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Fukushima Deteriorates Again As Steam Now Rising From Reactor 1 For First Time, Including All Other Reactors; Reactor 5 Cooling Fails

Tyler Durden's picture




 

Not an hour passes without something material developing in Fukushima. Just out from NHK: all four broken reactors are now smoking. While 2, 3 and 4 have all issued smoke or steam at some point in the past, it is now Reactor 1's turn. From NHK: "An NHK helicopter crew has confirmed what appears to be steam rising from No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactor buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This is the first time that steam has been seen coming out of the No.1 reactor. The helicopter crew was filming from a location more than 30 kilometers from the plant shortly before 7:00 AM on Thursday." It was not all bad news: "The Tokyo Electric Power Company says that black smoke seen rising from the No.3 reactor building on Wednesday was no longer visible as of 6:00 AM Thursday." It is unclear if the radiation level had dropped enough to where workers could resume their attempt to reactive the cooling stations at Fukushima.

And more bad news, this time from Reactor 5, which was previously considered safe, via the NYT:

The cooling system at Reactor No. 5, which was shut down at the time
of the earthquake and has shown few problems since, also abruptly
stopped working on Wednesday afternoon, said Hiro Hasegawa, a spokesman
for Tokyo Electric....“When we switched from the temporary pump, it automatically switched
off
,” he said. “We’ll try again with a new pump in the morning.”

In the meantime, the Nikkei continues to once again diverge from the utter lunacy that is the US stock market.

h/t Donald

 

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Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:49 | 1093276 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

NOT a good sign ...

 

Screen grab of Reactor #1 only off NHK an hour or two ago:

http://oi56.tinypic.com/x4iqzd.jpg

 

Reactor buildings 1-3 side profile off NHK earlier:

http://oi54.tinypic.com/slteo7.jpg

 

Rx #2 left, #3 center (behind vert stack), #4 left -

2 and 4 can be seen to have smoke:

http://oi56.tinypic.com/1hebo0.jpg

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:51 | 1093367 SparkyvonBellagio
SparkyvonBellagio's picture

Dear Japanese,

 

PHHHHHUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKING RUNNNNNNNN!!!!

 

FLY/SWIM/SAIL/FLAP YOUR ARMS GET THE HELL OFF THE "ROCK".

 

 

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:00 | 1093400 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Could someone explain I guess worst case scenario? MOX was used in reactor three. At least four reactors, and now maybe a fifth, have a threat of meltdown.

I've read the description of 100x worse than Chernobyl.

I've seen the, Swedish was it, statement on the entire Northern Hemisphere threatened. I know Wa state has detected cesium.

Obviously Japan is fucked.

But what else happens? I've seen the mentions about heavier elements dropping out as distance increases. Sounds good.

Then you contrast it with the French spread animation and the thing about the Northern hemisphere, and both are contradictory.

I have relatives in Ca who just had a baby. I have a niece in New Mexico.

Obviously the government is not going to tell anyone to get the fuck out because they have an exponentially increasing threat of death. A horrible death at that.

And clearly this is still early days. Gundersen claimed the reactors would need venting daily for at leats a year.

Plus I'm not even into build up in soil and water and this summer/fall us crops let alone next year or the year after.

Anyone willing to run through worst case scenario then back it down to where we are today?

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:03 | 1093415 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

convert to Zionism,  cockroaches are immune

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:52 | 1093651 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Ok, now that was fucking funny.

Tou-motherfucking-che.

I am Chumbawamba.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:15 | 1093720 Michael
Michael's picture

That 70's Show:Cockroach, Foot, Nuclear Bomb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gekp_Eh3QyU

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 08:43 | 1094573 Chumbadumba
Chumbadumba's picture

LOLOLOL!!

I AM CHUMBADUMBA!

LOLOLOL!!

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:07 | 1093442 rookie
rookie's picture

thank you.  this is exactly my question.  could someone please explain the worst scenario?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:19 | 1093500 prophet
prophet's picture

From what I have gathered, fire poses the most risk for widespread contamination.  Even so, a 50 mile dead zone in that part of Japan and tainted ocean waters are pretty bad.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:34 | 1093576 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

prophet

"From what I have gathered, fire poses the most risk for widespread contamination."

Ok, expand on that please.

Like I said Cesium in Wa, something in Iceland and Colorado, French animation.

But what spreads? I doubt that the heavier atoms will drop out significantly as distance increases, as some have claimed.

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:35 | 1093774 Mark McGoldrick
Mark McGoldrick's picture

.......could someone please explain the worst scenario?....

Worst case scenario?  

Radioactive isotopes cross the Pacific, fucks up the signal from DirecTV, and forces endless reruns of The Jeffersons andThe Cosby Show on Trav777's television.  

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:41 | 1093810 trav7777
trav7777's picture

loved the cosby show...fantasy programming is great if you just suspend your disbelief far enough

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:57 | 1093854 Mark McGoldrick
Mark McGoldrick's picture

Actually, I've thought of a scenario worse than the one above:

In one particular episode, Mr Jefferson sells his dry cleaners and moves to a two story penthouse, one block away from Central Park. In a fit of rage that a black man would actually accomplish anything, Trav777 hurls the television out the window of his trailer.  It hits his wife who is fixing the carburetor on the family El Camino in the front yard.  She dies, and leaves Trav777 as the sole parent of their two kids.  

Now, here's the worst part of this scenario:  Two more kids are raised to believe that skin color factors in the value of a person.    

