Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fukushima update: Hirosi Takashi and acknowledging how bad it is

There is a very interesting translation of (part of ) an interview with Hirose Takashi today at CounterPunch.

You should read it but, anyhow, I'd underline three items:

He claims (reality has sadly proven him right today as well) that the cooling system has been damaged by the salt of the evaporated water and cannot be reinstated as was hoped. He also says that pouring water is useless: “like pouring water on lava”, that only a Chernobyl solution (sarcophagus) will work. 

Also that, as the area becomes radioactive, there is a risk of domino effect to other reactors and even other power plants such as nearby Fukushima II. This is because the radiation impedes workers to keep control of the reactors and this is highly delicate stuff that just can’t lay idle: it needs systematic surveillance and maintenance. 

[Note: when people claim "nuclear is safe" they forget even this: that, unlike coal or a windmill, this stuff just can't lay on its own without causing big problems].

Comparison with X-rays and CT scans are pointless because you do not breath or eat radioactive material in such processes. Ingested radioactive ions make you radioactive inside, receiving constant radiation from those sources. 

[Note: He does not say but, obviously, what is on the outside (dust, etc.) also keeps emitting radiation every single second, so if you are nearby your get radiated (only thick lead can protect you but it's impractical)].

With the acknowledgement that the cooling system is beyond repair, I understand that there's only one thing to do: the Chernobyl solution. But being by the coast, this solution has increased difficulties (erosion, meltdown core falling into water, how to prevent pollution from reaching the sea). And also Chernobyl is not at any active seismic zone, so we can expect the complex and imperfect solution (the double sarcophagus) to withstand at least for some centuries. It may not be so easy in the Japanese case.

Other news can be found at Energy News. For example the 1600x level of radiation at the edge of the 20km forbidden zone from Fukushima yesterday.

Update (Mar 23):

Cesium-137 released at Fukushima in just the first four days could well be half of all released by Chernobyl. Also 20% of Iodine-131 of what was emitted by Chernobyl in all that other accident. Source: PDF, Energy News.

Repairs in reactor no. 2 halted today because of excessive radiation (500 mS/h) (source).

Later in the day, black radioactive smoke from reactor no. 3 (pictured above) forced another evacuation of workers (source).

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