The Individual Venting and Emission Events from Fukushima Diiachi NPP

Saturday March 12 2011

1. 10:09: TEPCO confirms that a small amount of vapor has been released into the air to release pressure in reactor unit 1 at Fukushima I

2. 10:58: Pressure still remains too high inside reactor unit 2 at Fukushima I. In order to alleviate some of this pressure, a consensus is reached to once more vent radioactive vapor into the air.

15:30: Evacuation of residents within 3 km of Fukushima II and within 10 km of Fukushima I are underway.

3. 15:36: There is a massive explosion in the outer structure of unit 1. The concrete building surrounding the steel reactor vessel collapses as a result of the explosion; however no damage is believed to have been sustained to the reactor itself. Four workers are injured.

21:40: The evacuation zone around Fukushima I is extended to 20 km, while the evacuation zone around Fukushima II is extended to 10 km

4. To release pressure within reactor unit 1 at Fukushima I, steam is released out of the unit into the air. This steam contains water vapor, hydrogen, oxygen and some radioactive material, mostly tritium and nitrogen-16.

Sunday 13 March 2011

5. At 13:00 JST reactors 1 and 3 are vented to release overpressure and then re-filled with water and boric acid for cooling, and to inhibit further nuclear reactions.

Monday 14 March 2011

6. 11:01: The unit 3 reactor building explodes, injuring six workers.[26] According to TEPCO there was no release of radioactive material (No one I know believes this)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

7. approx. 06:00 An explosion damaged the floor rooftop area of the Unit 4 reactor as well as part of the adjacent Unit 3.

8. 11:00: A second explosion of reactor 3 (according to The World Meteorological Organization report

9. An explosion in the “pressure suppression room” causes some damage to unit 2’s containment system

10. A fire breaks out at unit 4. (more than one fire is resulted at Unit 4 – more on that shortly)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

At approximately 14:30 TEPCO announces its belief that the fuel rod storage pool of unit 4 – which is located outside the containment area[35] — may have begun boiling, raising the possibility that exposed rods could reach criticality. By midday NHK TV is reporting white smoke rising from the Fukushima I plant, which officials suggest is likely coming from reactor 3.

From Thursday 17 March 2011 on, the struggle to maintain water level in the spent fuel pools and reactors continues.

Friday March 18 2011
For the second consecutive day, high radiation levels are detected in an area 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of the damaged Fukushima I nuclear plant at 150 μSv/h

The loss of fuel pool cooling water at unit 4 is classified as a level 3.

Saturday 19 March 2011

A second group of 100 Tokyo and 53 Osaka firefighters replaces the previous team. They use a vehicle that projects water from a height of 22 meters to cool spent nuclear fuel in the storage pool inside the reactor of unit 3.[51][52] Water is sprayed into the reactor for a total of 7 hours during the day. TEPCO reports that the water was effective in lowering the temperature around the spent fuel rods to below 100 °C.

Monday 21 March 2011

11 Ongoing repair work is interrupted by a recurrence of grey smoke from the south-east side of unit 3 (the general area of the spent fuel pool) seen at 15:55 and is dying down by 17:55. Employees are evacuated from unit 3, but no changes in radiation measurements or reactor status are seen. No work was going on at the time (such as restoring power) which might have accounted for the fire. White smoke, probably steam, is also seen coming from unit 2 at 18:22 JST, accompanied by a temporary rise in radiation levels.

Officials learn that the crisis will not end with power recovery as the cooling pumps are damaged beyond repair and must be replaced. An emergency order was placed for new pumps for unit 2 which had suffered less damage than units 1 and 3.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

12. Smoke is still rising from units 2 and 3, but is less visible, and is theorized to be steam following operations to spray water onto the buildings.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

13 Smoke again starts belching from reactor 3 in the late afternoon, this time black and grey smoke, causing another evacuation of workers from around the area. Aerial video from the plant shows what appears to be a small fire at the base of the smoke plumes in the heavily damaged reactor building. Feed water systems in unit 1 are restored allowing an increase in the rate water that can be added to the reactor.[64] The Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary also advises that high levels of radioactivity have been found in Tokyo’s drinking water and that it should not be used to reconstitute baby formula as it is around twice the legal limit for children.

(In contrast Dr Robert Gale, an American bone specialist and adviser to the USSR post Chrnobyl, with no authority to make announcements counter-manding government warnings, states that the water is safe to drink.)

Thursday March 24 2011

14 Three workers are exposed to high levels of radiation which cause two of them to require hospital treatment, after radioactive water seeps through their protective clothes.[69][70] The workers are exposed to an estimated equivalent dose of 2–6 Sv to the skin below their ankles.[71][72] They were not wearing protective boots, as their employing firm’s safety manuals “did not assume a scenario in which its employees would carry out work standing in water at a nuclear power plant”

(I consider this an environment emission because the basements of the reactors are located in the aquifer and are below sea level. These injuries and the presence of the tainted water are the first sign of the consistent leaking of contaminated water from the broken reactors into the aquifer and to the ocean, a situation which has not ceased since this time in March 24. Though warned by independent experts and ordinary people watching the Tepco live cam (ignored by the media but streamed world wide by Tepco via the internet, Japanese and world nuclear village people denied for over 2.5 years that leaks were occurring. This changed in August 2011 when the water leaks into the sea at the rate of 300 tons per day from March 2011 were admitted. By this stage Japanese people and the world population had lost faith in nuclear decrees and American Lake Barrett was appointed by Tepco to sell the needed remedies to the planet. Best of luck Lake. )

Friday 25 March 2011

NISA announces a possible breach in the containment vessel of the unit 3 reactor, though radioactive water in the basement might alternatively have come from the fuel storage pool.[74][75] Highly radioactive water is also found in the turbine buildings of units 1 and 2

Japan announces transportation will be provided in a voluntary evacuation zone of 30 kilometres (19 mi). Tap water is reported to be safe for infants in Tokyo and Chiba by Japanese authorities, but still exceeds limits in Hitachi and Tokaimura.[78] Iodine-131 in the ocean near the plant measures 50,000 Bq/L, a “relatively high” 1,250 times normal levels.