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 02:29 | 1094079 MSimon
MSimon's picture

The US is probably not in much danger. 8,000 miles is a long way for particulates to travel. Rain and dispersion will reduce the particulate load considerably.

 

We can measure radiation at levels a LOT lower than are dangerous.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_hormesis

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:21 | 1094261 Mentaliusanything
Mentaliusanything's picture

The rain in Fukushima falls mainly on the plain called the Pacific ocean.

The World largest containment vessel and food bowl combined.

Fishy you eat like smaller fishy who eat smaller fishy who eat small shrimp who eat krill who eat plankton that will fucken kill you with concentration by the time you eat your fishy. 8,000 miles of escalation will make sure of that. 

Wheres the EPA when ya need 'em - brought and paid for I hear

What a complete fuck up.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:09 | 1093703 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

rookie,

The truth is that no one really knows the worst case scenario.

I spent some time on physicsforums, where most of the members have backgrounds and many have advanced degrees in the hard sciences, and they admit there are too many variables that are unknown, such as exactly how much spent fuel was being stored at Fukushima Daiichi at the time it lost power, and the degree of faultiness/defectiveness of the containment vessels (see Bloomberg & ZH articles).

In fact, I went there to just get a feel for 'worst case scenario' as you have asked about, but there wasn't a lot of certainty.

The problem with radioactive releases of materials into the air, water, food chain and soil is that with some of the particular radioactive materials involved, the half-lives are rather long, and the radioactivity can be concentrated via certain methods and at certain points.

I do believe this is why the water supply is such a huge issue.

As of now, high levels of radiation are officially in Tokyo's municipal water supply, and with these reactors discharging more radiation into the water table and the air by the hour, no one knows how high these levels will get, but there is consensus they'll head much higher than where they are now.

Another interesting and scary fact is that the entombment or sarcophagus method of sealing the reactors, which is where it looks like the Japanese will have to resort to, is a monumental task. Chernobyl was one reactor where much of the radioactive material was shot into the upper atmosphere via an explosion in one event - Fukushima has 6 reactors, a lot more spent fuel than Chernobyl did, and the radioactive material remains on site, seeping into the water table, air, ocean and soil.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:57 | 1093864 dick cheneys ghost
dick cheneys ghost's picture

A video of the clean up efforts in Japan....

 

http://nakedempire2.blogspot.com/

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 04:47 | 1094186 Pondmaster
Pondmaster's picture

Wormwood !

 

"And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." (Revelation 8:10, 11 - KJB)

The star does not have to be a literal star . There you have it . mention of the "fountains of water " . hmmm , the earths aguafiers ? Study on these my friends . How are the aguafiers connected . Just sayin .

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 08:36 | 1094542 Commander Cody
Commander Cody's picture

So, you're saying I shouldn't drink absinthe?

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:24 | 1094266 fallingman
fallingman's picture

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:10 | 1094250 Mentaliusanything
Mentaliusanything's picture

Hey Rookie, the worst case scenerio is not written yet.

But if they continue to dick around - well - Its going to affect not only you but every person on the planet.

Sorry but thats the truth and there is no stuffing this genie back from whence it came.

Just remember - Shit doesn't "Just happen" - it is always caused by Assholes

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:19 | 1093485 RichardP
RichardP's picture

From the comments over the last several weeks, worst-case for U.S. would be if the core melted through the bottom of the container, through the earth, and down to the water table.  Hitting the water table would create an explosion large enough to send radioactive particles up into the jet stream.  Theoretically, that could bring radiation problems to the U.S.

Absent a meltdown to the water table, just a lot of problems locally - depending on which way the wind blows and whether they can keep putting water on the hot-spots.

Other than that, the specifics of possibles scenarios have been laid out in a good bit of detail in posts over the past week or so.  Not likely anybody is going to restate all of that here just to save you from searching on a few key words.  Not trying to be nasty.  Just realistic.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:28 | 1093540 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

RichardP

"Other than that, the specifics of possibles scenarios have been laid out in a good bit of detail in posts over the past week or so"

Not really. I have read all the various posts here and every other site I could find. I've followed the discussions about each post.

Sure there may be a few suggestions but not much on what happens to we here in the US.

"Hitting the water table would create an explosion large enough to send radioactive particles up into the jet stream.  Theoretically, that could bring radiation problems to the U.S."

That was the closest to specific I have seen.

To me that is merely a decent starting point.

Because really all you said was "Boom, then bad shit falls from the skies".

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:42 | 1093613 holdbuysell
holdbuysell's picture

Check out the Wikipedia links below. These entries contain references that will allow you to dig in further.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Syndrome

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_meltdown

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:11 | 1093707 RichardP
RichardP's picture

To be fair, I've been following the goodly number of links posted in all of the comments.  At some point, it all starts to blur together.  Perhaps the more specific parts were in links and not comments.

"Problem radiation" depends on type (radioactive iodine vs. cesium; plutonium vs. not plutonium, etc.), amount (few particles vs. many particles), and length of exposure.  Difficult to predict any of these if meltdown reaches water table and explodes into jet stream.  Conventional wisdom is that the great distance to the U.S. will dilute the many particles into few.  What types of particles will fall, where they will fall, what the half-life of the particular type of particle is, etc., is not possible to predict at the moment.  Conventional wisdom is that it won't be a health issue.  They point to the nuclear bombs that were detonated over Japan where radiation got into the jet stream.  No effect on U.S. to speak of.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 03:34 | 1094144 thegr8whorebabylon
thegr8whorebabylon's picture

Dear Gully, after bad shit falls from the sky, go read Neville Shute.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:29 | 1094270 Mentaliusanything
Mentaliusanything's picture

specifically "on the Beach" (1957)

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:24 | 1093530 westboundnup
westboundnup's picture

I'm not the one to address the worst case scenario, but I make this prediction, they will never entomb the reactors in concrete.  It would require at least an additional 300 people to knowingly forfeit their lives.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:31 | 1093554 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

westboundnup

Then what other choices do they have?

