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Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima 'No-Go Zone'


#1

Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima 'No-Go Zone'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive "no-go zone" near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation.


#2

Mother Earth seems to be wishing us gone. All those who support nuclear energy really need to reconsider their views.


#3

The denial has adopted a pre-adolescent crap-load similar to baby's diaper: a "difficult-to-return-to area"????

I know that US engineering is a major part of what is falling apart, failing to boil water and so far up into dark places that there is no memory of the sun.

The stench is deafening. THEY ARE UNABLE TO stop the melt-down, much less CLEAN UP FUKUSHIMA!

Hey kiddies, daddy is doing his very, very bestest to deny there is a psychotic break from reality going on, so lets just say we won't expect to live past 30 as functional human beings so that the nuclear industry can change its permanent diaper for money, er... dollars that is..


#4

That's Chernobyl. The significant radioisotopes in this fire region would be cesium 137 and 134. Radiocesium has a similar decay mode to potassium 40 with similar (slightly lower) energies, so it is just aggregate dose exposure that matters. This smoke should disperse readily as it moves out of the area, so the main risk would be to nearby firefighters if any of them are working in the smoke without filtration masks. But that would have substantial health risks even without the radiocesium.


#5

Holy Efin' Sum-olees! West to east jet streams at around 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean pull surface winds (and surface currents) in a continuous counter-clockwise, (undulating wildly north-to-south because of a warming arctic), circulating at (a) low altitude path(s), around our northern hemisphere. That's from the 'Yuge' Russian taiga forests, over the Japan archipelago, past Hawaii to our U.S. west coast.

A.k.a., Fukushima-Daiichi (six years ago last March 11) all over again! I STILL remember! !3! - 100% TOTAL! FISSIONING REACTOR CORE MELTDOWNS! PLUS, massive explosions in 3 outa 5 reactor buildings (probably Bld#4, too) (currently blamed on hydrogen gas ignition. - but never independently verified, so far). Building #3 had MOX fuel (with enriched Uranium 235 mixed with Plutonium 239 - (plutonium239 is the deadliest of all transuranics, ingested or inhaled)).

Whether these explosions were after or before the cooling pools went dry, is not clear. We do know that when tons and tons of metallic spent fuel rods were left without fresh cold water circulating, the water probably boiled away, leaving a pile of incredibly hot, radioactively smoldering nuclear waste. It's been reliably reported that metallic fragments as big as construction rebar were ejected (and probably clouds of, small to fine, dust-sized particles, carrying trillions of atoms each are still forever-suspended in our Earth's both hemispheres of its biosphere. Reactor building #4's cooling pools, suspended over a hundred feet above the reactor floor may have smoldered into - what? Who knows? President Abe of Japan is a nuke proponent and has lead a persecution of all reporters who file stories on Fukushima-Daiichi that aren't government censored first.

So here we go, again. It ain't over 'til it's over" - Yogi Berra, Yankees Hall of Famer.


#6

Redispersal from this fire may not even be detectable nearby. This is nothing like the initial release.

"I STILL remember! !3! - 100% TOTAL! FISSIONING REACTOR CORE MELTDOWNS!"

Radioactive decay supplied most (more than 99.99%) of the meltdown heat. Fission would have been a negligible contributor.

"PLUS, massive explosions in 3 outa 5 reactor buildings (probably Bld#4, too)"

The second largest explosion was at unit 4.

"(currently blamed on hydrogen gas ignition. - but never independently verified, so far)."

There could have been some carbon monoxide mixed in (also a flammable gas).

"Building #3 had MOX fuel (with enriched Uranium 235 mixed with Plutonium 239 -"

Mox is an alternative to U-235 enriched fuel. Plutonium (several isotopes) takes the place of the U-235. But plutonium is not a factor in this brush fire.

"(plutonium239 is the deadliest of all transuranics, ingested or inhaled))."

All other plutonium isotopes besides 242 and 244 are more radioactive than Pu-239.

"Whether these explosions were after or before the cooling pools went dry, is not clear."

All evidence is that the cooling pools at no point went dry. None of the spent fuel was even partially uncovered.

