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Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

TEPCO Takes Precaution Against Possible Fission in Fukushima Reactor

November 2, 2011

Plant Status

  • Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility have taken steps to halt the possibility of localized fission reactions in reactor 2 after detecting trace amounts radioactive xenon in the reactor’s containment vessel, NHK World reports. Xenon is a byproduct of fission. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, reports no significant changes in temperature, pressure and other data from the reactor.

Media Highlights

  • A special report on the IEEE Spectrum website looks at “Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power.” Articles include an in-depth review of the first 24 hours after the earthquake and tsunami struck the nuclear energy facility and a comparison of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents.
  • In a first since the March 11 nuclear accident, a shutdown reactor in Japan has resumed operation, the New York Times reports. After receiving approvals from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the local government, reactor 4 at the Genkai nuclear energy facility came back on line this week. The reactor was inadvertently shut down Oct. 4 due to an operator error. However, it will shut down again in December for a scheduled inspection.
  • U.S. boiling water reactors “would have fared much better” in an earthquake and tsunami than the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility, the website Electric Light & Power reports. The article says that U.S. facilities are subject to regulations that would limit damage in a severe natural event and that plants are located in places with minimal vulnerability to the kind of tsunami that struck Japan.

New Products

  • A new series on NEI’s Safety First website examines some of the industry and independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s post-Fukushima activities. Articles appearing this week explore seismic and flooding protection, safety during a loss of off-site electricity, used fuel storage, operator emergency training and accessibility of specialized vent valves.

Comments

Anonymous said…
"Trace" amounts of xenon? That doesn't sound like a really firm indicator of fission, much less criticality (fission doesn't necessarily mean uncontrolled criticality). Anyone done a decay calculation? I know a lot of half-lives have passed, but if your initial amount was very high, you could still have "trace" amounts left even after a lot of half-lives have passed.
D Pulaski said…
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/03_19.html

TEPCO now says that the radioactive krypton they found was due to spontaneous fission of curium.

D. Pulaski

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