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The containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be ruptured after three workers within the plant stepped into water that contained "10,000 times the amount" of radiation that is normal for that area

While there has been some speculation surrounding the accuracy of CNN's reports on radiation in Japan as of late, the cable/web news giant has now released a new report stating that there may be a rupture in the containment vessel in reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and that it may be the cause of surrounding water that contains 10,000 times the amount of radiation normally found in the area.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 has led to tsunamis, blackouts, radiation issues such as contaminated food, and a death toll that has passed the 10,000 mark and is expected to exceed 18,000

Now, has reported that the containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be ruptured after three workers within the plant stepped into water that contained 10,000 times the amount of radiation that is normal for that area. The job of the containment vessel is to keep radioactive material from entering the atmosphere, and according to Hidehiko Nishiyama from the Japan nuclear and industrial safety agency, "contaminated water likely seeped through the containment vessel protecting from the reactor's core."

The three workers, which were laying cables in the basement of the No. 3 reactor, were escorted to Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences after stepping in the radioactive water. According to Japan's Health Ministry, a person living in an industrialized country is exposed to 3 millisieverts of radiation annually. For those working directly with the nuclear plant during the current situation, the maximum level of exposure is 100 to 250 millisieverts per year. The three men who stepped in the radioactive water was a 30-year-old with an exposure level of 180.7 millisieverts, a 20-year-old with 179.37 millisieverts and a third man with no age specified that was exposed to 173 millisieverts of radiation. All three men spent 40 to 50 minutes in the 15-centimeter deep water. 

While water in this area is normally boiled and has low levels of radiation, Nishiyama is concerned for the 536 other people working at the plant Friday when the incident occurred, and would like to improve radiation management measures. 

Nishiyama would also like to improve radiation management measures at reactor's 1 and 2, which have been manageable as of late but are still experiencing difficulties. For instance, reactor No. 1 has had issues with increased pressure, and reactor No. 2 needs to switch the water for its spent fuel pool from saltwater to freshwater in order to prevent further corrosion from the salt. 

Reactors 4, 5 and 6 are being watched as well, but do not pose as much of a threat since they underwent scheduled outages during the earthquake. 

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Useful reference
By mkrech on 3/25/2011 3:06:16 PM , Rating: 5
An info-graphic to help understand the radiation measurement amounts.

RE: Useful reference
By quiksilvr on 3/25/2011 3:18:38 PM , Rating: 1
That's a hellova lot more useful and less offensive than the picture in the article.

RE: Useful reference
By 91TTZ on 3/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By quiksilvr on 3/25/2011 3:40:06 PM , Rating: 5
It's idiotic pictures like that that cause a panic when there really shouldn't be. You have no idea how hard they are working on avoiding anything remotely close to that from happening.

I find it offensive because it undermines their efforts. It's not all hunky dory happy face buttercups over there. People are starving and thirsty and over ten thousand have been confirmed dead. That's like posting a picture of skyscrapers in New York being hit by planes saying "America's Parking Lot!" two weeks after 9/11/01.

RE: Useful reference
By 91TTZ on 3/25/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By Omega215D on 3/25/2011 5:44:44 PM , Rating: 3
the media will make it seem like any nuclear problems will kill the same or even more people than the tsunami.

"Media-induced comatose anesthetic. Fear is the mind killer" - Adam Freeland.

RE: Useful reference
By Solandri on 3/25/2011 7:02:01 PM , Rating: 5
The media frenzy over this reminds me of United 232. It crashed killing roughly half the people aboard.

Among those killed was a lap baby. Parents are allowed to bring babies under a certain age aboard a flight without buying a separate ticket for them. These "lap babies" don't have an assigned seat. When the mother asked a stewardess what to do with the baby just before they crashed, the stewardess told her to put it underneath the seat in front. The stewardess and parents survived the crash. The baby did not.

Since then the stewardess, fraught with guilt, has worked tirelessly to require that babies aboard planes have an assigned seat and can be strapped in in case of an emergency landing or crash. The media, as expected, was very sympathetic to her cause. The FAA finally turned down her suggestion some years back.

See, as well-intentioned as her motives were, the fundamental fact is that statistically, lap babies save lives. If the FAA were to require that babies on flights purchase their own seat, that would raise the cost of flying with a baby. Faced with the increased cost, more parents would instead choose to drive with their baby. And the chance of the baby being killed in a car accident is much, much higher than the chance of a baby being killed in a plane crash. If the stewardess had succeeded, her proposals actually would have resulted in more babies being killed.

