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Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:48 AM PDT
"Apocalyptic" Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal Begins Nov. 8; TEPCO Subcontracts Yakuza gangsters
by FishOutofWater for DK GreenRoots
Workers remove unused fuel rod from Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 spent fuel pool July, 2012
Removal of highly radioactive spent fuel from Fukushima Daiichi unit 4, which was rocked by a hydrogen explosion two and a half years ago, will start November 8, according to TEPCO. Unit 4 was down for refueling when the great earthquake and tsunami hit, so the reactor is in good shape, but hydrogen built up around the fuel pool when the power failed leading to a hydrogen explosion on the structure's upper level. TEPCO reinforced the damaged supports for the fuel pool, but its seismic safety remains a major concern. Two new (moderately radioactive) fuel assemblies were successfully removed from the pool in July 2012 by a team of workers (above and below). Spent fuel must be removed robotically or by operators protected by heavily shielded equipment, unlike the dry run on new fuel, because it is highly radioactive. TEPCO announced that a specialized crane has been installed a week ahead of schedule and fuel removal will begin a week from today.
In mid-November, the embattled utility is preparing to remove 400 tons of spent fuel from the damaged reactor 4, 2½ years after a hydrogen explosion damaged the structure’s exterior.
According to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, there are 1,533 spent and unused fuel rod bundles in the cooling pool that contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945.
To remove the rods, Tepco has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.
Up to 22 spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.
Extraordinary claims have been made about the level of risk of removing the spent fuel from unit 4 calling it potentially "apocalyptic". Those claims have been disputed by nuclear industry representatives. Although I left the USNRC many years ago, I think I have the expertise and independence to provide a good independent assessment of the situation.
As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman explained, the
Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible.
"In the worst-case scenario," RT adds, the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011. Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the "dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts."
The upper level of unit 4 suffered structural damage from a hydrogen explosion. Workers have reinforced the structure since, but its seismic safety is a concern.
Structural damage to Unit4, Fukushima Daichi identified by circles.
Wasserman told Common Dreams that
The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken. Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what's actually happening. There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better. This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world's very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.
The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic. The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs. If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail. Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.
As dire as Wasserman's warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be "a true apocalypse." Gunter's warning was dire as well.
"Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic," he continued. "This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions," said Gunter.
Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:
This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear. The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on. With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
The conclusions made in the Common Dreams article are strongly disputed by multiple experts associated with the U.S. nuclear power industry. Tom Kauffman of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) wrote "These claims are false and irresponsible".
The following is a guest post written by NEI's Tom Kauffman. Though Tom works in NEI's media relations shop. He also spent 23 years working at Three Mile Island, seven of those as a licensed reactor operator.
There has been a spate of online posts and articles claiming that the failure of the used fuel storage pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 could result in: “a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire,” that could have widespread health effects all over the world. These claims are false and irresponsible. Consider the facts:
If for any reason there was a rapid loss of water from the Unit 4 storage pool exposing all of the used fuel to air, the used fuel can’t catch fire or melt because it has been cooled for more than two and-a-half years and no longer generates enough heat to damage itself. The used fuel in the pools at the other three damaged Fukushima units is even older and colder.
By design, it is physically impossible for the fuel in any commercial reactor in Japan or the U.S. to explode like a nuclear weapon. It’s impossible because the concentration of uranium in the fuel is far too low to cause a nuclear explosion. And there’s nothing that can be done at a site to change that.
A spent fuel expert added a comment to Tom Kaufmann's post to clarify questions about criticality at unit 4. Blog comments are generally poor sources of information but this comment demonstrates specialized expertise with spent fuel management.
I am with SimplyInfo.org and function as a Fukushima Nuspent fuel pool nuclear research specialist. My career spanned 35 years in the nuclear industry. There have been many articles on presumed dangers with fuel in the unit 4 spent fuel pool. I have written articles on the pool and the fuel assemblies which is found on the web link. I agree with the statements in this article and in addition, want to dispel factless information being spread the if one fuel assembly touches another in the unit 4 pool, a criticality accident will happen with no control capability. To set the record straight, it takes 12 BWR fuel assemblies configured geometrically in water to reach a condition where criticality is possible. The water is needed to act as a moderator. Our concern in fuel handling is focused on damaged fuel assemblies which may loose fuel pellets what could be fractured and release the fission fragment isotopes into the building and atmosphere.
