KGO Radio: Host Pat Thurston recently interviewed Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer for Fairewinds Energy Education on KGO radio to discuss the latest challenging news from Japan about the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power reactor including the high levels of radiation emanating from the reactors, all the failed robotic expeditions, where we should go from here, as well as how ongoing radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi site may be impacting the west coast of the United States.
BBC Newsday: BBC Radio interviewed nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen to discuss TEPCO’s attempts to send a special robot into Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #2 in Japan to investigate the obstacles in the way of TEPCO’s progress determining the location and condition of the atomic fuel. Unfortunately even this specially designed robot failed in its attempt to clear the path for additional investigations as the nuclear radioactivity was so high, it shut down the robots before they could complete their mission.
Enviro News: The astronomical radiation readings at Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #2 of 530 Sv/hr complicate the already complex task of decommissioning the plant. These levels are so radioactive that a human would be dead within a minute of exposure and specially designed robots can only survive for about 2 hours. Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen says that the best solution would be to entomb the reactors, similar to the sarcophagus entombing Chernobyl, for at least 100-years, otherwise the radiation level that workers would be exposed to is simply too dangerous.
Read the whole article here
Are the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi over? The answer is no. Made all the more prevalent a year out from it’s initial release by the recent robotic expeditions into Reactor #2 which gave us a clearer picture on just how deadly the radiation levels are, watch Chief Engineer and nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen inform viewers on what’s going on at the Japanese nuclear meltdown site, Fukushima Daiichi. As the Japanese government and utility owner Tokyo Electric Power Company push for the quick decommissioning and dismantling of this man-made disaster, the press and scientists need to ask, “Why is the Ukrainian government waiting at least 100 years to attempt to decommission Chernobyl, while the Japanese Government and TEPCO claim that Fukushima Daiichi will be decommissioned and dismantled during the next 30 years?”
Like so many big government + big business controversies, the answer has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics and money. To understand Fukushima Daiichi, you need to follow the money.
Even though radiation levels in a village near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster still exceed international guidelines, its evacuated residents are being coerced to return, according to a Greenpeace report.
Residents from the Japanese ghost village of Iitate will be allowed to return to their former homes at the end of March – the first time since they were forced to flee the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That’s the date the Japanese government has set to lift evacuation orders.
But according to environmental organization Greenpeace, it’s uncertain whether many will want to. Greenpeace says tests it has carried out on homes in Iitate show that despite decontamination, radiation levels are still dangerously high – but that’s not stopping the Japanese governmenment from pressuring evacuees from returning, under threat of losing financial support.
Those who refuse to go back to their former homes, and are dependent on the Japanese government’s financial help, are faced with a dilemma. After a year from when an area is declared safe again to live in, evacuated residents will see their compensation payments terminated by the government.
Radiation ‘comparable with Chernobyl’
The nuclear disaster led to more than 160,000 people being evacuated and displaced from their homes. Of these, many tens of thousands are still living in temporary accommodation six years on.
The village of Iitate, lying northwest of the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plantand from which 6,000 citizens had to be evacuated, was one of the most heavily contaminated following the nuclear disaster.
Government employees monitor radiation at a day-care center in Iitate in 2011
Around 75 per cent of Iitate is mountainous forest, an integral part of residents’ lives before the nuclear accident.
But according to Greenpeace’s report, published on Tuesday, radiation levels in these woods are “comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation.”
Put another way, Greenpeace said that in 2017, there clearly remains a radiological emergency within Iitate – defining emergency thus: “If these radiation levels were measured in a nuclear facility, not Iitate, prompt action would be required by the authorities to mitigate serious adverse consequences for human health and safety, property or the environment.”
The environmental organization says decontamination efforts have primarily focused on the areas immediately around peoples’ homes, in agricultural fields and in 20-meter strips along public roads.
But these efforts ended up generating millions of tons of nuclear waste – these now lie at thousands of locations across the prefecture, but they haven’t reduced the level of radiation in Iitate “to levels that are safe,” says Greenpeace.
‘Normalizing’ nuclear disaster?
The organization has accused the Japanese government of trying “to normalize a nuclear disaster, creating the myth that just years after the widespread radioactive contamination caused by the nuclear accident of 11 March 2011, people’s lives and communities can be restored and reclaimed.
“By doing so, it hopes, over time, to overcome public resistance to nuclear power.”
Greenpeace also lambasted the government for leaving unanswered what it calls a critical question for those trying to decide whether to return or not: what radiation dose will they be subjected to, not just in one year but over decades or a lifetime?
Greenpeace says Japan’s government wants to restore public confidence in nuclear power at the cost of harming residents
“Until now the Japanese government has exclusively focused on annual radiation exposure and not the potential radiation dose rates returning citizens could potentially face over their entire lifetime,” says Greenpeace.
