nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Fukushima’s radioactive trash pools are the REAL danger

spent-fuel-rods

Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima.   An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.

The stakes are high 

The REAL Fukushima Danger: Failure of Fuel Pools Could Trigger Worldwide Nuclear Radiation By Washington’s Blog Global Research, September 14, 2013
“…… the real problem is that the idiots who caused this mess are probably about to cause a much bigger problem.

Specifically, the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.

If one of the pools collapsed or caught fire, it could have severe adverse impacts not only on Japan … but the rest of the world, including the United States.   Indeed, a Senator called it a national security concern for the U.S.:

The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days. That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen and physician Helen Caldicott have both said that people should evacuate the Northern Hemisphere if one of the Fukushima fuel pools collapses. Gundersen said:

Move south of the equator if that ever happened, I think that’s probably the lesson there.

Former U.N. adviser Akio Matsumura calls removing the radioactive materials from the Fukushima fuel pools “an issue of human survival”.

So the stakes in decommissioning the fuel pools are high, indeed.

But in 2 months, Tepco – the knuckleheads who caused the accident – are going to start doing this very difficult operation on their own.

The New York Times reports:

Thousands of workers and a small fleet of cranes are preparing for one of the latest efforts to avoid a deepening environmental disaster that has China and other neighbors increasingly worried: removing spent fuel rods from the damaged No. 4 reactor building and storing them in a safer place.

The Telegraph notes:

Tom Snitch, a senior professor at the University of Maryland and with more than 30 years’ experience in nuclear issues, said  “[Japan officials] need to address the real problems, the spent fuel rods in Unit 4 and the leaking pressure vessels,” he said. “There has been too much work done wiping down walls and duct work in the reactors for any other reason then to do something….  This is a critical global issue and Japan must step up.”

The Japan Times writes:

In November, Tepco plans to begin the delicate operation of removing spent fuel from Reactor No. 4 [with] radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. …. It remains vulnerable to any further shocks, and is also at risk from ground liquefaction. Removing its spent fuel, which contains deadly plutonium, is an urgent task…. The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.

CNBC points out:

The radioactive leak at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant is far from under control and could get a lot worse, a nuclear energy expert, who compiles the annual “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” warned.

***

The big danger – and it was identified by Japan’s atomic energy commission – is if you lose water in one of the spent fuel pools and you get a spent fuel fire.

CNN reports:

[Mycle Schneider, nuclear consultant:]  The situation could still get a lot worse. A massive spent fuel fire would likely dwarf the current dimensions of the catastrophe and could exceed the radioactivity releases of Chernobyl dozens of times. First, the pool walls could leak beyond the capacity to deliver cooling water or a reactor building could collapse following one of the hundred  of aftershocks. Then, the fuel cladding could ignite spontaneously releasing its entire radioactive inventory.

Reuters notes:

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale.

Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.

The process will begin in November and Tepco expects to take about a year removing the assemblies, spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters by e-mail. It’s just one installment in the decommissioning process for the plant forecast to take about 40 years and cost $11 billion.

Each fuel rod assembly weighs about 300 kilograms (660 pounds) and is 4.5 meters (15 feet) long. There are 1,331 of the spent fuel assemblies and a further 202 unused assemblies are also stored in the pool, Nagai said.

***

Spent fuel rods also contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances in the universe, that gets formed during the later stages of a reactor core’s operation.

***

“There is a risk of an inadvertent criticality if the bundles are distorted and get too close to each other,” Gundersen said.

He was referring to an atomic chain reaction that left unchecked could result in a large release of radiation and heat that the fuel pool cooling system isn’t designed to absorb.

“The problem with a fuel pool criticality is that you can’t stop it. There are no control rods to control it,” Gundersen said. “The spent fuel pool cooling system is designed only to remove decay heat, not heat from an ongoing nuclear reaction.”

The rods are also vulnerable to fire should they be exposed to air, Gundersen said. [The pools have already boiled due to exposure to air.]

***

Tepco has shored up the building, which may have tilted and was bulging after the explosion, a source of global concern that has been raised in the U.S. Congress.

***

The fuel assemblies have to be first pulled from the racks they are stored in, then inserted into a heavy steel chamber. This operation takes place under water before the chamber, which shields the radiation pulsating from the rods, can be removed from the pool and lowered to ground level.

The chamber is then transported to the plant’s common storage pool in an undamaged building where the assemblies will be stored.

Tepco confirmed the Reactor No. 4 fuel pool contains debris during an investigation into the chamber earlier this month.

Removing the rods from the pool is a delicate task normally assisted by computers, according to Toshio Kimura, a former Tepco technician, who worked at Fukushima Daiichi for 11 years.

“Previously it was a computer-controlled process that memorized the exact locations of the rods down to the millimeter and now they don’t have that. It has to be done manually so there is a high risk that they will drop and break one of the fuel rods,” Kimura said.

***

Corrosion from the salt water will have also weakened the building and equipment, he said.

And if an another strong earthquake strikes before the fuel is fully removed that topples the building or punctures the pool and allow the water to drain, a spent fuel fire releasing more radiation than during the initial disaster is possible, threatening about Tokyo 200 kilometers (125 miles) away……..

Letting Tepco remove the fuel rods is like letting a convicted murderer perform delicate brain surgery on a VIP.

Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima.   An international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should handle this difficult “surgery”.

The stakes are high …

September 16, 2013 - Posted by | Fukushima 2013, Japan, safety

5 Comments »

  1. WHO is PERSON who is the major owner, the ichiban honcho, of TEPCO?
    WHO are the Directors?
    WHO are the major stockholders., and WHO presumes to speak for them?
    Those are the PERSONS responsible for all these deaths and destroyed property.

    Comment by terrence o'neill | September 16, 2013 | Reply

  2. However right or wrong anyone is…..nuclear is unsafe and we have been saying it forever because humans can’t control it so calling TEPCO knuckle heads is absurd. Nuclear is too dangerous and too expensive and it has no value and it has not disposal so the first knuckleheads are the people who created nuclear and forced Japan to buy into it.

    Comment by Gnome Alice | September 17, 2013 | Reply

  3. […] Fukushima's radioactive trash pools are the REAL danger (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by 14,000 Hiroshima Bombs PLUS Weapons Grade Plutonium Coming to City Near You. | WestDeltaGirl's Blog | September 19, 2013 | Reply

  4. […] Fukushima’s radioactive trash pools are the REAL danger (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by | Averting Disaster: World community must now take charge at Fukushima! | | truthaholics | September 22, 2013 | Reply

  5. […] Fukushima’s radioactive trash pools are the REAL danger (nuclear-news.net) […]

    Pingback by Fukushima – While No One Is Watching… | THE INTERNET POST | October 10, 2013 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: