Japan and nuclear energy

Discussion in 'Asia' started by pgm, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. pgm
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    pgm Member

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    Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that the Tohoku Earthquake in northeastern Japan caused a nuclear crisis as there were many struggles to get the fuel rods cool. What you may not know is this incident has created a general fear and hatred of nuclear power throughout Japan and officials who have shut down plants for routine inspection have been finding it politically impossible to turn them back on. Right now, less than a quarter of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are online.

    Japan is trying to switch to oil-powered plants and fuel-importation costs are likely to rise by 3 trillion yen (39 billion USD). New P.M. Noda says he will be more permissive of nuclear power, but as Japan has been averaging a new prime minister every year for quite a while and because of public opposition, I'm pretty doubtful that he can reverse this trend.

    So, do you think Japan should be reducing its dependence on nuclear power? What does this mean for world energy costs? Germany is also trying to eliminate nuclear energy. Do you think this will become a worldwide trend?
     
  2. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    Wowzer! Japan had better be installing lots of LED lights and such.
     
  3. pgm
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  4. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    [​IMG]

    Fukushima was a boiling water reactor (BWR) in the same shape as the photo above of a BWR in the United States.

    The reactor is in the middle of that mass of metal. The large ring at the base is used to suppress steam that needs to be vented to the outside, usually in an emergency.

    If you look carefully at the photograph you can see men standing on the suppression ring and on the side of the reactor. The realization, of course is that the Reactor is very big. To fill it with Uranium and Plutonium Fuel (in that center part) takes tons of fuel. So, if there is a meltdown, a lot of radioactive particulate can be released. Many, many times the magnitude of a Nuclear Bomb.

    When built into a reactor building the entire assembly is placed into the ground with layers of cement under the reactor and suppression ring as seen in the cut-away diagram below.

    [​IMG]

    Not that the reactor is effectively built inside a concrete tomb. That is to contain radioactive particulate if there is an accident that does not rupture the building as has happened at Fukushima.

    Below is the photo taken of Fukushima Reactor Three after it had an explosion in Mid March of 2011 after the meltdowns.

    [​IMG]

    Can you see the tracks of cement dust across what is the top of the Turbine Building for Reactor Three. Reactor buildings are designed with blowout panels if there is a sudden increase in pressure. As you can see the blowout panels did, indeed, blow out. One of the panels fell through the roof into the turbine building. Others blew right across the turbine building. You can even see where the panels nipped the combing on the edge of the roof of the turbine building.

    That was one heck of an explosion! An explosion that released a tremendous amount of radioactive particulate into the Northern Hemisphere. Radioactive particulate that is going to cause millions of cases of cancer.

    Below is a thermal photograph of one of the reactors days after the explosion. The yellow sites are hot spots and are a very good indication of where hot fuel and radioactive particulate are scattered all over the grounds. When the Japanese went back to try to straighten out the horrible mess after the explosions, they had to remove the contamination or bury it. Some of it was so hot that exposure to the radiation intensity could kill you within an hour.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    Returning to this diagram, note the orange structure near the top of the building. It runs on tracks. The front track is cut away, but you can see that the back track runs the length of the building. That orange device is used to move the top of the reactor away when the bolts have been removed. Once the Reactor Core is exposed, the orange crane is used to add and remove Fuel Rod Assemblies. The Fuel Rods that are not in use (Expended, but Highly Radioactive) are stored in tanks on the top enclosed floor of the reactor building. You can see the tanks for fuel storage there on the fourth floor of the building.

    [​IMG]

    Those tanks are called the Spent Fuel Pools. Contingent with the melt down in the Reactors, these Spent Fuel Pools (SFP) were allowed to boil dry or boil down so that the fuel assemblies were exposed to atmosphere. UNGOOD!.

    The fuel rods are Uranium and Plutonium that is formed into pellets and compressed in Zirconium cladding. The Cladding keeps most the radioactive particulate contained as the rods are in use in the reactor and covered by water. Once out of the reactor they have to cool down from delayed reactions inside the fuel (the pellets) and are allowed to sit in those tanks for up to year. After they have cooled, they can be stored elsewhere and are eventually placed in casks for long term storage.

    If the cooling water in the tanks is allowed to boil dry, the rods can heat up to glowing temperatures. When Zirconium gets hot enough, (close to two thousand degrees) it can rapidly oxidize (essentially burn with the oxygen in the air) and breakdown. That ends up releasing the highly radioactive Uranium and Plutonium and Strontium and Cesium and other radioactive particulate to the atmosphere. If we believe many of the experts, a lot of the fuel in the spent fuel pools was released to the atmosphere because of a lack of cooling of those stored rods.


    Fukushima was an engineering disaster. They had a 20 foot Quaywall that the sea water could flow right through. An actual viable sea wall to prevent tsunami damage really did not exist. Look at the photographs of the damaged reactor site to see this. The plants were at least slightly elevated above sea level. The Tsunami at sea was measured at 4.4 meters, but you don't design a nuclear reactor plant for the sea height of a tsunami.

    The issue that should have been of concern was the inertia caused "run up" of the wave. If you have ever sat on the sea shore you have seen waves run up on the beach. They will frequently run up far higher than the initial height of the wave as it approached the beach. In Japan they have documented run ups of half a hundred feet or more from tsunamis just a few meters high. There was no design of the plant to prevent that run up. I am serious. They did not plan for the run up from a four meter tsunami.

