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TEPCO Readies Plan To Bring Reactor Under Control

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-dear-the-heavy-gloves dept.

Japan 116

Kyusaku Natsume writes "TEPCO has released details of their plan to bring Unit 1 of Fukushima Daiichi under control, to improve the working conditions inside the reactor building of this unit and install a new cooling system. From the success of this operation maybe we will know how they will address the emergency in the remaining damaged nuclear reactors."

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Just Unit 1? (4, Insightful)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044112)

Wonder what they plan to do about Unit 2, 3 and the spent fuel pool in 4?

Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044146)

Stretch goals.

Re:Just Unit 1? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044440)

strech yo mama's pussy with my 12 inch penis. yo daddy will have to learn to like fisting after i get done with that poontang

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044160)

Take the lessons learned from unit one and apply to the rest? Personally I think they should have just let the units melt into the bottom of the containment vessel, far less radiation would have been released and unless the operators think they know more than the engineers that designed the containment vessel...

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044232)

Personally I think they should have just let the units melt into the bottom of the containment vessel, far less radiation would have been released and unless the operators think they know more than the engineers that designed the containment vessel...

Since it's very likely Unit 2's containment vessel is cracked/damaged, that would probably be a really bad idea...

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044282)

As bad as TEPCO is, thank God *you're* not in charge then. "just let the units melt into the bottom of the containment vessel"? "far less radiation would have been released" !?!

Wherever you're getting your news or scientific information from, you may want to do some actual research on your own.

Greg (in Tokyo, very happy with the way TEPCO is handling things now..)

Re:Just Unit 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044316)

I wish that some other group (International regulatory and or military?) had steped in to take over immediately from tepco at the getgo because of the corruption and fraud that occurred at the company within the last decade.

Re:Just Unit 1? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044758)

Think again. If that happened, every nuke plant owner would just drop any semblance of security and protection because it's evident that if they fuck up, they won't have to clean up the mess.

No, let them handle it. I want them to spend manpower and time and hence money on the mess. It's the only thing that matters to corporations and the more they suffer, the more their peers will probably invest in security.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1, Interesting)

umghhh (965931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045006)

I thought once let them suckers sleep in the facility once a month that should teach them. Now I think straight execution after the accident of all management levels except the bookkeepers as they have to control payment of damages should commence. There is no way people can learn (see here [economist.com] ) so let them pay at least.

Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046654)

I thought once let them suckers sleep in the facility once a month that should teach them. Now I think straight execution after the accident of all management levels except the bookkeepers as they have to control payment of damages should commence. There is no way people can learn (see here) so let them pay at least.

I think as a start, we should ignore people like you. TEPCO management hasn't done anything that warrants "straight execution," for example.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047106)

Incidentally, the poll on your link [economist.com] indicates what I expected. The public is no longer terrified of nuclear power. When you boil it down, things like Fukushima are just relatively dangerous industrial accidents. It's good to see some perspective finally appear on this.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047246)

Do you have a reason to believe that TEPCO wasn't capable of handling the accident, even in hindsight? I find their disaster response to be sufficient, while no "international regulatory or military" group had adequate experience or capability to deal with the accident.

Re:Just Unit 1? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044504)

>>Greg (in Tokyo, very happy with the way TEPCO is handling things now..)

Joking right ?

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044550)

Uh, the analysis of the containment vessel from TMI #2 showed that even with 20T of just melted core having slid to the bottom the there was never in any danger of breaching. That's why the general consensus I have read is that if you're not trying to save the reactor for further operation the best plan is to just leave it the hell alone and let it meltdown and cool down before attempting anything further. There's a reason no significant amount of radiation was released from TMI.

Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044638)

TMI didn't get hit by a freaking 9.0 earthquake and 14 metre tsunami...

you think perhaps that could cause some damage?

Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045038)

Didn't hurt that the cooling systems were intact at TMI.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045680)

TMI is not a boiling water reactor. It has the massive containment structure of a PWR. There is a BWR in New Jersey with a PWR-style containment vessel - I think so that the plant could be built near heavily populated areas - but it's not common.

Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045952)

If you knew anything at all about that incident you would know it was sheer dumb luck that it happened in a structure designed to withstand strike from a large aircraft from the nearby airport so it was the strongest reactor containment vessel built to that date. That's the reason. The lesson was learned and significant changes were made to later plants and whatever existing plants could be modified. In Japan it's a different situation and a very different design so your incredibly and childishly simplistic view is probably wrong.

