Comments

SuperG wrote on 3/11/2011, 12:06 PM
I saw those images late last night at !:00 in the morning. The scary thing is, I had *just* finished watching the movie "2012" on Starz, and had tuned to CNN after the movie finished. I've you've seen "2012", you'll know what I mean. It was a freakishly uncanny coincidence!
DGrob wrote on 3/11/2011, 12:48 PM
Grobsie here Grazie, remember? My wife was calling San Diego in the wee hours to alert friends. Whew. Darryl
farss wrote on 3/11/2011, 3:17 PM
More numbing than terrifying.
Lately I've found my brain being swamped with live feeds and almost instand replays of the horrors around us. I need to keep reminding myself it isn't Hollywood, I'm watching people loose their lives.

Bob.
rmack350 wrote on 3/11/2011, 3:38 PM
It was late at night when we saw the news on NHK World. It was hard to get the scale of things until we realized the little things being washed inland were buses. And then you realize there've got to be people in that water.

My partner's family are all in Japan but not near the epicenter. The closest to harm is his brother in Tokyo. Haven't heard from him but suspect he's okay. He might have had a long walk home yesterday.

There was a comment on NHK that the quake was felt in Beijing. I don't know whether to believe that. A lot of things get said when reporters are there to just keep talking.

I live about half a mile from a fault that's overdue to rupture. Time to get serious about reinforcing those cripple walls...

At moments its terrifying but mostly it's visceral. My heart and stomach hurt.

The one transcendent moment I remember after the 89 Loma Prieta quake was looking up at the darkened sky over San Francisco and seeing so many stars. You just don't get that view from inside a city.

Rob Mack
Laurence wrote on 3/11/2011, 8:30 PM
What terrifies me are those nuclear reactors with damaged cooling systems.
Grazie wrote on 3/12/2011, 12:04 AM
And, Laurence, the decision imperative to build them there. But where else? I've no idea, but maybe this will engage the scientific/engineer talent of a country rich with both to focus on something that will give an alternative solution.

Just heard that around one of the Nuclear Plants, the 10k exclusion zone has now been extended to 60k.

Grazie



farss wrote on 3/12/2011, 12:35 AM
[i[" maybe this will engage the scientific/engineer talent of a country rich with both to focus on something that will give an alternative solution."[/i]

Getting even more OT from the OT..
I believe the unit with an issue is an old design reactor built in 1971. Shutdown was started as soon as the quake hit, control rods fully inserted so it cannot go boom. Problem with this old design is it requires cooling for several days to completely shutdown. Modern designs don't have that issue.
What does in my opinion seems to be a bit odd is how the diesel generators were knocked out by an earthquake.
Worst case scenario is this will be another Three Mile Island type incident, not a Chernobyl.

Bob.



ushere wrote on 3/12/2011, 1:09 AM
somewhat ot, but the stabilised helicopter pics are pretty amazing - though why 4:3 no idea. i though nhk was all 16:9 hd?
DGates wrote on 3/12/2011, 2:22 AM
Seeing the tsunami surge making it's way through the farmlands was downright terrifying. Almost didn't seem real.
farss wrote on 3/12/2011, 3:21 AM
Watching the same footage directly off their site it is 16:9.

Bob.

amendegw wrote on 3/14/2011, 3:27 AM
Watching the cable newscasts, I'm seeing 15 sec clips of the devastation. While quite horrifying, if you have six minutes and have a Facebook account, the video linked below is well worth watching, imho. It starts with a car turning around because of a tickle coming up the street. Six minutes later, houses & stores are floating down the street and the camera operator is fleeing to high ground. https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1605260179420

...Jerry
PeterWright wrote on 3/14/2011, 4:52 AM
That's stunning footage - really chilling to watch Jerry - thanks.

... and it was almost as chilling to read some of the retarded FB religious freaks trying to attach this occurrence to their ridiculous beliefs!
Rory Cooper wrote on 3/14/2011, 6:15 AM
My heart goes out to all my brothers and sisters in Japan

Shoichi Nagagawa the Japanese minister of finance also had some weird beliefs. R.I.P
Jeff9329 wrote on 3/15/2011, 3:24 PM
I believe the unit with an issue is an old design reactor built in 1971. Shutdown was started as soon as the quake hit, control rods fully inserted so it cannot go boom. Problem with this old design is it requires cooling for several days to completely shutdown. Modern designs don't have that issue.

Bob:

The reactors in Japan are GE Model 3 & 4s with Mark 1 containments. There are currently 23 similar reactors operating in the US out of the 104 total current US reactors. So yes, it is an old design, but most reactors are old anyway as none have been permitted and few built over the last 20+ years.

The spent fuel rods are cooled for a period of 6 months in the boric acid cooling pools in the containments before being casked for long term storage. They are actually hot for about a month. An emergency shutdown seems pretty damaging to the system, and I dont think it will cool down in a few days, but I guess that depends on the cooling flow, temperature and volume.

I wonder if they are using total loss seawater cooling? If so with the cracked zirconium fuel rods and seawater washing/boiling off the uranium metal, there is probably some radioactive material washing out to sea constantly.

Anyway, I think my point was that there is little way to quickly shut these large plants off regardless of design or age. The quantity/mass of the fuel and metal is huge and the normal operating temperatueis already at 285 C.

Also, Chernobyl didnt even have containment and was a terrible design. That was a disaster waitng to happen.

Jeff
farss wrote on 3/15/2011, 4:11 PM
Jeff,
I worked for almost two decades around power generation and distribution control systems. At the time I left the company we were deep into the design of the world's first digital E2 shutdown system and funnily enough in hindsite it was for a GE unit in an earthquake zone i.e. Taiwan.

Watching the events unfold in Japan I've not known if I should cry or laugh. If the worst case scenarios were not so dire I would have been ROFL'ing. This has been Keystone Cops at almost every step. They finally get an outside generator to the site and it has the wrong plug, seriously, what the ... I can just see it, "we'll need presidential approval to cut the plug off and splice the cables..."

My dark side aside, this and every other incident that has occured has was due to human factors. Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, two NASA Shuttles, all avoidable except for human failings.

Just to put the record straight, my original post was wrong. I never even thought of the issue of the rod storage facility and I should have. This was identified as an area of risk in the USA a long time ago and operators sanctioned over breeches of safe operationing procedures during refuelling. Worst case studies have been done on what'd happen if one went pear shaped and it sure isn't pretty.

"I wonder if they are using total loss seawater cooling? If so with the cracked zirconium fuel rods and seawater washing/boiling off the uranium metal, there is probably some radioactive material washing out to sea constantly"

The whole show seems such a mess even the people on site don't seem to know exactly what they are doing. TEPCO has a very poor record of honesty and transparency. Cooling pumps have been failing, probably because they're pumping seawater with a high particular load thanks to the tsunami. Satellite imaging of the site shows some damage to structures close to the ocean but the reactors buildings were not touched. Why the diesels failed over time I don't knw for sure. Why they ran the pumps for 8 hours off station batteries and in that time could not secure another source of power escapes me, even give the damage done by the earthquake. My gut feeling is TEPCO played down the serious nature of the situation and did not reveal how much trouble they were in quickly enough to provoke an adequate response. The US Navy was close by, by the time anyone thought to swallow their pride and yell "HELP" the situation had detiorated way, way too far.

Bob.
Serena wrote on 3/15/2011, 4:39 PM
The media reporting of the reactor problems is very generally very poor, emphasising, as usual, drama of emotions and explosions over information.
It seems that the installations survived the quake (shut down was an automatic response) and when the grid was cut the diesel backup kicked in to supply power to the cooling system. But then the tsunami flooded the diesels (located on low ground without sufficiently high protective walls) and killed them, leaving only a short term battery power backup (100 mins). I'm guessing that this left them with submerged diesel generators. One might think portable units could have been airlifted in, but there is no information on decisions made. Now I believe they are back running the cooling systems on grid power, but I've seen no engineering details (such as whether it is the reactor cooling systems or emergency pumping systems).
The release of steam (to relieve pressure) carried a little short lived radiation, and the explosions are apparently of hydrogen gas vented with the steam. These have damaged the walls of the building but not the reactors.
However it appears that cooling of the fuel rods has been inadequate and some have possibly melted (partially). If any of the casings containing each rod have been breached, then gases discharged from the installations may be carrying radioactive particles as may the cooling water.
Obviously things can get worse, but this is a properly contained reactor and disaster should be avoided. I think it important that people understand what is happening and what lessons are to be learned for other and future power generation facilities.

EDIT: Ah, I see. Mismatched connectors! The US did provide coolant (according to early reports), but maybe actually they flew in generators. I suspect your keystone cop scenario is pretty right. Every nuclear accident seems to have been caused by or got out of hand because the changing situation was not understood by the operators.

EDIT2: I should read our morning newspaper before I scan this forum. The paper today has a good breakdown of events. Last evening's "serious" TV report on the reactors was very poor.
apit34356 wrote on 3/16/2011, 12:17 AM
Lets not forgot that whole land mass has moved +12 ft and a elevation change of over 2ft in a matter of seconds! The cooling lines to the sea were under major structural stress from this movement plus there was a 500 mph shock wave moving thru the water, plus a lot of back pressure on the pipes fittings & bends and the pumps.

I suspect the control rod bearings may have been damaged by the energy vector of the earth movement, possibly slowing deployment or stopping some of the rods. if the rods were moving up during the 8.9, the rods would probably flex in response but if the energy wave traveling thru the metal cage and cement were at different speeds and frequency....... the stress of the different vector energies would attack the bearing and exposed rod length in the cage.

