Corrected Comments on Fukushima
Please note that my comments on 3/12, yesterday, were significantly in error as noted below:
1. The gases released in the YouTube video are steam.
2. This steam is not from a secondary water loop because these plants are not designed as pressurized water but are the boiling water type. This means that there is no secondary loop but only one loop. The water flowing over the reactor core becomes radioactive from fuel rod leakage and then goes directly into the steam turbines to generate electricity. This design is less expensive than the two loop pressurized reactors.
3. The steam released is definitely radioactive and will cause a certain number of deaths both now and in the future.
4. All releases to the atmosphere are harmful, and many people are bound to die from the exposure.
5. A truly gigantic catastrophic meltdown or explosion seems to have been avoided, but the accident is still unfolding.
6. Evacuation will require several days, and the evacuees will be exposed to harmful radiation as they move out of the area.
7. We have to see how much melting of fuel rods there will be, and it is noted that all six reactors will probably be total loses.
8. Over the next few days there will be time to evaluate how many people have died directly and estimate how many will die in the future from the radiation exposure.
The best description of events, accident analyses, and design of the plants is the interview this morning of Dan Hirsch by Ian Masters on KPFK, 11 a.m. PDT. It should be on the KPFK website or maybe Ian Masters’ own website.
Please note Dan’s comment that all these fears and huge concerns would not be taking place if the electric generating plants were photovoltaic or wind.
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Comments on Fukushima, 3/12
I have the following quick comments:
1. The YouTube blast appears to be steam, which means cooling system failures.
2. These venting to the atmosphere almost has to be in secondary loop, i.e. the steam that would normally drive the turbines to generate electricity.
3. This steam is not radioactive.
4. On the other hand, other parts of the plant closer to the reactor on the primary loop side were damaged, and it is reported that radiation was released into the plant at high enough pressure, so it was released into the atmosphere in order to prevent explosions.
5. For this part of the failure problems, a catastrophic explosion has been prvented, but the released radiation is bound to be harmful. The severity of this is dependent upon the isotope and quantities involved.
6. Population evacuation of the surrounding area was reported, but this takes at least several days (contrary to what we are told here in the U.S.). These people will obviously be exposed to the released radioactivity.
7. It is important to realize that a core meltdown appears to have been avoided, although the reactor may well be a total loss.
8. Finally, it will be at least several days before we will know with any certainty whether the people are really safe.
Sheldon C. Plotkin is a consulting systems and safety engineer in private practice. He may be contacted at <email@example.com>.
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