The same is true for nuclear power. As terrible as Chernobyl was, and as nerve-wracking as the current situation is, the fact is that statistically, nuclear power is the safest power generation technology we've invented. Safer than wind, safer than solar, safer than hydro, and a helluva lot safer than fossil fuels.

So while rethinking and scaling back nuclear power may be the emotional gut reaction to the current situation, the fact remains that switching to other power sources will result in killing more people. Fortunately it seems Steven Chu and President Obama are keeping a level head about all this, and are still in support of nuclear power.

RE: Useful reference
By ipay on 3/26/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useful reference
By Solandri on 3/26/2011 5:40:12 PM , Rating: 5
The "supporters" of nuclear always came up with that argument: it is safe since there hasn't been many problems with it, comparing with others energy sources.
The backbone of human societies can only afford some sort of manageable calamities. If the damage is too severe it can all crumble like a castle of cards.

Ah yes, the "you have to weigh the worst case scenario more heavily" argument. If that's what you truly believe, then let me elucidate you: The worst power generation accident in history was the failure of a hydroelectric dam.

- 171,000 people lost their lives (approx 40x more than Chernobyl)
- 11 million people had to be relocated (approx 30x more than Chernobyl)
- nearly 6 million buildings destroyed (nearly 20x more than the number of people forced to leave Chernoby's affected area
- the reservoir created by the replacement dam flooded 768 km^2 making it uninhabitable (over 1.5x larger than Chernobyl's exclusion zone at 489 km^2)

So given that the worst case scenario for hydro is dramatically worse than the worst case scenario for nuclear, I take it that you are now convinced that hydroelectric power is too dangerous to use? And that we should be replacing our hydroelectric dams with safer technologies with smaller failure modes ... like nuclear power?
In the extreme, is like having, in the future, an amazing technology that provided clean energy (contrary to nuclear), but with the drawback that it had the probability of an world ending event happening once in 100 years.

Your sense of scale is quite a bit off. If we scaled wind power (the second safest power source) up to the amount of electricity generated by nuclear, wind would kill the same number of people as Chernobyl about every 12 years. Coal plants are much worse - their emissions about 250 Chernobyls worth of people each year. The only difference is that those deaths are distributed and don't make the news, while the smallest hiccup at a nuclear plant makes national news.

RE: Useful reference
By Keeir on 3/25/2011 6:36:36 PM , Rating: 2
While I don't think the picture is a huge negative...

It is also not a postive at all. I am unsure of any connection between the picture and the news articles... besides "water".

Drinking water in a cooler DNE waste water at a damaged nuclear site.

Radon itself is a naturally occuring radiative gas. It is already found in several springs world-wide, as well as most City water supplies. In a twist of fate, Japan itself is known for several radium rich springs.

I am unsure what the purpose of the picture is? "Radon" water is what we all pretty much drink anyway... just not in high concentrations.

RE: Useful reference
By Omega215D on 3/25/2011 5:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
I would've liked a Fallout 3 reference myself, like ones that involve drinking irradiated water. I never did get too far into the game though...

RE: Useful reference
By cokbun on 3/27/2011 2:49:26 AM , Rating: 2
is about that time when you're taking the GECK in vault 86

RE: Useful reference
By Drag0nFire on 3/25/2011 3:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
I saw this chart a few days ago floating around the internet. Didn't realize it was done by the xkcd guy... =D

Really, though, a wonderfully produced chart that offers a great sense of perspective.

RE: Useful reference
By Icopoli on 3/25/2011 3:34:34 PM , Rating: 2
I was expecting some smartass picture with the fact that it's hosted on xkcd, but it was quite informative, thanks for the link.

RE: Useful reference
By danobrega on 3/25/2011 6:40:01 PM , Rating: 2
The comments on the chart are really funny. :D

RE: Useful reference
By Keeir on 3/25/2011 6:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing missing would have been a comparison another form of more commonly understood risk.

Smoking, Drinking, Driving, etc.

I also think that a Coal power plant gives off much much more ratiation per kWh during normal operation is never really highlighted enough...

RE: Useful reference
By AnnihilatorX on 3/27/2011 3:48:48 AM , Rating: 2
There is one more point about radiation exposure effect on health.

Living cells have excellent repairing capabilities. Even if radiation dose is large, as long as it's not continuous and body is given time to repair the damage, you are fine. That's why cancer patients survive radiotherapy even when subjected to lethal doses of radiation.

RE: Useful reference
By IvanAndreevich on 3/27/2011 6:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
If they survive it, it must not be lethal then.

10,000 times what?
By MrTeal on 3/25/2011 5:07:59 PM , Rating: 3
I really hate all these articles that list the radiation levels in multiples of some nominal value that they don't bother to share. Give us a number with real units, whether it's mSv/hr, Bq/L, whatever.

Yes, I know this is just reposted from CNN, who are just quoting the NISA spokesman, but can't one of these journalists actually bother to ask for the actual number?

RE: 10,000 times what?
By 440sixpack on 3/25/2011 5:46:11 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe how many different types of units there have been over the years referring to radiation. Not that I have anything to do with nuclear science, but I have some interest in nuclear weapons and over the years have run into:


I know they mean different things but damn, every time I turn around seems like there's some new unit I've never heard of being referred to.

RE: 10,000 times what?
By Solandri on 3/25/2011 6:34:31 PM , Rating: 4

First is a measure of radioactive decay rate. The Becquerel (Bq) is one decay per second; the Curie (Ci) is 3.7e10 decays per second. These measure the frequency at which a mass of radioactive material emits a particle.

Second is a measure of absorbed dose. These measure the amount of radiation received by something, most often a person in the news right now. The rad is the historical unit, and the Gray (Gy) is the metric unit. One Gray is equal to 100 rad.

Finally, there is a measure of equivalent dose. Not all particles emitted by radioactive materials cause the same amount of damage to tissue. Because, of this, radiation scientists weight the dose received by an individual by the type. This is the most important number when considering health effects. The historical unit is the rem, and the metric unit is the Sievert (Sv). One Sievert is equal to 100 rem.

RE: 10,000 times what?
By bighairycamel on 3/25/2011 5:51:41 PM , Rating: 4
The three men who stepped in the radioactive water was a 30-year-old with an exposure level of 180.7 millisieverts, a 20-year-old with 179.37 millisieverts and a third man with no age specified that was exposed to 173 millisieverts of radiation. All three men spent 40 to 50 minutes in the 15-centimeter deep water.

My first thought was that the article was going to be about drinking water, which it isn't. And then after my first brief glance I saw the stupid pic which only reinforced that thought. So here we have another sensationalized article regarded nuclear reactors which just perpetuates the rest in setting us back 30 years.

RE: 10,000 times what?
By MrTeal on 3/25/2011 6:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
surrounding water that contains 10,000 times the amount of radiation normally found in the area.

What you quoted was the total dose that the men accumulated. They were standing in the water for 40-50 minutes, how long were they in the reactor? What's the dose rate of someone standing near that location vs someone in the water?

RE: 10,000 times what?
By bug77 on 3/26/2011 10:31:38 AM , Rating: 3
Radiation = bad.
10000 = large number.

10000 and radiation = large number of bad.

It's enough to get the page hits, what more do you want?

RE: 10,000 times what?
By geddarkstorm on 3/28/2011 2:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
Never mind that this radiation they are measuring is from a radioactive iodine isotope with a half life of EIGHT DAYS.

The Secret of Reactor 3
By phrizzo on 3/25/2011 4:17:20 PM , Rating: 2
For some reason no news agency or outlet has released the fact that reactor 3 is the only MOX reactor in the group. A MOX (Mixed Oxide) reactor is more dangerous than a regular one. Basically a MOX reactor burns all the garbage from the other reactors: Plutonium, old nuclear weapons, spent fuel rods, etc. See for more info.

RE: The Secret of Reactor 3
By MozeeToby on 3/25/2011 4:48:59 PM , Rating: 3
Not much of a secret, they may not be talking about it being a MOX reactor but I have seen several articles with make a point of mentioning that Reactor 3 is currently fueled with Plutonium vs the 1 and 2 being fueled with Uranium.

When exposed to air plutonium swells and begins to flake, these flakes can spontaneously ignite, spreading radiative ash if containment isn't maintained. To make matters worse, the human body isn't very good at eliminating plutonium once it is ingested, it just sits in the lungs putting out radiation for months or even years.

If it's collecting in a waste pond, well, things could be a lot worse. At least it isn't burning into the open sky, which would be an image that would make even me, a pro nuclear advocate, begin to seriously worry about the situation.

RE: The Secret of Reactor 3
By Solandri on 3/25/2011 7:12:48 PM , Rating: 4
It got a fair amount of play on NHK World, where they had a Japanese university professor explaining what's going on. His explanation included the MOX in reactor 3 and the higher risk from it.

I've also seen it mentioned a couple times on U.S. TV news by guest experts. The reporters never picked up on it though, and cut them off before they could fully explain it. So it's not really a secret, more likely a consequence of media ignorance. Or maybe it's because none of the commercial U.S. reactors use it and the media feels it can't really do much with the story besides mention it.

