Archive for March, 2014

The JGov Dept of Truth strikes again….

March 27, 2014

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_26/Japanese-govt-conceals-high-radiation-data-in-Fukushima-region-from-public-4812/

Voice of Russia 26 March 2014


Japanese gov’t conceals high radiation data in Fukushima region from public


The Japanese government has postponed releasing the results of its latest measurement of radiation in three municipalities of the Fukushima region. The reason is the results are higher than expected, an unnamed source said in an interview with the Mainichi newspaper.

The matter is that the three municipalities in question currently have an active evacuation order, which might be lifted soon, and the government supports the lifting. That is why the Cabinet Office team decided to withhold the data as it might discourage residents from going back.

The recent measurements were significantly higher than expected: the levels were at 2.6 to 6.6 millisieverts a day, while expectations were at 1 to 2 millisieverts. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency and National Institute of Radiological Science decided to recalculate the results basing on an assumption that people would spend shorter periods outdoors than it is usually assumed in these cases (six hours instead of eight). The new results were submitted to the Cabinet Office team, and they plan to announce them later this month.

Atsuo Tamura from the Cabinet Office team has confirmed the recalculation and unreleased documents, but denied any attempts to conceal anything. But a professor of radiation and hygiene from the Dokkyo Medical University, Shinzo Kimura, has another opinion: “The assumption of eight hours a day outside and 16 hours inside is commonly used, and it is strange to change it. I can’t see it as anything but them fiddling with the numbers to make them come out as they wanted.”

The Minimum Latent Period of Thyroid Cancer

March 27, 2014

http://www.rri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/NSRG/reports/kr79/kr79pdf/Malko2.pdf

Chernobyl Radiation-induced Thyroid Cancers in Belarus
Mikhail V. MALKO
Joint Institute of Power and Nuclear Research, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus
Krasin Str. 99, Minsk, Sosny, 220109, Republic
of Belarus: mvmalko@malkom.belpak.minsk.by QUOTE: ” absence of marked latency period is another feature of radiation-induced thyroid cancers caused in Belarus as a result of this accident. “

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1356259/

Journal List
Ann Surg
v.239(4); Apr 2004
PMC1356259

Latency Period of Thyroid Neoplasia After Radiation Exposure
Shoichi Kikuchi, MD, PhD, Nancy D. Perrier, MD, Philip Ituarte, PhD, MPH, Allan E. Siperstein, MD, Quan-Yang Duh, MD, and Orlo H. Clark, MD

From the From Department of Surgery, UCSF Affiliated Hospitals, San Francisco, California.

“Latency Period of Benign and Malignant Thyroid Tumors

Although some sporadic tumors unrelated to radiation may be included among our patients, the shortest latency period for both benign and malignant tumors was 1 year as occurred in 3 patients, whereas the longest time was 69 and 58 years, respectively.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17452969

Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab. 2007 May;3(5):422-9.
Mechanisms of Disease: molecular genetics of childhood thyroid cancers.
Yamashita S, Saenko V.
Source

Department of Molecular Medicine, Atomic Bomb Disease Institute, Nagasaki University, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Japan. shun@nagasaki-u.ac.jp
Abstract

“The incidence of thyroid cancer in children increased dramatically in the territories affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident; this increase is probably attributable to (131)I and other short-lived isotopes of iodine released into the environment. There was a broad range of latency periods in children who developed thyroid cancer; some periods were less than 5 years.”
end quote.
Why did Yamashita change his tune after 3/11?

“Minimum Latency & Types or Categories of Cancer” John Howard, M.D., Administrator World Trade Center Health Program, 9.11 Monitoring and Treatment, Revision: May 1, 2013,
http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pdfs/wtchpminlatcancer2013-05-01.pdf states that the latent period for Thyroid cancer is :
“2.5 years, based on low estimates used for lifetime risk modeling of low-level ionizing radiation studies”, pdf page 1.

Why aren’t journalists asking the right questions?

Thyroid Cancer, Whole of Japan, 1975 – 2008; FUKUSHIMA 2011 – EARLY 2014

March 27, 2014

Source:

Matsuda A, Matsuda T, Shibata A, Katanoda K, Sobue T, Nishimoto H and The Japan Cancer Surveillance Research Group. Cancer Incidence and Incidence Rates in Japan in 2007: A Study of 21 Population-based Cancer Registries for the Monitoring of Cancer Incidence in Japan (MCIJ) Project. Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology, 43: 328-336, 2013 Download Source Data as Excel spreadsheets at http://ganjoho.jp/pro/statistics

Dataset: “Incidence (National estimates), cancer_incidence(1975-2008)E.xls” Link: http://ganjoho.jp/pro/statistics/en/cancer_incidence(1975-2008)E.xls

A. THYROID CANCER INCIDENCE EACH YEAR, 0 – 19 YEARS OLD, WHOLE OF JAPAN, 1975-2008

1. BOTH GENDERS

2. FEMALE

3. MALE

B. THYROID CANCER NUMBER OF NEW CASES EACH YEAR 0 -19 YEARS OLD, WHOLE OF JAPAN

1. BOTH GENDERS

2. FEMALE

3. MALE

FUKUSHIMA – see previous post (FMU official thyroid survey findings. Press reports :
http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/542493/20140310/fukushimBy Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 10, 2014 3:12 PM EST a-thyroid-cancer-children-trust-disaster-chernobyl.htm
International Business Times

Fukushima 3 Years After: Thyroid Cancer Cases Among Children Rising by By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 10, 2014 3:12 PM EST

Cases of thyroid cancer among children residing in Fukushima have grown steadily since the disastrous March 2011 incident. Citizens have all but lost hope and confidence in their government. And three years after, no one has been made accountable for the supposed worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl.

To say that Fukushima’s children have been robbed of their childhood and right to play and explore the outside world is an understatement….Doctors have seen a rising number in the cases thyroid cancer in children and young adults in Fukushima. In February, the cases of thyroid cancer in individuals aged between 18 and below jumped to 75, where 33 were confirmed to have cancer.

On Sunday, thousands joined anti-nuclear protests to signify their loss of trust against the government as the latter moves to reignite the country’s 50 idled nuclear reactors….So far, 254,000 out of 375,000 Fukushima children have been tested for possible cancer ailments and will continue to be screened in their entire lifetime…”


“A child walks past a geiger counter, measuring a radiation level of 0.162 microsievert per hour, at a square in front of Koriyama Station in Koriyama, west of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima prefecture March 1, 2014. March 11 marks the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In Koriyama, a short drive from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, the city recommended shortly after the disaster that children up to two years old not spend more than 15 minutes outside each day. Those aged 3 to 5 should limit their outdoor time to 30 minutes or less. The limits were lifted last year, but many kindergartens and nursery schools continue to obey them even now in line with the wishes of worried parents. An annual survey by the Fukushima prefecture Board of Education found that children in Fukushima weighed more than the national average in virtually every age group. The cause seems to be a lack of exercise and outdoor activity. Picture taken March 1, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai”

Thyroid Survey Results, Fukushima Health Management Survey

March 27, 2014

Original link:
https://www.fmu.ac.jp/radiationhealth/results/media/14-2_ThyroidUE.pdf

Tepco fucks up radiation monitoring readings of workers

March 27, 2014

SNAFU.Must have employed Barry Brooks, Pam Sykes and Andrew Bolt as dosimeter calibrators.

Probably true of the rest of the population.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201403260046

Asahi Shimbun, 26 March 2014

y TOMOHIRO YAMAMOTO/ Staff Writer

Tokyo Electric Power Co. underestimated internal radiation doses of 142 individuals who worked at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant immediately after the triple meltdown three years ago, according to the health ministry.

Also on March 25, the ministry said it instructed TEPCO to strictly monitor the health of workers according to established procedure.

The ministry said it revised the workers’ radiation exposure records upward by an average of 5.86 millisieverts.

In one exceptional case, the radiation dose was amended by an additional 89.83 millisieverts, from 90.27 millisieverts to 180.10 millisieverts, exceeding the government-set limit of 100 millisieverts over five years.

