Transcript for Nuclear Expert's Step-By-Step Assessment of the Fukushima Disaster & What You Need to Know

Below is the transcript for Nuclear Expert's Step-By-Step Assessment of the Fukushima Disaster & What You Need to Know

Chris Martenson:  [00:00:18]  Welcome, it's Friday, March 18, 2011, and today we are talking with longtime PeakProsperity.com member, Dogs_In_A_Pile, although his friends call him Rick. His knowledgeable posts have long been valued by the community here, but never so much as in the past week when he has posted some of the most useful observations and explanations of the nuclear situation unfolding in Japan, perhaps found anywhere on the internet. Rick is an expert in the nuclear field. He is a retired Navy officer with over twenty years of experience, most of those on nuclear-powered submarines. He is a certified nuclear engineer, which means he is certified to operate, maintain, and oversee nuclear facilities. He also has extensive expertise on nuclear weaponry. I have asked Rick here today to help clarify and demystify the haze of incomplete and erroneous information circulating in the media all this week. Hopefully, after listening to this interview, you will have a better sense of what nuclear power is, how it works, what’s likely happening at the Fukushima reactor in Japan and what you should and shouldn’t be concerned about right now. Welcome, Rick thanks so much for joining us on such short notice.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:01:21] I am glad to be here, Chris.

Chris Martenson:  [00:01:23] So can you tell us about your background as a nuclear engineer?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:01:25] Sure. Briefly, just coming out of the Naval Academy, I selected submarine service as my community to serve in. You have an option of serving in either the air, surface, or nuclear power field and I went submarines. Then went through a year of extensive schooling, which was six months of classroom that worked out to about six hundred and fifty credit hours equivalent, so it was pretty much a focused concentrated effort in the pertinent areas; core materials, theory, thermodynamics, etransfer, water chemistry, radio chemistry, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering – the whole gambit that would apply. And that was over a six-month period.

Then we were sent off to prototype – an actual operating reactor plant – where we qualify as an engineer to oversee the operation. And you basically have to have a detailed knowledge of every system that it takes to operate the plant, so that you can correctly and ably supervise the workers that are operating the plant. Then you get sent off to your first shift and you essentially repeat the process. Most guys go to a different type of reactor plant than what they qualified on as a student, just because the Navy has several different types of prototype plants and only a few types of propulsion plants on the boats. So then you qualify there and you just essentially reinforce that over your career and depending the specific job you are assigned to, you are going to be given the responsibility to run a division of guys that support the operation and maintenance of the plant, whether it's the mechanical system, the electronic system, the chemistry, what not, or the auxiliary system and then you operate the plant.

Chris Martenson:  [00:03:38] Right and so they train you obviously in how to run it during good moments and I assume you train for accidents, as well.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:03:45] We actually spend probably a third of our time in a drill scenario. And they do the same thing at commercial plants. Obviously, they can’t have the down time because they are there to produce electricity, so operating a commercial power plant; you have to have that continuous operation at power. The submarine world – the operation of the plant is much more transient. You are under different operating conditions. You may be operating at lower speeds, at lower reactor powers and at increased speed and you are driving the ship around at higher powers, but it's just a little bit of dynamic there that the commercial plants don’t see. We produce the power for both electrical power generation and propulsion. We produce steam-core propulsion and all of that is interconnected and it's just another element that you have to understand. In theory, it's no different than what the guys at the commercial plant are doing, the different dynamics. We drill extensively. Each watch team will usually get about four to six hours of hardcore drilling a week and the entire crew is drilled and we’re talking about a minor drill, like an instrumentation problem, all the way down to flooding in the engine room, compounded casualty that shuts down the reactor and how you have to respond to that. In addition, it's related but it's not necessarily nuclear power, because the generation of contaminated material and radioactive waste, we also do quite a bit of drilling on what to do in the event of a radioactive liquid spill or a fire involving radioactive material – it's just how you have to go about combating those types of casualties.

Much like what the guys and gals at the civilian plants are going through. They have an extensive qualification process that also includes drilling in both casualty and normal operating scenarios.

Chris Martenson:  [00:05:50] Right, the operators certainly at the Fukushima plant, like all operators, they have been extensive training, they have been through disaster modeling, they have been through their scenarios, and they have done all of that. Tell us about what you think probably happened – so Friday, this enormous earthquake strikes, a tsunami comes ripping through. Tell us what those first moments are like for them and what they were probably doing. And hopefully, that will give us some indication of what state the reactors were in when they started to go. We heard about the trouble later in the week on Saturday and Sunday.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:06:24] Well, it's my understanding that three of the six plants were operating and three of them were in a maintenance shutdown. I mean that is just based on what I have been able to pull out of the news. But they operate separately. I mean I am sure there is some interconnectivity with some emergency fill systems –

I am guessing here, but I could imagine that about 2:46 they sitting just basically doing nothing except monitoring their panels, monitoring their instrumentation, and making sure that the plant was operating as it was intended to operate. Reactor power plants are not very dynamic, unless something is happening. So nothing is going to come on and just change power levels. So monitoring your instrumentation – you will sit there and you watch it and it's just like you are driving your car down the road. You periodically scan your instrumentation and make sure that you are getting enough electrical output and make sure that your coolant temperatures and your oil levels – you just watch and make sure that nothing surprises you.

Chris Martenson:  [00:07:25] Yep.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:07:26] So here they are, they are sitting at the panels and the earthquake starts – well everybody knows that Japan is in the Ring of Fire, so an earthquake in and of itself probably starts out as, okay here it comes – I wouldn’t say that you ever get used to it, but you probably get a little bit skeptical – all right this one is going to shake. The expectation was that this was nothing out of the ordinary and it will shake and it will end soon. I am certain they have protocols in place that if they have a seismic event, if they have an earthquake that you have to go and do visual inspections of piping systems, just to make sure that everything is okay. Well about thirty seconds into this, they quickly realized that this was not a normal event. I have seen reports that said the reactors were automatically shut down and what happens there is that either the operators insert the control rods to stop the critical reaction or they have sensing equipment that automatically inserts control rods. Because you want to put the reactor in it's most stable, safe condition, which is shut down. The problem is much worse if you can’t get the reactor shut down. So that is the first step, placing it in a shutdown condition. Then the immediate concern would be, okay what’s going on, this was a big quake, a lot of stuff got shaken around – checking instrumentation, making sure that all the systems were operating as they were intended to and at this point, the commercial power plant produces site power. It produces its own power and that is what you run your pumps with. So the emergency procedures were broken out. It was shut down, it is no longer producing steam, it's no longer turning turbines and it's no longer generating electricity, you have to shift to an alternate supply. So the emergency diesel generators they had onsite started up and were providing electricity and their pumps were continuing to run. They were continuing to circulate cooling water through the reactor and removing decay heat.

