Record radiation levels found at Fukushima… in basement of Reactor No. 1 (VIDEO)

Published: June 27th, 2012 at 3:35 pm ET


Tepco Detects Record Radiation Levels At Fukushima
Dow Jones Newswires
Published June 27, 2012


[Tepco] said Wednesday record amounts of radiation had been detected in the basement of reactor No. 1, further hampering clean-up operations.


Radiation levels above radioactive water in the basement reached up to 10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that will kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes.

The annual allowed dose for workers at the stricken site is reached in only 20 seconds.


The Fukushima operator said that radiation levels were 10 times higher than those recorded at the plant’s two other crippled reactors, No. 2 and 3. This was due to the poor state of the nuclear fuel in the reactor compared to that in the two others.


“Workers cannot enter the site and we must use robots for the demolition” -Tepco

h/t Anonymous tip

Published: June 27th, 2012 at 3:35 pm ET


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  3. Typhoon increases level of radioactive water in Reactor No. 1 basement by 17 inches in a day — Likely to continue rising July 21, 2011
  4. New indoor radiation dose record at Fukushima — 5 sieverts per hour detected at Reactor No. 1 — May be higher as it exceeded capacity of measuring device August 2, 2011
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44 comments to Record radiation levels found at Fukushima… in basement of Reactor No. 1 (VIDEO)

  • gottagetoffthegrid

    "the poor state of the nuclear fuel in the reactor"

    and what state is that? China?

    but seriously, 10Sv/hr wow. thats hot.

  • mungo mungo

    'This was due to the poor state of the nuclear fuel in the reactor compared to that in the two others'….
    WHAT?!! by poor state, i presume they mean it is corium and has left the building…. poor state, my arse..

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    "10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that will kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes."

    That's what nuclear reactors are. Death.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Use robots? But radiation cooks robots. So now that it is essentially nationalized, TEPCO will finally just admit that Fuku 1,2,&3 are too hot to disassemble, and that the only solution is a concrete sarcophagus around them all. This decision could have been made on 3/15/2011. instead, it will probably take TEPCO another year to make the announcement that they can do nothing except to encase the entire Fukumess in concrete, and try to keep it contained for the next 100,000 years or so. Great!

    • mungo mungo

      phil, i dont think that would work either…. the extra weight of the concrete on top of the sodden soil would surely push it further underground….like you say, great!
      also, i remember tacomagroove saying that reactor1 was the big worry…

    • dosdos dosdos

      If only encasing would survive for more than 10 years under existing conditions, it might be a good idea. As is, encasing is about the worse thing that could be done, as it would not stop the radiation from reaching the environment and just make it incredibly harder to clean up the mess when it fails. Unfortunately, there is little else that fares better.


      @philip: first off, you're correct about the use of robots. They don't have the hardened technology (primarily control electronics) that'll survive such extreme conditions. That's not to say they're not working to develop such components/systems. DARPA is funding one (that recently came to my attention) that utilizes MEMS-based Boolean logic components. Initial tests are very promising and demonstrate such technology will survive extreme temperatures and high radiation levels. Problem is, this project was only undertaken in the last year and hasn't gotten out to the lab. So, I wouldn't hold my breath as such technology can takes years before it's able to 'stand on its own'.

      Regarding the sarcophagus: given the geology and proximity to the ocean, this would be a very bad idea. Such an attempt would be akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet. It won't go away and may make long-term remediation efforts more difficult, if not impossible. And keep in mind, what ends up in the ocean, ultimately ends up in the atmosphere.

      Most aren't ready for what needs to be done, so there's no point in my disclosing such in this forum. As we go forward, they will come a point when the world comes to term with the harsh reality that now faces us all. As it stands right now, people are still in denial…

      • fireguyjeff fireguyjeff


        Well, having designed a few consumer/commercial application digital ICs, and knowing how large MEMS devices are, I will offer that the idea of a MEMS processor is out of the question.

