Reactor type and fuel rods
First, we shall examine the type of reactor involved, so that we shall have a good understanding of the requirements for detoxification. Below is also a time-line of the developments.
Fukushima # 3 uses MOX, a different, Plutonium based fuel to the low-enriched uranium oxide fuel for which most nuclear reactors was designed. MOX fuel tends to run hotter because of lower thermal conductivity, which may be an issue in some reactor designs i.e. the use of MOX does change the operating characteristics of a reactor, and the plant must be designed or adapted slightly to take it. More control rods are needed; who OK’d the use of MOX without modifying all plant systems (especially emergency cooling)? Are any other similar plants using MOX now?
Meltdown – Causes & Results
“There is a possibility of a meltdown,” said Toshihiro Bannai, director of the agency’s international affairs office, in a telephone interview from the agency’s headquarters in Tokyo. “At this point, we have still not confirmed that there is an actual meltdown, but there is a possibility.”
(Meanwhile, the meltdown of one reactor is already a fact).
A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release. Though Bannai said engineers have been unable to get close enough to the core to know what’s going on, he based his conclusion on the fact that they measured radioactive isotopes in the air Saturday night.
“What we have seen is only the slight indication from a monitoring post of Cesium and Iodine,” he said. Since then, he said, plant officials have injected sea water and Boron into the plant in an effort to cool its nuclear fuel and stop any reactions.
“We have some confidence, to some extent, to make the situation to be stable status,” he said. “We actually have very good confidence that we will resolve this.”
Here we have the spin-doctor, trying to talk down the real risk and protecting the politicians and industry people, while simultaneously trying to give the impression all is under control, while the reality on the ground dictates a different scenario.
Expert: ‘This Is A Serious Situation’
A state of emergency has been declared for this reactor and two other reactors at the same complex, which holds a total of six reactors, he said. Three are in a safe, shut-down state, he said. “The other two still have some cooling systems, but not enough capacity.”
“What we have seen is only the slight indication from a monitoring post of cesium and iodine,” he said. “The authorities have informed the IAEA that the three reactor units at the Onagawa nuclear power plant are under control.”
With the loss of power at reactor 3, and with its valves and pumps damaged by the tsunami, emergency workers were pumping in seawater mixed with Boron – which disrupts nuclear chain reactions – to cool the rods.
But this creates a build-up of radioactive steam containing hydrogen which must be vented to relieve pressure inside the reactor vessel – risking a blast.
“At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion,” Mr. Edano said, according to the AP news agency. “If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health.”
More spin, to diminish the fact that one reactor has blown its top, so to speak. Three explosions have occurred in reactor 3, and this is the one now in meltdown.
Japan quake: Fears of Meltdoown
There is a risk of a second explosion at the quake-hit Fukushima power station, Japanese officials have said. That risk has become reality and the third explosion has also occurred. However, chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said the facility could withstand the impact and the nuclear reactor itself would not be damaged.
Technicians are frantically battling to cool reactor 3 following a blast at the building housing reactor 1 on Saturday. A state of emergency has also been declared at the Onagawa plant to the north of Fukushima.
The first – or lowest – state of emergency was reported by Tohoku Electric Power Company, said the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. It was declared “as a consequence of radioactivity readings exceeding allowed levels in the area surrounding the plant. Japanese authorities are investigating the source of radiation,” the IAEA said on its website.
Scale of nuclear accidents
* Level 7 – Major release of radioactive material. Example: Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986
* Level 6 – Significant release of radioactive material. Example: Kyshtym, Russia, 1957
* Level 5 – Limited release of radioactive material. Example: Three Mile Island, US, 1979, and Windscale, UK, 1957
* Level 4 – Minor release of radioactive material with at least one death from radiation. Example: Tokaimura, Japan, 1999
* Level 3 – Exposure in excess of 10 times the statutory annual limit for workers
* Level 2 – Exposure of a member of the public in excess of 10mSv (average annual dose is 1mSv)
* Level 1 – Exposure of a member of public above statutory annual limit. Minor safety problems
(Source: UN nuclear agency, IAEA)
* Struggle to stabilise plant
“The authorities have informed the IAEA that the three reactor units at the Onagawa nuclear power plant are under control.”
Oh how they wish. The spin-doctors have started their “reassurances”.
From this information, we can determine which is the best remedy to use for radiation sickness. It will be Plutonium nitricum, being the closest similimum.