Then the tsunami comes along and we’ve all seen from the pictures that Fukushima Daiichi is right on the coast and I heard one report that was later confirmed, that a thirty-five-foot wall of water hit the plant. And unless these diesel generators were on the top of buildings or otherwise encased in a concrete building, they were going to get damage or you have the risk of getting seawater damage. And as robust as people think a diesel is, some of these diesels might have had damage following the earthquake, where they couldn’t start. There is a lot of redundancy in the system, so if one diesel generator will run all your electrical needs and electrical loads, you probably have three in the event that one doesn’t start or you have to periodically shut them down and take them offline to do preventative maintenance. So we don’t really know the extent of that yet, whether or not all the diesels were running or some of the diesels were running or none of the diesels were running, but from the reports I have seen and I have heard that some diesels were running for some amount of time when the tsunami hit, either through destroying the electrical distribution that came into the plants or the diesels themselves – they lost that ability to power the pumps.

Chris Martenson:  [00:10:56] I got an email from somebody in the region who said that the news report they had gotten was that they had two redundant electrical switching substations, so the diesels that feed into those – and then these redundant substations would then parcel that electricity out to pumps in other places. Those were apparently located in the basement, both of them and they just got destroyed by the tsunami because of the seawater affect. I heard that was part of the catastrophe as it unfolded.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:11:24] Okay. Well then we got reports that they were having problems with the diesels, either them working, them making electricity, or the electricity being distributed, which would be consistent with what we’ve seen. And then they had a secondary emergency power supply with batteries. And those ran for some amount of time. Well the assumption and in hindsight now in probably looking back, you didn’t really plan for the worst-case event. Once the battery was depleted, that was it. The pumps had no power and unless the plants have inherent natural circulation for heat removal design, they are going to start to heat up.

So you have three things happening -- you have an earthquake, you have a tsunami that causes loss of power, and then your three levels of power generation are now gone. I would imagine that the tsunami wiped out external grid power or at least the ability to get it to the site, because I am sure, they have the capability to tie in and get electrical energy from another source, but with the extent of the damage we saw, I am sure the substations were just destroyed.

So now, these guys are on a clock. They knew what their core operating history was and they knew what the decay heat rate was going to be like and they knew the amount of time that they had theoretically to start removing decay heat by restoring circulation.

Chris Martenson:  [00:13:06] Can you just explain decay heat quickly?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:13:07] Decay heat is – without going into a detailed discussion of fission in general, when you have fission, you split a nucleus of a fuel particle and in this case uranium, it splits into two other particles and it releases neutrons. The neutrons go along and they populate through and some are absorbed and some do nothing and some hit another uranium nucleus and/or fuel nucleus and it generates. And under the right conditions, you produce a steady state neutron population that continues to propagate and produce the heat that you need to produce the steam.

Well, in that process, when these fission products results, they themselves are radioactive and they will undergo a decay process, either a beta or a gamma or in some cases a lower energy neutron decay, but this will happen for some time. They will have a half-life and depending upon what the radionuclide is, it has to go through that decay to get to a lower energy state. It's that process of fission and the ejection of these different radioactive particles that continue to generate heat, even though the critical reaction is shut down. You may shut down your neutron generation, but you are going to have significant beta and gamma decay within these fission products and the decay of just the activated components of the fuel and the fuel assemblies that are within the core.

Chris Martenson:  [00:14:45] So this is what I thought was important – I have seen some confusion around this point, where people say, “But they shut them down.” And so the shutting down is shutting down the critical reaction, which is the neutron cascade, which is what we call “fission” but even once you stop that and you have all the control rods in place, there are still these residual processes, where things that have been bumped around still have to decay themselves. That decay heat is what they were struggling to get rid of all this week. Is that right?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:15:12] Correct, correct and that’s not an insignificant problem. Given the amount of fuel in a power unit, in a reactor, depending on your power history and how long you have been at a steady state power level – even though you shut down, immediately following shutdown you are looking at between 5-7% of whatever your pre-shutdown power history was. So I think the units one, two, and three were – or one, two, and four were 5,000 MWE. If they had been operating at full power – I mean that is the most efficient operation of a commercial power plant – high power and just continue to pump out steam and electricity – you do the math, you are still looking at a significant heat generation immediately following shutdown and 5,000 MWE, even if you are only at 2.5% or 1%, that’s a lot of heat and you have to remove that.

So what happens, inside the plant now this decay heat is building up and these reactors are closed systems. They are either a pressurized water reactor or a boiling water reactor and what that means is that there is boiling that occurs in the core, which is a design feature, because boiling and turbulent flow is really good at removing heat. It just has some special concerns with it in terms of how you operate the plant and how you design the plant, but basically, you have a pressurized closed system so that you can have this water in a liquid state at very high temperatures – you know 400, 500, 600 degrees, depending on the plant design. So you have a closed system and you are adding energy to it. On a closed system, if you increase the heat you are going to increase the pressure. That’s what happens. Everybody is familiar with the heat transfer equations. It's the same concept as a pressure cooker, depending on which of the little relief thingy’s you stick on the top. It's going to get hotter and it's going to cook your broccoli faster.

So the same thing is going on here, the pressure is going up. So now you have two concerns – you’ve got a buildup of heat and you are decreasing your margins to the cladding, the fuel, and the conditions under which it was designed to operate and you are starting to stress the system. So long before they would that – you’ve got plants that are designed with pressure relief valves and when you get to certain pressure conditions, those relief valves will lift and in most cases the water is collected within the primary containment boundary or it is sent to a tank where it is collected. They don’t just vent into the atmosphere unless you are in the most dire circumstances – so hold that thought.

So I am sure they got to the point where they were lifting relief valves to lower the pressure, lower the temperature, trying to figure out what was going on. And the whole time, they are building up temperature because they don’t have power, they can’t run their pumps, they can’t remove decay heat. Well at some point they got to where you are continually venting this reactor vessel and the core and the coolant and you are essentially degassing. And what happens here is part of the water chemistry and radiochemistry – hydrogen is used in the plant to maintain pH and the corrosive properties or not of the water. So as you depressurize this water, hydrogen will come out of solution and under normal operating conditions that is a very controlled procedure. You degas – the hydrogen comes out and in our case we just bubbled it overboard, subject to geographical constraints and proximity to land, but a very controlled procedure – we just – we got rid of it. But if you are doing this as your only means of pressure and temperature control, you are going to start to accumulate hydrogen. And as we saw, they were explosions and it was pretty clear right off the bat, that the only source that it could be was an accumulation of hydrogen. And that was pretty consistent.

I think the situation inside the plants was a lot more dire than we were getting news on and I would also expect that. It would be nice sending all this information out there, but it's not helping the guys in the plant. There was probably notification protocols for there emergency response and disaster response, but this – we’re talking about a normal – the only event is an event at the reactor plant-type of situation and that was not the case. You just had a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami, so whatever disaster relief and emergency response was going external to the plant, was absolutely swamped. So it's a possible that a report came in and was lost – who really knows. Hopefully, a lessons learned critique will happen afterwards and what can we learn from this, but I am sure those guys knew that it was bad, as soon as they saw that they had no electrical power to run the cooling pumps.

So they are venting, now they are degassing, now they are accumulating concentrating hydrogen and there’s no doubt in my mind that these guys just sat there going, “We know what’s going to happen, we have to vent, we have to vent,” and then we saw the subsequent explosions.

At this point, they still haven’t had any flow restored, so your concern becomes the integrity of the fuel assemblies and at some point you are just going to exceed the temperatures at which they were supposed to operate or the range of temperature they were supposed to operate at and now you start having blistering, as you start to accumulate fission product gases inside the fuel matrix. You will start to get buckling and bubbling and cracking of the fuel assembly. And in certain cases and condition, they can get hot enough where they will actually start to deform and melt and hence meltdown.

Chris Martenson:  [00:21:30] Now I see this is because the water level has dropped below the top of the fuel assembly in some way, because of all this venting we are doing. Every time we vent, we are clearly losing fluid one way or the other.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:21:41] Without the ability to add makeup water, when you vent you are losing water level. But actually the reason why you are venting is because you’ve drawn a bubble in the core. You have boiled away the water in the core, so probably – I mean at some point within a couple of days, if not less I am sure they had bubbles in the core. Fortunately, it was a boiling water reactor, so it was designed to have some portion of the core uncovered, probably the upper portion and the fuel assemblies there are constructed so that the upper parts of the fuel rods had less fuel in them, just because they are going to be uncovered or partially covered or subject to a steam and water interface.

But they are losing water level and now you have the risk of hydrogen accumulating in the top of the core, like what happened at Three Mile Island. Fortunately, that was contained within the primary boundary inside the pressure vessel or the core pressure vessel itself that we know of. So we just don’t know. My guess is that with these guys their first steps were to vent within their primary containment boundary and once that got full or they reached their temperature pressure relationship inside their primary containment or hydrogen levels, they had no choice but to start to vent into secondary containment, assuming that they had some form of secondary containment. This would be consistent with what we’ve seen with the diagrams and reports that have come out.

Chris Martenson:  [00:23:20] So it's primary containment, they’ve got a big steel 5.5 to 6-inch steel vessel – that’s our inner pressure cooker, than secondary, there is this big concrete thing that looks like an upside down light bulb, the Taurus and all that, and then there is the outer building, right? So when you are saying that we are venting at this point, I assume you mean that they are venting between the steel container and into that first concrete primary containment vessel.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:23:44] Right, without knowing the specifics of how that plant was constructed, I mean I can only go with what we had – we had a pressure vessel and a primary system that was inside a reactor compartment, so the primary is the first containment boundary and then the reactor compartment on the submarine is a secondary containment boundary.

Chris Martenson:  [00:24:09] But then hydrogen had to get out into what we might call the tertiary or the third layer, right? Because that’s what we saw with the first – reactor one when that blew up – that was a hydrogen explosion somewhere between the concrete and the outer building.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:24:23] Right. I am sure – at that point in the progression of the casualty, they didn’t start venting to that boundary until it became absolutely necessary. You could have started venting to atmosphere, almost immediately, but you’ve got to weigh the – how much radioactivity do we release to the environment, versus the expectation of when we might be able to restore cooling. So that’s not what you are going to go to first, starting to vent directly to the environment. You are going to vent to the most contained boundary first and then the next one and if you have a third system you are going to go there. Well at some point hydrogen ignites and it did and the first explosion we saw on unit one and then the really high energy explosion on three, which I hate to speculate, but –

Chris Martenson:  [00:25:22] Please do. That one looked different to me, what are your ideas there?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:25:23] Well, they either got to the point where they were pinning relief valves shut and allowing temperature and pressure to go above whatever the design limit was for that boundary or you saw a breach of that primary concrete boundary, because you actually saw chunks of concrete getting thrown up and out. My guess is that is probably what it was, is they actually broke the boundary – that inner boundary – whether it's their secondary containment or – that’s probably what it was. You see the pictures where you have this big concrete dome – that’s what I think happened.

Chris Martenson:  [00:26:08] It was a huge amount of material and just by eye, it was ejected six to seven hundred feet into the air. That’s a pretty high-energy explosion right there.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:26:16] That could be the cause of a couple of things or a combination – it could either be because the same mechanism of explosion, a hydrogen explosion occurred at a much higher pressure or it was something else. And I think what happened is they had a higher pressure and when the hydrogen ignited, you just need that first little stress crack in the concrete and then the whole things rapidly depressurizes from there. There was just so much energy behind that. It had to be because the initial pressure condition inside that boundary when the hydrogen ignited was higher and it just let go.

Chris Martenson:  [00:26:55] Yeah and the first reactions from the officials were – they said there had been no breach of the containment vessels, which was really puzzling to me, because I couldn’t square that up with me because I couldn’t square that up with what I saw and today they admitted that maybe things were a little further off than they thought. So I completely understand that they were trying to manage a situation. That is clearly a bad moment in nuclear operation, right? I mean that looked to me like a certified bad moment. What are the chances that that released and scattered all kinds of material that we might call radioactive?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:27:27] Oh, there is no doubt it did. Just the venting process alone is going to carry away entrained particulates, just normally occurring stuff that is supposed to be on the other side of the pipe. That stuff is supposed to be contained, but when you vent, now you are introducing that into a place where it is not normally supposed to be, maybe under a casualty control situation, but when that thing exploded, the first two things that came to my mind – that had to be an inner containment boundary, maybe not the primary itself. But that dome – that concrete dome – if that’s how they were constructed – it was a big explosion, it was not like what we saw before and because of that, what damage to support systems, sampling systems, charging system, makeup water systems, could have possibly breached the primary and now allowed water to leak. It's 600-degree water and it's not going to stay water for very long when it hits the atmosphere, it's going to vent. Almost right away, we saw continuous plumes of steam, as the systems were draining out.

So now you have a compounded situation where you are releasing particulates into the atmosphere, so you have an airborne issue. You are depositing this stuff all over the place, so you are going to have a general radiation issue from the contaminated material, and if you are uncovering the core, you’re losing shielding potentially and you have all kinds of issues with where this stuff is going and what’s happening. Not to mention, what you’ve got elsewhere in the building and that gets us to these spent fuel pools.

Chris Martenson:  [00:33:20] Yeah, so . . .

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:33:21] Go ahead.

Chris Martenson:  [00:33:21] But if the core is getting exposed – just before we move on with the spent fuel, because that is really the issue I have been focused on for a while – so if they have a core like in reactor three, just speculating for a moment. They lost their primary containment vessel, but inside that is that the reactor core and its containment vessel. Assuming that has been breached in some way, what are the options then? What do you do at that point? It doesn’t sound like there is any possibility of turning on a pump and covering it at that point. You now have an exposed core – could that go re-critical? Meaning could it slip back into a neutron generating state that feeds off itself or I mean what happens at this stage, if what we have speculated about has actually happened there?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:34:08] Well if you’ve lost – I am going to differentiate between the primary boundary and a primary containment. Your primary boundary is your coolant piping, the pressure vessel in that closed loop. Now your primary containment is going to be the concrete building built around that. So if you’ve had a rupture of that primary containment boundary, which is probably what happened, you had damage to those support systems. I would be surprised if there was a breach of the pressure vessel itself. I would be pretty surprised, but let me couch that. These things as they get old – they are constructed of steel and iron alloys so that they have the properties of strength and ductility so that you – you don’t want to have a high carbon steel that is very, very tough, but very, very brittle. These things have to be designed to be operated from a range of temperatures from basically ambient up to whatever temperature they see when they are operating. So you have this metallurgical concern where you have this – and I think this plant was installed in ’74, if I remember correctly. You have this thing that has basically been annealed for thirty years and it becomes neutron embrittled, so it's possible that they had a brittle fracture of the core. It's not going to be like dumping nitrogen on a piece of metal and hitting it with a hammer and having it shattered into a million pieces, but it's possible that you could crack it to the point to where you are starting to expose the core directly to the environment. And your concern there is going to be streaming radiation. The pressure vessel does a pretty good job of shielding, but at power it's not going to be – inside a reactor compartment had power, you are looking at a levels that are going to exceed your lethal dose. But when you are shutdown, it's not going to be the case. But when you expose that huge point source of radioactive material, now you’ve got this potential for streaming radiation through a breach.

All of that said, I would be surprised to find out that there was a major breach of the pressure vessel. But at the same time, I would be surprised if they went in found that it happened, given the age of the plant. I – clearly that boundary was destroyed in the explosion and there is nothing that you can do to operate your normal piping systems, unless you are just going to run your pumps – pumping into the atmosphere. Then it just becomes an issue of pumping seawater on them. And that is kind of the part that has me confused and puzzled a little bit, because they went to seawater quickly. The first reports started coming in that they went to – were pumping seawater in on Saturday – which tells me that they recognized right away that either the recovery was going to be long and they had to go to a backup system that was taking water directly from the ocean and pumping it in there or they had no chance of getting any type of normal flow back and they were attempting to fill the volume of that primary containment boundary just to cover the thing. Cover the whole core and everything inside.

Chris Martenson:  [00:38:13] Yeah, well they might have lost water. It might have been an admission that whatever their fresh water source was gone – it might have gotten tsunami-ed away from a storage tank of something, who knows. But – or it might have been an admission that they actually had some cracks and they were leaking water out at a very early stage. But whatever, it seemed like at the time you make the instant decision to go to seawater, you’ve already down a pretty long checklist of things that say you are not in a normal condition.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:38:43] Absolutely. And I think it's probably safe to assume that the force of explosion and perhaps even the earthquake itself, sheared off probably enough sides that before they could react, they lost enough water or where these pipes sheared and the resulting leaks were un-isolatable. You get a crack in the pipe and you can’t shut an isolation valve to keep the core covered. There’s no doubt in my mind that they had plant damage either as a result of the earthquake or the explosions that caused leakage. Now whether is controllable leakage, something that could be isolated, and it quickly became a moot point, because they went we need to start pumping seawater.

Chris Martenson:  [00:39:38] Right.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:39:39] And it's still unknown, at least I haven’t seen anything that said that they were pumping this into the core or if they were pumping it into the primary containment building and it was working it's way into the core through this cracked piping or sheared piping or a breach in the pressure vessel itself. We just don’t know yet.

Chris Martenson:  [00:40:04] Interesting. Okay, so leaving the core aside for a moment, because my gosh, that is an enormous difficulty – from what I have been seeing, it looks like certainly there was a huge issue at three. I still don’t have a clear sense of what is going on at two at this point, although they expressed greater concern about two than either of the other ones, at one point. I think that was on Monday or so. But clearly there was an issue with one. So one, two, and three were all full of issues. Four I thought, I was really surprised by because it was supposed to be in this maintenance shutdown. Five and six also in maintenance shutdown and no issues there, except they are watching the temperatures climb in the spent fuels pools. But it looks modest and controllable. But four, surprised us all and actually suffered some sort of an explosive event, it looks like and in that one, I think the story is completely around the spent fuels pools potentially. So the spent fuel pools are the places where they’ve taken all the used up cores and they are storing them in water. In theory their decay goes away, relatively rapidly at first and then tails off for a while. It's an exponential decay. What could have happened in four that could have ignited an explosion in there? Is it possible for a spent fuel pool to generate hydrogen?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:41:20] Well it can if it's hot enough. But you don’t – you don’t take the fuel out of the core until you have been shutdown long enough to reach in, grab the fuel assembly and whatever mechanism they do. We have all seen pictures of the cranes – but you pull these things out in sections. You pick them up – they probably have a fuel handling container, which is what we had and you just pull the fuel assembly up into that and then you transferred it over to the spent fuel pools. But you are not going to shut down and twenty minutes later be snatching this thing out of the core, still with a 4 or 5% decay heat rate generation. You are going to shutdown and you are going to get a couple of days into this thing and subject to procedures that have been developed and refined over the years, this is how you do a refueling. You are going to move the fuels to these pools and you cover them with enough water, then the natural convective circulation of that water – these fuel assemblies are going to heat the water, hot water rises up, and just dissipates naturally within these tanks. You have seen reports that they are 45 feet deep, which is consistent with what I have seen in my experience.

So could you get to the point where they are boiling? I don’t know if that is probably the right way to look at it. The concern would be what did the earthquake do? Did it crack the concrete, did it crack the steel liner, and did they lose water? And if you uncover these things, even after two, three, or four months in there, they are still going to have a lot of decay heat. Well that water has two functions; one it allows that natural circulation to dissipate heat, but it also provides shielding. And if you take that shielding away, the immediate concern becomes getting the water level restored, but it's complicated by the fact that you have this giant chunk of radioactive material radiating energy. We started – the gamma spikes – to me when we got reports of the gamma spikes and radiation levels going up and they were 4 milligram or millisieverts, or nanograms or whatever at the gate, that doesn’t tell you anything. But when they evacuate people because of high radiation there is some dynamic going on.

The fuel isn’t doing anything but sitting there. So the only thing that could be changing is whether there is water covering it or not. Or they were slowly losing water and slowly losing shielding and they got to the point where they had to call it and get out. So depending on the core operating history, how long the spent fuel had been in there, you could boil the water and in doing so – this starts to get into core design. Zirconium absorbs hydrogen and if you start to pull the hydrogen in – I am just at a loss to come up with a process where the water would be disassociated into hydrogen and oxygen so that you would have a hydrogen fire or you would have hydrogen embrittlement and then the fuel itself got hot enough to start to burn. I just don’t know – I still can’t get my brain around that.

Chris Martenson:  [00:45:26] Well the temperatures have to be enormous, I mean you get a little bit of that disassociation at 1000 degrees Celsius, but it really becomes active at 2,500 to 3,000 degrees. It takes a lot to disassociate water. But for the sake of argument, let’s just imagine for a second that the spent fuel pool got cracked and it drained out, so you have these things sitting there – what happens next? So they are gamma radiating each other, they are slowly heating up. Is there – how would that possibly lead to an explosion?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:45:55] Well, unless they were so old and this is where it becomes a possibility, because zirconium absorbs hydrogen – if it started to release hydrogen as it got hotter and either started to deform or melt or it got to the temperature where zirconium starts to omit the absorbed hydrogen, then you might start to see a hydrogen buildup to the point where you could have that explosion.

The other possibility as far as where the hydrogen came from and if it was indeed hydrogen that caused the explosion and the fire, was that you had hydrogen from the venting, because you weren’t able to cool that core. You still would have to cool the core but because it had been shutdown – because if you think about it, you’ve got two pools of spent fuel. It's just that one is more spent than the other.

So if you have lost the ability to remove the K-heat from the spent fuel, because you can’t add water to a tank that is basically at atmosphere, you’ve also got that concern with what’s inside the plant. The core itself, in four, was not at atmosphere. It might have been essentially atmosphere, but you have the K-heat removal issues that you have to do, so you still have to do circulation, until you are deep enough into that maintenance period where you’ve basically got your plant down to the point where it's cold. And cold is relative. Cold could be 240 degrees. Cold could be 80 degrees, it just depends on where they were, what they were doing, but you’ve got not quite as spent fuel inside the power unit in the core that you need to worry about decay heat removal as well.

So I don’t know, but as far as criticality occurring – they use water to moderate the fast neutrons down to thermal energies to sustain the critical reaction, so without water – I don’t – I can’t foresee a circumstance where you would have a critical event in spent fuel. They probably store these things with batons of neutron absorbers in the appropriate geometry and I doubt they put them back in the pool they way they put them in the core, in terms of proximity to other cells or stacking or whatever the density might be. But what you could have though is if you had temperatures enough that these things started to melt, you could have chunks of fuel particles – because you don’t consume all of the fuel. It's not like – you drive your car until the gas tank is empty and then you pull in and fill up. There’s still quite a bit of fuel particles or pellets still rolled into to these fuel assemblies. It is possible that you could have the deformation and a melting and fuel particles come into close enough contact or geometry enough to where this neutron that is just decaying away through a natural process triggers a neutron or two from a nucleus and then you can get pockets of criticality. That theoretically could happen, but I think whatever happened inside of four is still very unknown.

Chris Martenson:  [00:49:54] I heard some speculation that said, well they have been really racking and re-racking these things because they were juggling them to try and squeeze a few more in the pools. Because just like here, they didn’t have any real good long-term place to put these things and the reprocessing facilities could only handle so much. So they were racking and stacking and you could imagine them saying, okay this is about as tight as we get everything in here safely and then you have this thing called the 9.0 earthquake, which guess what it might alter your geometries around a little bit. I mean I know they build these things wonderfully to incredible design specs, but it doesn’t mean that the building doesn’t shake. This thing wasn’t isolated from the shaking. So things shook around in there and so one speculation I read said maybe these things kind of shook out of the formal geometry and some other geometry wasn’t so optimal. Or maybe it was optimal if what you are looking for is an increase in its ability to heat itself up.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:50:51] And if that is the case and even if it was just confined to within a couple of square inches or feet of that interface, now you are talking about temperatures and pressures and the radiolysis that produces hydrogen. So that is a possibility that that happened to some extent. I just – just based on experience, it would take an incredible stroke of no luck, but just the right sequence of wrong things to happen. But it's a possibility. And we may find out that that is indeed what happened. We just don’t know.

The other thought and I know that there were some reports that said it was a fuel oil fire, which makes sense to a degree. I know when our plant was shut down, we had all kinds of containment and stuff built and staging and scaffolding and so you have a lot of class alpha-type fire stuff in there and if they were storing fuel in there because either the fuel was eradiated or it was a mixed stream that they stored in there because they were going to dispose of it as radioactive waste as well, and that ignited, I don’t know. You could have had a whole bunch of hydrogen bottles and settling bottles. We just don’t know. I almost hate to speculate, but in any event, it's pretty clear that they lost water, they uncovered the spent fuel, and now you have this giant high radiation issue that complicates your casualty. So here you have no pumps, you have no electricity, you have no ability to get water into the core, the core is heating up, the spent fuel is now a giant radiation source, preventing people from going in and figuring out what’s going on and what the exact conditions are within the plant so that they can formulate a plan to fight this thing. And the fact that they went to seawater as quickly as they did, kind of makes me all be convinced that they knew it was bad almost from the get go.

And then it became a matter of can we get enough seawater into the primary containment boundary to cover everything up. I would struggle to find an analogy that people who aren’t familiar with the construction of a nuclear plant would understand, but I don’t know if you had a battery fire in your car, would you crack the hood and spray it with a hose, or would you just drive it into a lake. And driving your car into a lake is pretty much a last resort, but you are going to cover the whole mess and pretty much write it off. I don’t know, it's – when they went to seawater that was essentially a decision to decommission the plant.

Chris Martenson:  [00:54:07] Yep, so let’s talk about what can happen from here – sort of maybe a best case, most likely, and then a worse case. So – I mean clearly they are fighting fires on multiple fronts. I think reactors one, two, three, and four all present individual sort of challenges at this point, each of them in various stages of distress at this stage. But first of all for the people of Japan – what is the chance than that they are going to be facing serious contamination – radiation being the omission of a particle that travels some distance before it stops and it's over. But contamination being radioactive dust, chunks, particles – things that are still emitting radioactivity, that contamination, first of all what would think – obviously they have had contamination issues already, we just don’t know how widely that has spread. But what do you think this looks now and over the next couple of weeks for the people that live in Japan?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:55:00] Well at this point, it's a scaled version of Chernobyl. Fission products were released and the ones that are of concern are your cesium-137 and iodine-131. Iodine-131 is going to come out in the form of a gas and the risk there is – iodine concentrates in the thyroid. So most people won’t even know it, but most people are iodine deficient, so your thyroid is going to suck that up like a sponge and now you have the problem with this concentrated iodine-131 in your thyroid and your thyroid doesn’t know the difference between iodine-121, 131 it just got it in there. So now you have this radioactive iodine in your thyroid and it's bombarding the surrounding tissue with ionizing radiation. Some exposure causes – any exposure causes damage. Now whether or not that damage repairs itself – at some point you have so much that the cells can’t repair themselves and now you start to see blood changes, tissue changes, and you start to increase your risk of developing cancers or complications. So iodine-131 is going to be a concern. That will be distributed by the wind.

Cesium – that’s a big concern. Cesium is one of these generational things. This is a nightmare scenario, because cesium gets out and it's got a long half-life. I’d have to Google it – but it's years.

Chris Martenson:  [00:56:48] It's about thirty years.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:56:49] So you are looking at a hundred fifty years minimum before most of it will be gone. The thumb rules that we used in industry were five half-lives and it's essentially zero nor effectively zero. You lose about 97% of the activity after five half-lives. That’s six generations. Cesium-137 chemically just looks like calcium and potassium and plants just suck that up. They don’t know the difference and now you are getting into the food chain through the plants and it concentrates either in vegetables or crops or grass that cattle graze on and it works its way into the cow and now you’ve got either meat containing radioactivity or dairy products containing radioactivity. You have issues with strontium – strontium was an issue with Three Mile Island – that was released. That shows up in milk. And I am probably betraying my decayed knowledge of the periodic table – strontium looks very much like calcium, so that is going to get deposited in your bones.

Chris Martenson:  [00:58:18] Right and how to those disperse – so if iodine is a gas – both these other things are metals, in essence – how do they get around?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [00:58:27] Well if you’ve got this venting, you are going to have particulate that is small enough that could be entrained in the steam plume, then into the atmosphere and then it goes out. The heavier particles fall off quicker – but some of this stuff is small enough that it will get picked up by the winds and can be carried for some distance. Chernobyl was particularly bad because the fire was so intense – it was able to loft these clouds of burning stuff into the jet stream and that was about as bad as it could possibly get. Without even going into a discussion of the fact that they used flammable moderator, I mean that was just – Chernobyl was a bomb waiting to happen.

So far and I will completely this couch this in a so far, it doesn’t appear as if any of the explosions we’ve seen in Japan have been enough to get a lot of material up high enough to where the jet stream could pick it up, but without completely reconstructing the weather and seeing when this thermal popped along and just pulled a pocket of stuff up and kicked it up higher and higher and it got there, we don’t know. Either way, you have a gas issue emission and it's going to start to be distributed by surface winds and then you’ve got all this – Aaron might be a good guy to talk to about weather patterns and disbursal, but this stuff is going to be carried and it is going to be carried for a while, whether it's a tropospheric confinement or it gets up into the jet stream. 

I don’t know if you remember but Chernobyl took – I think it took about ten days to get to the West Coast and we actually saw it – we were in South Carolina at the time – we saw it about fourteen days afterwards. So this stuff is going to get into the air, it's going to get transported, and it's going to fallout. So depending on where it goes, what it lands on and what the land is used for, you are going to have some concern. Now, at this point based on what we have had so far, there will be detectable levels in the United States. I am seeing reports come in that some of the islands in the Aleutian Island. We are starting to see some levels above background, as well as California. And they are consistent with what we would expect. They are seeing iodine-131 and they are seeing cesium.

Chris Martenson:  [01:01:16] In very, very low quantities it should be pointed out at this stage. 

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:01:19] Right, right. But you know that said, it's above background and it becomes a concern because the situation isn’t normal now. You could sit there and you could have at any given day go out in the back yard and collect a sample and count it and it's always 70 counts per minute of activity. And that’s just because of where you live and the naturally occurring radiation – that’s what you get. So when you start to see a departure from what you expect as normal – you want to attribute that to something and we’re seeing now that there are very, very low levels that we expect to stay low, but we are seeing them. And that in and of itself is cause for some concern, not necessarily running out and consuming potassium/iodine tablet you can find. I don’t know if you saw the report from the World Health Organization this morning, but worldwide they are getting reports of iodine overdose.

Chris Martenson:  [01:02:36] I saw that. We should point out here that there should be no taking of iodine until significant levels of radioactive iodine have been detected in your area. It would just – yeah, we don’t want to be promoting that.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:02:50] It's – your balancing a risk. There is no doubt in my mind that the guys fighting the causality have already taken and are continuing to take radioiodine.

Chris Martenson:  [01:03:03] Oh sure, people in Japan probably ought to be doing that who live within certain boundaries, absolutely.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:03:09] I know the – no I shouldn’t say that.

Chris Martenson:  [01:03:18] All right, we’ll skip that.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:03:19] We’ll skip that part.

Chris Martenson:  [01:03:21] Okay so as I look at this, my chief concern is that we still don’t really have any solid information about what is going on in those spent fuel pools or even with the cores and I am still struggling to find that moment where I can say, “[sigh] it looks like they have it under control.” And I thought I had it this morning, because I hadn’t heard any new releases in 24 hours of them saying, “Oh my gosh, this is worse than we thought or new steam plumes we didn’t know about” or any of that, it felt like that the more time that passes without this evolving the better, because of the decaying and how it works. I felt like we were sort of on the mend. But then with the admission today that maybe things have been a lot more critical than they had suggested and without any – this is the thing that really drives me nuts, is not having access to any good solid information. And I know my own government is probably done flyovers and they have probably done sample collecting and they have an isotope analysis and they have actually measured radiations levels and they’ve probably done thermal imaging, so they know where the hot spots are, if any exist – all of that information would be really helpful, but we don’t have that. So what do people do when we have to operate in this sort of fearful boundary, where we can look at it and we saw reactor three blow up violently and just right away, we say that wasn’t good, right? What do we do when we’re operating without information? What does a prudent person do in this situation – say who lives in the Americas – West Coast and by Americas, I mean that’s from South America all the way up to the Aleutian Islands?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:04:46] That’s a really tough question, because it depends a lot on what a person’s personal risk assessment and acceptance is. Being familiar with nuclear power and the industry and the dynamics of what happens – probably makes you – I won’t say skeptical, but when I get a report that they are detecting radioactive contamination in San Diego, through normal air particle sampling, and you tell me what the level is and you tell me what the radionuclide is, I can say, “Okay, yes statistically that has the chance to increase my risk at some point in my life, but based on my experience, I am not going to worry about that.” If you were to tell me that you had iodine-131 – I would probably go find my potassium/iodine tablets, but I wouldn’t take them. I wouldn’t take them until – and you have to balance that with the fact that most emergency response – they don’t have any experience with this other than in a drill. So local emergency response and disaster control people – unless you are near an operating power plant – if this was up in Coos Bay, Oregon – I am not so sure that they are going to be all over it until it's time.

So you kind of have to have a tolerance level and a plan that okay, they are starting to detect – I need to know where my stuff is. There are people who the second somebody says to second somebody says iodine-131 in California, they are going to start chugging this stuff down like peanut M&Ms. Then there are people who are going to say, “I don’t even have a thyroid, so I don’t care.” And from an iodine-131 standpoint, that’s the right call. You don’t have the worry. You still have the radiation exposure from the other contaminated material that is coming, but it's all about the levels. It's all about the specific radionuclide and all of that needs to be factored into your planning. Your plan has to be flexible and dynamic and responsive. My suspicion is that information would break after it has already become a concern in terms of, oh these levels are too high, and people should be taking this stuff. That’s and maybe that’s just the cynic in me in the general population not being familiar with the industry.

So you have to balance the erring on the side of caution against a reasonable course of action, but you plan has to be responsive and you have to be thinking one-step ahead. What am I going to do if now all of a sudden they tell me that there is a whole bunch of cesium out there. Do I have enough masks, do I have enough duct tape and poly and plastic to seal up windows. Have I turned off my air conditioner? That kind of thing. You have to think about that and you have to have your own set steps and levels of when you think you should take action. And really the best thing to do is to consult with local emergency response [beep] because it is different wherever you go. To just look and see that you are getting 240 counts near Yosemite, it's [beep] going to be a whole lot different than getting 240 counts in San Diego. I mean I would expect that just from natural radiation up in Yosemite. So what is it? If you are telling me it's radon, okay, so what? Tell me it's cesium-137, completely different story.

Chris Martenson:  [01:09:03] Right, so we are down to monitoring at this point and we know there is some stuff. It's coming over and some has already been detected. It's very, very dilute at this point, but we are still operating on low information. So how do we keep track of this? Do we – do you feel like we are going to get information shared with us? Is this something where we should go find the science geek from the lab up at Stanford and see if he can share his Geiger counter with you? I mean what do we do at this stage?

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:09:31] Well there are companies out there that make personal dosimeters and radiac that you can use on your own to do your own monitoring. But again, you have to understand what is going on. You can sit there and just day after day after day after day take samples and not see that two or three count per day increase, until you step back and look at all your data and plot it and now you look at quantitative information graphically and you see a ramp up, you see a peak and you see a fall off. Well it's too late then. So if you are going to get your own monitoring equipment, you need to check background and you need to check background daily. You need to check background daily in the same spot every single day. And you have to operate the equipment properly. And if you walked outside and you turned a probe up into the air that allowed particulate to settle on it and the next day you went out there to determine your background, okay, yeah, it's 70 counts. And you are doing it wrong and you pick up a couple of more chunks of particulate, the next day your background is 72 and it's always 72, but is 72, 76 – it's going up because you are sampling wrong. You have to operate the equipment properly and you have to understand what it is telling you.

So there are any number of sources out there where you can get your own equipment. I don’t have any and I have no intentions of buying any, just because of where we are in the United States, even though the number ten most vulnerable reactor is only about forty-five miles away, I just – having my own personal radiac isn’t going to do me any good, if Lake Anna were to have a problem. If Lake Anna has a problem, I am just clearing out.

Chris Martenson:  [01:11:40] You are just going to up and leave.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:11:43] You know, let it runs it's course and if I drove to my in-laws – or if I didn’t need to, I am okay with that.

It's a tough thing to do. I think you need to be ready to react – radioiodine in potassium/iodine tablets, you should have them just in case, but you have to understand that it is not going to protect you from all the radiation that you are going to see from a plume and really the best thing to do is – we are not in proximity to the plant. We don’t have the concern of the high levels of radiation, just from a general area standpoint, because of uncovered spent fuel or a breached core or whatever. We don’t have the concern of those big chunks of highly radioactive material that are getting lifted and lofted through the fires and the explosions. We just aren’t seeing that wide dispersal like Chernobyl yet and hopefully we don’t. So we don’t have that general radiation concern, but we are going to have an elevated risk because of the way cesium-137 works. It gets into the soil, it gets into the plants, the plants get eaten by people, the plants get eaten by animals and we use the animals for milk or meat and it can get into us and given the half-life it's a problem. So there is going to be a statistically measureable or determinable increase in risk. It's very, very small, but it's going to be there and it's going to be a risk and something that we are going to have to factor in and deal with.