"We do know that when tons and tons of metallic spent fuel rods were left without fresh cold water circulating, the water probably boiled away, leaving a pile of incredibly hot, radioactively smoldering nuclear waste."

We know that did not happen.

"It's been reliably reported that metallic fragments as big as construction rebar were ejected"

Actual concrete rebar (which is, of course, metallic) was ejected in at least two of the explosions, along with lots of metal from the fuel handling bay structures at the top of the reactor buildings.

"Reactor building #4's cooling pools, suspended over a hundred feet above the reactor floor may have smoldered into - what? Who knows?"

There was one spent fuel pool at unit 4. The top of the pool was around 95 feet above ground level, but the spent fuel was at the bottom of the pool. The pool was not suspended, it was built into the heavy, reinforced core-block structure. All the fuel has been extracted and inspected from pool 4. No loss-of-coolant heat damage was found.


#7

The author of that comment is probably a troll on salary for the nuclear power industry. Just about everybody understands that dispersing radioactive isotopes over a wider area merely spreads roughly the same number of cancer cases over a wider area. I've seen some evidence that total cancer cases go up a bit with wider dispersion.

We know from Chernobyl that trees like to uptake radioactive cesium and plutonium from Fukushima's MOX fuel. Then the area eventually gets fuel-heavy and then fire breaks out. Then vast numbers of radioactive smoke particles go into the air. The wind blows smoke a long distance. Then people downwind breathe individual radioactive smoke particles.

Inside Japan, medical problems from Fukushima are now classified as a state secret punishable by jail time. Non-Japanese observers can report on the carnage all they want, and yes, there were thousands of kids with thyroid nodules in the area soon after the meltdowns.

Yes, Japan needs to put that fire out RIGHT NOW with their entire armed forces if necessary, before it gets any worse. The U.S. should lend immediate support.

I'm sorry for the people living downwind. Survivors of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki eventually discovered that almost no outsiders would consider marrying them, because of the fear of creating deformed offspring. The same problem is in play now with Fukushima survivors.

If you live near a nuclear power plant right now, I strongly suggest, don't let this happen to you and to your family. It's equally as smart if you try to quit smoking and don't get hooked on opioids.


#8

SON OF A BITCH!
* Nobody listened and the nuclear lobby said "There, there, nothing to worry about."
* Fukushima passed Chernobyl long ago, but the way to make it all safe is to put anybody who tells the truth in solitary, and hide or ignore the victims. Clam that their illnesses or deformations are due to something else, anything but radiation, for that would cut into the profits of the nuclear industry.
* It is bad enough that we are turning this planet into a sewer, but now, a radioactive sewer as well. And nobody is to know. "The people might panic if they knew the truth!" "People responsible might be harmed if their identities were to become known." "If this comes out, our stock will drop!"
* There are over six billion people at risk, not to mention what is happening to the ecology of the planet.
* There are about two hundred people who don't give a shit what happens to the people or the environment as long as their short term profits stay high.
* I think they should be on the cleanup crews, and I mean with shovels and brooms, not sitting at a desk in a safe place copying false statistics.
* But what do I know, I'm just an old, tired, nuclear veteran who still remembers.
;-})


#9

Wasn't some Japanese paper basically censored by or told by the Japanese Government in power (Abe who seemed happy when meeting with Trash & family...
wasn't this paper (Yomuri Shimbun ...not sure)
suppresed from running a story on Fukushima? and what is going on there? I think so...


#10

As I understand it, the Japanese government just made anything on Fukushima and/or it's side effects classified. Any mention by a Japanese person or agency, not approved by the government, is treason or some such. I'm too tired right now to go back and search. My impression was, "Say anything about Fukushima and it is Room 101."
;-})


#11

I think I can guess how you calculated that probability. If someone says something you don't want to hear, they are "probably" a shill, or a troll, or just evil, and therefore, they are wrong, or lying, and you can safely disregard what they have to say. You could shorten the process and just go with the rule; anything you don't want to hear is false so you can disregard it. There have been many cults which have found that to be a handy rule.

"Just about everybody understands that dispersing radioactive isotopes over a wider area merely spreads roughly the same number of cancer cases over a wider area."

And I presume you calculated "just about everybody" using the simple formula: 'just about everybody believes as you do' (at least, everybody who matters).

