Fukushima - One Step Forward and Four Steps Back as Each Unit Challenged by New Problems

 

Gundersen says Fukushima's gaseous and liquid releases continue unabated.  With a meltdown at Unit 1, Unit 4 leaning and facing possible collapse, several units contaminating ground water, and area school children outside the exclusion zone receiving adult occupational radiation doses, the situation continues to worsen. TEPCO needs a cohesive plan and international support to protect against world-wide contamination.

Transcript:

[tabgroup][tab title="English"]

Arnie Gundersen: Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds, and it's Friday, May 13th.

I thought I would use today to kind of summarize what's going on on the Fukushima site and immediately off site.  But a quick summary would be that if basically this were an American rodeo, the bucking broncos would have been throwing the cowboys all week long.  There is a meeting on Thursday where the NRC is being briefed by it's staff, and I think that what the staff is going to tell them is that the situation is still unstable.  I think "unstable" is an understatement.  Today on Unit 1, TEPCO announced that the reactor core was uncovered and that significant fuel had been damaged and I don't think that should come as a surprise to any of you, but it was a news press release from TEPCO.  They discovered this because they were able to get people into the containment for a very brief amount of time who could put new gages in.  The new gages indicated that there is no water in the reactor and very little in the containment.

Well that brings up the question, then, where did all that water go?  We put in tens of thousands of tons of water over the last two months now, and that's an indication that there are leaks into the groundwater which I will discuss a little bit later.  So Unit 1 is dry and possibly has melted throught the nuclear reactor and is now lying on the floor of the nuclear containment, causing incredibly high exposures to the people that are trying to get in.  The exposures are 70 R an hour.  That basically means that in four or five hours you are dead.  And it's not a long term death, it's a quick death, so it's high, high exposures to radiation in Unit 1.  So it's time to go back and change the plan on Unit 1 and I believe it is what TEPCO has to do.  The radiation levels are just too high.

Moving on to Unit 2, there is really no change there, it is leaking like a sieve.  Water is being poured into the top and it's coming out of the hole in the bottom and the containment is leaking.  So you have got another large source of water and there is simply not enough room on site to capture all this water.  And there is obviously a need to cleanse it and we are talking about cleansing capability beyond what's ever been tried before in the past.  On average the Fukushima units are using close to a hundred tons of water a day and demineralization is normally a ton or two a day, so obviously there has to be a dramatic change in the plan to clean this water up, or else it is going to get released into the groundwater, and it's going to get released into the ocean.

Unit 3 is interesting.  There has been chatter on the internet about smoke coming out of Unit 3.  I don't think that is a cause for concern.  It happened at night and air gets cold at night and the Pacific is very cold.  And I think what you are seeing is the warm steam coming out of Unit 3 hitting the cold water and producing a really thick, steamy smoke.  It's radioactive no doubt, but it's not an indication of a fire, at least I don't think it is.  That's about the only good news coming out of Unit 3 though.  Like I said before, the temperature at the top of the nuclear reactor is very high, but the pressure in the reactor is very low.  And what that means is that water can't exist under those conditions.  There is no water and there is no steam inside the Unit 3 reactor, based on a high gas temperature and a low pressure.  Well what that means there is air in there and nuclear reactors are not meant to be cooled by air.  So there is still a real severe problem in cooling the Unit 3 reactor.  A hydrogen explosion is still possible at Unit 3 because of that wide disparity.

Another thing that came out of Unit 3 this week was a movie that they were able to take inside the fuel pool.  You'll recall that Unit 3 is the one that is largely a pile of ruble at this point.  The fuel pool pictures were awful.  They really indicated large pieces of concrete had fallen into the pool.  Large masses of metal were in the pool.  The control rods and the fuel racks appeared to me to be distorted.

It's clearly an indication that there has been a violent explosion inside that pool.  I think the pictures confirm what I have been telling you, that some sort of a violent exothermic reaction occurred inside that pool.  Well, the other piece of information that came out that supports that, is that they found high levels of Iodine 131 in that pool.  Now we are 60 days into this accident and the Iodine 131 should be gone.  To find high levels of Iodine 131 in the Unit 3 pool is another indication that there was what I had called a prompt moderated criticality.  And I believe still that that is just more evidence that supports what I have been saying now for several weeks.

Moving on to Unit 4:  Unit 4 is leaning.  TEPCO acknowledges that Unit 4 is leaning.  The structure is obviously compromised from the fires and the explosion on Unit 3.  But It's tilting at the top and that's not good.  If there is a seismic aftershock as a result of the first earthquake, Unit 4 could collapse.  TEPCO is trying dramatically to shore up that building, but it's tough.  It's really tough.  There have also been some photos released of inside the unit's floor pool and the racks appear to have maintained their integrity.   So the plutonium that we found off site and I will talk about that a little bit here, could not have come from Unit 4.  The racks are intact.  There is enough heat generated on Unit 4 to burn the building for two days, there was a fire.  I wouldn't doubt that plutonium and other isotopes, cesium, strontium, were volatilized.  But I don't think that Unit 4 is the source of large quantities of plutonium that have been found off site.

I did some calculations this week and I determined that in order for pieces of nuclear fuel to be found two kilometers away, and that's from an NRC report, those pieces would have to be thrown at around 900 to 1,000 miles per hour out of the fuel pool to travel that distance.  Basically what I assumed is that a piece of fuel about this big was thrown out of the nuclear fuel pool in Unit 3 and travelled two kilometers.  And in order to get that to happen, with air resistance, it had to start out at over 1,000 miles an hour.  What that means is, again, that confirms what I have been saying all along:  that's faster than the speed of sound.  That shows there has been a detonation in Unit 3 and not a deflagration.

But what does all this mean?  Unit 1's containment is leaking.  They can't put nitrogen into it to maintain it's pressure.  Unit 2's has been leaking and filling trenches off site.  Unit 3's is now leaking as well and filling trenches off away from the reactor.  So all three nuclear containments are leaking.

Now, here in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that it is impossible for a nuclear containment to leak.  In the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards in October of last year, they specifically stated they assume zero probability of containment leakage.  Now obviously that is wrong.  And it affects lots of regulations on operating plants, as well as the new Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor which is attempting to be licensed.  I'll talk more about that next week.

Finally I want to talk about what does this mean for the off site vicinity around the Fukushima reactor.  First let's talk about the water.  As I said, there is a lot of water going in and not all of it is getting captured.  Experts have shown that the site has sunk by about a foot and that indicates that the concrete has to have cracked.  The concrete foundations have to be cracking, and that radiation has to be getting into the groundwater.  Now in our last video, I talked about how radiation had entered the sewage system at a local town.  A sewage expert contacted me this week and he said it is not uncommon after an earthquake for groundwater to infiltrate a sewage system.  So I think the most important information that we need from TEPCO and the Japanese government, and which we have not gotten yet, is what is the concentration of radioactivity in the groundwater.

And finally airborne radiation:  There is a survey out this week from a combination of American and Japanese overflights that indicate contamination 50 and 60 kilometers away from the reactor.  A high school where kids are now required to wear masks and long sleeve shirts to protect their skin, and while they are in school, out on the parking lot they are stripping out the soil because it is so contaminated that if the kids were outside they would be exposed to adult nuclear worker levels of concentration.  That's unconscionable that that school should be kept open.

And finally, all the reactors are continuing to emit radiation.  The containments have failed.   So it's going down as water and it's going up in steam and there is no plan in site to prevent that from happening in the future.

Well thank you very much and I will touch base with you next week. Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds, and it's Friday, May 13th.

I thought I would use today to kind of summarize what's going on on the Fukushima site and immediately off site.  But a quick summary would be that if basically this were an American rodeo, the bucking broncos would have been throwing the cowboys all week long.  There is a meeting on Thursday where the NRC is being briefed by it's staff, and I think that what the staff is going to tell them is that the situation is still unstable.  I think "unstable" is an understatement.  Today on Unit 1, TEPCO announced that the reactor core was uncovered and that significant fuel had been damaged and I don't think that should come as a surprise to any of you, but it was a news press release from TEPCO.  They discovered this because they were able to get people into the containment for a very brief amount of time who could put new gages in.  The new gages indicated that there is no water in the reactor and very little in the containment.