The other big question is how the fuck does this effect virtually everything imported from Japan including electronics and cars? It strike me that prices will skyrocket on shit like computers and cell phones.

Later on will we need a geiger count before buying a Nissan or Honda to check radiation levels.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:15 | 1093717 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Japanese production transferred to South Korea.  Invest there.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:26 | 1093753 Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

I just replaced my five year old laptop with a new Toshiba... just in time.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:53 | 1094007 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

LMAO, there's no such thing as a "five year old laptop"

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:57 | 1094022 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Thinkpad (IBM, true Thinkpad, not Lenovo crap), for the win!

I have a new Sandy Bridge notebook, but prefer my Thinkpad because of the build quality and superb keyboard.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 07:45 | 1094390 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

motherfucking show me the carfax on that glowing honda

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:57 | 1093664 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

I hope we would all be brave enough to make that sacrifice if it was our own home, family, community, and country that was at stake.

I make this prediction: they'll easily find the 300 people (and more).

I am Chumbawamba.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 04:51 | 1094187 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Next month, or next year?

They are looking at "valuable power assets".

(The carpet store is on fire, but the owner is busy trying to pull his stock on the boardwalk).

Never mind that funny smoke : we are in business...

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 04:53 | 1094193 Pondmaster
Pondmaster's picture

300 volunteers for death ?

Agree 100% . These folk are the REAL heroes , a rarity nowadays . Kinda like our heroes in Washington and at the Fed ? NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The USA has no heroes like Japan .

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 11:15 | 1095310 viahj
viahj's picture

ever hear of a fire fighter, jerkwad?

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:30 | 1094269 mogul rider
mogul rider's picture

+100 when the chips are down the Japanese are real tough mother fuckers. Ask the poor bastards that tried to get them out of Iwojima.Thousands would consider it an honor. They'd ahve to resort to short sticks.

 

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 07:47 | 1094398 johnQpublic
johnQpublic's picture

it took 800,000 'voluteers' to bury chernobyl

 

300, prolly no problem to get voluteers

800k is a whole different story

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 05:22 | 1094217 Daphneisfedup
Daphneisfedup's picture

I've also wondered about the possibility of entombment.  At Chernobyl the "bio-robots" sent to the roof to chuck off the superradioactive graphite were only up there about 2 minutes each, but still a fair number of them died.

Fukushima has 4 reactors and counting in trouble, and a lot more used fuel to throw off radiation.  What if the radiation gets so bad that people die right there on the grounds within a couple of minutes?  I don't know if that is possible, but if so, I don't think there is anything anyone could do for years.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:49 | 1093644 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

This will be a rather free form comment, not trying to quantify things but to delineate the whole 'scenario' concept for folks.  Well, some ballpark quantification.

There are two kinds of problem here--core containment and waste pools.  But in the end it's all fissile material that has been brought together for one purpose: to boil water.  That is, to get hot.  But not too hot.

The balance of how refined the uranium or MOX is, versus how much moderation is introduced by water or control rods or simple spacing between fuel rods, sets up the initial conditions.  The major variable is the water.

Once cooling is lost the rods start to heat up past their intended temperatures.  They also release direct radiation and radioactive substances which the water would have shielded.  This is true even with a full stop to the active chain reaction (control rods in the core, or spacing/boron moderator racks in the waste pools).  If cooling cannot be restored, the rods get to a temperature where the 'cladding' or protective layer starts to burn (oxidize).  This is already releasing more radioactive stuff, but it also creates another heating force.  Then, eventually, the fuel itself melts.  It can in certain circumstances reach criticality again, too, where the emitted particles from fission hit enough nearby uranium/plutonium atoms to split them, and that then forms yet a third source of heat.  I for one don't think this recriticality is all that likely here, but you don't need an active chain reaction for the heat to destroy the containment systems.  All you need is loss of cooling, and time. 

So for the cores, the real problems start when the series of multiple/redundant containment systems fails.  Note that this can be partial or total failure.  The simplest, and worst, case would be a full meltdown in which the fuel rods heat up, melt, and become a lava-like molten mass that eventually melts through the containment systems.  This is what started to occur at Three Mile Island; it didn't happen because the melted fuel was uneven, hit a lot of debris at the bottom of the containment vessel, and created hot spots but none hot enough long enough to cause vessel failure.

If one or more core loads did exit containment, one would then speculate about what would happen next.  Maybe it just falls splat on the building floor, spreads out enough to cool a bit, and that's it, just naked uranium/plutonium and associated fission byproducts at high temperature in the reactor building.  A lot of vapor, maybe some particulate, definitely some steam. 

The big steam explosion, really a radioactive geyser, is the ultimate fear for core containment loss.  That would be a big enough amount of water (from all the dousing for example) or the water table under the building.  Then you get a much higher, much more contaminated release of material and farther and worse contamination.  Having said that, it wouldn't last as long as the Chernobyl event and would probably involve a much smaller fraction of fine particulate matter, i.e. soot.  On the other hand if it's really worst case, everyone flees the first meltdown and you lose other cores/pools.

