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Fukushima Radiation Levels High, But Leak Plugged

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the this-really-sucks dept.

Japan 322

jmcvetta wrote in with a story about Fukushima radiation levels so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. Levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places. But the good news is that the leak is patched using 1500 liters of sodium silicate.

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Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734100)

Helpful radiation chart [xkcd.com] for those of us who don't have a clue whether 100 millisieverts is a tiny dose or enough to create a Godzilla monster.

In short, it's definitely into the "You might want to step-up your planned schedule on those cancer screenings" territory.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (5, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734158)

100 millisieverts per...? A millisievert is a specific amount. If you are getting 100mS/sec you are probably in serious trouble; 100mS/day, you want to leave. Also WHERE outside the buildings? Just outside the door levels are high; 200 meters away, levels are dropping off by inverse cube law.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734172)

I assumed they meant per hour.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734356)

Look! We fixed one of the any problems! Suceess!

"United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, [nytimes.com] and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission."

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734682)

They fixed th most concerning problem. There not calling the reactor fixed, nor are they saying there is no concern.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1, Troll)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734928)

Good, because saying the reactor is fixed and there is no concern would be absolutely fucking ludicrous, wouldn't it? I wonder how much plane tickets to Japan are right now? I'd love to get the Pollyanna nuclear cheerleaders here a ticket to Japan, so they can check out the damage for themselves and report back to us, if they survive. It's no problem, right? Perfectly safe.

Nuclear power can be made perfectly safe, but that would cut into profits. And as long as the taxpayers of the world are on the hook for most of the damages a nuclear plant can create (owners and operators have a liability cap, or they could never afford insurance, given that the maximum possible damages are basically incalculable), the moral hazard that creates will ensure that there are no investments in safer nuclear technology.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (5, Insightful)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735190)

"the maximum possible damages are basically incalculable"

which is true for almost anything, look at the gulf spill, depending on who the numbers come from it's tens of billions or hundreds.

if you see news of a plane crash and shortly afterwards someone insists that plane travel is still "safer than road travel" do you turn around and shout "air travel cheerleaders should have got on their plane" or "how about you go sift through the wreckage for bodies!!!!"

no?
of course not!
because that would be retarded.

nuclear is safer, not perfectly but it's safer than most of the alternatives.

You're more likely to die on the road to the airport(unless you live really close) but when a plane crashes it makes world headlines and a lot of people die at once.
when a car crashes it makes the local news at most unless it's someone famous.
It doesn't make world headlines but it adds up.

nuclear is kinda like that, you're far more likely to die from lung cancer from living near a coal plant or die falling off your roof while installing solar panels but that's local news stuff.
It doesn't make world headlines but it adds up.

that and scary atoms and radiation.
a smog cloud or a broken neck aren't mysterious and scary.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735390)

You believe almost anything can cause incalculable damages? Uh, okay. You did know the damages for oil spills are also capped, right? Now, the profits, they are not capped. Things go well and the ultra-rich owning class profits. Things go badly, and WE pay for it.

Nuclear power, as I fucking well said, CAN BE safer. But NOT when we let the owners off the hook! Get it, dipshit? I'm not against nuclear power. I'm against greedy sociopaths profiting off of something we have to pay for when it goes wrong. And I'm against THAT because the damn greedy sociopaths have ruined nuclear power, just absolutely killed it as an option.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (3, Insightful)

LastGunslinger (1976776) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735278)

How many coal miners and oil rig workers are injured, die, or contract chronic diseases each year compared to the number of people (workers and general public) harmed by nuclear accidents?

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (3, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735424)

Nuclear power COULD be safe if we stuck the plant owners with the whole cost of any potential disaster. As it is, they profit but we pay the costs. What incentive is there for them to spend any money on safety, when the taxpayers here and in Japan are on the hook for the damages?

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735280)

It's still vastly less of a concern than the ongoing relief effort for the tsunami. But you're spot on (I guess even a stopped clock is right occasionally): the lasting worldwide damage here is to the discussion about nuclear power. With the price of fossil fuels going up and people concerned about CO2, that's a discussion that needs to be had rationally. Little chance of that now.

Solar thermal plants [wikipedia.org] (not photoelectric) are still a good idea for a great many places, however, so maybe we're not totally doomed to rolling blackouts in our future (well, except here in Cali where the NIMBYism is so amazing that PG&E was seriously considering building its solar pants in orbit).

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735442)

Well you missed the point. Perhaps I wasn't clear: nuclear power could be safer if the owners invested more into safety, but as long as taxpayers here and in Japan are on the hook for the majority of damages, the ultra-wealthy sociopathic owning class assholes have no incentive to invest in safety. They profit, we pay.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735480)

seriously considering building its solar pants in orbit

Even if we could edit our posts, I think I'd leave that typo - there's a SF story in there somewhere.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735358)

How much are you offering for this?

I already survived the rain from Chernobyl, lets add another one to the score.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735460)

Well if you survived Chernobyl rain, you should be ready for a dip in the cooling pool. I mean, they are totally equivalent, right?

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735474)

I'd love to get the Pollyanna nuclear cheerleaders here a ticket to Japan, so they can check out the damage for themselves and report back to us, if they survive.

Okay, schedule mine for a two week stay. I'd love to see Japan.

Note, for the record, that not one single person has died as a result of Fukushima.

Note also that not one single person outside the emergency workers working to contain Fukushima has even become ill as a result of Fukushima.

Note finally that more people died as a result of the wastewater plant wall collapsing in Gatlinburg TN than have died due to civilian nuclear power accidents in the USA. Or Europe. Or both combined....

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735184)

They fixed the uncontrolled spill of a couple of liters per minute into the ocean so they can keep on with the controlled spill of a couple of thousand tons? Wait, they didn't fix the uncontrolled spill, they plugged on hole, temporarily at best. They don't know the flow path, they don't know where it comes from and where else it is going. If that sells at good news, the spinmeisters are getting a bonus this year.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734396)

Yep, I believe this is the standard measure on geiger counters.

Japan's ocean radiation is 7.5 million times limit (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734520)

Japan's ocean radiation hits 7.5 million times legal limit

TOKYO â" The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday that it had found radioactive iodine at 7.5 million times the legal limit in a seawater sample taken near the facility, and government officials imposed a new health limit for radioactivity in fish.

The reading of iodine-131 was recorded Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. Another sample taken Monday found the level to be 5 million times the legal limit. The Monday samples also were found to contain radioactive cesium at 1.1 million times the legal limit.

The exact source of the radiation was not immediately clear, though Tepco has said that highly contaminated water has been leaking from a pit near the No. 2 reactor. The utility initially believed that the leak was coming from a crack, but several attempts to seal the crack failed.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/04/05/111571/japans-ocean-radiation-hits-75.html [mcclatchydc.com]

Glow-in-the-Dark Sushi! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734544)

Eat it now, before it cooks itself...

Re:Japan's ocean radiation is 7.5 million times li (3, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734652)

Not a problem, we'll just throw the fish in jail and we'll be good to go.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734294)

mS? millisiemens?

The sievert is Sv...

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734678)

Just outside the door levels are high; 200 meters away, levels are dropping off by inverse cube law.

This would be true if there was only a point source of radiation. But for a month now radionuclide particulate has issued from the reactors and is scattered around the countryside. There have been high levels of radiation measured on the ground many miles from the reactor.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735106)

It is also worth considering that sieverts are a calculated unit. There is a not a direct conversion from becquerels to sieverts. Sieverts are a measure of dose equivalent.

[wikipedia]
The dose equivalent is a measure of biological effect for whole body irradiation. The dose equivalent is equal to the product of the absorbed dose and the Quality Factor.
The Quality Factor (Q) depends on the type of radiation:
X-ray, Gamma ray, or beta radiation: Q = 1
alpha particles: Q = 20
neutrons of unknown energy: Q = 10 (If the neutron energy is known, see more specific Q values at 10 CFR 20.1004 [1])
conventional units: dose equivalent (rems) is the productof dose (rads) and Q
SI units: dose equivalent (sieverts) is the product of dose (grays) and Q
Conversion
1 Sievert (Sv) = 100 rem
1 rem = 0.01 Sievert (Sv)
[/wikipedia]

These Quality Factors are assumptions, not hard fact. For instance Q=20 for alpha particles assumes that the source is inside your body, but even that is a big leap. 1 rad of exposure from Cesium 137 in your body would be less of a big deal than 1 rad of exposure from Iodine 131 in your body. Even though both are beta emitters, the cesium would likely be distributed throughout your body, while the iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland.