Greenpeace, which has been monitoring Iitate since 2011, carried out its latest survey in November 2016
It found that the average radiation dose range for Iitate beginning from March 2017 over a 70-year lifetime was between 39 millisieverts (mSv) and 183mSv – and that’s not including natural radiation exposure expected over a lifetime, or the exposure received in the days, weeks and months following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.
That exceeds yearly guidelines set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) when added up over a 70-year period – it puts the maximum recommended radiation exposure at 1mSv annually.
Greenpeace says: “The highly complex radiological emergency situation in Iitate, and with a high degree of uncertainty and unknown risks, means that there is no return to normal in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture.”
It has called on the Japanese government to cease its return policy, and to provide full financial support to evacuees, and “allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.”
According to Greenpeace, “for the more than 6,000 citizens of Iitate, this is a time of uncertainty and anxiety.”
Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation expert at Greenpeace Germany, and part of the team taking measurements at Iitate, told DW the residents were faced with a very difficult situation.
“If you decide to live elsewhere [and not return to Iitate], then you don’t have money, you’re sometimes not welcomed in another area so you are forced to leave, because people say, ‘you’re not going back but you could go back,'” he said. “But for people who go back, they have contaminated land, so how can they use the fields for agriculture?”
He urged the Japanese government to more involve those affected in the decision-making process and not try to give an impression that things are “going back to normal.”
“It’s a violation of human rights to force people into such a situation because they haven’t done anything wrong, it’s the operator of the power plant responsible for the damage it caused,” said Smital.
“It’s very clear that there’s very serious damage to the property and the lifestyle of the people but the government doesn’t care about this.”
It looks like its too radioactive for robots to survive. I wonder how they will do this work now?
Tokyo, Feb. 20 (Jiji Press)–A failed robot survey of melted nuclear fuel that has dropped through the bottom of a damaged reactor pressure chamber at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant complicates the formulation of a policy in the summer for taking out the fuel debris.
The removal of the molten nuclear fuel is regarded as the most demanding challenge in the decommissioning of the disaster-stricken plant’s reactors, said to take 30 to 40 years.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Co. <9501>, the manager of the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, is discussing the drawing up of a broad policy outline before conducting an additional survey to work out a detailed plan for the nuclear fuel removal, company officials said.
TEPCO’s initial plan called for a self-propelled survey robot, dubbed scorpion, to enter the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel and travel on a 7.2-meter rail to reach a metal grating directly beneath the reactor’s damaged pressure chamber. The robot would have surveyed the extent of damage to the chamber, while locating melted nuclear fuel that is believed to have dropped through the metal grating to the bottom of the containment vessel and shooting the fuel’s images.
The No. 2 reactor is one of the three units that suffered meltdown due to the failure of their cooling systems caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The latest robot seeking to find the 600 tons of nuclear fuel and debris that melted down six year ago in Japan’s wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant met its end in less than a day.
The scorpion-shaped machine, built by Toshiba Corp., entered the No. 2 reactor core Thursday and stopped 3 meters (9.8 feet) short of a grate that would have provided a view of where fuel residue is suspected to have gathered. Two previous robots aborted similar missions after one got stuck in a gap and another was abandoned after finding no fuel in six days.
After spending most of the time since the 2011 disaster containing radiation and limiting ground water contamination, scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the Japanese government estimates will take four decades and cost 8 trillion yen ($70.6 billion). It’s not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology needed to remove it.
“The roadmap for removing the fuel is going to be long, 2020 and beyond,” Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in an e-mail. “The re-solidified fuel is likely stuck to the vessel wall and vessel internal structures. So the debris have to be cut, scooped, put into a sealed and shielded container and then extracted from the containment vessel. All done by robots.”
Read more: Robots are being utilized to clean up U.K.’s nuclear waste
To enter a primary containment vessel, which measures about 20 meters at its widest, more than 30 meters tall and is encased in meters of concrete, outside air pressure is increased to keep radiation from escaping and a sealed hole is opened that the robot passes through. Three reactors at the plant suffered meltdowns, and each poses different challenges and requires a custom approach for locating and removing the fuel, said Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. spokesman.
The machines are built with specially hardened parts and minimal electronic circuitry so that they can withstand radiation, if only for a few hours at a time. Thursday’s mission ended after the robot’s left roller-belt failed, according to Tokyo Electric, better known as Tepco. Even if it had returned, this robot, like all others so far designed to aid the search for the lost fuel, was expected to find its final resting place inside a reactor.
No. 1 Unit
Hitachi Corp. in the next two months plans to send a machine into the No. 1 reactor core that scientists hope can transmit photos of the fuel and measure radiation levels.
The snake-like robot will lower a camera on a wire from a grate platform in the reactor to take photos and generate 3-D models of the bottom of the containment vessel. This will be the third time Hitachi sends in this robot design.
While the company is hopeful this robot will find some of the fuel, it will likely be unable to find all of it, according to Satoshi Okada, a Hitachi engineer working on the project. The company is already planning the next robot voyage for after April.
“We are gathering information so that we can decide on a way to remove the fuel,” said Okada. “Once we understand the situation inside, we will be able to see the way to remove the fuel.”
