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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marcellus Shale Will Cost Moon Township Taxpayers Money!!!

As it was stated in the piece, Moon Township, as well as other communities are sending police to a two-day conference. That costs money. And, they will learn just how police will be needed once the drillers, Frackers, pipeline fitters, and compression station land in these various communities. Be prepared for YOU to pay more so the gas industry can earn billions of dollars!

Tell your community officials that YOU don't want it in YOUR community. You want a ban on it until the industry can GUARANTEE that Fracking will not put water, air, and land at risk from their toxic chemicals.

Moon Police Prepare for Marcellus Shale Drilling

Police Chief Leo McCarthy attends a two-day conference with other law enforcement officials.
It hasn't come to Moon yet, but Police Chief Leo McCarthy said his department will be ready.
McCarthy and other law enforcement officials last week got a crash course in how Marcellus Shale drilling is impacting Pennsylvania communities, at a State College conference that the U.S. Department of Justice presented.
More than 200 state and Federal law enforcement officials were briefed on the potential environmental effects of drilling, as well as how it can lead to spikes in community crime rates.
"Sometimes, [drilling] can cause a rise in crime," McCarthy said. "You'll often have individuals who are from out of town and maybe renting here; you'll have them here in bars. Sometimes, you'll see in increase in illegal aliens, [whom drilling companies and sub-contractors employ]."
No Marcellus Shale drilling is yet taking place in Moon; the township's board of supervisors is crafting revisions to the community's oil and gas drilling ordinances focused on Marcellus Shale drilling. Two private properties in Crescent have been leased to drilling companies.
McCarthy said he wants to ensure that Moon officers are prepared for the potential arrival of drilling in the township. He said he's already briefed his staff on what to expect should drilling companies come to Moon and is training officers to properly inspect vehicles that drilling companies use. The department has three officers who are state-certified commercial truck inspectors.
McCarthy said he also expects to meet with other township officials before drilling takes place in Moon.
"We hear so much about this stuff, and we want to be ahead of the curve," McCarthy said. "So if we something that doesn't look right I want us to be able to act on it."
Because of Moon's proximity to the Pittsburgh International Airport and the large number of hotels in the township, McCarthy said drilling company employees have already set up temporary homes in the township. Earlier this month, more than $2,000-worth of drilling equipment was stolen from the truck of an oil company employee living at the Crown Plaza Hotel.
"We realize that drilling can be a great opportunity," he said. "[The Moon Township Police Department is] only one part of this, but we're just out here for public safety."  
How will Marcellus Shale drilling impact Moon?


Monday, May 30, 2011

Investigate Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett!!!

If you want the US Justice Department to investigate why Tom Corbett, when PA Attorney General, did not prosecute waste water hauler, Alan Shipman, for illegal toxic fluid dumping in our watershed, then write them here.

Here is their email address:


It appears that Tom Corbett had the evidence in his possession, while attorney general, but might have avoided prosecution of Shipman, only to pass it on the our current attorney general, because, at that time, the Marcellus Shale industry was just emerging and did not want any negative press that would surround their secretive fracking fluids and chemical combinations they were using. From what I understand, Corbett had a long laundry list of violations committed by Shipman, but avoided indicting the guy.

As we know, Corbett is tight with this industry and received much money from them.

We need to flood the Department of Justice with our desire to have Corbett's actions investigated.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Senator Pat Toomey And His Ties To Big Oil

From Congress.org

Subject:Big Oil

Sen. Patrick Toomey

May 24, 2011

Your recent vote against removing the unnecessary, unmerited, and ill-considered tax breaks for oil companies is unconscionable. As history shows time and again, such favors done for the already rich only speed up the increasing gap between rich and poor; sow arrogance among the oligarchs; and are a sign, quite simply of heartlessness. 

Senator Toomey: think of the suffering poor, not of the bloated rich when you make your votes. (never mind that every vote that encourages further use of fossil fuels literally clouds the future hopes of our children.)

Pittsburgh , PA

Sunday, May 22, 2011

University of Pittsburgh's Oil And Gas Drilling and Leasing Map Of Western PA

Here is the oil and gas drilling and leasing map created by the University of Pittsburgh. What you will see is a growing view of how this industry is moving into our section of the state and earning huge profits in the process, while leaving our water, air and soil vulnerable to THEIR mistakes, which would create permanent damage for all its citizens to endure. PA Governor Tom Corbett and his lapdancing followers in the State legislature have done little to protect the health, safety and welfare of all the communities in Western Pennsylvania. This is because they are all bought and paid for by this industry.

The industry's predatory elite, along with their vampiristic lobbyists, have moved into Harrisburg in order to wine, dine, and purchase the citizen-elected legislature and Governor.

It appears that the city of Wilkinsburg, PA is moving to place a moratorium on all purchases of drilling leases until their ordinances are strongly written so as to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their community. Since the legislature has failed to do the protecting of the water, soil, and air of our state, the people have taken over via their own communities.

Tom Corbett is already a large failure, and he must be investigated for his contribution in the Fracking fluid dumping scandal.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Here it is--the predatory Marcellus Shale industry is trying to put lipstick on its pig, while stroking PA Governor Tom Corbett and his piglets.

Shale panel hears industry requests
Friday, May 20, 2011
HARRISBURG -- Today's monthly Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission was a quieter affair than last month's drilling-opponent-filled session, as the panel hit its midway mark to their July report to the governor.

The group of commission members from government, industry, environmental groups and academia spent much of the morning listening to the president of the main industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition. Katie Klaber touted the economic impact that drillers have had on local communities, as well as defending the industry's water use and noting the frequency of finding methane gas in private water wells prior to drilling.

She urged the state to offer incentives to increase natural gas use and to boost pipeline inspections, along with pushing efforts to bring "clarity and consistency" to local zoning laws. Pointing to an internal review of 66 municipal zoning ordinances in southwestern Pennsylvania, Ms. Klaber said they found four that violated the state constitution, and dozens of others that singled out drilling for unique restrictions or fees.

Those local laws form "a patchwork," she said, comparing it to having to get a new driver's license as motorist drives through each new town.

Smoothing out differences among local drilling regulations is part of Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati's impact fee proposal, which would prevent localities from getting any fee revenue if they adopt an "excessive" ordinance. The state's township supervisors association says they support the idea of sending that money only to communities that allow drilling, but would oppose setting up an inflexible, state-level ordinance that tells towns how to regulate natural gas activity.

Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who chairs the commission, asked members to send in their initial policy recommendations by May 31, so they can focus next month's meeting on discussing those ideas.

Laura Olson: lolson@post-gazette.com or 717-787-4254

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

PA Governor Tom Corbett and his cronies want to burden the taxpayers

Tom Corbett and his lapdancing lawmakers want to continue to give away the State of Pennsylvania to Marcellus Shale drillers and Frackers with a possible minimum impact fee!!! Corbett continues to serve his drilling funding masters!!

Pennsylvania Weighs Levy on Natural-Gas Wells

Wall Street Journal 11-14-11

Lawmakers in Pennsylvania are considering raising much-needed revenue through a fee on every natural-gas well drilled in the massive Marcellus Shale formation beneath the state.
Pennsylvania is currently the only gas-producing state that doesn't assess a fee or tax on companies extracting the resource. Debate on the issue comes as the state is grappling with a $4.2 billion budget shortfall and worries about the environmental impact of drilling.
Republican state Sen. Joe Scarnati is expected to introduce a bill within the next few days that would require companies to pay a one-time $10,000 fee on each well, with the potential for added fees on high-production wells. The plan would generate an estimated $121.2 million in the first two years.
Unlike prior proposals by the Democratic minority in the state House and Senate, several observers say the local-impact fee plan has a good chance of winning industry support and ultimately being adopted.
"It's certainly a concept that the industry is willing to take a look at," said Patrick Creighton, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group.
Kevin Harley, a spokesman for GOP Gov. Tom Corbett, said the governor was open to such a fee, but wanted more information from a commission he appointed to examine drilling issues. "The Marcellus Shale can be a cornerstone to the economic development of Pennsylvania," Mr. Harley said. "He wants to develop it in an economically and environmentally sound fashion."
Mr. Corbett, who was elected last year with strong gas-industry support, has opposed a so-called severance tax on gas wells, saying such a tax would turn away drillers and jobs. Other states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and West Virginia, have severance taxes based on the value or volume of gas produced at a well site.
A majority of Pennsylvanians favor some kind of tax to help balance the state budget. An April 27 poll by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., found that Pennsylvania residents supported a tax on companies drilling for gas in the Marcellus "to help balance the state budget" by a 69%-22% margin. The poll of 1,366 people, conducted between April 19-25, had a margin of error of 2.7%.
The Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches beneath parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York, could be the largest shale-gas deposit in the world. Marcellus-related companies already employ 141,000 people in Pennsylvania, or 2.4% of the state's work force, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. An industry-backed study from Penn State University last year said the industry could add 200,000 more jobs in the next ten years.
Democratic Sen. Jay Costa called the Scarnati proposal "a good starting point," but said he would like to see more revenue generated.
Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources Corp., which says it has invested more than $2 billion in the state since 2004 and has 244 wells there, said industry officials and conservation groups met with Mr. Scarnati on a weekly basis last year to work through plans for instituting a fee. "This isn't something that's been cooked up in a vacuum," he said.
Some labor and environmental groups oppose the Scarnati fee and continue to argue for a tax based on production, which they say would generate more money for Pennsylvania.
"We think the tax rate could be higher without having any impact on the level of drilling in the state," said Sharon Ward, director of the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a liberal think tank, which said it gets 10% of its funding from labor unions.
Kenny DuBose, a mineral-rights consultant in Houston, said most states have severance taxes, and many have additional local fees. Texas and Mississippi, for example, levy separate fees to help counties with oilfield cleanup and repairing roads and bridges, he said.
Drillers also pay property taxes on gas reserves and sales tax on equipment in Texas, Mr. DuBose said, but they are currently exempted from such taxes under Pennsylvania law.
Mr. Harley, the governor's spokesman, said companies engaged in drilling-related activities paid $238.4 million in corporate and other taxes to the state in the first quarter.
Write to Kris Maher at kris.maher@wsj.com

Monday, May 16, 2011

To all those who believe nuclear power is clean and safe, here is the latest from Japan...

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2011 washingtonsblog.com

Tepco: Meltdown at Reactor 1 HOURS After Earthquake ... Reactors 2 and 3 Have Likely Melted Down As Well

Tepco - the operator of the stricken Japanese nuclear complex - is finally admitting what independent experts have been saying for months.
Initially, Tepco now admits that reactor number 1 melted down hours after the earthquake. As NHK notes:

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, says most of the fuel rods in the No.1 reactor had dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel within 16 hours of the earthquake on March 11th.

The utility revealed its study on the subject on Sunday.

TEPCO said it analyzed the data and calculated a timeline for the developments in the No. 1 reactor on the assumption that the reactor lost its cooling system as soon as it was hit by the tsunami.

The firm said that within about 
3 hours after the reactor automatically shut down, the cooling water had evaporated to a level at the top of the rods.

In the next 
hour and a half, parts of the fuel rods are believed to have begun melting.

Almost of all the fuel rods melted and dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel by 6:50 am on March 12th.


The firm says the melted rods created small holes on the bottom of the vessel...

Tepco has also admitted that reactors 2 and 3 have likely melted down as well. As reportedin a separate article from NHK:

TEPCO also says the gauges at the No.2 and 3 reactors might not be showing the actual water levels and that both reactors are likely to have undergone meltdowns.

Fukushima's Reactor #1 Appears To Have Melted Down!