(as I131 is totally a synthetic fission isotope of Iodine which does not exist in nature, one wonders how a “normal level” of this substance could exist in sea water, apart from routine dumping by Japanese nuclear industry.)

Sunday 27 March 2011

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency indicate that “The level of radiation is greater than 1,000 millisieverts. It is certain that it comes from atomic fission … But we are not sure how it came from the reactor.”[87] The high radiation levels cause delays for technicians working to restore the water cooling systems for the troubled reactors.[88] USAF technicians at Yokota AB complete the fabrication of compatibility valves to allow the connection of deployed pump systems to the existing infrastructure at Fukushima.[89] An aerial video recorded by a Ground Self-Defense Force helicopter reveals, according to NHK, the clearest and most detailed view of the damaged plant to date. Significant observations include:

15.
White vapour, possibly steam, emanating from the buildings of reactors 2, 3, and 4.
The roof of the reactor 2 building has been badly damaged but is still intact.
The reactor 3 building is largely uncovered, its roof blown off in a hydrogen explosion over two weeks previously.
The walls of the reactor 4 building have also collapsed.

Saturday April 2 2011

16. TEPCO observes for the first time that contaminated water from the unit 2 is flowing into the sea.

Sunday April 3 2011

17. Japanese government officials say the Daiichi plant may continue to release dangerous radiation into the air for several months.

Monday April 4 2011 TEPCO begins dumping water from storage tanks tainted with low levels of radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean on Monday night. Officials say this is needed to make room in a central waste facility to store water with a higher radioactive level. This more highly radioactive water is preventing workers from making progress on restoring the cooling and other systems to reactors 1–4.[114][115] Samples of seawater near the plant reveal radioactive caesium at 1.1 million times the legal limit.[116]

The company says it could release up to 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea. A spokeswoman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the less-contaminated water must be disposed of so that workers can secure a place to store more highly contaminated water on the site.[113]

Friday April 8

Before the crisis evaluation was elevated by Japanese authorities to level 7, the highest level, experts already recognized that Fukushima is the most complicated nuclear accident ever

Saturday 9 April 2011

Japan was still struggling to keep water on the reactors to cool them and prevent further meltdown.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disaster#cite_note-13

A major reason for the litany of failures, ventings, emissions, explosions, leaks, floods, contaminations, evacuations, meltdowns, highly hazardous working conditions and general mayhem creating the “most complicated nuclear reactor accident in history” was a GE invention called the “The Energy Park”, where, GE designers proclaimed, massed ranks of reactors would 1. provide economies of scale and therefore more profit. 2. Enable the construction of many reactors while coping with the local protests of only one local community.

Among the controversies, the fires reported in reactor 4 building and the spent fuel pool 4 remain.

I will cover the GE reactor park idea, and the fore knowledge of its dangers next post.

Then I will show that fire did occur in spent fuel pool 4, quoting the Japan Nuclear Industry forum Inc.

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The Geography and Hyrdology of Fukushima

The following blog article contains an indepth description of the geology of the Fukushima Diiachi site. The description clearly shows that the land on which the plant is placed was deliberated lowered over 20 metres during the construction phase. It clearly shows that the basements and presumably footings and foundations were placed below sea level

The Geology of Fukushima

By Pierre Fetet, posted in Le blog de Fukushima

Translation from French: Robert Ash

download link: http://ddata.over-blog.com/4/37/62/00/The-Geology-of-Fukushima.pdf

Hydrology and Flow Accumulation Near Fukushima Daiichi PP

http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/3E04DD1DD13989BC8525785D004CCD7A-map.pdf

The Construction of Fukushima Diiachi

Wikipedia gives the construction and dates of first operation of each unit at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_Nuclear_Power_Plant

This source gives the following table:

As can be seen from the previous posts and the table above, the construction of Fukushima Diiachi commenced in the same year Ergen was commissioned by the AEC to define the issues of core cooling and meltdown. It began operation in the same year, Ralph Lapp informed the American public of the the danger of containment breach and meltdown and of the issues of ‘nuclear plumbing as he called it, in his 1971 New York Times article.

The Japanese people, isolated by distance and language, had no clue of the nature of the beast being constructed upon their shores. Within a few years, the population would be surrounded by such edifices, protected from public opion by a pig headed organisation called the nuclear village which, according one former Prime Minister, virtually dictated its terms to government.

Wikipedia further describes that, in addition to the warnings about large cored reactors given in the 60s and 70s, and of the weakness specific to the Mk1 GE type, the additional warnigns were notified at later dates: In 1990, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ranked the failure of the emergency electricity generators and subsequent failure of the cooling systems of plants in seismically very active regions one of the most likely risks. The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) cited this report in 2004. According to Jun Tateno, a former NISA scientist, TEPCO did not react to these warnings and did not respond with any measures.[34]

Filmmaker Adam Curtis mentioned the risks of the type of boiling water reactors cooling systems such as those in Fukushima I,[35] and claimed the risks were known since 1971[36] in a series of documentaries in the BBC in 1992 and advised that PWR type reactors should have been used.

Fukushima had been warned their seawall was insufficient to withstand a powerful tsunami, but the seawall was not heightened raised in response. end quote.

Wikipedia describes Fukushima as follows:

Geography


Fukushima is both the southernmost prefecture of Tōhoku region and the prefecture of Tōhoku region that is closest to Tokyo. It is divided by mountain ranges into three regions called (from west to east) Aizu, Nakadōri, and Hamadōri.

The coastal Hamadōri region lies on the Pacific Ocean and is the flattest and most temperate region, while the Nakadōri region is the agricultural heart of the prefecture and contains the capital, Fukushima City. The mountainous Aizu region has scenic lakes, lush forests, and snowy winters.

As of 1 April 2012, 13% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Bandai-Asahi, Nikkō, and Oze National Parks; Echigo Sanzan-Tadami Quasi-National Park; and eleven Prefectural Natural Parks.[13]
Cities
Thirteen cities are located in Fukushima Prefecture:

Aizuwakamatsu
Date
Fukushima (capital)
Iwaki
Kitakata
Kōriyama
Minamisōma’
Motomiya
Nihonmatsu
Shirakawa
Sōma
Sukagawa
Tamura

Towns and villages
These are the towns and villages in each district:

Adachi District
Ōtama
Date District
Kawamata
Kōri
Kunimi
Futaba District
Futaba
Hirono
Katsurao
Kawauchi
Namie
Naraha
Ōkuma
Tomioka
Higashishirakawa District
Hanawa
Samegawa
Tanagura
Yamatsuri

Ishikawa District
Asakawa
Furudono
Hirata
Ishikawa
Tamakawa
Iwase District
Kagamiishi
Ten’ei
Kawanuma District
Aizubange
Yanaizu
Yugawa
Minamiaizu District
Hinoemata
Minamiaizu
Shimogō
Tadami
Nishishirakawa District
Izumizaki
Nakajima
Nishigō
Yabuki
Ōnuma District
Aizumisato
Kaneyama
Mishima
Shōwa
Sōma District
Iitate
Shinchi
Tamura District
Miharu
Ono
Yama District
Bandai
Inawashiro
Kitashiobara
Nishiaizu

Economy

The coastal region traditionally specializes in fishing and seafood industries, and is notable for its electric and particularly nuclear power-generating industry, while the upland regions are more focused on agriculture. As of March 2011, the prefecture produced 20.6% of Japan’s peaches and 8.7% of cucumbers.[14][15]

The capital region has a strong industry in software and electronics.
Source: Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Prefecture

Fukushima Diiachi does not power the Fukushima Prefecture. It powers Tokyo. In keeping with Lapp’s description of the dangers of large cored reactors, Fukushima Prefecture was chosen as a site for the electrical power generation by nuclear power in order to supply Tokyo.

Not withstanding the known risks of venting and containment breach followed by meltdown; not withstanding the known risks posed by earthquakes and tsunamis described by Japanese scientists who drew both on the long written history of Japan and the geologic record, construction started in 1967. The first step was to lower the coastal land to sea level. @0 metres being bulldozed and blasted from the sea cliffs. Little wonder decades later TEPCO was not inclined to build the 25 metre wall as determined to be needed on the basis of the science. Instead, TEPCO and the rest of nuclear village, in common with the nature of its global counterparts, isolated the scientists concerned and labelled them cranks. The Japanese regulators, in common with the thuggish behavior of nuclear regulators everywhere, cooperated with in this isolation and exclusion of those people who held the knowledge which might have saved Japan from the worst nuclear disaster this century. The disaster is on going. The total leakage of nuclear pollution may over the years render it the worst nuclear emissions leak in nuclear history. If it is not that already. (It is open to dispute, nuclear industry claiming that Fukushima Diiachi is a minor event, which ended in 2011. This at least was the pretense until nuclear authorities were forced by reality to admit that the plant has been continuously radionuclides non stop since the disaster occurred in March 2011. Although many ordinary people have constantly pointed this fact out, until August 2011, nuclear authorities called such people panic merchants, radio phobes, and anti Japanese. Well if pro truth is Anti Nuclear authority, which is the greatest threat to democracy, empowerment and national security over the survival of an already morally dead demonstrably deceitful industry?

The Fukushima Diiachi Site Before Construction:

Video of the cliff leveling during construction. In particular note at the end of the video the digging of the basements into the aquifer and below sea level. The emergency generators needed to power the cooling system in station black out were placed in the basements the hole here. (and so on, for each of the reactors at the site). This was the cheaper option.

Thanks to the uploader Hiroshi Taguchi and to Kaye Nagamine, Kobe, Japan for finding this very important footage.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7g6UFAsz_LM#t=312)

The GE Three

People I have spoken to in Japan tell me that prior to the Fukushima Diiachi ordeal, they had never heard of the controversey surrounding US large core nuclear reactors.

They had never heard of the controversey surrounding, in particular the GE boiling water reactor design as it unfoldin the decades preceding the nuclear disaster in Japan.

Cost and profit were major impediments to nuclear reactors in the early days. Government intervention, as we have seen, in aid of civil nuclear energy came in the form of the Price-Anderson Act and in nuclear regulation which was driven as much by the civil industry as it was by the regulators. Legislators were sympathetic to industry.