No. 2 Unit
On Thursday, Toshiba’s scorpion-like robot entered the reactor and stopped short of making it onto the containment vessel’s grate. While Tepco decided not to retrieve it, the company views the attempt as progress.
“We got a very good hint as to where the fuel could be from this entire expedition” Tepco official Yuichi Okamura said Thursday at a briefing in Tokyo. “I consider this a success, a big success.”
Tepco released images last month of a grate under the No. 2 reactor covered in black residue that may be the melted fuel — one of the strongest clues yet to its location. The company measured radiation levels of around 650 sieverts per hour through the sound-noise in the video, the highest so far recorded in the Fukushima complex.
A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The Hitachi and Toshiba robots are designed to handle 1,000 sieverts and no robot has yet been disabled due to radiation.
“Radiation levels near the fuel are lethal,” said MIT’s Buongiorno, who holds the university’s Tepco chair, a professorship based on an initial donation by the company 10 years ago. There are no formal affiliations or obligations for the faculty who receive the chair, he said.
Because the No. 2 unit is the only one of the three reactors that didn’t experience a hydrogen explosion, there was no release into the atmosphere and radiation levels inside the core are higher compared to the other two units, according to the utility.
No. 3 Unit
Tepco’s balance sheet has been strapped by ballooning Fukushima cleanup costs and slumping national power demand. All of the company’s nuclear power plants remain shut since it halted the No. 6 reactor at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa station in March 2012. The company is seeking drastic changes in top management in consultation with the Japanese government, TV Asahi reported Friday, without attribution.
The utility has focused on removing spent fuel in the upper part of the reactor building, which Toshiba aims to extract with a claw-like system. This fuel didn’t melt and is still in a pool that controls its temperature.
The used-fuel in No. 3 is scheduled to begin removal before the end of the decade, the first among the three reactors that melted down. Toshiba is developing another robot to search for melted fuel, planned to enter sometime in the year ending March 2018. The company hasn’t announced yet the design or strategy.
TEPCO and its partners launched a communication operation about the “scorpion” robot, which will be sent to the containment reactor of reactor n ° 2 in an attempt to locate the corium, ie the highly radioactive molten fuel, mixed with debris. It is not certain that the mission will be a success, the cleaning robot having lasted only two hours in this enclosure because of the extreme radiations, without being able to finish its task.
A press release announces what we already know and insists on the challenges: “every step is a new challenge for TEPCO, but TEPCo welcomes the challenges”. The company would be almost happy with the accident? It is accompanied by a promotional video with a comparison to the kendô fights posted on its Facebook page.
The Japanese nuclear industry wants to place itself on the decommissioning market and highlights the technologies being developed. This robot was designed by IRID, Toshiba and TEPCO. IRID benefits from public funds. As for Toshiba, it is almost bankrupt because of its nuclear branch and TEPCO is financially in a bad shape.
The press release and the video do not provide any relevant information and are in complete discrepancy with reality.
1. Current conditions of Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV)
Nuclear fuel in the Primary Containment vessel (PCV) was exposed to the air and melted from the impact of March 2011 Great Earthquake.
As a result of the accident analysis, it was found that a portion of melted nuclear fuel might have been fallen inside the pedestal.
To remove fuel debris, it is necessary to investigate the PCV and clarify the conditions of debris and surrounding structures.
2. Outline of Unit 2 PCV investigation
[Purpose]: To obtain feedback information (deformation of platform, etc.) for the design and
development of next investigation devices inside the pedestal
To inspect conditions on the platform inside pedestal, fuel debris fallen to the CRD housing, and conditions of structures inside pedestal.
[Investigation point]: Platform and Control Rod Drive (CRD) will be investigated from the platform inside pedestal
3. Work steps for Unit 2 PCV investigation
4. Preparatory investigation results from X-6 penetration to CRD rail
4. Preparatory investigation results at the entrance of pedestal area
4. Preparatory investigation results of pedestal area
5. Additional results expected from the self-propelled investigation device
6. Investigation by the self-propelled investigation device to the end of CRD rail
6. Investigation by the self-propelled investigation device to the end of CRD rail
Reference: Investigation results on the platform inside the pedestal
Technical information for the media is available here:
In Japanese about the upcoming mission http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images1/handouts_170215_08-j.pdf
And in English http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170215_01-e.pdf
And about radiation protection measures http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images1/handouts_170215_09-j.pdf
And in English http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170215_02-e.pdf
Translated from L’ACROnique de Fukushima http://fukushima.eu.org/operation-de-communication-sur-le-robot-scorpion-qui-va-etre-envoye-dans-lenceinte-de-confinement-du-reacteur-n2/
Dr Helen Caldicott, explains recent robot photos taken of Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear reactors: radiation levels have not peaked, but have continued to spill toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean — but it’s only now the damage has been photographed.