Re:Just Unit 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044248)

yes because melting and burning radioactive material doesnt let off radioactive steam... ?

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044278)

Not unless you douse it with water. The nucleotides light enough to become airborn already have during the period where they were unable to provide cooling so the only thing the water is doing at this point is creating additional risk and more nuclear waste that will ultimately end up in the environment.

Re:Just Unit 1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36050418)

I'm unwilling to trust anything you have to say about this subject after you use the word "nucleotide" in place of "nuclide".

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044280)

Not when it's in a sealed containment vessel. The radioactive steam comes from (get ready) water! Which is not actually in the reactor itself.

Re:Just Unit 1? (3, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044574)

I have never seen an industrial plant of any kind where operators are not ruled by engineers with deep knowledge of the process. Operators are button pushers and bring units into certain positions, but it is ultimately the decision of qualified professional engineers who decide on what operating point to bring a unit to, who diagnose why a unit isn't behaving exactly as predicted, and when the shit hits the fan, if they can then they go running into the control room providing live technical support.

This can be taken to extremes and I've even heard of Russian oil refineries who's operators aren't allowed to make any changes without authorisation unless an operating envelope is breached. There are few if any places where operators have true autonomy as to how to run their plants.

Re:Just Unit 1? (4, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045564)

I have never seen an industrial plant of any kind where operators are not ruled by engineers with deep knowledge of the process. Operators are button pushers and bring units into certain positions, but it is ultimately the decision of qualified professional engineers who decide on what operating point to bring a unit to, who diagnose why a unit isn't behaving exactly as predicted, and when the shit hits the fan, if they can then they go running into the control room providing live technical support.

This can be taken to extremes and I've even heard of Russian oil refineries who's operators aren't allowed to make any changes without authorisation unless an operating envelope is breached. There are few if any places where operators have true autonomy as to how to run their plants.

You've obviously never seen a nuke plant in operation. Their operators aren't "button pushers;" rather they have an in-depth knowledge not only of the physical operation of the plant but the theory as well. They complete years of training and retraining, and in many cases they are engineers as well. They run the plant with the support of the engineers responsible for the various systems. When a problem occurs, the systems engineers do help with the diagnosis, but as part of the operations team, not as some sort of all knowing overseer.

There are few if any places where operators have true autonomy as to how to run their plants.

One of which is a nuke plant. In fact, no one can enter the control room without the operator's permission; for in the control room, they are the ultimate decision makers, very much like the crew on an aircraft.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047992)

So nuke operators aren't like those portrayed in the Foundation *logy? :-)

That's the US approach and not universal (2)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046042)

In other places operators are expected to know the plant, take years before they are promoted to be operators and they are paid accordingly. If somebody is going to have to make quick decisions that can cost or save millions in production or repairs you want them to know what they are doing. At one time I was an engineer backing up the operators in a steel rod rolling mill but I did not have the Godlike understanding assumed by the poster above and the operator that had worked in every part of the mill for years before getting in that seat was most definitely the one calling the shots. I could change things all I liked to make good or crap steel rod but if I suggested anything that would endanger the gear it would be made very clear that I was not the boss.

Re:That's the US approach and not universal (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 3 years ago | (#36050434)

I'll join the fray with my experience as an operator on college summer temp jobs. I ran a high speed printer, and if the engineers wanted to touch it, they had to ask me first. In fact, 99% of the time, it was me that had to get the engineer and then only because certain areas of the machine were not accessible without a key. Any adjustments to the machine were made by me, and I was also responsible for almost all routine maintenance. The only things the engineer did were things the vendor required that he do.

Re:Just Unit 1? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045242)

You, are an extremely ignorant fuckwit.

You realize that one of the engineers involved in the design of that particular containment vessel resigned in protest? And that these BWR reactors will melt through their containment vessels without 2 months of active cooling post-shutdown? Go learn something, fuckwit.

Re:Just Unit 1? (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044684)

Well, we have the dummy plug, and SEELE is sending us the 5th children so I think everything is going to be A OK!

Wrong Japanese movie (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046056)

Containment will be accomplished with reptile sequestration.

