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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Herman Strandschnecke's picture

 By jove, that's it. Spray it with milk.

Raymond K Hassel's picture

Tyler, a response from a military spouse in Japan - in response to ZH posts I've shared  on Facebook - "I am glad that you post this stuff. I get more info from this than I do from any news show or from our Base Commanders Channel!!!" 

penisouraus erecti's picture

Kind of off topic, but how do those TSA airport scanners work? Is the danger from those radiation or x-ray?

Franken_Stein's picture

They use terahertz electromagnetic waves which can be regarded as soft microwave or hard radiowave.

 

The electromagnetic (EM) spectrum:

Sorted from low to high frequency, and thus low to high energy:

 

Radio wave (LW,MW,SW,USW), terahertz wave, microwave, infrared light, visible light, UV, X-ray, gamma radiation, cosmic radiation

 

 

thedrickster's picture

Only a portion use terahertz, the rest use backscatter x-ray.

Bad stuff.

INT's picture

I remember in my university days, the first time I saw this sorting.  I briefly shook off my hangover, long enough to ask Professor Emeritus, "how come I can cook my food with a microwave, but I can't cook it by shining a more energetic flashlight on it?"  He didn't know. 

 

First correct answer wins the prize! ;)

Ident 7777 economy's picture

"how come I can cook my food with a microwave, but I can't cook it by shining a more energetic flashlight on it?"  He didn't know.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

He didn't know about ... The Torch.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsIHyRyETKg

 

 

trav7777's picture

wavelength and dipole length of water molecule.

Next

chump666's picture

crosses under pressure...not libya news (yet)...looks like Japan reactor updates. 

lbrecken's picture

Amen tyler im fed up with these spin doctors...........

oogs66's picture

All the reporters watched too much McGyver growing up so believe anything is possible

Herman Strandschnecke's picture

 They are discussing water pumps at the press conference on HNK.

 Does anyone know what a mouth atomizer is? If you do then think about a large one driven by a jet engine.

Coldfire's picture

An emergency order has been placed... .

What, only now?! This is the face of criminal negligence.

Element's picture

All fodder for the formal inquiry into WTF happened ... one day ...

Aristarchan's picture

It is my understanding that the coolant pumps on reactors #5 and #6 are the same as the ones on the other reactors in that facility, and supposedly those reactors (#5 and #6) are in cold shutdown....steal a few of those pumps and move them over.

gerriek's picture

Goldman Sachs weights in with this BS:

Japan Economy V-Shaped Rebound Hangs on End to Blackouts

(As if this is going to end the two decade deflationary spiral!)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-21/japan-economy-s-v-shaped-reboun...

trav7777's picture

end to blackouts??  ROTFL.  Japan was obviously consuming right near capacity and just lost 5GW worth of power.  WTF are they going to do?  Stand up some more 50 year old nuke plants?

If Japan shut down all their ancient plants, they'd be in the dark.  There is no way out of this anymore; the can can't be kicked.

The world needs to face the music...there is a need for comprehensive addressing of energy issues, and that includes the upside and downside of competing energy production methods.  If that's nuclear, someone has to answer WTF do we do with the waste.  The US has some of the oldest nuclear generation capacity in the world and we STILL have no waste storage site.  Our SFPs are presumably getting more and more full.  We're on borrowed time waiting for our own Fukushima.

And everyone will fingerpoint the ineptitude of the plant operators for being so stupid as to store all those SFRs in that place.  WTF were they supposed to do, take them home as Xmas presents?  Put them in the local landfill?  Fedex them to China?

Perhaps Goldman has economists who believe that you can print up some electricity.  This just shows the irrelevance of firms like GS and the entire financial "industry."  If we shut down all these plants, all their stupid projections and economic theories will all just fall to complete shit.  There is obviously ample demand for electricity in Japan, why hasn't supply just shown up to meet it?

Mark 1 BWRs need to be retired.  40 years' worth of fuel rods should not be colocated with reactors because governments who are a necessary participant in long-term waste solutions REFUSE to do their fucking job.

Ident 7777 economy's picture

+1  Yucca Mountain Repository

 

 

 

backstory: "... approved in 2002 by the United States Congress. In 2009 the Obama Administration stated that the site was no longer an option and proposed to eliminate all funding in the 2009 United States federal budget, prompting inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)."

Thx, O

/sarc

Buck Johnson's picture

I knew this from the start, and it's a shock that the one reactor that is the least damaged and hasn't blown up has major internal damage.  And if the one that looks the least damaged has that much issues with it, as you said what about the ones that blew up and especially unit 3 which went up like a 2,000 pound bomb dropped from a bomber.  In fact it launched debris into the air at least 1500 feet, yea no spent fuel rods or internal instrumentation in any of that wreck.  The sick thing is that even if they get a pump they still have to worry about all the things between the pump and the reactor and vice/versa.  It's going to take weeks as the NY paper said, I don't think those reactors have weeks.  From the black smoke coming from Unit 3, I think soon very soon we are going to see a seriously raging fire from melting metal and concrete and then an explosion.

Oh yea, if the pumps haven't been working and the only water that has been getting put ON THE OUTSIDE of the reactors has been sea water pumped from vehicles how are those reactor cores holding up? 

