You are reading from a free online e-book titled 'Deception, Cover-up and Murder in the Nuclear Age.' The book discusses the Trinity test, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hydrogen bomb testing fallout, U.S. experiments done on Marshall Islanders (Project 4.1), the Irene Allen trial, Cosmos 954, the Fukushima meltdowns, Three Mile Island updates, and so much more. Visit the Table of Contents to find this free content.
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|Chapter 12 -Fukushima Daiichi||
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a A document released by the NRC ('March 13th, 2011 - 2200 EDT - USNRC Emergency Operations Center Status Update' - 'NRC Evaluation of Radiation Measurements from USS Ronald Reagan') stated that dose rates measured by an entity called 'Naval Reactors' on the morning of 3/13/11 on the carrier flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan from the 'overhead "plume"' were 'approximately 0.6 mrem per hour gamma with no measurable activity on the ship surfaces.' The nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan was '~130 nautical miles off the Japanese coast...' Air samples were sent to a lab, which detected radioactive isotopes of 'iodine, cesium and technetium;' the memo states these isotopes are 'consistent with a release from a nuclear reactor' and although the carrier does release nuclear poisons itself - including traces of iodine, and cesium-137 into the air via xenon-137 - the NRC stated the measureable radioactivity was 'consistent with the venting of the Fukushima Daiishi [sic] Unit 1 reactor.'
Although the Navy didn't indicate the isotope number of any of the radiochemicals found, it is very interesting that technetium was discovered. Technetium has a volatilization/boiling point of 4,877 degrees Celsius. It was either volatilized from the core of Unit 1 at an extremely high temperature or was ejected from the fuel pools or a core via a hydrogen explosion.
The lab analysis that the Navy ordered was a gamma profile of the sample(s) collected on the flight deck. Common isotopes of iodine and cesium in fallout are gamma emitters. Thus, we must conclude the air sample contained Technetium-99m, which was also detected by the CTBTO (Takasaki) monitoring station in Gunma, Japan, on most 24 hour sample-runs through the second week of April 2011; CTBTO stations only provide gamma isotopic analysis. Technetium-99m is also widely used in nuclear medicine because of its short half life (6.01 hrs) and it's also a weak gamma emitter (140 keV).
Technetium-99m is a product of fission (of uranium-235), meaning it is created in reactors; the 'mass 99 chain' - comprised of beta-emitters - begins with very short-lived zirconium (99) -> (which decays into) very short-lived Niobium (99) -> molybdenum (99) -> technetium-99m -> technetium-99 -> rubidium-99 (stable). Molybdenum-99 and technetium-99m are also gamma-emitters. The mass 99 chain accounts for 6.1 percent of the (fission) yield from common forms of fission. (The total fission yield from uranium-235 is a composite of 200%. Why? Because each fissioning U-235 atom spews two neutrons.)
The Navy didn't order - or did, but isn't telling the public - an isotopic analysis for alphas and betas. If technetium-99m was found, as we are concluding, then surely plutonium and uranium would have been in the air over the Pacific (and over Japan, and everywhere else) because those elements have lower volatilization/boiling points than tc-99m. And if tc-99m was ejected into air via an explosion, then so would have plutonium and uranium anyway!
Tc-99m probably reached the U.S. West Coast in trace amounts. But that doesn't matter much because it will be a constant menace in the West soon. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it is considering conducting several explosive tests in the Nevada desert each year that would release directly into the open-air (or from underground areas into the open-air via pumped air or buoyancy) up to 10 peta (10 to the power of 15) becquerels each of tc-99m, molybdenum-99, rubidium-86, zirconium-95, technetium-99m, molybdenum-99, rubidium-103, cesium-136, barium-140, cerium-141, neodymium-147, samarium-153, and the radioactive gasses xenon-127, xenon-131m, xenon-133, krypton 85, and argon-37. (more; p. 5-157, draft SWEIS).
