Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fukushima, GE design flaws, MOX Plutonium fuel at #3 plant, and interviews

Where to begin with this one....
I want to be wrong, and I hope to be wrong. But, I fear that Japan is far, far worse then we are being told, quite humbly I will say, Dire is the word that comes to mind.
Please let me be wrong.

Their are six reactors at Fukushima, many may not be aware of that. But that is the case.
One of the reactors, Number 3 is a plutonium reactor as opposed to uranium.
This is very bad, very very bad. I will get to that. We are going long today, so get your beverages ready. I have my jasmine green tea.

The latest claim is that the reactors 1,5 and 6 are stable.

Three of the six reactors at the earthquake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan are now relatively stable, officials said on Thursday.

"The first unit is relatively stable, for now," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a senior official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Administration.

He said reactors 5 and 6 were being powered by a shared diesel generator.

So perhaps two of them are stable, but that leaves four of them as questionable.

The reactor's designer is/are coming under scrutiny, as well they should. It is clear when it comes to cutting corners to make a buck, big business never fails to impress, their shareholders and CEO's. Not the people though.

The US-made reactors at Fukushima are coming under close scrutiny as experts point to flaws in their original design and the lack of a safety feature that the nuclear industry is only now starting to address.

Five of the six reactors at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are so-called Mark 1 boiling water reactor (BWR) models, developed by General Electric in the 1960s and installed in Japan in the 1970s.

In the 1970s, criticism amplified that the Mark 1's concrete containment shield, which surrounds the reactor vessel, was vulnerable to explosion caused by a buildup of hydrogen gas if the reactor overheated.

The original design "did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a a loss of coolant," Dale Bridenbaugh, who quit as a GE engineer in 1975 over the alleged problem, told ABC News on Wednesday.

There were 32 Mark 1 installations in the world, in addition to 23 in the United States.

One design flaw could be this?

Fukushima nuclear plant has spent fuel in pools of water atop of the plant’s six reactors.

Shall I clarify that point? Sitting atop of the reactors are the spent fuel pools.
But, wait it get's better (rhetorical) It get's a hell of a lot worse!

Radioactivity has been heating the pools at three of the plant’s reactors since the plant’s cooling systems were disabled by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, officials said. Exposed, the spent fuel rods can catch fire and melt, spewing radiation into the atmosphere, said Robert Kelley, an engineer in Vienna who used to lead the Nuclear Emergency Response at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Unlike the plant’s reactors, the pools aren’t encased by steel and concrete.

So, sitting on top of the reactors, we have spent fuel pools, that are not encased in steel and concrete.
These can spew radiation directly into the atmoshphere. And they are sitting on top of a big bomb, effectively!

GE- "We bring good things to light"
Like nuclear holocausts?

Anyway... according to this article, from last night, Japan had 48 hours to get this under something resembling control.

Japan has 48 hours to bring its rapidly escalating nuclear crisis under control before it faces a catastrophe "worse than Chernobyl,"French experts said Wednesday.

Nuclear safety officials in France said they were pessimistic about whether engineers could prevent a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant after a pool containing spent fuel rods overheated and boiled dry.

As Japan resorted to increasingly desperate measures - including dumping water on the site from helicopters - there were accusations that the situation was now "out of control."

Thierry Charles, a safety official at France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, said: "The next 48 hours will be decisive. I am pessimistic, because since Sunday I have seen that almost none of the solutions has worked."

Fran├žois Baroin, a French government spokesp[erson, went further, saying: "In the worst of cases, it could have an impact worse than Chernobyl." He added: "Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control. That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying."

The Pentagon ordered its armed forces, which had been sent to Japan to help with the relief effort, to retreat to 120 kilometres away from the plant, more than four times the limit imposed by the Japanese government.

Now is the time to mention the plutonium reactor, that is number 3. The one that is not getting mentioned but is more dangerous then the rest and it is not stabilized.

The site causing greatest concern is reactor No. 3 at Fukushima-Daiichi, whose plutonium-uranium fuel mix poses a greater radiological risk than that of reactor no. 1.

The number 3 reactor uses a mixture of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide. In the event of a meltdown, plutonium is considered more dangerous than uranium alone because of its increased volatility and its reactive, "neutronic" effects.

More on #3
Has the MOX Fuel Reactor Been Breached?

The plutonium-based mixed-oxide-fueled number three reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have a break in its containment vessel, according to the Japanese government. If the reactor containment has been breached and the radioactive steam emerging from the plant is from the number three reactor core, it could mean that plutonium particles are being spread in the air over Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano first told a press conference that smoke was seen Wednesday morning around the No.3 reactor. Later government spokesmen said they thought the chance the reactor had been breached was low and the steam may have been coming from the spent fuel pool on the roof of the damaged reactor. Edano said, ''As we saw in the No. 2 unit, steam has been released from the [No. 3] reactor's containment vessel.”

The tragedy unfolding in Japan is the first time that MOX fuel has been part of a nuclear power plant failure. The plutonium based fuel is supplied by the world’s largest nuclear company, the French firm AREVA, which sold the fuel to TEPCO last September. MOX fuel rods have been used in the reactor since then.

Plutonium is one of the most deadly substances on earth and inhalation of the particles could result in a vastly increased chance of cancer and other health effects

As if you do not feel bad enough. Two interviews.
You will catch the relevant information in the first half of both of these shows.
I know, information overload!
Both these shows are two guest shows, but the relevant info is in the first half hours of these programs.

March 8, 2011
Download this episode (right click and save)

Harvey Wasserman

Harvey Wasserman is an activist, author, media figure, and nuclear power expert. Discussion will focus on Japan's Fukushima reactor meltdown and potential catastrophic fallout throughout East Asia and beyond.

March 8, 2011
Download this episode (right click and save)

Karl Grossman is a State University of New York Professor of Journalism, also specializing in investigative reporting for over 40 years.

In addition, he authored six books, including "Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power."

Sorry folks.
My heart goes out to the Japanese. It really does.
I am not one to pray, so unlike their emperor, I have no prayers.
But, I will keep hoping for some lucky break.
That won't come from God, but, will come from the people who are giving their lives to save a nation.


  1. Thanks for this article.
    I wonder: is America retrofitting their MARK1 reactors? How many operating facilities are using the MOX fuel?

  2. Thanks for this article: How MOX fuel was certify and qualify on old MARK1 reactors, is that a GE process, who is in charge of such certification ? The French authority on TV declared they had no idea, no plan of the MARK1

  3. Hi goOgle!

    glad you liked the info I put together :)

    Is american retrofitting their mark1 reactors?

    Who knows?

    As for how many are mox reactors..
    I haven't a clue.

    The one thing I have read is that in the US, 23 reactors are the same as the fukushima reactors, I am assuming they are speaking of the non-mox reactor.

    But then who knows?

  4. anonymous, hello!

    As to how the mox fuel was certified in the mark1 reactors, I don't know.
    This is a learning process for me, kinda learn as you go.

    "The French authority on TV declared they had no idea, no plan of the MARK1"

    Quite frankly I would be surprised if that was an accurate statement.