The TEPCO employee continued to work at nuclear facilities because the utility believed the person’s radiation dose was well under the limit, according to ministry officials.

The health ministry also said an additional two individuals exceeded the legal annual limit of 50 millisieverts due to the new findings.

Twenty-four of the 142 individuals whose records were revised upward were TEPCO employees. The other 118 were contractors from 18 partner firms.

The government has examined the records of 1,536 of the 7,529 employees and contractors who worked at the plant between March and April in 2011. It did so after discovering in late January that TEPCO had used inadequate methods to estimate some workers’ radiation doses while rechecking TEPCO’s health management of workers.

The utility, for example, underestimated internal doses of those who had taken iodine tablets to protect their thyroid glands from radiation exposure. It remains unclear whether and how much the agent had reduced exposure levels.

A Proposal by a reader regarding Openness of Information in the NRC.

March 17, 2014

Reader known as Captain D writes:

“I propose that the Chairman of the NRC would be well advised to fund an independently done History: After 3/11 and then once it is completed, use it to examine exactly what responses by the NRC were later found incorrect, in order to determine how they occurred, since it is obvious that the NRC chain of command failed in its duty to keep the public informed with factual up to date information. This effort would be similar to an NRC AIT review and would result in the NRC being far better prepared if/when the next nuclear incident/accident occurs so that it can fulfill its mandate by responding far more Professionally.

This History is very important because if/when the next “Fukushima” occurs, the NRC needs to respond in a more Professional manner that relies upon best practices, instead of just nuclear industry protectionism. Since the NRC already has existing funds for many programs and/or studies, funding this historical review should be given top priority. I believe that Paul Langley, myself and a few others that have been documenting this information since 3/11/11 would be most interested in this undertaking since we have already collected most of the publicly available documentation that we would need to complete this History.

Example: Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog
https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/author/nuclearhistory/

A multi-part series of “Flashbacks” of the News released immediately after Fukushima occurred.

Paul Langley’s series uses actual News accounts that were published and/or official reports that were considered factual at the time they were released. This series also illustrates just how MSM was really only reporting information that (no surprise to many of us) was later found to be completely inaccurate because it tried to protect the nuclear industry from the fallout of Fukushima’s triple meltdowns!

The Right to Know. Investigating the Effects of Low-Dose Radiation from Chernobyl to Fukushima: History Repeats Itself

March 16, 2014

http://www.significancemagazine.org/details/magazine/4370861/The-effects-of-lowdose-radiation-Soviet-science-the-nuclear-industry–and-indepe.html

The effects of low‐dose radiation: Soviet science, the nuclear industry – and independence?

Author: Anders Pape Møller, Timothy A. Mousseau
Published: Feb 15, 2013 – From issue: Volume 10 Issue 1 (February 2013)
Doi: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2013.00630.x

Article Citation:
Anders Pape Møller and Timothy A. Mousseau (2013) Investigating the Effects of Low-Dose Radiation from Chernobyl to Fukushima: History Repeats Itself. Asian Perspective: October-December 2013, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 551-565.

Full text pdf: http://cricket.biol.sc.edu/chernobyl/papers/Moller-Mousseau-AsianP-2013.pdf

Special Issue: After Fukushima: The Right to Know
Investigating the Effects of Low-Dose Radiation from Chernobyl to Fukushima: History Repeats Itself

Anders Pape Møller , Timothy A. Mousseau

The disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima released large amounts of radioactive material, equivalent to many hundreds of nuclear bombs the size of those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Currently, there is worldwide interest in the effects of so-called low-dose radiation on public health and on biological systems from molecules to ecosystems. Research efforts to quantify these effects constitute a curious mixture of Soviet science, research by independent scientists, and research supported by the nuclear industry. The article explains how navigating between these diverse efforts can be reconciled to synthesize available information to the benefit of the general public and the policymaking community.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Why things don’t add up at Fukushima – Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout

March 16, 2014

Note to readers: Some days after my initial cut and paste of this article from the New York Times, I revisited the NYT site to find editorial changes and a correction had occurred. On 14 March 2014 the article headline had changed from “Squelching Efforts to Measure Fukushima Meltdown” to “Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout”. So I have changed my headline to reflect this. The New York Times has added the following at the bottom of the text to the article: “Correction: March 17, 2014 An earlier version of the headline with this article misstated the actions of the Japanese government. There are deep differences over how to determine the health impact of the Fukushima disaster. The authorities are not ‘‘squelching” efforts to measure the effects of the accident.” To Australian readers who remember the story of Dr. Marston and the British nuclear tests I would suggest we are seeing a similar cultural event in Japan. When the power elite wish to push a particular barrow, that elite, be it political, military or whatever, are quite capable of the social engineering needed to make their dreams comes true at the expense of the needs and wishes of ordinary who occupy the living space affected. Apparently this aspect of Japanese nuclear culture is powerful enough to reach right into the editorial offices of the New York Times. Reference to Dr Marston: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedley_Marston “In the 1950s, Marston’s research into fallout from the British nuclear tests at Maralinga brought Marston into bitter conflict with the government appointed Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee. He was vindicated posthumously by the McClelland Royal Commission, which found that significant radiation hazards existed at many of the Maralinga test sites long after the tests.

His project also tracked fallout across the continent by examining the thyroids of sheep and cattle as well as devices that filtered radioactive elements from air. Later the results, which showed dramatic increases of certain radioactive elements after British Nuclear Tests, caused a further, controversial study where the bones of deceased people (especially children) were burnt to ash and then measured for Strontium-90. These tests showed that the tests had increased the concentration of Strontium-90 dramatically. As well as finding this after British tests a notable 50% increase was noticed one year when there were no tests and it was cited as evidence that the previous years hydrogen bomb tests had contaminated the majority of the world.” Marston was threatened by government agents, had his work censored and delayed, had his private mail opened by security services and was accused of being a communist. In the 1980s a Royal Commission in Australia found that his main opponent, the Chair of Atomic Weapons Test Safety Committee, Prof. Titterton was an agent of two foreign power, Britain and the United States. Tittle admitted that he was prevented by secrecy oaths he had taken to those two powers in his disclosures to government and the public of the fallout hazards present in Australia at the time.

There comes a time when media organizations need to determine whether or not they will record the truth, the whole truth and so as is possible, nothing but truth, barring declared advertising. Hopefully NYT does this. And does not bow to pressure to do the opposite.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/world/asia/squelching-efforts-to-measure-fukushima-meltdown.html?_r=0

The New York Times
Asia Pacific
Concerns Over Measurement of Fukushima Fallout

By DAVID MCNEILL | THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATIONMARCH 16, 2014

TOKYO — In the chaotic, fearful weeks after the Fukushima nuclear crisis began, in March 2011, researchers struggled to measure the radioactive fallout unleashed on the public. Michio Aoyama’s initial findings were more startling than most. As a senior scientist at the Japanese government’s Meteorological Research Institute, he said levels of radioactive cesium 137 in the surface water of the Pacific Ocean could be 10,000 times as high as contamination after Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Two months later, as Mr. Aoyama prepared to publish his findings in a short, nonpeer-reviewed article for Nature, the director general of the institute called with an unusual demand — that Mr. Aoyama remove his own name from the paper.

“He said there were points he didn’t understand, or want to understand,” the researcher recalled. “I was later told that he did not want to say that Fukushima radioactivity was worse than Chernobyl.” The head of the institute, who has since retired, declined to comment for this article. Mr. Aoyama asked for his name to be removed, he said, and the article was not published.

The pressure he felt is not unusual — only his decision to speak about it. Off the record, university researchers in Japan say that even now, three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, they feel under pressure to play down the impact of the disaster. Some say they cannot get funds or university support for their work. In several cases, the professors say, they have been obstructed or told to steer clear of data that might cause public “concern.”

“Getting involved in this sort of research is dangerous politically,” said Joji Otaki, a biologist at Japan’s Ryukyu University who has written papers suggesting that radioactivity at Fukushima has triggered inherited deformities in a species of butterfly. His research is paid for through private donations, including crowdfunding, a sign, he said, that the public supports his work. “It’s an exceptional situation,” he said.

The precise health impact of the Fukushima disaster is disputed. The government has defined mandatory evacuation zones around the Daiichi plant as areas where cumulative dose levels might reach 20 millisieverts per year, the typical worldwide limit for nuclear-power-plant workers. The limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection is one millisievert per year for the public, though some scientists argue that below 100 millisieverts the threat of increased cancers is negligible.

In an effort to lower radiation and persuade about 155,000 people to return home, the government is trying to decontaminate a large area by scraping away millions of tons of radioactive dirt and storing it in temporary dumps. Experts at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology put the cost of this project at $50 billion — widely considered an underestimate.

The chance to study in this real-life laboratory has drawn a small number of researchers from around the world. Timothy A. Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina who has written widely on Chernobyl, studies the impact of radiation on bird and insect life. He has published papers suggesting abnormalities and defects in some Fukushima species. But he said his three research excursions to Japan had been difficult.

In one case, a Japanese professor and two postdoctoral students dropped out of a joint research paper, telling him they could not risk association with his findings. “They felt it was too provocative and controversial,” he said, “and the postdocs were worried it could hamper their future job prospects.”

Mr. Mousseau is careful to avoid comparisons with the Soviet Union, which arrested and even imprisoned scientists who studied Chernobyl. Nevertheless, he finds the lukewarm support for studies in Japan troubling: “It’s pretty clear that there is self-censorship or professors have been warned by their superiors that they must be very, very careful,” he said.

The “more insidious censorship” is the lack of funding at a national level for these kinds of studies, he added. “They’re putting trillions of yen into moving dirt around and almost nothing into environmental assessment.”

Long before an earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima meltdown, critics questioned the influence of Japan’s powerful nuclear lobby over the country’s top universities. Some professors say their careers have been hobbled because they expressed doubts about the nation’s nuclear policy and the coalition of bureaucrats, industrialists, politicians and elite academics who created it.

Mr. Aoyama, who now works at Fukushima University, sees no evidence of an organized conspiracy in the lack of openness about radiation levels — just official timidity. Despite the problems with his Nature article, he has written or co-written eight published papers since 2011 on coastal water pollution and other radiation-linked themes.

But stories of problems with Fukushima-related research are common, he said, including accounts of several professors’ being told not to measure radiation in the surrounding prefectures. “There are so many issues in our community,” he said. “The key phrase is ‘don’t cause panic.”’

He is also critical of the flood of false rumors circulating about the reach of Fukushima’s radioactive payload.

Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s department of marine chemistry and geochemistry, in Massachusetts, who has worked with Mr. Aoyama, said he has spent much of his professional energy fighting the rumor mill. The cause is not helped, he added, by institutional attempts to gag Japanese professors.

“Researchers are told not to talk to the press, or they don’t feel comfortable about talking to the press without permission,” Mr. Buesseler said. A veteran of three post-earthquake research trips to Japan, he wants the authorities to put more money into investigating the impact on the food chain of Fukushima’s release of cesium and strontium. “Why isn’t the Japanese government paying for this, since they have most to gain?”

One reason, critics say, is that after a period of national soul searching, when it looked as if Japan might scrap its commercial reactors, the government is again supporting nuclear power. Since the conservative Liberal Democrats returned to power, in late 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun trying to sell Japan’s nuclear technology abroad.

Professors, meanwhile, say that rather than simply defend what is a piecemeal approach to studying the disaster, the government should take the lead in creating a large, publicly financed project.

“If we’ve ever going to make any headway into the environmental impact of these disasters, statistical power, scientific power, is what counts,” said Mr. Mousseau of the University of South Carolina. “We get at it with massive replication, by going to hundreds of locations. That costs money.” end quote

This suppression of research via the harassment of researchers in Japan has been occurring throughout Japan’s atomic age and came to a head immediately post Fukushima.

On 3 April 2013 I received an email from a US researcher who was working in Japan with Japanese researchers. His email read in part: “As for Japanese researchers, I m not sure about effects on careers. However, it is clear that there is self censorship going on, presumably motivated by fears of negative impacts on their careers. Several of our collaborators were reluctant to be co-authors on our papers. And I have heard similar stories from others (you could ask Ken Bueseller at Woods Hole for his experience). Best wishes,…..University of South Carolina”

The Fires in Spent Fuel Pool Number 4 15 March 2011

March 14, 2014

Assessment of individual radionuclide distributions from the Fukushima nuclear accident covering central-east Japan

Norikazu Kinoshitaa,1,2, Keisuke Suekia, Kimikazu Sasaa, Jun-ichi Kitagawaa, Satoshi Ikarashia, Tomohiro Nishimuraa, Ying-Shee Wonga, Yukihiko Satoua, Koji Handaa,Tsutomu Takahashia, Masanori Satob, andTakeyasu Yamagatab

Edited by James E. Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and approved September 29, 2011 (received for review July 24, 2011)

Abstract

A tremendous amount of radioactivity was discharged because of the damage to cooling systems of nuclear reactors in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. Fukushima and its adjacent prefectures were contaminated with fission products from the accident. Here, we show a geographical distribution of radioactive iodine, tellurium, and cesium in the surface soils of central-east Japan as determined by gamma-ray spectrometry. Especially in Fukushima prefecture, contaminated area spreads around Iitate and Naka-Dori for all the radionuclides we measured. Distributions of the radionuclides were affected by the physical state of each nuclide as well as geographical features. Considering meteorological conditions, it is concluded that the radioactive material transported on March 15 was the major contributor to contamination in Fukushima prefecture, whereas the radioactive material transported on March 21 was the major source in Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures and in Tokyo.

Full text: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/49/19526.full

Fukushima-derived radionuclides in the ocean and biota off Japan

Ken O. Buesselera,1, Steven R. Jayneb, Nicholas S. Fisherc, Irina I. Rypinab Hannes Baumannc, Zofia Baumannc, Crystaline F. Breiera, Elizabeth M. Douglassb, Jennifer Georgec, Alison M. Macdonaldb, Hiroomi Miyamotod, Jun Nishikawad, Steven M. Pikea, and Sashiko Yoshidab

” The Fukushima accident was characterized by core overheating that led to the venting of radioactive gases, hydrogen explosions, and fires associated with spent fuel rods; this resulted in the preferential release of more volatile radionuclides, such as Cs, and gases to the atmosphere.”

On the basis of the evidence reported by qualified, peer reviewed papers, the Japan Atomic Industry Forum, IAEA reports, coupled with some media reports, and the order for people to stay indoors from 15 March 2011 issued by the Japanese government that fuel rods in spent fuel rods were “burning” (rapidly oxidizing) on 15 March 2011 in spent fuel pool number 4.

This is worst case scenario according to WASH-740. The “fires” for at least part of the time were hard to see and this indicate grave overheating of zirconium. Rapid oxidation of zirconium can occur without flame. The presence or absence of flame being irrelevant to the structural harm done to the rod cladding by extreme overheat. The indications are that the explosion in spent fuel pool 4 of 15 March 2011 was due to Hydrogen release from overheating spent fuel rods. The “burning” continued for some time. The “fire” was “put out” twice. The fuel rods continued to overheat for some time, Fukushima Diary publishing information which indicates overheating continued on and off for a number of weeks.

The main release of radionuclides from Fukushima Diiachi appears to have been on 15 March 2011.

The nuclear industry needs to tell the truth for once.

The fact is that the conventional explanations of “burning zirconium” and the alleged impossibility of “putting out” “burning zirconium” are inaccurate. The issue being one of reducing the temperature of overheating zirconium so as to prevent structural damage and release of radionuclides.

Obviously it is possible to cool overheating zirconium even when it is rapidly oxidizing.

The events of 15 March 2011 indicate that the current program to removed spent fuel rods from Spent Fuel Pool Number 4 will involve the disturbance and removal of fuel rods which were damaged and breached on 15 March 2011.

At the end of this, despite the grave damage suffered by Japan as a result of the events of 15 March 2011, the nuclear industry will turn around and claim reports of the consequences of a spent fuel pool fire are greatly exaggerated even though it was the nuclear authorities who many years ago gave the exaggerated consequences via WASH 740. On this basis, despite the grave harm done to Japan and its people on 15 March 2011, nuclear industry will attempt to use the Fukushima Diiachi disaster as a proof of nuclear safety. Whereas in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The industry has always spoken in extremes. The world is in colour, not in black and white. The harms from the disaster are substantial and almost caused the death of a modern state. People are being placed at risk in order to prevent economic and social chaos in Japan today. The economic and social costs are actually substantial. The medical outcomes yet to be determined.

Nuclear power is not safe.

Flashback 11 The Fires in Spent Fuel Pool Number 4, Fukushima-Diiachi

March 14, 2014

The Japan Atomic Industry Forum at http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/fukushima/plantstatus201103.html provides links to its “Reactor Status and Major Events Update – NPPs in Fukushima (Estimated by JAIF) March 2011″. Earliest date provided being Update Number 2, Tuesday March 15 2011 at 10.30 hours.

This status update states that Reactor 4 is “safe”. This report notes the evacuation zone is 20 kms from the NPP.

Status update 3 of 13:00 hours 15 March 2011 states that the evacuation zone is “Evacuation Area 20km from NPS * People who live between 20km to 30km from the Fukushima #1NPS are to stay indoors.”

The update reports also notes that “Remarks: Fire broke (out) on the 4th floor of the Unit-4 Reactor Building around 6AM and the radiation monitor readings increased outside of the building:
30mSv between Unit-2 and Unit-3, 400mSv beside Unit-3, 100mSv beside Unit-4 at 10:22.
It is estimated that the spent fuels stored in the spent fuel pit heated and hydrogen was generated from these fuels, resulting in the explosion. TEPCO later announced the fire had been extinguished.
Other staff and workers than 50 TEPCO employees, who are engaged in water injection operation, have been evacuated.”

The relevant links to the updates for 15 March 2011 and 15 March 2011 are:
http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300171089P.pdf 10.30 hours 15 March 2011
http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300168169P.pdf 13:00 hours March 15 2011
http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1300189582P.pdf 19:00 hours March 15 2011
The relevant content of these pages are reproduced below:




(It is very revealing of the nature of the nuclear industry that ordinary, such as myself, have to trawl through esoteric industry sites in order to find information about the most significant day of the
Fukushima Diiachi disaster so that we can have some hope of finding out what actually happened. Christ, its three years later and we are still trying to get to the truth. It is pathetic.)

It can be seen that the order for people to stay indoors in the defined area occurred commenced after the fire commenced. The view was that that overheating fuel in spent fuel pools generated hydrogen resulting in the explosions. Of interest here is the explosion in reactor 4. Prior to the explosion, Reactor 4 building was intact. After the explosion it was not. The fuel overheated in spent fuel pool 4 and this is sufficient cause to generate hydrogen. This of course means that hydrogen generated within the spent fuel pool occurred regardless of events at reactor 3. The fuel rods in these two fuel pools was overheating and radiation levels outside both reactor buildings was high. JAIF ascribes this to the condition and environment of the spent fuel in both pools. However, it was number 4′s spent fuel pool which experienced fire.

What was burning is not specified. However the fuel is implicated, though no attempt is made to clarify exactly what was burning. The further implication is that fuel rods in the spent fuel pool of Reactor 4 were venting into the air. It is a logical progression from overheat, to explosion, to damaged containment and to the order for people with a defined zone to stay indoors.

The JAIF accident update of 15 March 2011 states that for reactor 4 “SFP level low, Injecting Water SFP Temp. Increasing SFP Temp. Increasing” The text is red flagged by JAIF.

The JAIF accident update of 16 March 2011 08:00 hours states in relation to reactor 4 : “SFP Level Low” red flagged text. The update further states :”Remarks A fire broke on the 4th floor of the Unit-4 Reactor Building around 6AM, Mar. 15, and the radiation monitor readings increased outside of the building: 30mSv between Unit-2 and Unit-3, 400mSv beside Unit-3, 100mSv beside Unit-4 at 10:22, Mar. 15.
It is estimated that spent fuels stored in the spent fuel pit heated and hydrogen was generated from these fuels, resulting in explosion. TEPCO later announced the fire had been extinguished. Another fire was observed at 5:45, Mar. 16, and then disappeared later. Other staff and workers than fifty TEPCO employees who are engaged in water injection operation have been evacuated. ”

IN none of the reports is it concretely stated that fires were composed of burning of fuel rods. However, the clear conclusion gained from reading the reports is that regardless of what was burning, the fuel rods were overheating, measured radiation showed an increase and radically changed procedures for people in a defined area around the NPP ie people had to stay indoors. The conclusion reasonably drawn from this is that there was immediate danger off site to people within a defined area.

The biggest danger to nuclear industry comes when an event has an immediate effect on civilians in surrounding areas. Hence people were instructed to stay indoors. At this time, the possibility of severe consequences were being denied by world nuclear industry. However, the nature of the accident had obviously changed with the overheating of the fuel rods in the spent fuel pools. Further, while the first fire was claimed to be extinguished on the 15th March 2011 by TEPCO, another fire was reported as burning at 05:45 on March 16. It “disappeared later”.

On 16 March 2011, 7:16 PM, by Eli Kintisch, staff writer for Science Insider at http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/03/contention-over-risk-of-fire-fro.html wrote an article entitled “Contention Over Risk of Fire From Spent Fuel Pools”

In this article Kintisch states: ” Among the worst case scenarios at the Fukushima plant is that the spent nuclear fuel, which sits in essentially open cooling pools near the six nuclear reactors, could catch fire for a prolonged period and spew tons of radioactive dust in a radioactive plume. It appears some of the spent fuel has been on fire at reactor #4; fire occurs if the rods get hot enough to burn their cladding. Reports say that high levels of radioactivity have made it difficult to fight the fire, which appears to have continued to burn late Wednesday. Today, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) head Gregory Jaczko said that the pool at reactor #4 had run dry; Japanese authorities denied this. …”

If it were the fuel rod cladding which was burning then there may very well be grounds for considering that the overheating event in the fuel pool of reactor 4 had produced rapid oxidation (which may or may not produce what is normally considered to be a flame) in the fuel rod cladding. The salient point being the damage done to the integrity of the fuel rod cladding. For where the cladding fails, there is, in the absence of sufficient water in the spent fuel pool, a direct of radiation into the air, and where outer containment has failed, as occurred in reactor 4 resultant from the explosions there, the venting of fission and fuel products enters the outside air unimpeded.

It is easy to conclude therefore that people in a defined area around the NPP were ordered to stay indoors due to the emissions from the nuclear power plant’s number four spent fuel pool and the fresh spent fuel rods stored there.

It is my view that rapidly oxidizing metals such as zircalloy may rapidly oxidize either with or without flame. The relevant factor being the integrity of the cladding. There was a crisis in the spent fuel pool four which did not “go away” when the flames did. It was present throughout. Hence the amended procedure for people outside the plant in a defined area to stay indoors.

It may be that the cascade of disaster in spent fuel pool 4 would have occurred even if reactor number 3 had not exploded. It appears the hydrogen in the reactor building number 4 was resultant from overheating in the fuel which occurred after reactor had been destroyed. That is, there is a possibility that the hydrogen which caused the later explosion in reactor number 4 had not originated in reactor number 3 (as claimed by TEPCO) but had instead originated in spent fuel pool 4 due to overheating zirconium in that pool reacting with air and water to produce hydrogen indigenous to the circumstances in the fuel rods in that fuel pool. That is, the containment building of reactor 4 failed (was sufficiently destroyed to cripple its protective function) purely by a fuel pool overheat within that building.

On 16 March 2011 JAIF states that the spent fuel pool 4 has low water, and that spraying had commenced. The crisis had commenced with the explosion and fire of the 14 March 2011. The events reported on 15 and 16 March 2011 is in fact the same event – the overheating of fuel rods in spent fuel pool 4 and the major consequence was the unsealing of the sealed sources – the fuel within the rods – and the released was not confined to the building, due to damage. As a result people in an area around the power plant had to stay indoors. The nature of the disaster, in my view, thus changed greatly in nature. The escalation of the disaster was rapid and dire. People had to seal themselves in their homes, if they still had a home. If they were no on the road in the process evacuation. If the defined area was adequate.

