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Fuel Removal From Fukushima's Reactor 4 Threatens 'Apocalyptic' Scenario
#1
Published on Thursday, October 24, 2013 by Common Dreams

Fuel Removal From Fukushima's Reactor 4 Threatens 'Apocalyptic' Scenario

In November, TEPCO set to begin to remove fuel rods whose radiation matches the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

An operation with potentially "apocalyptic" consequences is expected to begin in a little over two weeks from now - "as early as November 8" - at Fukushima's damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a spent fuel storage tank perched on the reactor's upper floor.
[Image: reactor4.jpg] Fukushima Reactor 4 While the Reactor 4 building itself did not suffer a meltdown, it did suffer a hydrogen explosion, is now tipping and sinking and has zero ability to withstand another seismic event.

The Japan Times explained:
To remove the rods, TEPCO has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.
[...] spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.
Under normal circumstances, such an operation would take little more than three months, but TEPCO is hoping to complete the complicated task within fiscal 2014.

A chorus of voices has been sounding alarm over the never-been-done-at-this-scale plan to manually remove the 400 tons of spent fuel by TEPCO, who so far has been responsible for mishap after mishap in the ongoing crisis at the crippled nuclear plant.

Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, warned this summer that "They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods," and said that "To jump to the conclusion that it is going to work just fine is quite a leap of logic." Paul Gunter, MD, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project with Takoma Park, Md.-based Beyond Nuclear, also sounded alarm on Thursday, telling Common Dreams in a statement that "Given the uncertainties of the condition and array of the hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel assemblies, it will be a risky round of highly radioactive pickup sticks."

Gundersen offered this analogy of the challenging process of removing the spent fuel rods:
If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it's going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we're going to hear that the building's been evacuated, they've broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing. […]
I suspect we'll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they'll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated the pool boiled and the net effect is that it's likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.

The Japan Times adds:
Removing the fuel rods is a task usually assisted by computers that know their exact location down to the nearest millimeter. Working virtually blind in a highly radioactive environment, there is a risk the crane could drop or damage one of the rods an accident that would heap even more misery onto the Tohoku region.

As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman explained, the
Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible.

"In the worst-case scenario," RT adds,
the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.

Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the "dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts."

Wasserman told Common Dreams that
The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken. Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what's actually happening. There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better. This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world's very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.

The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic. The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs. If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail. Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.

As dire as Wasserman's warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be "a true apocalypse." Gunter's warning was dire as well.

"Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic," he continued. "This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions," said Gunter.

Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:
This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear. The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on. With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.

And,I'll add a quote from a recent article by Chris Hedges.It seems appropriate for this thread.

Quote:If we are to face what lies ahead, we will not only have to organize and feed ourselves, we will have to begin to feel deeply, to face unpleasant truths, to recover empathy and to live passionately.
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Buckminster Fuller
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#2
Don't worry Keith the yakuza and their sick alcoholic medicated slave labor have it all under control. Nothing to worry about. From what I have heard from a western journo based in Japan who's been covering Tepco it is already past the apocalyptic scenario. We'll probably have confirmation in a few weeks.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Reply
#3
Magda Hassan Wrote:Don't worry Keith the yakuza and their sick alcoholic medicated slave labor have it all under control. Nothing to worry about. From what I have heard from a western journo based in Japan who's been covering Tepco it is already past the apocalyptic scenario. We'll probably have confirmation in a few weeks.

Those experts quoted above have it right....this is a new kind of radioactive Russian roulette - but the 'gun' has bullets in every chamber! The chances of removing all the fuel rods without some level of damage to them [up to all of them] and some level of catastrophe [up to the almost unimaginable] is, IMO, close to zero. In fact, no accident and no further major release of radioactive particles and/or gas is during this operation is all but impossible - it is only a mater of just how catastrophic it will be and how they plan to deal with those scenarios mentioned above [in each case they will have but minutes to react - or else!]. It seems to be in 'great hands' - incompetent, under-funded for this, in denial, and allied with the Japanese mobs. This is an accident waiting to happen far larger in scale than what has already befallen Fukashima and many, many times worse than Chernobyl! A U.N.-run group of international radiation experts, including many of those mentioned above needs to be in charge of this. Not TEPCO and the Japanese Mafia! This could effect the entire Planet - in fact, it already has!
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#4
Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement on Fukushima
by admin October 31, 2013 6 Comments

View the original statement with signatures here (PDF): COUNCIL_FUKUSHIMA_STATEMENT_OCT_2013.
Council Statement
This statement reflects the wisdom of the Spiritual People of the Earth, of North and South America, working in unity to restore peace, harmony and balance for our collective future and for all living beings. This statement is written in black and white with a foreign language that is not our own and does not convey the full depth of our concerns.

The Creator created the People of the Earth into the Land at the beginning of
Creation and gave us a way of life. This way of life has been passed down
generation-to-generation since the beginning. We have not honored this way of
life through our own actions and we must live these original instructions in order
to restore universal balance and harmony. We are a part of Creation;
thus, if we break the Laws of Creation, we destroy ourselves.

We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, have no choice but to follow and uphold
the Original Instructions, which sustains the continuity of Life. We recognize our
umbilical connection to Mother Earth and understand that she is the source of life, not a
resource to be exploited. We speak on behalf of all Creation today, to communicate an
urgent message that man has gone too far, placing us in the state of survival. We warned
that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here.

Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path
of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf
oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and
the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In
addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and
destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.

Powerful technologies are out of control and are threatening the future of all life
The Fukushima nuclear crisis alone is a threat to the future of humanity. Yet, our concern
goes far beyond this single threat. Our concern is with the cumulative and
compounding devastation that is being wrought by the actions of human beings around
the world. It is the combination of resource extraction, genetically modified organisms,
moral failures, pollution, introduction of invasive species and much much more that are
threatening the future of life on Earth. The compounding of bad decisions and their
corresponding actions are extremely short-sighted. They do not consider the future
generations and they do not respect or honor the Creator's Natural Law. We strongly
urge for the governmental authorities to respond with an open invitation to work and
consult with us to solve the world's problems, without war. We must stop waging war
against Mother Earth, and ourselves.

We acknowledge that all of these devastating actions originated in human beings who are
living without regard for the Earth as the source of life. They have strayed from the
Original Instructions by casting aside the Creator's Natural Law. It is now critical for
humanity to acknowledge that we have created a path to self destruction. We must restore
the Original Instructions in our lives to halt this devastation.

The sanctity of the Original Instructions has been violated. As a result, the Spiritual
People of the Earth were called ceremonially to come together at the home of the Sacred
White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle. These Spiritual Leaders and those that carry great
responsibility for their people from both North and South America came together with the
sacred fire for four days at the end of September 2013 to fulfill their sacred
responsibilities. During this time it was revealed that the spirit of destruction gained its'
strength by our spiritually disconnected actions. We are all responsible in varying
degrees for calling forth this spirit of destruction, thus we are all bound to begin
restoring what we have damaged by helping one another recover our sacred
responsibility to the Earth. We, the Original Caretakers of Mother Earth, offer our
spiritual insight, wisdom and vision to the global community to help guide the actions
needed to overcome the current threats to all life.

We only have to look at our own bodies to recognize the sacred purpose
of water on Mother Earth. We respect and honor our spiritual relationship
with the lifeblood of Mother Earth. One does not sell or contaminate their
mother's blood. These capitalistic actions must stop and we must recover
our sacred relationship with the Spirit of Water

The People of the Earth understand that the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to
threaten the future of all life. We understand the full implications of this crisis even with
the suppression of information and the filtering of truth by the corporate owned media
and Nation States. We strongly urge the media, corporations and Nation States to
acknowledge and convey the true facts that threaten us, so that the international
community may work together to resolve this crisis, based on the foundation of Truth.