It's too bad that this is soooo complicated, and that journalists are soooo incompetent at reporting information that is even modestly complicated. I bet that 99% of the press that has done stories about Fukushima would fail even understand the millisieverts per what unit of time question.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734220)

It really does depend on the length of your presence. And, it looks like definite cancer danger, and is 16 times higher than average Chernobyl-nowadays, so - quite alarming.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734380)

It just happened so yeah, it's going to have higher levels than Chernobyl. Almost by definition, the more radioactive byproducts have short half-lives. If all of that radiation were from radioactive iodine, for example (and the majority probably is), the levels will drop to current Chernobyl levels in about a month. In two months the levels would be safe enough to work there basically indefinitely while keeping below a 100 Sv exposure limit. Of course, there's almost certainly some longer lived isotopes in there, but at this point the majority of the detected radiation is going to be from shorter lived ones, simply because they put out more radiation.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734720)

But the good news is that the Leak is Patched using 1500 litres of sodium silicate.

solium silicate is also commonly known as a band-aid.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735070)

Well, a significant amount of the current contamination comes from Cs, which won't be gone in a hurry. So you gonna eat up your yearly maximum for emergency work quite fast, even in a month or two (I suppose you mean 100 mS/a - 100S is 10-20 times the immediately lethal dose). Since they have no closed cooling loop, they are continuously washing out the nuclear inventory of the core - best soluble stuff first. The high spikes in the first days probably was Xenon, now the well-soluble Cs is washing out mostly as CsI and CsCl, probably. How it goes on depends on whether the core in one of the blocks has temporal criticality - and there are some indications for that. Debatable indications, but there are simply not enough data released at this point. If that's the case, the shortlived stuff will be produced in higher amounts, not as much as in a normally running reactor, though. If not, the dosage we will see will depend on the speed of corrosion of the core remains and on how fast the cooling washes it out. Most interesting at the moment is block 1 - if you look at the official measurements, the pressure is creeping up again for the last two weeks and the radioactivity in the drywell is not going back. So there is at least something fed into the drywell that keeps the readings up - probably only creeping out slowly through microfractures or pinpoint holes, as the pressure vessel pressure is still increasing. Main point is that this is not over, not by any means.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734252)

Hi,

I am glad I have Slashdot posters here who can help me determine the risk of radiation leaks from Japan. I take such advice as seriously as I do the sex tips I frequently see posted on Slashdot.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734354)

HAving reread the parent post, I see he is NOT stating whether this is a high or low dosage or stating anything about his opinions of nuclear power. I apologie for the knee-jerk reaction. I have seen so much poo-pooing of the situation and references to the XKCD chart that I jumped to this conclusion. Apologies.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734908)

Being, how should we say, "premature", in your assessment, it is ironic that you would mention slashdotter's sex lives... ;-)

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734272)

The key to the chart

"(However, keep in mind that I am not a radiation expert, and this chart is intended for general public informational use only.)"

So, yes, please make your judgements based on a web comic.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734640)

OTOH, it's pretty accurate and he provides all the references.
So if you are concerned, read the references. I learned about this crap years ago ni the ilitary. I did have to learn to convert from my historic mothod(rems/rads) to the SI method.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735098)

The main point to remember, however, is that it is referenced to whole body radiation exposure. I don't agree with the style of presentation, which I find somewhat confusing, but the most important problem is that your exposure is getting significantly up when you ingest or inhale particulate radioactive matter.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734680)

It isn't a comic though, it is a chart prepared in the style of a particular web comic.

(Your entire context is sort of strange to me, very few laypeople are going to have enough understanding of the sources and dynamics of the contaminants to "judge" the situation, and the very limited surveys and information available would make it very difficult for them to be precise, not to mention the fact that the situation is not stable (they do seem to be gaining more control though, which is at least better than the alternative)).

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734278)

The unfortunate thing is that the damage done by the leaks is amplified by the Gas Effect, which means the dosages are probably actually higher than mentioned. I'd step up a bit in that xkcd chart, into definately get cancer screened.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734388)

What is the "Gas Effect"? Does it have anything to do with global warming, anesthesia, or flatulence?

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734706)

What he means is that inhaled or swallowed radiation is more dangerous than the stuff you're just exposed to. Depending upon the type of particles, some of them can't penetrate paper, whereas others require meters of thick concrete to block. While the latter isn't going to make much of a difference in the short term, you're not going to get much damage out of the former. But, even with the latter, if you've inhaled it, those particles, at least some, are likely to stick around for a while.

One of the main reasons for those iodine pills is to protect the thyroid in cases like this by making it less likely that radioactive iodine will end up hanging out there.

Simplification I know, but that's basically that.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734442)

Obligatory IAEA reports for real information

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

At 6:07 UTC, 5 April coagulation agents (liquid glass) were injected into the holes drilled around the pits. The leakage was reported to have ceased at 20:38 UTC on April 5. Work continues to prevent further releases to the sea.

They also have pictures for that leak.