Wakanda's picture

"After All, when is the last time anyone in modern western civilization actually took responsibility for their own actions?"

Last night I emptied the dishwasher and took full responsibility for it.

Full responsibility - no whining, no blaming, no crying, no passing the buck. 

Hope is not lost, but I gave up believing in "Western Civilization" decades ago.

Element's picture

...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 ...

- Tyler

 

This is what I find so disturbing. I decided that most general populace and media people really don't know enough about what this all implies, to ask really direct questions, and demand a straight answer, and relevant advice.

I also noticed they are cutting off or interrupting people who were trying to explain to them how serious this may become.

It's family viewing after all. Hence the dangerous fluff.

And if they didn't do that Japan would go into panic pretty quick.

Kina's picture

One of the Russian experts managing the Chernobyl disaster made the comment that if the melted fuel rods manged to go through the concrete floor and then through the concrete floor below that into pooled water from the firefighting effort, there would be a massive explosion that would ruin the Ukraine and so on..

 

that was in the later part of that documentary. Anybody watch that and know what he was talking about?

Element's picture

Only if the pressure is contained will you get a big explosion (like No.2 pending).

But even a small blast is enough to separate the fuel (blow it apart) and reduce its proximity self-reaction if it melts.

The real danger is if it just sits there for weeks or months and burns and smokes.

Money Squid's picture

In the documentary the Ruskies were talking about a nuclear blast in the megaton range if a small amount of the core melted throught the bottom of the concrete into the water that filled the rooms below - that water being from the fire fighting efforts and use to cool the core. It was not clear why they thought there would be a nuclear detonation (not a steam explosion). I have previously read that in the 50s or 60s the English proposed that reactor grade fuel could be used to make a nuclear weapon and that the Americans tested this concept and proved that is true and does work. So, I am wondering if the Ruskies believed that a steam explosion could generate a pressure wave that could create a supercritical condition in the nuclear fuel that has melted into a molten blob. Any nuclear weaponers want to chime in?

Byte Me's picture

It won't go off like a nuclear bomb and certainly not like an enhanced fission-fusion 1Mt job. Spend some time with the wiki on atom bomb design as a primer.

It (the damaged core) may slop down and do groovy things with all that saline water - like a steam explosion, but this has probably already happened - think back a week - and TEPCO have been too full of the BS line.

About the only options now are to keep on hosing to keep emissions slaked and reasonably localised. If they can do that they may have a chance to get undamaged SFRs offsite. Beats me why they stop spraying when it 'smokes' -- that's likely when a bit more shit floats over the hinterland.

 

Money Squid's picture

Oh yeah Byte Me.

I have been reading Wikipedia, now and in the past, regarding criticality. Also read some books and what ever else I can get online. I suspect the real details are not available, but according to Wiki and the other stuff I read you can go from subcritical to crital via changes in temperature, pressure, shape, amount or combinations, this is why I was wondering if the Ruskies were worried about the molten fissionable material at the bottom of the reactor/containment may already be in a near critical state then with a massive pressure blast be forced into a configuration where the material becomes supercritical. Or, the Ruskies are just overly dramatic. If you actually know something how about a primer? Or, those who know nothing but want to sound knowledgable fall back on comments like "spend some time on the wiki".

Kina's picture

For Fukushima I gather the real 'black swan' woudl be if a major fire broke out spewing the nastiest of radioactive particles all over Tokyo and the rest of the country.  And there being a very large supply of nuclear material to spread.

 

And it being thus impossible to fight except by kamikaze firefighters.

 

rsnoble's picture

I already knew all this.  Huge surprise.  Something gets blown up and now we can't plug it in and make it work.  No fucking shit morons.

mt paul's picture

roasted swans 

big black ones....

patb's picture

these aren't little pumps like you would use to pump out  abasement or for  afiretruck

 

http://s655.photobucket.com/albums/uu277/nathguy/?action=view&current=hp...

 

 

Stuck on Zero's picture

If this reactor put out four gigawatts of heat energy when full on then when scrammed (shut down) it will put out about 5% of this energy for about thirty days and then slowly taper down from that for years. This is caused by the decay of transuranics etc.  That means it is sitting around generating about 200 megawatts (thermal) in its current state.  The thermal capacity of water is about 4186 joules/Kg-deg C.  If we assume we change the temperature of the cooling water by 50 C that's about 20,000 joules/Kg.  Divide this into the 200 megawatts and we obtain 10,000 Kgs of water per second to cool the reactor.  That's a lot of firehoses.  A typical 3" firehose can spew 600 gpm or 10 gallons per second.  That's just about 40 Kgs/sec. That would imply 250 firehoses at full blast to keep one of the reactors cooled.  If you can maintain a pressure of tens of atmospheres and change the water by 250 degrees C that's only 50 firehoses. 

My point?  These guys have a lot work ahead of them.

trav7777's picture

smoke from 2 & 3 now...somethin is afire.

What Fukushima has taught us is that an inevitable consequence of childlike behavior among a populace demanding more and more power but refusing to accept the construction of new plants is that shit that was obsolete a couple of decades ago has to be given more and more life.