But still, from these brief technical reports, it is impossible to concretely lift from them what was actually burning.

Turning to the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) we find this report:

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2011/s3164723.htm

Tuesday March 15, 2011, 18:10 hours. Headline “Explosion at No 4 Fukushima Reactor” MARK COLVIN: The Fukushima nuclear disaster has moved up the ladder from the third-worst civilian nuclear accident in history to the second, now behind only Chernobyl. With explosions at three of the plant’s reactors, and now a fire in spent fuel at reactor number four; it’s now a good deal worse than the 1979 Three Mile Island disaster.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says radiation levels around the plant are now 400 millisieverts an hour. That means that every six minutes eight times as much radiation are spewing out as nuclear workers are normally supposed to absorb in a year.

And the authorities are getting no help from the elements. Instead of blowing east and out to sea, as on most days, the smoke from the burning nuclear fuel is drifting south. About halfway to Tokyo at Utsunomiya, radiation is registering 33 times normal, still not a serious threat to health if things get better soon.

In the capital itself the level is less, 23 times normal. Earlier, the prime minister Naoto Kan briefly addressed the nation on television pleading for calm. …”

The Japanese people were, to my eyes, calm. It was the nuclear industry which was in panic.

However the report from the ABC defines what was “on fire”. It was the fuel rods.

The significance of this is not the fire per se, it is the thermal damage which is evidenced by such rapid oxidation of zircalloy cladding. Compounded by the fact that the reactor building, the only thing between the fuel pool contents and the open air, was obviously not designed to withstand a fuel pool sourced release of hydrogen and subsequent explosion. The damaged fuel rods were now free to vent into the open air. Can we find any historical evidence to show that the reactor building in use at reactor 4 was sub standard? Yes we can. I will return to this later. But briefly, US regulators found the design to be inadequate, but superiors approved the design because, in the words of one, it would create too much hassle to change the design. The design was approved and exported to Japan.

The narrative that implies it took two reactor buildings worth of hydrogen to destroy containment at Reactor number is a phony one I think and believe, on the basis of the news reports, photograph and technical reports. Rationality is challenged by the industry. The energy of Reactor 3′s hydrogen yield was used in the destruction of reactor 3 prior to the destruction of reactor 4′s containment.

How does the New York Times handle the situation? In my opinion, it does not define the fire, but it highlights the personnel who reduced the level of disaster. It is correct to include such acknowledgement. It is wrong to fully explain what it was precisely the personnel faced, what precisely was the situation which led to the evacuation of all but 50 or so staff, and the sealing of the affected Japanese civilian population in their own homes because nuclear industry had failed to design adequate sealing of its radioactive sources.

For all its ability to feed the grid, to power the grid, the multi reactor plant at Fukushima failed to power itself. It thus could cool neither the reactors or the spent fuel pools. And they failed. And did the impossible and stated as that, from the dawn of the nuclear age. Arrogant design.

Here’s the New York Times of 16 March 2011. What does the piece define about the actual fuel pool venting and containment failure at reactor 4?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/asia/16workers.html?pagewanted=all

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers
By KEITH BRADSHER and HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: March 15, 2011 New York Times.

“A small crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, became the only people remaining at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday — and perhaps Japan’s last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe. …” The piece is about the people, not the fire. But it is the bravery demanded by the consequences of overheat which makes the story. The result of overheat in a fuel pool is radiation release where the containment building has failed. One can still appreciate the personnel while one seeks the technical details. Air crash investigations don’t stop work because the crew were brave on a doomed flight. Rather, the need to stop a repeat and further suffering and loss drives the quest for truth. The NYT in this article does not enlighten us at all as what caused the need for such bravery, whether on site or in the homes of those forced to sealed themselves up in their homes at that time.

In another article, the New York Times did provide information of great value. Information which few others, if any, provided at the same time.

On 5 April 2011, the New York Times published a piece which cited a confidential NRC report on the events at Fukushima Diiachi.

U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant
By JAMES GLANZ and WILLIAM J. BROAD
Published: April 5, 2011 New York Times

“United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ….The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.”

The rapid oxidation of zirconium in air and water releases amounts of hydrogen which explodes with terrible force. This process was ongoing in spent fuel pool 4 and there is no need to invoke hydrogen from reactor 3 in this regard. The spent fuel pool was over heating as admitted by JAIF. Thus, containing the entire fresh fuel from the recently emptied reactor 4, was producing and releasing hydrogen gas. And it exploded. Destroying containment.

IAEA ENAC Data – March 15th – Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Fire – Pages from ML12037A104 – FOIA PA-2011-0118, FOIA PA-2011-0119 & FOIA PA 2011-0120 – Resp 41 – Partial – Group DDD Part 2 of 3. (138 page(s), 1 24 2012)-6

http://www.scribd.com/doc/85541471/IAEA-ENAC-Data-March-15th-Reactor-4-Spent-Fuel-Pool-Fire-Pages-from-ML12037A104-FOIA-PA-2011-0118-FOIA-PA-2011-0119-amp-FOIA-PA-2011-0120
(source link)

There are a number of people who maintain that there was no fire or fires in any of the spent fuel pools. The NRC maintained at the time that the spent fuel pool at reactor 4 was empty. The Japanese authorities deny this. However, The Japan Atomic Industry Forum reports that the water level in that fuel pool was low and that the fuel rods in the pool were overheating. I bear in mind the basic process of “fire” in a reactive metal. It is rapid oxidation which may or may not be accompanied by a flame. What defines a “fire” in an ordinary sense – the flame – may be totally absent or sporadically present in the case of a reactive metal. In the case of fuel rods two things are relevant: the integrity of the zircalloy cladding and the temperature of the zircalloy. For it is the temperature that seems to determine the point at which hydrogen is liberated from water and air and the rate it is liberated. The fuel rods were overheating in fuel pool 4 and hydrogen was being generated.

That is all that really needs to be established and it is admitted by Japan. As a consequence, spraying of water by hose commenced. This was done from outside the building – and was possible to do only because the containment building had been destroyed by hydrogen explosion. The building was too weak to do its job. The trigger for this aspect of the disaster was loss of ability to cool the water in the pool. And that was caused by earthquake.

There is little way of independently knowing when re occurrence of fuel rod overheating happens at the crippled plant. The potential remains for re occurrence. The older the rods become, the less dangerous they become. In 2011 the situation was dire. The fuel pools are not the only source of risk. There are the ongoing emissions from the molten fuel.

What was the response of the Japanese governmental to the fires in the spent fuel pool 4 in March 2011?

To answer that question, I refer to “Stars and Stripes”, which provides a round of sources in relation the events. http://www.stripes.com/news/up-to-the-minute-1.137684

“4:20 p.m. Tuesday local Tokyo time, source: Associated Press:
High levels of radiation leaked from a crippled nuclear plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan after a third reactor was rocked by an explosion Tuesday and a fourth caught fire in a dramatic escalation of the 4-day-old catastrophe. The government warned 140,000 people nearby to stay indoors to avoid exposure.

Tokyo also reported slightly elevated radiation levels, but officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, about 170 miles away.

12:30 p.m. Stars and Stripes reporter – Tim Wightman

Power plant reactor fire extinguished
TOKYO – Japan’s nuclear safety agency says a fire in a reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan has been extinguished, The Associated Press is reporting. The fire broke out Tuesday at the nuclear plant, located in one of the provinces hardest-hit by last week’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

11:45 a.m. Stars and Stripes Reporter – Tim Wrightman

TOKYO – Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors or risk getting radiation sickness, The Associated Press is reporting.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday that a fourth reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex was on fire and that more radiation was released.
Kan also warned that more leaks could occur.