        Getting some combinational logic to work in MEMS, a big yes.

        Getting some sequential logic up and running, yes, yet very primitive in function.

        Getting any sort of RISC architecture to happen in MEMS???
        Not for quite a few years is my guess.
        And even if they do get it running, it will likely be wafer scale.
        i.e. very expensive and very low fab yield.

        The other issue with this MEMS idea is that the system will require a clock. And that clock will ratchet many of the MEMS devices enough to wear them out in a matter of seconds or minutes, not days or months.
        Unless there are higher reliability MEMS device processes available now. (which I really doubt).

        A rudimentary RISC processor in GaAs (or related compound semi) is quite realistic, with GaAs being inherently "rad hard" on it's own.

        What we are now stuck with, metaphorically, is knowing for sure that an asteroid is heading straight for us….in 1900…and we need to figure out how to make a rocket to go intercept it.
        Before we even know how air foils work.
        There is not enough time to develop the technology.
        Plain and simple.

        So, no holding breath on this one!
        Sorry to be such a buzz kill.


          @fireguyjeff: agree on most of your take. The MEMS-logic technology (that I've alluded to) is based on exotic compounds and currently operating at the SSL level; nand/exor/not. The researchers are at the proof-of-principle stage in this work. DARPA claims they're interest in this research is for use in rad-hard-aerospace environs. I don't doubt such application, but suspect this effort's really aimed at Fukushima; that such application was completely omitted from the report was the giveaway.

          I'm currently designing a RISC-based process-controller. None of what you're touching upon is beyond my grasp. It's for such reason that I'd join you in your pragmatism. I would disagree that any contemporary exotic semiconductor technologies (such as GaAs) would reliably withstand the radiation levels present at the NPPs in question. [Issue is disruptive and/or destructive condition caused by alpha particle bombardment (ionizing flux) of EV-valence-band stability, leading to degenerative ion-migration within semiconductor junction(s).] It shouldn't take too much 'intelligence' to speculate why DARPA's undertaking this research.

          Excellent post jeff! Thanks for the valuable input…

      • Dr. Wellington Yueh

        IIRC, the small robots used at Chernobyl to film the "elephant's foot" formation were simple, with no on-board electronics…just a bunch of motors, gears, and solenoids. They were controlled by a long cable that carried the high voltage needed to actually drive the motors. This could be an option, but will only get you so close. Also, the cable will be prone to snags and tangles, so limited in terms of path complexity.


          excellent input Yueh. I think you've already touched on the reason why they'll need to add 'intelligence'. The challenges imposed by the environment in question will require multi-axis mobility. They ran into many problems when they attempted to snake the 'procto-cam' into one of these reactor facilities. Issues of disruptive radiation levels and degradation of signal levels where immediately apparent in these early efforts. I suspect that such incredibly high rad-levels will not be conducive to remote-RF-link control. For this reason, a high degree of (fall-back) autonomy will be needed within these robots, or they'll simply freeze-up and only add to the clutter.

          Thanks for the excellent input Yueh. I've got to pull the plug on this connection and do some off-line work now…

        • In chernobyl liquidators were only successful because they cut the fuel off "before it lost containment" by drilling under the reactor…

          It is not the aerial emissions that they feared, but the poisoning of the ground water…

          I doubt a containment can be assembled in regards to reactor 1. Its corium likely breached the floor in the basement.

          Which means that the coolant that is breaching the reactor, has been creating vast amounts of run off… Which is what has been plaguing the Pacific ocean all this time…

          SO digging out fukushima one is a death mission… It should have been given top priority, but instead tepcos plan of attack will be to build a 100 ft sealed dam around the facility…

          Because they know its too late to build a platform. And any attempt to dig under the reactor would lead to a loss of cooling to the corium… and that would be a hyper criticality… or hydrovolcanic steam release.