What's in that smoke? The lost physics lesson of Fukushima
In March 2011, emanations from the embattled reactors at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi complex were described by the global scientific community, the Japanese government and international media as 'black smoke,' 'grayish smoke,' 'white smoke,' 'steam,' and 'vapor.' Yet, collectively, these entities negligently failed to educate people that these smokey plumes were a form of radioactive pollution rarely seen on Earth and a form that was incredibly dangerous.
It all started on the day of the first explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex, which occurred on March 12th, the day after the great earthquake. On the 12th, the host of CNN 'Saturday Morning' asked a guest expert about the smoke rising from Unit 1 following a hydrogen blast1 earlier that day:
KAYE: ...there were a couple of explosions being reported this morning. We were just looking at pictures of this white smoke coming that was coming from one of these plants. That does concern you?
HIBBS: Right, well, the plume would propel the nuclides high into the atmosphere.'
But what exactly did Hibbs mean? Exactly *how* were 'nuclides' rising up from the reactors via the scary-looking smoke?
The general public wasn't given much assistance with this question by CNN's guest, who was Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Either it was the CNN approach of "it just rises, that's all" or it was a very technical explanation, much like what appeared in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on March 18th.2 In the WSJ article, reporter Gautam Naik interviewed Lars-Erik De Geer, a research director of the Swedish Defense Research Institute, who gave an overview of what happens to an overheating reactor:
"First, a range of less-dangerous gasses are liberated, including tritium, krypton and xenon. ...Overheating fuel rods then discharge gaseous forms of certain volatile radioactive elements, including cesium, iodine, strontium and tellurium. As these rise, they latch on to dust in the air and become particulates, a quarter the size of a grain of sand.... The radiation emitted...[that] still poses a big danger to workers or cleanup crews ...[includes] released volatile elements such as cesium and iodine."
So, there were so-called 'less dangerous' radioactive gasses being immediately released from Fukushima's overheating reactors that were followed by gaseous forms of things that - it sounds like - aren't ordinary gasses. Does this mean these things were liquids and then boiled off? Or were solids and somehow turned to vapor? If you believe this is the answer, you are right. As long as a reactor overheats enough, and has holes or cracks in its various 'containments,' it would leak out gaseous forms of things like radioactive strontium and cesium that are ordinarily solids. What CNN's host was referring to as 'white smoke' was part water vapor, part smoke from fires but, most importantly, part vaporized radioactive solids. If you put your vitamin pills, which are comprised of minerals like selenium and iron (not really different than minerals like strontium and cesium), into a furnace, you would have an odd-colored plume, which is vitamin minerals in their vapor form!
If we are to understand and speak the language of physics when it comes to vapor coming out of Fukushima's reactors, the 'key' word is 'volatile,' or 'volatilization.' We sometimes hear that the stock market is 'volatile.'   In physics, volatilization is what happens when a solid or a liquid is turned to vapor.
And that is what has happened since March 11, 2011, at Fukushima. The contents of the fuel rods in the reactors (and the spent fuel pools) have volatilized, or turned to vapor. It is still vaporizing, volatilizing.
So, how hot of a furnace do we need to have to vaporize things like cesium and strontium? Well, cesium volatilizes at 670 degrees Celsius and strontium-90 volatilizes at 1400 degrees Celsius (note that both chemicals are solid at room temperature). Were the reactors, or the melted cores, at Fukushima 'that hot?' Michio Ishikawa of the Japan Nuclear Technology Institute said on Asahi TV on April 29, 2011 that he believed the molten fuel at Fukushima had heated to temperatures at or above 2,000 degrees Celsius. Others speculated a peak temperature of the overheating reactor cores at twice that, or 4,000 degrees Celsius.3
A vapor pressure for a given chemical isn't a straight-forward constant or coefficient, but rather a deluxe equation that a physics calculator or Microsoft Excel can render. The reason is that vapor pressure increases exponentially with temperature. Therefore, vapor pressure formulas usually are denoted with logarithms, which make exponential trends more easily understandable. The best way to understand vapor pressures is to visualize them on a graph - and there are plenty out there on the internet. Usually, a chemical that has a high vapor pressure requires a very little temperature increase (from normal temperatures) to experience a pressure change compared to chemicals with low vapor pressures.
If we look at a list of elements (remember the periodic table?) and their boiling points here, we see that 2,000 degrees (to pick a conservative value) is hot enough to volatilize radioactive versions of the following:
bromine, iodine, phosphorus, astatine, mercury, sulfur, arsenic, cesium, selenium, rubidium, potassium, cadmium, sodium, zinc, polonium, tellurium, magnesium, radium, ytterbium, lithium, strontium, thallium, calcium, bismuth, europium, barium, thulium, lead, antimony, samarium, & manganese
A fuel rod that has been put to some use in an operating reactor is made up of hundreds of 'fission products,' which include radioactive versions of many of the elements listed above.4 A radioactive version of an elemental chemical (meaning one that occurs naturally, like those on the periodic table) is one that has extra (or is missing) protons and neutrons. These extra protons and neutrons don't significantly affect the boiling point. So, we can expect that dozens of radioactive elements were volatilized from the overheating cores at Fukushima into gas.5 When that happens, these vaporized radioactive chemicals have the potential, as De Geer had stated, to rise and attach to dust particles to float about. Since there are gaps and holes in the containments at Fukushima's stricken reactors, these 'hot' dust particles will get carried with the winds - for miles or across the entire globe.
But the above list of chemicals doesn't include plutonium and plutonium was detected by TEPCO miles away from the reactors - and tens of kilometers away by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. How did plutonium get 'propelled' from Fukushima if (we are to believe) the reactors temperatures didn't reach plutonium's boiling point? Did it travel from the hydrogen explosions or did plutonium somehow become a gas through some other means?
Plutonium has a boiling point of 3,232 degrees Celsius. So, if the reactor cores never reached 3,232oC, then plutonium didn't volatilize, right?6
Wrong. Vaporization of a chemical or molecule happens both at and before the boiling point. This is a phenomenon we see everyday. You must have noticed that a glass (or vase) full of water, if left alone for a day or more, will lose a little bit of its contents. Why does it do that? On one forum on the web (one of many that discussed with varying levels of intelligence Fukushima in early to mid 2011) one commenter explained how plutonium can escape at Fukushima by using this 'glass full of water' example:
a "liquid does not have to boil to evaporate, for example water is evaporating all the time as long as its in a liquid form. The boiling point is simply the point the whole lot turns to vapour. So you could get plutonium evaporation into the atmosphere even at far lower temperatures, as far as [I] know." (source).
In order to understand this, consider a glass of water brought to boiling. When we're boiling water, we are actually increasing the 'vapor pressure' of the water so that it is higher than the pressure of the atmosphere that's above and around the glass. At boiling, the water's H20 molecules have inherent pressures - atmospherically - that are greater than the surrounding air and so all of the water gets released as vapor. Warm (not boiling) water in a glass doesn't turn to steam readily because most of the H20 molecules aren't pressurized enough to overwhelm the pressure of the air around it. But, even at room temperature, some H20 molecules are vaporizing. How? Because molecules or atoms in any heated substance 'shake' at a range of energies - and some molecules or atoms (in solid- or liquid-state) in the upper ranges have a 'vapor pressure' equivalent to the 'boiling point' - thus vapor escapes. Think of vaporization like a rocket blasting off from the surface of the Earth. In order for that rocket to rise from the Earth's surface, it needs a tremendous 'push' of its own that is greater than the pull of gravity.
Based on what we have learned, we now know that plutonium, a solid metal with a boiling point of 3,232 degrees Celsius, can escape as a vapor before its boiling point. And if the reactors at Fukushima heated up to around 2,000 degrees Celsius, then it likely that plutonium vapor was escaping and floating over Japan and beyond in March 2011 (and beyond)! We can extend this thinking to all the radioactive nuclides in the reactors at Fukushima. Strontiums and other 'low volatile' elements volatilized as well.