Well that brings up the question, then, where did all that water go?  We put in tens of thousands of tons of water over the last two months now, and that's an indication that there are leaks into the groundwater which I will discuss a little bit later.  So Unit 1 is dry and possibly has melted throught the nuclear reactor and is now lying on the floor of the nuclear containment, causing incredibly high exposures to the people that are trying to get in.  The exposures are 70 R an hour.  That basically means that in four or five hours you are dead.  And it's not a long term death, it's a quick death, so it's high, high exposures to radiation in Unit 1.  So it's time to go back and change the plan on Unit 1 and I believe it is what TEPCO has to do.  The radiation levels are just too high.

Moving on to Unit 2, there is really no change there, it is leaking like a sieve.  Water is being poured into the top and it's coming out of the hole in the bottom and the containment is leaking.  So you have got another large source of water and there is simply not enough room on site to capture all this water.  And there is obviously a need to cleanse it and we are talking about cleansing capability beyond what's ever been tried before in the past.  On average the Fukushima units are using close to a hundred tons of water a day and demineralization is normally a ton or two a day, so obviously there has to be a dramatic change in the plan to clean this water up, or else it is going to get released into the groundwater, and it's going to get released into the ocean.

Unit 3 is interesting.  There has been chatter on the internet about smoke coming out of Unit 3.  I don't think that is a cause for concern.  It happened at night and air gets cold at night and the Pacific is very cold.  And I think what you are seeing is the warm steam coming out of Unit 3 hitting the cold water and producing a really thick, steamy smoke.  It's radioactive no doubt, but it's not an indication of a fire, at least I don't think it is.  That's about the only good news coming out of Unit 3 though.  Like I said before, the temperature at the top of the nuclear reactor is very high, but the pressure in the reactor is very low.  And what that means is that water can't exist under those conditions.  There is no water and there is no steam inside the Unit 3 reactor, based on a high gas temperature and a low pressure.  Well what that means there is air in there and nuclear reactors are not meant to be cooled by air.  So there is still a real severe problem in cooling the Unit 3 reactor.  A hydrogen explosion is still possible at Unit 3 because of that wide disparity.

Another thing that came out of Unit 3 this week, was a movie that they were able to take inside the fuel pool.  You'll recall that Unit 3 is the one that is largely a pile of ruble at this point.  The fuel pool pictures were awful.  They really indicated large pieces of concrete had fallen into the pool.  Large masses of metal were in the pool.  The control rods and the fuel racks appeared to me to be distorted.

It's clearly an indication that there has been a violent explosion inside that pool.  I think the pictures confirm what I have been telling you, that some sort of a violent exothermic reaction occurred inside that pool.  Well, the other piece of information that came out that supports that, is that they found high levels of Iodine 131 in that pool.  Now we are 60 days into this accident and the Iodine 131 should be gone.  To find high levels of Iodine 131 in the Unit 3 pool is another indication that there was what I had called a prompt moderated criticality.  And I believe still that that is just more evidence that supports what I have been saying now for several weeks.

Moving on to Unit 4:  Unit 4 is leaning.  TEPCO acknowledges that Unit 4 is leaning.  The structure is obviously compromised from the fires and the explosion on Unit 3.  But It's tilting at the top and that's not good.  If there is a seismic aftershock as a result of the first earthquake, Unit 4 could collapse.  TEPCO is trying dramatically to shore up that building, but it's tough.  It's really tough.  There have also been some photos released of inside the unit's floor pool and the racks appear to have maintained their integrity.   So the plutonium that we found off site and I will talk about that a little bit here, could not have come from Unit 4.  The racks are intact.  There is enough heat generated on Unit 4 to burn the building for two days, there was a fire.  I wouldn't doubt that plutonium and other isotopes, cesium, strontium, were volatilized.  But I don't think that Unit 4 is the source of large quantities of plutonium that have been found off site.

I did some calculations this week and I determined that in order for pieces of nuclear fuel to be found two kilometers away, and that's from an NRC report, those pieces would have to be thrown at around 900 to 1,000 miles per hour out of the fuel pool to travel that distance.  Basically what I assumed is that a piece of fuel about this big was thrown out of the nuclear fuel pool in Unit 3 and travelled two kilometers.  And in order to get that to happen, with air resistance, it had to start out at over 1,000 miles an hour.  What that means is, again, that confirms what I have been saying all along:  that's faster than the speed of sound.  That shows there has been a detonation in Unit 3 and not a deflagration.

But what does all this mean?  Unit 1's containment is leaking.  They can't put nitrogen into it to maintain it's pressure.  Unit 2's has been leaking and filling trenches off site.  Unit 3's is now leaking as well and filling trenches off away from the reactor.  So all three nuclear containments are leaking.

Now, here in the United States, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that it is impossible for a nuclear containment to leak.  In the advisory committee on reactor safeguards in October of last year, they specifically stated they assume zero probability of containment leakage.  Now obviously that is wrong.  And it affects lots of regulations on operating plants, as well as the new Westinghouse AP 1000 reactor which is attempting to be licensed.  I'll talk more about that next week.

Finally I want to talk about what does this mean for the off site vicinity around the Fukushima reactor.  First let's talk about the water.  As I said, there is a lot of water going in and not all of it is getting captured.  Experts have shown that the site has sunk by about a foot and that indicates that the concrete has to have cracked.  The concrete foundations have to be cracking, and that radiation has to be getting into the groundwater.  Now in our last video, I talked about how radiation had entered the sewage system at a local town.  A sewage expert contacted me this week and he said it is not uncommon after an earthquake for groundwater to infiltrate a sewage system.  So I think the most important information that we need from TEPCO and the Japanese government, and which we have not gotten yet, is what is the concentration of radioactivity in the groundwater.

And finally airborne radiation:  There is a survey out this week from a combination of American and Japanese overflights that indicate contamination 50 and 60 kilometers away from the reactor.  A high school where kids are now required to wear masks and long sleeve shirts to protect their skin, and while they are in school, out on the parking lot they are stripping out the soil because it is so contaminated that if the kids were outside they would be exposed to adult nuclear worker levels of concentration.  That's unconscionable that that school should be kept open.

And finally, all the reactors are continuing to emit radiation.  The containments have failed.   So it's going down as water and it's going up in steam and there is no plan in site to prevent that from happening in the future.

Well thank you very much and I will touch base with you next week.

[/tab][tab title="日本人"]

 福島原発-1歩進むが4歩下がる。各原子炉が多すぎる新たな問題にさらされいてる為

要約:福島原発からの、ガス状あるいは液状での放射性物質の放出は、依然として弱まっていない、とガンダーセン氏は伝えています。1号機でのメルトダウン、傾いた4号機は崩壊の可能性に直面し、いくつかの原子炉は地下水を汚染しています。避難区域の外の地域でも学童は、成人が職業上許容されている放射線量を受けており、状況は悪化の一途をたどっています。東電は世界規模の放射能汚染から守るため、うまく統合された計画と国際的なサポートを必要としています。

こんにちは、フェアウィンズのアーニー・ガンダーソンです。今日は5月13日金曜日です。今回は、福島第一原発とその周辺地域で何が起きているかを整理してみたいと思います。まずこの一週間を一言で振り返るなら、ロデオの暴れ馬がカウボーイを振り落とし続けた日々と言えるでしょう。

