Up to 100% of No. 2 reactor fuel may have melted

First it was cold shutdown, then it became meltdown, what if most of it had been expelled in the skies, and if so how long it will take for them to finally admit it to the world…

A group of researchers says it is highly likely that 70 to 100 percent of fuel has melted at one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The group includes researchers from Nagoya University. It has been probing the plant’s No. 2 reactor since April of last year, using a device that uses elementary particles called muons to see into its interior.

The researchers say the results of their study show few signs of nuclear fuel at the reactor core, in contrast to the No. 5 reactor where fuel was clearly visible at its core.

This led them to believe that 70 to 100 percent of fuel at the reactor has likely melted.

The researchers say further analyses are needed to determine whether molten fuel penetrated the reactor and fell down.

The No.2 reactor is said to have released large amounts of radioactive substances following the March 2011 accident.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, has estimated that part of nuclear fuel at the reactor remains at its core.

The locations of nuclear fuel will have a significant impact on the process to remove it from the damaged reactors, the most difficult step of the decommissioning work.

The Japanese government and TEPCO plan to scan the No. 2 reactor once again using a different device.

They are also preparing to use robots around the reactor.

The group will announce the results of its study at a meeting of the Physical Society of Japan in Osaka on Saturday.

Source : NHK

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

Fukushima reactor could have suffered total meltdown – report

Fukushima’s reactor No.2 could have suffered a complete meltdown according to Japanese researchers. They have been monitoring the Daiichi nuclear power plant since April, but say they have found few signs of nuclear fuel at the reactor’s core.

The scientists from Nagoya University had been using a device that uses elementary particles, which are called muons. These are used to give a better picture of the inside of the reactor as the levels of radioactivity at the core mean it is impossible for any human to go anywhere near it.

However, the results have not been promising. The study shows very few signs of any nuclear fuel in reactor No. 2. This is in sharp contrast to reactor No.5, where the fuel is clearly visible at the core, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.

The team believes that 70 to 100 percent of the fuel has melted, though they did add that further research was needed to see whether any fuel had managed to penetrate the reactor

A report in May by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is the plant’s operator, said that a failure in reactor No.2’s pressure relief systems was one of the causes of the disaster. The team used a robot, which ventured into the building and measured radiation levels at various places, while also studying how much leakage had occurred from the control systems.

TEPCO has used 16 robots to explore the crippled plant to date, from military models to radiation-resistant multi-segmented snake-like devices that can fit through a small pipe.

However, even the toughest models are having trouble weathering the deadly radiation levels: as one robot sent into reactor No.1 broke down three hours into its planned 10-hour foray.

Despite TEPCO’s best efforts, the company has been accused of a number of mishaps and a lack of proper contingency measures to deal with the cleanup operation, after the power plant suffered a meltdown, following an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011.

Recent flooding caused by Tropical Typhoon Etau swept 82 bags, believed to contain contaminated materials that had been collected from the crippled site, out to sea.

“On September 9th and 11th, due to typhoon no.18 (Etau), heavy rain caused Fukushima Daiichi K drainage rainwater to overflow to the sea,” TEPCO said in a statement, adding that the samples taken “show safe, low levels” of radiation.

“From the sampling result of the 9th, TEPCO concluded that slightly tainted rainwater had overflowed to the sea; however, the new sampling measurement results show no impact to the ocean,” it continued.

A recent study by the University of Southern California said the Fukushima disaster could have been prevented. One of the main faults cited was the decision to install critical backup generators in low-lying areas, as this was the first place the 2011 tsunami would strike, following the massive earthquake.

LISTEN MORE:https://soundcloud.com/rttv/fukushima-research

Source: RT

http://www.rt.com/news/316593-fukushima-reactor-meltdown-study/

Fukushima dairy farmers to restart shipments

FUKUSHIMA – Dairy farmers who were forced to suspend business following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant plan to restart milk shipments as early as this year, with a new large-scale stock farm completed in the city of Fukushima on Friday.

Fully supported by the government and the prefectural dairy cooperative association, the stock farm, with 580 cows, is expected to become a foothold for rebuilding the prefecture’s dairy industry, hit hard by business closures and radiation-related rumors.

The farm is operated by a company established jointly by five dairy farmers from Minamisoma, Namie and Iitate. Kazumasa Tanaka, 44, from Iitate, has been appointed president of the company.

The company aims to produce 5,000 tons of raw milk annually under a computer-based control system on the 3.6-hectare (8.9-acre) farm.

“I have chosen to do this because of a sense of responsibility for the rebuilding of the dairy industry in Fukushima,” Tanaka said at a completion ceremony. “It will be the happiest thing to cheer up our peers by our stock farm getting on a growth path.”

