martes, 15 de marzo de 2011

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So as should be expected there is a lot of's a complicated subject this nuclear reactor business. Make no mistake some of the "confusion" is going to be intentional as well...micro severts, milli severts, exposure levels, what is bad...what just sounds bad, 400 times the regular level????...maybe it's not too bad, maybe it is...typical talking heads with a pro or anti stance spinning things their way...fog of war going on all around us. 

Now...add into account the massive disaster which just hit Japan and most peoples natural tendency to "feel their pain"?...that is going to result in a "cut them some slack" attitude by a lot of people...don't feel bad...I feel for them too, but this is a not a time to cut anyone any slack in being forthcoming about this looming nuclear disaster. In fact I'm pretty pissed about the spin on FOX about this...yeah all us "Subsidizing windmills" for another 30 years will never really work types, which I am, are mostly pro "safe" nuclear power, but the spin meisters they are trotting out are just ridiculous...if I hear another one em blab off some BS that sounds like, "Explosions are no big whoop, things are still fine!"...I'm going to puke, this is just getting to clown show level for a lot of the so called coverage.

So with that said what can we "get out of" all this from what they are telling us and using knowledge of how the actual processes actually do work...

There have been 3 Explosions now and a fire that is supposedly under control...and spent fuel "pools" are becoming over heated in reactors 5 and 6 now..So just wtf is going on with all this. 

What does the reactor look like? looks like this:

Ok so I would really like to see everyone thinking in terms of 3 levels of containment...technically there are more...but there are 3 "biggies"..

The first one is the "reactor vessel"...that is more or less a big steel cigar tube that is sealed save for plumbing going to it. That is where the fuel rods or "core" live. Water goes in some pipes, gets heated and makes steam...steam goes out pipes and drives whatever you are driving...a generator, air craft carrier propeller shaft, whatever. The water serves two purposes, make steam, cool the core. 

The second level of containment is the "primary containment vessel" This is basically a concrete and steel "bulb" shape that surrounds the "reactor vessel"'s sole purpose is to shield the reactor vessel from the world in case there is a problem. It's about explosion proof as we can build something. It also has some cooling abilities built into it and can vent cooling water turned to steam into the "torus suppression chamber"...which is basically a big donut filled about half way with water. Complex plumbing and venting systems use that torus donut to aid in cooling the whole system when it's needed. So this whole complicated "containment unit" bulb holds the reactor vessel inside it theoretically protecting everything around it from any radio active material escaping from the reactor vessel in case of emergency. 

The third and final level is the building itself. These reactor "houses" are built heavy, but nothing like the primary containment unit. They house all the gear like cranes for working on the reactor and in some cases they store spent fuel rods in them...if the case of the Fukushima reactors?...this is exactly what they do. 

So now you have a basic understanding of the sort of layered onion protection in a nuclear reactor. So now lets deal with what we are seeing in real life from this nuclear emergency...

Explosion #1 in reactor #1: 

There are a ton of pics around so I won't include any in this thread to save space. This has been termed the least damaging of the explosions and as crazy as it sounds?...the pundits were probably correct in that in that assesment..although no explosion is ever a good thing, especially in a nuclear power plant...this one IMO didn't do much damage to the actual heart of the systems...the primary containment and the reactor vessel. The explosion as we know was the result of the core over heating...all the problems are due to over heating. The plant operators vented off steam when either the pressure in the reactor vessel was getting too high due to that over heating or to "make room" for fresh cold coolant. When core and coolant gets too hot it creates hydrogen gas. They either vented the steam off too quickly or underestimated the amount of hydrogen gas in the steam...that gas accumulated in top of the building and boom, explosion. Now judging from the videos and the photos of the aftermath that was the extent of the damage...blew the roof off. Of course most peoples initial reaction is going to be holy crap a nuclear reactor just's justified. That first explosion while maybe not so damaging in itself points to very serious problems going on, explosions of nuclear reactor buildings are certainly not Standard Operating Procedure by any stretch. However in this one it would appear that things did as they were designed to do in dealing with emergency level events, the primary containment likely at least held together. Whatever damage to any outside systems we really do not know, no one is talking...but it would appear that most of the explosive force went up and the hardened deck held so there is still 2 main layers of protection which still on explosion #1?...they probably dodged most of the bullets that have fired. You would think they would have more respect for the hydrogen levels after that...but apparently they either are in denial...or things are worse than they are letting on to the layman....because they blew up the #3 reactor building in the second explosion...

Explosion #2 in reactor #3: 

A far more violent explosion...obviously, from the video and photos. Much more extensive damage and it would appear that at minimum at least some of the third containment level is gone. With the more violent explosion comes more damage to systems in and around the reactor. So yeah while they tell us the "good news"...ahh it appears that the primary containment is still ok! can count on pipes getting cracked, everything in the reactor assembly getting rocked..and rocked hard....complicated pieces of machinery with all sorts of internal plumbing don't like "getting rocked" by explosions...count on the "spent fuel pool" getting damaged and likely the cooling system itself for the main reactor in number 3. In fact there has been a continuous release of steam...and that is not a good sign...because what that means is that something in the system has sprung a leak. So even with pumping in limitless seawater...some is escaping as steam and that steam is going to be radioactive, not as bad as the fuel itself but still bad enough. They are pumping in water into a system that is leaking in an effort to keep the level up. Decision was made that letting radioactive steam escape was better than letting the reactor melt down...the lessor of two evils there. What the plan was to eventually stop doing that?...ya got me, but it was a time buyer in any case to avert the worst...and it appears that near the worst may have just happened with Explosion #3 in reactor #2...

Explosion #3 in reactor #2: 

There are no pictures or video out yet that I have seen...I'm sure they will come if there aren't any already, so if you got em? em. 

From what I can gather there was a valve that failed in reactor #2....this was a critical was the valve that released steam and ablated pressure in either the reactor vessel itself or somewhere in the cooling system including the suppression pool and primary containment. The power company guys said they had it fixed?...then boom...explosion...they also said there was a "High probability that the primary containment vessel was breached" you can pretty much take it to the bank that that it was. They also said that after fixing the valve they detected possible leaks and were not able to get the water level high enough to cover the fuel it was leaking that badly...then explosion. So this the bad one...and it may or not "look" like the worst's where the explosive gas came from that wasn't due to was due to the cooling blowing steam laced with hydrogen....and that's the best the explosion occurred from pressure anywhere in the system and something more or less "popped"?'s over...there will be a full blown release of radioactive material...if that isn't happening immediately after the explosion as in right now? won't take too long before it is. 

The radiation levels are pointing to the fuel being exposed in some way...that will not get better, it WILL get worse. They are expanding the evac zone as I write this. Once the fuel rods are exposed to open air they will react with the oxygen and they will burn even worse...the more they get going?...the worse it gets. Even if they flood everything with massive amounts of seawater blowing huge volumes of radioactive's pretty much a losing battle with the inevitable. 

Then there are the "fires" that is whole other series of problems...the spent fuel rods in the "suspension pools" require cooling as well...and from what can be extracted from Tepco?....those pools are also heating up and becoming over heated...there has been a fire in reactor #4...nothing really released beyond "Fire"...but since that reactor is shut down and cooled off there isn't a whole lot there would burn aside from the spent fuel getting overheated and beginning to burn...and all the reactor buildings house spent fuel...and lot of spent fuel...according to some seeming credible people there could 20 years worth of spent fuel rods housed in some of the reactors and in the 7 suspension pools total that are on site...which have been termed as "densely packed" With all the cooling problems they are having on the entire complex? can virtually be assured that the spent rod storage pools will start to over heat, after that they boil off...then the rods will begin to "burn"...and the smoke from those fire will be things are going from really worse than really bad. 

There were about 800 people there at the site a couple of days ago...there are maybe 50 there now from what I understand and as sad as it sounds...they are probably dead men walking...those people there are probably trying to juggle 10 balls apiece right about now...and you can send in all the "experts" you want and there aren't many answers beyond just..."Juggle better"....while the situation just keeps chucking more balls at em and they lose the ability to even get close enough to some places to be able get in there and juggle due to the rising radiation one is do any good walking to an area so contaminated they die in there in short matter how brave they are. 

Sorry no good news from what I can see going on here guys, but it's not looking good at all. The best it seems they can do is dump and pump seawater into everything they can and blow off radioactive steam until the whole complex just burns off and burns up...there won't be any atomic explosion...but there doesn't need to be...the whole mess will belch out radioactive smoke, fire and steam in a big way...getting worse and as it goes until all the reactors with hot fuel rods go into a full uncontrolled meltdown. 

Whether that meltdown will cook through the containments and head into a "China Syndrome" type scenario I don't believe anyone knows for sure....this is just about as uncharted territory for nuclear disasters as it gets....but I hate to think about the odds of that actually happening with possibly 3 or maybe more shots at it.

There is whole lot more room for things to get worse here than better anytime soon guys...and some of the worst that can happen is bone chilling...

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