Late night links–Iodine, beta burns, the will to live.

About to sign off, but first some good readers’ links.

Charlie Martin found a very good page about historical I-131 releases. Fukushima isn’t on it yet, I’m sure it’s third on the list. It might move up to second.

And I’d be curious to see how much the H-bomb years added, even though iodine isn’t really a fusion product. Worth checking out if you have concerns about the stuff.

crosspatch heeded the press conference, as usual. Things appear to be stable, or slightly improving.

And poul find an article from the Kyodo News which is, as reported, horrifying. But there’s so much that’s unexplained:

Water which three workers were exposed to…contained radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level…

What’s their reference?!  Normal reactor water?  Not tap water.  No way.  You can take typical tap water, multiply its rad material by 10,000x, drink it and never feel a thing.  And as far as what’s described next… 

The three (workers–ed.)…were working in the basement of the reactor’s turbine building when they were irradiated.

Two of the three have been hospitalized due to possible burns caused by beta rays which can cause major skin damage. They were not wearing boots at the time and therefore their feet were soaked in the water.

I think these are BWRs (boiling water reactors) but am not sure of anything anymore.  A BWR runs primary water (in steam form) over the turbine.  Anyway, even in a BWR the turbine building is nothing, radiologically, compared to the reactor building.

And yet they got beta burns from water in the basement.  From wet feet.

There’ll be no pointing of fingers at these guys.  They’re making lots of mistakes, it’s obvious from here in the back seat.  I’m a damn good Monday morning quarterback, too.

Remember the most exhausted you’ve ever been.  Put an existential crisis on top of that, so stress perks you up briefly.  Then start grinding away at the longest hours you’ve ever worked, in worse conditions than you ever imagined…

…day after day after day…

I would never point a finger at those folks.  But let’s notice mistakes.

TEPCO said almost no water was present during an on-site inspection the previous day and also that the level of radiation was low during the inspection.

”Because of this, the workers were believed to have continued their work even after their dosimeters’ alarm went off, assuming a problem with the machine,” a TEPCO official said.

TEPCO plans to strictly re-enforce the rule of evacuating the site whenever the dosimeter’s alarm goes off.

Dosimeters, plural.  Dosimeters’ alarmed.  These suckers–EPDs, electronic personal dosimeters–are not interconnected.  So the odds of two or more of them false alarming at exactly the same time and exactly the same place are about what you’d think.  I don’t know how experienced workers could possibly assume EPDs are simultaneously false-alarming.

I meant to finish this tonight, but there’s too much to think about.  If these guys are actually ignoring simultaneous radiation alarms to finish jobs, they’ve turned fatalistic. 

They don’t care.

You’re going to let them continue like that?  Okay then.  Oooh, oooh, I know!  Let’s set up a money pool on how many of those 180 end up injured or killed! 

I’m getting too angry to continue.  Do we care if these heroic workers have ceased to care about themselves? 

I do.

I’d rather Fukushima release another million Curies of Cs-137 than one more actual life be lost.  Screw the “statistical” losses.  I’ve seen enough of those calculations to really know…you never really know.

But I know those workers are real.

About wormme

I've accepted that all of you are socially superior to me. But no pretending that any of you are rational.
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17 Responses to Late night links–Iodine, beta burns, the will to live.

  1. crosspatch says:

    They think the water in the basement of the turbine building came from overflow from the operation to dowse the spent fuel pools, not from the reactor itself. BUT I add the caveat that there was a message crawling on the Kyodo site (now gone) that said the reactor containment in reactor 3 could possibly have been compromised. So the bottom line is — your guess is as good as mine but I would go with the overflow from the SFP.

    • wormme says:

      I see. Was definitely not seeing how Reactor Bldg. screwed up the T.Bldg. that way.

      But why overflow the pools?! Get ’em mostly filled and you might safely enter the area. (barring the H explosions scattering fuel pieces. At least get cameras in to monitor water level.

      Great late night updates as always. Thanks, crosspatch.

      Ah, I’m wiped. Having trouble even typing. Anyway, tomorrow will be all new changes.

      • jaed says:

        But why overflow the pools?!

        I might be wrong, but it sounded like for a while there they were flinging in water mostly blind and couldn’t actually see the water level – at least the number 4 pool. In desperation to get the water level up they may not have been too focused on the possible consequences of overflow or splashout.

  2. poul says:

    g-d forbed me pointing finger at *these* folks. they’re beyond being superhuman by now.

    but there ought to be somebody, in the back room, never going to the front lines, always surrounded by dosimeters and tables and bureaucratic stuff and things, who is ultimately responsible for allowing them to go in, to stay despite alarms, to walk in the water without boots.

    this is the one i want to drug out by the collar and dump into reactor water…

  3. Engineer Bob says:

    Note that the linked article says “The three, who are from a company cooperating with TEPCO, were involved in work to restore power …”.

    I know nothing – but it’s conceivable that these were electricians who had no training whatsoever with radiation dangers.

    • waytoomanydaves says:

      Yep, I just caught that too and I was gonna point it out. It sounds like they might be contractors, and maybe not part of the normal crew.

  4. poul says:

    found it on other site:

    3.9 million becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter were detected in the water that the workers were standing in. That is 10,000 times higher than levels of the water inside a nuclear reactor in operation

  5. crosspatch says:

    What *kind* of reactor? A BWR has lower radiation than a PWR.

  6. Mountainbear says:

    Hmm, I don’t think it’s that they don’t care. They were in the process of laying these cables. For all we know they could have been almost done when the dosimeters went off. So the guys stopped, looked at each other and then decided “Screw it, we can take ten more minutes, let’s finish this job.” Because they maybe didn’t want to go there again, or didn’t want another team having to take over for them.

    Don’t think we’ll ever find out, unless any of them talks.

  7. There’s a Japanese phrase that keeps coming to mind — I should write a Tattle on this —
    “yamato gokuro”. Call it “Japanese spirit.” It’s the willingness to push on, for the group, through personal hardship.

    It’s a very noble thing in some ways, but it can also be dumb. If it weren’t for yamato gokuro, Japan might have sued for terms in WWII before Hiroshima. With it, even Hiroshima alone wasn’t enough.

    • wormme says:

      And of course this incident is diddly-squat compared to other things that could happen. Running cable while in 6″ water?

      Tell me, between a random “industrial accident” or 6 Gy (or Sv) beta dose to your feet…which would you choose?

      And yet all the drownings and electrocutions and burnings and chemical poisonings are set aside for what’s probably the equivalent of a terrible sunburn.

      • Yeah. Everything I’ve read about beta burns suggests the biggest immediate symptom is itching.

        Hell, even I would feel kinda silly complaining that my feet are wet and they itch when I’m trying to save my whole county.

  8. NISA just released some analytic results for the water here.

    Lots of beta emitters, dominated by Cs-137 at about 10^6 Bq/cm^3. No U or Pu.

  9. Pingback: Watch your butt in the A.N.O. basement. | World's Only Rational Man

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