Preparing For A "Chernobyl Solution" - Updated Fukushima Status Summary And Timeline

Tyler Durden's picture

Presenting an updated Fukushima status update and timeline in which we read for the first time that Fukushima has considered a "Chernobyl Solution" - alas that leads us to believe that there is good reason to assume that the information-starved situation is just as bad as Chernobyl.

Key events since last update in bold

  • Officials remain committed to cooling down overheated nuclear fuel rods and keep spraying reactor No.3 at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant. But the plant's operator, Tokyo electric Power Co., says encasing reactors in concrete may prove the only way to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak, the method used at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

  • Electricity could be restored on Saturday morning to reactors 1 and 2, the nuclear safety agency said, which would restart pumps needed to pour cold water on the fuel rods. Priority is to get water into spent fuel pools, particularly in reactor No. 3, which contains plutonium.

  • he agency also raised the incident level at the striken power plant to a 5 on a 1-7 scale. That would suggest a level of seriousness on par with the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the United States in 1979. But it said there was no need to expand the evacuation area beyond 30 km at this point.

  • The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, says it could take weeks to cool the reactors.

  • G7 industrialised countries agreed, after a teleconference of finance ministers, on concerted intervention, the first since 2000, to restrain the yen, hoping to calm global markets.

And updated timeline:


17:53 - Electricity
could be restored on Saturday morning at the No.1 and No.2 reactors, the
country's nuclear safety agency said on Friday. The agency also raised
the incident level at reactors No.1, No.2, and No.3 at the Daiichi plant
to level 5 from level 4.

10:04 - Japan's nuclear safety agency
said it was aware of the ultimate "Chernobyl solution" to contain the
nuclear disaster at the quake-hit plant by covering it in sand and
encasing it in concrete, but added that it was currently focusing on
efforts to restore power and cool down the reactors.

09:20 -
White smoke or steam was rising from reactors 2, 3 and 4, the nuclear
safety agency said on Friday. It said it believed there was still water
in the spent fuel pool at reactor No.3.


21:39 - Japan's nuclear safety agency said a pool for cooling spent
nuclear fuel at the No.4 reactor of the stricken plant remains a serious

21:07 - TEPCO said it had started work to connect
outside power cables to the plant and that electricity could be
connected on Thursday.

17:37 - Three of the six reactors at
the earthquake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan are
now relatively stable, officials say.

17:20 - Low
concentrations of radioactive particles are heading eastwards from the
plant towards North America, a Swedish official says. The official at
the Swedish Defence Research Institute, a government agency, was citing
data from international monitoring stations. Levels were not dangerous
for people, he says.

16:27 - An unexpected, large-scale power
outage is possible in Tokyo and surrounding areas on Thursday evening if
power demand exceeds this morning's, Japan's trade minister says.

12:59 - U.S. State Department authorises voluntary departure from Japan of family members of diplomatic staff.

11:24 - TEPCO says pressure is rising again at reactor No. 3. It says
there was still water in its spent-fuel pool. On Wednesday, the company
described the situation there as "not so good." The U.S. Nuclear
Regulator Commission said on Wednesday there was no water in the pool.

Company officials express hope of getting limited power to the plant to help pump water but not yet for reactors 3 and 4.

10:30 - Kyodo news agency says the United States will fly a
high-altitude drone equipped with infrared sensors over the plant to
help determine what is happening inside.

09:55 - Australia issues new appeal to nationals in Tokyo and eight other prefectures to consider leaving Japan.

08:38 - A Japanese military helicopter begins spraying water on the
plant, the Defence Agency is quoted as saying. Officials later say two
of four water drops hit their mark.

07:43 - Japan's weather
agency said winds near the plant are forecast to blow from the northwest
on Thursday towards the Pacific Ocean.

06:06 - The Nuclear and
Industrial Safety Agency says radiation levels at the Fukushima plant
had fallen over the past 24 hours. A reading of 338 microsieverts per
hour was recorded at the main gate at 05:00 against 752 12 hours

The government appeals to private companies to deliver supplies to quake victims.

02:58 - Britain advises its citizens in Japan to consider leaving Tokyo and the area north of the capital.


21:48 - Japan wants to use its military to help pump water to the No.3
reactor and into a spent-fuel pool at the No.4 reactor of a
quake-stricken nuclear plant, the nation's nuclear safety agency says.

levels at a monitoring post outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant had
spiked at 0330 GMT to 10,850 microsieverts per hour, but fell back later
to 2,331 microsieverts an hour later, it says.

21:01 -
Major damage is unlikely to have been sustained at the No.3 reactor of
Japan's quake-stricken nuclear power plant, Kyodo reports, quoting the

19:53 - Japanese police will attempt to cool the
spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor at the stricken Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear plant using a water cannon truck as early as Wednesday
night, NHK television says.

19:47 - No radioactive iodine or
cesium was found in the tap water of Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Kyodo
news agency reports, quoting the local government.

18:29 -
Water is being poured into reactors No.5 and No.6 at Fukushima's Daiichi
nuclear power plant, the operating company says.

18:14 - A
helicopter was unable to drop water to cool a quake-stricken reactor in
northeastern Japan probably because of the high radiation, Kyodo news
agency says, quoting the defence minister.

18:00 - Japan's top
government spokesman says radiation levels around the nuclear plant are
not at levels to cause an immediate health risk.

17:32 - The
World Health Organisation's representative in China says there is no
evidence of any significant international spread of radiation from the
nuclear site.

17:26 - The operator of Japan's quake-stricken
nuclear power complex, Tokyo Electric Power Co Ltd , says it is unable
to resume work on cooling reactors due to radiation risk.

16:55 - Operator says as of 0230 GMT there were 180 workers on site at the damaged nuclear power complex.

16:55 - Tokyo Electric Power Co says it recorded the site's highest levels of radiation at the No.3 reactor on Wednesday.

16:05 - The temperature stabilised and pressure dropped at the No. 2 reactor, the plant operator said.

13:27 - Japan's nuclear safety agency says operators of the damaged
nuclear plant plan to bulldoze an emergency route to the facility to
allow access for fire trucks.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct U.S. military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.

11:30 - It is not realistic to think that the No. 4 reactor at the
plant will "reach criticality", the chief government spokesman says.

11:19 - The radiation reading at the main gate of the plant rose
sharply just after 0100 GMT on Friday and started to fall almost an hour
later, the government says.

11:10 - A fuel pool at the No.3
reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant may have heated and produced
steam, TEPCO says. Media images earlier showed white smoke drifting
from the plant.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct U.S. military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.

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BigJim's picture

Natgas, bitchez!

BigJim's picture

That's going to be a lot of sand and concrete. The logistics of getting this done - without frying a great number of 'volunteers' - is going to be a bit tricky, IMHO.

It is a bargin my friend's picture

As a civil engineer I'd really love to see them try this.

I have a couple of concrete gangs scratching their arses at the moment if that helps.

jus_lite_reading's picture

Just like in Chernobyl the first dozen or so crews were toasted from the inside out. Since these crews are Japanese anyone brave enough can be considered a true kamakazi. Fast death for the first two crews, medium death for the next set of crews and slow death for the last poor souls who wrap it up is certain. Everyone else within 30 miles dies of cancer 2 years down the road..... all IMO

Tense INDIAN's picture

who needs volunteers....CIA may help wwith their mind-controlled sex slaves

Byte Me's picture

Someone else suggested it but maybe it needs redoing:

Waterborne watercannon. Greater range, possibility to 'drone control' them for preference.

Might help keep particulate emissions slaked down a bit. Repowering FuckedUpShima seems like hopium based PR.

Surely the USN have firetenders they could magnanimously lease-lend to the Japanese.

PhattyBuoy's picture

Piiisssing in the wind !

So Close's picture

The 2011 Toyota and Nissan models may be "Hotter" than any previous year.  That should further help with this overall "positive" GDP event.

Weimar Ben Bernanke's picture

Well the sooner they entomb that thing the better. Use all the concrete they can get their hands on, seal that shit before more people die and more areas becom inhabitiable. I really hope it works.

johnQpublic's picture

if they cant figure out a good way to get water on the damn things, just how exactly do they intend to cover them in sand and then encase them in concrete?


if the rods heat up, isnt there a possibility of explosion?

if the concrete cures(generating alot of heat as concrete does when it cures)how would exploding fuel rods affect this?


this baffles me on a number of levels...

Missing_Link's picture

if they cant figure out a good way to get water on the damn things, just how exactly do they intend to cover them in sand and then encase them in concrete?

Water has to pretty much hit the target.

With concrete, you can drop it from higher up, and each drop doesn't have to hit the target exactly -- you just fly tons of planes and choppers over it til you have a huge mound of concrete.

Wakanda's picture

Best timeline I've seen yet.  Congrats ZH and thanks for the information.