OK so the pools.  Everyone's big fear here (within the Moonbat Truth Brigade as it were) is a 'dirty fire' in the waste pools.  That would involve extended burning of the fuel rod cladding, or mixed debris and fuel rods, and could be a more Chernobyl-type release.  Depending on a lot of things, it could be hard to get such a fire out.  I have to say that I am not aware of such a fire ever occurring in reality.  It might even be impossible.  But the damage to the buildings is such that we have no idea of the condition of the pools, the possible scattering or piling up of rods, etc.  So a perfect arrangement of rods may just be waiting for a long enough loss of cooling water.  Most likely would be an off-and-on, sputtering affair with a big black smoke plume but not a giant intense blaze/smoke column like, say, a refinery fire. 

Anything involving a fuel rod fire is bad, because it's less steam and more particulate matter.  That implies more long range transport of heavier/larger particles.  Plus, all the rods that are not MOX have something like 1%+ plutonium in them anyway.

So, having said all this nasty stuff, the chances of a serious health risk to the US are still very remote.  I have an 18 month old and a 3 year old.  I do not think that even in a worst case scenario, anything will happen to them.

Chernobyl twitched the needles on the radiation detectors in the Midwest.  I remember going in to the physics building on campus to see it move up when it rained.  Merely a curiosity and a reminder that we are all connected.

Keep an eye on this site because if you do have a long, large, smoky event there or any core steam explosions you will most certainly hear about it. 

Things can, sadly, end up worse than the worst case.  Another quake, a crash of a support aircraft, or just a bolt failing can trigger a series of events that take us someplace new.  But this is a Japanese crisis.  The impacts on Japan could (pray not) be truly awful, much worse than we've yet seen.  Or it could all get cooled down, not break any more, and just be about what you see now.

More on specific types of radioactive material, 'ultimate release potential' at the site, and plumes/transport if you want to hear it.  But this is the main set of factors that determine if you should even start to worry.  So far, I am not.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:05 | 1093684 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Thanks for the informative post, Jim.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:10 | 1093708 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

Really superb summary, Jim.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:33 | 1093775 D.M.
D.M.'s picture

Kudos

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:40 | 1093802 davepowers
davepowers's picture

yes, thanks

do you have some interweb thing where you could post these for reference purposes?

given this format, lots of informative postings are lost in the mass of prior pages and postings.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:53 | 1093844 RichardP
RichardP's picture

If you see something that is useful to you, copy and paste it to a text file or word document.  Get only the really useful stuff and put a line between postings so you know where one stops and the next starts (how to calculate dosages, etc.).  Do the same for links you find useful.  Keep the links at the top and the narrative stuff beneath that.  I've been doing that in case radiation problems end up getting serious on the west coast.  Then I won't have to go search through all the posts to re-educate myself.  I have all the important stuff in one spot for review.  It could be important.  If it ends up not being needed, it will be easy to delete that one file.

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:21 | 1093940 Triggernometry
Triggernometry's picture

Another personal archiver, interesting. Don't forget to cite the source of data, in the event you later find any particular source to be compromised; helps to be able to track such things.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 02:34 | 1094082 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

File,save page as, works a charm in firefox. Once you've got a copy of the webpage saved locally to you harddrive, you can print it as a pdf or edit it with an html editor, even microsloth word will let you edit html.

Works great for saving recipes as well as porn(survival porn, financial porn or sexually provocative porn)

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 03:28 | 1094141 RichardP
RichardP's picture

Yes, but:  on any give (long) page, there may be just a few kernals of actual wisdom, or only one link of any merit.  By copying only what you consider relevant to a text or word file, you end up with a concise list of relevant stuff.  If you have a bunch of saved pages, you end up needing to wade through a bunch of crap to find the nuggets of good info.  I'm doing this only in case I need to re-educate myself in an emergency.  I sure don't want to have to be reading through saved pages of irrelevant stuff in an emergecy.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 12:47 | 1095712 davepowers
davepowers's picture

great idea if one is willing to put in the time

but it's still primarily a resource personal to the compiler

if, say, Jim's stuff were posted elsewhere, then it would allow you to direct other people to it. They're not going to wade thru your personal compilation, which will include things in which they aren't interested and, unless you put in a lot of time to keep it organized, won't be polished or readable.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:01 | 1093872 avonaltendorf
avonaltendorf's picture

archived here, until and unless Jim tells me to take it down
http://oilgeology.blogspot.com/2011/03/jims-summary-of-fukushima-problem...

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:52 | 1093835 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Nice post...

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:55 | 1094015 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Short bit of reference on spent fuel rod fire/releases:

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

"The Consequence of Cesium-137 Release

A 400 t PWR pool holds about 10 times more long-lived radioactivity than a reactor core. A radioactive release from such a pool would cause catastrophic consequences. One major concern is the fission product cesium-137 (Cs-137), which made a major contribution (about three quarters) to the long-term radiological impact of the 1986 Chernobyl accident. A spent fuel pool would contain tens of million curies of Cs-137. Cs-137 has a 30 year half-life; it is relatively volatile and a potent land contaminant. In comparison, the April 1986 Chernobyl accident released about 2 Mega Curies (MCi) Cs-137 into the atmosphere from the core of the 1,000 MWe unit 4. It is estimated that over 100,000 residents were permanently evacuated because of contamination by Cs-137.The total area of the radiation-control zone is about 10,000 km², in which the contamination level is greater than 15 Ci/km² of Cs-137. [6]

A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel. To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7] Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl). Thus, it is necessary to take security measures to prevent such an event from happening."

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 05:12 | 1094206 Herman Strandsc...
Herman Strandschnecke's picture

 Hi Jim, Do you know anything about Koy Carp?

