More on 77-year-old Michio Ishikawa of the Japan Nuclear Technology Institute on the situation at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, as he appeared on Asahi TV on April 29.
A Todai as-hole though he may be, I started to like this guy as I watched. He didn’t mince his words, and said what they are doing at Fukushima I Nuke Plant is not working. That surprised some, including the host of the show, as Ishikawa is known as a strong proponent for the nuclear power generation and the nuclear industry.
I watched the segment (video No.2 out of 11) where he discussed the situation at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, particularly about the condition of the reactor core.
Here’s what I’d add to the snippets on my previous post. (My summary translation of what Mr. Ishikawa said, not literal; my comment in square bracket):
About TEPCO’s “roadmap:
“I believe what they are trying to achieve after 9 months is to cool the reactor cores and solidify them so that no radioactive materials can escape. But they are just doing peripheral tricks like water entombment and nitrogen gas injection. Nitrogen gas, it’s dangerous, by the way.
“What they must do is to cool the reactor cores, and there’s no way around it. It has to be done somehow.”
About the condition of the reactor cores:
“I believe the fuel rods are completely melted. They may already have escaped the pressure vessel. Yes, they say 55% or 30%, but I believe they are all melted down. When the fuel rods melt, they melt from the middle part on down.
(Showing the diagram) “I think the temperature inside the melted core is 2000 degrees to 2000 and several hundred degrees Celsius. A crust has formed on the surface where the water hits. Decay heat is 2000 to 3000 kilowatts, and through the cracks on the crust the radioactive materials (mostly noble gas and iodine) are escaping into the air.
“Volatile gas has almost all escaped from the reactor by now.
“The water [inside the pressure vessel] is highly contaminated with uranium, plutonium, cesium, cobalt, in the concentration we’ve never seen before.
“My old colleague contacted me and shared his calculation with me. At the decay heat of 2000 kilowatt… There’s a substance called cobalt 60. Highly radioactive, needs 1 to 1.5 meter thick shields. It kills people at 1000 curies. He calculated that there are 10 million curies of cobalt-60 in the reactor core. If 10% of cobalt-60 in the core dissolve into water, it’s 1 million curies.”
[He’s an old-timer so he’s used to curie instead of becquerel as a unit. 1 curie equals 3.7 x 10^10 becquerels (37,000,000,000 becquerels or 37 gigabecquerels).
10 million curies equals 370,000 terabecquerels, and 1 million curies equals 37,000 terabecquerels. I used this conversion table. Tell me I’m wrong! Cobalt-60 alone would make a Level 7 disaster…]
“They (TEPCO) want to circulate this highly contaminated water to cool the reactor core. Even if they are able to set up the circulation system, it will be a very difficult task to shield the radiation. It will be a very difficult work to build the system, but it has to be done.
“It is imperative to know the current condition of the reactor cores. It is my assumption [that the cores have melted], but wait one day, and we have water more contaminated with radioactive materials. This is a war, and we need to build a “bridgehead” at the reactor itself instead of fooling around with the turbine buildings or transporting contaminated water.”
[As Ishikawa explains, a notable opponent of nuclear power, Tetsunari Iida (executive director of the Institute of Sustainable Energy Policy and Kyoto University graduate majoring in nuclear science) nods in deep agreement.]
About “war” at Fukushima I Nuke Plant:
“Take the debris clean-up job for example. They are picking up the debris and putting them in containers, as if this is the peacetime normal operation. This is a war. They should dig a hole somewhere and bury the radioactive debris and clean up later. What’s important is to clear the site, using the emergency measures. Build a bridgehead to the reactor.
“The line of command is not clear, whether it is the government, TEPCO, or Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
“Look squarely at the reactors and find out the true situation. [Trying to do something with] the turbine buildings is nothing but a caricature [a joke, a manga, a diversion].”
The show’s host says “But wait a minute, Mr. Ishikawa, you are a proponent of nuclear power and we expected to hear from you that everything is going well at Fukushima…”
Mr. Ishikawa answers, “Well, if I’m allowed to tell a lie…”
Now, Mr. Tetsunari Iida speaks, agreeing to Mr. Ishikawa’s “war” analogy:
“I totally agree with Mr. Ishikawa’s assessment of the plant, and that this is a war. The government simply orders TEPCO to “do it”. But it is like the Imperial General Headquarters (大本営) on the eve of the Sea of Japan Naval Battle during the Russo-Japanese War [in 1905] ordering merchant ship TEPCO to attack [the imperial Russian navy].
“The government should appoint a commander. TEPCO has a limit as a private business. No one knows what to do. We have to seek the advice from the best and the brightest in the world.”
Mr. Hasegawa of Chunichi Shinbun jumps in, and says “We took the numbers from the government like 30% core melt as true, and went from there. But then Mr. Ishikawa says it’s a total melt.”
Then, Kohei Otsuka, the Vice Minister of Health and Welfare and politician from the ruling party (DPJ), sitting right next to Mr. Ishikawa, butts in, and warns everyone:
“Since none of us knows for sure the condition of the reactor cores, we shouldn’t speculate on a national TV.”
Mr. Hasegawa overrides the politician, and says “The real problem is that what no one knows is presented to us every day as if it is a fact, like 30% core melt in the chart.”
I wish Mr. Ishikawa had punched the light-weight politician in the face. At least he should have laughed at him.
Again, the video (2 of 11) for those of you who understand Japanese:
Saturday, April 30, 2011