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March 16, 2011

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I'm waiting for an InterLibrary Loan book to check whether I'm completely bonkers (or not), but I'll just say, as a teaser, that I don't think this kind of group orientation is due to some mystical or eternal characteristic of the Japanese people. I'm guessing that the roots lie in the peculiarities of wet-field rice cultivation in Japan, as it developed in the Muromachi period, or possibly the Edo.

where did my comment go?

Mass psychology is same anywhere.
Especially when fear of unknown and possible come into play. I'd like to try to make one unknown known.

I just figured it out how Fukushima Daiichi accident really happened. I know that feels omnipotent, but i was really troubled with official description of line of the events that caused this accident:
1. If tsunami flooded the diesel generators, how is that they could not repair it in 24hours?
2. How is that only outer shells exploded, not reactors themselves?
3. How is that there is a sudden trouble with used (not spent, there is 98% reactivity still in them) fuel rod pools when they do not require http://www.zerohedge.com/article/detailed-look-spent-fuel-rod-containment-pools-fukushima>circulating water to keep the heat under control? this means the coolant in pools were lost before trouble began. It says that loss of coolant in them is the cause of the problem. Reactor 4 did not have rods in reactor at all and accident still happened.

The used nuclear fuel rods are placed in tubes secured into cube structure, then into simple pools of water, open and flat in which cubes of used rods are laying piled together on the flat bottom. There is no stabilizing panel grid inside to prevent shaking of cubes and water, like gasoline/oil/hazard/any liquid tankers have to prevent fluid moment force to overturn tankers while moving.
My idea of series of events really happened:
It was the shaking of the earthquake that caused spilling of the highly radioactive water from used rod pools that flooded areas around reactors and diesel generators themselves, and also caused shorts in electric lines destroying controlling ability. I simply do not believe that electric power steam generators are earthquake prone and that any damage could not be repaired within 48hours. Unless spilled radioactive coolant prevented any work to fix it.
On the other hand, even if dramtic loss of coolant did not happen, earthquake caused another very serious damage that no amount of coolant can stop. Earthquake of 9.0 strength, that moved the whole country 8 feet, surely shocked the pile of used rod cubes against each other and crushed them together on the flat pool bottom. Crushed rods released the uranium pellets in fuel rods that were kept separated and controllable. Suddenly you get masses of uranium pellets together with no restriction on sharing released electrons that makes nuclear reaction. A cold meltdown that caused heat to rise dramatically and boil water away, not from heat caused meltdown And there is http://www.zerohedge.com/article/nuclear-plant-operator-water-pool-storing-spent-nuclear-fuel-rods-may-be-boiling-ominous-sig>90 tons on average of used fuel rods above each reactor. There is no nuclear explosion, only melting trough heat, because fuel pellets do not have high enough concentration of required isotopes for explosion.
There is a line of http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/175295>coverups by TEPCO from newly released wikileaks.
http://www.thenation.com/article/159234/fukushimas-spent-fuel-rods-pose-grave-danger>Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site..
I am wondering if TPartiers and right wingers still think that all government regulations are bad, and that we need small government

released electrons that makes nuclear reaction

Perhaps you had better study just a little bit more before accusing others of dishonesty on the basis of personal incredulity.

Suddenly you get masses of uranium pellets with no restriction on sharing released neutrons that makes a nuclear reaction controllable there joel, fixed it

> crithical thinker
> 1. If tsunami flooded the diesel
> generators, how is that they could not
> repair it in 24hours?

There are several before-and-after aerial photos of the site available on the web, showing the damage done by the tsunami. As a one-time power plant engineer I am astounded that the remaining staff has been able to do _anything_, much less what they have actually accomplished, given the destruction of all site equipment outside the main turbine and reactor buildings.

> I simply do not believe that electric
> power steam generators are earthquake
> prone and that any damage could not be
> repaired within 48hours.

Then you have absolutely no idea what you talking talking about. Absolutely none. Suggest you stop posting and start reading some basic facts about large-scale mechanical engineering, steam turbine design and operating, basic nuclear physics, etc.