Following the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, 76 dairy farmers had to evacuate and suspend their operations. Among them, only 13 farmers have restarted their businesses.

In the prefecture, annual production of raw milk remains sluggish at around 80,000 tons, down 20 percent from before the disaster.

The new stock farm was developed and is owned by the prefectural dairy cooperative, which is subsidized by the central and prefectural governments.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/26/national/fukushima-dairy-farmers-to-restart-shipments/#.VgaInyuFSM-

TEPCO rejected requests for anti-tsunami steps before nuclear crisis

Tokyo Electric Power Co turned down requests in 2009 by the nuclear safety agency to consider concrete steps against tsunami waves at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a tsunami-triggered disaster two years later, government documents showed Friday.

“Do you think you can stop the reactors?” a TEPCO official was quoted as telling Shigeki Nagura of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was then assigned to review the plant’s safety, in response to one of his requests.

The detailed exchanges between the plant operator and regulator came to light through the latest disclosure of government records on its investigation into the nuclear crisis, adding to evidence that TEPCO failed to take proper safety steps ahead of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

According to records of Nagura’s accounts, Nagura heard TEPCO’s explanations of its tsunami estimates at the agency office in Tokyo in August and September 2009 as it was becoming clear that the coastal areas of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit by massive tsunami in an 869 earthquake.

TEPCO said the height of waves was estimated to be around 8 meters above sea level and will not reach the plant site located at a height of 10 meters, they show.

But Nagura said he remembered thinking pumps with key cooling functions, which are located on the ground at a height of 4 meters, “will not make it” and told TEPCO, “If this is the outcome, you better consider concrete responses.”

In refusing to immediately act, TEPCO said it would wait for related studies to be carried out by the academic society of civil engineers, which it had requested to be done by March 2012.

Nagura also proposed placing the pumps inside buildings to protect them from being exposed to water, but a TEPCO official told him, “Our company cannot make a decision without seeing the results of the (studies by the) society of civil engineers.”

Then another TEPCO official told Nagura, “Do you think you can stop the reactors?” according to the government documents.

Nagura recalled in the documents, “I wondered why I had to be told such a thing.” But he also admitted that, after all, he only encouraged TEPCO to “consider” tsunami countermeasures and did not request that it “take” specific measures.

The Fukushima crisis has revealed how Japan, which had boasted of possessing the world’s safest nuclear power plants, was ill-prepared against a severe nuclear accident. Three reactors suffered core meltdowns after they lost their key cooling functions amid a loss of all electrical power following a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government-appointed nuclear accident investigation panel has already issued a final report, and the government is now gradually disclosing the records of hearings conducted to people involved.

Source: Japan Today

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-rejected-requests-for-anti-tsunami-steps-before-nuclear-crisis

Still 0.88 MBq/km2 of Cs-134/137 falls in Tokyo monthly

Still-0.88-MBqkm2-of-Cs-134137-falls-in-Tokyo-monthly-800x500_c

According to NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority), Tokyo still has fallout from Fukushima nuclear plant.

From their report released on 8/31/2015, 0.88 MBq/km2 of Cs-134/137 falls onto Tokyo this July. The sampling location was Shinjuku.

The comparable data on Fukushima prefecture is not listed on the same report for some reason.

However the reading of Tokyo includes Cesium-134 at the significant level to prove this is from Fukushima plant.

In Miyagi prefecture, where is in the North of Fukushima prefecture, the fallout level is 0.55 MBq/km2. The fallout density in Tokyo is higher than Miyagi prefecture.

Other nuclide density is not reported.

http://radioactivity.nsr.go.jp/en/contents/11000/10193/24/195_20150831.pdf

Source: Fukushima Diary

http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/09/still-0-88-mbqkm2-of-cs-134137-falls-in-tokyo-monthly/

‘Japanese govt creates illusion of normality at Fukushima’

Japanese authorities made a troubling decision to let people to return to their houses in the zone of the Fukushima disaster as there is still much radioactive contamination in the region, Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear told RT.

RT: Would you approve of the decision of the Japanese authorities to let people return to their houses in the zone of the Fukushima disaster?

Kevin Kamps: It is a very troubling decision, because there is radioactive contamination still throughout the countryside. In fact they just announced this time to move back to Naraha under threat of cutting people off from their compensation payments from Tokyo Electric Power Company [TEPCO]. Ironically, just days later, Typhoon Etau which had with it record breaking floods redistributed the radioactivity. Not only did bags of radioactive waste wash out the sea and down rivers, but the entire landscape- areas that had not been decontaminated – that contamination then floated with the water down mountain sides, downhill into areas that had been contaminated like Naraha, but also into areas that had not been contaminated before. So this radioactivity, as we saw, as we still see with the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe – the radioactivity from Fukushima is moving in the environment. So it is a very troubling decision by the Japanese government to try to create the illusion of normality when there is so much radioactive contamination still in the environment.