RECENT reporting of a huge radiation measurement at Unit 2 in the Fukushima Daichi reactor complex does not signify that there is a peak in radiation in the reactor building.
All that it indicates is that, for the first time, the Japanese have been able to measure the intense radiation given off by the molten fuel, as each previous attempt has led to failure because the radiation is so intense the robotic parts were functionally destroyed.
The radiation measurement was 530 sieverts, or 53,000 rems (Roentgen Equivalent for Man). The dose at which half an exposed population would die is 250 to 500 rems, so this is a massive measurement. It is quite likely had the robot been able to penetrate deeper into the inner cavern containing the molten corium, the measurement would have been much greater.
These facts illustrate why it will be almost impossible to “decommission” units 1, 2 and 3 as no human could ever be exposed to such extreme radiation. This fact means that Fukushima Daichi will remain a diabolical blot upon Japan and the world for the rest of time, sitting as it does on active earthquake zones.
What the photos taken by the robot did reveal was that some of the structural supports of Unit 2 have been damaged. It is also true that all four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so, should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building fell on the molten core beneath. But units 1, 2 and 3 also contain cooling pools with very radioactive fuel rods — numbering 392 in Unit 1, 615 in Unit 2, and 566 in Unit 3; if an earthquake were to breach a pool, the gamma rays would be so intense that the site would have to be permanently evacuated. The fuel from Unit 4 and its cooling pool has been removed.
But there is more to fear.
The reactor complex was built adjacent to a mountain range and millions of gallons of water emanate from the mountains daily beneath the reactor complex, causing some of the earth below the reactor buildings to partially liquefy. As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes – including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more – enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain — algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish then us.
Fish swim thousands of miles and tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements, which are tasteless, odourless and invisible. Entering the human body by ingestion they concentrate in various organs, irradiating adjacent cells for many years. The cancer cycle is initiated by a single mutation in a single regulatory gene in a single cell and the incubation time for cancer is any time from 2 to 90 years. And no cancer defines its origin.
We could be catching radioactive fish in Australia or the fish that are imported could contain radioactive isotopes, but unless they are consistently tested we will never know.
As well as the mountain water reaching the Pacific Ocean, since the accident, TEPCO has daily pumped over 300 tons of sea water into the damaged reactors to keep them cool. It becomes intensely radioactive and is pumped out again and stored in over 1,200 huge storage tanks scattered over the Daichi site. These tanks could not withstand a large earthquake and could rupture releasing their contents into the ocean.
But even if that does not happen, TEPCO is rapidly running out of storage space and is trying to convince the local fishermen that it would be okay to empty the tanks into the sea. The Bremsstrahlung radiation like x-rays given off by these tanks is quite high – measuring 10 milirems – presenting a danger to the workers. There are over 4,000 workers on site each day, many recruited by the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) and include men who are homeless, drug addicts and those who are mentally unstable.
There’s another problem. Because the molten cores are continuously generating hydrogen, which is explosive, TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the reactors to dilute the hydrogen dangers.
Vast areas of Japan are now contaminated, including some areas of Tokyo, which are so radioactive that roadside soil measuring 7,000 becquerels (bc) per kilo would qualify to be buried in a radioactive waste facility in the U.S..
As previously explained, these radioactive elements concentrate in the food chain. The Fukushima Prefecture has always been a food bowl for Japan and, although much of the rice, vegetables and fruit now grown here is radioactive, there is a big push to sell this food both in the Japanese market and overseas. Taiwan has banned the sale of Japanese food, but Australia and the U.S. have not.
Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the situation could be gaoled for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.
The Prefectural Oversite Committee for Fukushima Health is only looking at thyroid cancer among the population and by June 2016, 172 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have developed, or have suspected, thyroid cancer; the normal incidence in this population is 1 to 2 per million.
However, other cancers and leukemia that are caused by radiation are not being routinely documented, nor are congenital malformations, which were, and are, still rife among the exposed Chernobyl population.
Bottom line, these reactors will never be cleaned up nor decommissioned because such a task is not humanly possible. Hence, they will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time and threaten Japan and the northern hemisphere with massive releases of radiation should there be another large earthquake.
Cleaner Robot Pulled From Fukushima Reactor Due to Immense Radiation
The camera on the bot was compromised by the high levels of radiation.
A remote-controlled cleaning robot sent into a damaged reactor at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant had to be removed Thursday before it completed its work because of camera problems most likely caused by high radiation levels.
It was the first time a robot has entered the chamber inside the Unit 2 reactor since a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami critically damaged the Fukushima Da-ichi nuclear plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it was trying to inspect and clean a passage before another robot does a fuller examination to assess damage to the structure and its fuel. The second robot, known as the “scorpion,” will also measure radiation and temperatures.
Thursday’s problem underscores the challenges in decommissioning the wrecked nuclear plant. Inadequate cleaning, high radiation and structural damage could limit subsequent probes, and may require more radiation-resistant cameras and other equipment, TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said.
