Quakey Morning

March 23rd, 2011

Screen Shot 2011-03-23 At 7.46.34 AmIt’s like God doesn’t like stability at the Fukushima plant or something–so far there have been four, maybe five sizable quakes all centered in or around Fukushima, just in the past half hour. The strongest seems to have been a 6.0, another 5.8, with others in the range between that and 4.0. And just when it seemed like aftershocks were finally dying out.

On the other hand, radiation seems to be fairly under control. The wind has been blowing pretty much straight from Fukushima down to Tokyo for the past 2 days, and radiation in Tokyo has not even doubled normal background levels. Ibaraki shows about 4x normal. One would think that for that much direct exposure via wind for that long, the levels would be higher if things were bad at the plant. Not that they couldn’t get worse, but so far, not so bad.

  1. Troy
    March 23rd, 2011 at 15:17 | #1

    No reactor is emitting any steam or smoke, any more, apparently.

    Though #1 might have to vent some very nasty steam from the pressure vessel soon.

    The main problem now that I see is the pumping of coolant water through the damaged cores and then into the ocean.

    I don’t know how much cesium and plutonium is being washed out of these reactors, but it’s probably too much.

    March 23rd, 2011 at 17:47 | #2

    Troy, … let nobody say that you are an optimist.

  3. Luis
    March 23rd, 2011 at 17:58 | #3

    Troy, … let nobody say that you are an optimist.
    What, you’re only picking up on that now?

  4. Luis
    March 23rd, 2011 at 23:20 | #4

    Okay, a few questions, as the news of radioactivity in produce and water are getting more serious.

    First, does anyone know if the radiation is simply fallout or if any is coming from water table contamination?

    Second, assuming it is fallout, how long will farming be affected? Indefinitely, did Japan just lose a huge swath of farmland? Or just until the radioactivity breaks down and/or is leeched out of the soil enough?

    How about the water in Tokyo, same question? WIll this contamination last for days, weeks, months, or years?

    Third, is it significant that the radioactivity is from iodine and not something else?


  5. Luis
    March 24th, 2011 at 01:29 | #5

    Oh yeah, one other thing: can the iodine be filtered out, even to a degree? A news story said boiling could lower toxicity (how, I can’t imagine), but we own a rather expensive water filtering unit which can control pH levels as well as filter out impurities.

  6. Troy
    March 24th, 2011 at 01:29 | #6

    I’ll take the good news first.

    is it significant that the radioactivity is from iodine and not something else?

    Radioactive Iodine has a half-life of 8 days, so it’s not a big deal as long as you don’t have your thyroid take it up.

    It won’t permanently contaminate anywhere, but the danger is with fresh dairy products, since cows eat a lot of grass and it gets concentrated in the milk.

    The radiation is clearly fallout since water can’t move that fast.

    I don’t know what’s the deal with cesium contamination. It could be quite bad for Fukushima’s agriculture, since it tends to stick around once it gets into the soil.

    Also bad is all the crap they’re washing into the ocean, but at least the ocean is a big place so that will help disperse it.

    The latest briefing from NISA is interesting.


    Reactor 1 & 3 pressure vessel temps at 300deg, right at design limit.

    2 is doing good at ~100deg at least.

    Reactor 1 drywell pressure right at 94% of design limit. I think they’re going to need to vent but the drywell radiation level of 48 Sv/h seems pretty high. . .

    Reactor 3 does not have a pressure problem, apparently because it’s containment vessel is compromised (100 kPa (abs) is another way of saying atmospheric pressure). Drywell radiation for unit 3 is 60 Sv/h.

    This last bit is the interesting part. If I’m reading it right, NISA is putting it in black and white that #2 & #3’s reactor pressure vessel, drywell containment, and wetwell containments are all compromised.

  7. Troy
    March 24th, 2011 at 02:06 | #7

    Iodine is an atom. I don’t think you can filter atoms, except electostatically if they happen to be ionized (positive or negative charge).

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