Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The expanding "dead zone" around Fukushima Daiichi...



March 30th, 2011

Dear Readers,

Unit Two at Fukushima Daiichi is now presumed to be a molten pile on the concrete floor of its Reactor Containment Vessel. Radiation levels in water near the plant were measured at 1250 times normal a few days ago. Yesterday readings were 1,800 times normal levels. And today? 3,000 times normal levels.

And things can still get much worse.

For example, the containment vessel could explode from hydrogen gas released by any zirconium cladding that's left on the fuel pellets. Zirconium reacts with the concrete, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott (see below).

According to the World Nuclear News, TEPCO says Fukushima units 1 to 4 "are highly likely to be written off" (gosh!) and in an unbelievably simplistic description of the current problem -- huge trenches near the plant, filled will highly radioactive water -- WNN states that the trenches "were probably flooded by the tsunami." If you want prescience, don't go to WNN.

The world was promised that this could never happen in a commercial nuclear reactor of "western" design.

Those who said it could were ignored whenever possible, and scoffed at or ridiculed when not.

I can show you hundreds of letters I've received over the years, assuring me nothing like this could ever happen -- again -- because, of course, Chernobyl's design was "different" and "western" designs are "superior".

Clearly, they are not. Case closed. We don't need an investigation of what exactly went wrong to know that.

But what happens next?

Will the uranium pile, which as dropped out of the Reactor Pressure Vessel and is now on the cement base of the Reactor Containment Vessel, flow towards the low point, where a sump pump is usually located? (Such a pump, for removing water, would be nonfunctional, if only because it has no power, but also because it's undoubtedly clogged and encrusted with salt.)

After collecting at the low point, will "the molten blob from hell" coalesce once again into a critical mass? It was a critical mass just three weeks ago. "It can't explode like an atomic bomb!" the pronukers always remind us. "I know that" we always respond. But it CAN explode other ways: Violent steam explosions, for example. Or hydrogen explosions.

And it CAN achieve criticality -- that's what it was doing, but under "controlled" conditions, when the earthquake/tsunami (and manmade systems failures) all struck in a pack a few weeks ago. Control at a nuclear power plant can be lost very quickly. Who doesn't know that, now?

All reactors have hundreds of pounds of plutonium in them, from the conversion from uranium to plutonium during "criticality" during normal operations.

But even without re-achieving criticality on its own, the "pile" may still have so much "decay heat" (from fission and activation products continuing to decay) that it might still get so hot that it explodes from touching the water table, or from all the water that's being poured on it.

Any number of things can happen. None of them are good.

If The Blob achieves criticality, it will produce even vastly greater quantities of fission products than have already been released. If it has any zirconium cladding on any of the fuel pellets that are left, they will burn / melt oxidize off. One more way The Blob could achieve criticality is, of course, if the spent fuel pool high above it were to collapse onto it, adding greatly to the total mass of uranium/plutonium. I'm not saying it's inevitable or anything but it seems possible to this writer, gravity being what it is.

And, all the steel holding the uranium has undoubtedly already burned away or melted, vaporized, oxidized, or perhaps merely been washed away. But much of the uranium and the plutonium -- much denser -- has probably remained. Everything that was used to keep it apart and only come together a little bit -- the fuel assemblies, the zirconium cladding -- it's all gone. So if/when criticality is achieved again, it could be very violent.

Meanwhile, radioactive liquids and gases continue to pour out.

IF TEPCO couldn't see this coming, we sure could. Years ago.

I've released a new video about dangers at San Onofre specifically, although everything applies to other plants, too. The video is intended to show that what is happening in Fukushima Daiichi was predictable. So it might be a good idea to listen to what the people who predicted it are now saying. At least, that's the not-so-subtle subtext of my new video. Here's the URL:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiRj7yo5w2E

Yesterday Katie Kouric, CBS News, presented interviews with three former workers at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station -- each with decades of experience at the plant. See link to CBS Report here:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/29/eveningnews/main20048512.shtml

Here's is a link to a grim video of nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen discussing conditions at Fukushima on March 29, 2011. "The containment isn't containing.":

http://www.fairewinds.com/content/what-we-do
or:
http://vimeo.com/21630171

Here's a debate between confused "environmentalist" George Monbiot and all the world's favorite nuclear expert, Dr. Helen Caldicott:
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/3/30/prescription_for_survival_a_debate_on

George says he's read "part of it" regarding the Chernobyl New York Academy of Sciences report indicating a million deaths. He calls the 5,000 individual studies it reviewed "outliers" and "cherry-picking of the science" (versus the 350 or so truly cherry-picked studies the IAEA/WHO reviewed, that he prefers). George Monbiot has blinders on, along with the rest of the Nuclear Mafia -- as Dr. Caldicott indicates during the interview. He's arrogant, too. No wonder the nuclear industry loves him.

Lastly, to see the sheer power of a tsunami, this video appears to be unbeatable (so far):
http://jalopnik.com/#!5786275/this-is-the-scariest-tsunami-video-yet

Sincerely,

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

The author has been reviewing nuclear issues for a number of decades. He has a collection of approximately 500 books on the subject and has interviewed hundreds of nuclear experts. His book, The Code Killers, is available as a free download from: www.acehoffman.org .

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Ace Hoffman
Author, The Code Killers:
An Expose of the Nuclear Industry
Free download: acehoffman.org
Blog: acehoffman.blogspot.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/AceHoffman
Phone: (760) 720-7261
Address: PO Box 1936, Carlsbad, CA 92018
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Email: ace [at] acehoffman.org
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