Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plutonium and Uranium Detected

This has been one of the most difficult blog entries we’ve written. In order to gather the most thorough evidence to date, we poured through countless news stories from Japan and the World, as well as official press releases from TEPCO, NRC documents, Areva status documents, and a JAIF report in order to determine the truth at Fukushima. We had assumed that since the IAEA is an international organization, it would have the most honest report, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. What you’re reading took numerous hours of research over many days to discover the theoretical timeline of Plutonium radioactive isotope leakage at the Fukushima Daiichi facility.

Major Players

TEPCO Tokyo Electric Power Company; IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency ; JAIF Japan Atomic Industrial Forum ; NRC Nuclear Regulartory Commission ; Areva: A huge French nuclear conglemerate.
DOE US Department of Energy

There are two sources of Plutonium at Fukushima’s Daiichi plant.
1. #3 Reactor was loaded with MOX fuel some four months before it was to be de-comissioned. This is strange in of itself.
2. Plutonium is created in small quantities by the nuclear fission process in the spent fuel rods. Most of these are stored in the fuel storage pool at #4 reactor.

Plutonium disclosure happened over time as it was discovered or theorized by various parties. Bear with us as you read the chronology. There are many groups and experts involved: all of them discussing the implications of a plutonium leak.

Experts like Michio Kaku mentioned that Plutonium could be released from the MOX fuel, and then when the explosions began occurring so often (beginning on March 12), many nuclear experts stated that plutonium is a byproduct of the nuclear fission process. The explosions, whether hydrogen in origin or not, occurred at least five times over the month long course of the disaster.

Apparently TEPCO knew about Plutonium isotopes on 3/21 and 3/22. It was discovered in the soil around #1 and around several parts of #1’s infrastructure. No disclosure came at that time. True disclosure of that information only came out in the TEPCO press release on April 9th and through the Japanese Educational website about the disaster and reactor status (April 8th).

On March 23, experts were asked, on television and in the press, about the blue neutron beam, and stated that it might be due to the presence of uranium and plutonium radioactive isotopes, and an indication of spontaneous random re-criticality.

Plutonium was detected on 3/25 and 3/28, but the only reason we know this is from a minor footnote from a JAIF document which was only recently released on April 8th.

On March 26th, the NRC (The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission) analyzed the situation, but didn’t come right out say plutonium. Apparently based on the wording (read the chronology) they knew it though.

Here’s what is clear:

The 3/26 NRC document details neutron sources being thrown up to 1 mile and bulldozing of very high dose rate material being bulldozed between units 3 and 4. This means the US government knew about it and stayed silent. The New York Times broke that story on April 6.

On March 30th, the IAEA and a US dept of Energy official both documented possible Plutonium release in their statements.

The JAIF report wasn’t released until April 8th.


* March 11
o Earthquake and Tsunami and Reactor Breach

* March 12
o First explosion at Fukushima

* March 13
o Second explosion at Fukushima

o The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., commonly known as TEPCO, began injecting fresh water into the No. 3 reactor on Sunday after coolant water levels fell, while letting out radioactive steam to relieve pressure that had built up inside.

But after trouble developed with a fresh water pump, the company was forced to pour seawater into it to avoid a meltdown, a step that will eventually lead to the reactor's dismantlement. As a result, water levels rose but the water-level gauge has stopped indicating a rise, Edano said.

The procedure temporarily exposed the top parts of MOX fuel rods above coolant water by nearly 3 meters. MOX fuel refers to plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, used for so-called ''pluthermal'' power generation.”

* March 14
o Extreme pressure at #3 per TEPCO chronology dated April 9th 2011

o Two new explosions at Fukushima and high radiation.

“The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., commonly known as TEPCO, began injecting fresh water into the No. 3 reactor on Sunday after coolant water levels fell, while letting out radioactive steam to relieve pressure that had built up inside.

