that the R2 core was covered and R1 was deemed a mores serious threat.
Around 1:00 on the 12th workers were sent to confirm operation of the R2 RCIC. The room however was flooded near to the top of their boots and they
couldn't complete their task. They reported hearing a faint metallic sound, but were unable to identify what it represented. Tepco reported it as
confirmation that the RCIC was operating, but logic leads one to conclude that a high pressure pump pushing 400 gallons a minute would make more noise
than a faint metallic sound when in operation.
Around 2:00 workers were sent back to the reactor building to 're-confirm' RCIC functionality but the water level had risen, and they were unable to
enter the room, let alone confirm operation of the pump. They then went to the instrument rack higher in the reactor building and found the RCIC line
pressure registering high, and used this as confirmation that the RCIC was working. At 2:55 Tepco officially listed the RCIC as in operation.
However, there have been serious questions raised concerning this listing and procedure, one being whether or not the instrumentation was even
functioning at the time. There is no report of them successfully hooking the car batteries to this equipment, but there are reports of them deciding
to focus on R1 and shifting energies to it in the same time frame.
But an even more important question concerns the flooding in the lower rooms where the RCIC pump room is located. Specifically, where did it come
from. Reactor buildings are air and water tight. It had to come from earthquake damage, either cracked infrastructure or broken coolant lines. If
broken coolant lines, the more likely suspect, how did this leak affect the performance of the RCIC system. At best, when functioning properly, the
RCIC only pumps 400 gallons per minute, the bare minimum needed to maintain water levels after scram. Any leaks whatsoever would impair operations.
Another indicator of broken lines occurred at R3 when operators switched from the RCIC to the HPCI (High Pressure Coolant Injection System), which led
to an immediate decrease in pressure in both the PCV and RPV. This pressure drop must have been caused by breaks in the HPCI lines allowing pressure
to be released.
Battery Vs. Manual RCIC Operation
And then there is the question of battery life. Even if the RCIC's for R2 and R3 did function properly and free of leaks or ruptured pipes, the
official report to the IAEA states, "In consideration of the presence or absence of power supply recovery within 8 hours, if the off-site power supply
fails to recover during this period, it is assessed that the RCIC system could not continue running."
Since the RCICs use battery powered valves, once the batteries ran dry, continued operation would have to be done manually. This does not appear to
have happened. Nor does it appear feasible according to documents, obtained via FOIA from the NRC, which state that these emergency manual operations
of the RCIC "have really not been reviewed to ensure that they will work to mitigate severe accidents."
In essence, manual RCIC operation would be very difficult because personnel would need to physically open and close valves in a room in the reactor
building with no ventilation and no lights, and in a room that is two feet deep in radiated water and rising. Add to that the fact that RCIC equipment
have a distinct history of operational failures due to both governor valve and suction isolation valve malfunction, and the surety of them working
under the conditions experienced at Fukushima seem highly unlikely.
This is reflected in a report from the US DOE dated 1994. This report concerns RCIC failures due to aging equipment. None of the plants, at the time
of this study, were as old as Fukushima is when it went terminal. The following describes criterion for ranking the seriousness of failures. Though
valves fail most often, resulting in leakage, they are rated only 5th because they usually dont bring the system to it's knees.
"Valves fail most often mainly because they are more numerous than other components, but they are ranked only 5th when the criterion of number of loss
of system function failures is used. The reason is because the main failure mode for valves is leakage, which generally degrades the system operation,
but does not necessarily cause a loss of system function. On the other hand, the failure frequency of the governors is low, but most of their failures
cause a loss of system function, putting them in a higher rank when the criterion of number of loss of system function failures is used".
How often does an RCIC primary emergency system fail. From 1986 to 1991 there were 920 reported failures in the US, with over 80% being age related.
As stated, Fukushima is many years older than the power plants in this study. And it went through an earthquake who's intensity no piece of equipment
has ever been tested to withstand. Odds of failure are what?
There is a distinct possibility that R2 was on it's way out by noon on the 12th, with R3 right behind, and the primary culprit could easily have been
earthquake damage to the emergency cooling systems.
We may never know for sure if the emergency cooling systems kicked in and functioned as designed for R2 and R3. The lack of functioning
instrumentation led to long gaps in data collection and an inability to verify water levels and coolant injection right from the start. But it doesn't
look like they did. And if they did, ruptured or leaking pipes, or equipment malfunctions, may have reduced, or eliminated, their effectiveness.
It should also be noted, that, even after getting instrumentation operating again, there is no guarantee it was operating properly. This is reflected
in the final water level readout for R3 which showed the water level to be 217 inches, (5,520 mm) above TAF by wide range instrument but only 16
inches (400 mm) above TAF by fuel zone instruments.
And finally, there is SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information) data. This system monitors radiation throughout Japan
and offshore coastal waters. For offshore readings SPEEDI was using both the Research Vessel MIRAI (from March 26) as well as numerous unmanned floats
to record ocean and atmospheric radiation. The research Vessel MIRAI is the world's largest research vessel and more than capable of a wide range of
environmental observations. The unmanned monitoring was provided using autonomous platforms (moored and drifting bouys) offshore Fukushima.
SPEEDI is the only data available that can give us a picture of what was truly happening in those first few days post EQ. And the picture it paints is
not very pretty.
Tepco and NISA have claimed repeatedly that very little radioactive contamination was released from the plant until R2 and R4 blew. The reason Tepco
and the nuclear industry/mafia were able to pretend that there was very little radiation being emitted was because of wind direction. It was blowing
out to sea, And as long as it blew out to sea, Tepco claimed no radiation.
SPEEDI data refute this and shows the opposite to be happening. That's why this information has never been made public, even though it is funded with
public money for the purpose of protecting the public from radiation exposure.
The hourly observations from the time of the accident to late summer from individual monitoring posts in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures have been
under survey and unavailable for public inspection since day one. A year later and this data is still under survey. I guess they want to make sure
it's absolutely correct before notifying and warning the public.
The only SPEEDI data for Fukushima they ever released are the regional radiation dispersion maps. This first one is from shortly after the EQ and
tsunami hit and shows I-131 activity. It clearly shows a plume of I-131 already being emitted from the plant and blowing out to sea. The only
explanation for this plume is exposed fuel.
10PM on the 11th after notifying governments that there may be a problem.
5PM on the 12th
SPEEDI takes readings from the ground and uses wind forecasts to simulate dispersion. Their data clearly show a nuclear power plant bleeding nuclides
into the ocean atmosphere within minutes after the tsunamis struck.
Irrespective the level of release in the first few days, it would still pale in the light of what was to come.
edit on 18-2-2012 by zworld
because: (no reason given)