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--  Environment & Climate --

Jul09.2013 
Reactor #2: Mother of all problems.  

Two years ago, and pretty much up to the present, those of us who know nothing about the Fukushima catastrophe other than what we read were focused pretty much on the precarious spent fuel rod pool of Reactor #4. One good earthquake was going to multiply the catastrophe by 10-fold, some experts, like self-proclaimed nucler-know-all, Arnie Gundersen told us.

But on May27.13 a wee voice from Japan was heard crying "Forget #4, itís Reactor #2 that is the mother of all problems." And thatís the term he used. This voice came from an unnamed TEPCO worker and was amplified by an unnamed Japanese professor. These comments have been related by Oshidori Mako

Here are some excerpts:

Worker: Yes, the problem of the underground water storage tank is trivial, because the mother of all problems is neither the radioactive pollution nor the cooling system, but the nuclear reactor buildings and reactors themselves. How are reactors #1 to #4 going to be demolished and disposed of? The current situation is that nobody can even get inside. Comparing to that, workers on-site feel that, problems outside the building such as the metal-clad distribution switchboard or the underground water storage tank are trivial, though they are serious, too.

Mako: Then, what is the most serious problem?

Worker: That is undoubtedly reactor #2.

Professor of Tokyo University: As I thought! Even among researchers, the situation of reactor #2 is beyond imagination.

Workers: About reactor #2, nobody knows exactly what is going on inside or what happened just after the earthquake. The explosion of reactors #1 and #3 could be simulated to a certain degree. From various parameters, we could predict the initial response and what was going to happen next. [I do not know why she refers to "workers".  That is in the original.]

But we are clueless about reactor #2. Why was such large amount of radioactive substances emitted without explosion? What is happening with the fuel rods? From various parameters, it is said that there is no melt-through of fuel rods.

Professor of Tokyo University: I agree. It seems like fuel rods did not go through the Reactor Pressure Vessel.

Worker: Then why were such large amounts of radioactive substances emitted outside the building? Nobody knows the answer!

(The amount of radioactive substances emitted from reactor #2 is way larger than from reactors #1 and #3!)

By the way, the increasing contaminated water will eventually be discharged into the ocean after radioactive substances have being gotten rid of as much as possible with the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), a multinuclear removal system.

Mako goes on to say:

At the end of 2011, I also received a phone call from another on-site worker announcing that the "Test operation of ALPS has started! I heard the contaminated water will be discharged into the ocean after the removal of radioactive substances as much as possible using ALPS."

I soon asked a question about it at a joint press conference, but Mr. Matsumoto, the TEPCO spokesman said "There is no such a plan." I had the impression that TEPCO just didnít have the courage to say that they were going to discharge water treated with ALPS into the sea. Since then the issue of the test operation remained untouched and time goes on.

Worker: In fact, the system was only partly operated and abandoned for an entire year. I think that it is because concerns rose over the eventual practical use of ALPS. It was certainly feared that something could go wrong with the system.

However, the "multi" nuclear removal system canít remove tritium!!

Mako:

All the above is a story counted by a worker at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. His message is that the nuclear power plant accident is not over yet, and that it is most likely to get worse. He invites you to be proactive in the efforts carried out for change all over the country and in the society.

Get worse?  How could it get any worse?  Well . . .

On Jul08.13 a blogger at the Wall St. Journal told us how.  TEPCO has seen a sudden spike in tritium at a monitoring well adjacent to #2, but not to worry, itís "only" tritium -- what's a little beta-decay? At least according to TEPCO.

Worse still . . . today [Jul09.2103], we get the news from Japanese news service NHK that itís not "just" tritium after all. Huge amounts of cesium 134 and 137 are leaking into the ground out of #2. Hereís the whole short, alarming article.

Cesium levels soar in Fukushima plant groundwater

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says radioactive cesium levels at one of the plant's observation wells have soared over the past 3 days.

Tokyo Electric Power Company regularly monitors groundwater around the reactor buildings to check for radioactive substances and analyze the accident's affect on the environment.

On Monday, TEPCO recorded 9,000 becquerels of cesium 134 and 18,000 becquerels of cesium 137 per liter of water at a well between the No. 2 reactor building and the sea.

Both radioactive substances were up about 90 times from the level logged 3 days ago.

The same well also showed high levels of beta rays on Friday. The rays would have been emitted from strontium and other radioactive materials.

TEPCO officials say they do not know why cesium levels have risen suddenly, or what effect the spike is having on the nearby ocean.

Seawater in the port next to the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been showing increasing levels of radioactive tritium since May. A water sample taken Wednesday last week contained 2,300 becquerels of tritium per liter, the highest reading since June 2011.

Whoever the unnamed worker is who was interviewed by Mako in April, he needs to be flown to Geneva where he can consult with the IAEA. He seems to be the only one with any brains in this entire cluster-fuck.  Maybe that will get them to wake up and take some action in this mess Ė like forcing TEPCO and the Japanese government to get out of the way and getting an international team with all the resources they need to get in there and do what can be done. 

There is a point at which a nuclear disaster becomes and international disaster and the home country, while liable for the damage, has to be preempted and removed from control.  Bold, naked logic tells us that if they were too stupid to prevent a catastrophe like this, they are surely too stupid to fix one.

 

Copyright, Denis O'Brien, 2005-2015 ~ ~ All rights reserved.