As to possible reason why you see the alarmist report "monitoring devices have been rendered useless" is that most radiation meters are sensitive devices that tend to be flooded by high levels of radiation. For example in Chernobyl, all devices had a cap of 0.1R (or something like that). So when their reactor exploded, all were reading MAX. In reality Chernobyl had levels exceeding 1-4Sv/h on the ground. So what about Fukushima? The highly contaminated water is causing levels to be very very high. And if you monitor says off scale, you don't go there.

What is the cause of this large amounts of radioactive water? I can only speculate to the cause, but most likely scenario is some pipes are leaking. The significantly higher radiation than in normal reactor is most likely due to the water having direct contact with the fuel since zirconium oxidized (see hydrogen explosion). Having salt water in there before didn't help.

So yes, people are working in dangerous conditions. High levels of radiation outside the reactor can be currently cleaned up. The big problem is if the pipe that keeps leaking this mess continues to leak it, there is going to be lots of radioactive material that is washed out.

On positive note for the workers, if one is to draw a positive note, their expose in most cases is not acute exposure to 200mSv, but drawn over a few days. This means that their cell repair mechanisms have time to repair the damage and likelihood of complications from this dose is significantly smaller than if they received an acute dose like that.

So to summarize, the leak is plugged. Most of radioactive material to open is stopped. Reactors are in reasonable cool state and have been there almost last 3 weeks. The problem now the radioactive water leaking from somewhere (broken pipes?) and this must be repaired because this water can't leak for next year or so... TBH, this is not a good situation even though it is stable.

Re:Obligatory xkcd radiation chart (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735304)

On the bright side, radiation levels in Australia have fallen since banana prices jumped to $18/kg. (Cyclones, floods, whatever.)

Aperture Labs provided a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734122)

It's a portal... to somewhere... that they can transfer the radioactive materials.

Units (4, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734142)

100 millisieverts? Per hour? Per day? Per century? Thanks, Slashdot, for giving us a useless number.

Re:Units (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734224)

Per Library of Congress*. That's the default on Slashdot, when no other units are given.

*Yes, you were expecting time rather than bytes, so remember to cast the type before assignment.

Re:Units (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735244)

I assumed the Library of Congress unit of time referred to the time it would take a million monkeys on a million typewriters to replicate it by chance, the LoCUoT.

What's the sense of adopting a standard unit if we can only use it for a single type of measurement? I've already modified my oven dial to the Library of Congress unit of energy, the LoCUoE.

Re:Units (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734288)

Per picosecond.

Re:Units (4, Funny)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734350)

Per furlong.

Re:Units (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734810)

I believe you meant per fortnight, good sir. As everybody knows, a furlong is 110 fathoms.

From the Han Solo school of thought (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734986)

It is in Parsecs

Re:Units (1)

cshake (736412) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735064)

Per radian!

Re:Units (1)

destroygbiv (896968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734432)

per fort-night

Re:Units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734560)

Per Cowboy Neal

Re:Units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734610)

Per hogshead. They measured it by tying an onion to their belt, which was the style at the time.

Re:Units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734698)

per slashdot-comment

Re:Units (1)

jam244 (701505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734790)

100 millisieverts past light speed.

Re:Units (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735332)

100 millisieverts? Per hour? Per day? Per century? Thanks, Slashdot, for giving us a useless number.

I assumed it meant that the meter had recorded a *cumulative* amount of 100 mSv before it fizzled out. I have a counter on my desk that I've had running since this disaster occurred. In that time, it's accumulated 0.013 mSv with the background here.

"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734210)

"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. After the pumped 11,000 tons of radioactive water into the ocean there is not more water to leak.. Give me a break.

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734304)

They are pumping something like 30 gallons per minute into each of the reactors, that's plenty of newly contaminated water to deal with.

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (5, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734468)

There is an estimated 50,000 tons of water still on site that will need to be disposed of one way or the other. About 500 tons are pumped into reactor pressure vessels for cooling every day. Some recent information on this is reported here by NHK: Workers face challenge of water storage [nhk.or.jp]

To put 50,000 tons of water in perspective, a super tanker will carry about 172,000,000 gallons of oil. 50,000 tons of water is ~12,000,000 gallons. One super tanker could carry all the water on site plus and also receive all new water pumped into the reactors for the next 1332 days. No, I don't need the plausibility of this explained to me; this is an attempt to provide some scale to the problem.

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734742)

To put 50,000 tons of water in perspective...

50,000 tons of water is a 36×36×36 cube of water (1 tonne of water has volume 1000 litres = 1 m^3).

This is 20 large swimming pools worth of water (20× 25×50×2).

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735114)

NHK World was reporting that water tanks will be installed next month to hold the water. I'm still not understanding why 50,000 tonnes does not become 100,000 before the tanks are installed since they can't get to the recirculation system until they remove the water. And they need to add more water until they do that.

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734522)

11,000 tons of radioactive water

I keep hearing this figure on the news, but nobody has ever bothered to say how radiaoactive this water was. I mean, if I put a miligram of Uranium into the Atlantic, did I just produce 323,600,000 cubic kilometres of radioactive water?

Re:"Leak Plugged" ? Yea right. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734586)

I don't remember if they actually gave figures for the water, but the IAEA updates page gives lots of actual figures compared to the news:

http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html [iaea.org]

Actually (1)

AnonymmousCoward (2026904) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734290)

Using 1,500,000 of those packets that come with your shoes. "Do not eat!"

Leak to ocean stopped. Leak from reactor, not. (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734378)

The leak that was stopped was from a drain pit to the ocean. The reactor itself is still leaking highly radioactive water. They're running out of places to put it.and are frantically building tanks and ponds.

Re:Leak to ocean stopped. Leak from reactor, not. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734574)

The leak that was stopped was from a drain pit to the ocean. The reactor itself is still leaking highly radioactive water. They're running out of places to put it.and are frantically building tanks and ponds.

This and... did they actually managed to stop the water leaking into the soil? Or is just a case of "out of the media sight, out of mind"?

100 mS is no joke (2, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734490)

So according to the chart, if you hang around an area with 100 mS per hour for an hour, you'll receive a dose likely to cause cancer. Hang around for 4 hours, and you get radiation poisoning. That's not a lot of time - it takes days of labor to do anything major. Probably takes 30 minutes just to walk around part of the plant looking for radiation leaks. This must be why it took so long to plug that water leak - no one could hang around the leak for more than brief intervals.

Heck, even refueling a diesel pump - which is just increasing the amount of highly radioactive water you have to dispose of somehow - is going to take 20 minutes at a minimum, right?

I'm sure the workers are doing what they can - sprinting through the hot areas, working in shifts, using automation when they can - but the larger the contaminated area gets and the more fission products leak the worse the problem becomes. If you cannot even enter the building the reactor is in, how can you fix anything? They can't just send in robots and spray concrete willy nilly - if the reactor cores fully melt down and form critical masses at the bottom of the reactor vessel, gigawatts of heat will be produces and burn through any containment.

    They need to have active pumps flushing water through the reactor vessels and out to the cooling tower and back again. This is the only method that won't create more and more radioactive water that has to be disposed of. (because right now they are just pumping water in and it leaks out of the reactor vessel and pools somewhere)

But to do that, somehow has to enter the building, install new pumps, fix breaks in the wiring, fix holes in the pipes, install sensors, power it up, and so forth. That's many hours of labor, and beyond the dexterity of what robots can do.

http://xkcd.com/radiation/ [xkcd.com]

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734820)

I'm sure the workers are doing what they can - sprinting through the hot areas, working in shifts, using automation when they can - but the larger the contaminated area gets and the more fission products leak the worse the problem becomes. If you cannot even enter the building the reactor is in, how can you fix anything? They can't just send in robots and spray concrete willy nilly - if the reactor cores fully melt down and form critical masses at the bottom of the reactor vessel, gigawatts of heat will be produces and burn through any containment.

Keep in mind that everything is decaying over time and there's still some isotopes in the few day range which are still decaying. Much of this will remain hot for centuries, but merely waiting does ease the problem. They can also clean up the problem (vacuum, wash, whatever, the radioactive contamination, vitrify it or otherwise stabilize it, and bury it).

And they're beyond issues of criticality. What fuel has melted is now both diluted (since it mixed up with metal, concrete, etc) and "poisoned" by elements such as boron and some decay products which absorb neutrons easily.

Re:100 mS is no joke (3, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734966)

So according to the chart, if you hang around an area with 100 mS per hour for an hour, you'll receive a dose likely to cause cancer.

No. To use the inevitable car analogy:

A scientist says: "Car accidents can happen to anyone who is in an automobile. However, studies have shown that car crashes are an insignificant cause of death for those who drive less than 1000 miles per year.

An editor summarizes: "Minimum one-year driving linked to increased car crash risk: 1000 miles".

You read: "If you drive 1000 miles you'll probably die".

Re:100 mS is no joke (2)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735074)

Radiation poisoning happens at 400 mS. Your analogy fails. 100 mS is the minimum level at which we KNOW cancer rates go up significantly. They probably rise at lower radiation doses as well.

Re:100 mS is no joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735178)

So how about you don't go to the specific *spot* that has 100mSv??? How about someone take a shovel and moves that little bit of dirt to another spot where it wouldn't be a problem?