Which Seele Re:Just Unit 1? (2)

fritsd (924429) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046182)

I shudder at the thought of the end result of Kamagurka and Herr Seele [wikipedia.org] draw/paint/act/whatever about the Fukushima accident... intriguing though....
Or maybe I have my cultural references mixed up again.

Re:Just Unit 1? (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045012)

I think they have some plans but all of them are subject of a revision due to the fact that it is very difficult to know what happened in the first place. See here [economist.com] for quite interesting details on the subject.

fortune (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044132)

Tim, Fix the damn fortune database already!

Re:fortune (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044212)

I assume you mean the quotes at the bottom of the slashdot page. If so, then yes FIX THE DAMN THING. Please. Thank you.

Re:fortune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044236)

What is the problem? I don't see anything wrong.

Re:fortune (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044294)

The same quote has been there for weeks.

Re:fortune (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045642)

Yeah, but it's a good one...

Re:fortune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36049944)

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Re:fortune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045762)

Trolling is a art.

Re:fortune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046190)

Trolling is a art.

So is irony.

Meanwhile, three TVA nuclear sites survived (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044238)

A disaster just fine. Only one of them had anything resembling an issue, and that was the transmission lines going down, which mean the reactor had to shut down.

Nothing major in danger there.

Yet there's little in the way of coverage out there.

At least the people are getting some attention.

Re:Meanwhile, three TVA nuclear sites survived (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047386)

Well, aside from Japan suffering one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded there is a difference of at least 1000 times in density among water and air so the natural disasters of tsunami and tornadoes are almost not comparable in any way; still, always is good to see that emergency procedures work has expected because when they don't, bad things happen like the damage at Fukushima Daiichi.

Reasonable first steps (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044354)

That's just the very beginning - hook up an air filtration system so humans can briefly enter the containment. Then try to hook up a water level gauge for the reactor pressure vessel, so they can actually tell how much of the core is uncovered. Then they can think about what to do next.

All this work is taking place in partially collapsed buildings where explosions have destroyed the structure. Ordinarily, one would bring in big cranes with grabs and start removing debris. But they can't do that.

The situation remains dangerous as long as there are still many red blocks on the JAIF's status chart. [jaif.or.jp] Note that reactors 1,2, and 3 still have not reached cold shutdown, where the reactor core is below the boiling point of water, all steam has condensed to water, and pressure in the reactor vessel is down to one atmosphere. All the ad-hoc cooling measures aren't enough to get the core temperature down. Normal time to cold shutdown for a GE Mark I reactor is about a day. Even at Three Mile Island, it took only about two days to reach cold shutdown.

Re:Reasonable first steps (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044482)

Humans are not entering the "containment". They are entering the reactor building. Reactor building was damaged - especially the top floods. It was not damaged at the bottom, where the cooling equipment is.

Reactor 1 is being tried first because the building as the least amount of radiation. The robot that went in measured about 40-50mSv/h. This is reasonably low and can be brought down further.

The reactors are not in cold shutdown because there is no water cooling. They *could* achieve cold shutdown quickly by water in faster, but it would not help the situation. They need to repair the recirculation pumps and find the leaks and plug them. They also need to find out if there is any hydrogen in the reactor vessels and to deal with that. These 2 reasons is why cold shutdown mode is very BAD right now - they had to slow down water pumping to prevent pressure from dropping as that could cause air to be sucked into the reactor and hydrogen could burn (explode), if there is any hydrogen there.

Don't second guess them now. They are doing things very carefully.

TEPCO failed at not having prepared for the scenario when the plant suffers complete blackout, including all backups being flooded. That's all. Had they had prepared for this scenario, this would not have happened. Period. Now they are dealing with consequences and I'm certain that plans will now be in place that no nuclear reactor will melt even if they lose all cooling - ie. external emergency cooling will be setup before coping batteries die.

Re:Reasonable first steps (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044616)

Don't second guess them now. They are doing things very carefully.

How dare you try to stop me from being an overly critical armchair nuclear physicist! Who are you to curtail my freedom of speech? Some hoity-toity reactor expert I'd suppose?? Why don't u take off ur white coat and roll up your sleeves like the rest of us? .. oh, not willing to get ur hands radioactive I suppose?

I thought this was a democracy? I'd suppose ur one of them neo-fascist high-folutin Republican extremists? Harry S Truman would've sorted u out good proper like!

they failed more (2, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044678)

TEPCO failed at not having prepared for the scenario when the plant suffers complete blackout, including all backups being flooded. That's all.