10:55 a.m. Tuesday Stars and Stripes Reporter Tim Wrightman

TOKYO – The early Tuesday explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have damaged a reactor’s container, leading Japan’s nuclear safety agency to suspect a radiation leak, The Associated Press is reporting.
According to agency spokesman Shigekazu Omukai, the nuclear core of Unit 2 of the plant was not damaged “in the explosion. But the agency suspects damage to the bottom of the container that surrounds the generator’s nuclear core, which could’ve caused radiation to escape.”

end quote.

On March 15 2011 TEPCO issued a Press Release regarding the fire in the reactor 4 building as follows:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/11031504-e.html

The report reads as follows:

“Press Release (Mar 15,2011)
Damage to the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station

At approximately 6:00am, a loud explosion was heard from within the
power station. Afterwards, it was confirmed that the 4th floor rooftop
area of the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building had sustained damage.

After usage, fuel is stored in a pool designated for spent fuel.

Plant conditions as well as potential outside radiation effects are
currently under investigation.

TEPCO, along with other involved organizations, is doing its best to
contain the situation. Simultaneously, the surrounding environment is
being kept under constant surveillance. “

The following link is to the IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update page for 15 March 2011 : http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2011/fukushima150311.html

The report is a record of the findgins and reports of the IAEA and in relation to the fire, the IAEA states the following:

“A fire at Unit 4 occurred on 14 March 23:54 UTC and lasted two hours. The IAEA is seeking clarification on the nature and consequences of the fire.”

On the same day, in the midst of disagreement between the NRC and the Japanese authorities (in which NRC viewed with alarm the water level of the spent fuel pool 4), the IAEA issued its alert to member governments. The alert describes the fuel pool fire in spent fuel pool 4. This document is only known due to an FOIA release in the United States. The next day the IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update report for 16 March 2011 at http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2011/fukushima160311.html

reported the following:

“Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 22:00 UTC)

Temperature of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Spent fuel that has been removed from a nuclear reactor generates intense heat and is typically stored in a water-filled spent fuel pool to cool it and provide protection from its radioactivity. Water in a spent fuel pool is continuously cooled to remove heat produced by spent fuel assemblies. According to IAEA experts, a typical spent fuel pool temperature is kept below 25 °C under normal operating conditions. The temperature of a spent fuel pool is maintained by constant cooling, which requires a constant power source.

Given the intense heat and radiation that spent fuel assemblies can generate, spent fuel pools must be constantly checked for water level and temperature. If fuel is no longer covered by water or temperatures reach a boiling point, fuel can become exposed and create a risk of radioactive release. The concern about the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi is that sources of power to cool the pools may have been compromised.

The IAEA can confirm the following information regarding the temperatures of the spent nuclear fuel pools at Units 4, 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:
Unit 4
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 84 °C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 84 °C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: no data”

The IAEA is continuing to seek further information about the water levels, temperature and condition of all spent fuel pool facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
IAEA Director General to Travel to Japan (16 March 2011, 18:50 UTC)

Director General Yukiya Amano announced the following today in Vienna:

“I plan to fly to Japan as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow, to see the situation for myself and learn from our Japanese counterparts how best the IAEA can help. I will request that the Board of Governors meet upon my return to discuss the situation. My intention is that the first IAEA experts should leave for Japan as soon as possible.”

On 15 March, Japan requested the IAEA for assistance in the areas of environmental monitoring and the effects of radiation on human health, asking for IAEA teams of experts to be sent to Japan to assist local experts.

Given the fast-changing situation in Japan, the Director General was unable to announce the itinerary for his trip. He expects to be in Japan for a short amount of time and then return to Vienna.

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 14:55 UTC)

Japanese authorities have reported concerns about the condition of the spent nuclear fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 and Unit 4. Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa announced Wednesday that Special Defence Forces helicopters planned to drop water onto Unit 3, and officials are also preparing to spray water into Unit 4 from ground positions, and possibly later into Unit 3. Some debris on the ground from the 14 March explosion at Unit 3 may need to be removed before the spraying can begin.
Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 03:55 UTC)

Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that a fire in the reactor building of Unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was visually observed at 20:45 UTC of 15 March. As of 21:15 UTC of the same day, the fire could no longer be observed.

Fire of 14 March

As previously reported, at 23:54 UTC of 14 March a fire had occurred at Unit 4. The fire lasted around two hours and was confirmed to be extinguished at 02:00 UTC of 15 March.” end quote.

But we need to keep in mind, fire or not, the fuel rods were at that time still overheating. And what, in relation to a reactive metal, does the word ‘fire’ actually mean? Rate of oxidation is related to temperature. A more important question is how much of the fuel rod inventory in spent fuel pool 4 was damaged and venting? Has it stopped venting since?

A look at the nature of zirconium is relevant.

http://www.espimetals.com/index.php/msds/316-Zirconium

Autoignition Temperature: Solid metal will not ignite. High surface area material such as 10 micron powder may autoignite at room temperature. Fine chips, turnings, or grinding dust produced from this metal are flammable. Ignition point for powder varies from 200 oC to above 500 oC depending on particle size.

Minimum Explosible Concentration (g/m3): Less than 100. Varies with particle size.

Extinguishing Media: Dry table salt. Type D fire extinguisher. DO NOT USE water, carbon dioxide or halocarbon extinguishing agent.

Special Firefighting Procedures: If metal fines become ignited it is advisable to allow the material to burnout. Fire can be controlled by smothering with dry table salt or using Type D dry-powder fire extinguisher material. Wear reflective heat-resistant suit.

Unusual Fire & Explosion Hazard: Do not spray water on burning zirconium. Carbon dioxide is not effective in extinguishing burning zirconium.

If a fire starts in a mass of wet metal fines, the initial fire may be followed by an explosion. Therefore, when in doubt, personnel should retire and not attempt to extinguish the fire. The explosive characteristic of such material is caused by the steam and hydrogen generated within the burning mass.

Spontaneously combustible in dry powder form. Flammable and explosive as dust or powder, also in the form of borings and shavings. Zirconium metal is a very dangerous fire hazard in the form of dust when exposed to heat, flame or by chemical reaction with oxidizing agents. May be an explosion hazard in the form of dust by chemical reaction with air, alkali hydroxides, alkali metal chromates, dichromates, molybdates, sulfates, tungstates, borax, CCl4, copper oxide, lead, lead oxide, phosphorous, KClO3, KNO3, nitryl
fluoride. May be extremely sensitive to shock, and static electricity may cause spontaneous ignition.
Material Safety Data Sheet – Zirconium”

In relation to the behaviour of zircalloy in reactor applications, temperature determines its rate of reactivity, release of hydrogen and loss of structural integrity.

While zirconium can burn, the relevant outcome with overheat is release of fission product.

A reader who wishes to remain unkown, has contributed the following information. He writes:

“I found this TV news report by Tim Maguire of Associated Press, which uses NHK footage with text superimposed in Japanese concerning Unit 4. The clip was uploaded to AP’s channel on YouTube, 15 March 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWVEhjl53I8:

“A new fire has broken out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant one day after the facility admitted a burst of radiation that left the government struggling to contain the spiralling crisis.

“The latest blaze happened early Wednesday morning, local time, in the number 4 unit.

“The plant’s operator says the fire occurred in the outer housing of that unit’s containment vessel – but it’s not clear what caused the fire.

“Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor’s fuel storage pond – that’s an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool – and radioactivity was released into the atmosphere.

“Tokyo electric power said the new blaze erupted early Wednesday because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished, and firefighters were trying to put it out.” Associated Press.

And this last comment explains something which is pretty predictable given the nature of overheating zircalloy. Overheat means rapid oxidation. But it does not mean a flame is seen. The flame went out, the fuel rods continued over heating, and again a flame was seen. The period of no flame is not a period of safety. It is still a period of rapid oxidation,fuel rod damage and release of radioactive material.

This extended period of rod over heat in the fuel pool is described in Science Insider, as previously noted, here: http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/03/contention-over-risk-of-fire-fro.html The salient fact is rod overheat, resultant damage and release of radiological material. Putting out the flames is not the same as cooling the rods. The overheating became serious on 15 March 2011. When did rod over heat and contents release stop? Has it stopped? Absence of flame is not absence of overheat.