There are hotspots, with some being 100mSv/h. The key word is hot spots. There are cool spots too, with very little radiation (uS/h). Then there is stuff in between. That's why they have radiation monitors so they can detect these changes.

This is not minimizing the risk. The area is contaminated and thanks to the shit that happened, it is leaking radioactive water that will need to be contained and then processed. There is also a need to fix the leak from the place it is leaking. But for that they will have to pump out the water and decontaminate (ie. wash) the area near the reactor. This will take a while and water will pile up.

Re:100 mS is no joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735234)

"cancer rates go up significantly" != "you are more likely to get cancer than not"

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735518)

exactly. Everyone needs to remember that there is a base percentage chance of cancer already, around 20% i think, and these exposures are upping this percentage to 21%. Even if my statement is oversimplified and incorrect, it is not as incorrect as those saying that 100mSv / hr will kill you in exactly one hour.

The other confusion I keep hearing is that this will increase existing chances ... I have a family history of colon cancer, so I watch it closely. Radiation exposure is an independent risk, it doesnt take my chances and double the likelihood.

Re:100 mS is no joke (2)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735444)

"significantly" in the statistical sense that we can find any correlation between radiation and increased cancer occurrence, not the laymen's sense of "greatly". Also keep in mind that's a YEARLY dose linked with cancer and I think we're talking about an hourly dose of 100 mSv there so you are certainly correct that it is quite a serious amount indeed.

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735124)

If you hang around an area with 100 mS per hour for an hour, you'll receive a dose likely to cause cancer.

Well, you'll receive a dose that has been statistically shown to increase your chances of getting cancer, which is not quite the same thing as likely.

There was a handful of articles floating around last week that the plant company was looking to hire semi-skilled 'Jumpers' to do the kinds of jobs you're talking about. They'll pay you a ridiculous amount of money ($2500-5000) to get trained in on a simple task like refueling a generator or patching a damaged cable, then you jump in, get the work done as fast as possible, and jump out again. So long as everyone plays by the rules and tracks their dosages you should be fine to do it once or twice; in fact, the practice was common world wide during the 70's and 80's before robots became advanced enough to do those kinds of tasks in healthy reactors.

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735162)

What a way to make a living. And it's a nice chunk of change...IF you don't end up being the 1/100 or 1/1000 that develops some kind of nasty cancer early and dies slowly and horribly...or is forced to spend hundreds of k on medical bills.

Proper unit abbreviation: mSv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735130)

100 mS per hour

100 milliseconds per hour?

I think you mean "100 mSv per hour"

Who? (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735312)

I'd like a machine that can travel at 100 mS per hour.

I think they call it a Tardis. It's just not a very good one.

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

Rashkae (59673) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735308)

No, not a dose likely to cause cancer. A dose that has a measurable effect on increasing your lifelong chances of getting cancer. The base chance of a random person, with no extra-ordinary risk factors, getting cancer is somewhere around 46%. It's assumed that any exposure to radiation increases this, but with radiation doses less than 100mSv, the increase chance of getting cancer is so small it can't be measured/detected. (and I'm pretty sure, though don't remember exactly, that the first level of increased cancer detection is less than 1% increase.) I'm sorry for the vague numbers, I'm quoting from memory and not looking them up for exact figures. But the take away is that being exposed to 100 mSv radiation is not good, but does not mean it's likely you'll suddenly get cancer from it.

When it comes to radiation and chance of getting cancer, all doses are cumulative. Being exposed to 100mSv once by itself doesn't do much, but add that to all your chest x-rays, high altitude flights, bananas, etc will eventually lead to an increase chance of cancer.

Re:100 mS is no joke (1)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735486)

So according to the chart, if you hang around an area with 100 mS per hour for an hour, you'll receive a dose likely to cause cancer. Hang around for 4 hours, and you get radiation poisoning.

Not quite. There's a difference between an increased chance of cancer (something like a 5% increased chance of getting cancer in the next 30 years) and being "likely to cause cancer". Similarly, 400 mSv marks the beginning of some symptoms of radiation poisoning - itchy skin being the primary symptom.

As exposure moves towards 2 Sv, we see up to 50% of those affected with nausea and vomiting, mild fatigue/weakness, a slight headache, and a 0-5% chance of mortality. (Each person reacts differently to a degree).

The latent period is from 20-40 years of healthy life before the onset of cancer.

There's a reason why the "Fukushima 50" (though the number is actually far larger than 50) are all older workers: There's a good chance they'll die of natural causes before they develop cancer from the radiation.