From Nature.com
Understanding the complete meltdown at Fukushima unit 1 - May 13, 2011

UPDATE: TEPCO has released more details about conditions inside of the unit 1 reactor. The company also says it will be providing analyses of units 2 and 3 soon.
Last week, workers entered the stricken unit 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and began work to further stabilize it. One of their first tasks was to recalibrate some of the sensors on the reactor, so that engineers had a better sense of how it was doing. That recalibration has led to a startling revelation: virtually all of the fuel inside the unit 1 reactor appears to have "melted down".
Press reports on the meltdown have variously described it as a setback and or admission by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that things are worse than they thought. There's more about what it all means below the fold (for a broader overview, check out our video on Fukushima).
Meltdowns defined
During normal operation, the core of a nuclear power reactor like unit 1 consists of long narrow tubes of a zirconium alloy filled with uranium fuel pellets. Tubes are bundled together into "assemblies" which in turn make up the core of the reactor. When it's humming along at full tilt, the core boils water that is used to turn turbines in the adjacent building. After the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, the water stopped circulating and the core heated up.
At some point, it got hot enough that the zirconium tubes began to split and warp, the beginning of the "meltdown" at unit 1. Nobody can know for sure what happened inside the core, but it appears that the uranium pellets fell out of their assemblies and began gathering at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel (see diagram).
Reactor restart?
This much was already known, and TEPCO had suggested that only about 70% of the core had melted down. But after recalibrating its instruments for measuring water levels inside the reactor, the company now believes that the core has entirely melted down.
Some have theorized that with all the fuel at the bottom of the vessel, unit 1 may have actually restarted its nuclear reactions. If that had happened, the fuel would be pumping out some portion of its normal 1380 megawatts of thermal power—probably enough to melt through the thick steal reactor pressure vessel. It would have dropped onto a concrete slab below (the basemat), where it would have hopefully been spread out, effectively diffusing the chain reaction.
There's some reason to think that this "China syndrome", as it is informally known, didn't happen. Nuclear engineers I've spoken to say that reactors like unit 1 are finicky beasts. Their fuel needs to be carefully configured to work, and they won't restart if the stuff is just a gloop on the bottom of the vessel. In addition, workers injected boric acid into the reactor just before the restart. Boron is a neutron absorber and would spoil any nuclear reactions. Moreover, temperature sensors at the bottom of the reactor vessel are continuing to function, suggesting it wasn't completely destroyed.
That doesn't mean that portions of the fuel weren't briefly producing power during the accident. Nor does it mean that the reactor's fuel has remained wholly inside the pressure vessel. In fact, a note from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) quotes Banri Kaieda, the nation's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, as saying that it is "a fact" that there were holes created by the meltdown. That would likely mean at least some of the uranium fuel is now lying on the basemat below, or perhaps even outside the concrete containment.
Clean up and beyond
Whatever happened inside unit 1, it happened weeks ago. The temperature inside the core is currently around 100C, according to the latest data from the nation's nuclear regulator—far less than it would be if nuclear reactions were continuing inside the core. But there are still some serious implications for cleanup.
The most immediate problem is for a planned recirculation system to cool the core. The plan was to feed water through two emergency systems, the core spray system and the primary containment's cooling spray system. Both are normally designed to funnel water into the core in the case of an emergency. Water exits the core through the AC piping system, normally used to inject nitrogen gas, according to Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear consultant who has been going over the plans in detail. From there, the water would flow to an improvised heat exchanger that would cool it before returning it to the core.
The recirculation system would have two big advantages. First, it would create less radioactive wastewater than is currently generated by just dumping water onto the reactor. Second, it would be more efficient, allowing the reactor to reach cold shutdown—a state where it is more-or-less safe in a matter of months.
Unfortunately, despite TEPCO continuously pumping fresh water into the containment vessel, water levels are too low for the system to work - presumably because the water's surface is below the AC outlet. Nobody really know where all the water is going - but it can't be anywhere good. If workers can't find a way to patch up unit 1, then they'll probably have give up on the plan.