The GE has been singled out for decades as particularly vunlerable design. All large core multi watt reactors were viewed as inherently prone to melt down in over heat. But individuals within the regulatory structure and within GE itself saw the design as especially vunlenble.

GE itself to this day maintains the safety of its reactors. Only 3 reactors blew up, spewing radio chemicals over Japan and the world. It’s a democracy. GE can think what it likes.

By the time the GE Three came to the attention of the US public in 1976, Fukushima Diiachi had been operating for about 5 years. As far as Japan was concerned, the plant was perfectly safe and no dissenting views were officially counternanced in Japan.

The GE Three are described by Wikipedia as follows:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GE_Three

The GE Three are three nuclear engineers who “blew the whistle” on safety problems at nuclear power plants in the United States in 1976. The three nuclear engineers gained the attention of journalists and the anti-nuclear movement. The GE Three returned to prominence in 2011 during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

On February 2, 1976, Gregory C. Minor, Richard B. Hubbard, and Dale G. Bridenbaugh “blew the whistle” on safety problems at nuclear power plants. The three engineers gained the attention of journalists and their disclosures about the threats of nuclear power had a significant impact. They timed their statements to coincide with their resignations from responsible positions in General Electric’s nuclear energy division, and later established themselves as consultants on the nuclear power industry for state governments, federal agencies, and overseas governments. The consulting firm they formed, MHB Technical Associates, was technical advisor for the movie, “The China Syndrome.” The three engineers participated in Congressional hearings which their disclosures precipitated.[1][2]

Following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan, a series of explosions and a containment failure at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant resulted in media coverage of the GE Three. Bridenbaugh described design flaws of General Electric’s Mark 1 reactors, which account for five of the six reactors at the Fukushima 1 power plant. Bridenbaugh claimed that the design “did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant” and that, despite efforts to retrofit the reactors, “the Mark 1 is still a little more susceptible to an accident that would result in a loss of containment.”[3] end quote.

The GE Three were not the only ones who saw fault in the GE Mk1.

The Nuclear Information and Resource Service has a web page devoted to these reactors and their enhanced dangers at http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/bwrfact.htm

quote:

LACK OF CONTAINMENT INTEGRITY DURING A NUCLEAR ACCIDENT

The purpose of a reactor containment system is to create a barrier against the release of radioactivity generated during nuclear power operations from certain “design basis” accidents, such as increased pressure from a single pipe break. It is important to understand that nuclear power plants are not required by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to remain intact as a barrier to all possible accidents or “non-design basis” accidents, such as the melting of reactor fuel. All nuclear reactors can have accidents which can exceed the design basis of their containment.

But even basic questions about the the GE containment design remain unanswered and its integrity in serious doubt. For example, 23 of these BWRs use a smaller GE Mark I pressure suppression containment conceived as a cost-saving alternative to the larger reinforced concrete containments marketed by competitors. A large inverted light-bulb-shaped steel structure called “the drywell” is constructed of a steel liner and a concrete drywell shield wall enclosing the reactor vessel–this is considered the “primary” containment.. The atmosphere of the drywell is connected through large diameter pipes to a large hollow doughnut-shaped pressure suppression pool called “the torus”, or wetwell, which is half-filled with water. In the event of a loss-of-coolant-accident (LOCA), steam would be released into the drywell and directed underwater in the torus where it is supposed to condense, thus suppressing a pressure buildup in the containment.

The outer concrete building is the “secondary” containment and is smaller and less robust (and thus cheaper to build) than the containment buildings used at most reactors.

As early as 1972, Dr. Stephen Hanauer, an Atomic Energy Commission safety official, recommended that the pressure suppression system be discontinued and any further designs not be accepted for construction permits. Hanauer’s boss, Joseph Hendrie (later an NRC Commissioner) essentially agreed with Hanauer, but denied the recommendation on the grounds that it could end the nuclear power industry in the U.S.

Here are copies of the three original AEC memos, including Hendrie’s:

November 11, 1971: outlines problems with the design and pressure suppression system containment : http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/19711117-hanauer-memo-bwr-pressure-suppression-containment.pdf

September 20, 1972: memo from Steven Hanauer recommends that U.S. stop licensing reactors using pressure suppression system: http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/19720920-hanauer-memo-pressure-suppression-containments.pdf

September 25, 1972: memo from Joseph Hendrie (top safety official at AEC) agrees with recommendation but rejects it saying it “could well mean the end of nuclear power…” :http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/19720925-hendrie-pressure-suppression-concerns-end-of-nucl~1.pdf

In 1976, three General Electric nuclear engineers publicly resigned their prestigious positions citing dangerous shortcomings in the GE design.

An NRC analysis of the potential failure of the Mark I under accident conditions concluded in a 1985 report that Mark I failure within the first few hours following core melt would appear rather likely.”

In 1986, Harold Denton, then the NRC’s top safety official, told an industry trade group that the “Mark I containment, especially being smaller with lower design pressure, in spite of the suppression pool, if you look at the WASH 1400 safety study, you’ll find something like a 90% probability of that containment failing.” In order to protect the Mark I containment from a total rupture it was determined necessary to vent any high pressure buildup. As a result, an industry workgroup designed and installed the “direct torus vent system” at all Mark I reactors. Operated from the control room, the vent is a reinforced pipe installed in the torus and designed to release radioactive high pressure steam generated in a severe accident by allowing the unfiltered release directly to the atmosphere through the 300 foot vent stack. Reactor operators now have the option by direct action to expose the public and the environment to unknown amounts of harmful radiation in order to “save containment.” As a result of GE’s design deficiency, the original idea for a passive containment system has been dangerously compromised and given over to human control with all its associated risks of error and technical failure.

