The ECCS Controversy and the Controversy of Immediate Quake Damage at Fukushima

Prime Minister Noda reopened many of Japan’e reactor against the will of a very large proportion of the Japanese population. Reactors had proven themselves to be unsafe. In the aftermath of the disaster the intrinsic dishonesty of nuclear industry and nuclear authority (primary themes which drive this blog) have been plainly revealed by a number of investigations.

A censor suspect authority is TEPCO. The management of TEPCO presented the effects of the dispersal of its nuclear pollution as if it were a public service, akin to mass CT scanning. Total crap, but that is effectively claimed. Whole sections of pro nuclear elites came out with justifications for eating plutonium and cesium. As if they were the nuclear Jamie Oliver s of containment breach. (“Cooking with Plutonium” by NISA has not yet hit Amazon)

Every word from nuclear authorities is plainly suspect now (as has always been the case). And these authorities assert that the quake did not kill the Fukushima Diiachi reactors, the tsunami did.

Well, I have thought along with many that the quake did damage to the reactors. There are testimonials from eye witnesses at the reactor site. There was video of symptoms of this on youtube.

Broken pipes caused by the quake are cited. Formed before the tsunamis, these are thought to be a reason for the loss of coolant and ultimately the meltdown.

One such report is this one:

While the effect of such a loss of coolant and perhaps a loss of cooling circuits caused by the quake are seen as being among the items that caused reactor failure, authorities claim the fatal blow were the two tsunami waves.

In either case, the precise cause as seen by an observer, a visual observer, of the site cannot be proven either way without detailed examination of the remains of the equipment, including the containment vessels, pressure vessels and so on.

Each reactor was fitted with an Emergency Core Cooling System. The claimed purpose of these ECCS units was to prevent containment breach and melt down due to loss of coolant. Had the reactors not been fitted with ECCS units, hydrogen explosions, containment breach and meltdown would have occurred long before these event did.

The effect of the operation of the ECCS in the case of Fukushima Diiachi, was to delay what turned out to be the inevitable. Overheat, hydrogen explosions, meltdown and containment breach. All these things are temperature related, commencing from the point where cores reach a high temperature. This sequence of terminal failure did not commence until after both the quake and the tsunamis. The reason this sequence commenced when it did was loss of power to the ECCS pipe valves operating solenoids.

One can speculate when the reactors would have failed if ECCS has not worked. If it did not work, the afflicted reactor would have failed very quickly.

There is the quake, the tsunami, the ECCS units and the final loss of the ECCS in units over a period. Each reactor’s ECCS failed at various times over a 70 hour period. It took 70 hours for the last ECCS to fail.

(My contention is the ECCS should not have failed because foresight existed to prevent this within the design of those reactors, but here that is beside the point, the ECCS failed. We know this because their assigned purpose is to prevent overheat, explosions, containment breach and meltdown. The point of this post is to reinforce again that the earthquake had a significant role in the events which invoked the ECCS initially after the quake.)

The ECCS auto started after the quake, they were already running when the tsunamis hit and they kept running. It is possible that both Loss of coolant from the quake and power interruption caused the ECCS to auto start after the quake. One reason why ECCS start up is loss of coolant. It may not be the only reason, but the purpose of the ECCS is to compensate for and counter loss of coolant.

Many commentators do not know that the ECCS exist. They have been barely mentioned in the mass media.

On the one hand if one assumes the tsunamis caused the reactor failure because the reactors did not show significant symptoms till that time, the assumption would be based on misleading evidence. For the ECCS extended the time it took for overheat to occur.

On the other hand if one states that the quake caused the failure and it took many hours for overheat to occur for some reason or another – assigning what the ECCS achieved to the primary cooling circuit (which had been destroyed), the timeline created by the ECCS effect makes it hard to explain.

If one however can state – the ECCS was invoked by events at the time of the quake and so the quake caused sufficient damage to cause ECCS start up – well one has a case. ECCS start up was automatic. Something triggered it – loss of coolant or loss of power or both. I dont know.

As for the view that the quake caused containment breach, the ECCS can say nothing about this as I understand it.

We will not know the truth until there is open inspection of the reactor components and inspection of the whole site. This may take a number of years to take place.

In the meantime, the reactors have been restarted in Japan. Perhaps they have been restarted in the false belief that because the Fukushima Diiachi reactors failed after the tsunamis that the tsunamis caused the failure.

The tsunamis doomed the ECCS valves to shut too soon. But the ECCS was NOT invoked by the tsunami. The ECCS was invoked by the earthquake in all reactors.

So, what caused the ECCS to go into loss of coolant response? the earthquake. But that might have been triggered by the power break. The time between the loss of grid power and the start of back up power.

We will not know until we see the evidence from the wreckage. Not the tsunami wreckage, but the reactor wreckage.

As far as I can figure, in my opinion.

And so, my previous posts looking at the performance and of the ECCS is not a justification for restating Japan’s reactors. It is a justification for shutting them all down. All over the planet. On the grounds that the world has been told since 1967 that ECCS prevents core overheat, hydrogen explosions, containment breach and melt down. And 3 times in succession all those things happened. And so the ECCS can be seen to take a maximum of 70 hours to fail in their roles as the last line of defense.

The industry said for many decades that the possibility of grid failure was so unlikely that there was no need to connect all of the ECCS components to the ECCS steam turbine power. That disbelief in the reality of total power loss is the assumption which makes the ECCS essentially useless. It is the reason why the ECCS had all stopped within a period of 70 hours.

The assumption that ECCS prevent core melt down is false. It is the assumption the industry has held since 1967. The promise of the industry is shown to be false: “While waiting for the task force to finish its work, the AEC tried to keep information about the semiscale tests from getting out to the public, even to the extent of withholding information about them from the Joint Committee. The results of the tests came at a very awkward time for the AEC. It was under renewed pressure from utilities facing power shortages and from the Joint Committee to streamline the licensing process and eliminate excessive delays. At the same time, Seaborg was appealing–successfully–to President Nixon for support of the breeder reactor, and controversy over the semiscale tests and reactor safety could undermine White House backing for the program. By the spring of 1971, nuclear critics were expressing opposition to the licensing of several proposed reactors, and news of the semiscale experiments seemed likely to spur their efforts….For those reasons, the AEC sought to resolve the ECCS issue as promptly and quietly as possible. It wanted to settle the uncertainties about safety without arousing a public debate that could place hurdles in the way of the bandwagon market. Even before the task force that Price established completed its study of the ECCS problem, the Commission decided to publish “interim acceptance criteria” for emergency cooling systems that licensees would have to meet. It imposed a series of requirements that it believed would ensure that the ECCS in a plant would prevent a core melt after a loss-of-coolant accident. The AEC did not prescribe methods of meeting the interim criteria, but in effect, it mandated that manufacturers and utilities set an upper limit on the amount of heat generated by reactors. In some cases, this would force utilities to reduce the peak operating temperatures (and hence, the power) of their plants. Price told a press conference on June 19, 1971 that although the AEC thought it impossible “to guarantee absolute safety,” he was “confident that these criteria will assure that the emergency core cooling systems will perform adequately to protect the temperature of the core from getting out of hand.” Source:

Any government which starts a reactor knowing this must believe its voting base consists only of casino owners and nuclear corporate heads.

Its a gamble. For the degree of uncertainty preventing an absolute guarantee of safety from core melt translates at the present time to a melt down once every thirty years. (Toshiba’s estimate of frequency of a Fukushima Diiachi event. Its purpose was to show it could still make a profit in such a scenario.)

With the current numbers of reactors. The more there, the shorter the period between failures.