        • Stlouieishot

          instead of waiting for radiation proof electronics to be developed which could take 10+ years they need to do like yef stated and build simple robots with little to no electronics on board connected by umbilical cords. if you clear out an area as you go instead of trying to move through heavy debris its definatley doable. sure as hell beats waiting years to do anything.

          honestly what is probably the best idea is to build a large containment building like what is being proposed at chernobyl. large dome that covers the entire facility with cranes to remotely disasemble the reactor complex. unless someone manages to invent radiation screen lotion that will protect up to 100 seiverts an hour its the only way.


            @Stlouieishot: as Doctor Yueh has not responded to my response to him, I thought I'd jump in on yours.

            Keep in mind, the more capable the mechanical system, the more it will rely on servo-mechanical control electronics. This job will need more than simple mechanical systems. I agree there's very little time left and that something must be done, but whatever is undertaken must also justify the task at hand.

            Just doing something does not always equate to anything of substance being accomplished.

            If it's the remediation of these damaged facilities, the equipment (robots if you will) sent in must be completely reliable, as this same equipment will immediately become a part of the contaminated inventory (likely, for all time), once deployed.

            I can't address entombment of these facilities, as I'm not familiar with the geological conditions of the Fukushima prefecture or what challenges may be presented in engineering of such structures. However, if and until someone comes up with a working solution, it does need more study…

      • frankfan42 frankfan42

        So aftershock, are you saying there is nothing that CAN be done to prevent worldwide radiation damage to our children and the food that we eat? If there is little that can be done, is there anything we can do to survive it?


          @frankfan42: there are short-term solutions to reducing your exposure; though it's likely such efforts will be inadvertently circumvented at some point. What you also have to keep in mind is you've already been exposed to radiological contaminants, both before and since the Fukushima disaster. This condition is the result of decades of nuclear bomb testing and ongoing proliferation of nuclear power plant operations.

          I'd surmise your questions are more concerned with ongoing and pending releases from Fukushima. From what we're 'sensing' out here (from reports over the last year), these exposure levels have already contaminated large regions of the northern hemisphere and without further abatement, promise to eventually make their way into the other, as well. Accepting a worst-case scenario, if nothing is done to reduce these ongoing emissions or prevent the collapse of SFP#4, then our species is faced with the – very real – possibility that this planet will have to be 'abandoned'.

          Such a move will mean the majority of the planet's populace will be left behind to suffer the consequences of our collective stupidity. But it does mean our species will go on.

          I've discussed this in previous posts and touched-upon what issues we'd be challenged with, should we undertake such selfless effort. Unless otherwise indicated, I'll not go into it any further in this response…

  • mungo mungo

    no readings from fukushima today on this website….

  • This is typical of MSM reporting. This should be front page news but is instead buried in the business section. Measured in milli sieverts but really 10 Sieverts per hour? What are the implications of that. Very poor investigative reporting. Surprised they even threw out the 20 second exposure figure, brings it home to anyone with a working brain. This means any work on that reactor is impossible. Bring out the robots? I doubt we have technology to shield a robots electronics from that level of radiation. So how do you fix leaks or do anything in that environment? Seems the best they can do is dump water on the mess to minimize the atmospheric fall out at the expense of the ocean. Pretty low tech remedy. An army of nuclear scientists can do no more then set up what is essentially a bucket brigade.

    I think Tepco just wants to abandon the mess and cash in their chips. This is what their setting us up for. Its too radio active to send in workers they will say. Really they are just trying to protect certain economic interests for as long as possible.

    • fireguyjeff fireguyjeff

      To be fair, they did report over 10 thousand milliSieverts.
      So the math and units are quite correct.

      They did just the opposite of what has been the norm…report in Sv so that the number seen is very small (seeming).

      That they tossed in the 20 seconds reference is VERY surprising.

      My guess is that the media folks are in way over their heads on the technical aspects of this mess and have no idea how bad is "bad" or what is "insignificant", or not.
      This is very different than reporting on politics or plane crashes or volcanoes.

      Correct you are that shielding the robot's electronics is beyond difficult.

