Japan may raise nuke accident severity level to highest 7 from 5
TOKYO [April 12, Kyodo News]
The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan released a preliminary calculation Monday saying that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had been releasing up to 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour at some point after a massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11.
The disclosure prompted the government to consider raising the accident’s severity level to 7, the worst on an international scale, from the current 5, government sources said. The level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale has only been applied to the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.
The current provisional evaluation of 5 is at the same level as the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.
According to an evaluation by the INES, level 7 accidents correspond with a release into the external environment radioactive materials equal to more than tens of thousands terabecquerels of radioactive iodine 131. One terabecquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels.
Haruki Madarame, chairman of the commission, which is a government panel, said it has estimated that the release of 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials per hour continued for several hours.
The commission says the release has since come down to under 1 terabecquerel per hour and said that it is still examining the total amount of radioactive materials released.
M 7.0 quake hits northeastern Japan
A strong earthquake struck north-eastern Japan at 5:16 PM, local time, on Monday, April 11. The earthquake’s magnitude was 7.0, and that its focus was in Fukushima Prefecture at a depth of 10 kilometers. Intensities of 6 minus on the Japanese scale of 0 to 7 were registered in some areas of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures, including Furudono Town, Nakajima Village and Hokota City. An intensity of 5 plus was registered in many areas in the southern Tohoku and northern Kanto regions.
Several minor quakes occurred following the major quake at 5:16. The agency is also warning of possible aftershocks with intensities of 6 plus or 6 minus. The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says radiation figures at monitoring posts around the plant remain unchanged. The utility firm also says outdoor workers had been ordered to temporarily evacuate.
[Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Monday, April 11, 2011 18:46 +0900 (JST)
Expanded evacuation considered
The Japanese government is considering expanding its current 20-kilometer evacuation radius around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, taking into account the risks of long-term accumulated radiation exposure. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Monday that the government may advise residents in areas between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant to evacuate, based on accumulated radiation exposure levels. Currently such residents have been advised to remain indoors. Edano also said the government is considering advising residents to evacuate even from areas outside the zone where cumulative radiation exposure risks are higher. He said the possibility that the situation at the plant will worsen cannot be ruled out. Iitate Village
Water injection resumed at Fukushima Daiichi plant
The operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says water injection into the crippled reactors was briefly suspended after outside power lines were shut down by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Monday evening. Tokyo Electric Power Company said that outside power was restored for reactors No.1, 2 and 3. Water injection was resumed for these reactors after a suspension of about 50 minutes.
Monday, April 11, 2011 18:34 +0900 (JST)
Radiation dose higher than 1000 mSv was measured at the surface of water accumulated on the basement of Unit 2 turbine building and in the tunnel for laying piping outside the building on Mar. 27th.
Plutonium was detected from the soil sampled at Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS site on Mar. 21st, 22nd, 25th and 28th. The amount is so small that the Pu is not harmful to human body.
Radioactive materials exceeding the regulatory limit have been detected from seawater sample collected in the sea surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPS since Mar. 21st. On Apr. 5th, 7.5 million times the legal limit of radioactive iodine, I-131, was detected from the seawater, which had been sampled near the water intake of Unit 2 on Apr 2nd.
It was found on Apr. 2nd that there was highly radioactive (more than 1000mSv/hr) water in the concrete pit housing electrical cables and this water was leaking into the sea through cracks on the concrete wall. It was confirmed on Apr. 6th that the leakage of water stopped after injecting a hardening agent into holes drilled around the pit.
Release of some 10,000 tons of low level radioactive wastewater into the sea began on Apr. 4th, in order to make room for the highly radioactive water mentioned above.
Regarding the influence of the low level radioactive waste release, TEPCO evaluated that eating fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year would add some 25% of the dose that the general pubic receive from the environment for a year.
TEPCO and MEXT has expanded the monitoring for the surrounding sea area since Apr. 4th.
Radioactive materials were detected from underground water sampled near the turbine buildings on Mar. 30th.
Containment of radioactive material:
It is presumed that radioactive material inside the reactor vessel may leaked outside at Unit 1, 2 and Unit 3, based on radioactive material found outside.