“We will further study (Thursday’s) outcome before deciding on the deployment of the scorpion,” he said.
TEPCO needs to know the melted fuel’s exact location and condition and other structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to figure out the best and safest ways to remove the fuel. It is part of the decommissioning work, which is expected to take decades.
During Thursday’s cleaning mission, the robot went only part way into a space under the core that TEPCO wants to inspect closely. It crawled down the passage while peeling debris with a scraper and using water spray to blow some debris away. The dark brown deposits grew thicker and harder to remove as the robot went further.
After about two hours, the two cameras on the robot suddenly developed a lot of noise and their images quickly darkened — a sign of a problem caused by high radiation. Operators of the robot pulled it out of the chamber before completely losing control of it.
The outcome means the second robot will encounter more obstacles and have less time than expected for examination on its mission, currently planned for later this month, though Thursday’s results may cause a delay.
Both of the robots are designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of radiation. The cleaner’s two-hour endurance roughly matches an estimated radiation of 650 Sieverts per hour based on noise analysis of the images transmitted by the robot-mounted cameras. That’s less than one-tenth of the radiation levels inside a running reactor, but still would kill a person almost instantly.
Kimoto said the noise-based radiation analysis of the Unit 2’s condition showed a spike in radioactivity along a connecting bridge used to slide control rods in and out, a sign of a nearby source of high radioactivity, while levels were much lower in areas underneath the core, the opposite of what would normally be the case. He said the results are puzzling and require further analysis.
TEPCO officials said that despite the dangerously high figures, radiation is not leaking outside of the reactor.
Images recently captured from inside the chamber showed damage and structures coated with molten material, possibly mixed with melted nuclear fuel, and part of a disc platform hanging below the core that had been melted through.
Extremely high radiation breaks down Fukushima clean-up robot at damaged nuclear reactor
A clean-up mission using a remotely operated robot at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has had to be aborted, as officials feared they could completely lose control of the probe affected by unexpectedly high levels of radiation.
The robot equipped with a high-pressure water pump and a camera designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of cumulative exposure had been pulled off the inactive Reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex earlier this week, The Japan Times reported Friday, citing the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). The device reportedly broke down just two hour into the probe.
The failure led experts to rethink estimated levels of radiation inside the damaged reactor.
While last week TEPCO said it might stand at 530 Sieverts per hour – a dose that can almost instantly kill a human being, following the latest aborted mission a company official has said a reading of up to 600 Sieverts should be “basically correct.”
Even despite the considerable 30-percent margin of error for the revised estimate, the latest probe left no doubt that radiation levels are at record highs within the reactor. Even though it cannot be measured directly with a Geiger counter or dosimeter, the dose is calculated by its effect on the equipment.
Last month, a hole of no less than one square meter in size was discovered beneath the same reactor’s pressure vessel. The apparent opening in the metal grating is believed to have been caused by melted nuclear fuel, TEPCO then said.
The recent mission has demonstrated that the melted fuel is close to the studied area.
While extreme radiation levels have been registered within the reactor, officials insist that no leaks or increases outside have been detected.
The failure might force Japan to rethink the robot-based strategy it has adopted for locating melted fuel at Fukushima, according to The Japan Times.
The robot affected by radiation was supposed to wash off thick layers of dirt and other wreckage, clearing ways for another remotely controlled probe to enter the area, tasked with carrying out a more proper investigation to assess the state of the damaged nuclear reactor. Previously, even specially-made robots designed to probe the underwater depths beneath the power plant have crumbled and shut down affected by the radioactive substance inside the reactor.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986. TEPCO is so far in the early stages of assessing the damage, with the decommissioning of the nuclear facility expected to take decades.
Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear. Almost 6 years after a massive meltdown – radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan are as dangerously high as ever. So is nuclear power ever worth the risk?
….A number of commentators, Arnie Gundersen at Fairwinds, Kendra Ulrich at Greenpeace International, Nancy Foust at Simply Info, have pointed out that the levels of radioactivity that are being talked about by Tokyo Electric (TEPCO), 53,000 rem per hour levels that were documented just a week ago have probably been there this whole time since March 2011 since the meltdown happened because what they are doing is they are getting closer where the melted core is at, they still don’t know where they ‘re at but what they are doing they are getting closer to that dangerous place and so sure enough it stands to reason that they would find these levels….
Guiding pipe camera (before the removal
As announced, TEPCO has inserted a cleaner robot onto the gangway in the Reactor 2 containment enclosure. It is equipped with a snowplow at the front, two cameras and a jet of pressurized water.
The robot was able to clean only one meter instead of the 5 expected. According to the Japanese document put online by TEPCO, in some places deposits were more adherent than expected, which slowed down the robot’s progress.
There are areas where the robot could not move forward. There are up to 2 cm of deposits that can be insulation and paint that have melted before sticking to the bridge. On a first attempt, the water pump did not work.
After two hours of activity, the cameras became obscured and the robot was quickly removed. TEPCO believes this is due to extremely high radiation levels.
