Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reliable: Information On A Possible Meltdown and Current Situation at Fukushima

"For several days, authorities have attempted to reassure the public. Now, they are pleading for help.

Arnold Gundersen: I think that the probability of a large scale release is about 50-50, and I don’t call that small.  You’ve got three reactors involved. Two, you’re already picking up radiation on aircraft carriers a hundred miles away at sea, on helicopters 60 miles to the north, and in town. So clearly, as these plants become more and more difficult to control, it becomes quite likely that a containment now will have a gross failure. And a gross failure will release enormous amounts of radiation quickly.

...But the radioactive isotopes are still decaying away. They’ll decay for at least a year. So you have to release the pressure from that containment pretty much every day. With releasing the pressure will come releasing radioactive isotopes as well.
The Times is right that every plant ...will be opening up valves every day to make sure the pressure is down...for at least a year.

Within 90 days, the iodine health risks will disappear, because that will decay away. But the nasty isotopes — the cesium and strontium will remain for 30 years. And they’re volatile.
After Three Mile Island, strontium was detected 150 miles away from the reactor. That ends up in cow’s milk and doesn’t go away for 300 years. The releases from these plants will last for a year, and will contain elements that will remain in the environment for 300 years, even in the best case.
If we have a meltdown, it will be even worse than that.

It’s important to know that this steel containment is about an inch thick...The reactor is already open, because the pressure relief valves have to stay open.
These containments have already breached. We saw iodine and cesium in the environment before the first unit exploded. When you see that, that’s clearly an indication that the containment has breached.
Now, is it leaking 1 percent a day? Probably. Is it leaking 100 percent a day? No. I think for the neighboring towns out to 2 miles, they won’t have anybody back in them for five years. Out to 15 miles, I doubt you’re going to see anyone back for six months. And that’s in the best case, without a meltdown.
If we have a meltdown, I don’t think anyone will be back within 20 miles for 10 or 15 years.
There would be higher incidence of cancer. The groundwater would be contaminated. With a meltdown, you’re worried about surface contamination of everything within miles of the plant, and groundwater contamination as well.
Chernobyl had a meltdown, and that groundwater wedge is gradually working its way toward Kiev, which is a very large city [about 80 miles away]. That groundwater contamination lingers for 300 years. It’s not something that’s easy to mitigate.
We’re seeing iodine and cesium in the environment. That’s an indication that the containments are leaking...
I can’t understand how officials can say that the releases are low, when they don’t have any instruments that are working. Their batteries have failed, and when the batteries fail, all of the instruments stop working...
...My experience is that, after Three Mile Island and after Chernobyl, everybody said there wasn’t a problem...So I really don’t put much faith in official pronouncements the first week of an accident.
... the officials don’t want to provoke a panic. So there’s a financial long term interest to try to minimize the impact. The flip side of that is that in the process you lose transparency. There is no transparency right now...
I understand from one source that the second unit cannot be vented, because the vent is jammed...
The venting system is jammed and that means that pressure will keep building up until something catastrophic happens.
The control rooms have become almost uninhabitable. The operators would have to be in Scott air packs, because the ventilation failed. Otherwise they would be breathing contaminated air. The control room is very close to these reactors...It’s very difficult to get anything done if you’re wearing an air pack and a bubble suit.
They’ll send someone out to manually open a valve. And then that person will go back out to manually close a valve. In a high radiation field, there are only so many trips you can make before you’ve exceeded what they call emergency limits. So these people are picking up very large doses in very short periods of time. For their personal health, you can’t send them out again.
...The probability of these workers getting cancer is dramatically increasing, because the doses they receive in a day are higher than what they get in a year...
The radiation is being diluted by the wind and spread out. Tokyo is a long way away. Germany is a long way from Chernobyl, and the ground in Germany is so contaminated that they are still prohibiting the hunting of wild boars, 25 years later.
...There’s a U.S. aircraft carrier 100 miles away, and the workers on that aircraft carrier received in one hour the dose they would normally get in one month.
Chernobyl reached the U.S. The question is how much radiation (will reach the U.S. this time)? There’s not a lot of data to make that determination right now.
I’ve gone out and bought potassium iodine pills, and I plan to take potassium iodine starting in about 10 days, just because I’m concerned about food contamination. That’s a personal choice right now. My experience says that it would be prudent to get potassium iodine pills and take them, to avoid any of the iodine that might come over. But there’s not a lot of data to support whether or not potassium iodine really helps."  To get the full interview, click here,1

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan's northeastern coast.

Unease remained in the island nation as it tried to recover from the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami believed to have killed more than 10,000 people and battered the world's third-largest economy. The confirmed death toll was 3,300.

Some 450,000 people remained in shelters and 150 people tested positive for exposure to radiation.

There was a bit of positive news in terms of the radiation level when officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the levels of radiation at the site came down a little bit. But later, an official told ABC News that the data was constantly changing. 

Officials are wondering if the wind is to blame for the up and down readings.

The official told ABC News that as long as there are hot fuel rods and no water pumps circulating consistently, there is no sign that the situation was moving in a positive direction.

The agency said the amount of radiation that's safe to ingest a year is about 2.4 mSv. Earlier on Tuesday, the Fukushima plant was leaking 11.9 mSv per hour. But in six hours, that level dropped to 0.6 mSv per hour.

There is a no-fly zone over a 20-mile radius around the nuclear power plant due to fears that radioactive particles leaking from the complex into the atmosphere could enter passing aircraft.

Officials ordered 140,000 people living within a 19-mile radius of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant to shelter in place. Residents are being told to stay inside, close their windows, turn off their air conditioning and take down all their outside laundry.

Evacuation orders are in effect for 800 workers at the plant. Only 50 remain to do essential work.

Here is a link to a video that shows people in Japan getting checked for radiation.  Just absolutely nerve racking!  What happens if they find someone with radiation?

No comments: