Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Update

The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and following tsunami on March 11 has seen Japan struggle as it battles to control the nuclear meltdown of power plants in the north-east of the country.

It has been announced by Japanese officials that high levels of radiation have been detected in the ocean near the Fukushima plant. Justin McCurry writes:

"Japanese officials have conceded they are no closer to resolving the nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, as new readings showed a dramatic increase in radioactive contamination in the sea."

Fukushima nuclear power plant has been closely scrutinised as reports flow in on the progress of the situation - Japan's nuclear board raised the nuclear alert level from four to five and the JAIF warned last week of products such as dairy and spinach being restricted for shipping. Explosions and reports of nuclear fuel rods melting at the power plant have meant progress on the situation has been closely followed.

Industry body the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum are currently publishing daily updates of the status of power plants in Fukushima which give great detail into the condition of each reactor. Ranked from a level of low to severe, the update records the conditions of core and fuel integrity, water level and containment amongst other key information. These are some of the most in-depth and recent records and show how the crisis is being handled.

Friday's report detailed the dangers of radiation to workers, stating that two workers were hospitalised on March 24th 'because of the possible high exposure dose of their foot skin' - yesterday's report stated that the workers had been discharged from hospital. However the dangers facing those working at the plant continues to be a subject of concern as does radiation seeping into drinking water, after twice the safe level of radioactive iodine for young children, was found in Tokyo tap water last week.

The table below shows the status of the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi (the largest of the Fukushima power plants) and is colour coded to show the severity. Green for low, yellow represents high and red shows those of severe significance as judged by the JAIF. We have used JAIF's update 49 as of 21:00 local time as this is the most up to the minute data we can get.

A table of major incidents and accidents at the plants can be found in our spreadsheet as can the data for Daini, Onagawa and Tokai Daini Nuclear power stations. What can you do with this data?

Data summary

Fukushima nuclear power plant update - 30 March 2011

Click heading to sort - Download this data
Electric / Thermal Power output (MW) 460 / 1380 784 / 2381 784 / 2381 784 / 2381 784 / 2381 1100 / 3293
Type of Reactor BWR-3 BWR-4 BWR-4 BWR-4 BWR-4 BWR-5
Operation Status at the earthquake occurred In Service -> Shut - down In Service -> Shut - down In Service -> Shut - down Out - age Out - age Out - age
Core and Fuel Integrity Dama - ged (400) Dama - ged (548) Dama - ged (548) No fuel rods Not Dama - ged (548) Not Dama - ged (764)
Reactor Pressure Vessel Integrity Un- known Un- known Un- known Not Dama - ged Not Dama - ged Not Dama - ged
Containment Vessel Integrity Not Dama - ged (estim - ation) Damage and leak Susp - ected Not Dama - ged (estim - ation) Not Dama - ged Not Dama - ged Not Dama - ged
Core cooling requiring AC power 1 Not Funct - ional Not Funct - ional Not Funct - ional N/A Funct - ional Funct - ional
Core cooling requiring AC power 2 Not Funct - ional Not Funct - ional Not Funct - ional N/A Funct - ioning (in cold shut down) Funct - ioning (in cold shut down)
Building Integrity Severely Dama - ged Slightly Dama - ged Severely Dama - ged Severely Dama - ged Open a vent hole - to avoid hydro - gen explo - sion Open a vent hole - to avoid hydro - gen explo - sion
Water Level of the Rector Pressure Vessel Fuel exposed Fuel exposed Fuel exposed Safe Safe Safe
Pressure of the Reactor Pressure Vessel Gradu - ally incre - asing Un- known / Stable Un- known Safe Safe Safe
Containment Vessel Pressure Decre - ased a little after incre - ase Stable Stable Safe Safe Safe
Water injection to core Cont. (Fresh - water) Cont. (Fresh - water) Cont. (Fresh - water) N/A N/A N/A
Water injection to Containment Vessel (AM) TBC TBC (Sea water) TBC N/A N/A N/A
Containment venting (AM) Temp stopped Temp stopped Temp stopped N/A N/A N/A
Fuel Integrity in the spent fuel pool Un- known (292) Un- known (587) Damage susp - ected (514) Possibly Dama - ged (1331) Not Dama - ged (946) Not Dama - ged (876)
Cooling of the spent fuel pool Water injection to be considered Sea water injection contin - ue Sea water spray continue Sea water spray continue. Hydrogen from the pool exploded Pool cooling capa - bility was recov - ered Pool cooling capa - bility was recov - ered
Main Control Room Habitability & Operability Poor due to loss of AC power (Lighting work - ing in unit 1 & 2 ) Poor due to loss of AC power (Lighting work - ing in unit 1 & 2 ) Poor due to loss of AC power (Lighting work - ing in unit 3 & 4 ) Poor due to loss of AC power (Lighting work - ing in unit 3 & 4 ) Not dam -aged (estimate) Not dam -aged (est