来週の木曜日、アメリカ原子力規制委員会の会合でスタッフから状況説明があります。おそらくスタッフは「状況はいぜんとして不安定」と報告するでしょうが、「不安定」とはあまりに控えめすぎる表現だと思います。今日、東京電力は、1号機の炉心が露出してかなりの燃料が損傷を受けていると発表しました。皆さんにとっては少しも意外ではなかったと思いますが、とにかくそれが東電の記者会見での発表でした。なぜこの事実が明らかになったかといえば、短時間とはいえ建屋の中に人を入れて格納容器に新しい計器を取り付けることができたからです。その結果、原子炉内には水がなく、格納容器内にはごくわずかな水しか溜まっていないことがわかりました。では、あれだけ注入した水はみんなどこに行ったのでしょうか。なにしろ過去2ヶ月で何万トンもの水を注入してきたのです[実際は1号機で1万トン強]。要するに水が漏れて地下水に入り込んでいるということです。これについてはまたあとでお話しましょう。

いずれにせよ1号機に水はなく、おそらく燃料は融けて原子炉を突き破り、今は格納容器の底に落ちているものと思われます。このせいで放射線レベルが非常に高くなり、建屋内で作業するうえでの被曝リスクを高めています。被曝量は70R/時[700ミリシーベルト時]。4、5時間浴びたら死に至るレベルです。長期の[被爆による]死ではなく、早い死です。それだけ1号機の線量は非常に非常に高いということです。したがって東電は1号機の作業計画を一から見直す必要があるでしょう。放射線量が高すぎます。

次に2号機ですが、こちらはほとんど変化がありません。ざるのように水が漏れています。上から水が入って下の穴から出てくる。格納容器から漏れているのです。つまりここからも大量の水が発生しているわけですが、現場にはそれだけの水を収容できるスペースがありません。しかも水は除染が必要です。前例にないほどの大量の除染です。福島の原子炉はそれぞれおよそ毎日100トンの水が注入されていますが、除染できるのはせいぜい一日1、2トン。したがって除染の計画も大幅な見直しが迫られています。さもなければ汚染水が地下水や海に流れ込んでしまいます。

3 号機は興味深い状況になっています。3号機から煙が出ているという噂がネット上に広まっていますが、たぶん心配はいりません。煙が出るのは夜で、空気が冷えています。太平洋の水も冷たくなっています。おそらくあれは3号機からの熱い水蒸気が冷たい水に触れて、濃いもやとなって立ち昇ったのだと思います。放射性の蒸気であることは確かですが、火災が起きているわけではないでしょう。少なくとも私はそう考えています。

ただし、3号機については良いニュースはここまで。前にもお話したとおり、原子炉最上部の温度は非常に高いのに原子炉の圧力はきわめて低い状態です。こういう状況下で水が存在することはできません。気体の温度が高いのに圧力が低いということは、3号機の原子炉の中には水も水蒸気もないということです。だとすれば炉内には空気が入っているわけですが、原子炉は空気で冷やされるようなつくりにはなっていません。したがって、3号機の原子炉をどう冷やすかは依然として非常に深刻な課題です。温度と圧力のギャップが大きいので、3号機ではまだ水素爆発の可能性があります。

3号機については今週新たなことがわかりました。燃料プール内の映像が公開されたのです。3号機はすでに瓦礫の山も同然であることを思い出してください。そして映像に映った燃料プール内の状態はじつにひどいものでした。コンクリートの大きな破片がプールに落ちたのがわかります。大きな金属の塊も見えます。制御棒や燃料ラックは、私には変形しているように見えました。プール内で激しい爆発があったのは間違いありません。私は3号機の燃料プール内で発熱を伴う何らかの爆発があったとずっとお話ししてきましたが、この映像がそれを裏付けています。

裏付けとなる情報はほかにもあります。プール内で高濃度のヨウ素131が検出されたことです。事故後2ヶ月が経過しているのですから、本来ならヨウ素131はなくなっているはずです。にもかかわらず高濃度のヨウ素131が検出されたということは、私が数週間前から指摘してきたような「即発減速臨界」が燃料プール内で起きた証拠です。

