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(freshrant.com)  “We’ll be together with you to the very end,” the Japanese Prime Minister said during his first visit to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster area.  One can only wonder what Prime Minister Kan's "end" will look like and if it will be a place Japanese will want to be.

As of this writing, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Commission) calls the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant "very serious."   It was just four days after the accident, that Cenk Uygur, conducted a little noticed interview on March 15th on MSNBC.  The following comments were made during Uygur's discussion with Ken Bergeron, a physicist and nuclear reactor specialist, who conducted research on nuclear accident simulations during his 25 years at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

What was different about this interview, it was not with a past or present NRC spokesperson or nuclear power plant operator or technician.  In other words, like so many other interviews of the past three weeks, Dr. Bergeron does not live and breathe within the nuclear power industrial complex, but has dedicated his research to examining the nuclear power industry.  Bergeron's research on nuclear accident simulations gives greater validity to his commentary, and as it turns out, makes more compelling his predictions, many of which have sadly transpired.  The interview was conducted before there had been any independent verification that any of the reactor cores had been severely damaged.

Bergeron:  "Well the accident hasn't progressed to the point that the reactor core has been released from the pressure vessel.  [But] it's a lot worse than three mile island, because, for one thing, there are three reactors involved.  For another, since the the containments of these reactors are a lot smaller and less capable than the three mile island containment they have had to vent a considerable amount of radioactivity in the process of depressurizing the containment so there's been a great deal more release."

"In terms of health effects, I'm sad to say it could be worse [than Chernobyl].  Having the release at ground level as opposed to this incredible blast followed by a hot fire at Chernobyl will mean that the radioactive material is much more where people live at ground level.  It would depend a lot on the weather, the wind directions, but it was actually fortunate for the Chernobyl event that so much of the nuclear material got launched very, very high into the atmosphere, into the stratosphere, in fact.  The biggest fear is that radioactive cloud will be lofted high enough that it can be transported to various population centers and then settle, either by gravity or through precipitation, rain or snow and therefore, end up having a very large dose or deposition right where people live. [For example, the world's largest city, Tokyo, approx. 150 miles south]  We're talking about this before the reactor vessel has even failed, so it's real speculation, but it could be very, very bad." ..... [Again, the reactor vessels of Unit 1, 2, and 3 have experienced partial core meltdowns.]

"That fire, the events that are occurring in the spent fuel pool in reactor 4 would be an important, newsworthy worldwide event all by itself.  And the amount of radioactivity in these fuel rods [in the open spent fuel rod pools] is almost as much as the fuel rods in the reactors, so having a fire as a result of the draining down of that [spent fuel rod] pool is a horrifically dangerous event."

Ugyur: What is the likelihood that we hit the worst case scenario?

Bergeron:  "Well in terms of the three reactors that have had problems being kept cool, we have to hope that the operators continue to be successful in getting water into those pressure vessels, water over the core, and continue to do this for many days.  That's what's going to be necessary to keep that core damage progression from continuing.  If they are unsuccessful, if they do not get enough water in any one of these three reactors, and the core material slumps to the bottom of the vessel, that's called an uncoolable configuration.  And that decay heat in that fuel could cause the fuel to melt and penetrate the reactor vessel steel."

Uygur:  Would you call that likely?  Could you call it possible?

Bergeron:  "Well, I shouldn't say that it's likely, it's very hard to tell.   We don't know where the water level is [in the spent fuel rod pools].  It is possible.  It is a lot more possible than I thought it would be two days ago."

Uygur then asked about the workers trying to fix the plant, "I have little doubt they will die."

Latest readings reveal deposition of iodine-131 has now been detected in 7 prefectures ranging from 4 to 95 becquerel per square metre. Deposition of cesium-137 in 6 prefectures was reported on 2 April ranging from 15 to 47 becquerel per square metre.  (IAEA, April 3)

Next:  Atomic forensic experts say the "Japanese are operating blind" at "one of the worst disasters in modern times."

Originally posted to freshrant on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 08:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Japanese Government Covered Up Surging Radioactive (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, Joieau, freshrant, Picot verde

    Japanese Government Covered Up Surging Radioactive Fallout Data

    Back On March 14th, Zero Hedge first disclosed data originating from the SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information) database, which showed that while radiation in the Ibaraki prefecture were about 30 times above normal, the core affected regions were "Under Survey." In subsequent posts we compared the "Under Survey" category to one step below what the BLS does on a daily basis - i.e., make up stuff. But at least in Japan, they did not even make data up: they just refused to release it. Well, we now have official confirmation from NHK that once again our well-grounded skepticism (and cynicism) was as usual absolutely spot on: "It has been learned that the Japanese government withheld the release of computer projections indicating high levels of radioactivity in areas more than 30 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The estimates were made on March 16th following explosions at the plant by an institute commissioned by the government using a computer system called SPEEDI. The system made its projections on the assumption that radioactive substances had been released for 24 hours from midnight on March 14th, based on the available data." Of course, had the disastrous SPEEDI data been reveled in time, not even the hundreds of billions (or trillions in Yen) of emergency money pumped by the BOJ, would have been able to prevent a complete market disaster. In other words: Nikkei 1; Human Life 0. In the meantime we wonder what superpowers the X-Man from the affected regions will soon develop.

