The Fukushima Nuclear Disasters Engineering Essay

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This research report is about how Fukushima power plant disaster comes about. What controversy has been triggered by the wrath of Mother Nature. What roles are TEPCO and the government playing in order to cope with this crisis? Finally the reflection on what and how the nations react to this catastrophe disaster.

Introduction

On March 26, 1971, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)'s first power plant, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station was officially established providing a figure of (1100MW) electricity which is 27% of Japan's usage. This massive power plant operating with 6 boiling water reactors has made itself one of the 15 largest nuclear power stations in the world which is located at the town of Futaba and Okuma. Unlike others power plant, Fukushima used a process call nuclear fiction to operate, creating a form of heat energy to heat up water, whereas steam is generated to operate the turbine and produced electricity for the society. On 11 March 2011, the highest earthquake magnitude of 9 in history took place, as a consequence, tsunami was formed in the ocean and took out the power plant's cooling system. As results, critical woe such as leakage of nuclear radiation has caught the attention of the world, it was a devastating issue either on society or ecology.

Man-made Disaster

According to the report of Krista Mahr (2012).The members of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission came to a conclusion that the damage done on the power plant was all avoidable with the fact from Independent investigation. The report showed that there was no way Fukushima power plant's panel can withstand an earthquake that strong and huge massive wave after that. This is because the most basic safety requirements for power plant were fail to be carried out by TEPCO and other third bodies. In order to meet the high demands usage of Japan, government balked at enforcing safety standards onto the power plant when more power plants were built. Hence, government was involved in the role as well. Another fact from the report shows that the panel of the power plant might be damaged from the earthquake before the tsunami hit. A final report was submitted by the Japanese parliamentary which again concluded that there seem to be collusion between government and TEPCO which contribute to the disaster by ignoring the international safety standards for a power plant.

Operation of Fukushima Power Plant

4.1Nuclear Fission

A process called "Nuclear Fission" established by Ike Leus (2011) in the reactor core was used by Fukushima power plant to generate electricity for Japan. This scientific operating involved an amount of atom uranium for it to be carried out. It is a reaction of neutron colliding with uranium .After collision occur, uranium absorb the neutron which lead to a unstable matter and 'explodes' , creating heat , gamma radiation and a form of energy in the reactor. The process takes place in the core in the picture below.

C:\Users\Leon\Desktop\fukushima\Image Diagrammatic cross section of Fukushima No. 1 Power Plant by General Electric by hiroshimasyndrome dot com.jpg

4.2 Dry Containment and Suppression Pool

All of this take place at 286°C at core outlet with a pressure of 6930 kPa in the dry containment. Dry containment is a bulb-shaped building made of reinforced steel and concrete enclosing the core to prevent any leakage of radiation in worst case scenario. Due to the high temperature produced during this chemical reaction, special control rods with uranium oxide made from special materials were bundles together which is located inside pressure vessel and submerged inside a suppression pool which is similar to a swimming pool but only deeper. The pool serves as cooling medium and is connected to the drywell containment building. Wet well atmosphere exist in the suppression chamber, is filled with nitrogen. Gasses inside have to go through a filter made from charcoal to filter out any radionuclide (World-Nuclear, 2012). This can be shown with the aid of the diagram below.

C:\Users\Leon\Desktop\fukushima\BWR 3.jpg

Cooling Circuit and Steam

As a result, heat produced from the core generates another form of matter call steam. Steam now acts as kinetic energy which is used to drive the turbine to operate producing electricity to supply for public and industry usage. Cooling system is vital and is a 'must have' in order to operate this mega structure. To start off, a cooling circuit is installed just above the reactor core which is connected to the turbine where steam is channeled here. After driving the turbine, steam is condensed here and channeled back to the core in water medium by a powerful jet which is again circulating the core. Unfortunately, the steam produced comes along radiation which brings dangerous hazards to mankind. In order to counter this measure, concrete liner was used to absorb the harmful matter which is placed inside a steel vessel. Strong and thick concrete was constructed around the steel vessel ensuring no environmental factors can cause any severe damage onto it. It is crucial this issue was the top priority to avoid any radiation leaks out at any matters. The pictures below show it.

C:\Users\Leon\Desktop\fukushima\fukushima-boiling-water-reactor-bwr-basic-diagram.jpg

http://mipipes.net/gallery/polymer-concrete/liner-going-into-concrete-pipe-2.jpg

Concrete Liner

Controversy of Catastrophic Disaster

5.1 Radioactive Strike Society

There is no denying critical damage has been done after tsunami hit. First and foremost, the leakage from the steel vessel has cause radioactive to flow freely in mid air in the area of Daiichi. 2 main atoms were identified as hazards, they are volatile iodine-131, which process a half-life decay of 8 days and aesium-137, which has a 30-year half-life. Now if our human body's thyroid takes in an amount of iodine 131 .This will lead to a large burst of radiation and cause thyroid cancer. On 16 March 2012 , locals were evacuated leaving the area more than 20km away, they were given milk to drink to receive proper iodine and medical helps was given in a form of pills and syrup for the children. NISA estimated that about 130 PBq of iodine-131 leaked out from the reactors and concentrated northwest from the plant. Without hesitating, a dust-suppressing polymer resin around the plant was sprayed by TEPCO to make sure fallout in mid March will not be mobilized by heavy downpour. This article is established by (World-Nuclear,2012).

5.2 Fish Gone Bad in the Ecology System

A data (Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News) show the fish in the east coast of Japan process a high level radioactive contamination. Without a doubt, it must be the doing of disaster 11 march 2011. 40% of the fish caught up was not suitable for human consumption. He explained "It looks to me like the bottom fish, the fish that are eating, you know, crabs and shellfish, the kinds of things that are particle feeders - they seem to be increasing their accumulation of the cesium isotopes because of their habitat on the seafloor,"

5.3 Japanese Sociology after Fukushima Disaster

As Rie Ishiguro (2011) stated there are sign of Japan suffer severe damage. Roads and railways were all wiped out, approximately 47 000 household evacuated to emergency shelter provided by government and TEPCO. The recovery efforts did not come in cheap, it weighted around 6 trillion yen which is equal to an amount of $77.19 billion. In an overnight disaster, the public suffer economical damage, people went jobless, business gone. Approximately 38,000 residents have no choice but to leave the region. Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute said "The people who evacuated the area after the disaster won't feel compelled to return unless they can find stable jobs, so reconstruction without job creation would be a failure," . This disaster woe has triggered a new wave of debate in Japanese society of what actions should be taken for its victims, the restoration, and structure of Japanese society itself. Government and other party politics are still in the matter of deciding what and where to build. Multiple plans have been came up in order to make a part in the restoration's plan.

Japan's Responses

6.1 Evacuation

An article (Nuclear Energy Agency, 2012) states that a number of 78,000 citizens of Japan were involved in the evacuation plan carried out by the government to avoid becoming the victims of radioactive. They were located at least a range of 30 kilometers from the power plant Daiichi. Workers of Daiichi power plant were not excused as well, any workers who face a radiation reading of 250mSv will be restricted from working. Emergency workers who involved in the environmental restoration plant were continuously monitored to ensure that they do not face any risk of having cancer.

6.2 Environmental restoration and decontamination

TEPCO and the government carry out decontamination activities on areas which process the highest concentration of radioactive. They came up with a figure and intend to achieve their goal that is reducing the content of one's area's radioactive level under a certain time. The government and other authorities improvised that within 2 years, the public exposure to radiation must be decreased by 50% whereas 60% for the children as the children are the future generation of Japan (Nuclear Energy Agency, 2012).

6.3 Water treatment

During the occasion of this natural disaster, the contaminated buildings and reactor of Fukushima power plant were damaged. Hence producing a leakage of radioactive substances into the water creating a crisis for the world. French nuclear company, AREVA, Toshiba, Hitachi take initiatives with TEPCO to treat the contaminated water. First of all, they have to cool off the reactor with decontaminated water before any radioactive substances leak out. After that, numerous tests and samples were run on the water and the sea. On 5 December 2011, TEPCO identified that a figure of 45 tons contaminated water containing a harmful substance call strontium has leaked out to the public. To make things worse, around 180 liters of the unsafe water has flown into the sea (Nuclear Energy Agency, 2012).

6.4 Seabed with cements

As (Nuclear Energy Agency ,2012) stated TEPCO decided to install a 60 cm thickness of cements on to the sea bed near the Fukushima power plant to ensure that no radioactive are spread. It should be able to stop any further spreading of sand or mud which is contaminated.

6.5 TEPCO's restoration plan

(TEPCO, 2012) Restoration plans were developed which meet the demand of Nuclear Plant Operator's Anti-Disaster Measures Operation Plan .It updated the information of restoration being done on the reactor .Furthermore facilities needed to deal with cold shutdown were restored as well. All of the reports and database were submitted to the Prime Minister, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority and the governors of Fukushima.

6.6 Compensation from TEPCO

(TEPCO, 2011) The incident has cause lost of millions and the industries were affected. To begin with, tourism industry was effortless to continue due to the restriction from the government and restoration by TEPCO. Therefore, TEPCO apologize and compensation was issued. Compensation is eligible for any business entities and the tourism industry. The amount of compensation is based on one's business entities' profile and the due date to claim for compensation is shown as below.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu12_e/images/121018_01.gif

Actions (TEPCO) should have done.

7.1 Weather research department in TEPCO

Since Japan is in the ring of fire and faced a high risk of dealing with earthquakes, Fukushima power plant should have a weather research department. They can detect any bizarre weather earlier and made preparation for it to prevent any unnecessary lost.

7.2 Safety check up schedule

TEPCO should have their power plant go through a routine of safety checked by the authorities or other safety officers from other power plants according to the safety plant set by Minister of Economy Trade and Industry.

7.3 Issued out warnings faster

TEPCO should have issued out warnings earlier. After a month, TEPCO finally admitted they have no choice but to shut down their nuclear reactors. This action had proven that their previous strategies or plans fail. TEPCO should have announced it earlier and requested for help either from the citizen or government of Japan to get involved in order to restore Japan as soon as possible.

7.4 Relocated at a different location with transportation access

TEPCO and the rest of Japan had paid a price to gain such value lesson. Now knowing that wrath of Mother Nature can outcome worse matters, TEPCO should relocate their power plant from town area to avoid history repeat itself but with easy transportation access. If incidents occur in the future, help from government or other regular bodies can quickly be dispatch easily.

Conclusion

First of all, most of my findings were from electronic publication. They are from news, articles and reports made on Fukushima power plant disaster. Enquires were made during my assignment, I went to seek help and opinions from my lecturer, Ms. Nadirah and my friend's father who is currently a safety officer in Sabah. They gave us details which I had included in my content.

Referencing

James. Mc Grill. 2011. (Ehow). Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from <http://www.ehow.com/about_5376203_properties-iodine.html>

James and Mark Hibs. Why Fukushima was preventable? Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from < http://carnegieendowment.org/2012/03/06/why-fukushima-was-preventable >

Jonathan Amos. 25 October 2012. Fukushima fish still contaminated from nuclear incident. Viewed on 6 November 2012. Available from <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19980614>

Krista Mahr. 5 July 2012. Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Was Man-Made. Viewed on 6 November 2012.Available from <http://world.time.com/2012/07/05/report-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-was-manmade/>

Ike Leus .14 March, 2012. Fukushima Power Plant: How a nuclear power plant works? Viewed on 6 November 2012.Available from <http://en.akihabaranews.com/88158/environment/fukushima-dai-ichi-how-a-nuclear-power-plant-works>

Nuclear Energy Agency.2012. Fukushima Press Kit. Viewed on 7 November 2012.Avalaible from < http://www.oecd-nea.org/press/press-kits/fukushima.html>

Paul Arthur. Argenti. How well did TEPCO perform? Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from < http://www.awpagesociety.com/2011/08/how-well-did-tepco-perform/ >

Rie Ishiguro .13 December 2011. 'Japan's post-tsunami revival plan reaches tipping point'. Reuturs. Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from <http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/13/us-japan-quake-reconstruction-idUSTRE7BC0T020111213>

TEPCO.2012. Submission of the Restoration Plan (Revision 2) in Accordance with the Nuclear Plant Operator's Anti-Disaster Measures Operation Plan for Fukushima Daiini Nuclear Power Station and the Interim Progress Report (Restoration Completion of Unit 3). Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from < http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2012/1222064_1870.html>

World-Nuclear. February 2012. Backgrounds on Reactors. Viewed on 6 November 2012.Available from < http://www.world-nuclear.org/fukushima/reactor background.html>

Yoko Wakastuki and Jethron Mullen. 5 July 2012.Fukushiman crisis was man-made. CNN. Viewed on 7 November 2012. Available from < http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/05/world/asia/japan-fukushima-report/index.html >

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