"I've seen some evidence that total cancer cases go up a bit with wider dispersion."

Other people say they have seen evidence for bigfoot, chupacabras and alien visitors from outer space.

"We know from Chernobyl that trees like to uptake radioactive cesium and plutonium from Fukushima's MOX fuel."

The MOX fuel melted down. There would have been virtually no aerosol pathway for the plutonium. (There would have been trace gas dispersals of neptunium which would decay to plutonium, but even near the plant, only a few of the assay sites found detectable levels. Most sites had no detection. At the distance of this fire, plutonium would not have been a factor. The only contaminant isotopes of significance would have been cesium 134 (all from Fukushima) and cesium 137 (some from bombs).

"Then the area eventually gets fuel-heavy and then fire breaks out."

Here's some video of this "raging wildfire":

Here in Texas, we'd call that an understory brushfire. I don't see any point where it has made the jump to the canopy. Understory fires like that leave most of the vegetation mass in place.

"Then vast numbers of radioactive smoke particles go into the air."

All brushfire smoke has large numbers of radioactive particles.

"The wind blows smoke a long distance."

The longer the distance, the greater the area covered, the greater the dispersal, and the lower the concentration.

"Then people downwind breathe individual radioactive smoke particles."

True, because all wood smoke contains radioactive particles. (And in addition to the natural radionuclides, nearly all wood smoke since the bomb testing era has included some amount of radiocesium.)

The area of contamination high enough to be deemed a hazard is around 2500 square kilometers. This brushfire has covered around 0.2 square kilometers, and I would be very surprised if the contamination levels in the brushfire area wind up detectably lower than in adjacent unburned areas. But let's say they are down by a full 50%. That would mean something between a tenth and a hundred thousandth of the area contaminant deposits got liberated in the smoke, and then what got liberated dispersed and diluted as it spread out over a large area. The net result would be a tiny area with significantly reduced contaminant levels and a very large area with an increase in contaminant levels so small we may not even be able to detect it. Last I heard, the nearby above-ground sensors haven't even picked up an increase in radiation from the smoke passing through, and it would be much less after the particles settle out.

"Inside Japan, medical problems from Fukushima are now classified as a state secret punishable by jail time."

That sounds like something that was concocted to explain the lack of reports of medical problems due to Fukushima.

"Non-Japanese observers can report on the carnage all they want,

So where are these reports of carnage?

"and yes, there were thousands of kids with thyroid nodules in the area soon after the meltdowns."

First, that was covered extensively in the Japanese press. And second, thyroid nodules so soon after the meltdown were extremely unlikely to have been caused by the meltdowns, due to latency. They instituted the screening program well before any effect should have shown up in order to establish the baseline for future longitudinal testing. And to confirm their baseline, they used the same screening process in distant prefectures--and found the rates of nodules were basically the same (if anything a bit higher).

"Yes, Japan needs to put that fire out RIGHT NOW with their entire armed forces if necessary, before it gets any worse."

The area is already evacuated, so if the idea is to minimize risk to people, the sensible approach would be to use a small crew doing air-drops. They've already got eight helicopters with bambi buckets working this, which actually seems a bit overkill--depending on how far they have to go to get their water.

"Survivors of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki eventually discovered that almost no outsiders would consider marrying them, because of the fear of creating deformed offspring."

Fear isn't just stigmatizing, it can be debilitating and unhealthy to the point that some people have even died from it. One of the ironies of Fukushima is that the disordered and panicked response to the threat of radiation may have killed more people than the radiation itself ever will.


#12

yes, then we all work to get them ALL shut down....because, as the environmental, political and economic chaos progresses.... we WILL have another melt down, and another... all we need is maybe another what?... 2-4?... and we are finished. There will be so much radiation in our air everyone will have cancer... and the food we eat will absolutely be contaminated... no matter where you live... Why ... do the PTB... not want to shut down these monstrosities?... because they fuel our capitalists, money grubbing society..... I do not actually, think we will have time to get them all shut down before we are extinguished... but at least we will be trying to do something right... all the activist/protesters, could be making this a goal... but I do not ever see much of anything about it.... We all benefit from he electricity that comes from these things... products we buy are made with that electricity. So, the thing is... nothing will change... because we will all keep buying the same consumer products, laundry detergent, shampoo, beer, clothes.... etc... as long as we buy from MASS PRODUCED PRODUCTS... we are NOT making the changes we need to make.