That is not all.

They had 8 to 24 hours (I forget) to bring and connect additional power generators or charged batteries to the site before the existing batteries failed, but they didn't do it despite knowing what the stakes were.

They failed to vent the hydrogen from the reactor buildings. They thought to vent the vessels to the buildings but didn't vent the hydrogen from the buildings. This lead to significant avoidable additional damage from explosions and probably raised the amount of radiation released to the environment.

Re:they failed more (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045286)

Um, the buildings were constructed without external vents. So at the time of the earthquake, it was not avoidable. Now, whether they should have foreseen this scenario and installed external venting... Also, you realize that every road for 100 miles around had been trashed by an 9+ magnitude earthquake? TEPCO should be second-guessed on many levels, and the lessons applied to every nuclear power management agency on the planet, but please try to keep it real.

Re:they failed more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045366)

Yeah, finding what is probably several megawatts worth of diesel generator, or rigging up the HV transmission line to get it to the plant would have been really simple, and made even simpler given that the entire surrounding area had just had a fairly large an unexpected bath so there couldn't possibly have been any reason they couldn't just phone up Dave's power lines and generators and ask if they could get them some electricity so they could shut the reactors down and spend the rest of the afternoon watching telly.

I'd hazard a guess that they resisted venting the gas as much as possible because it was radioactive (even if not very long-lived) and therefore wanted to avoid the releases as much as possible. If I remember they had to ask for permission to vent it from the RPV to the containment, so presumably they weren't given, were given too late, or didn't ask for permission to vent to the atmosphere. People get very upset about that sort of thing, so someone somewhere probably did a back-of-an-envelope calculation and decided that the 'fallout' (in public opinion terms, as well as radiological) from not venting the buildings was less than that of venting them. They got that wrong, and well done Mr Hindsight for noticing. Given that they drilled holes in the roof on units 5 and 6 several days/weeks later to mitigate the risk of hydrogen explosion - so presumably didn't have a method, or functioning method, of venting the buildings - and given that there are usually aftershocks soon after significant earthquakes, do you want to send your staff up on the roof of those buildings to drill some holes?

Re:they failed more (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046084)

One does not go outside operating parameters if one has a choice, period. You want to keep the plant in such a state that the answers to all your problems are still inside the operating manual. Once you're out of the book, all bets are off and BAD THINGS (tm) tend to happen.

The pressure inside the RPV was allowed to rise to twice the design limit before something broke, H2 was vented into the building and the first explosion ensued.

That's either a huge operator error or indicative of a lack of options.

Interestingly enough, US-based nuclear power plants of the same design and similar vintage have been retro-fitted with piping to allow operators to vent hydrogen out the high stacks as well as devices to recombine generated hydrogen into water.

There are numerous other known design issues with the GE Mk 1 design . US operators have been adding all sorts of bits and pieces to their plants and changing operating procedures to hedge against these known risks. TEPCO apparently felt comfortable doing nothing.

My personal take-away lesson from all this is "never install version 1.0 of ANYTHING".

Re:they failed more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36046578)

It's indicative of a lack of options. They vented the hydrogen from containment into the buildings 3 and 4 so it wouldn't blow up containment, it would only blow out the walls of the buildings. They didn't vent building 2 (or didn't vent it fast enough or soon enough), and a loud bang was heard in that building a few days after the earthquake - from the containment vessel. The speculation as of a few weeks ago was that the hydrogen they didn't vent in that building ended up combusting within the containment vessel, and now the containment vessel might have a crack that, if actually the case, will result in a leak of some nasty materials (read: radionuclides). In buildings 3 and 4, the building walls are blown out, but their containment vessels have not been breached. The problem in those buildings is exposed core due to the cladding cracking due to extreme heat (and the Zirconium cladding is the stuff that, at a high enough temperature, reacts with water to form ZrO and H2, which is where the H2 came from in the first place).

But, hey, don't let the facts get in the way of your anti-nuclear stance. The whole reason we are in this mess in the first place is because the anti-nuclear people won't let us build any newer nuclear plants that have passive safety built right in (read: you can walk away and the reactor will shut down on its own, without human intervention). The reactor buildings currently in use in the US (and at Fukushima) are 40 years old and their design is 50 years old - we've made loads of improvements since then, but we can't actually build newer, safer buildings because the anti-nuclear people think that the entire nuclear industry has been sitting on its hands for the past 50 years. That makes all of the NIMBYs complete idiots in my book. The anti-nuclear people are their own worst enemies.