    As with Kudlow, the Obama Administration and the Japanese Administration value markets more than their people.

    Until that changes, we'll continue to see these sorts of disasters on an all too frequent basis.

    Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider! - George Carlin

    by Earth Ling on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 10:10:39 AM PDT

    •  SPEEDI DATA (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Earth Ling

      Thanks Earth Ling for this insightful information.  Having lived for 3 1/2 years in the same prefecture (Niigata) housing the world largest capacity nuclear power plant with it's own set of problems (see freshrant.com/blog), I have little to no trust in any Japanese government administration or regulatory agency, let alone the serially criminally negligent TEPCO utility the claims to "run" these plants.  I shall find out more about this and may even post (and credit you) on my site.  (Great Carlin quote, btw).   More posts coming at freshrant and KOS about more withholding from the nuclear inner circles as well a more disturbing information on the geological front as it relates to nuclear plants.

      freshrant.com freshrant@facebook freshrant@twitter

      by freshrant on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 12:11:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Diary Links (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama

      Thanks much for these excellent links!  Helpful sharing of information.  Mass media still extraordinarily behind the curve on this story with often superficial, sketchy and regurgitating reports gleaned from Japanese government, TEPCO and nuclear industry officials.  My pet annoyance:  CNN using it's weather men to explain the intricacies of the nuclear cleanup and radioactive fallout!

      freshrant.com freshrant@facebook freshrant@twitter

      by freshrant on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 12:21:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A few issues (0+ / 0-)

    First, this

    The interview was conducted before there had been any independent verification that any of the reactor cores had been severely damaged.
    is not true.  The interview was on the 15th; JAIF status reports indicated as early as 12:30 JST on the 14th that the fuel in reactors 1 and 3 had been damaged(pdf).

    Second, Bergeron seems to contradict himself

    Having the release at ground level as opposed to this incredible blast followed by a hot fire at Chernobyl will mean that the radioactive material is much more where people live at ground level.
    So it's worse, because it's at ground level...except:
    It would depend a lot on the weather, the wind directions, but it was actually fortunate for the Chernobyl event that so much of the nuclear material got launched very, very high into the atmosphere, into the stratosphere, in fact.  The biggest fear is that radioactive cloud will be lofted high enough that it can be transported to various population centers and then settle
    Is this a transcription error?

    Third, I think there's a mistake in your editorial comments (assuming the bracketed inserts are yours):

    Bergeron:  "Well in terms of the three reactors that have had problems being kept cool, we have to hope that the operators continue to be successful in getting water into those pressure vessels, water over the core, and continue to do this for many days.  That's what's going to be necessary to keep that core damage progression from continuing.  If they are unsuccessful, if they do not get enough water in any one of these three reactors, and the core material slumps to the bottom of the vessel, that's called an uncoolable configuration.  And that decay heat in that fuel could cause the fuel to melt and penetrate the reactor vessel steel."

    Uygur:  Would you call that likely?  Could you call it possible?

    Bergeron:  "Well, I shouldn't say that it's likely, it's very hard to tell.   We don't know where the water level is [in the spent fuel rod pools].  It is possible.  It is a lot more possible than I thought it would be two days ago."


    It seems pretty clear that Bergeron is talking about the reactor cores, and not the spent fuel pools.
    •  Re: A Few Issues (0+ / 0-)

      Thank you for your carefully considered comments.

      1) Oh, you mean the JAIF that "incorporated under the auspices of the nuclear industry to support the establishment of the government's nuclear energy development and utilization plan and the promotion of its policies?"  I would not for a hot radioactive minute consider the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum an "independent" source.

      2) I can see how this might seem confusing, but at that point we were hearing about not very high altitude releases that can be carried by wind and weather.  Now, according to an article published today by the New York Time, some of the early explosion may have distributed radioactive material as high as one mile.  http://www.nytimes.com/...

      3. The bracketed reference is in error.  You are correct in stating the comments should refer to the core.  It is interesting to note the grave concerns being expressed in the NYT's article about the spent fuel ponds.

      freshrant.com freshrant@facebook freshrant@twitter

      by freshrant on Wed Apr 06, 2011 at 12:55:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incident Upgraded to level 7 n/t (0+ / 0-)

    “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway” ~ Henry Boye~

    by Terranova0 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 06:41:44 PM PDT

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