Okay, what am I missing?
What I have been told (by most media outlets) is that the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station is suffering a meltdown because the 9.0 earthquake and resultant 15 meter tsunami knocked out the power and swamped the emergency generators to the reactors at the facility. Now, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is frantically attempting to “reconnect power” to the station in an attempt to get the coolant pumps running again.
This approach to the emergency was a probably a good idea on March 12, the day after the earthquake/tsunami. Since then however, a couple of events have occurred (in my opinion, at least) that has made that approach moot, to say the least. One such event was the hydrogen explosion on March 12 in the Reactor 1 building. The second was the follow on hydrogen explosions on March 13 - 15 to reactor buildings 2, 3, and 4.
The resultant damage (see below) to the reactor housing buildings make me conclude that simply hooking up power to the meter outside probably will not work. One, assuming that the power is hooked up, who is to say that any of the electrical infrastructure is in place to route the load to the coolant pumps? Secondly, assuming that they get a good path to the coolant pumps and plug them in, I am sure that they are stuffed full of mud/sand/sludge (radioactive or otherwise) and would require “much” maintenance to get operational. Lastly, assuming that they get them cleaned and operational (even marginally), the blasts most likely took out the piping. So, unless they have the pipefitting-crew-from-radioactive-hell on hand, the first two steps may be in vain. And you have to keep in mind, this is only for one reactor. Fukushima Dai-ichi has four in trouble.
So, what are they doing? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to try to get the fuel out, period, and place it somewhere deep, dark, and cold to spend the rest of its half-life harmlessly irradiating the local sea floor?
Fuel rods in a steam environment heat up at a rate between 0.3 °C/s (0.5 °F/s) and 1 °C/s (1.8 °F/s). Yes, that is per SECOND. Once a temp of around 5,000 °F is attained, there is no stopping a meltdown. How many seconds have occurred since the rods have been exposed in ALL FOUR REACTORS?
I know that I sound like I am attempting to armchair physicist (of which I am NOT) this from here in South Carolina, but without some better information, these are the conclusions that I, the layman, is forced to come to.
Since we are currently wasting our sailors, airmen, time, and money in Libya, I do not wish to continue to do the same in Japan attempting a hail-mary on a failed plant that was based on a naive and failed design by a government that is keeping the full information under wraps. It just makes no sense to me.
However, I would prefer to spend money on THIS, than Libya. At least Japan is a friend who deserves our assistance.
To me, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. should place a badger in a bag and swing it over their collective heads...it would accomplish the same thing: nothing.
(H/T BradBlog, Kyodo, and sofiaecho for the Images)