Re:they failed more (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046874)

There is no path or sequence of actions to allow the operators to vent hydrogen into the buildings. Stuff must break first for that to happen at all.

Re:they failed more (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048030)

As far as I have heard on the issue you mention is that these reactors did have the hydrogen handling equipment to recombine it into water safely, unfortunately, with no power they were not able to run the equipment, and by the time power was restored, the equipment had already been trashed but the earthquake/tsunami/explosions.

Re:they failed more (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045672)

Exactly. in the USA if you have money and an urgent enough need you can have several hundred kilowatts of generators flow to your location. It surprised me to find out the US air-force wasn't flying it's large generators in to help with the power problem at the plant.

Then again it might have been because Fukishima runs at 50 hertz instead of the 60 hertz the USA and most of Japan uses. They might not of been able too.

Re:they failed more (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047040)

The problem was that they didn't have roads to transport those generators to the power plant. That is the main reason for the long delay in the arrival of the fire engines at the site. Current emergency procedures that almost all utilities in Japan have implemented now call for having generators and fire engines on standby very close to the NPS.

Re:they failed more (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047510)

You missed the flown in part. A 100kw generator weighs less than 75 tons that an m1 Abrams weighs. For a NPS with problems it is worth it.

Re:they failed more (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048956)

I didn't. They don't have close any airport that could land a big transport plane and even if they had it there was no way to transport the equipment from the airport to the NPS. The diesel generators were of 6.5 Mw, the pumps for the cooling systems need at least 1 Mw for each reactor. Anyway, since the electric interconnection equipment and maybe the pumps themselves were under water they really didn't had many choices from what they ended doing aside praying to $deity.

Re:they failed more (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048062)

Im no EE, but Im almost positive you could fix that little snag by converting from AC to DC, and then back again on the proper frequency; Im sure there is a much better way to do it, but that comes to mind quickly.

Re:they failed more (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048066)

What I have read about this is that the generators needed to run the cooling of the plant are so large that a heli can't lift it; therefore with the roads destroyed, there was no way to move the generators on site.

Re:Reasonable first steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36044750)

Humans are not entering the "containment". They are entering the reactor building.

They are opening an airlock, which means they most certainly are entering containment. In a Mark I reactor, the secondary containment structure comprises about two thirds of the building.

Re:Reasonable first steps (5, Informative)

Idou (572394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044754)

That's all? So TEPCO did not falsify safety inspection records [theaustralian.com.au] , cover-up a defective reactor [ito.com] , use the yakuza to get expendable workers [democratic...ground.com] , continue on with a foreign journalist QA session even without the foreign journalists [youtube.com] , or make numerous blunders immediately after the tsunami to put us into the current situation [yomiuri.co.jp] ?

What a relief . . . here I was thinking TEPCO would become the poster child of the part of Japanese society that remains corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent. Good thing they have apologists like yourself . . .

Re:Reasonable first steps (3, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045652)

Can we get some objectivity please? TEPCO are far from blameless but equally a bunch of links to blogs, forums and YouTube videos are not all that convincing either. Expendable workers? This isn't China.

The flaws that led to this disaster are not limited to TEPCO or Fukushima Daiichi. The tsunami defences which failed were based on government projections of the most severe waves that would ever be encountered, and they were inadequate. TEPCO built them to what was considered a safe standard, but the the best experts on earthquakes and tsunami in the world got it wrong.

If you didn't notice these flawed assumptions also resulted in 25,000 people being killed. TEPCO made mistakes, some of them should have been preventable and some of them I think it is fair to say were due to people having to react to a difficult situation with incomplete information under a great deal of pressure.

Re:Reasonable first steps (4, Informative)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046062)

Oohh. Mistakes were made. I see. Well that makes it all better, then, doesn't it?

The tsunami defences which failed were based on government projections of the most severe waves that would ever be encountered, and they were inadequate.

