Wednesday, March 16, 2011

French Industry Minister: Japan has lost control of Fukushima I

French Industry Minister, Eric Besson, acknowledged today that the situation at Fukushima I is one where the Japanese authorities seem to have lost control:

Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control. That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying.

Environment Minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, described the situation in terms of catastrophe and suggested that French citizens in Japan who do not have a good reason to stay in Tokyo, leave the country or at least head to the South. 

France is  along with Japan one of the two states in the World who generate most of their energy out of atomic methods. Both do that largely for reasons of alleged "independence". It is most reasonable to assume that when French ministers speak in such terms they do for a good reason, as the last thing they want to do is to sound anti-nuclear

Source: Reuters (via FOSL)

Other not less important news on the Fukushima I nuclear catastrophe:

High radiation levels at affected plant prevent military helicopters from pouring water. The situation reminds that of Chernobyl, where brave USSR pilots gave away their lives in order to cover the nuclear meltdown with sand (if I recall properly). However one wonders if such kind of heroes do still exist today (or if they can be replaced by robots, what would be the ideal thing to do but probably not yet developed).  

TEPCO has released a photo (source) of the state of reactors 3 and 4 (where spent fuel rods were being kept and which has added to the troubles of its siblings). I wonder why is the image cut in order not to show the state of reactor 2, where a full meltdown was ongoing according to the information available since yesterday. 

Whatever the case, both buildings are in horrible state and reactor no. 3 is clearly destroyed in all its extension (and not just the top as was the case at reactor no. 1 originally).

TEPCO released image of reactors 3 and 4
The latest infos I have read on reactor 2 is that it is no longer sealed (so the meltdown has penetrated the container and is heading into the ground. 

As for reactor no. 3 it is also very likely that the container is damaged and leaking radioactivity. Something quite apparent in the photo above (even if radioactivity is invisible it just takes common sense to realize). 

Also (via FOSL) here you have a very good explanation of why spent fuel rods are potentially even more dangerous than the reactors by Racheal Meadow at MSNBC:

Worse than Chernobyl

There's no category for worse than Chernobyl (level 7 accident) but this is it anyhow: in Chernobyl there was only one reactor affected and, being on dry land, it could be eventually encased from underneath, not without huge effort under a planned economy (much more appropriate for this kind of titanic job, mind you). 

In this case there are three reactors and at least three spent fuel pools (more radioactive than reactors themselves). But what I am considering is that, being just near the sea, you cannot dig under the reactors to encase the meltdown materials because sea water will be filtering over there all the time most probably at this or that depth. 

So I have no idea how they are going to patch this huge nuclear problem but it does look like a nefarious engineering challenge. 

I'd propose to draft all nuclear yes people, specially those with some influence (from engineers to CEOs going through politicians and journalists) and send them as "volunteers" to patch the problem somehow... or die trying. 

Nuclear energy needs heroes, you know.

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