As we have now seen at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, this containment design failed catastrophically when hydrogen built up in the outer containment buildings until three of them exploded. The outer containment building was neither large enough nor strong enough to withstand these explosions.

end quote.

It is in the above information that one finds the reason for the need to vent radioactive gases into the air from Fukushima Diiachi relatively early in the disaster. The then Prime Minister of Japan flew to the Fukushima site to see for himself what the situation was. The venting was major failure of containment. People were told to say indoors. Recovery operations resultant from the great quake and tsunami were interrupted and world nuclear industry used all its influence to ensure the paid media conveyed the news that such venting was “normal” and “perfectly”.

It is not. Failure of containment is a failure of the promise given, initially, to Americans in the mid 1970s. This promise was that containment would not fail. Even though overheat could result in pressure build up and core melt, so called ‘defence in depth” meant this would never happen. That was the promise. Nuclear industry may water this promise down in the light of events. But in fact as the Oak Ridge testimony and written record shows, large core reactors are inherently safe and no amount of plumbing will save then. Flash Gordons within the nuclear industry rely basically on Bob the Plumber. Increasingly at Fukushima Diiachi they rely on duct tape and buckets.

Not until Fukushima experienced the overheat, overpressure and meltdowns of three GE type reactors did the Japanese people hear of the warning given since the days when Fukushima Diiachi was just a gleam in the eyes of TEPCO and GE. The days when the land upon which Fukushima Diiachi now stands as a steaming, leaking ruin was 20 metres higher then it is today. The days when the cliffs still stood.

Ralph Lapp – Thoughts on Nuclear Plumbing, 1971. Where would you put ‘em now, Ralph?

Ralph Lapp was a nuclear scientist who worked for the AEC. Ralph spoke against nuclear fallout from the bomb tests and he spoke about the dangers of large core reactors. While many Americans who spoke about things were subject to sanctions from the AEC and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (eg Linus Pauling), Ralph sailed through with apparently little damage to his career and no attack upon his personal integrity. Unlike, for example, Gofman and Tamplin, as discussed earlier.

Perhaps the AEC wanted to conform to the American normal of debate to project a democratic air. Who knows. In any event, when the Core Melt problem hit the public awareness, Ralph wrote the following piece in the New York Times:

Ralp Lapp – Unsafe core cooling systems in Reactors, 1971
NEW YORK TIMES 12 DECEMBER 1971 (Unit 1 at Fukushima Diiachi was in its first year in operation when the piece was written, stuck out in the farmland at Fukushima, apparently away from Tokyo to be safe. Too bad, I guess they thought, about Japan’s food basket.)

THOUGHTS ON NUCLEAR PLUMBING

Of course, not many Japanese people had access to the New York Times back then.

As a result of the concern in the community, and as a result of the overwhelming fear of the sight of people in big cities suffering the fate imposed by a core melt in a nearby reactor, one reactor was shut down by the AEC. Too close to a major centre.

Any farmer on the planet, any rural community on the planet has had cause to know since 1971 what nuclear industry thinks of agricultural land. A nice place to fling core melt fallout into.

Where would you put them now, Ralph?

Define the Plumbing, but don’t fix the core.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/cfr/part050/part050-0046.html

These design parameter rules did not stop the Fukushima Diiachi disaster. The disaster enabled the cores at 3 reactors to do their natural thing. Instead merely boiling water to make steam, they reverted to the natural state and became a blast furnace and melted themselves plus the steel which was supposed to contain them. So much for Bob the Plumber as the Messiah for the Industry. There is no such god.

quote:

50.46 Acceptance criteria for emergency core cooling systems for light-water nuclear power reactors

(a)(1)(i) Each boiling or pressurized light-water nuclear power reactor fueled with uranium oxide pellets within cylindrical zircaloy or ZIRLO cladding must be provided with an emergency core cooling system (ECCS) that must be designed so that its calculated cooling performance following postulated loss-of-coolant accidents conforms to the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. ECCS cooling performance must be calculated in accordance with an acceptable evaluation model and must be calculated for a number of postulated loss-of-coolant accidents of different sizes, locations, and other properties sufficient to provide assurance that the most severe postulated loss-of-coolant accidents are calculated. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this section, the evaluation model must include sufficient supporting justification to show that the analytical technique realistically describes the behavior of the reactor system during a loss-of-coolant accident. Comparisons to applicable experimental data must be made and uncertainties in the analysis method and inputs must be identified and assessed so that the uncertainty in the calculated results can be estimated. This uncertainty must be accounted for, so that, when the calculated ECCS cooling performance is compared to the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section, there is a high level of probability that the criteria would not be exceeded. Appendix K, Part II Required Documentation, sets forth the documentation requirements for each evaluation model. This section does not apply to a nuclear power reactor facility for which the certifications required under § 50.82(a)(1) have been submitted.

(ii) Alternatively, an ECCS evaluation model may be developed in conformance with the required and acceptable features of appendix K ECCS Evaluation Models.

(2) The Director of Nuclear Reactor Regulation may impose restrictions on reactor operation if it is found that the evaluations of ECCS cooling performance submitted are not consistent with paragraphs (a)(1) (i) and (ii) of this section.

