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Old 03-15-11, 10:00 PM   #1
UmneyDurak
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Keeps getting worse in Japan

All three reactors are in partial melt down, fourth is on fire, radiation in the immediate area spiking to dangerous levels. Just screams negligence on the part of the company.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapc....html?iref=NS1
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Old 03-15-11, 10:05 PM   #2
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I'm sure we'll do our best helping Japan.
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Old 03-15-11, 10:46 PM   #3
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Another article says the Japanese are going to ask for direct military help with the nuclear reactors... so what exactly is the US military going to do about it if its already melted down?
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Old 03-16-11, 01:34 AM   #4
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... so what exactly is the US military going to do about it if its already melted down?...
I would assume assist in any way they can. I would think these reactors will require specialists/experts for years.
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Old 03-16-11, 04:16 AM   #5
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All three reactors are in partial melt down, fourth is on fire, radiation in the immediate area spiking to dangerous levels. Just screams negligence on the part of the company.
No, it screams the largest Japanese earthquake in recorded history followed by a massive tsunami. There were redundant systems at the plant -- all were activated, all subsequently proved ineffective. The reactors shut down, as they were supposed to; the diesel generators kicked in, as they were supposed to, before being flooded by the tsunami; then backup batteries were activated, as they were supposed to, until they ran out of power.

It's true that the plant wasn't designed to cope with a disaster of this magnitude, but for any system there is going to be a limit. At some point, the designers of the plant decided that the safety systems were adequate, and they almost certainly were for 99.999% of the situations the plant was likely to face. We're dealing with a 0.001% situation here.

I also think that leaping to accusations of negligence when 50 TEPCO employees appear to be giving their lives to keep the situation under control is in pretty poor taste.
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Old 03-16-11, 06:30 AM   #6
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+ eleventy to GBCB's comments. If the OP has a better way to bring the situation under control, by all means I will contribute to his airline ticket and taxi ride to Fukushima so he can show the rest of the world how it should be done.
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Old 03-16-11, 06:43 AM   #7
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THANK YOU!

UD, you're WAAAAY off the mark here; FFS, the island nation of Japan SHIFTED 13 FEET CLOSER TO THE USA AS A RESULT OF THE QUAKE! A COUNTRY SHIFTED ITS POSITION ON THE PLANET -- and you think reactor problems, no matter how dire, are the result of NEGLIGENCE?

I'm with MC -- I'll kick in for your travel -- just to send you there and experience it.........
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Old 03-16-11, 07:59 AM   #8
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I will agree that things worked as designed. This is 60's era technology. Pump based cooling is no longer used, a more modern passively cooled plant would have had a better chance to stay safe, but when disasters of this magnitude happen one on top of the other, not sure anything man in his hubris builds can stand up to the awesome power of this world we live on.

I have been listening to NPR and they have had some good discussions about the hows and whys of the failure.

Remember Three Mile Island here? Reactor was shut down and all that stuff is still inside the containment vessel some 30+ years later and research has shown no measurable increases in cancer, etc in the residents of the area.

Japan with the world's help will get this under control and newer plants will be built. It won't be cheap, it won't be easy and ALL of us will feel the impact of this disaster for years to come.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:22 AM   #9
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If they do manage to save this situation, the funeral of these technicians in a few months time will be a fairly huge event.

Japan is one of those countries where you know that the culture will provide a few good men to take one for the team.

We all need a few good men.
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Old 03-16-11, 08:42 AM   #10
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What I'm currently reading is that the reactor design was marginal to begin with and everybody, especially GE, knew it. Unlike a boiling water unit, which needs a thicker containment vessel and thus by nature has greater built in safety, the steam design saves money in construction, but allows less margin for error.

When combined with a design for a 7.9 earthquake (which was not an actual factor as there was "seemingly" no structural damage from the quake that mattered) and a tidal wave of 6.7 meters (the actual flood was estimated at 7 meters) and you have to ask why not built for a 9.5 earthquake and 15 meter flood, especially when you know the area is prone to quakes and it's a nuclear power station after all where you don't want a meltdown.

Then there's the practice of storing spent fuel rods external to the containment vessel with a requirement to provide constant cooling water to the "almost as hot" spent fuel rods. With at least 2 of the systems, the spent rods are the actual problem, not the fuel in the containment vessels. So maybe that wasn't a great idea.

In reality the company designs for a certain dollar/yen value, not for a safety plus additional factor.

So is there negligence. Certainly. They gambled on certain things not happening. That the containment vessels would not be breached, which has occurred in 2 reactors. That the emergency power would be available to keep both the core as well as the stored spent fuel rods cool. I am currently wondering why they were not able to get the backup genie's running again to get the primary coolant system working. Granted that even backup generators are not supposed to run forever, but they are supposed to run long enough to get the core down to controllable temperatures and for reasons unknown that hasn't happened, thus they resorted to using portable pumps and hoses to pipe in seawater.

An immense tragedy is currently underway and I have no doubt the engineers and technicians are doing and have done everything that can, but the bottom line is you can't win with a bad design.

SB
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Old 03-16-11, 09:00 AM   #11
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The design of the Earth is clearly faulty.
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Old 03-16-11, 09:12 AM   #12
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The design of the Earth is clearly faulty.
pun intended?
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Old 03-16-11, 09:31 AM   #13
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The design of the Earth is clearly faulty.
+1 :watches out for imminent lighting strikes:
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Old 03-16-11, 11:17 AM   #14
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What I'm currently reading is that the reactor design was marginal to begin with and everybody, especially GE, knew it. Unlike a boiling water unit, which needs a thicker containment vessel and thus by nature has greater built in safety, the steam design saves money in construction, but allows less margin for error. Other part snipped.

SB
There is negligence, and there is building to a design specification desired by the customer. There is also negligence, and applying contemporary engineering and design standards to something designed and built 40 to 50 years ago.

Pretty much everything is designed and engineered to a particular price point. As an analogy, contemporary engineers could build a car designed to protect the occupants from almost all crashes. However, it would probably be a small tank on wheels, and as such would get abysmal gas mileage and cost large amounts of money. Is it negligence to not build and purchase such a vehicle? Or is it making necessary compromises for the marketplace?

Another analogy in my field is that patient care errors in hospitals could be substantially reduced if we had 1:1 nurse to patient ratios 24/7/365 in all areas of the hospital. The marketplace is not willing to pay for that level of staffing, so hospitals cannot afford it generally and have to reserve it for more critical areas such as the neonatal ICU. Is this negligence or just the realities of the marketplace?
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Old 03-16-11, 11:20 AM   #15
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The design of the Earth is clearly Fawlty.
Don't mind him, he's from Barcelona'd it for you.
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Old 03-16-11, 12:53 PM   #16
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No, it screams the largest Japanese earthquake in recorded history followed by a massive tsunami. There were redundant systems at the plant -- all were activated, all subsequently proved ineffective. The reactors shut down, as they were supposed to; the diesel generators kicked in, as they were supposed to, before being flooded by the tsunami; then backup batteries were activated, as they were supposed to, until they ran out of power.

It's true that the plant wasn't designed to cope with a disaster of this magnitude, but for any system there is going to be a limit. At some point, the designers of the plant decided that the safety systems were adequate, and they almost certainly were for 99.999% of the situations the plant was likely to face. We're dealing with a 0.001% situation here.

I also think that leaping to accusations of negligence when 50 TEPCO employees appear to be giving their lives to keep the situation under control is in pretty poor taste.
Poor taste? I am not accusing the current 50 workers of negligence, I am accusing the higher management and the company in general. For safety systems to fail this miserably in all three active reactors, and one inactive reactor shows there was a fundamental problem either in the design or subsequent maintenance and testing to make sure equipment was still up to par.
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Old 03-16-11, 01:30 PM   #17
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+ eleventy to GBCB's comments. If the OP has a better way to bring the situation under control, by all means I will contribute to his airline ticket and taxi ride to Fukushima so he can show the rest of the world how it should be done.
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THANK YOU!

UD, you're WAAAAY off the mark here; FFS, the island nation of Japan SHIFTED 13 FEET CLOSER TO THE USA AS A RESULT OF THE QUAKE! A COUNTRY SHIFTED ITS POSITION ON THE PLANET -- and you think reactor problems, no matter how dire, are the result of NEGLIGENCE?

I'm with MC -- I'll kick in for your travel -- just to send you there and experience it.........
Please do, I won't mind visiting Japan.
No I think pretty much complete failure of backup systems in 4 reactors is a potential result of negligence.

To stir the hornets nest a bit further I also think some people in this thread are being just a tad too dramatic. Funeral, really? This is not Chernobyl for christ sake. They are not walking around there with nothing but gas masks for protection, and although radiation levels has spiked locally they are not at those levels that would cause certain death.
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Old 03-16-11, 01:31 PM   #18
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Let's try to keep this thread both nonpolitical and noncontroversial, so I or the staff don't have to move it to P&R.
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Old 03-16-11, 01:45 PM   #19
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By the way, we design facilities based on assessment of risk probabilities. Fukushima had been designed for a 7.9 quake and protected against a tsunami up to 27 meters, IIRC, based on a probability assessment that that was where event magnitude probability went down asymptotically from a reasonable probability to a very low order probability, based on the data that they had at the time. They paid their money and they took their chances, and I'm frankly, flat amazed that the plant held as well as it did, given that a 9.0 is fully 11 times the forces generated in a 7.9. Each full number of magnitude is exponential.....in other words, it's a logarithmic scale as the earthquake increases in magnitude.