The sad fact is that opponents of anything "nuclear" are having a field day misrepresenting the facts. The most common one I see is the substitution of the Greek mu with the Latin 'm'. I often see reports of exposures of 400 milli-Sv being reported, when the actual levels were 400 micro-Sv (ie. 1000x lower). Similarly, radiation dosimeters come in a range of capacities. The most common models go "off the scale" in the microsievert range, as that is the kind of radiation level one would expect to see in nearly all situations. As a result, it's hard to gauge how serious a radiation level that is "off the scale" really is. It could mean something, but for most dosimeters, it's really meaningless FUD in this situation. Anti-nuclear activists are in full FUD mode, overstating (sometimes drastically) both the radiation levels and the risks involved.

Make no mistake: Fukushima is no walk in the park. The nuclear workers are exposing themselves to levels of radiation for long enough they will have health problems in a couple of decades (if they don't die of other causes first). But there is an awful lot of FUD being spread around by activists.

butt leak plugged (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734532)

Honestly I do not know what to say regarding this post. Any one else?

the fishermen just don't "get it" (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734620)

"We have repeatedly asked the government and Tepco to stop further radiation leaks into the ocean. But the government and Tepco ignored us and dumped radioactive water into the sea, which is utterly outrageous," said the letter from Japan's largest fishermen's labour group. "What they have done is unforgivable. It could really destroy our business."

(emphasis mine)

They are being totally selfish and turning a blind eye to what the government has been trying to tell them. They have many millions more gallons of water than they can store. Some of it has to be dumped. They could dump some less contaminated water from the storage pond to make room for much more dangerous water that has to be removed from the reactors, OR they could stop using the pond and just dump that highly radioactive water from the reactors straight into the ocean, which would be much worse for the fishing industry over the next several years. No one else has a better idea, unless these fishermen care to stop by with some buckets?

They're upset at what's happening, and are lashing out and treating it like they're the deliberate targets of a random malicious decision. It's the best option available at this time. I don't even know if a technology exists to remove radiation from water, I'm assuming it either doesn't exist or is too slow to be practical otherwise they wouldn't be using storage ponds in the first place.

Re:the fishermen just don't "get it" (1)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734858)

I don't even know if a technology exists to remove radiation from water, I'm assuming it either doesn't exist or is too slow to be practical otherwise they wouldn't be using storage ponds in the first place.

The technology does exist to remove the radioactive particles from the water, but the water treatment plant at Fukushima is offline as a result of the damage and lack of electricity. The only option at this point is to store as much contaminated water as possible until the treatment plant can be reactivated. Furthermore, if the primary contaminant is Iodine-131, they simply need to quarantine the water long enough for the Iodine to decay at which point the water can be safely discharged into the sea without risk to humans or wildlife.

Re:the fishermen just don't "get it" (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735406)

Perhaps what they're really doing with these statements is pulling a number in the queue of people lining up for compensation of financial damages. It will be argued that this was a preventable outcome of the tsunami. For example, the reactors might have been placed on higher ground.

I can see their point. If elevated radiation is detected in their catch, nobody will touch it with a ten foot pole. They will have no livelihood, and that is a terrifying prospect for anybody.

Heh Heh Heh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734658)

....butt leak plugged....

Fusion Power Time? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734688)

When I look up and see the Moon, I see a large amount of energy that soon could be within Humanities reach.

Re:Fusion Power Time? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734934)

When I look up and see the Moon, I see a large amount of energy that soon could be within Humanities reach.

That's the sun. Daylight. An interesting concept. You might try it some time.

Re:Fusion Power Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735288)

Tidal?

Re:Fusion Power Time? (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735334)

I think he's referring to the abundance of helium-3 in the lunar regolith, which could be used for nuclear fusion.

Re:Fusion Power Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35734944)

Then you need to do some serious growing up and facing the very real limits of our technology and physics. There are NO FUSION POWER REACTORS *ANYWHERE* on this planet. NONE. Yes, there are fusion *reactors*, NONE of which create more power than they take to run. Then what? What do you want to do on the Moon? Mine He3? Are you insane? There are no planned reactors to burn this stuff. And there is absolutely no infrastructure, technology or capacity anywhere for us to mine the Moon.

If we *did* have the technology and power to do so, well, we WOULDN'T *HAVE* an energy problem!!!!

Christ you Space Nutters are something else.

Re:Fusion Power Time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735256)

Yes!!! Moon prism power!!! All our problems are solved by the pretty Japanese schoolgirls.

Question on construction (1)

Pro923 (1447307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734762)

I admittedly know very little to nothing about nuclear power, or the complexities of building a reactor. Why don't they build these things below ground level so that if something like this happens, they can just pour in water - or even seal the thing off with tons of concrete?