#13

Trog you are full of horse sh*t. You are a troll or shill for the nuclear power industry. You have not nor regularly post on any subject here at CD unless it is nuclear related. You come here regardless of POV OF THE ARTICLE AND ALWAYS comment in favor of the industry.

Also you just do not have a clue and so post bad information. Here you posted the fact that

The industry is fighting over a hydrogen explosion or nuclear detonation in #3 reactor which is the reactor using MOX. They have no indication of what happened to any of the fuel. Every robot camera they send in for a look see gets fried.

So under what authority do you make such incorrect statements in support of an industry known to kill, maim, lie and destroy life on our planet. Tell us about your high intelligence and your deep and rich education on this issue.

On second thought STFU and go away.


#14

In other words, you couldn't find anything factually incorrect about what I said, but you just don't want to hear it.

"You are a troll or shill for the nuclear power industry."

Something you tell yourself so that you can disregard what you don't want to hear.

"You have not nor regularly post on any subject here t CD unless it is nuclear related."

Easily refuted by a cursory look at my posting history. And on most articles here, I agree with the bulk of the commentariat, but there's nothing for me to add. I don't do "me too" posts, but I will do upvotes. I've even upvoted you on occasion--on other topics, of course. On some subjects, you can be almost lucid.

"You come here regardless of POV OF THE ARTICLE AND ALWAYS comment in favor of the industry."

Your bias is so extreme that you think posting any accurate correction of hysterical misinformation equates to posting in favor of the industry. (Notice that I did not respond to the first comment in this thread because it was sheer opinion--so there was nothing factually incorrect about it).

I used to be opposed to all forms of nuclear power. I still feel that there are many very bad ways of doing nuclear power, and at no point have I advocated building reactors like at Fukushima. I think we took the wrong nuclear path decades ago and I would like to see all solid fueled water-cooled reactors replaced with reactors which cannot melt down or blow up. And you can't say that's in favor of the current nuclear industry because the current industry isn't headed that direction and will eventually be threatened by the development of such reactors.

"Also you just do not have a clue and so post bad information."

What makes it "bad" is that you don't want to hear it. But I can back up anything I said.

"Here you posted the fact that the MOX fuel melted down."

That is the overwhelming consensus.

"There would have been virtually no aerosol pathway for the plutonium."

The melt did not reach temperatures high enough to vaporize plutonium. There might have been some fine fuel particle formation in the violent reaction if the core melt hit water in the bottom of the containment vessel, but most particulates would have been captured as venting took place through the water in the wet-well. (And most of the fuel was also not plutonium). Nearly all of the plutonium that escaped from Fukushima would have been from when they were flushing seawater through the reactors, but virtually none of the plutonium flushed into the ocean would have found its way to the top of the mount where the fire was.

"The industry is fighting over a hydrogen explosion or nuclear detonation in #3 reactor which is the reactor using MOX."

There is no such fight, either within the industry or in the scientific and engineering community at large. The notion of a nuclear detonation in reactor 3 is sheer fantasy. The physics doesn't support it and all the evidence is against it. A nuclear explosion in the reactor would have obliterated the core block, but that block didn't get so much as a crack. Even the pressure vessel cap and concrete shield plug were not dislodged (though the shield plug did crack when the crane fell on it).

"They have no indication of what happened to any of the fuel."

It melted down. Most of it would have melted out the bottom of the reactor vessels and the odds are good that it melted partway into the concrete at the bottom of the pressure vessels. The melt rate into the concrete, if it was dry, could have been as much as 30 cm per hour, but that would have fallen off quickly as the core melt diluted, and especially after they started injecting water. It could easily have taken several days before all the cores were solid all the way through.

"Every robot camera they send in for a look see gets fried."

High radiation is to be expected as they get closer to the core melt slag.

"So under what authority do you make such incorrect statements"

You haven't established that anything I said was incorrect.

"in support of an industry"

I'm arguing in support of evidence and reason.