(3)(i) Each applicant for or holder of an operating license or construction permit issued under this part, applicant for a standard design certification under part 52 of this chapter (including an applicant after the Commission has adopted a final design certification regulation), or an applicant for or holder of a standard design approval, a combined license or a manufacturing license issued under part 52 of this chapter, shall estimate the effect of any change to or error in an acceptable evaluation model or in the application of such a model to determine if the change or error is significant. For this purpose, a significant change or error is one which results in a calculated peak fuel cladding temperature different by more than 50 °F from the temperature calculated for the limiting transient using the last acceptable model, or is a cumulation of changes and errors such that the sum of the absolute magnitudes of the respective temperature changes is greater than 50 °F.

(ii) For each change to or error discovered in an acceptable evaluation model or in the application of such a model that affects the temperature calculation, the applicant or holder of a construction permit, operating license, combined license, or manufacturing license shall report the nature of the change or error and its estimated effect on the limiting ECCS analysis to the Commission at least annually as specified in § 50.4 or § 52.3 of this chapter, as applicable. If the change or error is significant, the applicant or licensee shall provide this report within 30 days and include with the report a proposed schedule for providing a reanalysis or taking other action as may be needed to show compliance with § 50.46 requirements. This schedule may be developed using an integrated scheduling system previously approved for the facility by the NRC. For those facilities not using an NRC approved integrated scheduling system, a schedule will be established by the NRC staff within 60 days of receipt of the proposed schedule. Any change or error correction that results in a calculated ECCS performance that does not conform to the criteria set forth in paragraph (b) of this section is a reportable event as described in §§ 50.55(e), 50.72, and 50.73. The affected applicant or licensee shall propose immediate steps to demonstrate compliance or bring plant design or operation into compliance with § 50.46 requirements.

(iii) For each change to or error discovered in an acceptable evaluation model or in the application of such a model that affects the temperature calculation, the applicant or holder of a standard design approval or the applicant for a standard design certification (including an applicant after the Commission has adopted a final design certification rule) shall report the nature of the change or error and its estimated effect on the limiting ECCS analysis to the Commission and to any applicant or licensee referencing the design approval or design certification at least annually as specified in § 52.3 of this chapter. If the change or error is significant, the applicant or holder of the design approval or the applicant for the design certification shall provide this report within 30 days and include with the report a proposed schedule for providing a reanalysis or taking other action as may be needed to show compliance with § 50.46 requirements. The affected applicant or holder shall propose immediate steps to demonstrate compliance or bring plant design into compliance with § 50.46 requirements.

(b)(1) Peak cladding temperature. The calculated maximum fuel element cladding temperature shall not exceed 2200° F.

(2) Maximum cladding oxidation. The calculated total oxidation of the cladding shall nowhere exceed 0.17 times the total cladding thickness before oxidation. As used in this subparagraph total oxidation means the total thickness of cladding metal that would be locally converted to oxide if all the oxygen absorbed by and reacted with the cladding locally were converted to stoichiometric zirconium dioxide. If cladding rupture is calculated to occur, the inside surfaces of the cladding shall be included in the oxidation, beginning at the calculated time of rupture. Cladding thickness before oxidation means the radial distance from inside to outside the cladding, after any calculated rupture or swelling has occurred but before significant oxidation. Where the calculated conditions of transient pressure and temperature lead to a prediction of cladding swelling, with or without cladding rupture, the unoxidized cladding thickness shall be defined as the cladding cross-sectional area, taken at a horizontal plane at the elevation of the rupture, if it occurs, or at the elevation of the highest cladding temperature if no rupture is calculated to occur, divided by the average circumference at that elevation. For ruptured cladding the circumference does not include the rupture opening.

(3) Maximum hydrogen generation. The calculated total amount of hydrogen generated from the chemical reaction of the cladding with water or steam shall not exceed 0.01 times the hypothetical amount that would be generated if all of the metal in the cladding cylinders surrounding the fuel, excluding the cladding surrounding the plenum volume, were to react.

(4) Coolable geometry. Calculated changes in core geometry shall be such that the core remains amenable to cooling.

(5) Long-term cooling. After any calculated successful initial operation of the ECCS, the calculated core temperature shall be maintained at an acceptably low value and decay heat shall be removed for the extended period of time required by the long-lived radioactivity remaining in the core.

(c) As used in this section: (1) Loss-of-coolant accidents (LOCA’s) are hypothetical accidents that would result from the loss of reactor coolant, at a rate in excess of the capability of the reactor coolant makeup system, from breaks in pipes in the reactor coolant pressure boundary up to and including a break equivalent in size to the double-ended rupture of the largest pipe in the reactor coolant system.

(2) An evaluation model is the calculational framework for evaluating the behavior of the reactor system during a postulated loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA). It includes one or more computer programs and all other information necessary for application of the calculational framework to a specific LOCA, such as mathematical models used, assumptions included in the programs, procedure for treating the program input and output information, specification of those portions of analysis not included in computer programs, values of parameters, and all other information necessary to specify the calculational procedure.

(d) The requirements of this section are in addition to any other requirements applicable to ECCS set forth in this part. The criteria set forth in paragraph (b), with cooling performance calculated in accordance with an acceptable evaluation model, are in implementation of the general requirements with respect to ECCS cooling performance design set forth in this part, including in particular Criterion 35 of appendix A.

[39 FR 1002, Jan. 4, 1974, as amended at 53 FR 36004, Sept. 16, 1988; 57 FR 39358, Aug. 31, 1992; 61 FR 39299, July 29, 1996; 62 FR 59726, Nov. 3, 1997; 72 FR 49494, Aug. 28, 2007]
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, July 25, 2013
end quote.