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Live Updates about Japan's Nuclear Power Plant after the Earthquake and Tsunami

There are currently 55 operating nuclear power plants in Japan. The ten FEPC member companies own and operate 52 Light Water Reactors (LWR). Three more LWRs are operated by the private company Japan Atomic Power Corporation (JAPC). The Monju Fast Breeder Reactor (a prototype reactor which was taken off line in the 90's but expected to start up again soon) is run by the semi-governmental organization Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute (JNC). There are also two more nuclear plants currently under construction, as well as another 11 that are in advanced planning stages. One of those reactors in the planning stage will be owned and operated by another semi-private corporation, The Electric Power Development Co, Inc. (EPDC). Two reactors in Japan, JAPC's Tokai and JNC's Fugen Advanced Thermal Reactor prototype have been permanently closed.

On 11 March 2011, the Japanese government reported to the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the explosion of two (2) nuclear power plants in
Fukushima Daiichi following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan which
affected three (3) nuclear reactors (Units 1, 2 and 4). Unit 1 reactor occurred
outside the primary containment vessel and that the integrity of the vessel remains
intact as confirmed by plant operator of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPC).
Fukushima Daiichi is the first nuclear plant constructed and entirely run by TEPC
and one of the 25 largest nuclear power stations in the world.
Japan’s Nuclear and industrial Safety (NISA) confirmed the presence of
radioactive elements cesium-137 and iodine-131 in the vicinity of Fukushima
Daiichi Unit 1. NISA noted that there was an initial increase in levels of radio activity
around the plant but levels lessen in recent hours as observed.

Recognizing that information is still not complete due to the destruction of the communication infrastructure, producing reports that are conflicting, here is our best understanding of the sequence of events at the Fukushima I‐1 power station.

- The plant was immediately shut down (scrammed) when the earthquake first hit. The automatic power system worked.

- All external power to the station was lost when the sea water swept away the power lines.

- Diesel generators started to provide backup electrical power to the plant’s backup cooling
system. The backup worked.

- The diesel generators ceased functioning after approximately one hour due to tsunami induced damage, reportedly to their fuel supply.

- An Isolation condenser was used to remove the decay heat from the shutdown reactor.

- Apparently the plant then experienced a small loss of coolant from the reactor.

- Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) pumps, which operate on steam from the reactor, were used to replace reactor core water inventory, however, the battery‐supplied control valves lost DC power after the prolonged use.

- DC power from batteries was consumed after approximately 8 hours.

- At that point, the plant experienced a complete blackout (no electric power at all).

- Hours passed as primary water inventory was lost and core degradation occurred (through some combination of zirconium oxidation and clad failure).

- Portable diesel generators were delivered to the plant site.

- AC power was restored allowing for a different backup pumping system to replace inventory in reactor pressure vessel (RPV).

- Pressure in the containment drywell rose as wetwell became hotter.

- The Drywell containment was vented to outside reactor building which surrounds the

- Hydrogen produced from zirconium oxidation was vented from the containment into the reactor building.

- Hydrogen in reactor building exploded causing it to collapse around the containment.

- The containment around the reactor and RPV were reported to be intact.

- The decision was made to inject seawater into the RPV to continue to the cooling process,
another backup system that was designed into the plant from inception.

- Radioactivity releases from operator initiated venting appear to be decreasing.

Tsunami Hits Japan on March 11, 2011

Japan's most powerful earthquake since records began has struck the north-east coast, triggering a massive tsunami.

Cars, ships and buildings were swept away by a wall of water after the 8.9-magnitude tremor, which struck about 400km (250 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

A state of emergency has been declared at a nuclear power plant, where pressure has exceeded normal levels.

Officials say 350 people are dead and about 500 missing, but it is feared the final death toll will be much higher.

In one ward alone in Sendai, a port city in Miyagi prefecture, 200 to 300 bodies were found.

The quake was the fifth-largest in the world since 1900 and nearly 8,000 times stronger than the one which devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, said scientists.

Thousands of people living near the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been ordered to evacuate.

Japanese nuclear officials said pressure inside a boiling water reactor at the plant was running much higher than normal after the cooling system failed.

Officials said they might need to deliberately release some radioactive steam to relieve pressure, but that there would be no health risk.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had earlier said the US Air Force had flown emergency coolant to the site.