"known to kill, maim, lie and destroy life on our planet."

Every heavy industry has an injury and death toll. Commercial nuclear power is actually lower than most heavy industries of comparable size. Every industry has had some people that lied. There's no question that Tepco lied (and had a history of graft and corruption) and that's always been my position. That doesn't mean the whole industry is that way, or that any possible nuclear industry must be that way. And as for destroying life on our planet, all I can say is, what are you talking about? If that were actually happening, seems like there ought to be entire branches of biological sciences which would have noticed something like that.

"Tell us about your high intelligence and your deep and rich education on this issue."

I've changed my mind about nuclear energy before. I can be convinced to do it again. All it takes is evidence and sound arguments.

"On second thought STFU and go away."

Did you actually think there was a chance that might work on me?

You know, it's not like I have a nondescript name or avatar here. Have you ever mistaken me for anyone else? You think you know what I'm going write, and you already know in advance you aren't going to like it. And nobody is forcing you to read my comments, much less respond to them. And it's not like you fare well in any of our exchanges. So why do you keep doing this? Are you needing me to go away because you simply can't control yourself? Or are you worried that other people might not have the wisdom to avert their eyes and stick their fingers in their ears when they encounter views you don't want them to hear?


#15

No sorry I did respond. You have no facts to debate. You claimed for example that the MOX fuel melted down.

PROVE IT with non industry studies the ones that get peer review. On second thought just go away.


#16

First, there are no proofs in science. Science looks at co-variance, correlations, statistical significance, confidence intervals, and other measures of probability in testing hypotheses. Second, doesn't matter how independent the study is, the source data on reactor 3 is going to come from Tepco. Third, nobody is going to do a study to test the hypothesis that the core of reactor 3 melted down. Within the scientific community, that would be seen as a joke premise for a study. Pretty much all scientists in related fields, as well as all the leading anti-nukes I know of (Gundersen, Caldicott, Busby, etc.) acknowledge that what happened at Fukushima was a triple meltdown (Units 1, 2, and 3--the one with MOX). Just drop the name of your favorite anti-nuke along with "triple meltdown" into google and I expect it will have no trouble finding links.

If the alternative to meltdown you had in mind was a melt-through, the two aren't exclusive. A melt-through is preceded by a meltdown.

But if you were thinking there might have been a nuclear detonation at Unit 3, this is the picture that demolishes that theory.

The round thing at the top is the shield plug over the reactor well. It is three layers of concrete (loaded in like an upside-down layer cake) and each layer is composed of three sections. (The four rectangles in each section are where the hooks for the lifting harness go.) If there had been a nuclear detonation in the well directly below that shield plug, it would have blasted the concrete into tiny little fragments, but the shield plug isn't even budged out of position (except for the center section of the top layer which is cracked and somewhat caved-in from the crane falling on it).

The rectangle to the right of the shield plug is the spent fuel pool. Arnie Gundersen proposed the idea that a nuclear detonation could have occurred in that (there was no MOX was in the pool). And yet, the pool was still full of water after the large Unit 3 explosion, it didn't spring any leaks, there were no cracks in the concrete around the pool, and later underwater video images would show that the spent fuel racks at the bottom of pool 3 are intact, undisturbed, undislodged, and not even bent to any visible degree. There wasn't even any sign of scorch marks or heat damage. There's no way a nuclear detonation could have occurred down there and have any of the fuel racks survive.

You can also see in the picture that the greatest damage occurred in the northwest corner (elliptical red circle) well away from the reactor well and spent fuel pool. That makes no sense if the blast originated in the reactor or spent fuel pool. And finally, there is the channel between the reactor well and the spent fuel pool. If you look closely, you can see there is a reactor-side concrete removable section (intact and in place) and a pool-side gate (straight and in place), but between them is a heavy steel baffle plate which was not only blown loose from its seat, it was also bent, and it was blown in the direction of the pool. If a nuclear explosion had originated in the reactor well, how could it have bent that baffle plate without disturbing the intervening removable concrete section? If the blast originated in the pool, why is the pool-side gate straight, and why would the baffle plate have been blown towards the pool? But if the blast originated from the point of greatest damage in the lower left corner, it makes sense that it would not have disturbed the concrete section (which was down flush with the shield plug, and how the baffle plate could have shielded the pool-side gate by taking the brunt of the explosion.