All useless bullshit. As predicted long ago by Oak Ridge and others, the ECCS and all other supposed fail safes failed at Fukushima.

When the first explosion blew apart the first reactor at Fukushima Diiachi, the voice over at SBS TV Australia, an “expert” in reactors from Australia National University, in the tone of a fervent early morning evangelist said “This is normal”.

Yes, it is for an industry which has always known the hazard. But it is reprehensible.

I submit that this is not a “uniquely Japanese” event. It can happen anywhere. The cores are designed that way. This is what they do. The problem of cores is not solved by nuclear plumbing.

The AEC’s Ergen Report

In the mid 1960s the US Atomic Energy Commission became concerned that economic nuclear power reactors would rely upon large reactor which were not inherently safe. To define the problem the AEC commissioned W.K. Ergen to study large core reactor cooling systems and the phenomenon of melt down. The result of the Ergen Committee’s work was published as follows:

http://www.worldcat.org/title/emergency-core-cooling-report-of/oclc/14116141

Emergency core cooling : report of
Author: W K Ergen; Advisory Task Force on Power Reactor Emergency Cooling.; U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.
Publisher: [Oak Ridge, Tenn. : US AEC Division of Technical Information Extension, 1967?]
Edition/Format: Book : National government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database: WorldCat
Rating:

(not yet rated) 0 with reviews – Be the first.
Subjects

Nuclear reactors — Cooling.
Nuclear reactors — Safety measures.

I have not yet been able to locate a copy of this report. Being in Australia, it is a bit difficult to pop into the Library of Congress and have a read of it.

However, the numerous scientific and technical papers which reference the report and in 1971 the nuclear scientist Ralph Lapp published a piece in the New Yok Times which gives a little detail on what Ergen found would happen when a large core reactor melted down.

The US NRC has a web based history which traces the history of nuclear regulation in the USA, along with the public debates that accompanied these changing regulations. Again, I point out that the Japanese people which whom I have exchanged communication state public debate on these matters never occurred in their country. Reactors were presented as being perfectly safe for the period from the 1950s until March 2011.

Before I link to the NRC history, here is a paper written by Oak Ridge National Labs staff which references the Ergen Report and the issues it raises:

http://smithdray1.net/historicallyspeaking/2012/12-24-12%20ECCS%20Hobson%20col%201.pdf

ORNL’s role in early reactor safety concerns (As published in The Oak Ridger’s Historically Speaking column on December 24, 2012)

This week Carolyn Krause takes Historically Speaking readers on a journey back to 1972
and a few years before. She tells of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s involvement
in the creation of nuclear reactor emergency core cooling systems requirements
during the 1960’s.

Remember the energy crisis of the 1970’s? Very large nuclear power plants were being
constructed by private energy as encouraged in a modification to the Atomic Energy Act.
Reactor safety was of paramount concern in the newly emerging field of commercial nuclear reactors.

One of the resources Carolyn uses, David Hobson, had mentioned this subject to me and I had
not been able to follow up on his suggestion. So, it is with pleasure that I
learned Carolyn was indeed working with David to tell this most intriguing story. Enjoy the reflection back to a time of discovery in the emerging nuclear power reactor story.
Carolyn begins with profound observation:

The first goal of every organization is to preserve itself. The second is to carry out the functions for which it was created.
This principle of organizational behavior helps explain what happened over 40 years ago when
four Oak Ridge researchers testified at the 1972 Rulemaking Hear ing on Emergency Core
Cooling [Systems] for Nuclear Power Reactors
held by the Atomic Energy Commission near
Washington, D.C.

Dave Hobson, one of the researchers, talked about the run -up to the hearing and the
hearing itself in two Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning classes titled “ ‘Act Responsibly and Tellthe Truth’: The Untold Story of the ECCS Hearing.”

In respect to nuclear power the AEC wore both promotional and regulatory hats, somewhat like a
coach also empowered to be thereferee.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 gave the AEC absolute control over nuclear energy.
But the amended 1954 law encouraged private industry to build and operate nuclear power plants.

Westinghouse, General Electric, Babcock & Wilcox and Combustion Engineering began designing and building nuclear power plants, which utilities operated to help meet the nation’s
growing need for electricity.

By 1971, the four reactor vendors were constructing 55 large nuclear plants. With limited technical capability in building and runningnuclear plants, the AEC relied on vendor and utility expertise and mainly issued operating licenses.

Studies at the AEC’s national laboratories indicated potential safety problems in the
operating nuclear power plants. But the AEC and the nuclear industry avoided disclosing these findings, not wishing to alarm the public whose support they needed.

The nuclear industry recognized from Brookhaven National Lab’s WASH-704 study that the
consequences of an unlikely but possible catastrophic nuclear accident could drive a vendor or
utility into bankruptcy. So, Congress passed the Price-Anderson Act of 1957 to protect the
industry from massive damage claims.

In 1962 the AEC report to President Kennedy barely mentioned reactor safety. Yet the AEC’s
own Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), which was required to review the safety
of each proposed nuclear power plant, had already identified some unresolved safety problems.

In 1964 the vendors proposed larger reactors with fuel cores so big that, if water coolant was lost, the fuel could melt and release hazardous levels of radioactivity to the public. Harold Price, AEC’s director of regulation, told the ACRS that revealing its findings could “create difficult public-relations problems”for both the AEC and nuclear industry.

The ACRS concluded that the most important safety concern was the emergency core cooling
system designed to prevent core damage in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident(LOCA).
Itcalled for testing to show that ECCS systems would work.

