I’ve found this blog from MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering department to be a great source of information on what’s actually going on in Japan from people who actually know this stuff. Clayton Cramer offers this interesting radiological travel log of a Southwest vacation.
Future Pundit ponders what design changes could have been made. We know from reports that there was an attempt to bring in a mobile generator to provide power for the cooling pumps, but that it did not succeed because of power incompatibility issues. We also know that for at least eight hours after backup power failed, the reactors coolant was circulated successfully by battery power. So we know we have time even in a very dire situation. I’m honestly rather shocked by the idea that there would be a power incompatibility with a mobile generator. I would imagine you could run such a system off standard 480V three phase AC power that any number of industrial mobile generators could provide. This would allow a generator to be trucked or flown in by helicopter, easily connected, and that could provide enough power for critical cooling systems at the plant. Just checking, there are tractor trailer sized generators that can provide up to 1.5 megawatts of power off a diesel engine. That’s enough power to run 1500 homes. I would imagine it would be enough to run emergency systems at a nuclear facility, but maybe I’m wrong about that. If I am, I’d like to understand why.