Comments

1
Suicide missions? Did you just now make that up?
2
i read earlier that a few scientists are thinking this could be worse than chernobyl
3
Don't we have drone helicopters that can do this?
4
Where the fuck are all the advanced-tech Japanese robots I keep seeing? They can play a fucking violin or dance the macarena, but can't carry a water hose?
5
@1 no, ABC News quoted a US official on that:

"They need to stop pulling out people—and step up with getting them back in the reactor to cool it. There is a recognition this is a suicide mission" -- from a US official.
6
@3

Radiation tends to fry electronics.
7
@1,

The Japanese media has been using the term for days. I heard folks on NHK comparing the Fukushima workers to kamikazes.

But regardless, the facts lead to that conclusion. If getting close enough to the containment building to deal with problem requires absorbing a potentially lethal dose of gamma radiation, and the workers know this in advance, it is a suicide mission.
8
I guess I get to be the first one to use the word kamikazis.
9
Shit, Goldy, you beat me by seconds.
10
Too bad our fucking drones can't be used.
11
Seriousness is increased because combustion, convection, and/or steam bursts from pouring water on red-hot spent fuel rods can relatively easily carry fine particulate radioactive matter into the air. Even a reactor vessel that is cracked makes it hard for radiation or radioactive materials to get outside, as long as the molten mass is contained by the bottom curve of the reactor vessel or the depression in the thick concrete pad underneath it.

I hope this brings a re-examination of the now-apparent risk of keeping so much spent fuel on the grounds of nuclear plants around the world, and especially in pools ON TOP of reactor buildings where they can't have super-heavy lids on them (they're already heavy because of concrete walls and being full of water), and where it's much harder to jury-rig getting water into them when they start to boil dry. And they don't simply store what just came out of the reactor, or what's about to go in--some of them were chockablock with multiple past fuel loads.

People used to talk about on-site spent fuel just in terms of terrorist threat ("what if somebody crashes a plane into it?!"). I never knew it put out so much decay heat; I always thought it was mainly submerged because water is pretty good shielding.
12

Here's REALITY. New thing:

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/nucle…

"If the fuel does fully melt, he said, it would “relocate downward,” where it would hit a pool of water at the base of the reactor building, which is there specifically to cool off the molten fuel in case of such an emergency. When the molten fuel reaches the water, Kazimi said, it would solidify again, where it could later be carved up and removed, as was done at Three Mile Island. “It is not likely we would see any explosion that would compare” with the one that took place in 1986 at Chernobyl, he said."
13
Phew! Good thing this isn't getting any worse by the day and heading down the path that I feared!

Oh, wait. It is. Everything I feared, including suicide missions, is now happening or on the verge of happening. Yay.
14
This is an insanely noble cause to risk your life for, it can't even be compared to kamikaze pilots in overall impact. Personally, If I had lost all of my family in the tsunami I would imagine I would feel great comfort and pride in risking my life to protect other humans.
15
@3, 10: US to fly drone over troubled Japanese power plant to help assess reactor damage

@6, I think it's mainly the electromagnetic pulse from nuclear explosions that knocks out circuits. Otherwise, electronics are fairly resistant to radiation.
16
@14 "compared to kamikaze pilots in overall impact"
AHAHAHAHAA kamikaze pilots did impact ahah ha ... ha . . . uhhhh
ok, never mind, that's not funny

Come on Goldy, you're overReacting! just like the plant HAHA ha ha oh. Never mind.
17
@11 I hadn't realized how self-destructive waste rods were either. It seems like we should store them in a location where you can't run out of water. Like the bottom of the ocean. Ok, probably not the best idea. But at least there's no possibility of meltdown.
18
@15 wrong. Soft-errors can cause failures. Military takes precautions to shield from those. Drones are far enough away to be fine but don't know about robots.
It appears there's research at Sandia that's used robots in high intensity gamma environments. Not sure what it would do at this point..hold a hose inside a broken spent fuel pool and watch it steam and boil away?
19
@18, "soft-errors" meaning software glitches? I thought checksums or something would compensate for the occasional flipped bit, but I really have no idea what I'm talking about there.

Shielding, I know a little about, and there are lots of paradoxes there. Alpha particles (2 protons, 2 neutrons--a helium nucleus) are easily stopped by paper or human skin, but if ingested or inhaled are very dangerous because they easily cause DNA mutations. Beta particles (high-energy electrons) easily penetrate skin but can be pretty well shielded by a centimeter or two of neutron-dense materials like Plexiglas or aluminum--other, thinner metals like steel or lead are dangerous, though, because beta particles slam into one side and gamma rays emerge from the other side ("bremsstrahlung" radiation). Gamma rays (essentially X-rays) need lead or many inches of earth or concrete to block them. Don't know which of these main forms of ionizing radiation are the biggest challenge for circuitry. Lead shielding is obviously a problem for things that fly.
20
@19 I just brought up soft-errors because it's a very radiation specific vulnerability that increases with intensity (meaning maybe the checksumming won't help after awhile). Have no idea how they actually deal with it anymore or if process and design improvements reduce the effects. I was thinking the drones would be far enough away from the sources to not be susceptible like a ground unit would be. This is the ground unit I was thinking of:

http://www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-r…
21
@19, 20 Fine. Kamikaze robots then.
22
Steam punk robots are the answer, no electronics
23
@1: Suicide. Absolutely.

This is the exact same kind of operation being carried out over the Chernobyl meltdown:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuNtgYtF4…

That helicopter crashed into the crane because the radiation severity caused the pilot who had been making repeated desperate trips over the sight passed out.

Scores of liquidators died at the site or shortly thereafter due to their exposure trying to fight fires, cover the exposed core material, and trying to mine deep underneath the plant and saturate the ground with concrete and liquid nitrogen in attempts to prevent core material from reaching groundwater.

So yes, suicidal heroics is absolutely the accurate descriptor to use here.

There have already been a number of reported deaths, and workers collapsing and passing out at the site. And this is only what they are telling the public...
24
@11, how 'bout just storing the waste rods at/below the local water table, not on top of the building?!? Given the magnitude of the quake, I'm surprised some of the storage tanks didn't crack and drain dry right away.

Please wait...

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