次は4号機ですが、4号機は傾いています。傾いていることは東電も認めています。構造が損傷したのは明らかに3号機の火災と爆発によるものでしょう。ですが、一番上の部分が傾いている。これは良くありません。もしも強い余震が来たら4号機は崩壊するおそれがあります。東電はなんとか4号機を支持構造で補強しようと懸命に努力していますが、これは大変な作業です。それから、4号機についても燃料プールの映像が公開されました。ラックは壊れていないように見えます。だとすれば、周辺で発見されたプルトニウムは 4号機からのものとは考えられません。4号機では2日間火災が発生しましたので、その原因となる熱源があったのは確かですから、プルトニウムをはじめほかの放射性同位元素、セシウムやストロンチウムなどが4号機で揮発化したのは間違いないでしょう。ですが、周辺で検出された大量のプルトニウムが4号機由来のものだとは思いません。

今週計算してみたのですが、アメリカ原子力規制委員会の報告書にあるように核燃料の破片が2キロ先で発見されたとすれば、破片は時速約900~1,000マイル[時速約1,450~1.600キロ]で燃料プールから放り出されたはずです。私の想像ですが、人差し指の先くらいの大きさの燃料のかけらが、3号機の燃料プールから2キロ先まで吹き飛んだ。ということは、空気の抵抗も考えると、おそらく初速は時速 1,000マイル以上に達していたでしょう。つまり、私がたびたび指摘してきたように音速[時速約1,200キロ]を超えているわけであり、3号機で起きたのは「デフラグレーション(爆燃)」ではなく「デトネーション(爆轟)」だったということです。

以上が何を意味するかといえば、まず1号機の格納容器からは水が漏れていて、窒素を注入しても圧力を維持できません。2号機からはずっと水が漏れて周囲のトレンチに溜まっています。今や3号機からも水が漏れ出してトレンチに溜まっています。つまり1~3号機の格納容器からはすべて水が漏れているということです。これまでアメリカの原子力規制委員会は、格納容器に漏れが生じることは「ありえない」と説明してきました。原子力諮問委員会などは昨年の10月、格納容器が漏れる可能性は「ゼロパーセントと想定している」と明言しました。明らかに間違っていたわけです。このことは、原発の運転にかかわる様々な規制に影響を及ぼします。現在認可を申請中のウェスティングハウス社製の新しいAP-1000原子炉も、影響を免れないでしょう。これについては来週詳しくお話しするつもりです。

最後に、こうした状況が福島第一原発の周辺地域に対してどんな意味をもつかを考えてみたいと思います。最初の問題は水です。先ほどもお話したように大量の水が発生していますが、すべてを収容しきれていません。専門家によれば、発電所自体が1フィート[約30センチ]ほど沈下しています。だとすれば土台のコンクリートに亀裂が生じており、放射性物質が地下水に入り込んでいるに違いありません。前回私は、放射性物質が近隣の町の下水システムに流入したという話をしました。今週、下水関係の専門家と話をしたところ、地震のあとで地下水が下水に染み出すのは珍しくないそうです。したがって、東電と日本政府に出してほしい今一番重要なデータは、地下水の放射能レベルがどれくらいかということです。

それから空気中の放射性物質についてです。今週、日米合同で上空を飛行して汚染の度合いを調べたところ、原発から50~60キロの地域まで汚染されていることが分かりました。その地域に高校があります。生徒はマスクと長袖シャツを着用して皮膚の露出を防ぐようにいわれています。その学校で生徒が授業を受けている間、屋外の駐車場では土壌の表面を除去する作業を行なっています。汚染レベルが高すぎて、生徒が屋外に出たら原発労働者並みの放射線を浴びてしまうからです。このような状況で、あの学校を開校させているのは人道的に許されないことです。

最後になりますが、放射性物質はすべての原子炉から放出され続けています。格納容器が用をなしていないため、下からは水として、上からは蒸気として出て行きます。そしてそれを止める見通しはまったく立っていないのです。

ありがとうございました。また来週お目にかかりましょう。

([ ]内は訳者の補足) translation:  (http://ex-skf-jp.blogspot.com)

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