Self contained, steam powered ECCS pumps at Fukushima Diiachi failed between 11 – 14 March

NRC technical Manual confirms Fukushima Diiachi reactors all had integral, independent pressure vessel powered steam turbines which drove water circulating pumps which are part of the first stage of the Emergency Core Cooling System. Documents from Tepco, World Nuclear Organisation, NHK, Japanese Diet all confirm that the Steam powered turbine driven ECCS cooling pumps were working post quake and post tsunami.

Until now, the reason for the ECCS failure has not been given in any source I have found.

However, the following reference has now be found:

“What happened at Fukushima – A Technical Perspective. The Nuclear Accidents at the Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) at Fukishima Daiichi Units 1 -4 and Implications for American BWRLBNL EETD noon Seminar -April 5, 2011” (Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory) Christian Lobscheid, PE Senior Mechanical Engineer
Advent Engineering Services, San Ramon, CA http://eetd-seminars.lbl.gov/sites/eetd-seminars.lbl.gov/files/Fukushima1_Technical_Perspective_LBL_EEDT_04052011-1.pdf

Quotes:

“•Convenient method for controlling power by simply changing pump flow
•Steam-driven Emergency Core Cooling System(ECCS) directly operated
by steam produced after a reactor shutdown (but valves are controlled by
battery power) ”

“•Requires active coolingfor up to to several days following shutdown. Heat
generation rate initially 6% of normal power operation, ~1% after 1 day,
and ~0.5% after 5 days (enough to melt reactor core)
•Spent fuel pool exposedon top of reactor building in weak secondary
containment
•No major BWR reference accident ever happened until Fukushima that
could be used for “benchmarking” accident frequencies –this led to
overconfidence in BWR design(as explained later) Sources: GE, Budnitz (2010), Braun/Stanford Presentation (3/25/2011)”

“Timeline of Events Between March 11 and 14, 2011
In succession, beginning in Unit 1, then 3 and then 2:
•Batteries run out / Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) failure …” END QUOTE.

The reason for the failure of the ECCS as reported by multiple sources was “flat battery” for the electric valves which hold the ECCS cooling loop (Pressure vessel to suppression pool ).

As soon as the ECCS pumps in each reactor experienced closed valves, due to flat batteries, water circulation ceased in each reactor.

This is the first cause of the Fukushima Diiachi Disaster.

The nuclear industry and its regulators have promised since 1967 an inviolate ECCS system which would work for as long as needed to overcome the threat of containment breach.

Although the steam driven ECCS could have continued to provide emergency cooling of the reactors for longer than actually happened, this emergency cooling ceased because it was beyond the ability to change each battery as it went flat.

This is the first cause. Flat batteries not changed.

The first cause IS NOT loss of ultimate heatsink.

eccs
labels added.

It is very tragic that the designers of the ECCS and the people who approved it, and who approved it for export from the USA did not think that attaching an electric generator to the steam turbine in order to keep the electric ECCS flow valves open was worth the money. Very Very sad. And its a pity that nuclear authorities fro decades since 1967 assured the world (when the matter hit public awareness despite the authorities best efforts) that the ECCS would work. It didnt. The assurance was given during testimony in public hearings that the ECCS would work for as long as needed in order to maintain containment integrity. They never mentioned a proviso which limited ECCS to the life span of a battery charge. WTF. This limitation has been known since before the first Fukushima Diiachi reactor construction was commenced in 1967. The specification called for an ECCS that would cope with decay heat generated by the longest lived radionuclide. This period is longer than 3-4 days. But the designers and regulators “believed” battery capacity sufficient for days instead of months was ok for the ECCS electric flow valves. This is an absolute scandal.

By its design and regulatory decisions the supplying nation imposed a deadline of days, not months, on the TEPCO workers and the nation of Japan.

This is not a uniquely Japanese failure. It is a failure of design. The ECCS flow valves are normally closed. When the batteries went flat, the system defaulted to closed. The pumps kept spinning, just as the sales blurb said, but the water in the ECCS pipes had nowhere to go. Dumb.

This takes arrogant design to the level of national and international tragedy. First step. Get rid of the arrogant culture that results in arrogant design. And the arrogant culture that fails to spot the time bomb that lays sleeping in the machines.

