It appears that the fire wasn’t in the spent fuel rods at all, but on the building containing the pool.
Update: This has now been confirmed by MIT.
Like you, I’m hoping this is the start of a string of “good-news events.”
`Cuz we definitely *DON’T* want any more “bad-news events” associated to these fuel rods!
Assuming no more bad-news events, we can begin to visualize what clean-up will be like.
It won’t be easy — all four buildings have spent fuel rods on top … whose pools are boiling vigorously … two of these pool areas are covered with twisted masses of steel … their fuel-rod cranes have simply disappeared … and underneath the fuel rod pools are three reactor cores that are melted-down to an unknown but substantial degree.
It’s not quite clear how to clean this up … perhaps, like Chernobyl, the best solution is to do the minimum … let things cool down, both thermally and radioactively, for 5-10 years, then entomb all four buildings (forever?) in cement and steel … and not even try to clean them up.
Too late for facts. The media and politicians have already defecated enough clay masonry units to build a new plant.
the spontaneous combustion of spent rods thing had me going. omg another brush fire made into a meltdown. Nice work, Charlie!
I checked how the Russians did the Chernobyl cleanup. It was simple, but not easy …
They limited each clean-up worker to ten minutes exposure … and hire — to do the clean-up.d 600 thousand workers — known as “liquidators”.
It appears to me, that even if *no* more bad things happen (which is far from assured), that Japan’s clean-up challenge will be comparable.
I have no nuclear experience, but I do have experience working with and for a major Japanese industrial E&C firm, and I can tell you one thing with complete certainty: if the powers that be in Japan decide that that they are going to clean the site up, it will happen, and it will be immaculate when it’s all done. It’s really going to be a question of priorities. They’re going to have a lot of other costs, and not all of it will be paid for by insurance from outside of the country. So they’re going to have to make some very tough choices. A lot of that going around these days.
But the bottom line is this: if they decide to do it, you’ll be able to eat off the ground there when they’re done. They’ll engineer special-purpose robots if needs be, but you can take to the bank that it’ll get done.
Snork, I happen to agree with you. Repairing the earthquake damage will be tough … repairing the tsunamic damage will be tough … repairing the meltdown damage will be tough … doing all three at once will be incredibly tough … and yet I believe that Japan will find a way to “git `er done” … and done well too.
AP, it still doesn’t look like there’s that much contamination. The latest word on the fuel rods is that the fire wasn’t a fuel rod fire but a separate fire on the building. But a good bit of the fuel rod collant water was lost, ergo a lot of shielding was lost. It might be those high dose rates were from that.
The radiation rate around Chernobyl was in the neighborhood of 5-10 Gray/hr with the highest exposure 16Gy. We still don’t have any reason to think Fukushima will match that.
That bad feeling is creeping up on me … no other source has confirmed the hopeful “tweet” that started this thread … and high radiation levels continue suggest control rod fire(s).
No-one is saying how many control rods exist on-site … it may be several hundred thousand of them … studies suggest that when these rods catch fire, they burn like gigantic sparklers, emitting billowing clouds of hugely radioactive smoke.
So pray that the winds continues to blow offshore.
Well, we didn’t have very firm confirmation of the fuel rod fire either, and I’ve since seen several sources saying that making the zirconium cladding burn had never been done, even in testing. IAEA never reported the fuel rod fire at all, just a fire in the building.
But why choose a “tweet by Keeley” as Tatler’s lead story?
Keeley’s story is not supported by any other source … and Keeley’s job description is “media relations manager” …
… is a tweet/flak/screenshot *really* the best factual source that Tatler can find?
You know, AP, I’m beginning to think you may be unfamiliar with the concept of “a blog.” The word comes from “weB LOG”. It’s not ordered by “lead story”, it’s ordered by time, with the most recent piece first. Tatler in particular is the product of dozens of contributors who post something as they have something to say.
It now appears that the decline in radiation readings can be attributed largely, or even entirely, to a shift in the wind direction … so let us pray that offshore winds continue to blow, for many days to come.
Confirmed and Disastrous: ***ALL*** workers from a crippled reactor at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, have been evacuated, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday.”
Even Japan’s 50 heroic engineers could only stand so much radiation …
… now there is no-one at all left to fight the melt-downs.
Only one thing stands between Japan and Chernobyl-scale disaster — strong offshore winds … pray that they continue.
Matt Drudge is reporting that the Japanese government has called upon the US military for help.
What can the US military do, that Japanese engineers cannot?
The sole technical answer is grim … unthinkably grim. With the wind blowing strongly offshore … launch a nuclear strike on the Fukushima reactors … vaporize them … and let the fallout blow out to sea.
Problem solved … literally in a flash.
Will this happen? Almost certainly not.
Is this solution being thought about? … well … there are plenty of physicists who would think of it instantly … as the least bad option, our of many exceedingly bad options.
Okay, now you have simply lost your mind.
(1) not even the world’s biggest idiot would consider blowing up the Fukushima reactors with a nuke as a way to SOLVE the problem. I mean, give it 10 seconds thought. Now, instead of whatever fission products, fuel, etc there might be in the reactors, powered by temperatures in the hundreds of degrees, you have all that PLUS all the reactor buildings etc, made radioactive by the blast, PLUS of course the fission products of the bomb, all spread around by a 50 million degree fireball.
(2) I’m guessing that you’re unaware that the US military runs literally hundreds or reactors, plus by necessity being equipped and trained to operate in areas with greater radiation than desirable, since they have to be prepared for some idiot or fiend setting off atomic bombs. They have people trained in reactor engineering, people trained in radiological contamination control, people trained in dealing with civilian populations in need of food and support, and people equipped with air filters and the like for radiologically compromised areas.
Look, I really try to stick with Heinlein’s rule of believing stupidity over malice, but this one has jumped the shark: this really looks like someone trying purposefully to spin scary tales just to incite panic.
If not, then for God’s sake, take a break. Get away from the TV, take a walk. Try valerian. This is really, really, over the top.
If so, you really should be ashamed of yourself: I see why you don’t want to use your name.
I’m with Charlie Martin.
The speakers in your head playing cartoon music are pretty obviously at “11″.
Dude…let’s take all of the nasty little radionucleides presently in a lump or in control rods or dusted around the area and vaporize them in a fission explosion,(you ARE babbling about a fission bomb, as opposed to using the heavy stuff, right?), and inject all the cesium and strontium and thorium and plutonium tens of thousands of feet into the stratosphere so that the rest of the world can enjoy the radiocative fart, too.
Just out of curiosity, were you one of those slobberuing dirt-merchants who advocated nuking the BP/Macondo well, too?
The fact that folks suggested that with a straight face with no thought whatsoever to the enhanced effects of shock wave propagation in seawater and seabed on the OTHER infrastructure on the floor of the GoM was a pretty sobering example of the abysmal state of scientific education…and plain common sense…obtaining in the blogosphere.
Kindly don’t post again until you are done chemically memorializing Owsley Stanley’s passing, m’kay?
A Physicist – I’m still waiting to hear where you got your PhD.
Institute of Applied BS, it appears. He majored in Trolling.
Interesting (US) Nuclear Energy Institute fact sheet on used fuel rod pools. Bottom line is that they’re normally covered by 16 feet of water which allows for a lot of evaporation before rods get uncovered as well as plenty of time to figure out a way to put more water into them.
Which of course doesn’t rule out their releasing more radioactively as the water level lowers (mentioned in the fact sheet) or I’ll note their getting inadvertently ignored while the plant operators focused on managing the decay heat of the scrammed reactor cores.
Lisa, you’ve got a good point. In one of the fuel rod threads — I forget which, I should just post the calculation in a separate tattle — I went through the calculation. I used 5 meters of water, which is 16.5 feet, so we agree close enough for a non-technical story. Basically the whole localized .4 Sv “spike” in the radiation can be explained by reducing the water in the pool to about 30 cm.
I re-did the calculation here. Use those figure, and we get reducing the water level from 5 meters to 2 meters.
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