To cool the four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, each day, the Japanese need five times New York City’s water supply. New York consumes 1 billion gallons of water per day; Fukushima needs 5 billion gallons of water per day to cool its reactors. No wonder the authorities are having trouble getting the meltdown under control. That is an enormous amount of water. Plus the power it takes to pump that much water each day is far beyond the capabilities of a few back-up generators or batteries. One unofficial estimate is that they need 75 megawatts of electricity to drive the pumps. 75 megawatts of electricity can only be provided by high voltage power cables.
Firetrucks with hoses, police with water cannons and helicopters with water buckets is just theater for the consumption of the 24-hour news media. Plus they are irresponsible because they are putting people in harm’s way with little chance of succeeding.
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is melting down for the lack of water. Look at the pictures. The plant has no cooling towers. That means it has a ‘once-through’ through cooling system which is a water ‘hog’.
I live close to another ‘once-through’ nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York, the Indian Point Energy Center. It uses 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water each day to cool its two reactors. That is 2.5 times the water consumption of the entire City of New York. Nuclear power plants in the United States consume an enormous amount of water each day — to be exact, 57 billion gallons of fresh water each day to cool their reactors.
Fukushima Daiichi is twice as big as Indian Point with four reactors and two storage pools. My guess is that is uses more than 5 billion gallons of water per day.
To pump 5 billion gallons of water per day, you need the ‘mother of all’ pumping systems. I am no engineer but a quick look at the Internet indicates that the system would need to deliver as much as 1 million horsepower of power of per day. To power a 1 million horsepower set of pumps, you need a lot of electricity. I tried to figure out the amount but couldn’t master the math. I got 75 megawatts of electricity per day which looks a bit high. In any event, you need a whole lot of electricity.
No wonder that once the backup diesel generators failed – and these were really big backup generators – the battery back-up system could last only 4 hours.
What I don’t understand is why they didn’t airlift in emergency generators. Today , I heard that a high voltage power cable is being laid to Plant #2. This is good news. Once it is working, the plant will have the power to run the pumps necessary move billions of gallons of water per day and the crisis will abate.