    When you consider that the most dangerous thing that can happen to a nuclear reactor plant is a loss of electricity, Fukushima was just waiting for a colossal disaster. They had one effective source of commercial electricity to the plant because the plant was supplied by one transmission tower inland that collapsed during the Earthquake. (San Onofre in San Diego County has/had the same damn problem. I brought it to their attention and hopefully they have corrected it. The commercial electrical power came in from the south - San Diego.)

    Total idiocy on the part of the Japanese. Just think, for forty years not one engineer in Japan realized that they had one possible "point of failure" in that one tower. (Is there another word for stupidity beyond stupid?)

    The Japanese placed their Emergency Diesel Generators down in the ground in their turbine rooms that were built right next to the sea. When the tsunami came rolling in, the turbine rooms were flooded and the Emergency Diesels were under water and that water was retained there because they were in an underground pool close to sea level. What engineer ever thought of that as a viable design?

    From that moment on a total meltdown was assured. No electricity = No pumps = No cooling of the reactors = TOTAL MELTDOWN!

    Their electrical connections to other pumps that could have been used to help cool the reactors were all designed in such a manner that they were damaged by sea water. It never occurred to any of the Japanese engineers that such an accident could happen. Most of their important electrical cable runs were built in the floor, and eventually ended up UNDER SEA WATER! Unbelievable!

    When they needed to release steam from the reactors, the valve that operated the steam release to atmosphere was found to be designed to fail closed upon loss of electricity. To open it would take a suicide mission to manually operate the valve to release the steam. Anybody assigned that take would have died a horrible painful death from radiation exposure.

    Where were the engineers? Where were the inspectors who should have found all of this poor engineering and ordered it corrected before Fukushima 1 was allowed to be put into operation?

    Unbelievable!
     
  6. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    This chart/map shows the height of the tsunami out at sea along the eastern shore of the Big Island of Japan. The Tsunami just outside of Fukushima was a little over four meters. Look at the "tide gauge" numbers to know how high the swell was out at sea.

    The tide gauge numbers are considerably different than the run up heights on land, which you can see were listed as ten meters and twelve meters in diverse places.

    Quite frankly, Fukushima was not designed to stand up to any kind of moderate tsunami.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    The tsunami as it was coming in from sea at Fukushima. If you look at the deeper water you can see that it is at best four meters high. At it gets closer and closer to shore it rises up because the same mass of water is compressed from below by a rising sea bottom that turns to shoreline.



    [​IMG]

    To the left of exact center of the photo you can see the water splashing forty or fifty feet up into the sky as it hits the quay-wall made up of multipointed concrete shapes.
     
  8. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    Fukushima Diaiichi with reactor buildings and the turbine building close to the sea. This photo, obviously, was taken in happier times before the reactor buildings started exploding.

    [​IMG]

    Note, they are numbered from our right to left, 1 to 4 with 4 being to the south.

    Below is the reactor 3 building with reactor 2 to the left. Reactor Three used to look like Reactor Two, but after the explosion you would not even recognise it as a reactor building.

    [​IMG]

    Below is reactor row. Note that reactor buildings 1, 3 and 4 had explosions. Reactor 2 is believed to have had an explosion deep underground, possibly in the Torus.
    Look and see if you can find a sea wall. There is the quay wall, but no sea wall.

    [​IMG]

    And here is a representation that will help you orientate to the layout. The darker blue buildings are the reactor buildings and the buildings in the foreground are the turbine buildings.

    [​IMG]

    A boiling water reactor is a vessel that creates high pressure steam that drives turbines that produce electricity. If we were to believe the industry there are no problems associated with the production of that electricity. Unfortunately, millions of people die to produce it. Since most people believe their government, they do not question authority. Unfortunately the authority has been bought by the nuclear power industry, and the authority does not care if flunkies die as long as the industry makes Billions and Billions in profit. Since that is a reality, the flunkies have to die. The "flunkies" might be your mother and father, your brother and sister or you daughter and son. The industry simply does not care. Your loved ones die of cancer but you can not specifically link their deaths back to the radiation that came from their plant, so they are home free. Home Free except for one thing, the Cancer death rate before they were operating and the Cancer death rate after they were operating. THAT tells the true story.
     
  9. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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    Back in March, April and May I was speculating that the Massive Explosion at Reactor Three was from the depths of the reactor, possibly the Torus area. As previously stated, I believe it because of the direct upward vectoring of the explosion. I know that Arnie Gunderson believes that it was a prompt criticality accident in the spent fuel pool of Reactor three.


    [​IMG]

    Using this diagram of a boiling water reactor (it is not exactly true to the design at Fukushima I point out that there are tubes leading to the Torus (That big circular ring around the base of the reactor, but lower than it.) If the corium (The melted Fuel and steel of the reactor vessel bottom) could have burned a way into one of those tubes leading to the torus and the torus was full of water as the Japanese told us they had done, if a massive quantity of the corium hit the flooded Torus water, a massive steam explosion would ensue. If you look at video of that explosion there first looks to be a horizontal explosion and then a couple of miliseconds later a massive upward explosion. It is that second explosion that I believe came up through the four concrete floors of the reactor building when a massive quantity of corium fell into the torus.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Neubarth
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    Neubarth At the Ballpark July 30th

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