Make a power generator system that doesnt go to 2,000 degrees when all it is there for is to boil water. There is a better way.

For how many decades did the plant owners know that their work force would have the impossible task of coping with an ECCS which could not possibly function for as long as needed to prevent containment breach? Since 1967?

What did the owners do over the decades to overcome the problem?

Nothing.

UNITED STATES NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION

50.46 Acceptance criteria for emergency core cooling systems for light-water nuclear power reactors

“(5) Long-term cooling. After any calculated successful initial operation of the ECCS, the calculated core temperature shall be maintained at an acceptably low value and decay heat shall be removed for the extended period of time required by the long-lived radioactivity remaining in the core.

Mere sales blurb. It should never have been allowed to be built. It should have been approved for export from
the USA.

WTF

In the aftermath, the resources of industry, government and media were deployed to minimize the perceived importance of containment breach and core and fuel pool contents dispersal. There next event, which is on growing, represents the biggest failure of Health Physics and Public Health ever seen in a democracy.

One of the first responses of the safety and health elite to the containment breach was to issue the edict that it was for children to eat plutonium. The decades long institutional rejection of the concept of nuclear disaster preparedness was defended for many months, while the steaming and smoking ruins continued to blight land, sea and air. As workers were forced to use duct tape to stop leaks at the ruins, the nuclear elite did its best to apply the same remedy to the flow of information which might threaten their absurd fantasy of nuclear safety and the flawed idea that the radio-chemicals emitted were a medical treatment of benefit.

No one believes it. If informed consent is not forth coming, if no benefit to the individual is expected, it ain’t medicine. It is sales blurb from a dying elite. They cannot even obey their own rules and regulations.

Failure chain: 1. Earthquake strikes, causing a power pole on an embankment to fall. 2 As a result the TEPCO Fukushima Diiachi nuclear power plant grid power fails and the cooling pumps stop. 3. Three sources verify that the ECCS systems in the three nuclear reactors start functioning. The emergency cooling system is steam turbine driven from units driven by pressure within each reactor. The steam turbines will spin until turned off or until there is no steam pressure in the reactors. 4. The ECCS valves however are not powered by the integral and long term steam power. They are grid or back up dependent. Their last line power source is batteries. This arrogant design is in breach of regulations which mandate long term cooling capacity be integral within the ECCS design. 5. The batteries go flat. 6. The ECCS valves close. 7. The reactors overheat. This is a fundamental flaw. The reactors are required to merely boil water, yet their temperature without coolant is in excess of 2,000 degrees F. Water boils at 212 degrees F. This is an intrinsic design fault. The heat is excess to the point of guaranteed destruction and containment breach. (Ergen, 1967). Further the materials deliberately chosen are hydrogen generators at the natural core temperatures. 8. The destruction of the plant proceeds. 9. The destruction threatens the ability of Japan to functioning as a state. (Kan).

Rules aimed at preventing materials from assuming their natural states and chemical interactions reveal a failure prone system. The requirement to sufficient heat to boil water is exceeded to a destructive degree by nuclear power. When a power pole was destroyed by an earthquake, the failure chain resulted in reactor cores attaining their natural temperatures. The destruction and nuclear pollution ensued, as foreseen and reported by Ergen to the AEC in 1967. Since that time, insufficient actions have taken place to prevent the outcomes foreseen from actually taking place.

And so, they did take place. In the period from 1967, an elite grew fat with self congratulation.

Ground was first broken for the construction of Fukushima Diiachi Nuclear Power Plant in 1967. The events of and since March 2011 were considered at that time too unimportant as an outcome to halt construction. Japan commenced living on borrowed time.

Where Next?

2 Responses to “Self contained, steam powered ECCS pumps at Fukushima Diiachi failed between 11 – 14 March”

  1. CaptD Says:

    More fuel to the “Nuclear Fire” about the Tsunami N☢T being the cause of Fukushima’s TRIPLE MELTDOWN…

    Salute for this important article!

  2. Brett Stokes Says:

    This is a brilliant expose of the corrupt cover ups and the culture of criminal cost cutting which caused the ongoing TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi atrocity.

    Thank you Paul Langley.

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