To go further with this concept of vapor pressure, have you ever wondered why some cooking instructions are tailored for 'high altitudes?' This is because high elevations have lower atmospheric pressures than at sea level, for example. Lower atmospheric pressure means that water requires a lower vapor pressure to volatilize, and thus has a lower boiling point. Since heated water at high altitudes becomes steam earlier than usual, recipes advise lower temperatures and/or longer cooking times in order to ensure that moisture is retained in the cooked items (such as breads and roasts); using ordinary recipes at high altitudes will cause excess evaporation and therefore foods will get burnt, scorched or dried out. Even if you're cooking while the eye of a hurricane is above you, you too may be affected by 'vapor pressure effects.' A glass of water under a low pressure weather system will experience evaporation quicker than that same glass at the same temperature under a high pressure system. If we decrease the air pressure around and above the glass, the boiling point decreases!
In nuclear reactors, water is actually kept in a pressurized environment so that it can remain at a high temperature without turning to steam; high pressure increases its boiling point. This is important because as a liquid, it can be piped around the plant easily.
You may asking at this point: what makes one chemical have a specific boiling point? Why don't all elements have the same vapor pressures? That's above my paygrade to answer; but it has to do with their endowed physical qualities. What we need to understand as downwinders of nuclear reactors is that cesium has a low boiling point; its vapor pressure exceeds standard air pressure when heated up just a few hundred degrees Celsius from room temperature. We also must know that strontium and plutonium (which have low vapor pressures, high boiling points) can be turned to vapor if they are heated up as little as a thousand degrees Celsius.
Knowing all of this, we should be worried. Why? Because the very mechanism that propelled dangerous amounts of nuclides at Fukushima during the first hours of the meltdowns is still happening! Fukushima's lava-corium is still hot enough to continue propelling these nuclides into the air through the present.7 Also, owing to the fragile state of Fukushima's reactors and cooling systems, any loss of power onsite in the future could cause the unmelted fuel rods at three reactors to similarly overheat and melt. This could be caused by a smaller earthquake and tsunami than experienced on March 11, 2011.
It wasn't until July 2011 that this author, after stumbling upon an article in a science journal, was finally convinced that solid, radioactive isotopes indeed volatilize below, at and beyond their boiling points. Although it appeared in the pro-nuclear 'Journal of Nuclear Medicine,' the article did convey the truth.8 In a section of the science paper that gave a chronology of the accident at Fukushima, the authors wrote that :
"...the analysis of turbine water samples appears to identify a predominantly fuel-overheat event, with clear indications of some fuel melting as well...
...A mix of the radionuclides similar to those listed in Table 3 (and others not yet identified) [table 3 lists iodine-131, cesium isotopes and barium-140] was therefore likely released to the atmosphere in gaseous (and possibly some particulate) form and to the sea in liquid (and possibly some particulate) form."
The authors also presented two tables to help readers determine under which scenario (either fuel-melt or fuel-overheat) (a) what would get released under (b) what temperatures and (c) at what relative quantities. (We took the liberty of putting table 1 & 2 into the accompanying graphic with some of our own edits.) Here's what the authors wrote to describe these tables.
"Table 1 presents estimates of the available total radioactive releases for these respective scenarios based on a 2,400-MWt reactor (14) and identifies the fuel temperatures needed for each such condition. The specific percentage of each fission product released from the core is estimated to be higher in fuel-melt than in fuel-overheat conditions (Table 2) (14). Although both conditions likely result in a significant release of noble gases, iodine, and cesium, there are differences among these conditions for the other fission products."
Unlocking the mysteries of Fukushima in Springtime 2011
Understanding volatilization is the key to understanding the nuclear crisis and the unfolding of a science scandal with regards to Fukushima. In the article 'NUCLEAR CRISIS: HOW IT HAPPENED / Government radiation data disclosure--too little, too late' published in the June 11, 2011 edition of the Japanese paper 'The Yomiuri Shimbun,' the journalists reveal that Japan's NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency) had withheld (until June '11) vital information that it knew about [next page]
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