      • Jeff, your comment "My guess is that the media folks are in way over their heads on the technical aspects of this mess and have no idea how bad is "bad" or what is "insignificant", or not." is very charitable towards the media. I don't like to frame my thought processes within a Conspiracy type framework. But in this case I don't know how else to see it. If I was a reporter sent to cover a political story in Japan I would have to research the Japanese political system. So why can't a journalist research nuclear? We all did and I'm sure most of us here understand the basics of nuclear technology and some of the issues and challenges the industry faces. I am an average blue collar worker with no degree so whats stopping a journalist? What about the editor who deems this to be a small story worthy of a few lines in the business section? This was an eye opener for me as before I could only guess through intuition that the media was biased but seeing real stories from mainstream Japan media while here on the west coast the event wasn't even really reported in any depth. So I don't know the exact mechanism that makes it so but its hard not to use the C word.

  • Jon_NY Jon_NY

    Radiation levels may have actually been higher. Apparently the dosimeter failed while they were taking the readings. Page 3 in the following document.

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      "The radiation dose measured in the Torus Room was 19.5 – 10,300mSv/h. However, the dosimeter seems to have failed as it indicated order values of 108 – 109mSv/h during the measurement and the values did not change until the dosimeter was brought back up."

      Excellent point Jon, thank you! Also the reading was taken in the donut-shaped thingie, far away from where the fuel used to be…

      • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

        The table says at the water bottom levels of 10E+8 to 10E+9 mSv.
        I can't bring myself to type all those zeros that means.

        • harengus_acidophilus

          "levels of 10E+8 to 10E+9 mSv"
          This means 100,000 to 1,000,000 Sv, but at what timeframe?
          I guess it's per hour, so you have in the best case 1/3 sec. before you die.

          Sounds like an atomic juice machine – come in and flow away.
          (Sorry, but it's to bad. Need a lttle sarcasm.)


  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    What I want to finally see is the view of the hole that is in the bottom of Building1, where the corium exited the building. All of this serves only to perpetuate the myth that tons of melted nuclear fuel must still be inside Building1. It is not. Corium1 is long gone. These measurements are of residual corium that was suspended in the water on its way out of the building.

  • patb2009

    that's the same level the Elephant foot at CHernobyl had.

    which means the corium is melted out and sitting in the bottom of the Basement.

    I'd be interested to get an isotope assay of what that all is. is it Chlorine and Ce or is it Plutonium and Uranium?

  • Bleifrei Bleifrei

    i think they only can do one,to build a 800 m diameter closed boilert#(titan.steel like a kit ) round the worst,which includes everything around it, just slide underneath a half-shell, then put on a previously and quickly they can
    full it with water and brom and wait , install cool tools outside and wait
    nothing other can stopp that, but Jp cant sale it alone

    • harengus_acidophilus

      Maybe you should use boron-10 instead of bromine.
      …just a thought…

      "nothing other can stopp that"
      W/o "other"…


    • jec jec

      Slide underneath?-the corium main mass is at the bedrock after a year of heat sinking. If they had started immediately, maybe, but not at this point in time. Or did I get the theory wrong..would love to be told I am way off on my statement. And I could be, not a nuclear physics person at all…


    From another aspect, this is 'good' news. With the admission that they're (TEPGOV) incapable of getting (one-or-more of) these BWRs stabilized, one cannot deny that they've lost complete control over them. In addition, references (by the MSM and nuclear industry proponents) to "last year" are no longer applicable. The failure of these plants is in the here-and-now. Finally, TEPGOV has exhausted their options and the means to get these facilities under 'control'. (note: this is not to infer that nuclear power was ever under control.) This loss of control now allows the international community to step-in and impose (note: impose as opposed to 'offer') assistance in getting these facilities under control; that is, assuming they can be controlled. TEPGOV would be advised to see this current state (of extreme contamination) at NPP#1 as an opportunity and justification for handing-over the reigns to another (more capable) party. It now only remains a matter of finding legal code (within the international UN-IAEA regulations that prohibits jeopardizing populations with errant nuclear technologies) and acknowledging the dire conditions at NPP#1. There's no need for consensus if it's agreed that it's moved beyond simple incident, into the realm of a global emergency…


    TEPCO executives voted themselves 100% pay increases due to the fact that they are setting new records.