NISA announced that the reactor pressure vessel of Unit 2 and 3 may have lost air tightness because of low pressure inside the pressure vessel.
NISA told that it is unlikely that these are cracks or holes in the reactor pressure vessels on the same occasion.
TEPCO started to inject nitrogen gas into the Unit 1 containment vessel to reduce the possibility of hydrogen explosion on Apr. 6th. The same measure will be taken for Unit 2 and 3.
Steam like substance has been observed rising intermittently from the reactor building at Unit 1, 2, 3 and 4. Injecting and/or spraying water to the spent fuel pool has been conducted.
Progress of the work to recover injection function:
Water injection to the reactor pressure vessel by temporary pumps were switched from seawater to freshwater at Unit 1, 2 and 3.
High radiation circumstance hampering the work to restore originally installed pumps for injection.
Discharging radioactive water in the basement of the buildings of Unit 1through 3 continue to improve this situation.
Water transfer work is being made to secure a place for the water to go.
Lighting in the turbine buildings became partly available at Unit 1 through 4.
Radioactive material was detected from milk and agricultural products from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures. The government issued order to limit shipment (21st-) and intake (23rd-) for some products.
Radioactive iodine, exceeding the provisional legal limit, was detected from tap water sampled in some prefectures from Mar. 21st to 27th.
Small fish caught in waters off the coast of Ibaraki on Apr. 4 have been found to contain radioactive cesium above the legal limit on Apr. 5th.
It was decided on Apr. 5th that as a legal limit of radioactive iodine, the same amount for vegetables should be applied to fishery products for the time being.
[ from Japan Atomic Industrial Forum.]
UPDATE (Apr 7) -TEPCO Completes Nitrogen Injection At Unit 1
An operation to reduce the risk of a hydrogen explosion at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi atomic power station’s No. 1 reactor by injecting it with nitrogen has gone smoothly, the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday. Pressure in the reactor’s containment vessel has risen as expected, indicating the success of the operation.
In its operation to prevent a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor, TEPCO plans to insert nearly 6,000 cubic meters of nitrogen, an inert gas, into the reactor over six days and estimates that about 200 cubic meters were injected between 1:30 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. Thursday.
The firm and the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said they believe chances are slim that another hydrogen explosion will occur immediately or that high volumes of radioactive substances will be emitted following the nitrogen injection operation. – Kyodo News (April 7)
UPDATE – Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency – Seismic Damage Information (the 74th Release)
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency stated that at Units 1 through 4 at Fukushima Daiichi NPS , “White smoke was confirmed to generate continuously.” Reported on April 6.
TEPCO Press Release (Apr 6) – Measures Taken To Prevent Explosion
Injection of Nitrogen to Reactor Containment Vessel of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1
“Regarding Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1, taking into account the possibility of hydrogen accumulating inside, we have been considering encapsulation of hydrogen by injecting nitrogen to the reactor containment vessel.
Today, we received an order from minister of economy, trade and industry to report on matter such as necessity of encapsulating nitrogen, method for implementation, and impact assessment of safety.
Accordingly, we have compiled related matters and reported to minister of economy, trade and industry today. The report was approved after the deliberation in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Based on the report, we will begin injecting nitrogen to the reactor containment vessel of Unit 1 today, around 10:30pm”. END
Update [Apr.9] – TEPCO announced 0n 4_9 that they would perform an additional operation to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel of the Number 1 reactor to prevent a possible hydrogen explosion, TEPCO plans to increase the purity of nitrogen gas from 98 percent to 99.98 percent.
UPDATE – TEPCO Press Release (April 4) – Seawater at Unit-2 7.5 Million Times Limit
It has recently been reported in a number of blogs that Xe-131 has “blanketed” The US. There is enough to worry about during this event and Xenon is not one of them.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory measured and reported the Xenon. Their lab has the most sensitive instrument in the world measuring specifically for Xenon around-the-clock. They are set up to provide Nuclear Test Treaty verification. They are not set up to warn for un-healthful levels during a radiation event.
