Tag Archives: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Fukushima: why is vital technology arriving so late?


Fukushima
Fukushima (Photo credit: zigazou76)

Obviously it was a good thing to see a roaring Antonov N-124 cargo plane from Russia flying into Atlanta airport this week, picking up a specially designed 86180 kg concrete pump, retrofitted and mounted on a 26-wheel truck to pour water on the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant.This Putzmeister made pump in Wisconsin is able to shoot water into hard-to-reach areas like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,  and  as it happened in 1986 when two of such pumps have been used to pour concrete over the most “risk parts” of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Japanese authorities from the beginning have been facing  the problem to cool the plant’s  reactors after the recent earthquake and tsunami, fully crippling out the backup cooling equipment.

Needless to say that this technology will offer real help. This equipment is both able to pump and spray enough water to cool down an overheated reactor, where fire trucks and helicopters  are not efficient, – but  this equipment is also able to pour concrete over parts of nuclear plants if so required. Really great this technology!  But why on earth is  this technology arriving so late at its proper destination?

This equipment has a boom which can reach out some 70 meter, besides really  the opportunity to be operated at least 3 km away by remote control.

Lets face it,  a more proactive approach with sending this type of equipment in a far more timely way could have prevented excessive radiation and could have limited as such death and morbidity at a large-scale.

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Japan‘s latest estimates about radiation being  released in the air from the Fukushima plant, seems about 370 terabecquerels of iodine 131.  This is about 7-8 % of the estimated 5200 terabecquerels released at Chernobyl. The difference  is mainly caused by  the fact when the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl happened, the reactor had power, – whilst the Fukushima plant had no power at the time of the earthquake. It could have been a worst case scenario if the plant at Fukushima  had full power on impact, which could have been possible.  Of note as well that Caesium -137 levels last far longer than those of iodine and further measurements of Caesium -137 levels and its spreading may give a more detailed indication on the future implications, if full transparency is in place.

Still however  the question after Chernobyl – why international support on the most vital point of attack in scenario’s like the one at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been so slow, with now so many implications for Japan. It is clear that the International Atomic Energy Agency, apart from judging matters of radiation in terms of INES scales in retrospect,  need to seek support at the level of international governments and vice versa. The aim is to have rapid response teams quickly available with the inclusion of pumps as designed e.g. at Putsmeister, and e.g Russian cargo planes at times of such disasters being on stand by, – besides other things. This actually will show proper and proactive support in the future and may cut both damage and danger in any further events down the line. It is clear that Fukushima needs to give lesson’s for the future, like the BP oil disaster in the US needs to be a lesson in terms of specific required international technology being rapidly on the spot. The last simply as a need to combat destructive implications at an early stage, with speed.

Related imageJapan wants to share the lessons it learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster

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If e.g a major bus accident happens on the road with many being seriously injured, – rapid response is vital as the earlier you can pay attention to those who have breathing problems or those who are bleeding, the better the survival rate. In a way this is similar with what happened at Fukushima. If Putzmeister pumps would have been on the spot within let’s say 4 days, if achievable, the implications would have been less dramatic on both the short and the long-term for people who have tried to fight this disaster at the forefront, – now being exposed to measures both discriminatory and reminiscent due to stigma’s being applied – and confusion about radiation.

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It is clear that proactive disaster management plans to the future need to be in place in those areas which could provoke major threats on human lives if disasters of any such kind are not dealt with properly, – with all technology being required in place in the quickest way. This requires on its own international coöperation, which failed Japan in crucial areas, or at least arrived to late.

Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/the-nuclear-energy-dangers-in-our-times/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/

The nuclear energy dangers in our times


English: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tigh...
English: Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tight crop showing reactors 4, 3, 2 and 1, reading left (South) to right (North). Area shown is approximately 600 by 350 metres. 日本語: 福島第一原子力発電所。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The nuclear energy question has been raised on many occasions but the situation in Japan again reflects issues which if not resolved properly have implications for many future generations.

The question is not whether we can supply ourselves with efficient energy but the issue is whether the kind of energy we opt for is really safe.

As long as it proves that even one of the most advanced nations as Japan with modern nuclear plants do not have the abilities to contain the energies being released when things go wrong (in this case as a result of natural disaster), – there is no guarantee that those energies can be contained in times of conflict (war, terrorist attacks) where nuclear plants could be targeted. The risks are not only limited to natural disasters and earthquake prone areas, clear however as they are.

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The question of a sustainable energy supply when natural resources are coming to an end  at about 2070 can’t be ignored,  but the way this question will be resolved can’t be a shortcut in terms of >”easier to offer nuclear energy”<  if  the use of those energies can’t be guaranteed safely – to be contained.

We can’t turn a blind eye to the dangers on the long -term implications if e.g in over populated areas those energies are uncontrolled released, – either by natural disaster, acts of war, insufficient maintenance, mechanical error or any other human failings. Where some incidents may only have local implications, other incidents may have global implications resulting in radioactive pollution of both air and water, radio-active clouds & rains, upper and lower streams spreading radioactive material at high-speed in the atmospheres. Besides the risks that those energies are used in some countries for the wrong reasons, in other countries the technical know how and the financial resources eventually may prove to be insufficient to keep up their plants in line with the required quality & safety.