Add in the larger tsunami. They determined the seawall based on the maximum shake and the predicted maximum wave that could be generated by the shake, again, based on data at the time the plant was planned and built.
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Old 03-16-11, 03:01 PM   #20
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Please do, I won't mind visiting Japan.
No I think pretty much complete failure of backup systems in 4 reactors is a potential result of negligence.

To stir the hornets nest a bit further I also think some people in this thread are being just a tad too dramatic. Funeral, really? This is not Chernobyl for christ sake. They are not walking around there with nothing but gas masks for protection, and although radiation levels has spiked locally they are not at those levels that would cause certain death.
Just to be sure, do you have nuclear engineering or reactor operation qualifications making you competent to render an opinion on negligence?
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Old 03-16-11, 03:25 PM   #21
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The marketplace is not willing to pay for that level of staffing, so hospitals cannot afford it generally and have to reserve it for more critical areas such as the neonatal ICU. Is this negligence or just the realities of the marketplace?
Well I think future nuke plants will be licensed only if they can withstand predictable geological activity, so I guess we'll find out what is the reality of the market place. Hey, this nuke plant was at least as well designed as the Concorde, which was the safest plane flying until it had an accident and then was decided to be too unsafe to fly at all.
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Old 03-16-11, 03:31 PM   #22
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Diablo Canyon (the one nuclear reactor I have any experience with, having lived within 12mi of it for years, and then getting to tour it as an engineering student) had a third-level backup-- a gigantic pool of water up the hill from the reactor. If nothing else did it, they could gravity feed the pool up the hill onto the reactor.

I guess that isn't an option if you're on one of the few flat parts in Japan.
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Old 03-16-11, 03:40 PM   #23
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Just to be sure, do you have nuclear engineering or reactor operation qualifications making you competent to render an opinion on negligence?
Yes I also stayed in holiday Inn. Fine, it was a perfect storm, no one could have predicted it, everything was up to spec and examined to utmost perfection, no corners were cut during construction or maintenance. It just kind of all failed because of the tsunami.

By the way found this. Marked 16th, but not sure how up to date it currently is.
Direct link for easier viewing: link
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Old 03-16-11, 04:18 PM   #24
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By the way, we design facilities based on assessment of risk probabilities. Fukushima had been designed for a 7.9 quake and protected against a tsunami up to 27 meters, IIRC, based on a probability assessment that that was where event magnitude probability went down asymptotically from a reasonable probability to a very low order probability, based on the data that they had at the time. They paid their money and they took their chances, and I'm frankly, flat amazed that the plant held as well as it did, given that a 9.0 is fully 11 times the forces generated in a 7.9. Each full number of magnitude is exponential.....in other words, it's a logarithmic scale as the earthquake increases in magnitude.

Add in the larger tsunami. They determined the seawall based on the maximum shake and the predicted maximum wave that could be generated by the shake, again, based on data at the time the plant was planned and built.
Hindsight is always 20/20. I do find 2 things that disturb me. One is the placement of the Diesel generators (and soem associated connections). The other is having so much at one site, where it now seems the problems work to build upon eachother.

But to the second, more seperation would mean more land (something rather precious in Japan) lost to buffer areas. Storing spend fuel elsewhere would mean transport, and the possibility that the reactor area came through fine but the spent fuel storage area took a hit.

It is much easier to design something for one string of events. It is much harder to design for all possible strings of events.
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Old 03-16-11, 06:16 PM   #25
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"It is much easier to design something for one string of events. It is much harder to design for all possible strings of events."

Not harder, just a lot more expensive.

One of the HUGE regulatory loopholes currently is the issue of the spend fuel rods.

OK, you design a system 40 years ago based on XX probability with very little excess capacity in terms of shock and tsunami resistance. You still have a containment structure that was not exactly state-of-the-art or well designed at the time and from which one top GE engineer resigned over the design. OK, that's all really an economic issue.

But you then take the nearly-as-hot fuel rods and store them outside the containment system, so no real safeguards in terms of resistance to fire or explosion, which is the whole purpose to the containment vessel.

Now you have essential meltdowns of the spent fuel rods at 2 facilities, whose radiation levels are so high so as to prevent any treatment of the problems in the reactors whose cores inside the containment vessels are also at risk of meltdown.

Game over due to negligence.

Mind you that I am actually a believer that well designed nuclear reactors are one of the answers to the increasing need for electricity and it pains me to see yet another example of design compromises due to economy, as the it's certain to put the price tag for nuclear reactors in this country out of reach.
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