Cranky

Doc Science
That's often offered as an explanation, and I'm not averse to it as a major factor, but 1) other places have wet-field rice cultivation and don't exhibit near the amount of group centered orientation as the Japanese do (India, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar, Northern Italy) 2) a small minority of Japanese farm rice now, so what kept this as a vital cultural trait? But (at least right now) am less interested in how the trait began and more in how it is going to play out.

LJ, maybe because it's early morning here and I haven't had enough coffee, but more likely because the events in Japan continue to stun and stunt my limited capacity for assimilating and organizing tragedy on this scale, I'll just say: please continue to post and if I've missed any suggestions of what someone like me can do to help, please give direction.

There are several before-and-after aerial photos of the site available on the web, showing the damage done by the tsunami. As a one-time power plant engineer I am astounded that the remaining staff has been able to do _anything_, much less what they have actually accomplished, given the destruction of all site equipment outside the main turbine and reactor buildings.

> I simply do not believe that electric
> power steam generators are earthquake
> prone and that any damage could not be
> repaired within 48hours.

Then you have absolutely no idea what you talking talking about. Absolutely none. Suggest you stop posting and start reading some basic facts about large-scale mechanical engineering, steam turbine design and operating, basic nuclear physics, etc.

Thanks for doing that; I wasn't sure that I had it in me to say anything like that politely.

If you get a chance, can you link any of said photos? Googling yields a LOT of pictures, very few of which (AFAICT) show actual damage to the power plant.

I think that CT has severely underestimated the damage that tsunamis can inflict on otherwise solid structures. Even a very heavy diesel generator can be ripped from its base and badly damaged. There's just no telling to what degree the tsunami (as well as the receding floodwaters, which do as much or more damage) damaged the plant's backup cooling and local power generation equipment, without getting some firsthand evidence.

I think we'll eventually get a detailed and consistent story, but until we do it's beyond silly to concoct conspiracy theories at this point.

Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

At a couple of hundred feet above sea level, any tsunami that could inflict damage there would also kill untold millions along the Eastern Seaboard.

From the explanation that I read, the problem was not so much that the generators were flooded as that the electrical switching equipment was located in the basement. Which was flooded. Generators can, as CT notes, be replaced relatively quickly. (Although perhaps not all that quickly, given the circumstances.)

But if the whole internal electrical set-up is trashed, and it would be necessary to create new routes to get power to the equipment, that's a whole different story. I have no idea why the design choice was made to put the electrical hub in the basement. But it seems with 20-20 hindsight to have been an unfortunate decision.

The lack of looting in Japan is a myth:

http://tinyurl.com/4fvz2t9

(Link to an Andrew Sullivan post)

Electrical switching equipment + salt water = not good.

Slart: Are the photos in this diary what you're looking for?

As much as I loathe the new DKos site design, I've found the Japan nuclear disaster mothership diaries at the GOS to be a great source of information during this.

Here is the http://www.zerohedge.com/article/tepco-releases-helicopter-overflight-fukushima-devastation-video>helicopter oveflight video and there is no debris from tsunami in the fields around it. In one section of stopped video there is a blue door where you can see water line not even a foot high, which leads me to proof that there was no mechanical damage from tsunami.

CT:Here is the helicopter oveflight video and there is no debris from tsunami in the fields around it. In one section of stopped video there is a blue door where you can see water line not even a foot high, which leads me to proof that there was no mechanical damage from tsunami.

I see a great deal of speculation based on very little information, none of it firsthand. None of this comes even close to what I would call "proof".

I don't think TEPCO or the Japanese government is being completely forthcoming myself, and the sheer number of conflicting accounts from different officials suggests that someone has their facts wrong, but your theories run afoul of Occam's Razor and have little to support them.

"2. How is that only outer shells exploded, not reactors themselves?"

That's a remarkably easy one: The explosion was a *chemical* explosion, not nuclear. Overheated fuel rods reacted with cooling water, producing hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas is safe as can be, in the absence of oxygen, which it was not exposed to until they had to vent the containments to reduce pressure. At that point it mixed with oxygen, inside the building, but outside the containment structure, and a gas explosion, no different from a house going up because of a leaky gas pipe, followed.

