Watch your butt in the A.N.O. basement.

Will do the overview of the “beta” incident soon while addressing concerns in your comments. But this statement by crosspatch:

There still seems to be some ambiguity if the water is from the reactor or if it is “overwash” from when they were spraying the spent fuel pools.

Yes. And if that “10,000x” radioactivity level was from fuel failure, you’d expect to see more isotopes than they mentioned.

Here, that factor of 10,000 number made me exclaim:

What’s their reference?! Normal reactor water? Not tap water. No way.

Given only those two choices, I knew it had to be reactor water times 10,000. But my gosh, that’s an enormous concentration:

1988 (or thereabouts) was my first outage at Arkansas Nuclear One. And the first I’d worked where reactor water had poured out into the basement in quantity.

My first time down there, after some hard work, I sat on the floor for a quick breather. Another rad control tech (health physics tech, back then) walked by. He saw me there and his eyes got big. He rushed over asking, “Do you know what the dose rate is where you’re sitting?!”

“Er…” my turn for “anime eyes“. I was just sitting on the floor!…but things were sinking in.

Meanwhile he runs his dose meter around, “window open” (meaning looking for beta as well as gamma). And his urgency goes away. He says, “Oh”, straightens up and says “five hundred mrad”. And with a casual little shrug and nod. As if to say, “sorry I doubted you, you obviously knew what you were doing”.


When he was gone I jumped up and surveyed the hell out of that floor. And he was right. That 500 mrad/h (5 mGy/h) I’d plopped my butt on was wimpy compared to almost everywhere else.

Reactor water is hot. This is 10,000 times that and they’ve got untrained personnel splashing around in it?

I’ll try for more and shorter posts on this, rather than these essays. But it will take a while to make a list of everything that needs addressing here.

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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16 Responses to Watch your butt in the A.N.O. basement.

  1. Joes says:

    Here is a breakdown of what they found in the “puddle”:

    Click to access en20110325-6.pdf

  2. Joes says:

    This from the Times:

    A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.

    The severity of the radiation burns to the injured workers are consistent with contamination by water that had been in contact with damaged fuel rods, the executive said.

    “There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large,” he said. “The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.”

  3. poul says:

    “to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation below their ankles” –

    • Ronny says:

      From that story:

      Electrical engineering firm Kandenko Co., which employs the two, said its workers were not required to wear rubber boots as its safety manuals did not assume a scenario in which its employees would carry out work standing in water at a nuclear power plant.

      AND YET THERE THEY WERE!!! Other than this lame excuse, one wonders if the firm was asked when its management would be pulling its collective heads out of there rear ends.

      • Ronny says:

        Commenting on my comment here, but I can’t get past this. This firm sent its workers into a nuclear plant crippled by the most damaging earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s recorded history with multiple reactors lacking power, suffering from explosions and fires, having been leaking enough radiation for nearly two weeks to result in an exclusion zone and detectable radiation well beyond it, with known damage and destruction to essential structures and infrastructure, suspected damage to containment vessels and suppression chambers, the clear potential for continued explosion risks and radiation exposure, and God knows what else.

        But the firm didn’t require them to wear protective gear for radiation risks because the safety manuals didn’t envision such a scenario.

        Seriously, WTF?

        What do you bet that upper management would have assumed this scenario even if the manual did not if *they* had been the ones doing the work?

      • poul says:

        it’s not their fault, it’s the station management’s. they are responsible that nobody goes into a hot zone improperly dressed or without the rad tech.

      • Ronny says:

        I can’t buy that, poul. Yes, it is the station management’s responsibility to make sure the contractors are properly suited up and monitored, but the contracting firm’s management presumably knew that significance of the location to which its techs were being dispatched and should have (1) demanded to know what protection was being provided to its workers and (2) instructed its workers that although the firm had no idea what protection was needed, it knew that it should be something and that the workers should demand it once they got on site. It’s not as though someone at Fukushima ordered delivery from some clueless pizza parlor.

        I take that back–even a pizza parlor, if there were any left in that region, probably would have known better than to make a delivery to that plant without any precautions.

  4. crosspatch says:

    Actually, from analysis of the water you wouldn’t be able to tell if it came from the reactor or the SFP because they are the same thing, really. So if the SFP went dry, the spent fuel got really hot and damaged the cladding, then you pour cold water on top of that, some of which comes into contact with fuel via cracks in the cladding … well, there you go. Now you “overfill” the pool and water runs down all over the place, water finds the lowest level … accumulates in a basement of the turbine building and there you are.

    • wormme says:

      crosspatch, you should be able to get an idea from isotopic analysis. Water from spent fuel having essentially no I-131, for example.

      But can’t argue against your scenario, given all we’ve seen. In any situation but this I’d be pretty confident to run around the turbine basement in my bare feet.

      • crosspatch says:

        “Water from spent fuel having essentially no I-131, for example. ”

        True. The ratios of the various isotopes should give you an idea of the “age” of the material it came from and by age, I mean how long since it was in the reactor.

  5. oldHP says:

    How does water get from anywhere inside primary containment out into the turbine building? I can’t think of any reason to deliberately pump water out. If its risen higher than the torus (& the space it resides in) then there might be some water pressure pressing on the walls of primary containment; if there is some sort of damage (cracks) that they don’t want to risk making worse ???

    I presume these guys were working on getting the RHR pumps running… I don’t recall physically where they are. Below the level of the main condensers?

    I need to dig out my 3 ring binders full of drawings…

    • wormme says:

      That transit path bugs me, too. But I’ve not been in a nuke plant in 14 years (Wolf Creek) and I was midnight yard dog for that one. Frostbite was the worry then. Let me know if you figure anything out.

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