Crippled Cooling Pump At Reactor #2 Puts Entire Power Restoration Plan At Risk

Tyler Durden's picture

Today the majority of the world was celebrating the fact that TEPCO managed to restore the power supply to the radioactive power plant. And in an attempt to present the next straw man nuclear experts the world over began to focus on such secondary aspects of the explosion as rain and sea water concentrations of radioactivity, ignoring on purpose the elephant in the room. In the same time, those whose attention span is just a little longer than the average headline, put two and two together and realized that the key problem at hand has not been fixed at all. Not even close. According to New York Daily News: "Cooling pumps at one of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors are damaged
beyond repair and will need to be replaced, officials learned Monday. The revelation dashed hopes for a quick resolution to the ongoing nuclear catastrophe at the leaking Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. An emergency order has been placed for new pumps for Unit 2 at the
plant, but it's unclear how quickly they would arrive, officials said."
And as readers will recall, and as the below satellite photo will confirm, reactor 2 is the only one of the critical 4 which did not in fact suffer massive explosive damage. So if that one is beyond repair, what happens to the other three? And just what will this much praised power supply at Fukushima actually be connected to? We really urge some journalist to actually ask questions that have a semblance of relevance at the next TEPCO presser, instead of continuing to fill the air with the same kind of fluff that accompanies every single Obama press conference.

This was the earlier attempt by Reuters at redirecting the public attention to the modest far more trivial matters than melting cores:

The reconnection of power at the earthquake-damaged reactors in Japan is a big step in managing the nuclear crisis, experts said on Monday, but concerns about radiation in the air, seawater and food showed the dangers are far from over.

Um, no. Concerns about the core issue at crisis management most certainly remain, as all those behind operation Extension Cord finally realize there is nothing to connect the power to.

More from New York Daily News:

Engineers have worked around the clock to restore power to the facility, but damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami means it may take weeks to repair the required systems, officials warn.

"We have experienced a very huge disaster that has caused very large damage at a nuclear power generation plant on a scale that we had not expected," said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Although some headway was made toward bringing less-affected reactors on-line, conditions at the plant remained volatile.

Workers were temporarily evacuated Monday after plumes of mysterious gray smoke rose from a leaking reactor.

Officials said there was no sign of an explosion and that they had not detected any rise in radiation levels.

Meanwhile, officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission upgraded their assessment of the situation at the plant, saying it appeared the reactor cores at the most damaged facilities remained contained.

"I would say optimistically that things appear to be on the verge of stabilizing," said Bill Borchardt, the NRC's executive director for operations.

Any why the hell not. If Borcahrdt is wrong, thousands of others' lives are at stake, not his own... And just consider the boost to Mr. Borchardt's nuclear power-themed stock portfolio in the meantime. Of course, if and when the NRC executive is proven wrong, he can just blame it all on misleading and incomplete information out of Japan. Afterall, when is the last time anyone in modern western civilization actually took responsibility for their own actions?

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Sweet Chicken's picture

I thought we were done talking about Fukushima?! WTF?! Get with the program Tyler.

Sweet Chicken's picture

While I am honored at my first 'junk' but was I junked because I didn't have sarcasm/on?! Surely that was obvious sarcasm.

cosmictrainwreck's picture

your tone was insubordinate; Tyler is revered [junk wasn't me]

Worker Bee's picture

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

TruthInSunshine's picture

This isn't possible.

A really suave MIT Professor wrote a (canned) letter, in an act of compassion, in order to calm someone's parents in Japan (fraud), which somehow got distributed all over the web (scam), whereby he swore that "[h]e was not worried about Fukushima Daiichi, and neither should any of us be."

He just so happened to NOT be a professor in the hard sciences, but the pseudo-science of marketing, etc., and he also just so happened to work for Siemens and have ties to the nuclear industry.

But then along came Dr. Monreal, a nuclear physicist, who also said there was little to fret about, he also being affiliated with MIT (an alum), and having won a 900k+ award from the U.S. Department of Energy a while back.

So you see, people with degrees and who graduated from or teach at MIT claim all is well.

So don't fret.

Options are few to prevent Japan nuclear catastrophe

 

Ident 7777 economy's picture

So don't fret.

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Let us know when it's time to BOHICA ...

jtmo3's picture

Who cares. Buy stocks!!!

Whoa Dammit's picture

Next Up: Weeks from now, TEPCO will admit that some of the parts they ordered for their 40 year old facilities are no longer being made by anyone in today's global manufacturing/JIT inventory world. 

And I can't help but wonder exactly how long it would have taken TEPCO to run their useless miracle power line the required 1.5 kilometers to the plant if TEPCO was not supposed to be a power company and therefore should have had the power line materials on hand?

 

Screwloose's picture

Seeing as they could just leave a 3-line feed lying on the surface:

15 drums of 95mm steel-wire armoured; a dozen epoxy jointing packs; 10 well-equipped line crews - about three hours going well.

buzzsaw99's picture

When the pump arrives in a week or so then they will take a week to install it then they will figure out that the pipes are broken. Around and around. They can't fix this. Spicoli has a better chance than they:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5cneCgNA9U&feature=related

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

Pump repairs?

Hey Culligan Man.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

So, does errbody still think those thermal images are true? LoL....

On another note. Didn't they buy the extended warranty from GE? Immelt youmelt we all melt when coremelt.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

Come on junkers, you've got to admit that was unusually clever for Judge Judy.

bmusic's picture

Nikkei up over 2%.  Un-fricken-real!

disabledvet's picture

well!  i can hardly wait for our nuclear meltdown!

cosmictrainwreck's picture

US futures turning pink..momentarily, at least

Plumplechook's picture
Good readers comment here I am re-posting from the NYT (thanks to Old Curmudgeon, Akron, OH):

"It is depressing to read all these well-written (and sometimes even erudite) comments doing nothing but reinforcing pre-conceived political positions for lack of the faintest knowledge of facts and the faintest understanding of their significance. This comment thread is convincing empirical evidence of the fact that humans beings think by exciting their prejudices first and rationalizing later.

Here are the most salient facts of this sad situation, from which I hope the conclusions are obvious:

1. The situation is far from under control. There are twelve trouble spots: six reactors and six spent-fuel pools. All will remain dangerously radioactive for centuries, whether operating or not, whether shut down or not, whether damaged or not, and whether abandoned or not. Radioactivity doesn't care whether a plant is running, let alone meeting design criteria. The salient task is containing radioactivity.

2. So far only five or six of these trouble spots have been stabilized, namely, the reactors and spent-fuel pools for Numbers 4, 5, and 6, which were never in serious trouble to begin with. The reactors and/or spent-fuel pools for Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are still in trouble. In the case of Numbers 1 and 2, we don't even know what's going on because the control room, which is heavily shielded and supposed to be safe, has no air conditioning and is presumed too radioactive to inhabit.

3. Every one of these twelve trouble spots is DESIGNED to require continuous cooling to stay safe, whether operating or "shut down," whether attended or abandoned.

4. The "concrete sarcophagus" solution of Chernobyl is a last resort, not a preferred solution. The reason: concrete is porous and cracks, especially in climates like Northern Japan's, where water has been known to freeze. Over years and decades---let alone the centuries of radioactivity---water passing through broken concrete puts dangerously radioactive elements in the surrounding environment, including the water table. Concrete just impedes further access in the event of follow-on disasters, such as a total meltdown.

5. It is possible to design nuclear power plants that have none of these drawbacks. Even some current designs (for example, French ones) have few or none.

These are the facts. I leave readers to draw their own conclusions, in accordance with their own prejudices.

But I can't resist drawing one obvious intermediate conclusion. There is no "fix and forget" solution to this crisis. Whether on or off, damaged or fixed, generating power or not, abandoned or not, these obsolete reactors and their spent-fuel pools will remain dangerous for centuries unless continually cooled with careful attention, or unless properly decommissioned at considerable expense. Those reactors and pools not decommissioned but "off line" will be sinks, not sources, of electric power for the foreseeable future.

I leave it to readers to consider the wisdom of keeping about twenty plants of this same obsolete design running here in our own country."

PhattyBuoy's picture

OK - please tell me what are you going to place (build) under #3 to keep it from tunneling into the water table ...

Ident 7777 economy's picture

OK - please tell me what are you going to place (build) under #3 to keep it from tunneling into the water table ...

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Seems to me they are into rock there at the coast ... no?

 

 

 

Matte_Black's picture

Um. No offense, and it's clear to me that you have probably forgotten more than I'll ever know about these things, but you should reread what he said.

To sum it up:

1. The concrete sarcophagus idea is very problematic and not a desireable solution.

2. There are no real fixes to the problem at all in fact.

3. And if you read between the lines: The only thing that could possibly be more fucked is what will happen if we don't do something about those plants in the US that are of the similar design and are situated in similarly flawed locations. 

4. A little deeper between the lines: We won't, and we're fucked.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

Concrete could work. The formulation would matter. A powderized lead and lead aggregate would be ideal.

Matte_Black's picture

Lead melts around 300 degrees or so.

Rusty Shorts's picture

 ... and vaporizes at ...shit, I forgot.

cosmictrainwreck's picture

c'mon, maaan.... you forgot the boiling point of lead?? WTF

Money Squid's picture

I recall there are seven spent fuel pools, one for each reactor plus a large common seventh pool. I recall reading the power to plant has allowed cooling pumps to start again at reactors 5 and 6, but it would have been nice if they were clear on the status of the 7th, common pool.

Also, if the cooling systems for the spent fuel pools allowed the water to boil off and the rods to heat/over heat, why did this not happen at the 5th, 6th and 7th pools? Power was lost to the entire facility but I do not recall a status update on those three pools.

SteveOoooo's picture

Reactors 5 and 6 were shut down.  The fuel had already been out of reactor and cooling off when this happened, sp they started off much cooler than elsewhere?  Cooler = less boiling, less water loss.

7 was used only after spent fuel had already been well cooled in the "short-term" pools next to the reactors, so there was less chance of boiling off all of the water there too.  It was coolest there to start with...

 

Air + hot fuel rods = bad.

 

Screwloose's picture

One of the 14 on-site diesel back-up generators - on reactor 6 - was salvageable and has been running the cooling pumps since about Monday - and feeding reactor 5 too.

NISA's water temp figures for reactors 5 & 6; their spent fuel pools - and the common pool - are now reported to be down to safe values, which would be 25C [77F] or so.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

I think your paragraph #2 contradicts your paragraph #1,  to wit:

 

1) The situation is far from under control. There are twelve trouble spots:

2) So far only five or six of these trouble spots have been stabilized,

 

Six down, six to go ...

 

.

 

 

 

 

waterdog's picture

"An emergency order has been placed for pumps", how polite.  I wonder whose purchase order number will go with the order?

How about a damn demand for pumps? Not warm and fuzzy enough for today's crowd?

 

Convolved Man's picture

... as all those behind operation Extension Cord finally realize there is nothing to connect the power to.

Well, the vending machines in the break room and the hallway emergency exit signs may work now.

strenue's picture

oooh, do they have skittles?

Screwloose's picture

 

Don't underestimate the importance of getting the coffee machine working in such situations - it used to be my first priority...

Money Squid's picture

The TEPCO "power cord" is equivalent to the BP "junk shot" in that both are known not to be the solution, but to buy time until a solution can be thought up and implemented. We will see many failed attempts at control to keep the masses occupied while radiation spews forth.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

by Money Squid, on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 20:40 #1084053 

The TEPCO "power cord" is equivalent to the BP "junk shot"

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Sure is - who needs stinking 60 Hz 3 Phase 480 Volts AC for pump motors, valving and instrumentation anyway ...

Id fight Gandhi's picture

NEWS on Kyoto wire. Steam or smoke rising from reactor 2 again.

Id fight Gandhi's picture

Reactor 3 hazy smoke too. Minutes later.

Water spraying and electric work on hold.

Money Squid's picture

I'm waiting for TEPCO to spray water on the new power cord.

chump666's picture

huge sucker rally about to get slammed south...very small reports coming in, some twitter....

Id fight Gandhi's picture

Care to share the twitter feeds?

Worker Bee's picture

For thousands of years, human beings had screwed up and trashed and crapped on this planet, and now history expected me to clean up after everyone.  I have to wash out and flatten my soup cans.  And account for every drop of used motor oil.  And I have to foot the bill for nuclear waste and buried gasoline tanks and landfilled toxic sludge dumped a generation before I was born.  ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, Chapter 16

Herman Strandschnecke's picture

 The bloke who invented and built the first Geiger counter was pretty clever, eh? Where do you start.

disabledvet's picture

What does concrete do when it is super-heated exactly?

pitz's picture

decomposes into carbon dioxide.  and silicon. 

Herman Strandschnecke's picture

 I think everything has a melting point and concrete is still organic.

Matte_Black's picture

It cracks, and if you keep on going it smolders and burns.