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Saturday
May282011

Fukushima DAINI barely averted a catastrophe as well!

The 4 reactor Daini complex, just 7 miles south of the 6 reactor Daiichi complexA U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) official, testifying at a subcommittee of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) which is overseeing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe review, testified that the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant -- just seven miles to the south of Daiichi -- barely survived the tsunami that devastated its sister plant up the coast. Dr. John E. Kelly, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Reactor Technologies at DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, presented a powerpoint entitled "DOE Response to Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident" at the NRC Headquarters in Rockville, Maryland on May 26th. As he discussed the "Major root cause of the damage" to Fukushima Daiichi's Units 1 to 4, Dr. Kelly mentioned in passing that a Japanese colleague, a Dr. Amato, reported to him that the tsunami was actually worse at Daini (site of four Tokyo Electric Power Company reactors) than at Daiichi, but the Daini nuclear site is fortunately at a higher elevation than the six reactor complex at Daiichi. However, Daini still lost all its emergency diesel generators due to the tsunami's impact. But fortunately, Daini did not completely lose its connection to the functioning grid -- a single offsite power line survived the earthquake and tsunami, thus keeping electricity flowing to Daini's cooling pumps on its reactor cores and high-level radioactive waste storage pools. As bad as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant catastrophe is, it could be so much worse, if Daini had been plunged into long-term station blackout as well. Despite this good fortune, there have still been problems at Daini. A fire was reported at Daini on March 30; another fire was reported at Daini just today. And incredibly, a supertyphoon may now be headed to Fukushima Prefecture, straight at both the Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants.