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Experts discuss better nuclear disaster communication

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In brief, they are trying to say that the governments shouldn't sidestep all preexisting regulations and just let the qualified engineers do their job and contact who they need to.

Can anyone qualify the last line as attributable to IAEA? I think it's an editorial slipup.

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Yes, information and communication is very important, (before and after) any disaster!. (Companies, Media and Government) should freely communicate, also reporting to the public their (combined findings), in "real time"!!!.

Thank you Japan Today, for reporting both (positive and negative, good or bad) sides to Nuclear Energy safety, This allows (your readers) to make up their own minds on what is printed.

Maybe the UN atomic agency will help us move forward on such matters.

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 11:43AM JST :

Then also yesterday, KEPCO "discovered" it will have an additional 2.1GW from over night pumped hydro which they hadn't mentioned before?

No, more likely they are only now able to use it because of good weather conditions for hydro (even pumped ones have dams, and dams leak into the surrounding rock, though at very low rate when ful)

Yesterday, KEPCO said No3 reactor would reach full power by mid July which makes me think KEPCO had already started the No3 reactor a couple of weeks ago, even though the political ping pong was still going on.

I think you'll find some of my earlier comments had that assumption, that they were not actually in cold standby, rather just idle. It might be a side effect of the stress-tests though, since they may have "accidentally" powered the plant when reviewing control.

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@Zichi Japan is still waiting for a new atomic safety agency.

The law for the new agency is being discussed in the Diet at present.

However, please be aware of the fact that the Japanese safety agency is not staffed with former N-companies workers – after the disaster almost all the staff have been changed and at the moment a great number of young people (with young children, mind you) work there. Even if there are some former N-companies employees, it should be rather a positive thing as they supposedly know the dangers from inside and out and can provide information when it is needed.

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To me, they need LOTS more tsunami emergency communication than for things that hurt no one!

James Greenidge Queens NY

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Zilch I,

I know some of the young guys with small kids working there. As I said they were sent to the agency a month to several months after the disaster and had never before worked for any N-companies.

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Well, Zichi,

I do not know if you have children, but young people with young kids, and I mean also the ones I have met personally, are very much eager to resolve the existing problems and set up a policy which, given that at the moment we have no choice but to use N-energy to a certain extent, will ensure as much safety as possible (it is naive to think that 100% safety is an option, right?) From what I have heard from them, it seems that they truly believe that Japan is given a chance to introduce alternative energy and work towards a future where people will not have to worry about nuclear disasters.

But as you are trying to hint, policies, even though they are divised by the employees working there, are subject not only to the appoval of the higher-ranking officials, but recently even more it seems to the appoval of the politicians.

And I am sorry to say so, but a recent decision made by politicians concerning the new safety agency (the decision has been made single-handedly by several members of the Diet, without considering the problems which occurred in the first days after the disaster) is very likely to result in delayed communication in case of an emergency. I believe this news will be out in the next couple of days but the decision has already been made despite the protests of the agency workers. I only pray that we do not get to see in real how wrong it is.

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 12:13PM JST :

The Oi reactors were shut down for the 13 month mandatory inspection and maintenance. I read that in Japan, at these shut downs, the nuclear core is replace which would mean opening the reactor. Before starting a reactor the steam pipes must be cleaned to remove impurities which could damage the turbine.

This is the type of miscommunication Japan/IAEA should improve on. The core is never replaced, only decommissioned when you permanently shut down the plant. While you generally refuel every two years or so, most plants were not scheduled to be refueled for at least a year before 311, and few if any were refueled (what was miscommunicated as replacing the core) during the down time. Certain feed pipes can be cleaned, especially in the case of PWR where the external loop water for the turbine steam is generally not as clean before hand.

Anyway, I don't see how the Oi reactors would be starting from "idle"?

Interestingly, the definition according to sources is very vague, something that IAEA should look into. Since cold shutdown simply means that the water temperature is below 100C, it can be achieved while the plant is not actually stopped. From estimates released by NISA, you can generally achieve that with the plant at 10% thermal capacity, and startup times are dependent on the the current heat output. If they idled (left it producing more heat than full shutdown), it would just mean they are operating hotter than they should be at this point in time, due to most secondary reactions ceasing about three weeks in, and practically all activity (relatively) stops after half a year (and it would take on average three months to get them back up to operating temperatures, perhaps longer for energy production).

The stress tests were only computer models using available known data and didn't actually involve the reactors.

I was under the impression that IAEA certified tests also involved the control room, not just computer models. Normally the control room would be "disconnected" from the reactor, but the control room itself used for simulation. Guess one more thing for IAEA to discuss, not just disaster things, but making its practices known to concerned civilians.

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@Zichi: After so many decaades of corruption, I would think at this time, it would be impossible to staff a new atomic safety agency without uusing those who have worked for the nuke industry?

Sorry, I missed this one earlier. I would think so too if I did not know what I know now.

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 12:13PM JST

I think the operation of pumped hydro stations is not related to the weather. I think more likely, KEPCO wanted to give the lowest possible total for power generation to support their demand to start their Oi reactors.

No, evaporative losses and leaks can be significant, and rainfall can certainly mitigate against these.

The Oi reactors were shut down for the 13 month mandatory inspection and maintenance. I read that in Japan, at these shut downs, the nuclear core is replace which would mean opening the reactor. Before starting a reactor the steam pipes must be cleaned to remove impurities which could damage the turbine.

Fuel might be removed depending on whether work or refueling has to be done, according to section 5 of this: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/review/words-e.html

Are you working for the nuke industry? TEPCO maybe?

Throwing mud?

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 02:26PM JST

After so many decaades of corruption, I would think at this time, it would be impossible to staff a new atomic safety agency without uusing those who have worked for the nuke industry?

Given what I know of Japan, the problem would not be using people who have worked for the nuclear industry - but having govt. bureaucrats involved. Besides, I'm sure there is enough expertise in Japan's Scientific sector to handle the job - whether industry people are involved directly or not.

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Readers please keep the discussion civil.

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Star-vikingJun. 19, 2012 - 05:37PM JST : Given what I know of Japan, the problem would not be using people who have worked for the nuclear industry - but having govt. bureaucrats involved. Besides, I'm sure there is enough expertise in Japan's Scientific sector to handle the job - whether industry people are involved directly or not.

Precisely why they need to follow updated IAEA procedure at minimum. PM Noda admitted to sidestepping the proper procedures (plant operators->tepco=nisa->cabinet->pm->cabinet->response became plant operators->pm->response) at the time, and likely made things worse.

The discussion panel is a great step in the right direction, if governments accept the new IAEA recommendations and actually implement them. They should have barred media from the events themselves though, media is just as bad as bureaucrats when it comes to meddling in affairs that require training and expertise. At least the bureaucrats have the power to enforce the results, media should just sit in another room and watch (not meddle) like they should.

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 04:24PM JST

basroil

what I was saying was, that the nuclear fuel is replaced at every 13 month mandatory shutdown. So it would take longer to reach full power?

Since the mandatory cycle is every 13 months and a shut down lasts 2-4 months the fuel would be replaced during the first or second shutdown, and not just every 2 yeras? You don't actually know if the Oi reactors were refuelled or not?

A 2-4 months shutdown every 13 months is a big waste of generating potential, and far more often than almost anywhere else (others is typically 1-2 months every 2 years, with a big mid-life overhaul) . However, assuming they removed any neutron poisons remaining from shutdown, put in fresh fuel, already have it in perfect condition for startup, a PWR can be critical almost overnight. The more poisons left in the water and rods, and older the rods, the slower the startup. Add a bit of time (exponential based on maximum temperature and size of reactor) to get it to full power. But between stability checks, fluid pressure checks, steam pressure and temperature checks, and of course, paperwork, it can take weeks for it to reach full capacity. BWRs are a bit more fickle and take longer. In the case of Oi, can't be certain, they don't exactly release the information you need to make a proper estimate, you can just guess from how long it takes to restart in general.

I do hope that IAEA recommends this information be easier to obtain, since it isn't exactly a vulnerability point, but can help a lot of people in everything from energy production to curious folks to actually understand what is taking place. I think people (in charge) would overreact less if they knew actual time frames and operational data.

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Zichi

As I said I have friends who work there. It seems that the guys have actually worked on the new regulations, but the last word belongs to those in the Diet, not even to the senior officials in the agency.

As Basroil said the new agency needs experts, including people who have worked (but no longer do so) in the industry and have experience which can help enormously in case of an accident. Experts who know the ins and outs of the n-plants will be of much more use, no?

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Zilch I

It seems that the new regulations provide for a maximum of 5 years in the agency for top senior officials. As for disclosing to the public which members worked where, etc. maybe there is a more effective way to introduce your idea than simply stating it here?

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zichiJun. 19, 2012 - 09:56PM JST

well yes, but let's not forget it was KEPCO which stated it would take 6-8 weeks for the reactors to reach full power. Once it was given permission, then it stated No3 reactor would reach full power in 3 weeks? In its original figures for total power without nuclear energy didn't include the overnight pumped storage of 2.2GW, which it now pulls out of the hat.

Well, take 6-8 weeks for the two reactors and divide it by two and you get 3-4 weeks for a reactor - so 3 weeks for the first reactor is hardly notable.

Pumped storage might be affected by new facts - predicted rainfall, easier than expected maintenance, or more power (Oi) being available to pump water up at night.

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"at the moment a great number of young people (with young children, mind you) work there.

"I know some of the young guys with small kids working there. As I said I have friends who work there. It seems that the guys have actually worked on the new regulations, but the last word belongs to those in the Diet, not even to the senior officials in the agency. It seems that the new regulations provide for a maximum of 5 years in the agency for top senior officials."

"after the disaster almost all the staff have been changed and at the moment a great number of young people (with young children, mind you) work there. Even if there are some former N-companies employees,"

Are these briefing points?

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Not better communication ...nuclear disasters must be stopped altogether, by being outlawed, worldwide.

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TheBigPicture Jun. 20, 2012 - 01:52PM JST

Not better communication ...nuclear disasters must be stopped altogether, by being outlawed, worldwide.

Not sure what you mean there - outlawing nuclear disasters?

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So they want better communication hey. Well thats easy, firstly document the Japanese response to their disaster and what steps they took. Review and analyse their decisions, statements and actions. Then write a plan doing the complete opposite of everything the useless Japanese did. That would surely be a massive improvement.

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