But if you had some other non-meltdown theory of what could have happened to the core load with MOX fuel, I'd certainly be interested to hear about it.


#17

Blah blah blah. Nuclear industrial slave gets paid that think a picture is proof of anything. Good science there fella. Talk to you next time.


#18

If you can come up with any arguments against my explanation of the implications of what's in that photo, I'd would certainly be willing to consider them. Or if you have any comparable photographic evidence that a nuclear explosion did take place in reactor 3, I'd be happy to take a look at that too. If you didn't come up with this nuclear explosion idea yourself, then presumably you got it from somewhere. Maybe they have some source material to support their hypothesis.


#19

Fukushima, Chernobyl: nuclear energy and nuclear waste will remain for a very long time a deadly danger. For that we created already in 2010 the International Uranium Film Festival.
http://uraniumfilmfestival.org/en/donate-to-the-uranium-film-festival


#20

Anything can be done badly. But finding examples of doing something badly does not establish that it cannot be done well.

Chernobyl was an uncontained Soviet era RBMK reactor with positive void reactivity and some serious design defects, operated outside of its operational parameters with the safety systems deliberately disabled. It was not at all representative of Western reactors. Fukushima was a more typical Western design (which is one reason an open-air, uncontained core fire like at Chernobyl was impossible), but it was an aging example of an early design run by a corrupt company, sited on a cut-down bluff in an earthquake and tsunami zone with the critical generators and power distribution panels located in floodable basements. And it needed pretty much all of those factors to fail.

It created a very expensive mess and caused a large population displacement, but calling it deadly for a long time is just hyperbolic. All the deaths associated with it so far were not due to radiation. (Tsunami drownings on site, demolition/construction accidents, deaths attributable to a panicked and disordered evacuation, and the deaths from suicides and the fear / stress / depression effects on health.) It isn't clear at this point whether there will ever be a detectable radiologic death toll. If you want to append "deadly" to everything that has a death toll, you'd have to apply it to many things we deal with routinely in our lives--including cars, bicycles, ladders, stairs, bathtubs, window treatments, furniture, children's toys, pets, food, power tools, and household appliances. As for nuclear waste being a deadly danger, the highest intensity nuclear waste from current reactors is the spent fuel. And the actual death toll from the handling, transport and storage of spent fuel so far is zero. So that means it is deadly merely in the sense that there are hypothetical circumstances under which it could kill someone. By that standard, there is hardly anything in our lives which could not be called deadly.

"For that we created already in 2010 the International Uranium Film Festival."

From the Festival web page:
"The festival is dedicated to all films about nuclear power and the risks of radioactivity, from uranium mining to nuclear waste."
"The Uranium Film Festival is a project against forgetting and ignoring. The horror of atomic bombs and uranium weapons, and nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Goiânia or now Fukushima..."

I'm pretty sure nobody has forgotten the horror of atomic bombs. Indeed, their very effectiveness in deterrence depends on the horror and fear people have of them. It's why they are effective. It's also why highlighting the horror of these bombs will do nothing to diminish them. (Burning bomb fuel in nuclear power reactors, on the other hand, has been a very effective way to curtail their numbers, having already burned enough fuel for nearly 20,000 nuclear bombs.)

The Goiânia incident was unrelated to bombs, or nuclear energy. It was from a stolen radiotherapy machine. So does the Festival highlight the horrors of nuclear imaging, therapy, and medicine? (Which also happens to be responsible for most of the man-made radiation humans are exposed to--more even than from all the open air nuclear bomb tests.)

Hydropower has rendered large land areas uninhabitable and displaced tens of millions of people just from normal operation. One particularly bad hydropower accident (Banqiao) killed many tens of thousands of people. Another unstable dam (Mosul) threatens the lives of millions. So how did the Festival conclude it was more important to go after nuclear power than hydropower? And the death toll from coal absolutely dwarfs that from all non-fossil energy sources put together. We're talking millions. Indeed, when nuclear helps to displace coal, it saves lives. Hansen figures it has already saved many hundreds of thousands. So why was it more important to go after nuclear than coal?