In the longer term, the meltdown makes removing the fuel much more complicated. Normally, the fuel can only be accessed using a massive overhead crane. The crane has already likely been damaged by an earlier explosion, and now, if the fuel is damaged too, it's unclear whether a replacement crane can easily remove it.
Despite all these setbacks, clean up plans continue. Today, TEPCO announced that it had started initial construction of a cover for the unit 1 reactor. The temporary cover will prevent the spread of radiation, and protect the damaged reactor. Proper construction will begin on 6 June.
By the way, does this mean our article titled "The meltdown that wasn't" was mistitled? Pretty much, yes. But the point of the article stands: it could have been a lot worse.
For full coverage of the Fukushima disaster, go to Nature's news special.
For a selection of our coverage in Japanese, see Nature Asia Pacific.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reading the Pictures: Unit 4 in Danger of Collapse? (And Then, Don't Tell Me There's Nothing To See at Fukushima)

Michael Shaw Huffingtonpost.com 5-13-11

Beyond the novelty that Fukushima was back in the news at all, two things characterize Thursday's BBC update. One is how shockingly brief it is, like a dashed of summary. The other is the almost casual tone it takes in listing through the nightmarish situations throughout the plant, especially the acknowledged meltdown in Unit 1.

It is often noted that the Fukushima story remains invisible because radiation is invisible, and/or the plant photos and video being released by TEPCO are also too abstract or technical. That begs the question, then, just how much is the danger hard to visualize as opposed to how much does the world (especially traditional media) have its eyes closed?
One piece of visible information that has floating to the surface in the past few days, by way of indy media and the blogosphere, regards the structural integrity of Unit 4.  Dr. Robert Jacobs, a Nuclear Historian at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, offered the diagram above in an interview on Tuesday with Russia Today. According to Jacobs (which he says has been confirmed by the Japanese Government) , Unit 4 is starting to lean, a collapse certain to expose the fuel rod pools at the top of the building.
(It's not like there isn't a trail of additional images in the 'sphere, as well, by the way -- all available for vetting by a more curious media. Following the de-evolution of Unit 4, for example, blogger Andrew Higgins offers screen shots of the building reduced to a shell over the first week in May. Higgins, using screen shots purportedly from Japanese television, also reports a fire at the plant on May 8th associated with a radiation spike, both of which, he claims, went unreported on the same day big media cited a Government-touted drop in radiation levels.)
Certainly, TEPCO did not neglect Unit 4 as a visual subject, at least in the early weeks after the disaster.
Since April 11 th, however, the only pictures TEPCO has released of Unit 4 have been video downloads, taken underwater of the fuel rod pools, one released on April 29th and the other on May 8th.
So, I guess -- and Dr. Jacob's fuzzy and disturbing illustration drives this home -- what we're sadly lacking from Fukushima (the vagaries of science and radiation as much an excuse as a reason) is a bigger and much better picture of this still-boiling disaster.

NRC Changes Tune On Plant Safety

Tom Zeller, Jr. Huffingtonpost.com 5-13-11

Crtics of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission received fresh ammunition on Thursday when the agency revealed that many of the nation's aging nuclear power plants would be ill-equipped to withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters.
The revelation stood in direct contrast to repeated statements made by the agency -- and by the nuclear power industry -- in the days and weeks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. It suffered a partial meltdown, resulting in a massive release of radiation that is still not under control.
"U.S. nuclear power plants are built to withstand environmental hazards, including earthquakes and tsunamis," the agency asserted in an official statement published on March 12. "Even those plants that are located outside of areas with extensive seismic activity are designed for safety in the event of such a natural disaster. The N.R.C. requires that safety-significant structures, systems, and components be designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically estimated for the site and surrounding area."
This assertion was greeted with skepticism by residents near some nuclear power plants -- particularly those in areas prone to earthquakes, like San Luis Obispo, Calif., which sits in the shadow of the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility. Local activists have long tussled with both the plant's operator, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the NRC over what they see as woefully inadequate plans to deal with a temblor arising from one of several nearby faults.
But after being briefed by a task force charged with reviewing the vulnerability of the nation's plants to natural disasters like those that struck Japan, the NRC appeared less certain that all 104 nuclear facilities were prepared for the worst. According to the New York Times:
[T]he staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged that the agency’s current regulations and disaster plans did not give enough consideration to two factors that had greatly contributed to the continuing Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan: simultaneous problems at more than one reactor and a natural disaster that disrupts roads, electricity and other infrastructure surrounding a plant.
The revelations come on the heels of two lengthy investigations published this week by ProPublicaand the Center for Public Integrity into the long-standing risk of fire at nuclear power plants. That threat is among the many problems that have come under increased scrutiny at the nation's power plants -- and at the commission itself -- in the wake of the disaster in Japan.
Now, despite the agency's early assurances that nuclear facilities in the U.S. were better prepared for challenges like those that devastated Fukushima, NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko said Thursday that the disaster was instructive.
“Because of those lessons, we’ll be changing the way we do business, and the way the industry does business, in this country," Jaczko said.