October 28, 2013 at 8:20 AM
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concerns about the safety of spent fuel pools at BWRs in the U.S. with the same design as Fukushima unit 4. To address these concerns, the NRC sponsored a research project to determine what might happen if a BWR spent fuel pool lost its cooling water. In June, 2000 the NRC published the results of this research in NUREG-1726 Predictions of Spent Fuel Heatup After a Complete Loss of Spent Fuel Pool Coolant
Predictions are made at each of the four decay times using best-estimate parameters. These parameters include an overall wall heat transfer coefficient of 2 W/m2-K and a ventilation rate of 2 building volumes per hour. These results represent the best estimate of the fuel temperatures and the convective flow fields, given the assumptions and limitations of this model. ...
The primary result is the decay time sensitivity given in Figure 19. The data from cases f2v2h2, f3v2h2, f4v2h2, and f6v2h2 are plotted. Critical decay times of 26 and 35 months are noted on the figure for temperature limits of 800 0C and 600 °C, respectively. Critical decay time is defined as the post shutdown time required to ensure fuel temperatures don't rise above predefined temperature limits after a complete loss of fuel pool coolant. The 26 month decay time, associated with the 800 0C temperature limit, has significant uncertainty due to the model limitations at elevated temperatures discussed earlier.
Based on the worst case curve developed by the NRC research, the spent fuel pool at unit 4 could run out of water now and temperatures would stay below 700 Celsius, given that over 2.5 years have passed since the spent fuel was removed from the reactor. The spent fuel is presently generating a little over a thousandth of the heat it was producing per rod the day it was removed from the reactor.
Assertions that individual spent fuel rods could catch fire upon removal are not credible.
However, if the structure of Unit 4 collapsed in a major earthquake and a large mass of rods piled up in the wreckage, the NRC's cooling model no longer applies. The spent fuel does not contain enough fisssionable material to explode like a weapon, but it could get very hot if a number of rods piled up. Hydrogen would be generated in the hypothetical mass so the possibility of hydrogen explosions cannot be precluded in a collapse scenario. Moreover, rainwater and groundwater could act as a moderator increasing the risk of localized criticality events. The huge inventory of radionuclides at unit 4 would be at risk of further contaminating the Pacific ocean if a major earthquake brought down the spent fuel pool. In my opinion, the spent fuel needs to be removed from the damaged structure. We already have 3 melted-down reactor cores contaminating water that is partially reaching the Pacific.
Multiple investigations by journalists have revealed severe labor problems at Fukushima, including the involvement of the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza, in subcontracting the labor supply. Serious concerns about TEPCO's ability to manage the decommissioning and decontamination at Fukushima, have been documented in many reports. Hitachi/GE the contractor that handled spent fuel removal dry run may be an exception to the cases identified by journalists, but the concerns about the quality of TEPCO's management are valid, in my opinion.
Blogger exSKF, who has been reliably reporting from Japan on the situation at Fukushima Daiichi since the tsunami hit, translated anonymous interviews from a Japanese magazine that portray horrific labor conditions on site. These workers have been dealing with the large amounts of contaminated water around the damaged reactor units 1, 2 and 3. The anonymous interviews cannot be directly verified, but they are consistent with other investigations including a major Reuters report.
Worker C: Some of TEPCO's affiliate companies put in the bid with ridiculously low price and caused the deflation of labor cost at Fukushima I. Workers include people sent here by yakuzas for their debts and down and out yakuzas themselves. The site is full of yakuzas and rank amateurs...
Worker B: A journalist who smuggled himself into the plant wrote in his book that "10% of workers are yakuza". I do see more yakuzas. I have met workers with tattoo. They may be sending cheap workers and skimming the wages, or sending young yakuzas simply as means to make money. On the other hand, it's a fact that they can't secure workers unless they rely on yakuza.
Worker D: To begin with, it is a mistake to let a company handle the accident when that company didn't even have countermeasures in case of an accident. They are too proud to admit they can't do it under the current condition. Contaminated water keep increasing, workers keep decreasing. There is a law for supporting children and disaster victims, but there is nothing for radiation-exposed workers. Soon, not even yakuza nor amateurs will remain at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.
The report translated by blogger exSKF is completely consistent with a recent Reuters special report that involved interviewing over 80 personnel involved in the Fukushima clean up.
