Crisis response and criticality.

Sue contributed a link to an informative article about Japan’s Radiation Emergency Medical Assistance Team. My pride requires me to highlight this:

“When they went there, they were very much surprised because there was no electricity, no water supply,”

They weren’t the only ones. The REMAT had more of a WORMy view than a TEPCO one. How can you lack power and coolant at a nuke plant and not scream bloody murder 24/7? My mind still boggles.

The radiation damage so far?

…the worker received only a modest dose of radiation, as did three workers who were later exposed to contaminated water. Akashi says that for his staff, Fukushima has actually been a relatively minor incident. The team has seen much worse at radiation accidents in Thailand and Panama

Those three workers are almost certainly the “beta burn” folks. The ones who ignored their radiation alarms to keep working, remember. Thanks for a most interesting report, Sue.

And midwest bill finds the Fox report on a “potential” criticality event. The quotes are there because 1) my poor poor eyes couldn’t resolve the concern, 2) audio is messed up on both the computer and the networked T.V.–which will get a look  mañana.

Given 1) and 2), then there must be 3) wait, what?!  We’re seriously discussing flashing Cherenkov radiation?  In a fission reactor? 

First and foremost, criticality is not necessary for the “blue light special”.  Check out those Wiki pics, seriously.  Wait, here:

I’ve seen lots of Cherenkov during fuel offloading.  It’s gorgeous.  These pictures doesn’t do it justice.  And it was from beta decay, not fission.  By definition, we don’t continue to run the reactors during “outages”.  Nor would I care to work such a job. 

Let’s consider “flashing” Cherenkov as a study in optics, first.  Beta decay Cherenkov is emerging from unstill water, reflecting off surfaces in some cadence of the water’s movement, finally emerging from within roiling steam and vapor.   Those of you who can actually see what’s going on, is that possible? 

Because if a heap of fissile materials within unpressurized water is undergoing a successive series of massive supercriticalities…a whole lot of other crap would be going on.  Stuff that, IMHO, would be hard to miss.  Punctuated bursts–if not explosions–of steam leaps to mind.  

Yes, of course I consider the possibility that maybe the fuel isn’t underwater.  While producing pulses of Cherenkov light.  From fission.

That’s one to reject out of hand.  The possibility of an optical illusion that gives residual underwater Cherenkov the appearance of flashing, we’ll keep in mind.

That some poor forgotten Blue Flashy Light Thingee is signaling for help, let’s not discount.

Oh, P.S–Charlie added a comment over there.  Did the Fox journalist really use the word “fusion”?

If so, we should definitely wait for someone with more authority to chime in. 

Perhaps Snooki.

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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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8 Responses to Crisis response and criticality.

  1. Rana says:

    THANK YOU!! This blog is amazing, finally a source that seems credible in the pile of minutia that is the internet. I’ve been searching for days to find a bit of humor mixed with a TON of knowledge of something I so wish to have control over yet understand it is outside my girth!! Thank you worm-guy you don’t know how much ease you have put this mother of two’s mind!! Hugs!!

    • wormme says:

      Wow. Thank yew.

      There’s a number of commenters here who really know this stuff. Sometimes we fall into technical details and lingo and forget it’s not everyone’s specialty. But the purpose of this is to make radiological subjects more accessible, not less.

      So any and all questions are welcome. Any time.

  2. Ronny says:

    Word has it that the going rate for Snooki’s authority will cost you $32 grand, which if you are lucky may get you something like “Nuke hard, but SCRAM harder.”

    • wormme says:

      No, no, you’re thinking of her going rate for a college lecture.

      Her services as a neutron flux capacitor analyst will set you back a quarter-mil, easy.

      But worth every penny.

  3. oldHP says:

    >Fox journalist

    experiencing… sudden…cognitive…dissonance…

  4. DefendUSA says:

    This a.m NBC reported that they found the “radiation leak” ! Correct me, please if I have learned nothing from reading the smartest nuke blog (evah), but you would call that found the source of the “contaminated water” due to a crack that they found. Yikes. And the reporter took a bite of a farmer’s japanese cuke, too. I’m sure he was waiting to light up instantly!
    PS..I never watch network news, but I am stuck in a hotel in Ann Arbor…it’s hash bash day today at U of M. Cannot wait to watch the law turn the other cheek be one of the folks who wants to watch the crazy!! (I’m really here to see my offspring perform in a music concert).

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