In all this I am aware that the industry culture is one which nuclear fission is the norm. Multi mega-watt reactors deliver grid power and nuclear material by the very process. The industry culture is thus such that it would not be normal for the observation of sporadic neutron beams to cause much reaction. Apart from perhaps, “Gee whizz, there’s life in the old girl yet.”

Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_units_4,_5_and_6#Explosion states the following:

“At approximately 06:00 JST on 15 March, an explosion damaged the 4th floor rooftop area of the Unit 4 reactor as well as part of the adjacent Unit 3.[12][13] The explosion is thought to be caused by the ignition of hydrogen that had accumulated near the spent fuel pond, the hydrogen was initially thought to have come from the stored fuel rods, but later, TEPCO believed the hydrogen came from Unit 3.[14] Later reports from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated that fuel could have been ejected from the Unit 4 spent fuel pond during this explosion.[15] Later on the morning of 15 March, at 09:40, the Unit 4 spent fuel pool caught fire, likely releasing radioactive contamination from the fuel stored there.[16][17] TEPCO said workers extinguished the fire by 12:00.[18][19] As radiation levels rose, some of the employees still at the plant were evacuated.[20] On the morning of 15 March, Secretary Edano announced that according to the TEPCO, radiation dose equivalent rates measured from the Unit 4 reached 100 mSv/h.[21][22] Edano said there was no continued release of “high radiation”.[23]

Japan’s nuclear safety agency NISA reported two holes, each 8 meters square, or 64 m² (690 sq ft), in a wall of the outer building of Unit 4 after the explosion.[24] At 17:48 it was reported that water in the spent fuel pool might be boiling.[25][26] By 21:13 on 15 March, radiation inside the Unit 4 control room prevented workers from staying there permanently.[27] Seventy staff remained at the plant, while 800 had been evacuated.[28] By 22:30, TEPCO was reportedly unable to pour water into the spent fuel pool.[4] By 22:50, the company was considering using helicopters to drop water,[28][29] but this was postponed because of concerns over safety and effectiveness, and the use of high-pressure fire hoses was considered instead.[30]

A fire was discovered at 05:45 JST on 16 March in the northwest corner of the reactor building by a worker taking batteries to the central control room of Unit 4.[31][32] This was reported to the authorities, but on further inspection at 06:15 no fire was found. Other reports stated that the fire was under control.[33] At 11:57, TEPCO released a photograph showing “a large portion of the building’s outer wall has collapsed”.[34] Technicians considered spraying boric acid on the building from a helicopter.[35][36]” The source links to the piece are interesting.

12. World Nuclear News. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Attempts_to_refill_fuel_ponds_1703111.html
A major struggle took place today to maintain cooling of used nuclear fuel at Fukushima Daiichi 3 and 4. Helicopters made water drops and large fire trucks showered the buildings. Initial indications are that the effort was successful.

The explosion at unit 4 is thought to have been from a build-up of hydrogen in the area near the used nuclear fuel pond. It severely damaged the building, as well as that of adjacent unit 3, with which it shares a central control room.

Cooling pond temperatures
As reported by the International Atomic Energy Agency:
Unit 4
14 March, 10.08am GMT: 84 ˚C
15 March, 10.00am GMT: 84 ˚C
16 March, 05.00am GMT: no data
Unit 5
14 March, 10.08am GMT: 59.7 ˚C
15 March, 10.00am GMT: 60.4 ˚C
16 March, 05.00am GMT: 62.7 ˚C
Unit 6
14 March, 10.08am GMT: 58.0 ˚C
15 March, 10.00am GMT: 58.5 ˚C
16 March, 05.00am GMT: 60.0 ˚C
Neither the IAEA nor the Japan Atomic Industry Forum have data for units 1, 2 and 3.
Today the situation of the cooling ponds was the priority of authorities. Containing highly radioactive heat-generating nuclear fuel, they require an adequate level of water to be maintained as well as pumped circulation to control water temperature.

In the previous two days the temperature of unit 4′s pond had been 84ºC but no more recent data is available. At these temperatures cooling by natural convection begins to be markedly less effective. Normal operating levels are about 25ºC. There was no information on the temperature of the pond at unit 3.

However, the high levels of radiation and presence of hydrogen at unit 4 strongly indicate that fuel is uncovered and suffering damage in the pond, although it was not clear that the pond actually emptied. Officials were reassured the pond contained at least some water, based on helicopter observations.

13. ^ “Press Release: Damage to the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station”. TEPCO. Retrieved 15 March 2011. “
Press Release (Mar 15,2011)
Damage to the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station

At approximately 6:00am, a loud explosion was heard from within the
power station. Afterwards, it was confirmed that the 4th floor rooftop
area of the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building had sustained damage.

After usage, fuel is stored in a pool designated for spent fuel.

Plant conditions as well as potential outside radiation effects are
currently under investigation.

TEPCO, along with other involved organizations, is doing its best to
contain the situation. Simultaneously, the surrounding environment is
being kept under constant surveillance. “

14. “TEPCO: Unit No.4 blast due to hydrogen from Unit No.3″. NHK. 16 May 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.[dead link]

(It can be seen that the date TEPCO’s change to its story was 16 May 2011. Prior to that change, Hydrogen generated by fuel rod cladding in the number 4 spent fuel pool had been the acknowledged source of the hydrogen.)

15. “Levels of radioactive iodine had reached 7.5 million times permissible levels directly behind the plant Saturday, but by Tuesday new measurements showed that the amount of radioiodine was only 4% of that amount. That was still nearly 300,000 times the permissible limit, but levels were continuing to decline as the outflow from the plant was being diluted by the ocean.

At a point about 12.5 miles from the plant, iodine levels were down to 1.5 times the limit.” http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-fg-japan-reactor-damage-20110406,0,6240900.story Los Angeles Times
y Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times April 6, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

16. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/tsunamiupdate01.html

“IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (2 June 2011, 18:30 UTC)

Overall, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious.

Fresh water is being injected as necessary into the spent fuel pools of Units 1 – 4. Water supply from concrete pump trucks is being gradually replaced by the Fuel Pool Cooling and Clean-up system in Units 1 to 3. However, closed loop cooling has not been yet established.

17. Reuters Japan spent fuel pond on fire,radioactivity out-IAEA
VIENNA, March 15 | Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:44am EDT

(Reuters) – Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog a spent fuel storage pond was on fire at an earthquake-stricken reactor and radioactivity was being released “directly” into the atmosphere, the Vienna-based agency said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing information it had received from Japanese authorities, said dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the Fukushima power plant site.

“The Japanese authorities are saying that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; editing by Michael Roddy)

19 “World Nuclear News Update”. 15 March 2011.World Nuclear News
Fire at unit 4, concern for fuel ponds
Prime minister Naoto Kan confirmed a fire burning at unit 4, which, according to all official sources, had never been a safety concern since the earthquake. This reactor was closed for periodic inspections when the earthquake and tsunami hit, therefore did not undergo a rapid and sudden shutdown. It was of course violently shaken and subject to the tsunami.
Kan’s spokesman Noriyuki Shikata said that there had been “a sign of leakage” while firefighters were at work, “but we have found out the fuel is not causing the fire.” The fire is now reported extinguished.

The International Atomic Energy Agency did confirm that the fire had taken place in the used fuel storage pool. The Japan Atomic Industry Forum’s status report said the water was being supplied to make up for low levels.
Similar to the need to cool fuel in the reactor core, used fuel assemblies in cooling ponds require a covering of water to remove decay heat. The main differences being the amount of decay heat to be removed decreases exponentially with time and that fuel ponds are much less of an enclosed space than a reactor vessel. At the same time, ponds may contain several years of fuel.
JAIF reported that temperatures in the cooling ponds at units 5 and 6 are increasing, but the reason for this is not yet available.”
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News end quote.

Line Wolf Noriyuki Shikata might be correct, probably not, however, even if he is, how does he explain the overheating of the fuel and consequent Hydrogen release and radioactivity release from the damaged rods? That is the salient point. The released of sealed radiological material which must NEVER be unsealed and scattered over the nation and world. There is much political pap in the Fukushima story.
Apparently aimed at stilling public fear, but which of course have another purpose. Staving off stock price falls on the Japanese exchange.