The camera can only withstand a cumulative dose of about 1000 Sv. The analysis of the images gives an approximate dose rate of 650 Sv / h. This is even more than the recorded dose few days ago (530 Sv / h).
The company is reluctant to send the scorpion measuring robot because it could only take data for two hours.
It is not under the reactor vessel that the dose rates are the highest and TEPCO does not understand why.
TEPCo has released a new series of photos and a video. The video shows the magnitude and the difficulty of the task expected for this small robot.
TEPCO issued a press release in English, accompanied by the same photos and video and the technical note.
A pressure washer-equipped robot clears the path inside the containment vessel of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 2 reactor on Feb. 9. The black lumps are believed to be melted fuel. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
The road to decommissioning Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 2 reactor could be rockier than expected, as radiation levels on Feb. 9 were even deadlier than those recorded in late January.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced that day that radiation levels inside the reactor were estimated at up to 650 sieverts per hour, much higher than the record 530 sieverts per hour marked by the previous survey.
A camera attached to the robot deployed inside Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 2 reactor shows how it clears its path covered with debris and deposits using a pressure washer. (Captured from video provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
A camera made its way inside the reactor’s containment vessel for the first time on Jan. 30 and spotted fuel rods that had melted into black lumps in the nuclear accident in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The plant operator made the latest estimate from the amount of camera noise experienced by the robot that ventured into the lion’s den that morning.
Equipped with a pressure washer, the machine was deployed to pave the way for the Sasori (scorpion) robot that is set to survey the reactor’s interior in greater detail.
The robot’s task was to hose down melted fuel and other substances as it traveled along a rail measuring 7 meters long and 0.6 meter wide connecting the outer wall of the containment vessel with the reactor’s core. It started operating from a point located 2 meters from the exit of the tunnel bored into the side of the vessel.
But about two hours into its journey, in which it had progressed about a meter, the camera footage started getting dark, TEPCO said. The amount of radiation emitted by the melted fuel may have taken a toll on the camera’s well-being.
As the robot could be left stranded inside the vessel if the camera broke down completely, the utility called off the operation seven hours earlier than scheduled and retrieved the device.
TEPCO analyzed the footage and concluded that the doses amounted to about 650 sieverts per hour, which is deadly enough to kill a human in less than a minute.
As the robot’s camera was designed to withstand a cumulative dosage of 1,000 sieverts per hour, the utility commented that “it’s consistent with how the camera started to break down after two hours.”
The plant operator plans to deploy the Sasori surveyor robot before the end of February.
“We will be assessing the amount of deposits and debris to decide how far Sasori can advance,” a TEPCO official said.
The ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe has been back in the news lately following record high readings at the reactor site. Radiation levels were a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest recorded since the triple core meltdown in March 2011.
But upon further examination, the story has been misreported, in part due to mistranslation. In fact, according to Nancy Foust of SimplyInfo.org, interviewed on Nuclear Hotseat, there was no spike. High readings were in expected locations that TEPCO was only able to access recently. Therefore, the reading became evident because workers were getting closer to the melted fuel in more dangerous parts of the facility. In other words, it’s not a new hot mess, just the same hot mess it’s always been, pretty much from the beginning. The good news is nothing has changed. The bad news is – nothing has changed.
The confusion was initially caused by a translation error that SimplyInfo.org thinks occurred between the Kyodo News and Japan Times. Since this happened, Foust and her group have been trying to get news sources to correct the stories, with limited success.
The elevated radiation levels are inside containment (good news) in ruined unit 2 and were discovered using a camera, not proper radiation monitors. Therefore, the high reading may not be reliable since it is an estimate based on interference data with the camera. TEPCO is planning on sending in a robot properly equipped with radiation detectors to take a reliable reading. Although no date has been given, TEPCO indicates it expects to deploy the robot within 30 days or so.
Foust theorizes that the bulk of spent fuel is probably right below the reactor vessel burned into the concrete below. No one knows if fuel has gone into the ground water below that.
As I wrote in my previous blog article, we cannot talk or know if there is an actual increase at this time, because it is the first measure they took at that place at this deep. To know if radiation is increasing we would need Tepco to make a 2nd measure at that place and that deep, and then to compare both measures. https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/recently-found-fukushima-daiichis-reactor-2-high-level-of-radiation-does-not-mean-radiation-increase/
In Mali Martha Lightfoot’s own words: ” The measuring capacity is just getting better and they are reaching parts of the containment they were unable to monitor before. I think it’s important not to confuse more accurate readings with the misconception that they indicate that the levels are rising. It is shocking enough to get an indication of how high the levels still are. And we may find, as technology improves, that parts of the containment are higher still. But, that still does not indicate that the levels are rising, just that our ability to design monitoring devices is getting better. “
As Majia Nadesan is saying in her own blog article : “A separate article published in The Asahi Shimbun notes that radiation levels in units 1 and 3 remain so high (higher than unit 2) that TEPCO is unable to investigate conditions in there: If confirmed, the first images of melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant show that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will have a much more difficult time decommissioning the battered facility. The condition of what is believed to be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the plant appears far worse than previously thought. …High radiation levels have prevented workers from entering the No. 2 reactor, as well as the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the plant. MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA (January 31, 2017) Images indicate bigger challenge for TEPCO at Fukushima plant. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701310073.html
If radiation levels are at 530 sieverts an hour inside unit 2, I wonder what conditions are like in the 1 and 3 reactors, which are described as even hotter? I can tell you from watching the reactors on the webcams for 5 plus years that atmospheric emissions from unit 3 have never ceased (as illustrated below far right side of screenshot)”. http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/02/fukushima-daiichi-unit-2-measures-530.html
Anyway in the meantime those 3 reactors are still belly button opened up spitting high radiation into our skies and environment, the reactor 1 and 3 even higher radiation than reactor 2.