Gmpx's picture

Dreaming. There will be no "simple" Chernobyl solution.

1. There are 6 melting reactors.

2. The reactor cores are not accessible.

3. There is more fuel in each reactor.

4. There is old fuel stored on top of each reactor.

5. There is one reactor loaded with Plutonium.

Lord Welligton's picture

Unfortunately yes.


6. The plant is built on a beach.

Gmpx's picture

All nuclear plants are built near the water. They use the water. It it was a floating power plant, the solution would be very simple - take it to the nearest ocean trench and sink.

There is no way they can build a sarcophagus without opening up cores and killing the reaction. But first (if we do not consider nuclear explosion the possibility - which I think is real) they need to evacuate and dispose the old fuel.

jus_lite_reading's picture

Number 5-- Make that MOX. The worst kind of unstable isotopes

Reptil's picture


At this point in time, I'm wondering if the reaction of TEPCO is fast enough to contain the disaster. They may be in a "group think" that excludes the possibillity of a "worst case". At Chernobyl the response was fast and resolute. I don't see that here. Encasing the #4 Chernobyl reactor in concrete was later regarded a mistake. I couldn't find out why. There might be some information we're missing here.

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

I wonder if the TEPCO execs and engineers flag each other as junk to help form cohesive internal opinions?

Reptil's picture

Perhaps they have a "like" button?

Doubleguns's picture

I guess it's time to call the Russians for some help then.

Byte Me's picture

I know much has been made about the desperation that they seem to be stuck with - but the latest DG image from 17/3/11 looks promising:

Less 'smoke/vapour' or not

You the audience -- decide..

DonutBoy's picture

Less vapor because the water is gone.  In reactor 4 the live fuel rods were out of the reactor with the "spent" fuel rods in the pool.  Now they're melting, and if they don't come up with a fix quick-like the melted fuel will gather up at the bottom of the pool and go critical.  That would be a new reactor with no containment whatsoever.  However hard it is to get the concrete in there - they need to do it now.  Once the fission starts again, you'll have the helicopter pilots dropping dead before they can get the concrete within a 1/4 mile.

They are completely off the reservation.   This entire area is no-go for the next 100 years.  They've already had plutonium release.  The uranium-fueled reactors generate plutonium.  There is plutonium in each and every spent fuel "pond".  What if they had an 8.0 aftershock today? 

PhattyBuoy's picture

Cement mixing ceremony - 60 days out?

Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

"Geopolitics of Energy in 2015"

National Intelligence Council

At the 2002 session the discussions revolved around a set of four scenarios. One entitled "Green as green can be" began with a description of an "environmental disaster" that "galvanizes public opinion" and causes the US, Europe, and Japan to pursue "aggressive environmental policies" including heavy gasoline tax, stricter pollution regs. The policy cut oil demand so significantly that by 2020 the world is using 13 mil bbl a day less.

What book did this passage come from?

I hate to haarp on the facts.

So Close's picture

Perhaps the Great Bernanke might consider dropping large bundles of Benjamins from helicopters.  They will soon be worth less than sand or concrete by weight and volume.  :-)

Miss Expectations's picture

I clearly remember April 1986. 

4/15/86 we bombed Tripoli, Libya

4/26/86 Chernobyl melt down

The Libya/Nuclear pairing...better luck this time?



jus_lite_reading's picture

Either better luck this time, or armageddon. Pick one. Me? I hope for better luck so we can watch the banksters burn in slow death.

Stormdancer's picture

we're talking what...a half a cubic kilometer of cement here???

Somebody better find some big limestone quarries and get some extra rock crushing capacity going asap...not to mention the kilns needed.

Lafarge and Cemex execs should be rubbing their hands with glee...

Cdad's picture

Dispersion monkeys at work everywhere, as last night the chatter was that power would be hooked up today to reactor #2 right about now.  Never mind that it is highly unlikely that anything electrical will work in any of these reactors after repeated explosions and fires.  Now, of course, maybe Saturday on the miracle extension cord.

 There is desperation in the air now.  It isn't just that of nuclear engineers, but rather criminal syndicate banker types trying to hobble this totally fucked up market into the weekend on an optimistic note. a time when it would be almost impossible to have more catastrophic shit up in the air than currently is the case.

 Anyone caught with money in this  market [and I don't care which market we are talking about]  deserves his fate.  Hint:  when there are flying/talking monkeys everywhere at every hour of the day, across the entire globe, talking bullish smack in the middle of complete disaster...ummm....sell.