20. ^ “Radiation levels could damage health”. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.

21
^ “放射線、福島原発で400ミリシーベルト=「人体に影響及ぼす可能性」-官房長官”. jiji press (in Japanese). 15 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011.More than one of |work= and |newspaper= specified

22. http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/03/14/japan.nuclear.reactors/index.html?hpt=T1 Radiation levels spike at Japanese nuclear plant
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 15, 2011 — Updated 0316 GMT (1116 HKT) Tokyo (CNN) — Japanese authorities trying to stave off meltdowns at an earthquake-damaged nuclear power plant reported more grim news Tuesday as radiation levels soared following another explosion at an overheating reactor.

The risk of further releases of radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains “very high,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday. In addition to an explosion at the No. 2 reactor, the building housing the No. 4 unit — which had been shut down before Friday’s earthquake — was burning Tuesday morning, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced.

The plant’s owners, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, evacuated all but about 50 of their workers from the plant following Tuesday’s explosion at the No. 2 reactor. Radiation levels at the plant have increased to “levels that can impact human health,” Edano said — between 100 and 400 millisieverts, or as much as 160 times higher than the average dose of radiation a typical person receives from natural sources in a year.

Evacuations have already been ordered for anyone living within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of the plant, and Edano said anyone between 20 and 30 kilometers (between 12.5-18.6 miles) should remain indoors. At least 500 residents were believed to have remained within the 20-kilometer radius Monday evening, Edano said.

23.

http://news.monstersandcritics.com/asiapacific/news/article_1626124.php/Government-spokesman-No-continued-radiation-from-Reactor-4

Asia-Pacific News
Government spokesman: No continued radiation from reactor 4

Mar 15, 2011, 8:07 GMT
Tokyo – Japanese government spokesman Yukio Edano said Tuesday there was no continued release of high radiation from reactor number 4 of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where an explosion occurred earlier in the day. end quote. But the fuel rods in 4 continued to overheat and this statement came at the same time as the stay indoors with windows and doors shut order was in place, at the same time as IAEA was alerting member states.

24
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/15/japan-nuclear-holes-idUSTFD00668920110315 Asia-Pacific News Government spokesman: No continued radiation from reactor 4 Mar 15, 2011, 8:07 GMT
TOKYO, March 15 | Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:30am EDT
(Reuters) – Japan’s nuclear safety agency said on Tuesday there were two holes of 8-metres square in a wall of the outer building of the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi No.4 reactor after a blast in the morning. (Reporting by Taro Fuse; Edited by Edwina Gibbs) end quote. Severe loss of containment for fuel pool radiological emissions.

25. dead BBC link

26 “Fukushima No. 4 reactor spent fuel pool may be boiling -Kyodo”. Reuters. 15 March 2011.

27 Fujioka, Chisa (11 March 2011). “Radiation hits dangerous levels at Japan plant control room”. Reuters. Retrieved 15 March 2011.

28 Yuasa, Shino (15 March 2011). “Japan to spray water and boric acid on stricken nuke plant”. ajc.com. Retrieved 7 April 2011.

29 “Nuclear officials may spray Japanese power plant with water by helicopter”. Fox News. Associated Press. 7 April 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2011.

30 “Workers evacuated from Japanese nuclear reactor”. North Country Public Radio. Retrieved 18 March 2011.

31 “Press release: Fire occurrence at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station Unit 4 (2nd release)”. TEPCO. Retrieved 18 March 2011.

32 “Fire breaks out again at Fukushima’s No. 4 reactor”. Kyodo News. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2011. dead link

37 ^ JAIF (26 June 2012) Earthequake report 452: Tilted walls found at Fukushima No.4 reactor
Tokyo Electric Power Company has announced the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear plant has tilted walls caused by a hydrogen explosion in March
last year.
The building still contains large stockpiles of nuclear fuel. But the plant operator
TEPCO says its quake resistance is not affected.
TEPCO first found the tilted walls last month. A further investigation found the
damage in various parts of the structure’s west and south side.
The most extreme tilt was on the 3rd floor, where the wall was found to be
leaning 4.6 centimeters.
Spokesmen said the tilts are all within legal limits, and the walls’ strength
satisfies standards, too.
The building’s spent fuel pool stores more than 1,500 nuclear fuel rods, the
largest number among the Fukushima plant’s reactors.
But TEPCO stresses that building is safe, as the tilts were found in outer walls.
The pool itself is supported by pillars and other structures.
Jun. 25, 2012 – Updated 21:28 UTC (06:28 JST)

end quote. Though many nuclear experts poo poo’d the idea of strucutural instability, when I asked one engineer, who runs a nuclear industry blog, whether he thought the spent fuel pool was in good nick he said no it was not. I wouldnt licence it for continued use. What lunatic would?

38 “No water in spent fuel pool at Japanese plant: U.S.”. CTV News. 16 March 2011.
Earlier, a U.S. official said all of the water is gone from one of the spent fuel rod pools at the plant, meaning there is nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and eventually melting down, but Japan denied the claim.

“There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” chief of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Gregory Jaczko said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

The outer shell of the rods could also explode with enough force to propel radioactive fuel over a wide area, if Jaczko is correct.

He said the problem is at the complex’s Unit 4 reactor.

Jaczko did not say how the information was obtained but the organization and the U.S. Department of Energy have experts on the site.

The U.S. is also calling on Americans in Japan to stay at least 80 kilometres away from the plant. Japan’s official evacuation zone is only about 20 km.

Japanese nuclear officials and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, have denied water is gone from the pool.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/helicopters-drop-water-on-japanese-nuclear-reactor-1.619391#ixzz2QnuXaZZC

39 “Japan nuclear crisis: Meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi plant may now be inevitable”. New York Daily News. 17 March 2011.

40 Sanger, David E.; Wald, Matthew L.; Tabuchi, Hiroko (17 March 2011). “U.S. calls radiation ‘extremely high,’ sees Japan nuclear crisis worsening”. The New York Times.

45 Ralph Vartabedian; Barbara Demick; Laura King (18 March 2011). “U.S. nuclear officials suspect Japanese plant has a dire breach”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 March 2011.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-quake-wrapup-20110318,0,2262753.story

By Ralph Vartabedian, Barbara Demick and Laura King, Los Angeles Times

March 18, 2011, 1:50 a.m.
Reporting from Los Angeles, Kesennuma and Tokyo—
U.S. government nuclear experts believe a spent fuel pool at Japan’s crippled Fukushima reactor complex has a breach in the wall or floor, a situation that creates a major obstacle to refilling the pool with cooling water and keeping dangerous levels of radiation from escaping.

That assessment by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials is based on the sequence of events since the earthquake and information provided by key American contractors who were in the plant at the time, said government officials familiar with the evaluation. It was compelling evidence, they said, that the wall of the No. 4 reactor pool has a significant hole or crack.

46 Hiroko Tabuchi; Keith Bradsher (18 March 2011). “Frantic repairs go on at plant as Japan raises severity of crisis”. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 March 2011.

end quotes. Something happened in the spent fuel pool number 4. It resulted in a massive release of nuclear material as particulates from over heated and damaged fuel rods. Visible fires intermittently burst forth, to be put out. The lack of flame did not mean no overheat. Water was low or absent totally. The situation became very severe as a result. TEPCO evacuated all staff bar 50 or so and ordinary people were ordered to stay indoors. Meanwhile, nuclear “experts” claimed the situation was fine, that no material would fall out side the TEPCO site. Japanese government comments were very overly optimistic at times. The situation lent itself to confused reports. There is no argument though that the Japanese government was shattered to the extent that all trust in the nuclear industry to preserve Japan was lost. The Prime Minister visited the plant and the IAEA head shortly followed, saying all is well. At the time a Frenchman wearing a hazmat suit was arrested in Tokyo. The same city which had in fact been rained upon by radionuclides from the fuel pool stock.