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 08:19 | 1094492 rookie
rookie's picture

Jim, Thank you very much.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 01:43 | 1093987 barliman
barliman's picture

 

The reactor site at Fukushima is similar to the situation at the Fernald plant site northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio (i.e. multiple structures are contaminated, all existing equipment is contaminated, groundwater and aquifer contamination, etc, etc, etc).

Brief description on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernald_Feed_Materials_Production_Center

Watching how effectively the story is disappearing from the media ... we have lent the Japanese government a wide selection of "technical experts" that are proving very helpful.

Making 350 square miles "invisible" in the U.S. - no problem

Losing 350 square miles PERMANENTLY in Japan - BIGGER problem

 

barliman

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 09:55 | 1094865 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

The site [Fernald] is permanently unfit for human habitation, according to federal scientists, and "will have to be closely monitored essentially forever."[

In the end, Fukushima will be even worse off.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 02:00 | 1094035 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

There isn't going to be any worst case scenario; the only heat sources for any of the fuel elements are residual in nature and decaying exponentially. It's way too late now to be worried about melting metals; nothing is going to melt now; everything is at comfortable saturaated steam temperatures; even the used fuel elements can not longer melt or burn; then can now air cool. Basically, there's not much useful to be done; just waiting; t he cooling continues; time is on our side; nothing exciting is going to happen. You will find this assessment to have been correct when you reference it next month. I'm not going to discuss anything with people lwho enjoy being hysterical; for the sane people in the audience, this show is basically wrapped up now; with few to no radiation casualties.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 07:45 | 1094388 taraxias
taraxias's picture

What a tool.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 02:26 | 1094077 blindman
blindman's picture

if ....

the fission products and contamination spread further,

more and more space in japan will become desolate,  due

to concern for viable futurity.........

reducing the viability/necessity of other energy generation

plants, many,  simultaneously rendering them, perhaps, in need of

closure and remediation.  might just be the best thing, the worst case

scenario.   hmm.  or fate.?  being what it is at the nexus of multiple

tectonic plates.  the worst case scenario is purely individually determined

so there are millions of those,  mostly unknown. ?  many already determined.

or history to be told, currently nearly felt, accurately and keenly, but locally.

the fallout is global but over time extended and dismal.

link.....

Wednesday March 23 12:00pm   1 hour Unknown

 http://archive.wbai.org/

hit play. 

stay strong

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 07:02 | 1094308 uhb
uhb's picture

Worst Case: northern half of island honshu is phvcked.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:59 | 1093861 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture
We Are Not Able To Measure The Amount Of Radiation Coming From Fukushima Nuclear Plant

 

You can click the link above for the video.

Not exactly reassuring.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:27 | 1093279 T1000
T1000's picture

Well at least they have it under control. Thank God. /sarc

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:30 | 1093285 Sophist Economicus
Sophist Economicus's picture

SNOKIN',  Bitchez!

 

EDIT: AWW POOP!, First time I ever saw Tyler change a typo in the text...joke is dead...

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:52 | 1093372 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

First time I ever saw Tyler change a typo in the text...

 

That's like seeing Yeti or some ####.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:28 | 1093286 salimmk
salimmk's picture

/sarcasm on

 

The steam is used to drive the turbine, this is good news...

 

/sarcasm off

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:40 | 1093297 T1000
T1000's picture

Yes sir, it's just an old-fashioned barbecue! 

 

Many bothans died to bring us this information


Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:29 | 1093287 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Well it´s daytime there in Japan so we will likely get more news as it breaks.

.gov of Japan should be taking names of the Fukushima Fifty for a monument in their honer.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:50 | 1093363 Idiot Savant
Idiot Savant's picture

Edit: Fukushima Fifty Thousand

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:23 | 1093738 MoneyPowerWomen
MoneyPowerWomen's picture

there were 800,000 volunteers who fixed chernobyl

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:30 | 1093763 US Uncut
US Uncut's picture

Volunteers? Most or many were ordered. Not all volunteers.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:50 | 1093369 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Golly gee sure, let's coverup the known safety failures and when the place irradiates half the country, we elites and .gov locusts will be well on our way to Austrailia - say, here's a monument for you brave, brave men. So sorry about your luck!

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:31 | 1093292 i_dont_see_no_bubble
i_dont_see_no_bubble's picture

you know the saying... where there is smoke, there are liars.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:36 | 1093302 riffraffy
riffraffy's picture

Ok, that was kinda clever...

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:32 | 1093293 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

ahhh, number 1 is back int he news. The same number one that was suposed to outrun it's useful life the day after tomorrow (26/3) but just in Feb. was granted a 10 year extension.

After passign some stringent safety checks, I'm sure.

All well. Just some smoke. No fire. Yet.

ORI

http://aadivaahan.wordpress.com

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:31 | 1093295 tmosley
tmosley's picture

I wonder if Trav can keep his collectivist ass from spouting inane comments about black people in this thread?

Here's hoping.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:41 | 1093602 trav7777
trav7777's picture

I don't like it that they are the only group that seems to loot and that they don't appear capable of abiding by civilized standards of behavior, either.

I wish your fantasy world was real...but it ain't.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:53 | 1094287 Weimar Ben Bernanke
Weimar Ben Bernanke's picture

hey Trav I'm black and I have to say that you cannot just judge a man's character based on his skin color. I'm a podiatric medicine major and doing very well in college. There are many blacks who are in college. I know this is probably hard for you to believe and pissing you off. Yes there is ingnorant folks in the community that sag there pants,wear durags and do dumb shit. But there ingnorance in all races. Judege a man by his character not his skin tone. Do not generalize that every black man is like that I for am not. So open you narrow world view,there are succesful black people out there. But I guess you watch too much Cops to realize that.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:38 | 1093797 PhattyBuoy
PhattyBuoy's picture

lol - what a douche !