Here is a report from the lab that first measured the very miniscule levels. PACIFIC NW LABS XENON-131 STATEMENT
Most of the “articles” include a moving map from WeatherOnline as proof of the blanket of Xe-131 covering us all. These are predictive dispersion models of where radioactive isotopes might go if they were in the atmosphere at that time. They are basically weather maps – not radiation predictors and should be treated as such.
Here is a disclaimer from the WeatherOnline website to amplify my assertion: “ATTENTION: These products are highly uncertain based on limited information for the source terms. Please use with caution and understand that the values are likely to change.”
HALF-LIFE: 5.29 days
Hazard category: C- level (low hazard ) : 0.100 to 10 mCi
B – level (Moderate hazard) : > 10 mCi to 1000 mCi
A – level (High hazard) : > greater than 1000 mCi
EXTERNAL RADIATION HAZARDS AND SHIELDING:
The gamma exposure rate at 1 cm from 1 mCi of Xe133 shielded for betas is 150 mR/hr, and at 1 foot will be 0.17 mR/hr. The half and tenth values of lead for this gamma are 0.003 and 0.015 cm respectively. This means that lead sheets or regular lead shipping pig will be sufficient for shielding the material.
The maximum range of the betas is about 0.002 inches in lead. Therefore, the use of the lead shield for storage will provide adequate shielding for the beta particles. If skin is uniformly contaminated with Xe133, 1 microcurie /cm2 deliver a dose of 4200 mrems/hr to the basal cells of the skin.
HAZARDS IF INTERNALLY DEPOSITED:
It is important to avoid ingestion, inhalation and/ or skin contamination.
The NCRP MPC for Xe133 is 10E-5 uCi/ml for 40 hr/wk.
SPECIAL PROBLEMS AND PRECAUTIONS:
1. Xe133 is heavier than air and hard to be kept in solution form, therefore, one should work in well ventilated areas.
2. Survey frequently. Change gloves often.
3. Limit of soluble waste to sewer: 100 microcuries per day per lab
TEPCO Press Release – Apr 6
“As part of monitoring activity of the surrounding environment, we conducted analysis of plutonium contained in the soil collected on March 21st and 22nd at the 5 spots in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.As a result, plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were detected. (previously announced)
Subsequently, from the 3 spots where periodic sampling was conducted on March 25th and 28th and from another spot which was supplemented on 25th, we conducted analysis of plutonium contained in the soil. As a result, plutonium 238, 239 and 240 were detected.
In addition, we conducted nuclide analysis of gamma ray contained in the soil collected on March 21st and 22nd at the 5 spots in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Such analysis was also conducted on soil collected on March 25th and 28th at the 4 spots. As a result, radioactive materials were detected as described in the exhibit.
Accordingly, we have reported the result of analysis to Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and Fukushima Prefecture. We will continue the radionuclide analysis contained in the soil.”
UPDATE – TEPCO Press Release – April 7
“Additionally Iodine, Cesium, Tellurium, Barium, Niobium, Ruthenium, Molybdenum, Technetium, Lanthanum, Beryllium, Silver have been detected from the sample of soil at the site of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station collected on 21st, 22nd, 25th and 28th of March.”
Today we have received a letter of protest from National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations (NFFCA) with regard to the discharge of the low level radioactive wastewater from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to the sea. We, as the operator of the power station, received the letter with sincerity, being painfully aware of the feelings and concerns of people in the fishery industry.
While the water discharge was an unavoidable emergency measure implemented after the consultation with the national government in order to prevent the spread of high level radioactive substances, protect the essential safety facilities from inundation and maintain the cooling functions of Units 5 and 6, we would like to make our deepest apologies for the concerns and anxieties caused by our insufficient explanation in advance.
With regard to the compensations related to the water discharge and other issues, we will follow the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damages and sincerely address them with support from the government. We would highly appreciate it if NFFCA could understand the above.
Working closely with the government, we will make every effort toward the earliest resolution of the situation.
April 6, 2011
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated
In a previous article it was argued that the EPA’s RadNet radiation detection network suffers from a lack of maintenance, improper calibration and zero credibility. That article also named the company responsible for the proper maintenance of RadNet and showed the political ties that may have helped land the no-bid contract.