In August 1966 the ACRS concluded its review of an application for the licensing of the Indian
Point 2 reactor in New York. Its public report was intentionally vague. But its private memo to
AEC warned that possible pipe ruptures in reactor cooling systems might lead to a meltdown of
fuel through the contai nment structure into the earth.

William Ergen of ORNL called this phenomenon “the China syndrome,” which became a movie title.
In October 1966 Ergen was named to chair an AEC – appointed group to study the safety problems
the ACRS cited. Ergen’s group concluded that more research was needed on topics such as the
fate of reactor fuel rods that are accidentally overheated because coolant was lost.

ORNL received funding to study the conditions that could lead to fuel failure.
Phil Rittenhouse and Hobson’s job for the AEC was to determine under LOCA conditions the behavior of the rods’ Zircaloy cladding that enveloped uranium oxide fuel pellets.

An alloy of zirconium and tiny amounts of tin and other elements, Zircaloy absorbs only a small
percentage of neutrons from the nuclear fuel it clads. Also, it doesn’t corrode in water or steamunder normal reactor temperatures and pressures. “The steam reacts with theZircaloy metal and breaks down into oxygen, which diffuses into the cladding, and hydrogen, which escapes into the surroundings,” Hobson said. “The dissolved oxygen can lead to extreme embrittlement.”

The ORNL researchers found that overheated, overpressurized cladding tubes swelled
and ruptured. The expansion was five times greater than what the vendors claimed. Industry
dismissed ORNL results suggesting that the swollen rods could block coolant flow and
shatter from embrittlement.

The ORNL results angered the sponsor, Milton Shaw, director of AEC’s Division of Reactor
Development and Technology. Shaw cut off funding for Rittenhouse’s group in early 1971, saying
that “we were creating more problems than we were solving,” said Hobson.

The worst problem was that critics of nuclear power was that critics of nuclear
power were citing ORNL findings as evidence of serious safety problems.

In the meantime, the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory conducted tests with a simulated
pipe rupture and dummy reactor core. “The emergency cooling bypassed the dummy core it was
supposed to cool and exited through the same rupture hole that had drained the initial water,”
Hobson said.

Backed into a corner, the AEC formed a task force headed by Stephen Hanauer, former University of Tennessee professor. The task force met with the reactor vendors, who rejected
INEL’s findings, and ignored ORNL’s concerns. Hanauer’s group drafted an ECCS policy in June
1971 that AEC adopted.

In December 1971 ORNL’s Bill Cottrell wrote a letter to Manning Muntzing, AEC’s director of
regulation, that stated: “We are not certain that the ECCS policy adopted by the AEC will provide assurance that such systems will be effective in the unlikely event of a loss-of-
coolant accident.” ORNL was asked to withdraw the letter.

The controversy had become public,
so the AEC was forced to hold a formal rulemakin
g hearing
in 1972 on the adequacy of its new ECCS policy.

Now there is a study in insight into history that is rarely seen. Thanks to Carolyn for yet another excellent examination of little known or understood aspects of Oak Ridge history.

Next week she will bring out the detailed activities of four ORNL researchers as they
participated in the 1972 rulemaking hearing.

end quote

I am going to leave this analysis here. I point out that Fukushima Diiachi was completed and came on line in 1971. At the very tme Americans were vigorously arguing in open hearings about the safety of large cores that could melt, the US regulator and the US industry shifted focus to the plumbing which would, they said, prevent it.

The focus in the US was not upon the nature of the large cores, but upon the plumbing. What would happen in the event of Loss of coolant – a pipe break for example.

Though the industry had and has total station black regimes in place, the main thrust of the historical documents I, as a lay person, can find relate to not melt down, not total loss of power to the nuke plant, but to the plumbing. The plumbing, especially the Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) was the alleged Messiah of the nuclear reactor industry.

Even at the time, the indications were ECCS didn’t work and would not work. But, none the less, on the promise that it would, large core reactors in the USA got the grean light and the US public, having had an open debate (albeit one in which the industry distored the truth, and resistd the truth) and so feeling that democracy had been served, accepted the assurances of the regulators and industry.

Even if highly qualified staff at ORNL knew that the fuel rods in an overheating core could balloon, block cooling water passage and suffer myriad complications. The ECCS, the messiah might not work.

In March 2011 prior to the hydrogen explosions at Fukushima Diiachi, a TEPCO technician wrote on the main control room white board “4.xxpm. ECCS failure.” (I forget the exact time, I will go through my hours of recorded material to find it).

I do not need to prove that the reactors at Fukushima were and intrinsically deadly. The record shows that they were known to be so even before the first sods of soil were turned at the plant site in 1967.

I conclude futher that in search for a profit margin, nuclear industry, aided by US regulators and legislators, cobbled together a dizzying complex system of piping and plumbing with which they buried the fundamental issue: cores that could not disapate their decay heat even when switched off. The natural tendency of a large core in system failure is not failure to function, it is failure to preserve itself. It enters a self destruct mode no one can stop.

The philosphy behind nuclear reactors is to blame not the technology, but the organisation and, ultimately, the victims. Old auto industry defence of “It was not the machine, it was the nut behnd the wheel” comes home to roost as it has in Japan. GE is NOWHERE to be seen in the public eye. Before turning to the “GE Three” (who, prior to Fukushima, many Japanese people had never heard of), let’s look at the raft of plumbing regulations nuclear regulators piled onto the situation, in order to present a “safety awareness” proof to the American public.