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:34 | 1093300 LostWages
LostWages's picture

It must be bad....Nikkei down .2%. 

Those poor people in Japan....get the hell out of there if you can. 

For those who think there will be no economic affect on the US, tell that to the Toyota workers (here in US) who were told today to expect layoffs until supply issues are resolved.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:35 | 1093301 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Trav7777: "This isn't Chernobyl! Will everyone please stop saying apocalypse not including me! I'm SURROUNDED by deluded moonbats! Everyone except me has LOST their grip on reality! STOP saying apocalypse! Everything is under control! WHY do I have to put some words in CAPS!"

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:48 | 1093360 melachiro
melachiro's picture

But, but, but I thought Trav777 was a peak oil apocolyptian?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:38 | 1093594 trav7777
trav7777's picture

hardly...but when you say "peak oil," people with shit tsunami brains think you mean apocalypse because they browsed LATOC or something

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:05 | 1093683 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

Somebody ought to shove a dozen spent fuel MOX rods up your @55 and lock you up inside a anti-rad container with your JPMorgan/Rockefeller/Rotschild masters.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:46 | 1093820 trav7777
trav7777's picture

why are you so antisemitic?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:34 | 1093304 AZSovreign
AZSovreign's picture

Maybe it's just because they got water flowing again creating steam from the overly hot rods?? I don't really know ,and i'm just trying to lean towards the positive outcome.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:39 | 1093318 Battleaxe
Battleaxe's picture

You got to ACCENtuate the positive

ELIMinate the negative and

LATCH ON to the affirmative

Don't mess with mister in-between

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:11 | 1093448 samsara
samsara's picture

ha ha ha, 

Had the same thought, posted it above. Didn't see yours....

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:37 | 1093308 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Neutron beams and all. That place is the next Ghost hunters paradise. Check out this article for giggles.News.com.au the Satellite dishes. Oh and hit the Guy saving Goannas in Cairns.com.au Looks more like a Komodo Dragon to me. North we Go. The land of really big shit.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:55 | 1093392 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Who is the wothless Jerk Off that pops a boner every time I post? I'm 7000 miles over seas and posted 4 days ago. Is it a fettish you pussy?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:14 | 1093468 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

I junked your ass, first time though, mainly for the links you provided. WTF?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:26 | 1093514 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Having Fun In Cairns before we fly over the Sea of Carpenteria to Singapore. and Hong Kong. It's the end of the rainie-Y season. It's 5hours if you do it from the West coast. In off daylights savings. Then it goes 7. Only Sydney and Canberra, Brisbane change. The Far north stays the same. Thanks for being truthful.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:40 | 1093601 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

Party on Yen Cross

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:55 | 1093659 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Thanks, but We are grounded. All of the cyclones come in this way. We are trying to avoid the Med. Stuck again. You are more than wecome to travel with us any time! You will get pissed at times. The tropics are nasty.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:38 | 1093309 JonTurk
JonTurk's picture

if they keep on repairing its gonna go down in fumes..

by the way if Im not wrong Jap govt announced last week that they could buy equity/index ETFs "if situation warranted"; so it seems like "fresh" fiat money is actively on the bid in stock market -- call it delusional divergence

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:36 | 1093310 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

I for one am looking forward to glowing in the dark. No more night-lights for me!

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:38 | 1093315 chump666
chump666's picture

concrete fill pending...market will see this as a full blown meltdown.  major sell on this.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:39 | 1093316 gwar5
gwar5's picture

No fucking way! It's time to fight fire with fire. Just nuke it.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:45 | 1093341 chump666
chump666's picture

hahaha...that was quite funny.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:39 | 1093319 thecakeisalie
thecakeisalie's picture

All is well. Do not panic.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:49 | 1093356 Selah
Selah's picture

 

Panic now... avoid the rush!

I panicked back in 2007 and I still wish that I had listened to the "nut-jobs" back in 2001.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:43 | 1093328 Trimmed Hedge
Trimmed Hedge's picture

What a nightmare. That's all I have to say at this time.  : (

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:41 | 1093329 Mae Kadoodie
Mae Kadoodie's picture

It's not steam, it's vapor.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:44 | 1093336 Battleaxe
Battleaxe's picture

Locusts

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:53 | 1093384 melachiro
melachiro's picture

Finally, thank you!  Vapor is visible, steam is not.

Pedantic moment off/

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:41 | 1093330 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

Can be read a few ways.....but you do not get steam without water (assuming it is steam and not a zirconium burn)...and water in these circumstances, is a good thing.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:09 | 1093440 samsara
samsara's picture

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:35 | 1093579 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

I like to throw in both and eliminate the mush-wit middle.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:42 | 1093333 alien-IQ
alien-IQ's picture

no doubt this will be just the news that was needed to send the futures and Euro soaring and the dollar into freefall.

If ever any of these reactors go into full meltdown mode...we're gonna have a 1000 point DOW rally on our hands.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:48 | 1093354 chump666
chump666's picture

the only meltup will be the YEN, stocks will sell hard if a full blown nuke meltdown occurs.  there has been YEN selling all (Asian) morning, means that BoJ and japan government plus the loonies from the ECB/other CB's are reading for a major YEN buyup.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:07 | 1093445 DoctoRx
DoctoRx's picture

Let by the oils and solars.