TEPCO is reporting measuring radiation levels of 530 SIEVERTS AN HOUR (10 will kill you dead pretty quickly) and has discovered a 2-meter hole in the grating beneath the reactor pressure vessel (1 meter-square hole found in grating):
Radiation level at Fukushima reactor highest since 2011 disaster; grating hole found. The Mainichi, February 2, 2017, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The radiation level inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex stood at 530 sieverts per hour at a maximum, the highest since the 2011 disaster, the plant operator said Thursday.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. also announced that based on image analysis, a hole measuring 2 meters in diameter has been found on a metal grating beneath the pressure vessel inside the containment vessel and a portion of the grating was distorted.
…The hole could have been caused by nuclear fuel that penetrated the reactor vessel as it overheated and melted due to the loss of reactor cooling functions in the days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 hit northeastern Japan.
According to the image analysis, about 1 square meter of the grating was missing.
…Images captured using a camera attached to a telescopic arm on Monday also showed part of the grating has gone. A further analysis of the images found a 2-meter hole in an area beyond the missing section on the structure.
A separate article published in The Asahi Shimbun notes that radiation levels in units 1 and 3 remain so high (higher than unit 2) that TEPCO is unable to investigate conditions in there:
MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA (January 31, 2017) Images indicate bigger challenge for TEPCO at Fukushima plant. The Asahi Shimbun,http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701310073.html
If confirmed, the first images of melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant show that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will have a much more difficult time decommissioning the battered facility.
The condition of what is believed to be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the plant appears far worse than previously thought.
…High radiation levels have prevented workers from entering the No. 2 reactor, as well as the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the plant.
If radiation levels are at 530 sieverts an hour inside unit 2, I wonder what conditions are like in the 1 and 3 reactors, which are described as even hotter?
I can tell you from watching the reactors on the webcams for 5 plus years that atmospheric emissions from unit 3 have never ceased (as illustrated below far right side of screenshot):
Feb 2, 2017 23:20
There is some dispute about the recent high level of radiation measured inside the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2, thanks to the Japan Times unprecise english translation of the Kyodo News Japanese language article.
They have been able to measure these highest radiation levels only now because they couldn’t get as close to where they think the melted fuel may be with monitors before. Not the highest levels ever present at the site. That would have been around the time of the accident, or soon after. The radiation levels at the site do not appear to be rising, they are just now able to get deeper inside the reactor containment before the monitors fail, and so they get better readings.
The unprecise english translation of the Kyodo News Japanese language article published by the Japan Times opened the door to possible misconstruction of the real facts by other media, western media and websites relying on that Japan Times article. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/03/national/fukushima-radiation-level-highest-since-march-11/#.WJY4ffLraM_
The Japan Times article’s title is ok: “Highest radiation reading since 3/11 detected at Fukushima No. 1 reactor”. Yes, it is the highest radiation reading found since 3/11 because since 3/11 Tepco had not been able to reach such deep place to measure the radiation there. So this recent reading is the highest found since 3/11.
The Japan Times article in itself does not mention directly any radiation increase or “spike. But their wording “has reached” in “The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has reached a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the triple core meltdown in March 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. said” could be misconstrued as meaning that the high level recently found is resulting from an increase of radiation, when compared to the lower level previously found . Which is not the case. Their previous reading was lower because they had not been able to go that deep before to monitor radiation there.
The Japan Times article then misled some western media, such as the Guardian, Popular Mechanic and others to themselves publish misconstrued articles based on the Japan Times article as their source.