But after trouble developed with a fresh water pump, the company was forced to pour seawater into it to avoid a meltdown, a step that will eventually lead to the reactor's dismantlement. As a result, water levels rose but the water-level gauge has stopped indicating a rise, Edano said.

An official of the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said half of the roughly 4-meter rods were still exposed late Sunday, but that seawater kept being pumped into the reactor vessel.”

* March 15

Explosion from #4. There is no fuel in the core, so it must have come from the spent fuel storage pool.

* March 16 Smoke rises from Fukushima

* March 20

“The Tokyo Fire Department shot water into a spent-fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor in an operation that lasted more than 13 hours until 3:40 a.m., while the Defense Ministry plans to shoot water into a similar pool of the No. 4 reactor shortly.

More than 2,000 tons of water is believed to have been put into the No. 3 reactor's pool so far, exceeding the pool's capacity of 1,400 tons. Fuel rods used at the reactor were plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, known as MOX, said to be harder to control than normal fuel rods made from uranium.”

“The process of reducing the pressure by releasing steam from the vessel, a step already taken in the past to deal with the troubles of the No. 3 and other reactors, may mean that radioactive steam could be further released outside. But the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said later that it would not take the measure for a while because the pressure has stabilized.”

* March 21

First detection of plutonium on and/or near the ground. Detailed in the April 8th educational link.

White smoke at Fukushima from #2.

* March 22

2nd detection of plutonium on and/or near the ground and on Unit #1’s stack and exhaust pipe. Detailed in the April 8th educational link.

* March 23

Neutron beam reported for the first time: indicative of random criticality.

“But the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant's nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.”

Gray smoke detected per the TEPCO April 9 2010 press release.

* March 24

White and then black smoke, neutron beams, high temperatures noted.

* March 25 JAIF report on Fukushima status details a Plutonium detection in small amounts.

Report dated April 08 2011

* March 26 The NRC issues a report of Fukushima, but the report has no details of plutonium in it. It does cryptically discuss some issues. See the yellow highlighted section at the beginning of this document.

* March 27

No plutonium detected, but TEPCO is waiting on a detailed analysis of extremely varied isotopes (niobium, tellurium, ruthenium, silver, iodine, cesium, and ruthenium ) released after 1000 milliSv or 1 Sv detected at unit #1. Awaiting their analysis.

* March 28

“Meanwhile, Tokyo Electric, known as TEPCO, is studying whether highly toxic plutonium is contained in the soil of the plant. The No. 3 reactor was using plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel for so-called ''pluthermal'' power generation.”

* March 29 Tokyo stocks open lower on worries over plutonium leak

“Plutonium has been detected in soil at five locations in the crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The following are questions and answers regarding the potential health hazard of the highly toxic material.

Q: What are the salient characteristics of plutonium?

A: Plutonium emits alpha rays which get lodged in people's bones and lungs after being inhaled and could become highly carcinogenic. One half-life of plutonium-239, a variant of the radioactive element, is estimated at 24,000 years. It could keep emitting radiation inside a human body and is difficult to eliminate.

Q: How will the plutonium discovered this time at the plant affect human health?

A: The plutonium-238 isotope reading at one of the five contaminated spots was 0.54 becquerel per kilogram of soil. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said that it is the same level as found in most soil so it is not a health hazard. Experts of the Nuclear and Industrial

* March 30

“A senior U.S. Energy Department official said Tuesday the level of plutonium detected in soil at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is ''not significant.''

''Certainly it would be a concern if it were in significant levels...It was not significant at this point,'' Peter Lyons, acting assistant secretary of the department's Office of Nuclear Energy, said in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

He also noted finding plutonium that was derived from either the operating reactors or the spent fuel pools ''would not be regarded as a major surprise.'' -monitoring-and-consequences-30-march

The IAEA writes of the detection of plutonium in their notes on slide 6. There was a comment from a US nuclear official and the IAEA on the same day. We don’t know when they learned of it however.