Normally, or so I understand, ventilation fans in the building would have prevented this, by flushing the hydrogen out of the building before it reached explosive concentrations. Another system would have burned the flamible gas as it was vented. Both systems were down due to the lack of electrical power.

IIRC, the buildings were actually deliberately designed so that, in the event of just such an explosion, the force would be directed outward, sparing the containment. And this did happen.

What i am talking about is about what lead to explosions, not on how to fix the problem now, that is almost impossible after explosions. Again, reactor number 4 did not have fuel rods inside reactors, only in spent rods pools and there was hydrogen explosion also.

there is no debris from tsunami in the fields around it

That's a fairly decent point. But the reactor complex is surrounded by a relatively steep 50+ foot rise, and is itself sitting 50+ feet above sea level.

So: probably not much mechanical damage, after all.

Slart: Are the photos in this diary what you're looking for?

That's a very good start, Amezuki; thanks!

The lack of looting in Japan is a myth:

maybe. but i've been unable to find any of the "reports" that reader's letter speaks of. perhaps they're in the Japanese media and haven't yet made it to English media ?

LJ- iodine water purification tablets are available at Amazon ,etc. Using them as a preventative therapy would require a certain amount of calculation. Email me if you are interested. I have a biology PhD, so I could figure out the dose.

ah.. now Sullivan has the evidence.

sadly, i doubt this will stop wingnuts from using the myth as a way to bash New Orleans.

"maybe. but i've been unable to find any of the "reports" that reader's letter speaks of. perhaps they're in the Japanese media and haven't yet made it to English media ?"

Look at this followup: http://tinyurl.com/4m8qbod

Brett
The hydrogen gas is safe as can be, in the absence of oxygen, which it was not exposed to until they had to vent the containments to reduce pressure. At that point it mixed with oxygen, inside the building, but outside the containment structure,
This is confusing. How did hydrogen get inside the building? Was it by design or workers there intentionally redirected the gas from reactor inside instead of outside? If i was designing the venting system i would have a second piping with a pressure triggered valve on pipes that lead from reactor outside into open air, and as i can see those exhaust towers are pretty high and the hydrogen would dilute before reaching the buildings.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/16/956921/-Anatomy-of-the-Fukushima-nuclear-crisis?showAll=yes>Here is from daily kos about those pools.

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the commission, said in Congressional testimony that the commission believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there completely exposed.

And description of what the crushed, mashed up together used fuel rods would cause.

Last night, Rachel Maddow did a great job of explaining that nuclear fuel rods are tubes of corrosion, heat resistant alloy filled with pellets of radioactive material. Each tube is about 12 feet tall and an inch or so thick. These individual rods are hot to the touch. What makes nuclear power work is that when the rods are bundled together, the entire bundle becomes much, much hotter.

Those bundles of active or spent fuel rods left to themselves, sitting in the open at room temperature, would become so hot that the alloy case and the fuel pellets would melt.

Great post, LJ, especially the laying out of the bare facts about "where would they go"? Elementary, my dear Watson! Why are Americans so thick headed? A cultural trait perhaps?

But I, for one, am always quite leery of broad sociological generalizations about "group purpose", etc. That kind of stuff can go off the rails pretty quickly.

But very interesting, nonetheless.

Let us all work together for the best outcome for Japan and its people.

reactor number 4 did not have fuel rods inside reactors, only in spent rods pools

How did hydrogen get inside the building?

The fuel rods are clad in vanadium metal.

As I understand it, in a corrosive environment (such as superheated steam) vanadium reacts with water to produce vanadium oxides and hydrogen gas. I believe that this reaction is almost completely prevented by covering the rods with liquid water.

So each of the hydrogen explosions has been a signal that "in this building, fuel rods are exposed above water, have gotten far too hot, and are starting to significantly oxidize"

I don't know enough even to guess whether the hydrogen from the explosions in #1, #2, and #3 came from spent fuel rods in storage pools, or somehow escaped primary containment. Since there were no fuel rods in #4, it's pretty clear that the hydrogen for that explosion came from rods in the storage pools.