There are no tsunami defenses at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Nothing failed because nothing was there. The plants were built too low, the dike which protects against typhoon-generated waves was obviously not enough, but it did not fail, it's still there, as useless against tsunamis as it ever was. Oh, it may have added a bit to the height of the wall of water that struck the NPP.

Had the plant been built above the historical high water mark for tsunamis in that area, nothing would have happened. It was not, because adding elevation means bigger, more expensive pumps for an idiotic design which uses open-circuit seawater cooling for the primary (and only) core coolant loop.

Re:Reasonable first steps (2)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046904)

The tsunami got in from the south side that is closer to the sea. It ripped open the door to the turbine building in front of unit 4. They had a previous study that suggested improved tsunami defenses but it was ignored. The dikes for the port were also built has a tsunami defense, but obviously, they consistently underestimated the risk. In top of that, the whole island sunk 75 cm after the quake, making even more inadequate any tsunami defense they had. Also, Fukushima had in march 12th the only dam failure caused by the quake, so that meant that roads and emergency services had another crippling emergency in top of the quake and tsunami. At the time, Fukushima Daiichi was still a lingering emergency, they were more worried about Fukushima Daini.

TEPCO published details about the improved tsunami defenses that they will build for Kashiwasaki Kariwa NPS; I have almost no doubt that the same method was proposed in their internal investigation for improved tsunami defenses for Fukushima Daiichi. The expense would have been far less than 100 million dollars, a pittance for the budgets that commonly handle utilities.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047804)

TEPCO is proposing to build dikes because they want to distract attention and avoid being told to shut down the unsafe plants.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36049122)

Here in Mexico we have a say:"Ahogado el niño, a tapar el pozo". "After the kid is drowned, the well gets a lid". That is what they are doing, basically. The proposal to build concrete walls around buildings and put water tight doors at the entrance of the buildings and inside several key parts inside buildings was something that they could have done with all the time in the world since 2007. Now is good to have those dikes, we don't really know when the next big earthquake/tsunami will hit the place, but if they had been more careful they would be only worried about putting the NPS back online, instead of having scuttled the whole station. Even from the most self interested capitalist pig POV makes sense to invest in the safety of the workers and buildings that make your money.

Re:Reasonable first steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047010)

There are no tsunami defenses at Fukushima Dai-ichi.

the dike which protects against typhoon-generated waves was obviously not enough

I thought there wasn't anything there? You're an idiot to think that the Japanese are that incompetent at designing anything.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047210)

There are no tsunami defenses at Fukushima Dai-ichi. Nothing failed because nothing was there. The plants were built too low, the dike which protects against typhoon-generated waves was obviously not enough, but it did not fail, it's still there, as useless against tsunamis as it ever was. Oh, it may have added a bit to the height of the wall of water that struck the NPP.

5.5 meters. That's the height of tsunami that the tsunami defenses were built for. During the earthquake, apparently the site lowered by a meter and was hit by a tsunami over ten meters high. Note that several other nuclear plants were also hit by these tsunami, but weren't flooded.

Had the plant been built above the historical high water mark for tsunamis in that area, nothing would have happened. It was not, because adding elevation means bigger, more expensive pumps for an idiotic design which uses open-circuit seawater cooling for the primary (and only) core coolant loop.

It was a forty year old design. They didn't have access to your amazing hindsight.

Re:Reasonable first steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047680)

Amazing hindsight? Read this again:

Had the plant been built above the historical high water mark for tsunamis in that area, nothing would have happened.

Note the part in bold? This is common sense based on historical data. Now whether or not this data was available at the time is another matter.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047888)

Now whether or not this data was available at the time is another matter.

Bingo.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047948)

5.5 meters is a reasonable height for a typhoon wave break. It's ridiculously inadequate for tsunamis.

According to Wikipedia, the great Kanto earthquake of 1923 produced a 12-meter wave. The 1964 Niigata earthquake produced a more reasonable 6 (six, not five point five) metre one. These are 20th century incidents, well documented, with even photographic evidence available.

TEPCO played fast and loose with the statistics and lost. Why are you defending them?

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048222)

5.5 meters is a reasonable height for a typhoon wave break. It's ridiculously inadequate for tsunamis.

As I noted, Fukushima wasn't the only nuclear plant subject to the tsunami. The other nuclear plants did just fine by the current standards.

TEPCO played fast and loose with the statistics and lost. Why are you defending them?