How much longer could FU Daiichi have run before the SFPs were chock full?  THEN WHAT?

WTF happens when all our nuke plant SFPs are full?  The "process" just NIMBYs a more permanent solution, and then the public cries like bitches when an accident happens and oh shit, wtf is all this spent fuel doing here?!?!

We have refused to buy a new car for decades, preferring to run the old one till it dropped.  Well, you can see the fucking road through the floor and here we are all bitching about how unsafe it is.  The lack of safety is as a DIRECT RESULT of childish behavior among the public.

These fucking SFRs wouldn't even BE IN THOSE POOLS in this abundance were it not for the refusal of ANYONE to make an adult decision about this.  But, god no, let's COMPLAIN as well about rolling blackouts and power shortages.  Then complain about how "unsafe" our reactors are, then refuse to remediate that issue, just pretend it doesn't exist.  Pretend we can have power without power plants.

Electricity usage per capita goes up, up, up...more and more iShit to plug in and recharge. 

I am quite certain that if the US did the smart thing and that's SHUT DOWN any and all reactors with Fukushima issues, that there would be near RIOTS over the blackouts which occurred.  And then the next day the SAME people rioting over blackouts would fuckin protest and demonstrate and lay on the train tracks to block the construction of a new power facility of ANY kind.

the Mark 1 BWR is nearly a 60-year old design.  Mark 2, 3, even 4, and other superseding designs have come out since then.  Everone says TEPCO was an idiot for having chock full SFPs...NO.  These SFPs colocated were only intended to TEMPORARILY store fuel rods on a refuel until they cooled and were then presumed to be going to be sent for reprocessing or permanent storage!  There was NEVER supposed to be 4 decades worth of SFRs sitting up in the attic!

But TEPCO was in a dilemma, facing political pressure from government actors who could not suffer the ignominity of having lack of power for anyone, god forbid...and they were also DENIED, as are our NPP operators, ANY type of long-term storage, as was PROMISED at the time of construction!

Here we are, 50 years later and there is STILL no waste repository anywhere.  The rods just pile up and pile up and the government continues to kick the can.  Fukushima is the climax of decades of asinine decisionmaking, inability and failure to confront real compromises, on the part of government and those who elected them.  It was out of sight and out of mind.

Antarctico's picture

These SFPs colocated were only intended to TEMPORARILY store fuel rods on a refuel until they cooled and were then presumed to be going to be sent for reprocessing or permanent storage!  There was NEVER supposed to be 4 decades worth of SFRs sitting up in the attic!

 

An excellent point!

TaxSlave's picture

@Trav...

 

Exactly right.  No waste storage, an no recycling either.  Reality always wins out in the long run.  A people who make it their primary occupation to be professional victims is destined to wind up ... victims.

Lapri's picture

I collected some interesting info from Japanese message boards and blogs about TEPCO's screwups right after the earthquake. Fukushima is such a man-made disaster that could have been prevented or mitigated if only...emergency power generators were housed indoors, for one..

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/03/fukushima-i-nuke-plant-tepco-screw-up...

Lapri's picture

I collected some interesting info from Japanese message boards and blogs about TEPCO's screwups right after the earthquake. Fukushima is such a man-made disaster that could have been prevented or mitigated if only...emergency power generators were housed indoors, for one..

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/03/fukushima-i-nuke-plant-tepco-screw-up...

Miles Kendig's picture

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.

THE observation that is playing out all over the economic & geo-political landscape

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_MG1ZQtc50

DavidJoshimisk's picture

Kind of makes one wonder why tepco couldn't have brought in portable, diesel powered generators a week ago. Something doesn't smell right.

mick_richfield's picture

We're all so freaked out that nobody's any good at extreme crisis management.  Well -- what do we expect?  That there are rooms full of hard-eyed people sitting around discussing how to handle any crisis that can happen, 24/7/365/forever?  Is there a world of -- adults? -- who are waiting to take care of us?

And these intelligent, determined people are -- what? -- waiting for decades at a time, doing nothing but making effective, intelligent plans?

No, they've gone into careers making money however they can.

So when the crisis strikes -- a Hurricane in New Orleans, floods in Australia, a meltdown in Japan -- we start saying "The authorities don't care about common people!"  "Someone did this on purpose!"  This is a kind of whistling past the graveyard.  We want so much to believe that *someone* is wise enough and powerful enough to take care of everything -- to at least be able to affect events like this.  Even if they're evil.  That belief would still be preferable to thinking that our species is just -- powerless sometimes.

Do you think those mythical wise, tough, and beneficent people are right now preparing their plans for what to do if there is a major bioweapon accident?  A Carrington event?

In the case of nuclear generation, what we need is for some of those hard-eyed people to see a chance to make big money by fixing situations like this, and getting it done *before* thousands are sickened and vast swaths of land are poisoned.  How many reactors does this planet have that are forty years old?  How many more times will this happen?

Red Adair -- we need you, buddy.  Come back to us, with robots, remotes, and radiation armor.  You can charge two hundred grand an hour.  You can do real well while doing a lot of good.

 

And, by the way --- Fed delenda est.