Here are two pieces of good news, taken from the World Nuclear News site:

Electricians have brought outside power in to #2, and hope to be able to power up some of the pumps on that reactor.

One of the emergency diesel units can now be operated and will be used to supply unit 5 and 6 alternately to inject water to their used fuel pools. Later, the power will be used to top up water in the reactor vessels.


I have no words to express my awe at the courage and dedication of the workers who have performed these feats.

Here are the Australian ABC before-and-after photos which allow you to pull the "before" overlay back and forth across the frame. The nuclear plant photos are about half way down.

Note in the before picture the buildings, tanks, structures, etc outside the turbine/reactor island. Note in the after picture that those features are simply gone.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/japan-quake-2011/beforeafter.htm

I'm not sure what those large white tanks were. Demin water? Demin resins? Fuel oil for the EDGs? Sewage processing? But whatever was in them is now spread across the surrounding countryside, and the tanks have simply vanished. You can imagine what the condition of the circulating water pumps (which would be in the large intake structures by the ocean inlet) is like; even if they survived they are choked with mud. And so forth.

Cranky

Hi everyone, back from my conference presentation. A number of other people from Japan, and so it was good to see them. One friend is from Miyagi, but he had gotten over here way before the disaster.

I'll try to catch all of the comments. If I miss something, please let me know.

As far as the evidence of a debris field, since there was nothing between the plant and the ocean, I don't see how there is going to be any debris. And if the generators were immersed in seawater, they are going to break down.

As for the video of looting, I'm not sure how one separates 'looting' from 'salvaging'. Here is an excerpt of an email from a listserv I am on

My wife (a clinical psychologist) went to the local refugee centre yesterday to assess the need for care there, and has gone back today to set up a play therapy area for the children who survived the tsunami but have no home to go back to. A lot of these children are showing the early symptoms of PTSD. They are children who spent the night or two after the tsunami on a pedestrian bridge, the second floor of a high-rise or an apartment, saw corpses floating by, have lost family, or are in the centre but their parents have to go to work (who restores the life-lines and cleans up the mess, or serves customers trying to buy life essentials?), or their parents have lost both their homes and their place of work and are traumatised. It is now a week since the disaster (I think - I myself have lost all track of time), and the deadline for saving the children from prolonged PTSD is said to be 1 week. In other refugee centres, the children are probably left to their own resources, as only the most basic of emergency services is functioning in the more outlying areas, and people are more concerned about things like getting food, medicine, fuel etc rather than non-visible damage.

...

Our daughter is working as a nurse in a major hospital in Sendai. She has come home once since the disaster, probably about 4 days ago. At that stage, the hospital had run out of food, and the patients were getting one piece of onigiri per day. The medical staff was living on canned dried bread rations. Her car is now low on gasoline and she has not come home since, nor has she had the energy to ring us up.

If you notice the cars in the video (at 2:33), it is clear that the tsunami reached that warehouse, so the doors must have been torn open by the sea, so I'm not sure why people who are starving supposed to leave consumables untouched until someone shows up who can tell them they can take them.

The fraud is a constant problem. When there are fires, often times, the neighbors set up a table to collect donations and a common scam is to have con artists quickly set up a table, collect the money and leave before people realize that they aren't locals. Japanese phone scams are quite common. Some people think the invocation 'there is no looting in Japan' means 'all Japanese people are totally honest'. That's not true, unfortunately. But to have people picking over the actions of people after a crisis like this makes me wonder how many rationalizations they could pile on their actions.

McT, I'll try to get a post with links to help, but I'll put these links here
Google donation page

some alternative ways of helping

The Charity Navigator is a good source for more information about charities, and they have a page to help you avoid scams and problems

My thoughts are with everyone in Japan.

The first time I heard someone remarking on the absence of looting, I thought: gee, most of the photos I've seen look as though everything has been reduced to matchsticks and then strewn about at random. How exactly would you go about looting? What would you take?

The first time I heard someone saying: there is too looting! Hah! I thought: please, someone, let me know if I ever turn into the sort of person who responds to a catastrophe like this by trying to find evidence that the victims were looting. I don't want to be that way. -- Luckily, I haven't encountered too many people who are.

Mostly, I think about the kids who survived the tsunami. What they must be going through, I cannot imagine.

One of those 'pictures = 1000 words' moments.

> liberal japonicus
> As far as the evidence of a debris field,
> since there was nothing between the plant
> and the ocean,

Well, except for all the auxiliary systems and structures which were between the main turbine/reactor island and the ocean, and now aren't there any more.

And of course the circulating water screens and pumps, the closed cooling water pumps, the essential service water pumps, and the circulating water outfall which are all "between the plant and the ocean" by necessity.

You do know what those system are, correct? Perhaps you could post a short summary of your experience at large-scale steam-electric power plants (500 MW and above). Doesn't have to be nuclear; coal or gas is fine (although not just simple cycle GT). Thanks.

Cranky

mattbastard:

that's one thing to admire about Japanese culture: when things go really wrong, senior management takes the hit.

In the US, by contrast, underling Lynndie England gets three years in the brig and a dishonorable discharge, while Miller, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush continue to swagger in public

Cranky, I was responding to CT, who asserted
there is no debris from tsunami in the fields around it

It sounds like he was expecting the same type of debris field you see in the towns that were struck by the tsunami, but I don't believe there were a lot of houses or other similar structures between the nuclear plant and the sea. This photo shows that, I believe. Here is another photo and I think that the epicenter was to the north of the complex, so I don't know where the debris field come from. If I'm mistaken, Cranky, please correct me.

Sorry, left out the second link, it is here

Andrew Sullivan actually posted some links on his blog proving the Japanese have been looting, and yet not one retraction in the media has surfaced since.

Ther have been no apologies for the wicked and unfair comparisons between Katrina and the Japanese crises; I don't think there ever will be.

I'd not expect the same kind of debris field everywhere. The towns that you see the debris-laden photos and videos of happen to be in low-lying area, whereas the reactor sits on a shelf about 50 ft above sea level, with a 50 ft rise right behind it. I'd guess most of what you see is post-explosion debris.

In the US, by contrast, underling Lynndie England gets three years in the brig and a dishonorable discharge

Janis Karpinski, on the other hand, was simply demoted to Colonel. But (and I was not aware of this until now) she was promoted back to Brigadier just before retirement, which I think means a higher retirement pay. Now, I had thought that promotion to grade required Congressional approval, so there ought to have been a record of that, but I am not completely up to speed on how such things work in the military.

The Wikipedia page says that her demotion was not officially linked to Abu Ghraib, but what else could it have been?

I wouldn't be surprised if the reactor was sited there precisely because a 50 foot tsunami was not considered to be probable. Also, because Japanese nuclear power has been out of sight, out of mind and because of issues of releasing waste heat, the siting of Japanese nuclear power has typically been on the coast. Here is a map and I believe all of these are seaside.

CT:

Here is the helicopter oveflight video and there is no debris from tsunami in the fields around it. In one section of stopped video there is a blue door where you can see water line not even a foot high, which leads me to proof that there was no mechanical damage from tsunami.
This word, "proof," does not mean what you think it means.

I wrote :

The fuel rods are clad in vanadium metal.

This is not true. While vanadium is sometimes used for fuel rod cladding, the particular fuel rods at Fukushima are clad in zirconium.

I regret the error.

Ther have been no apologies for the wicked and unfair comparisons between Katrina and the Japanese crises; I don't think there ever will be.

Hi Stevie,
If you could link or note the comments here where people made unfair comparisons, I'd appreciate it. If they are on other websites, I hope you'll also provide a link and explain why they are unfair. Thanks.

Any metal will react with water provided the temperature is high enough (although with some that temperature may be high enough that water dissociates to a significant degree without help). The products are metal oxide/hydroxide and hydrogen gas.
Btw, in Britain 'breakaway oxidation phenomena' was(is?) an euphemism for a nuke plant going to hell in a lead basket (according to Terry Pratchett who once worked as a spokesperson for a company running nuclear power plants).

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