A system so essential to informing and protecting Americans during a radiation event fails at a time of need. Why is this? Just how hard is it to maintain what is essentially an Ethernet computer network with a few dozen workstations connected to a radiation sensor and a few servers ?
The “amateurs” over at the Radiation Network set up a simple version of the system with all volunteers in response to the emergency and at last check they were 27 stations strong.
In order to understand the current situation it is necessary to first explore the hows, whats and whys of RadNet.
Air monitoring stations are sited throughout the United States, designed to detect and record various types of airborne radiation. According to the EPA, RadNet provides near real-time monitoring. The RadNet air network uses two different types of monitors, fixed (stationary) and deployable (mobile):
Fixed Air Monitors: Permanently mounted and continuously operating, each fixed monitor contains a high-volume air sampler, gamma and beta radiation detectors, and a computer that controls the monitor and sends data to a central database at least once an hour. The individual detectors within each monitor can discriminate between different types of radiation, including those that are naturally occurring. See the left side of Figure 1.
Deployable Air Monitors: Deployable monitors are portable and can be used for exercises and for rapid deployment in response to real events. The monitors have high- and low-volume air samplers, a gamma radiation level monitor, a data logger, and telecommunication systems that send data to the central database. Although deployable monitors do not discriminate the energy of gamma radiation, they do provide gamma exposure rates. See the right side of Figure 1.
The monitoring stations are in constant contact with a central server through telephone, ethernet, cellular and satellite links depending on the location and circumstances. Collected data is sent to the central server at prescribed intervals and is incorporated into a database that contains data from all stations. Historic and current data can be compared and viewed in numerical or graphical format.
When a monitoring station fails to send data to the server at a prescribed time the software is designed to make a notification.
When a station sends data over a predetermined limit a notification should be sent.
If a self-check of the computer at the station determines there is a malfunction, a notification should also be sent.
This can be accomplished by an entry into a computerized log or an email/page to an on-call technician.
Either none of these notification systems were in place or the EPA knew of the problems and did nothing to resolve them.
It is evident that the EPA is having a hard time presenting any useful data for the public. A map of fixed stations currently providing useable data downloaded from EPA’s RadNet site on 4/2 shows the following:
And the same map downloaded on 4/4:
And again on 4/7:
Legend for map color scheme
- Dark blue pins show recently updated data.
- White pins show monitors that are temporarily out of service.
- Light blue pins mean the data is being reviewed at EPA’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory.
It is evident from the three maps above, downloaded over a period of five days, that there are a high number of stations where “data is being reviewed”. Quite a few are the same stations all three days. The stations in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Raleigh, N.C. have been out of service for multiple days during this period.
During the first week after the radiation started spewing from Fukushima there were almost a dozen stations that were out of service and at least 5 of them were on the west coast. Any attempt to access data from the “online” stations oftentimes resulted in bogus data or no data at all.
Just as disturbing is the EPS’s claim that if a station is offline another nearby station would pick up the slack. The RadNet stations sample air that is available locally. They do not scan at any distance. If a station in Idaho Falls goes offline (which it has) the next nearest station is in Salt Lake City which is 200 miles away. The air nor the weather is the same in these two places.
A section of the EPA RadNet website is devoted to publishing data collected from the stations via quarterly reports, however this has not been done for some time. The first report published at the site is July – September 1991. The last report available on the site is July – September 2009!
According to the site: Environmental Radiation Data (ERD) is an electronic and print journal compiled and distributed quarterly by the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) in Montgomery, Alabama. It contains data from RadNet (previously known as ERAMS.)
Where is the data from September 2009 to March 2011?
EDI, (the company with the EPA contract to maintain RadNet maintenance) should be investigated and the owners should be held responsible for allowing America to be unprotected from a radiation event such as Fukushima.
We know that in the days after the Fukushima nuclear plant began releasing radioactive materials into the atmosphere, all of the “weather readers” on the networks and local channels appeared to be reading from the same script. Soon after “experts” were paraded in front of the camera to dismiss the possibility. We all know now that they were dead wrong!
Examples of this:
March 15, Dr. Perry Kendall (public health officer – British Columbia) said, “winds from Japan take five or six days to reach B.C. and by then any radioactive particles would have dispersed over the Pacific Ocean.“
“Japan has an evacuation area of about 12 miles from the nuclear plants. Washington state is 5,000 to 6,000 miles away from Japan,” Tim Church, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Health, told the Wall Street Journal in a March 15th article.
March 18, a Baltimore Sun article stated, “There’s just one problem with all this panic: It’s completely irrational. Nuclear radiation can extend around 12 miles from the point of meltdown — not 12-friggin’-thousand miles. ”
“Worst-case scenario, there is no threat to public health in California,” said the California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Mike Dayton.
“Based on the type of reactor design and the nature of the accident, we see a very low likelihood — really, a very low probability — that there’s any possibility of harmful radiation levels in the United States or in Hawaii or any other U.S. territories,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko stated .
And now that it is here they are all now saying that the levels aren’t harmful.
What I haven’t heard discussed much is whether or not the massive amounts of material flowing into the Pacific Ocean can make it to the US shores.
Fig. 1 is a map of the ocean currents in the Pacific. Much like the jet stream, gulf currents follow fairly predictable seasonal paths.
As you can see, just as with the jet stream there is ample opportunity for ANY material to be transported thousand of miles.
Recently in Bloomberg Business Week, Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts said, “The ocean can absorb significant increases in cesium and iodine, the two most common radioactive isotopes coming from the plant, before it becomes unsafe for humans or marine animals.”
“For cesium and iodine, they are soluble,” Buesseler said “This time of year off the coast of Japan, they would mix with water down 100 feet to 300 feet, and be diluted by a factor of about 100. The currents there would move it to the south, just north of Tokyo, and then out to sea.”
OUT TO SEA???? AND THEN WHERE???
More to come on this issue in a latter post.
Complied by Webworker
Here is a list of resources that will aid in understanding of the current nuclear emergency
DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE
Japan’s leading English-language newspaper–is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun which has the largest circulation of any newspaper in Japan. The Daily Yomiuri is an excellent source of both domestic and foreign news.
THE JAPAN TIMES
In addition to economic, political, sports and hard news, other information includes commentaries from opinion leaders in various fields and editorials that reflect Japanese public opinion.
YOKOSO NEWS -TV
Television feed of Japanese man named “ Katz” reading and interpreting Japanese news sources in English. Very good info here.
NHK WORLD TV – English Language
NHK operates international television, radio and Internet services in Japan. Together, they are known as NHK WORLD. This is their English language feed.
RT (Russian Television)
24 hr news and commentary from a Russian perspective.
Official Tokyo Electric & Power Company English language site. Press Releases and periodic Main Gate readings are published here.
PRESS TV (Iran)
Press TV is the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English.
Japans Leading News Network (self-proclaimed)
UNLV AIR RADIATION TEST RESULTS
UNLV Health Physics department has set up a high-volume air sampler on the roof of the Bigelow Health Sciences building in an attempt to measure radionuclides released from the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan.
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PHYSICS DEPT quickly adapted one of their basic research labs to monitor for the arrival of trace amounts of fission products produced at Fukushima.
JET STREAM AND WEATHER MAPS/FORECASTS
The California Regional Weather Server’s weather maps and images are created at San Francisco State University using data from the National Weather Service.
UNIVERSITY OF MD. PLUME FORECASTS
University of Maryland atmospheric science researchers are publishing atmospheric dispersion patterns using a tool developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – the HYSPLIT model.
Japan 2011 Earthquake/Tsunami U.S. Government Information
Official US Gov with information on air quality, food safety, Americans in Japan, disaster preparedness, and donations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This site provides information to help people protect themselves during and after a radiation event.
EPA RADNET (public site)
EPAs nationwide radiation monitoring system, RadNet, continuously monitors the nations air and regularly monitors drinking water, milk and precipitation for environmental radiation. The RadNet system consists of both fixed and deployable monitors. To see data from an individual monitor click on the monitor in that state.
Unit 1 – Explosive sound and white smoke were confirmed after the big quake occurred at 3:36 pm on March 12th. It was assumed to be a hydrogen explosion.