Chris Martenson:  [01:13:46]            So –

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:13:46]  just don’t think that the levels we’re seeing at this point are really going to be anything to worry about, but if somebody wants to go and scrap the top three inches of soil off their land and dispose of it or get a big plow and turn everything under – as far as cattle and concentration into grazing ruminant-type animals those roots are so shallow that you can scrap the upper layer of soil off, dispose of it, and you will get most of the cesium-137. Or if you turn it under deep enough, one you are going to be able to shield – just by getting it turned under and whatever you plant back on top of that isn’t going to go deep enough that a grazing animal is going to start picking up cesium-137 that the plant picked up through its root complex. That is one of the things that they did in Chernobyl – they just literally came in and scrapped six to eight inches of soil out everywhere and drove it into the accident site and just dumped it there.

Chris Martenson:  [01:15:05] Wow, that’s – I hadn’t gone quite that far in my thinking. So for a moment of levity and to consider our trading people that are listening to us. You are saying go along the East Coast for broccoli futures.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:15:17] Sure.

Chris Martenson:  [01:15:19] Because this is not something that I had really processed yet – the idea that there could be enough fallout – bioaccumulation is a very well-known process and cesium sounds like one of the things that bio accumulates, meaning it's relatively dispersed, but nature in it's infinite wisdom accumulates it for us through predator chains or through normal accumulation processes, because it mimics something that the body really wants and stores long-term, which is calcium. So we are going to have to track this very carefully. To me the situation at this point in time, here we are Friday, March 18th, and it's still developing. I don’t know if this thing in Japan is going to drag on for another week, another day, another month – I just don’t know at this stage, because this information is so hard to come by, but it is sure a mess.

I have to leave it there. I really have to thank you for your time. It's just been invaluable to be able to talk to you with your experience. I am personally – my level of concern over here in the Americas is still low, but I am watching it very, very carefully because I just don’t know what is going to happen next.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:16:26] Well this is one of the things that we have been talking about – the guys at work and colleagues and old shipmates about this – this is something that could turn on a dime for good or bad. We’ve seen for a couple of days the discussion about running in a power line that will allow pumps to get power. We don’t know what pumps those are. My guess is that they are probably emergency fill pumps that are going to take a suction on the ocean and then through temporary constructed piping or some jury-rigged – they are just going to start filling the containment buildings. This causes some guarded optimism that they think they have a chance to do that and that can get the situation stabilized. I am not sure what the helicopter drops were for and I’d be speculating at best. They were either proving the concept of using that as a way to get water into the building to fill the interior of the building with water and cover the core that way. I just don’t know.

Chris Martenson:  [01:17:46] Yeah, those concerned me because visually they looked horribly ineffective. If they got 5% of the water on target, I think that was a good drop.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:17:54] Well these guys are not on any page of the book, I doubt. They are in the – all right we have got to sit down and think what can we try next. They are not in Chapter 7 of the accident response. They are past the book. I am not going to say that they are winging it, because these are smart people. These guys know the industry and they know the dynamics of it and they know what they can try, but they just don’t have a whole lot of steps left and unless something changes drastically, I just don’t know. We have talked about what is the worst case? We clearly haven’t had the worst case. It could get worse, because everything could always get worse. But I don’t know that we’re at a point where we can even step back and breathe deep and say, “You know I think we’re in pretty good shape.” I think things are stabilizing, but they are probably stabilizing as much because the plant is stabilizing itself.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:19:06] As it's being stabilized because of the actions that the workers are taking. I think I made the comment in one of my posts that when you see them start dumping sand and lead, that they have essentially admitted that they have nothing left to do. Because that is what they resorted to at Chernobyl and at that point – if they start dumping sand and lead they are one, trying to knock the radiation levels back down so that they can then slowly work there way in, assess the damage, and back the cement trucks up to start filling the whole thing up and making a giant tomb out of it. I think there is probably room for some guarded optimism, but you’ve got to understand that thing could go south quickly. What happens if there is another earthquake and whatever temporary systems that they’ve got rigged up fail? What happens if there is another tsunami? What happens if you have a problem in a pool and these radiation levels spike again and you have to get people out of there? It's both fascinating and horrifying to watch.

Chris Martenson:  [01:20:31] I agree.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:20:34] It's certainly more horrifying, just because of the potential of what could happen, but at the same time – they are rewriting the manual right now on how this industry is going to go forward and the lessons learned coming out of this are [beep] very, very interesting and who knows – who knows where this is going to go. I [beep] not getting a whole lot of sleep because I just up consuming the news. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is check email and turn on the computer and television and just start bouncing around looking for information. And like you, no news was good news, but then you saw the interview with the TEPCO Director and that doesn’t give you a good feeling.

Chris Martenson:  [01:21:30] No.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:21:31] I really don’t – I have some guarded optimism at this point, but like you said if conditions change, I reserve the right to change my mind, but right now – you hate to use the media as a barometer, but they are not running with it as the top lead prime minute to minute to minute story. And that is either because there is nothing coming out or they ran out of things to talk about, which I don’t believe, or what they are starting to see indicates that the situation is becoming a little more stable and stability in this type of accident response is good. At least from the standpoint of it's not getting worse and incrementally we can get this thing more stable, better, more under control. There are so many questions, there is so much information that is not out there, we just don’t know. But I have said it a couple times now – at this point I have some guarded optimism, more than I did yesterday and who knows. In the time that we’ve done this Podcast, we could turn it on and the whole thing could have gone to hell in a hand basket.

Chris Martenson:  [01:22:57] Yeah on that note, I’d better go check. It's – obviously we are going to be keeping a very close eye on it. I have not been getting a lot of sleep either and I will be working all weekend, obviously because this is just too – this is one of the largest events we’ve ever been through in this sort of an accident. People compare it to Chernobyl. I think it's past that in several regards already, when we look at the – Chernobyl for all of its faults, was a single core that went up and here we have multiple cores potentially involved and until it's stabilized, I am going to be just like a cat at a rocking chair convention. So I want to thank you again for your time and trust that you will be keeping an eye on this and I will too and we will do the best we can to make sense of it.

Dogs_In_A_Pile:  [01:23:42] All right, my pleasure.

Chris Martenson:  [01:23:46] All right, thank you Dogs, really appreciate it.