 The minis have already printed the HOD, if you ask me.  The bid this morning is simply criminal syndicate banker created volatility, scraping a few more dollars out of this smoldering wreck of a market before they head out the door.

 Again, the nation will never be able to achieve financial recovery with these same criminal bankers at the helm of what is clearly a sinking ship of state.  So just bring on the US Treasury defaults, and let's start the purging process.

Byte Me's picture

I fully support you in wanting to bring on the default stage.


The 'rules' have since been changed by TPTB so that honest business practice (sic) is now a trippy fairytale from your childhhood and mine.

At this stage the only solution would be to exterminate the bankster class/race/sub-genus of humankind. Extreme?

SWRichmond's picture

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, quoting a senior official of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said the US made the offer immediately after the disaster damaged Fukushima No 1 nuclear plant. According to the unnamed senior official, US support was based on dismantling the troubled reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) some 250 km (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo. However, the government and TEPCO thought the cooling system could be restored by themselves, the report said.

Am I reading this right?

Our government demanded that the Japanese dismantle - that is, permanently remove - over five gigawatts of power in order to help them with a critical safety problem that had the potential to destroy 100 square miles of land and kill or injure thousands of people?

That as compensation for helping them we demanded that they cripple their electrical generating capacity on a permanent basis?

Stormdancer's picture

Certainly seems an odd caveat to the help equation if true...but probably moot.  Reactors 1-4 appear to already be permanently crippled.  Might get 5 and 6 patched up and fired up again in a few months if they can keep them under control long enough and reactors 1-4 don't do anything really nasty along the way.  Might be hard to get operators for 5-6 if it means working in radiation suits with respirators 24/7.

SWRichmond's picture

Nothing odd about it at all.  Economies run on energy.  If yo want to shut down the economy, shut off the power.  The global war on energy production is visible, to those who are willing to stand back and see it.

And ZH helps the war, and thus is complicit.

RichardP's picture

This link was provided in a different thread yesterday.  The writing at the link is misrepresenting reality/facts in order to stir the pot.  The State Department has stated that the story at this link is without merit.  The help offered was technical help.  Knowledge, not equipment.  Knowledge about how to dismantle the fatally-crippled reactors.  Japan responded that they thought the reactors could be saved, so thanks, but no thanks.  Burried in the link you provided is a statement that a majority of Japanese sources (whoever they are) are irritated that the Japanese government did not accept the U.S. offer.

Does anyone think it is a good idea to restart these severely damaged reactors and continue to use them to generate power?  If the Japanese government says it is OK for this to happen, is it a bad thing for the world to demand that they be dismantled?  Given the radiation contamination, would they be rebuilt at this location?  Or would this location be permanently crippled?

Think, people.


Eddie Stobart's picture

That's the only possible conclusion. Some ignorant scientist might point out that the longer the situation continues the more stable it becomes but what do they know? And those geiger counters - government patsies.



Fix It Again Timmy's picture

Sadly, this tragic episode probably could have been prevented if TECO had given civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering summer interns a project to come up with a practical solution to the very events that have occurred.  I'm absolutely positive that they could have come up with an elegant solution. It seems that the hubris of nuclear plant operators needs to be tempered by the fact that they are dealing with the forces of nature which have created the universe and you better damn well have in hand a plan that will enable you to keep them under control under any circumstances short of being hit by an asteroid. There simply is no excuse for their criminal lack of preparation!

Eddie Stobart's picture

What they need is a giant urinating robot. Mechagodpissa.



Sweet Chicken's picture

I admit I lol'd

It might have had more impact if you had used two zz's instead of the s's.

Eddie Stobart's picture

You associate urinating with pizza?

Where I live we're much more conservative with our choice of toppings.

prophet's picture

...  and so, much like the people whose behaviour you decry, you sacrifice integrity in your race to the top.

you wanna be a chat room, fine.

you wanna be a prototype for 21st century journalism you're gonna have to up your game.

Let them all fail's picture

Glad we have found better methods in the last 25 years...

thefedisscam's picture

Ex-USSR used 100,000 red army soldiers (up to 10,000 of them DIED) to finally seal Chelnobyl. The reason for that many soldiers involved was that the radiation was SO strong that they had to change a person every single minute!

Does Japanese can afford to do this? Where are they going to find so MANY people who are willing to risk their lives? when Tokyo electric Power Co. openly recruited for volunteers, they could only get 24 volunteers, and ALL of them were 50 years of age and over. So even if they want to do a Chelnobyl here, they could not afford.