I agree with you that the public would be better served by more detailed explanation of what it is and what its risks are. That it's reactor 3 which seems to have the containment breach is... troubling.

RE: The Secret of Reactor 3
By phlogiston on 3/28/2011 9:34:57 AM , Rating: 2
I hadn't heard about this, but a little web research found a good description of MOX fuel and its likely impact on the situation at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 at:

Some of the key points:

At the time of the earthquake, Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 was operating with 32 mixed oxide (MOX) fuel assemblies and 516 low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel assemblies in its reactor core. This equates to less than 6% of the fuel in the Unit 3 core being MOX fuel. There were no other MOX fuel assemblies (new, in operation or used) at the Fukushima Daiichi plant at the time of the accident.

It is important to note that while LEU fuel begins its useful life with no plutonium, as it is used in a light water reactor it builds up plutonium as a result of the nuclear reactions in the core. By the end of its useful life an LEU fuel assembly contains about 1% plutonium and actually generates more power by fission of plutonium than from uranium. All reactor cores contain plutonium; those cores loaded with some MOX fuel contain more.

Mixed oxide (MOX) fuel is comprised of a blend of uranium oxide and plutonium oxide. MOX fuel is predominantly uranium, with average concentrations of plutonium that range from 3-10%. The presence of plutonium produces modest changes in some physical characteristics of the fuel material such as thermal conductivity. However, MOX fuel and low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel are fundamentally similar. Moreover, the physical dimensions and structural material of a MOX fuel assembly are essentially identical to that of a LEU fuel assembly. To the naked eye, a MOX fuel assembly and a LEU fuel assembly are identical.

Unit 3 was loaded with only 32 MOX fuel assemblies during refueling operations in the fall of 2010. There are a total of 548 fuel assemblies in the Unit 3 reactor core, so this represents less than 6% of the total fuel in the core. The MOX fuel had been operating in Unit 3 for less than five months; fuel assemblies are typically used for a total of 3-4 years in reactor cores before being replaced by new fuel and discharged to used fuel pools. Therefore, the MOX fuel would have built up relatively few radioactive fission products and actinides at the time of the earthquake and subsequent damage to the reactor core. With these facts in mind – the low percentage of MOX fuel in the core and the short operation time for the MOX fuel – it is evident that the presence of MOX fuel at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 has had no significant impact on the offsite releases of radioactivity following the earthquake and tsunami.

Oh noes
By carniver on 3/25/2011 4:38:30 PM , Rating: 3
Is Duke Nukem going to be delayed further because it could remind people of this incident?

RE: Oh noes
By Flunk on 3/28/2011 9:52:12 AM , Rating: 2
No, Duke is being delayed because he caused the incident.

By TSS on 3/26/2011 6:05:57 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not quite sure this is about the same story but i've read something similar on a dutch news site 2-3 days ago. It involved 2 japanese workers also recieving 10.000 times the normal radiation count by stepping into radio active water. I think it's the same story because it doesn't seem likely that would happen twice.

The difference between the stories though, and the reason i'm not quite sure, is because the dutch story said the workers forgot to wear their safety boots, so they where standing in irradiated water without boots, something left out of this story. Which is kind of important.

If it's the same story why isn't that reported, and if it's 2 differnt stories why didn't i see the other story on here as well?

They didn't drink it!
By PrinceGaz on 3/25/2011 9:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
People were paying to drink radioactive water around the start of the 20th century thinking it was invigorating (as the picture implies).

All the three people did was walk in a pool of highly contaminated water from a probably breached containment vessel. I'd be more concerned about how much radioactive material in total has leaked out of it, as this is quite different to the hydrogen explosions that blew away the outer buildings.

By Snow01 on 3/26/2011 1:54:13 PM , Rating: 2
"The containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be ruptured after three workers within the plant stepped into water that contained "10,000 times the amount" of radiation that is normal for that area"

This statement says that three men stepped in water, thus rupturing the containment vessel.

Come on.

Journalistic Terrorism
By icanhascpu on 3/26/2011 6:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
Im getting sick of seeing stories like this. People are dieing, starving, loved ones passing away over there because of the disaster.

Seeing an article with the title and side graphic you gave it is just sick. Their are people like you everywhere and in all ages and nationalities and their apologists, and you can all fuck off.

By MegaHustler on 3/25/2011 5:39:11 PM , Rating: 1
Apparently nuclear plant workers don't play Fallout 3, or they would have known to stay out of the water...

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