 

RT: How long-lasting would the effect of the disaster be?

KK: It depends on the radioactive poison that you’re speaking about specifically. So, for example, radioactive Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years. You have to multiply it by 10 or 20 to get the hazardous persistence. So that is 300 to 600 years of hazard with radioactive Cesium-137. Strontium-90 is about the same – 300 to 600 years of radioactive hazard. And then you have radioactive poisons that are deadly virtually forever more into the future. For example, Plutonium-239 a half-life of 24,000 years – that is a radioactive hazard of 240,000 if not 480,000 years into the future.

RT: How dangerous is the area right now?

KK: Unfortunately we don’t have much information yet after these record breaking floods just last week, which in a very big way has moved radioactivity to new places in the environment, or has re-contaminated places previously decontaminated supposedly. So there is so much that we don’t know. Certainly there have to be very careful steps taken to measure the radioactivity in the environment. Any pronouncements by local mayors or even the Japanese government that they are only detecting so much radioactivity one meter above the ground – it misses the point in a very big way. Radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium, and other radioactive poisons can enter the food supply, and people can eat the radioactivity or drink it in their drinking water. Very careful measures to guard against the contamination of the food supply and the drinking water supply have to be taken. And I don’t know if that is happening in all places right now.

 

RT: There are claims that TEPCO is still concealing some important information about the Fukushima tragedy. Would you say that this could be true?

KK: Absolutely, TEPCO has been caught so many times even before this catastrophe began, but certainly after the catastrophe. Just to give one example: this past February, 2015 Tokyo Electric finally announced, let the public know, that every time it rained at the site- and they had some major typhoons hit that site in the last four and a half years – the radioactivity levels in the ditches went up very significantly. Very high level radioactive water was flowing down these ditches. It turned out that there was a very badly contaminated spot on top of the Unit 2 reactor building, which suffered very large scale radioactivity releases during the catastrophe. They were simply letting this water flow down the ditches and into the ocean. They kept that quiet not for days, or for weeks, or for months, but for years. Unfortunately, TEPCO controls a lot of the information coming out of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Station. Of course it would be in their interest to try to keep things quiet that are bad for their public relations. Fortunately, this truth finally came out. But you have to wonder – how many more things are they hiding.

‘Disaster by design’

The nuclear plant was doomed from the very beginning for a number of reasons, including TEPCO’s underestimation of the possibility of a tsunami in the area, says Costas Synolakis of the Tsunami Research Center, University of Southern California.
There were two major failures of TEPCO which eventually led to the disaster, he told RT.

“First of all, it starts back when the plant was built in the 1960’s. If you can believe it – there was a coastal cliff at that location. They took it down (it was 30 meters high) to minus 4 meters, so that… it would be easier to put the foundation for the nuclear power plant plus also to save on cost. Obviously back in the 1960’s they didn’t think about tsunamis even though tsunamis happened in Japan all the time…So number two – they didn’t consider the historic reports [about tsunamis],” he said.

“TEPCO had clear chances all along the way; they were warned by Japanese seismologists and Japanese scientists that there was evidence of big tsunamis in the area… What is very serious, from my point of view, is the rationalizations that TEPCO tried to do in the beginning. At one point they were writing in one report that their analysis was conservative. Conservative means that they had overestimated the tsunami – in fact they had underestimated the tsunami. A very famous social scientist in the US – his name is Dennis Mileti, would call this ‘disaster by design’, meaning that it was just there waiting to happen.”

LISTEN MORE:https://soundcloud.com/rttv/fukushima-research

Source: RT

http://www.rt.com/op-edge/316311-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-japan/

TEPCO to sign cooperation pact with France’s CEA

NHK has learned that the operator of the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima plans to sign an agreement with a French organization to obtain the necessary technology to decommission the facilities.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, will initially focus on decontaminating the areas around the reactor containment vessels.

The removal of molten nuclear fuel will be the toughest challenge in the decontamination process because of the extremely high radiation levels.

TEPCO plans to obtain technical knowhow from the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, or CEA, which is funded by the French government. The French organization has expertise in dismantling aged nuclear reactors and fuel-reprocessing facilities.
Sources say that under the agreement, the CEA will help TEPCO to develop remote-controlled robots that can withstand high radiation levels.

The CEA will also help with training workers and TEPCO will provide data for the decommissioning process.

This will be TEPCO’s second agreement with a foreign organization. Last year, it signed a pact with a British company to address the buildup of contaminated water. 

Source: NHK 

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150923_08.html