  • So, in summary:

    * They cannot go inside of what's left of Unit #1.
    * They cannot go inside Unit #2, plus, it has not exploded yet.
    * There is no Unit #3. Mostly it's a spewing steamy hole.
    * And then there's Unit #4, scramble mode to remove ruble and rods before the next big quakes. A lot of hoping and praying. Plus, it looks good to stay busy.

    On a positive note:
    The site has not been abandoned, …yet.
    They 'could' do that.
    Then, what?

    • If they abandon ship… Well: "tepco" is nationalized now.

      So they would owe the countries that step in to fix it their lives… Their economy would collapse, and Japan would be finished…

      My guess is japan would either be speaking Russian, or English at the point that they decide to look away…

      Thats probably why they haven't abandoned the site yet… Hence the PM telling tepco, Your asses arent budging…

      Hence the media keeping quiet, except for addressing every article about tepco as a victory…

      • Tacoma, I can't wrap my head around this one. Obviously a core of international experts understand exactly what is going on as they are privy to all the real numbers generated by the testing equipment of their respective armies. It seems to me that the radiation is slowly accumulating on the Fukushima site and this article is basically saying that radiation is so high in places no work can be done. But the international community does nothing. Is it to protect the nuclear industry or because they know essentially nothing can be done? Tepco wanted to bail back in March 2011. Does that mean that despite what all the nuke experts say about safety the accepted reality is nothing can be done and everything being done is just a smokescreen for the masses? Is it inevitable that the whole complex will become too radio active for any work to be done? And maybe the bottom line here is no one has the courage to say the truth. The truth in my opinion is the nuclear industry has failed humanity and the scientists and experts have no solution because all along they merely assumed nothing this bad would happen. Not the brightest bunch of experts.

  • Sickputer

    Good article here about the effects of 10 sievert doses:

    SP: From last August when the worker was photographed with his 3-meter stick poking at the 10 Sievert hotspot. Supposedly he only got 40 millisieverts.

  • Good news! We almost have a robot capable of surviving 10+ Sieverts! Now if only we could build one that knows how to use a screwdriver or a wrench. . .

  • cerry24

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  • chrisk9

    I have no idea what TEPCO is trying to do or prove. There is no clean up possible, there will never be any clean up, and in many areas of the plant no humans will ever be able to enter.

    There survey seems to be in the Torus area since many catwalks are visible. There is significant water on the floor, so real radiation readings without water would be much higher (10 times hotter if there is a foot of water). Much of the corium may have sunk down into the drywell basement or lower. But much of it is loose running through water pipes, drains and vents throughout the plant. So there are potential extreme radiation levels everywhere. Think of cleaning your house of every speck of dust, could you do that, could you do that if you had to wear a respirator and Haz Mat suit? Could you do it if you had only 45 second intervals to work?

    The drywell, which is the concrete containment structure outside the pressure vessel is an area where all the pipes, pumps and "meat" of the plant are located. There is an airlock steel door at the ground floor of the plant where personnel can enter. Dose rates are normally very high in there, but there is always much work to be done inside. When they open that door, and real people enter-and leave, then I will believe that TEPCO can do any clean up.
    But it's all a bunch of poop until they can go in that door.

  • Longjohn119

    So they actually have 15,000 to 20,000 millesieverts per hour radiatiojhn levels in Core 1 … Likely another Total Core Meltdown (Not even Chernobyl was a total meltdown)

    I'm just extrapolating the levels based on TEPCO's record of accuracy so far …. if they say on first report it's 10,000 then it's more likely to be 15,000 to 20,000 or higher when the final reports come (leak) out