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Where we have been able to discover forces of nature which can’t be controlled in the very best hands, we should be reluctant to allow it being used, – at least  in those countries  where international surveillance is insufficient. Japan’s Fukushima  nuclear power plant being badly damaged did affect local waters with radioactive iodine levels more than 1800 times the legal levels. Traces of radioactive iodine 131 have been found at 12 places in the air around South Korea.

Till so far the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history happened on the 26th of April in 1986 at Chernobyl, Ukraine (at that stage part of the Soviet Union). Radioactivity levels being released in the atmosphere were about 400 times higher than the fall out of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Still there is a 30 to 40 km exclusion zone surrounding the plant where over 300000 people had to abandon their homes.

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The argument that the use of increasing nuclear power plants would solve or reduce climate change is not valid. If the UK e.g. by 2024 would have some 10 new nuclear reactors being build, the UK carbon emissions would be reduced by only 4%.

Nuclear power plants simply create more nuclear waste for future generations, apart from the implications when things go wrong. At times of war nuclear power plants are most likely prime targets with conventional weapons. If e.g. the power plant in Petten (the Netherlands) would be as such destroyed, the nuclear energies being released would not only affect  the Netherlands on its own with its dense population, but surrounding countries as well, – not to speak about the nuclear material being released in the atmosphere, –  like it happened in Chernobyl.  Needless to say that at times of war more power plants at the same time are at risk of destruction by those who are totally irresponsible, – as history shows there have been many irresponsible minds at the forefront of decision-making.

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Just imagine the implications of 10 nuclear power plants being destroyed at the same time. Life on earth would be under potential threat with genetic malformations running in many generations.

At present in Japan drinking half a liter contaminated fresh drinking water would expose any person to their annual safe dose as far as Officials concerned. Needless to say that people need more fresh drinking water to sustain in life and that there will be accumulations with profound health effects on the long-term, not being seen as yet. Radioactive material released into the sea will spread due to the tides.

Iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, however levels of Caesium -137 have a half-life in the range of 30 years and the local levels in Japan recently were close to 80 times the legal maximum. Radioactive iodine, caesium and cobalt levels in water in the turbine buildings next to the reactors 1 and 3 in Japan were 10000 times the normal level.

If the volatile uranium plutonium mix would start to burn really through its steel pressure vessel, there would be a worst case scenario in place, – nearly similar to the destruction of a nuclear power plant as a result of e.g the use of a conventional weapon during an act of war. Total destruction of nuclear power plants at times of conflict or natural disaster may create catastrophic implications, even worse than the Chernobyl disaster. Those implications may affect the food chain including farm and dairy products. At present in Japan the evacuation zone around the plant is 30 km, however still below the 80 km zone as advised by the United States. If such thing would happen in eg Petten (the Netherlands), it would mean evacuation of Amsterdam.

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Still the dangers of nuclear energy are often underestimated by the experts in both the national and international discussions and within the arena of politics not everybody seems to be familiar with those dangers, – and at times decisions with little real insight in the dangers of those nuclear energies are often made to short-term interests and not being taken with the long-term future at heart.  Some would still say believe that nuclear energies in advanced power plants are safe, but the incidents in Japan proves that they are far from safe.

If backup systems in unforeseen circumstances can’t be modified and/or improved, – if it is still allowed to build nuclear plants at earthquake prone areas (the area of San Fransisco is at risk if there would be nearby power plants), – and if nuclear energies in power plants can’t be secured and prevented from uncontrolled release in case of natural disaster, times of war and other human failure (either intentional or non intentional), – this form of energy will be an energetic liability for our own human genetic structure, where we survive such disasters in the short-term.

Related imageRelated imageafter an earthquake in the ? future.

The warnings of the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant can’t be ignored or wiped underneath the carpet. At this time traces of radioactivity have been found in Europe, Korea and the United States. Rainwater in Ohio has been contaminated. There are significant import restrictions on food from Japan.  The potential presence of caesium, iodine and other radioactive material in fish are realistic dangers.

It is clear that the impact of a partial destructed nuclear power plant in Japan has ripple effects all over the world, not to speak about the nightmare scenario’s in case of destruction of nuclear power plants as a result of forces of nature or calculated acts at war, – including terrorist attacks.

We are using powers which can’t be controlled eventually and then there is nothing else we can do than running behind the facts as they will evolve over time. The last if collective reason is not taking over at the early start of this decade and make selective its use. under the proper circumstances with maximum safeguards in place including ongoing quality maintenance. The last will be most questionable if countries will be hit by significant economic crisis or together with natural disaster and even in the most advanced countries it proves that systems are not foolproof

Thank you!

 Paul 

Paul Alexander Wolf

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/fukushima-why-is-vital-help-arriving-so-late/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/21st-centurys-collision-course-of-nuclear-disaster-both-the-possible-and-the-impossible/

https://paulalexanderwolf.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/we-dream-of-things-that-never-were-and-say-why-not/