Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cooling Pipe Breach Possibly Caused by Earthquake - Fukushima

The Japan Times has an article reporting that TEPCO is now saying the Cooling Pipe Breach Now Laid on Tremblor. I doubted that the meltdown caused a penetration in the reactor pressure vessels, this makes more sense, but still could use a little more detail.

The Japan Times is an English speaking newspaper/website with news from Japan. I don't peak Japanese, so I have to rely on such sources, but cannot be sure of their accuracy.

Since the reactor was not quite designed for the magnitude of the mega earthquake, it is possible that the seismic force damaged the cooling pipes. Piping design for earthquake conditions is pretty good, so I still have some doubts. While the article mentions that overheating aggravated the situation and enlarged the leak, the timing leads me to believe that thermal shock, the over heating then inadequate cooling, may have been the major cause. Of course I cannot know for sure and there are plenty of experts out there, but things are starting to make more sense.

The leak may complicate TEPCO's plans for cold shut down, but since they already knew there was a leak, I doubt it will overly complicate things. It will make it more difficult to bring the other undamaged reactors back online, but that is not a practical idea under the circumstances anyway.

If the damage was indeed due to the earthquake, then the status of the other Japanese reactors does not look good. Since it may take years to determine exactly what happened, it is unlikely that the older reactors in Japan will be operated any time soon due to concerns of another megaquake. That is one of the odd things about human logic. Megaquakes relieve a great deal of pressure reducing the odds of a new earthquake of that magnitude in the same general area for many decades. Shutting down the other reactors for fear of another major earthquake now is like closing the door after the horse has run off then burning down the barn because it let the horse out.

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