Monday, January 20, 2014

An Incident at Fukushima Daiichi, Part 4, The Tsunami & Nuclear Plants

"Why has this not made national headlines??? The Aircraft Carrier Ronald Reagan is nuclear powered. Radiation detection equipment did not pick up on this?? Why have these sailors and marines medical records been removed from permanent tracking. Criminal implications galore. This should be all over mainstream media. Someone please forward all these ene reports to the media.... TEPCO is the lowest of snakes. Hari Kari for the lot of em!!" – Comment on enenews, August 15, 2013, by "timemachine2020"

Picture Legend
1. Map of the Sendai-Tokyo Region
2. Tsunami
3. Waves at Minamisōma, about 16 miles north of Fukushima Daiichi*
4. A killer wave approaches
5. The airport in Sendai
6. Runways
7. Sukuiso, a week after
8. Whirlpool off the coast of Oarai
9. Running aground
10. Minamisanriku
11. Fukushima 1
12. Aerial view
13. Reactors 1 through 4
14. What you’re seeing
15. The plants

   The March 11th mainshock earthquake of 2011 caused approximately 23 feet of upthrust (as every fourth grader in the United States knows the Archimedian upthrust generated by a mass 'm', displacing a volume 'V' of a fluid of density 'ρ' is given by the expression: F (upthrust) = mg - ρVg where 'g' is the local acceleration due to gravity) along a 112 mile wide seabed 37 miles offshore from the east coast of Tōhoku (the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, which includes the Fukushima Prefecture), resulting in a major tsunami (a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, generally in an ocean or a large lake. The term tsunami comes from the Japanese, composed of the two written Chinese characters for the words (tsu) meaning "harbor" and (nami), meaning "wave." Harbor wave), which caused a huge amount of destruction, loss of life, and population displacement along Japan’s Pacific coastline and it’s northern islands. 
   The earthquake occurred at 2:46 local Japanese time, with the epicenter 42 miles from the nearest point on the Japanese mainland. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning, the most severe on it’s tsunami scale, estimating waves reaching up to 10 feet high. Initial estimates of the time it would take for the first waves of a tsunami  were between 10 to 30 minutes, then spreading out to areas further north and south based on the geography of the coastline.  
   At 3:55PM tsunami waves were seen, and were recorded by a NHK News helicopter, flooding the airport in the city of Sendai, the closest major metropolitan area to the epicenter of the earthquake. The waves struck the airport, sweeping away vehicles, planes, flooding buildings, and engulfing the people who occupied these structures. The waves reportedly reached as far as 5 miles from the coastline (for those of us who live in Los Angeles, a tsunami of this magnitude hitting Santa Monica would inundate the UCLA campus in Westwood, and then some), killing hundreds and injuring, or taking the homes of thousands.  
   Towns like Minamisanriku, a small resort community of 19,000 citizens in the prefecture (sort of the equivalent of a state here in the U.S.) of Miyagi, was approximately 95 percent destroyed. Waves of 52 feet or more, swept away all but the tallest structures. Only 9,700 people, many of whom were able to get to higher ground, were accounted for during the first week after the disaster. 
   Waves as much as 128 feet on the Omoe peninsula, inundated the city of Miyako
   The most severe effects of the tsunami were felt along a 420 mile long stretch of coastline from Erimo, Hokkaido, in the north to Ōarai,  Ibaraki, in the south.
   In total the tsunami inundated a total area of approximately 217 square miles in Japan. Estimates of the total number of fatalities suffered range from 15,883 to 19,000. The National Police Agency has confirmed  6,150 injured, with 2,643 people missing across twenty prefectures. The non-governmental organization (NGO) Save the Children estimates that as many as 100,000 children were made homeless that day, some being separated from their families because the earthquake and tsunami occurred while they were in school. 1,580 lost either one or both of their parents. Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi, lost 74 of 108 students and 10 of 13 teachers and staff.
   3,865 dogs (consisting mostly of  chihuahuas, miniature dachshunds, and toy poodles), 4,256 cats, 8,452 chickens, and 42 cows were reported missing, and are feared to have perished.
   The day after, a Saturday, Japanese officials issued broad evacuation orders for people living in the vicinity of two separate nuclear power plants in the prefecture of Fukushima which had experienced breakdowns in their cooling systems as a result of the earthquake. They warned that small amounts of radiation might leak from both plants.   
   Back to Friday, the tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean at nearly 500 miles per hour, the cruising speed of a modern jetliner.  
   A 5-foot high wave killed more than 110,000 nesting seabirds (including the beleaguered short-tailed albatross) at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.  Russia evacuated 11,000 residents from coastal areas of the Kuril Islands. In California and Oregon, up to 8 feet high tsunami surges hit some areas, causing some 10 million dollars worth of damage to docks and harbors. Hawaii estimated damage to it’s public infrastructure alone at $3 million, with damage to private properties, including resort hotels such as the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. The tsunami broke off an iceberg the size of Manhattan 260 feet thick off of the Sulzberger Ice Shelf in Antarctica. One man was killed in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia after being swept out to sea. Another man who is said to have been trying to photograph the oncoming wave at the mouth of the Klamath River, south of Crescent City, California, near the Oregon/California border, died after being swept out to sea. His body was found 330 miles to the north about 3 weeks later.  

   The towns of Okuma and Futaba in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, are the site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, sometimes lovingly referred to as Fukushima I. The first nuclear power plant to be designed (“on a trial and error basis”), constructed (actual construction being done by Kajima Construction Corporation, Ltd) and operated in conjunction with “We Bring Good Things to Life" General Electric ((GE) who originally designed the reactors), Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and the capital of the American state of Idaho, Boise. 
   First commissioned in 1971 (making the plant 40 years old in 2011) the plant consisted of 6 light water boiling nuclear reactors, (BWR), which drove generators capable of generating 4.7 gigawatts (4.7 billion watts. 1 watt being defined as the rate at which work is done when an object's velocity is held constant at one meter per second against constant opposing force of one newton (a newton being defined as the amount of force needed to accelerate 1 kilogram of mass at the rate of 1 meter per second squared... ask any fourth grader), making  Fukushima I one of the 15 largest nuclear power plants in the world.
    Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant, or Fukushima Dai-ni ("number two"),  Fukushima I’s little sister, is located 10 miles to the south and also run by TEPCO. This planet consists of 4 BWR-5 type reactors capable of generating 1,067 megawatts (1 megawatt is equal to 1 million watts) each.
   Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, consisting of 2 BWR reactors, lies 71 miles to the north of Fukushima I, and was in fact the closest reactor complex to the earthquakes epicenter by less than half. Higashidōri Nuclear Power Plant is a 4 reactor complex (2 of the reactors being run by Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc, and the other 2 run by TEPCO), and is located about 315 miles to the south of Fukushima I.
   Japan’s first nuclear power station, Tōkai Nuclear Power Plant, lies 71 miles to the south of Fukushima I. The plant was decommissioned in 1998, but a second was built at the same location and was operating in 2011, consisting of 1 operating reactor which shut down automatically after the March 11th, earthquake.     
   Higashidōri was already shut down for a periodic inspection at the time of the earthquake. 
   At Onagawa, a fire broke out in the power plant, a building housing the electricity-generating turbine, which was located separately from the plant's reactor, and soon extinguished.  The actual reactors automatically shut down without damage, and all safety systems functioned as designed.
   The 4 reactors at Fukushima II automatically shut down after the quake.     
   Reactor units 4, 5 and 6 had been shut down prior to the earthquake for planned maintenance at Fukushima I. Reactors 1, 2, and 3 shut down automatically after the earthquake, and the remaining decay heat of the fuel was being cooled with power from  by emergency diesel generators at the plants and at Rokkasho Nuclear Reprocessing Plant, located 290 miles to the north (cooling is needed to remove decay heat after a Generation II reactor has been shut down, and to maintain spent fuel pools).
   And then came the tsunami. 
   A 30 foot wave struck Fukushima II.
   Fukushima I got a 46 footer. 
   And quite literally hell was set lose.

To be continued.

*As of April 9, 2011, 400 residents were confirmed dead, and 1,100 missing in the agricultural city of Minamisōma, which resided within the mandated evacuation zone near the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and  most of the residents, total population being 71,000, were instructed to leave. The 17,000 or so who decided to stay were told by the government to stay indoors (and people say that government is ineffective). Beef from Minamisōma was found to be contaminated with radioactive cesium above the legal limit in July of 2011. On April 15, 2012 the people were able to return to their homes (with no electricity and running water). Still the city was divided into three zones: in the first, people were free to go in and out; in the second, access was limited; and in the third area, all visiting was forbidden because of elevated radiation levels that were not expected to go down within five years after the accident. Reports of contaminated rice and mushrooms persist, and have been reported since October of 2013. Here’s a link to the Save Minamisoma Project page on Facebook.

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