Because someone has to defend the future of humanity from hysteria such as you demonstrate. Nuclear power may not be a part of that future. But I'm willing to judge things by their usefulness and outcomes, not flip out every time "nuclear" appears near "accident".

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048320)

The other nuclear plants did just fine by the current standards.

The tsunami also flooded Fukushima Dai-ni cooling pumps, ultimately resulting in LLOCA [wikipedia.org] at units 1 3 and 4. Cold shutdown was only reached on March 15. Is this what you call fine?

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048590)

The tsunami also flooded Fukushima Dai-ni cooling pumps, ultimately resulting in LLOCA [wikipedia.org] at units 1 3 and 4. Cold shutdown was only reached on March 15. Is this what you call fine?

Yes. Why wouldn't I?

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048798)

TEPCO doesn't think it's fine they have to do tests and repairs well into the summer instead of running Dai-ni at full power, at a time when the loss of Dai-ichi left them hurting for every kilowatt. Why do you?

Your stupid is showing, "defender of humanity". I'm done talking to you.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048964)

TEPCO doesn't think it's fine they have to do tests and repairs well into the summer instead of running Dai-ni at full power, at a time when the loss of Dai-ichi left them hurting for every kilowatt. Why do you?

Because all they need to do is tests and repairs after a magnitude 9 earthquake. That's fine in my book, and frankly it should be fine in your book too. I get the impression that you forgot that these nuclear plants didn't spontaneously break, but that there was a massive earthquake involved.

Your stupid is showing, "defender of humanity". I'm done talking to you.

The days are long past when I'll listen to someone who can't be bothered to take their own advice.

Re:Reasonable first steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36048860)

MOD PARENT UP please.
In fact he plants tsunami defences were upgraded to twice the previous level following a safety assessment around 10 years ago.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Idou (572394) | more than 3 years ago | (#36049524)

>Can we get some objectivity please?

I find it extremely ironic for a TEPCO apologist to make such a statement. You are obviously oblivious to the "kisha club", the "amakudari", or the fact that foreign journalists do not even bother going to QA sessions where they know they will have their intelligence insulted. It is hard to find MSM articles of TEPCO misdeeds because of the above and the fact that the government is trying to censor such "illegal information" to "protect citizen morale."

As to not noticing the size of the disaster, I was there and had carved out quite a life before having to leave it behind. Perhaps being directly impacted by such corruption does limit my objectivity, or perhaps it enables me to provide a perspective on the situation otherwise not possible due to the level of censorship that has been occurring.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047174)

You have any real complaints? The only relevant one is the allegation of "blunders" after the tsunami. And that's to be expected given the rarity of such accidents and the devastation from a magnitude 9 quake.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044902)

Humans are not entering the "containment". They are entering the reactor building.

That has to be right. But what's still airtight enough to be entered through an airlock? Here's what Unit 1 looks like. [foxnews.com]

Better pictures directly from TEPCO (1)

Kyusaku Natsume (1098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047134)

In their photos for press page:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/index-e.html [tepco.co.jp]

The air filtering equipment:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/110505_1.jpg [tepco.co.jp]

Air ducts:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/110506_2.jpg [tepco.co.jp]

Radiation dose measurements by worker inside reactor building:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/110311/images/110506_1.jpg [tepco.co.jp]

If these pictures had been available sooner I would have added them to the submission.

Re:Reasonable first steps (3, Insightful)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36045316)

No, TEPCO failed because they relied on a design that requires active input to stay safe. Any measures you think of to improve safety for such a design come down to security by 'Allow by default' and closing holes after exploits. Since it is impossible to keep up with all possible circumstances, this means the design is unsafe.

Mart

Re:Reasonable first steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36049488)

What do you expect from a 50-year-old design and 30-40 year old reactors?

If there any anything to learn from Fukushima is that active-only safety is not always enough, especially if you get flooded and are not prepared for it. Most modern reactor designs are passively-safe, unlike the BRW Gen II reactors. Fukushima is a case to start building new, modern reactors in the US instead of extending the life of current fleet. As it stands, US reactors are making tons of money right now (ie. cash cows) and this money should be used to build new reactors and scrap the old ones.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047538)

The reactors are not in cold shutdown because there is no water cooling. They *could* achieve cold shutdown quickly by water in faster, but it would not help the situation.