Leo? 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:44 | 1093337 chump666
chump666's picture

pre-empt meltup on the YEN...check your charts!

it's on.  selling on rallies (asia)

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:44 | 1093338 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

So, as mentioned the past couple of days, here is the Defense Ministry bouncing an IR scan off the rubble (at dawn) and saying everything is, well, cool....

Less than 60degrees Celsius at plant fuel pools

Japan's Defense Ministry says that the temperature of spent fuel rod pools in 2 reactors of a seriously damaged nuclear plant has fallen below 60 degrees Celsius.

The Ministry has been using helicopters to take infrared surveys of the surface temperatures of facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant since Saturday.

The 3rd survey was done for half an hour from around 9 AM on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry, the surface temperature of the spent fuel rod pool at the No. 3 reactor was 57 degrees Celsius. The rod pool at the No. 4 reactor was recorded at 22 degrees Celsius.

The first infrared survey on Sunday found temperatures under 100 degrees Celsius in the same facilities.

The surface temperature of the container vessel for the No. 3 reactor was 35 degrees Celsius, down from128 degrees on Sunday.

The surface temperatures of the buildings of all 6 reactors at the plant were below 40 degrees Celsius.

The Defense Ministry says the effort to cool the spent nuclear fuel rod pools contributed to the temperature falls.

It was revealed on Wednesday that the temperature of the core in the No. 1 reactor had reached about 400 degrees Celsius. The ministry says the surface temperature of the building housing the reactor was 38 degrees on Wednesday, as observed by aerial survey.

Thursday, March 24, 2011 03:01 +0900 (JST)

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:48 | 1093635 trav7777
trav7777's picture

ALL LIES and misinformation and spin!!!!

It must be!!!!

Any non-apocalyptic news is ALL LIES.  The absence of news is ALL LIES.

Water just can't cool reactors!  Nuclear explosion, MOX, Plutonium, uninhabitable wasteland!!!!!!!!11

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:58 | 1093669 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

I hear what you're almost saying, but the last time they said it was all good at least one core was over 400 degrees C. 

The cores (and maybe the pools) can, at any rate, go from nicely cool in water to hot enough to melt in a few hours or less, if the cooling stops. 

So you see it is all stop-gap.

I wish it were away-wishable, as it were.  Believe me.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:48 | 1093828 trav7777
trav7777's picture

I've watched live when they said what they said and at NO point did anyone say everything was fine.  Ever.

Then you see on ZH where they post the facts and add the sarcastic "but I'm sure everything is just fine," and the zheeple just start hysterificating.  Nobody ever said anything was fine or under control.

The headlines here are leading and the authors know the readership have binary brains that slosh uncontrollably.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 02:54 | 1094113 MSimon
MSimon's picture

The mighty and great Chu said thigs are fine or soon will be around the 21st.

 

http://powerandcontrol.blogspot.com/2011/03/worst-of-nuclear-crisis-is-o...

 

Lots of "officials" spouting "nearly and soon under control".

 

 

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:49 | 1093829 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

236 vs 238? Play nice.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:49 | 1093639 medicalstudent
medicalstudent's picture

thanks.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:59 | 1093863 Antarctico
Antarctico's picture

Direct link to the source of the report (NHK World):

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/24_05.html

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 03:04 | 1094124 Eddie Stobart
Eddie Stobart's picture

Blasphemy. Persecute the non-believer. Rationality has no place here.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 05:38 | 1094227 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Should I understand that nobody will sandbags the plant, and that all the on-site radiations particules will be spread by the wind and the rain?

That should than normally be followed by an at least 6 months site clean up. Nobody will be irradiated, because everything out there will suddently become so cool, safe, and chill...

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:45 | 1093346 WTFisThat
WTFisThat's picture

Well, I hope they know WTF has to be done. Gold rules biach!

 

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:54 | 1093375 SparkyvonBellagio
SparkyvonBellagio's picture

PURE GOLD ATTRACTS RADIATION

 

It's like a MAGNET TO THE STUFF.

 

 

TUNGSTEN GOLD DOESN'T .... All Hail B, All Hail B.

 

 

lol

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:45 | 1093347 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture

Should we start calling Bernankes edifice a nuclear powered printing press?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:49 | 1093366 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

If that is true, is it safe to handle Fiat right now, WB?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:16 | 1093486 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Ink costs would be ruduced. Just please no plastic water marked 20's.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:48 | 1093352 PY-129-20
PY-129-20's picture

"It is a story of love and loss, brotherhood and betrayal, courage and sacrifice and the death of dreams. It is the story of the blurred line between our best and our worst.

It is the story of the end of an age. A strange thing about stories -
Though this all happened so long ago and so far away that words cannot describe the time or the distance, it is also happening right now. Right here.
It is happening as you read this these words.

How did twenty five millennia come to a close?
Corruption and treachery crushed a thousand years of peace. This is not just the end of a republic; night is falling on civilization itself.The end starts now."

[Star Wars intro]

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:51 | 1093358 10kby2k
10kby2k's picture

Thanks for the update.

I'm guessing they are trying to stabilize the reactors to the point where they can move in massive personnel and entomb them.  Why don't they just tell us?

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:51 | 1093368 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Notice they're still filming from 30KM away! :-) 

 

Ole ole - ole ole / Ole ole - ole ole

Feeling HOT HOT HOT !!!

