Japan nuclear update 17 March 2011

The 17 March information from iaea.org on the Japan nuclear emergency giving an updated status on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japanese Earthquake Update (17 March 01:15 UTC)
Injuries or Contamination at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Based on a press release from the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary dated 16 March 2011, the IAEA can confirm the following information about human injuries or contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Please note that this list provides a snapshot of the latest information made available to the IAEA by Japanese authorities. Given the fluid situation at the plant, this information is subject to change.

Injuries

2 TEPCO employees have minor injuries
2 subcontractor employees are injured, one person suffered broken legs and one person whose condition is unknown was transported to the hospital
2 people are missing
2 people were ‘suddenly taken ill’
2 TEPCO employees were transported to hospital during the time of donning respiratory protection in the control centre
4 people (2 TEPCO employees, 2 subcontractor employees) sustained minor injuries due to the explosion at unit 1 on 11 March and were transported to the hospital
11 people (4 TEPCO employees, 3 subcontractor employees and 4 Japanese civil defense workers) were injured due to the explosion at unit 3 on 14 March
Radiological Contamination

17 people (9 TEPCO employees, 8 subcontractor employees) suffered from deposition of radioactive material to their faces, but were not taken to the hospital because of low levels of exposure
One worker suffered from significant exposure during ‘vent work,’ and was transported to an offsite center
2 policemen who were exposed to radiation were decontaminated
Firemen who were exposed to radiation are under investigation
The IAEA continues to seek information from Japanese authorities about all aspects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japanese Earthquake Update (16 March 22:00 UTC)
Temperature of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Spent fuel that has been removed from a nuclear reactor generates intense heat and is typically stored in a water-filled spent fuel pool to cool it and provide protection from its radioactivity. Water in a spent fuel pool is continuously cooled to remove heat produced by spent fuel assemblies. According to IAEA experts, a typical spent fuel pool temperature is kept below 25 ?C under normal operating conditions. The temperature of a spent fuel pool is maintained by constant cooling, which requires a constant power source.

Given the intense heat and radiation that spent fuel assemblies can generate, spent fuel pools must be constantly checked for water level and temperature. If fuel is no longer covered by water or temperatures reach a boiling point, fuel can become exposed and create a risk of radioactive release. The concern about the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi is that sources of power to cool the pools may have been compromised.

The IAEA can confirm the following information regarding the temperatures of the spent nuclear fuel pools at Units 4, 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:

Unit 4
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 84 ?C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 84 ?C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: no data
Unit 5
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 59.7 ?C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 60.4 ?C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: 62.7 ?C
Unit 6
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 58.0 ?C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 58.5 ?C
16 March, 05:00 UTC:  60.0 ?C

The IAEA is continuing to seek further information about the water levels, temperature and condition of all spent fuel pool facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

IAEA Director General to Travel to Japan (16 March 18:50 UTC)
Director General Yukiya Amano announced the following today in Vienna:

“I plan to fly to Japan as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow, to see the situation for myself and learn from our Japanese counterparts how best the IAEA can help. I will request that the Board of Governors meet upon my return to discuss the situation. My intention is that the first IAEA experts should leave for Japan as soon as possible.”

On 15 March, Japan requested the IAEA for assistance in the areas of environmental monitoring and the effects of radiation on human health, asking for IAEA teams of experts to be sent to Japan to assist local experts.

Given the fast-changing situation in Japan, the Director General was unable to announce the itinerary for his trip. He expects to be in Japan for a short amount of time and then return to Vienna.
Japanese Earthquake Update (16 March 14:55 UTC)
Japanese authorities have reported concerns about the condition of the spent nuclear fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 and Unit 4. Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa announced Wednesday that Special Defence Forces helicopters planned to drop water onto Unit 3, and officials are also preparing to spray water into Unit 4 from ground positions, and possibly later into Unit 3. Some debris on the ground from the 14 March explosion at Unit 3 may need to be removed before the spraying can begin.