From Washingtonsblog.com 

FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2011

THREE Nuclear Containment Vessels Leaking in Japan ... But U.S. Law Is Based on Assumption that It Is Impossible for Containment Vessels to Leak

It is newsworthy that the operator of Japan's stricken nuclear plants is finally admittingthat Fukushima reactor number 1 has melted down.

But nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that the containment vessels for reactors 1, 2 and 3 are all leaking.

However, Gundersen points out, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assumes that containment vessels cannot leak and there is a "zero probability of containment leakage". U.S.. nuclear laws are based around that obviously false assumption.

Fukushima - One Step Forward and Four Steps Back as Each Unit Challenged by New Problems from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.
As I've previously demonstrated, the NRC is wholly captured by the nuclear industry.

Similarly, Reuters points out :
"TEPCO seems to be going backwards in getting the situation under control and things may well be slowly eroding with all the units having problems," said Tom Clements with Friends of the Earth, a U.S.-based environmental group.

"At this point, TEPCO still finds itself in unchartered waters and is not able to carry out any plan to get the situation under control," he said.
As I discussed yesterday, Tepco has grossly mismanaged its response to the nuclear accident. The whole "douse the reactors" approach has failed miserably.

Indeed, as the Guardian notes, flooding the reactors could cause new explosions:

Greenpeace has urged Tepco to abandon plans to flood the container with water, given the likelihood that melted fuel has damaged it. Shaun Burnie, nuclear adviser to Greenpeace Germany, said: "Flooding a reactor that has fuel [that has fallen] through the pressure vessel is not a good idea."
Outlining a worst-case scenario, Burnie said very large amounts of cold water hitting the melted fuel could cause an explosion, trigger substantial damage to the reactor and create a "high risk of atmospheric release running for days, if not weeks." He added: "I think [the flooding option] will now be scrapped."
"It seems to be poorly thought through," he said, adding that the firm had not demonstrated that the strategy could work.

There are various proposals for solving the Japanese nuclear crisis. As physicist Michio Kaku said only days after the accident:
What they are doing is basically using squirt guns against a raging forest fire.


Do what Gorbachev did, call out the Japanese air force, get the army to bring a fleet of helicopters armed with sand, boric acid and concrete, entomb it, bury it in concrete.
As Reuters reports:
U.S. nuclear experts said that the company may have to build a concrete wall around the unit because of the breach, and that this could now take years.

"If it is assumed the fuel did melt through the reactor, then the most likely solution is to encapsulate the entire unit. This may include constructing a concrete wall around the unit and building a protective cover over it," W. Gene Corley, senior vice president of CTL Group in Skokie, Illinois, said on Thursday.

"Because of the high radiation that would be present if this has happened, the construction will take many months and may stretch into years," Corley said.
But since Fukushima is right on the Pacific Ocean, burying it in concrete would not necessarily stop leakage into the ocean.

As Reuters reports, Gundersen might have a better - although technically difficult - approach:
TEPCO should consider digging a trench around reactors 1-3 all the way down to the bedrock, which is about 50 feet below the surface, said Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates Inc of Burlington, Vermont, who once worked on reactors of similar design to the Fukushima plant.

He said this should be filled with zeolite, which can absorb radioactive cesium to stop more poisons from leaking into the groundwater around the plant.


THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011

Operator of Japan's Stricken Nuclear Plant Has Been "Going Round and Round in Circles" Using the Wrong Approach

Reactor 1

Tepco says that the fuel rods at Fukushima reactor 1 are exposed. As Bloomberg notes:
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said fuel rods are fully exposed in the No. 1 reactor at its stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, setting back the utility’s plan to resolve the crisis.
The water level is 1 meter (3.3 feet) below the base of the fuel assembly, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility known as Tepco, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo. Melted fuel has dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is still being cooled, Matsumoto said. The company doesn’t know how long the rods have been exposed, he said.
It’s unlikely the situation has worsened with the discovery the rods are exposed because they’ve probably been out of the water since shortly after the crisis started, Narabayashi said.
Indian Express notes:
TEPCO today said new measurements taken this week, after workers in protective suits fixed gauges in the badly-hit reactor one building, indicated that water pumped into the pressure vessel had quickly leaked out.
The Telegraph points out:
One of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant did suffer a nuclear meltdown, Japanese officials admitted for the first time today, describing a pool of molten fuel at the bottom of the reactor’s containment vessel.


The company is worried that the molten pool of radioactive fuel may have burned a hole through the bottom of the containment vessel, causing water to leak.
Bloomberg quotes a top nuclear expert as saying that Tepco has been going about it all wrong:
“I’ve been saying from the beginning the water tomb plan won’t work,” said Tadashi Narabayashi, a professor of nuclear engineering at Hokkaido University. “Tepco must work on a water circulation cooling system as soon as possible. They’ve been going round and round in circles and now realize this is what they need to do.”
Even Tepco is admitting they must change course:
“The plan needs to be revised,” Matsumoto said. “We can’t deny the possibility that a hole in the pressure vessel caused water to leak.”
Reactor 2As discussed below, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has repeatedly said that nuclear reactions likely occurred long after the tsunami hit.
Now, as MIT's Technology Review notes:
Tetsuo Matsui at the University of Tokyo, says the limited data from Fukushima indicates that nuclear chain reactions must have reignited at Fuksuhima up to 12 days after the accident.

He says the ratios from drains at reactors 1 and 3 at Fukushima are consistent with the nuclear reactions having terminated at the time of the earthquake.
However, the data from the drain near reactor 2 and from the cooling pond at reactor 4, where spent fuel rods are stored, indicate that the reactions must have been burning much later.
So things in reactor 2 must have been extremely dangerous right up to the end of March.
Reactor 3
Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen suspects that the huge explosion at reactor number 3 was a nuclear explosion, where the initial hydrogen explosion triggered a "prompt criticality" which spewed radiation high into the air:

Gundersen Postulates Unit 3 Explosion May Have Been Prompt Criticality in Fuel Poolfrom Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.
As WSWS notes:
Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, who has spent 39 years working in the nuclear industry and now acts as an expert witness, has suggested that the explosion in Number 3 building at Fukushima on March 14 may have been more serious than has so far been admitted.
Gundersen argues that an initial hydrogen explosion caused a prompt criticality in the spent-fuel rod pool at the top of the Number 3 reactor building. Prompt criticality is the term used in the nuclear industry for an exponential increase in the number of fission events. That is to say a runaway nuclear chain reaction may have taken place in the spent fuel rods.
Gundersen postulates that the upward vector, the upward thrust, from the explosion in Building 3 may have been sufficient to carry radioactive isotopes from the fuel rods into the atmosphere and to disperse them over many thousands of miles. He points out that uranium has been found on Hawaii, americium has been found in New England and plutonium dust has been found on the Fukushima site. These latter elements are transuranic, i.e. heavier than uranium, and indicate that nuclear fuel was volatilized at Fukushima.
Reactor 4
The building housing reactor 4 is leaning, and Tepco is attempting to shore it up so it doesn't fall over:

As I noted last month, very high radiation levels were showing up in the containment vessel of reactor 4, even though that reactor was supposedly shut down before the earthquake. Since I posted that article, the Japan's nuclear agency has removed all readings for reactor 4.