The Popular Mechanics article’s title was ok: “Highest Radiation Levels Since Meltdown Recorded at Fukushima” but their subtitle is entirely wrong and misleading: “Levels haven’t been this high since the actual meltdown in 2011.” That subtitle is wrong, the levels were maybe that high or even higher, but Tepco had not been able to reach there before to find out, to take such measure in that place, at that deep level. That subtitle is wrong, suggesting that there is an increase. Popular Mechanics misconstrued the article of Japan Times and drawed the wrong conclusion. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a25034/radiation-spikes-fukushima-possible-breach/
The Guardian ‘s article title is in itself misleading: ” Fukushima nuclear reactor radiation at highest level since 2011 meltdown”. A title such as “Fukushima nuclear reactor radiation highest level to date found since 2011 meltdown” would have been better and more accurate. The added words “to date found” would clarify that it was maybe already there before but that it had not been found yet, because they had not been able to reach that place and that deep before to take such measure. In its text it fails to mention the real reason why the measure recently found is higher than the previous measure. This all results in the Guardian article saying that this highest recent measure compared to the lower previous one is due to an increase of radiation. This is absolutely wrong, a complete misconstruction of the real facts. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/03/fukushima-daiichi-radiation-levels-highest-since-2011-meltdown?CMP=share_btn_fb
And many other western media and websites went along and repeated the same blind misconstruction.
Thanks heavens there were two websites who noticed the error made by those mainstream media and many other websites. They stepped in trying to correct that misconstruction and to re-establish the true facts. The Simply Info Fukuleaks website and the Safecast website, thanks to both websites’ bloggers team for their vigilance and their efforts in keeping the facts straight.
No, Fukushima Daiichi Did Not See A Radiation Spike http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=16094
No, radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi are not rising http://blog.safecast.org/2017/02/no-radiation-levels-at-fukushima-daiichi-are-not-rising/
We can’t say that there has been an increase in radiation because we do not know that. To know that we would need to have a previous measure at the same deep at the same place to compare both measures. But such previous measure that deep at that place we do not have, so it is impossible to draw any conclusion at this stage, only that it is very high.
Now what we really need is a second probe at the same deep at the same place, to confirm the first probe readings, but also to compare the recent readings and the next readings so as to assess if the radiation levels there are stable or not, if there will be an increase of radiation between the two probes or not…Until such second probing takes place, at this stage no one can say anything about any occuring increase…
For more information: TEPCO Reports:
Pre-investigation results of the area inside the pedestal for the Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel Investigation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station(examination results of digital images)
Images Inside Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 Need Further Examination Including The Possibility Of Fuel Debris
Video here: NHK Video (in Japanese)
Deadly radiation estimated inside reactor vessel
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says its latest estimation of the radiation level inside one of the reactors was extremely high and had the potential to be lethal to a human within a short period of time.
Tokyo Electric Power Company conducted an inspection inside the containment vessel of the plant’s No.2 reactor last month using a remote-controlled camera, as part of a survey to scrap the reactor.
An analysis of the images found that the radiation was up to 530 sieverts per hour at a concrete cylinder supporting the reactor.
The level is enough to be lethal to a human within a short period of time, despite a possible error margin of up to 30 percent.
A survey conducted 1 year after the nuclear accident at a different part inside the same containment vessel logged 73 sieverts per hour.
In the latest estimation inside the vessel, the area near its opening logged 50 sieverts per hour at maximum.
The operator officials say that there are no leaks of gas with radioactive substances from the containment vessel.
Officials suspect that fuel debris; a mixture of nuclear fuel and melted parts of the reactor’s facility, may be emitting strong radiation inside the vessel.
Some molten fuel penetrated the reactor’s bottom and has reached the containment vessel as fuel debris.
The company plans conduct further inspections with a robot. There is a risk that some parts of the grating where the robot will be moving may be damaged by the high heat of the molten fuel.
Record high fatal radiation levels, hole in reactor detected at crippled Fukushima nuclear facility
Record high radiation levels that’s lethal even after brief exposure have been detected at a damaged reactor at the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Specialists also found a hole, likely caused by melted nuclear fuel.
Radiation levels of up to 530 Sieverts per hour were detected inside an inactive Reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex damaged during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami catastrophe, Japanese media reported on Thursday citing the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
A dose of about 8 Sieverts is considered incurable and fatal.
A hole of no less than one square meter in size has also been discovered beneath the reactor’s pressure vessel, TEPCO said. According to researchers, the apparent opening in the metal grating of one of three reactors that had melted down in 2011, is believed to be have been caused by melted nuclear fuel that fell through the vessel.
The iron scaffolding has a melting point of 1500 degrees, TEPCO said, explaining that there is a possibility the fuel debris has fallen onto it and burnt the hole. Such fuel debris have been discovered on equipment at the bottom of the pressure vessel just above the hole, it added.
The latest findings were released after a recent camera probe inside the reactor, TEPCO said. Using a remote-controlled camera fitted on a long pipe, scientists managed to get images of hard-to-reach places where residual nuclear material remained. The substance there is so toxic that even specially-made robots designed to probe the underwater depths beneath the power plant have previously crumbled and shut down.
However, TEPCO still plans to launch further more detailed assessments at the damaged nuclear facility with the help of self-propelled robots.
Earlier this week, hopes for a more efficient cleanup at Fukushima were high, as the plant operator announced a portion of nuclear fuel debris responsible for a lot of the lingering contamination from six years ago may have finally been found.