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:52 | 1093371 Careless Whisper
Careless Whisper's picture

so all those crazies that said everyone should have a 6 month supply of food, water, and ammo, aren't so crazy after all. maybe they are, even, prudent.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:53 | 1093374 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

It definitely takes a massive amount of electrons when he does a "Ctl-Alt-Prt" for $1,000,000,000,000.00 at a time.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:53 | 1093376 SayTabserb
SayTabserb's picture

They really need to listen to that physicist Kaku on this. They need to buy the reactors now and hope for the best. If they keep this up, then nos. 1 through 4 are going to go through total meltdown and fuel rod fires are going to force everyone away. Then they're going to lose Reactors 5&6 because they'll be unable to remain on site to maintain them. The longer they wait they fewer options they're going to have.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:36 | 1093581 trav7777
trav7777's picture

Kuckoo needs to STFU.

They can't bury the reactors now and the problem here is NOT the same as was at chernobyl

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:52 | 1093378 Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

1-2 buckle my shoe

3-4 close the door

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:54 | 1093379 SayTabserb
SayTabserb's picture

"bury" the reactors.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:03 | 1093414 Rusty Shorts
Rusty Shorts's picture

 - bury hell, they're gonna have to jack them sumbitches up and slide an ice pack under them fuckers.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:27 | 1093758 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

Rusty can you have a dicussion with 7777. That YELLOW mellon is  on Mid west time. The easterlies are calming. We are heading north.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 06:59 | 1094302 Golden monkey
Golden monkey's picture

Frozen balls could lead to dumb investments...

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:52 | 1093381 chump666
chump666's picture

The HFT's are trading on the YEN meltup...so crosses are supported.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:53 | 1093382 Element
Element's picture

Nah! This is no worse than 1/40th of a chest xray ... you'll see!  < /sarc >

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:54 | 1093383 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

Oops, I was trying to reply to W. Banzai's comment. Newbie goof.

 

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:54 | 1093388 JonTurk
JonTurk's picture

the bernank will print livers, lungs and thyroids... dont worry

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:54 | 1093391 Scritchy
Scritchy's picture

However I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. Doesn't help me tonight however.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 22:55 | 1093393 Selah
Selah's picture

 

Interesting discussion on Wikipedia (from 2006) about questions that many of us have now about the rods reaching criticality:

There are several confusions about fission and critical mass in play here. Let me try and clarify.
First, critical mass is (almost) completely unrelated to the amount of material which fissions when a nuclear bomb detonates. Critical mass is defined as the minimum mass required to support an ongoing fission reaction. With exactly one critical mass of material, you have a reaction which keeps on going but does not increase in power. With less than one critical mass, any neutrons you inject may cause a reaction, but it dies out over time. The time for it to die out increases the closer it gets to exactly critical mass.
There's a specific number, k, used to refer to criticality. k = 1.0 is exactly critical. k less than 1 is subcritical, k greater than 1 is supercritical.
There are also two different types of fission reaction happening. One is fast fission, where neutrons hit another fissile (uranium, plutonium) atom at the speed that they were ejected from their parent fission reaction. The other is moderated fission, where neutrons bounce off other light elements (hydrogen in water, carbon, etc) and slow down before they are absorbed. The cross sections, or chance that a given neutron will actually cause a fission when it encounters another atom, are higher for moderated fission than for fast fission. So to assemble a critical mass of moderated material takes less material. A water solution of highly enriched uranium or plutonium can literally be only a few liters of volume and reach criticality.
You can't practically make a moderated bomb, because moderated neutrons take about ten times longer between when they are emitted in one fission until they are absorbed by the next uranium or plutonium atom and cause another fission. Once a supercritical assembly reaches the point that it will start to boil or melt, it will dissassemble itself (fall apart, or be "blown apart" by a small physical explosion) very rapidly. With a moderated fission reaction, the time scale for melting and steam explosions is roughly the same as the rate at which the fission energy is increasing, so it just blows itself apart with about at most the same energy as you'd get out of a chemical explosive bomb of about the same size, plus a big radiation pulse. With only slightly critical configurations, even boiling of the water solution or warming of the Uranium will cause it to drop below criticality.
This is how a bunch of criticality accidents have happened in nuclear fuel fabrication labs, where they accidentally assembled a water solution of too high a concentration of uranium or plutonium. The energy releases in these accidents have been as high as roughly 1E16 fissions, but typically less (1E13 or 1E14). 1E16 fissions is 1/1E10 of a mole of material fissioning - at roughly 16 kilotons per kilogram of material which fissions, the explosive energy equivalent of a 1E16 fission criticality accident is only about 1/4E10 x 16 kilotons = .0004 kilogram of TNT energy.
Criticality of material is dependent not just on how much material is present, but the geometry (is it a sphere? a flat plate or flat pool of liquid? a cylinder? how long, how wide, etc), and whether the material is reflected (surrounded by materials that bounce some escaping neutrons back into it). It also depends on density - the criticality is equal to the square of the density of the material, so if you manufacture say highly enriched uranium metal foam, with bubbles in it which have half the normal metal density, then you need four times as much to reach criticality (about 200 kg for an unreflected or bare spherical metal assembly). Conversely, if you compress the material, the criticality increases as you compress it, with the square of the density. So if you double the density, then the criticality is four times higher. That's how implosion nuclear bombs work - they take a subcritical mass of uranium or plutonium, and compress it explosively into supercriticality.
Thu, 03/24/2011 - 00:22 | 1093742 FilthyLucre
FilthyLucre's picture

So, say you have 180 tons of molten enriched uranium and you smash it into the end of a 6" thick stainless steel container using a big 'ol water hammer how much energy is released?

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