But these older designs are still doing good considering the the seq of events. I worry more about some crazy GreenPeace individuals trying to make these problems into a major critical event by helping it along for their political causes.

farss wrote on 3/16/2011, 12:56 AM
The facility was not subject to anything like a magnitude 8.9 quake. That's the intensity at the epicentre which thankfully was quite some distance away.
There's some pretty amazing before and after images of many of the affected areas here. If you scroll down far enough you find one for the Fukushima nuclear plant, pretty much all the major buildings are intact, including the stacks. Even the thin metal cladding on the outside of the reactor building looked just fine before the explosions.

I believe the problems start and end with TEPCO. The IAEA is becoming very unhappy with them as is the Japanese government. Local paper has a photo of what is probably steam coming out of one of the buildings with a headline that reads "LETHAL CLOUD". France has upgraded these series of incidents to level 6 making it worse than Three Mile Island and the worlds worst after Chernobyl.

As for Greenpeace doing anything daft, TEPCO have done that for them. Last I heard they're now having cooling problems in units 5 and 6.

Bob.
Serena wrote on 3/16/2011, 6:03 AM
No, there wasn't a 500mph shock wave moving through the water. That is the velocity of the wave crest in very deep water. As the wave moved into shallow coastal waters it slowed and became higher, hitting the beaches at around 50mph. The cooling system was closed cycle and with no connection to the sea, so the tsunami had no impact on pressures within the system. It did flood the backup power systems and stopped the diesels, which lead to cooling failures. The earthquake lasted several minutes, which is the duration of the plate movements, and that movement is continuing as evidenced by after shocks. So Japan did not leap 12ft in seconds, but it must have felt like it did. Unfortunately the media seems to know only "how do you feel and isn't it awful?" and care not about factually correct reporting.
apit34356 wrote on 3/16/2011, 9:35 AM
"500mph shock wave moving through the water" note that I did not state "shock" but energy wave. They are not always the same, in this case, I was referring to sound and dynamic pressure "overlapping" . The 500 mph was a common "quote" in the media, no real data is in the public domain.

Actually the cooling has two stages, the closed loop water system that is used in steam generation and a second loop, that brings outside water into a heat transfer system to "reduce" the temperature of the primary water loop. But part of the secondary water has a sub system that can use sea water in emergences, Since all these metal pipes are connected by various structural devices, damping designs can not manage all forms of energy waves in a moving 3s space.----- because in water, it creates bubbles behind the wave that burst(adding to the push) and in ground, temporarily liquidity the soil and the gas bubbles burst as the soil re-compresses.... etc...under the structure. Since these structures have very deep steel and concrete pylons that arbor to the sub-rock structure to manage the load, these structures can act as antennas to the energy wave.

Today, friction is viewed as mechanical process(sound) first and heat second. There a lot of debate of order (sound, heat) but the point is that there is a massive amount of energy traveling thru the soil and water. Metal seams and turbine blades have unique "stress" points.... a structure may stand up to 90% of its failure point but add a sound wave with the right vector energy, it fails. This example is vastly over simplify.
Serena wrote on 3/16/2011, 5:56 PM
>>>plus there was a 500 mph shock wave moving thru the water<<
Actually, apit, you did say "shock". But you're right about the cooling system needing cooling itself, but there is no reason to mechanically couple this with the reactor cooling and sea water would never be employed for that purpose. A report says the seawater is being supplied by "temporary fire pumps".
However I have no detailed knowledge of the plants so no point in my debating particular engineering aspects of their construction. Reports today indicate the company has been careless about safety over the years, and events now seem to be on a nasty trend. Water bombing the reactors does suggest desperation.
JJKizak wrote on 3/17/2011, 6:30 AM
The ECS (Emergency Cooling System) diesels and batteries were disabled by the tsunami, not the quake because they were located in the lower sections of the buildings and filled with water. The electric feed lines to the complex were also disabled but not sure if it was the quake or the tsunami. They had no power to run the electric cooling pumps. The situation should have been rated as catastrophic, not the way the electric company kept saying "stay calm". The intial rescue program should have had the military supply portable emergency power to run the pumps.
I forgot to add that the fuel tanks for the ECS system got washed away by the tsunami.
JJK
Serena wrote on 3/17/2011, 6:19 PM
Somewhat disturbing to learn that the cooling systems have not run since the tsunami hit and that the cooling pond of spent fuel rods is believed to have boiled dry and it is that pond that water bombing is attempting to refill. The spent rods are reported as the major source of radiation leakage and, incidentally, SoCal can expect to receive increased (but v low) airborne radiation by tomorrow. The Japanese electric company is hurrying construction of a power line to restart the cooling systems, but no date on completion.
The real problem with nuclear power is the people who run it.
Dreamline wrote on 3/17/2011, 6:22 PM
NO!!!

The real problem with nuclear power is NUCLEAR POWER!!!

Wake up!