And I think that's the point. The fact that they are not in cold shutdown indicates problems. But we already knew they have ongoing problems.

Re:Reasonable first steps (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044494)

Even at Three Mile Island, it took only about two days to reach cold shutdown.

No, TMI-2 didn't reach cold shutdown until 27 April - nearly a month after the accident.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044508)

Yes, but I don't think Tepco still have the start of a clue aboot what's happening or what to do aboot it.

Re:Reasonable first steps (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047328)

Yes, but I don't think Tepco still have the start of a clue aboot what's happening or what to do aboot it.

Do you have any reason for believing that? I instead see a company that in the midst of a remarkably bad situation (which apparently has killed 27,000 people, need I remind you?), brought three nuclear reactors under control.

They got it all wrong... (1)

fifirebel (137361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36044790)

Page 9 of the linked PDF, on the Mr Obvious decision diagram, the conclusion if there's too much radioactivity inside the reactor building is:

Feed&Breed / [*] Cooling the reactor core by feeding and breeding

I certainly hope they're talking about feed and bleed.... There no need breeding any more isotopes at this point.

Wow, Slashdot is lame, I pasted some japanese characters and slashdot does not render them properly. They are where the [*] is.

Re:They got it all wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047792)

If you look at the spreadsheet on the report posted earlier in the thread, all of the l-characters are replaced with r-characters. Possibly because the Japanese language combines the l-r sounds.

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Full co-op (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045508)

Looks like they've enlisted help from the Germans:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/383461/oh-lerrrrd

Good to see some international cooperation for once.

It cannot work, because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36045844)

...in imperial Japan reactors control you!!!

News Coverage - lack thereof (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#36046302)

Several weeks ago the failure of the Japanese reactors was "upgraded" to a Chernobyl level disaster.

Nuclear Power (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | more than 3 years ago | (#36047190)

I just want to carry on the proud slashdot tradition of saying 'see nuclear power is perfectly safe' every time fukushima is mentioned. The Nuclear shills are quietening down but we mustn't forget our heritage

Re:Nuclear Power (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36048244)

Try modifying your statement a tad there and it becomes true. Modern nuclear power is very safe. 40 year old reactors that lose power and were never designed to be passive safe, with no way to bring in new power (roads destroyed, power needs bigger than any helicopter could bring in, and more than a nuclear reactor on a aircraft carrier that refuses to come close enough to help), and no way to bring in fire trucks with self powered water pumps. Yeah, they had a worse case senario. The senario was far worse than anyone had imagined possible in that area.

So, since you are so anti nuclear, what power would you prefer for base load power? Coal? Natural Gas? Oil? Fusion (Doesn't exist)? Geothermal (only works in certain areas...which isn't very many)?

Re:Nuclear Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36049180)

Nuclear power is in no way safe. At all. Period. If a coal or gas based power station blows up, that's a tragedy. We go in, clean up, and the site may be useable again in, well, let's say a couple decades tops. A "perfectly safe" nuclear power station doesn't even have to blow up to contaminate and make unsafe a site for CENTURIES. Not to mention throwing radiation in to the atmosphere, local ground water, local open water bodies, etc.

Nuclear power is never going to be safe enough. All it takes is one bad day and we've made a chunk of the earth unsuitable for human use for centuries not to mention potentially throwing all kinds of lovely radioactive isotopes into the environment. NOT WORTH THE RISK.

Re:Nuclear Power (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36049378)

How will a nuclear power station "blow up" when it is passively safe? When the power goes out on modern reactors, the reactor automatically scrams, shutting itself down. How would it blow up when the fission is at such a low level that it could be cooled by air?

Re:Nuclear Power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36049782)

Better start living in a cave son. Soon enough, the only source of base load power is going to be nuclear as all fossil fuels are burnt.

If you want to start talking about unusable land, start talking about land that will be permanently flooded when oceans rise. We are not talking 100 sq. mi. We are talking about 10,000+ sq. mi. at very minimum. Some nations will be flooded from the world map.

Finally, Chernobyl evaluation zone is now in early plans of being resettled. I guess those "centuries" only took a few decades.

I'm most worried about unit 4.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36047872)

I had the chance to attend a talk last week by an engineer who had worked on that kind of reactor and has been watching in great detail with a experienced eye.

She is most worried about unit 4, which has shown signs of criticality.

We're not out of the woods yet.

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