But US officials later said no coolant had been handed over because the Japanese had decided to handle the situation themselves.

The UN's nuclear agency said four nuclear power plants had shut down safely.

Measured at 8.9 by the US Geological Survey, it struck at 1446 local time (0546 GMT) at a depth of about 24km.

The tsunami rolled across the Pacific at 800km/h (500mph) - as fast as a jetliner - before hitting Hawaii and the US West Coast, but there were no reports of major damage from those regions.

Thousands of people were ordered to evacuate coastal areas in the states of California, Oregon and Washington.

The biggest waves of more than 6-7ft (about 2m) were recorded near California's Crescent City, said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

A tsunami warning extended across the Pacific to North and South America, where many other coastal regions were evacuated, but the alert was later lifted in most parts, including the Philippines, Australia and China.

Strong waves hit Japan's Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, damaging dozens of coastal communities.

A 10m wave struck Sendai, deluging farmland and sweeping cars across the airport's runway. Fires broke out in the centre of the city.

Japan's NHK television showed a massive surge of debris-filled water reaching far inland, consuming houses, cars and ships.

Motorists could be seen trying to speed away from the wall of water.

As aftershocks rattled the country, residents and workers in Tokyo rushed outside to gather in parks and open spaces.

Many people in the Japanese capital said they had never felt such a powerful earthquake.

In central Tokyo, a number of office workers are spending the night in their offices because the lifts have stopped working.

"This is the kind of earthquake that hits once every 100 years," said restaurant worker Akira Tanaka.

Train services were suspended, stranding millions of commuters in the Japanese capital.

About four million homes in and around Tokyo suffered power cuts.

Live: Japan Earthquake - BBC News

Another quote from Japan's emperor: ''I sincerely hope that the people will overcome this unfortunate time by engendering a sense of caring for other people,'' he said in an address broadcast a short while ago.

Prices for private jets have leapt up as thousands of people trying to get out of Japan put in orders, Reuters reports. "I got a request yesterday to fly 14 people from Tokyo to Hong Kong, 5 hour 5 minutes trip. They did not care about price," Reuters quotes Jackie Wu of Hong Kong Jet as saying.

The second British rescue team (not the government team) - International Rescue Corps - is on its way back from Tokyo after the British Embassy in Tokyo refused to give them a letter of authorisation which would allow them entry into the disaster zones and enable them to get fuel. "There's an emptiness and disbelief," said Willie McMartin, IRC Operations Director. "This was the 32nd world disaster we have been to and we've only had problems twice before with host governments in China and Afghanistan. We have never encountered the position where the British embassy, our own country, came up with a show stopper."

Japan's NHK TV reports that a helicopter that is to drop water over Reactor Three will pass over the reactor many times. It says the helicopter can't stay too long over the plant because of the risk of radiation to the crew. Images of the helicopter show it scooping water from the sea into a red container similar to those used in fire-fighting operations around the world.

Turkey is advising citizens to postpone non-essential travel to Japan, Reuters reports, while Australia is advising its nationals to consider leaving Tokyo and the eight worst-affected prefectures.

Emperor Akihito also expressed concern about the continuing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant during his address.

The total number of dead or missing is now more than 11,000 Japan's NHK TV reports - the first time since WWII that so many people have been killed in Japan in a natural disaster.

A helicopter used to pour water over one of the reactors has taken off, Japanese TV reports.

A reminder that freezing weather is forecast over the coming days in Japan, making things even tougher for those made homeless by the earthquake and tsunami. Temperatures have already plunged to 0C in many of the affected areas."

The Japanese government has decided to accept the help of doctors from overseas as an exceptional measure to treat survivors of the devastating earthquake, foreign ministry officials are quoted as saying by Kyodo. The news agency says that Canada and several other countries have offered to dispatch medical teams.

Japan Tsunami and Earthquake – Live Stream Video – NHK World

Japan Tsunami and Earthquake – Live Stream Video – NHK World

A series of enormous earthquakes struck off the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan on early Friday afternoon, seismologists said, generating huge tsunamis that devastated coastlines and prompting tsunami warnings for multiple countries.

The initial 8.9-magnitude earthquake at 2.46 p.m. local time (0546 GMT) was centered about 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Sendai in Japan, on the nation’s main island of Honshu. It struck about 24.4 kilometers (15.2 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Live video stream of Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Live video stream of Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Scroll down to view player

A huge earthquake ripped across Japan today bringing devastation to a wide area and prompting fears of a massive death toll.

The 8.9 quake unleashed a 13-foot tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland, and warnings were issued to all countries with Pacific coastlines to be ready for it to hit them.