Re:Question on construction (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735198)

Nuclear power plants are very inefficient because they have to operate at low temperature to protect the fuel from damage. This means they need enormous amounts of cooling to dissipate waste heat. Trying to do that underground would be very difficult.

Checklist for your idea .. (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735408)

Your idea's good points are:
[x]It would be easier to prevent dissipation of radioactive gases.
[x]Terrorists would have a harder time hitting a reactor.

Your idea's bad points are:
[x]It would cost extra money to prepare the building site.
[x]It would cost extra money to build the reactor.
[x]It would be harder to access the reactor if an earthquake damaged the site.
[x]It does not prevent leakage of radioactive materials to the ground water.
[x]It does not fully prevent the risk of an explosion and fracture of containment vessels.
[x]Depending on the site, there might be an increased risk of flooding with water or mud.
[x]While it would be easy to add a lid of concrete, building the box below the lid would have to happen in advance and would cost extra money.

yes please - hyper thyroid sushimi (1)

axonis (640949) | more than 3 years ago | (#35734856)

i wonder what the 1/2 life is of some Fukushima sushimi, say in a Kansas sushi bar ?, anyones thyroid would be pumping at the thought of todays catch in that cool glass cabinet. Spear fishing anyone ? or can Virgin Oceanic pick one up ?

Re:yes please - hyper thyroid sushimi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735136)

Sushimi is not a word.

Re:yes please - hyper thyroid sushimi (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735446)

I don't know, but I'm heading to Yokohama Sushi at 8th and New Hampshire in Lawrence, Kansas for dinner tonight, and I'm bringing my geiger counter.

Buttleak Plugged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735134)

That is what I read the first time, sounded like Nuclear Pr0n... ;-)

This is all meaningless (3, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735200)

Even if they get the hydrogen under control, the amount of water, the damage to the secondary containment, the likely damage to primary containment, the contamination of the site, it's not just that Fukushima Daiichi will never operate again. Daiichi will be entombed and left to decay for at least a decade, probably longer, much longer. All six reactors are lost, 5&6 are just not going to be operated because it is too hot to work there 8 hours a day.

While they wait for decay to lower levels enough for machines to clean things up, there will be continuing groundwater and soil contamination. They will have to build a new seawall and interceptor wells to limit (not prevent) contamination of the local sea. The local population won't be allowed within 12km, and they won't WANT to be within 20km or more. Agriculture will likely be ruined, having to wait for years to once again export their products. It's the Cesium isotopes that will cause the worst problems, and cause the lasting effects, and they are not able to contain this yet. Hopefully #3 won't blow a Plutonium cloud that, even if it were minimal, would poison the area for the forseeable future. There is no assurance that this will not happen.

This is already inevitable, and there will be no real discussion, because TEPCO cannot admit to the inevitable outcome yet. To do so is to admit defeat, lose all face, and watch them become a single-yen stock.

And somehow Japan needs to replace the generating capacity. Quickly.

Overall this situation is redefining 'worst-case'. It may have been simpler to have a couple of core melts and just pour concrete and sand over the whole damned thing. Now we've gotten broken containment, multiple vectors, and inadequate resources. Oh, and the Japanese way of self-reliance to the point of failure. Works for the residents and their migration, doesn't work for engineering problems.

Good, now on to the next problem (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35735362)

Well it does look like they have finally got this under control, at least for the most part.

Hopefully now we can have the debate over what exactly is going to replace this reactor? It's obvious that these reactors will never generate electricity again, but they have provided something like almost 20% of the power to the Tokyo region.

Thus far we have heard nothing on what the government and/or TEPCO(probably soon to be one and the same) plan to do to generate more power. Factories that have repaired the physical damage to their plants cannot start up because they are under the constant threat of rolling blackouts. Even though the blackouts may only run a couple of hours, it basically scuttles production for the whole day as starting up a lot of the large(and expensive!) machines at some of these plants can take hours. The more time goes on without production the more damage it does to supply lines, and perhaps more significantly for Japan's long term prospects, it provides a huge financial impetus to move production overseas(mostly China and Korea).

China is already taking advantage of this opportunity to smear Japan and make it look more dangerous than it actually is. While one could argue this is largely China attempting to score a political victory(the past century hasn't been too kind to Chinese-japanese diplomacy), but just as importantly China is not so subtly trying to scare people into moving production from Japan to China. Japan needs a new plan for new energy quick....

This is going to be a really shitty(sweaty?) summer......

Butt Leak Plugged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35735378)

Ha Ha

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