In reviewing Fukushima working conditions, Reuters interviewed more than 80 workers, employers and officials involved in the unprecedented nuclear clean-up. A common complaint: the project's dependence on a sprawling and little scrutinized network of subcontractors - many of them inexperienced with nuclear work and some of them, police say, have ties to organized crime.
Tepco sits atop a pyramid of subcontractors that can run to seven or more layers and includes construction giants such as Kajima Corp and Obayashi Corp in the first tier. The embattled utility remains in charge of the work to dismantle the damaged Fukushima reactors, a government-subsidized job expected to take 30 years or more.
The unprecedented Fukushima nuclear clean-up both inside and outside the plant faces a deepening shortage of workers. There are about 25 percent more openings than applicants for jobs in Fukushima prefecture, according to government data.
Raising wages could draw more workers but that has not happened, the data shows. Tepco is under pressure to post a profit in the year to March 2014 under a turnaround plan Japan's top banks recently financed with $5.9 billion in new loans and refinancing. In 2011, in the wake of the disaster, Tepco cut pay for its own workers by 20 percent.
The shortage of qualified workers has been an opportunity for the yakuza. Gangsters have stepped in to supply labor to subcontract to TEPCO's contractors. The yakuza's labor pool is the most desperate men in Japan. They are poorly trained, suffer from wage theft, and are over-worked and demoralized. TEPCO is enabling the yakuza because management is unwilling to cut profits to pay competitive wages.
TEPCO is involved in criminal mismanagement of the Fukushima clean up, in my opinion. The activists' concern's about TEPCO's incompetence are valid, in my opinion.
We are depending on desperate men working for gangsters to protect the Pacific ocean from contamination by massive inventories of radioactivity.
Posted by FourScore | Fri Nov 1, 2013, 12:30 PM (5 replies)
Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 07:18 PM PDT
The House Republican Conference wants to hear your Obamacare horror story. Here's mine.
I got an email from Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair, House Republicans, telling me that "Obamacare" is a disaster.
Have you or someone you know lost health care coverage as a result of the President’s health care law? Tell us your story by clicking here. We want to hear if you or someone you know lost insurance as a result of Obamacare because these stories are the reason House Republicans continue focusing on patient-centered reforms not government-centered health care.
She provided a helpful Web site:http://www.gop.gov/yourstory/, and invited me to tell my story. So I did. And so should you!
My family was on an individual plan with Blue Cross of Texas for almost 10 years. Each year, the premiums went up, sometimes by 10 or 20 percent. The only way we could keep the premiums affordable was to accept higher and higher deductibles, and higher co-pays.
By 2009, even a $10,000 deductible was not enough to keep premiums affordable. We were worried that we would soon not be able to afford health care coverage at all.
I was eligible for coverage on a different Blue Cross plan with my union, but did not sign up because it did not cover my adult children. Starting January of 2010, this union plan was required to cover my adult children because of Obamacare. I signed up.
Our premiums went down by $234 dollars a month, thanks to Obamacare. Our deductible went from Ten Thousand Dollars to One Thousand Dollars, again, thanks to Obamacare. Plus, the new plan covers dental and vision care, which the old plan did not.
Under the new, union sponsored plan, our premiums have not gone up in the past three years. I'm sure that under our old plan, they would have continued going up by 10 or 20 percent each year, as they did during the previous 10 years.
Now the oldest of our daughters is 26, and must seek coverage on her own. Fortunately, she lives in a Democratic state, where the Healthcare Marketplace works.
I want to thank Leader Pelosi, Leader Reid, and President Obama for making it possible to take my family to the doctor when they need it.
Posted by FourScore | Thu Oct 31, 2013, 11:41 AM (15 replies)
UMBELIEVABLE and BIZARRE - Rachel Maddow Catches Rand Paul Plagiarizing From ‘Gattaca’ And Wikipedia
Rachel Maddow Catches Rand Paul Plagiarizing Speech From ‘Gattaca’ And Wikipedia (VIDEO)
Author: Elisabeth Parker October 29, 2013 8:05 pm
Rachel Maddow on Rand Paul's "Gattaca" speech.
Poor Ken Cuccinelli can’t seem to get a break these days in his doomed race for governor of the state of Virginia. Voters don’t seem to like the GOP former front-runner’s stance on abortion, gay rights, or his support for the US government shutdown. Now, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) may have driven the final nail into Cuccinelli’s political coffin this week with a speech that was supposed to energize the base. Alas, Rachel Maddow found out that the senator’s speech was stolen from a Wikipedia entry on the 1997 dystopian sci-fi flick, “Gattaca.” Seriously, we are not kidding.
Rachel Maddow dishes on Rand Paul’s “Gattaca” speech.
On October 28, Senator Rand Paul made an appearance with Ken Cuccinelli at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA to bring his star power to the struggling campaign. Too bad Rand Paul’s star power was more like death star power. In a hackneyed attempt to praise Cuccinelli’s anti-choice views, our tea-bagging senators compared abortion to the Nazi-like eugenics practiced by the future, evil society from “Gattaca.” Alas for the Senator and for the VA attorney general, Rachel Maddow and her team found that Rand Paul wasn’t just summarizing the plot from “Gattaca.” Our tea-bagging senator had actually lifted entire sentences from Wikipedia. What, are we back in high school now?
Here’s Rachel Maddow’s video on Senator Rand Paul’s “Gattaca” speech, so you can see for yourself.
Posted by FourScore | Wed Oct 30, 2013, 12:40 AM (23 replies)
Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:21 AM PDT
Republicans are Outraged
Republicans are Outraged -- that Americans are getting Affordable Health Care.
Republicans are Outraged -- that Americans are NOT getting Affordable Health Care, fast enough.
Republicans are Outraged -- that Americans have to pay Taxes.
Republicans are Outraged -- that America's Debt is NOT being paid down, fast enough.
Republicans are Outraged -- that the Voter's Right Act used to make them let everyone Vote.
Republicans are Outraged -- that in Texas, North Carolina, and Virgina, there are way too many Women, Students, and poor people voting.
Republicans are Outraged -- that so many Americans want to Vote.
Republicans are Outraged -- that even with all their Gerrymandered Districts, they still lose Elections.
Republicans are Outraged -- that so many Americans do NOT hate Government like they do.
Republicans are Outraged -- that so many Americans just want a Government that works -- because as recent history shows, that's just NOT what they DO!
... Provide us a Government that works? Hah!
Because in their world-view, THAT would be simply Outrageous!
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 10:20 AM (31 replies)
Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:17 AM PDT
On MTP Chuck Todd points out the Republican House "Majority" is largely due to GOP Gerrymandering
by Lefty Coaster
On Meet the Press this morning Chuck Todd cut the Republicans off at the knees by exposing the mythical "Majority" House Republicans often boast of representing as being due to a considerable extent to intensive Republican gerrymandering, rather than an actual majority of American voters.
MEET THE PRESS October 27, 2013
CHUCK TODD: But right here, during the shutdown, a breakout here: eight points. It was the largest lead we'd shown in four years. Now, an eight-point lead looks big, and you think Democrats have a shot. But let's remember, this is a gerrymandered House. Democrats actually won the generic ballot in 2012. More people voted for a Democratic member of Congress than a Republican one in 2012, and yet there are more Republican-held congressional seats, 234. Democrats only have 201, even though they won a majority of the vote in 2012. There are a few vacancies there, by the way. We know some folks will say that.
So here's what they would need. They need to pick up 17 seats. This looks like it could be doable. Why? Because there are 36 seats where the president either won, or got 48% or better, that are currently held by Republican members of Congress. So you look at it and it's doable.
Americans need to be reminded that the GOP's "mandate" in the House is an illusion more often IMHO.
All Smoke and Mirrors
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 10:12 AM (6 replies)
Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:50 AM PDT
by Tom Tomorrow
Support independent cartooning: join Sparky's List -- and don't forget to visit TT's Emporium of Fun, featuring the new book and plush Sparky!
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 28, 2013, 10:02 AM (5 replies)
Sun Oct 06, 2013 at 11:38 AM PDT
"We Did Stop" - SNL rocks it with John Boehner parody
Last night, Miley Cyrus hosted SNL, and while you can imagine the relatively lame VMA references that dotted the show, one of the best skits was a video of John Boehner and Michele Bachmann (Miley) doing a hardcore Hip Hop version of the government shutdown.
If you haven't had your fill of blinged-out GOPer dance party moves, twerking Bachmanns, Uncle Sams blowing smoke from their crotches, Max-Headroom Reagans, you need to laugh at the video below the dKos scrunchy (head's up: NSFW):
Somehow this excess really visualizes for everyone what the hell GOPers are doing to the country.
Now, get me some more Cristal, yo.
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 21, 2013, 12:39 PM (2 replies)
Mon Oct 21, 2013 at 07:10 AM PDT
Tea Party logic
by Tom Tomorrow Follow
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 21, 2013, 10:16 AM (10 replies)
CEO Batters Wife, Claims She Is An Unfit Mother Because She Had An Abortion
Posted by Winter on 19 Oct 2013 / 0 Comment
Lisa Mehos and her ex-husband, finance CEO Manuel John Mehos, were granted a divorce in 2011, but they have been locked in a bitter custody battle over their two children ever since. Charges of beating his wife were dropped this past August due to the prosecutor’s lack of confidence in gaining a conviction against Mehos, and since then he and his lawyers have argued that he is not an unfit parent even though the attack was alleged to have occurred in front of their two children. He says that it is Lisa who is the unfit mother; after all, she had an abortion over a year after her divorce.
While Lisa Mehos was unsurprised that Mehos and his lawyers had subpoenaed her personal medical records to use against her in their custody battle, she was shocked at the decision of Supreme Court Judge Lori Sattler to allow the abortion as evidence in the case. Now Lisa will have to testify about her abortion in court, as her ex-husband and his lawyers claim that it proves her to be a liar of poor moral character who is traumatizing her children.
Well, I mean, if the woman had an abortion, well gosh she’s probably lied about EVERYTHING, since Catholics never have abortions for any reason (in real life, this would instantly cut the abortion rate by 27%, since that’s the percentage of abortions performed on Catholic women). She might be lying about having “men” over to the house (love the plural here, really sets up the slut shaming), and she would of course “traumatize” her children when dealing with the health consequences of her actions.
Lisa Mehos is arguing that she is being held to a sexual double standard when compared to her husband. While she is interrogated as to how she could possible have found herself pregnant and decided to have an abortion without men traipsing through her house and her children watching her breakdown, her husband’s previous sexual exploits are… many....
While Lisa’s abortion is relevant, according to Judge Sattler, Manuel’s sexual behavior is apparently not. A forensic psychologist testified that Manuel had confessed to visiting massage parlors, where he paid for sex. Lisa sees a double standard: “The court jumped at the chance to use the stigma of abortion to openly scorn, interrogate, and question my ability to be a worthy parent,” she told me...(source)
- See more at: http://www.classwarfareexists.com/ceo-batters-wife-claims-she-is-an-unfit-mother-because-she-had-an-abortion/#sthash.4ubL7Sbn.dpuf
Posted by FourScore | Sun Oct 20, 2013, 03:48 PM (2 replies)
Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 09:12 PM PDT
The Harry Reid Comedy Hour
I apologize ahead of time if this has been covered, but I've been laughing ever since I read it. Harry Reid is one feisty dude. Check out what he had to say about Senator Carnival Cruz Line, as reported by the Huffington Post:
"Ted Cruz, well, he proved he has a great fundraising operation," Reid said. "But you don't have to have Harry Reid criticizing him. Republicans criticized him. What do you think that vote was last night from Republicans? That was a message to Ted Cruz: 'What the hell are you doing?'… He is a laughing stock to everybody but him. What has he accomplished other than raising some money for president? And if this man can get the nomination to be the Republican nominee for president, I pity the Republican Party.
"Ted Cruz is smart," Reid added. "He has always been able to talk down to people. He is now in the Senate. People are as smart as he is. He can't talk down to anyone anymore. But he has still not accepted that in his own head. He still thinks he's smarter than everybody else. He might be able to work a calculus problem better than I can. But he can't legislate better than I can."
Bwahahahaha! Come on, Harry. Tell us how you really feel. The more he talks, the more I adore him.
In the past, Harry Reid always seemed to be quiet and mild mannered to me. Boy was I wrong. Either I wasn't paying attention, or something happened during his last local election. As I recall, the media had his campaign on life support, but they were wrong too, because Harry came out swinging, and it seems he's been kicking ass and taking names ever since.
Speaking of which, Cruz isn't the only senator on Harry's Outhouse List:
"David Vitter is a, um ... he just is not playing with a full deck. Something is wrong there," Reid said, pointing to his head.
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Give 'em hell, Harry! I love you!
And no, this was not snark! These quotes were 100% pure Harry. lol
Posted by FourScore | Fri Oct 18, 2013, 08:59 AM (5 replies)