"Pu-238 and Pu-239/240 in soil(Japanese authorities) Measured at Fukushima NPP: within the range of Japanese background Seeking further information about origin"

* April 2

Workers warned they're facing a 100-year battle to make fuel rods safe. Those battling to stop nuclear meltdown are expected to die in weeks.American recruiter asked to hire technicians to help

Dr Price said: 'As the water leaks out, you keep on pouring water in, so this leak will go on forever.

'There has to be some way of dealing with it. The water is connecting in tunnels and concrete-lined pits at the moment and the question is whether they can pump it back.

'The final thing is that the reactors will have to be closed and the fuel removed, and that is 50 to 100 years away.

Read more:

1. Workers warned they're facing a 100-year battle to make fuel rods safe
2. Those battling to stop nuclear meltdown are expected to die in weeks
3. American recruiter asked to hire technicians to help
4. World's largest concrete pump is being flown from U.S. to assist
5. Evacuation zone refugees won't be able to go home for months, admits Japanese minister
6. Joint Japanese-U.S. mission recovers bodies from sea
7. Man arrested after crashing car through gate of stricken N-plant
8. TEPCO releases video showing damage inside Fukushima's Unit 4

Read more:

* April 4

Highly radioactive water from #2 wastewater is shunted to a reservoir, while the low level water in that reservoir is emptied into the sea. Awaiting analysis of that highly radioactive water.

* April 6

NY Times reports of bulldozing spent fuel rods between units #3 and #4. Unit #3 contains the MOX fuel. #4 has the majority of the spent fuel rods. They quote from the NRC 03/26 report.

* April 7

Reports that they have information that Plutonium was in the 11,000 tons of radioactive water dumped. No official verification found. The water was tested and Cesium and Iodine isotopes were found.

* April 8

The Japanese government releases an educational site dealing with the status of radiation at Fukushima and elsewhere in the country. A menu hyperlink deals with Plutonium status and details the March 21 and March 22 detection, but has no word on the other incidents.

The government said on Friday that a cow slaughtered for beef had slightly elevated levels of cesium, another radioactive particle. Officials stressed that the meat was never put on the market.

Read more:

* April 9

Fukushima data from the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry, which has so far provided the most comprehensive daily data dump on Fukushima, has stopped reporting the dry well radiation reading in Reactor 1. This is the same reactor where following Thursday's Earthquake, METI represented a mindblowing reading of 100 Sieverts/hour in the dry well: a number on par with the worst data out of Chernobyl. Did the earthquake terminally break something in Reactor 1, or will the excuse be that another radiation counter turned up faulty after it was Made In Taiwan?

Phoenix milk sample exceeds EPA’s maximum contaminant level for radioactive iodine-131

Three weeks after the disaster in one of the most connected countries in the world, 260,000 households still do no have running water and 170,000 do not have electricity. Officials fear up to 25,000 people may have been killed.

Read more:

… Milk Contamination At EPA Maximum…

Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows. The Phoenix sample contained 3.2 picoCuries per liter of iodine-131. The Los Angeles sample contained 2.9. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 3.0, but this is a conservative standard designed to minimize exposure over a lifetime, so EPA does not consider these levels to pose a health threat. …

TEPCO has repeatedly relaxed safety standards at the plant during the crisis to prevent frequent violations

But security concerns have been raised after an unemployed man from Tokyo was arrested after allegedly crashing a car through the Western gate of the Fukushima plant premises.

Hikaru Watanabe, 25, drove around the radioactive plant for around 10 minutes after entering at around 1.10pm on Thursday, said TEPCO, though the reason for his entry is not yet known.

Watanabe, who has been charged with unlawful entry, had tried to enter the plant via the guarded front gate about 50 minutes earlier, but he was refused.

A Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official said the Fukishima plant is guarded, but the company is now examining whether the security is sufficient, the Japanese outlet Kyodo reported.

Read more:

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