We urge the international community, government of Japan and TEPCO to unify efforts
to stabilize and re-mediate the nuclear threat posed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear
power plant. To ensure that the Japanese government and TEPCO are supported with
qualified personnel and information, we urge the inclusion of today's nuclear experts
from around the world to collaborate, advise and provide technical assistance to prevent
further radioactive contamination or worse, a nuclear explosion that may have
apocalyptic consequences.

The foundation for peace will be strengthened by restoring the Original Instructions in ourselves
Prophecies have been shared and sacred instructions were given. We, the People of the
Earth, were instructed that the original wisdom must be shared again when imbalance
and disharmony are upon Mother Earth. In 1994 the sacred white buffalo, the giver of
the sacred pipe, returned to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people bringing forth the
sacred message that the winds of change are here. Since that time many more
messengers in the form of white animals have come, telling us to wake up my children. It
is time. So listen for the sacred instruction.

All Life is sacred. We come into Life as sacred beings. When we abuse the
sacredness of Life we affect all Creation

We urge all Nations and human beings around the world to work with us, the Original
Caretakers of Mother Earth, to restore the Original Instructions and uphold the
Creator's Natural Law as a foundation for all decision making, from this point forward.

Our collective future as human beings is in our hands, we must address the Fukushima
nuclear crisis and all actions that may violate the Creator's Natural Law. We have
reached the crossroads of life and the end of our existence. We will avert this potentially
catastrophic nuclear disaster by coming together with good minds and prayer as a global
community of all faiths.

We are the People of the Earth united under the Creator's Law with a sacred covenant to
protect and a responsibility to extend Life for all future generations. We are expressing
deep concern for our shared future and urge everyone to awaken spiritually. We must
work in unity to help Mother Earth heal so that she can bring back balance and harmony
for all her children.

Representatives of the Council

Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe
Spiritual Leader
The Great Sioux Nation

Bobby C. Billie
Clan Leader and Spiritual Leader
Council of the Original Miccosukee
Simanolee Nation Aboriginal Peoples

Faith Spotted Eagle, Tunkan Inajin Win

Brave Heart Society Grandmother/Headswoman & Ihanktonwan Treaty Council

Ihanktonwan Dakota from the Oceti Sakowin

7 Council Fires
- ADDITIONAL SIGNATURES TO FOLLOW -

http://www.indigenousaction.org/indi...-on-fukushima/
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Buckminster Fuller
Reply
#5
What's a mere 14,000 X the radiation of Hiroshima's Nuke?....Apocalypse NOW!
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Reply
#6
David Suzuki on Fukushima:

Quote:David Suzuki's Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post B.C. | Posted: 11/04/2013 11:37 am EST | Updated: 11/04/2013 2:00 pm EST


<font color="#000000"><span style="font-family: Arial">



[Image: n-DAVID-SUZUKI-large.jpg?15]



David Suzuki has issued a scary warning about Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, saying that if it falls in a future earthquake, it's "bye bye Japan" and the entire west coast of North America should be evacuated.
The "Nature of Things" host made the comments in a talk posted to YouTube after he joined Dr. David Schindler for "Letting in the Light," a symposium on water ecology held at the University of Alberta on Oct. 30 and 31.
An excerpt of the talk shows Suzuki outlining a frightening scenario that would result from the destruction of the nuclear plant.
"Fukushima is the most terrifying situation I can imagine," he said.
"Three out of the four plants were destroyed in the earthquake and in the tsunami. The fourth one has been so badly damaged that the fear is, if there's another earthquake of a seven or above that, that building will go and then all hell breaks loose.
"And the probability of a seven or above earthquake in the next three years is over 95 per cent."
Suzuki said that an international team of experts needs to go into the Fukushima plant and help fix the problem, but said the Japanese government has "too much pride to admit that."
"I have seen a paper which says that if in fact the fourth plant goes under in an earthquake and those rods are exposed, it's bye bye Japan and everybody on the west coast of North America should evacuate," he said.
"If that isn't terrifying, I don't know what is."
Suzuki's warning came as radiation from the Fukushima plant has been detected in northern Alaska and along the west coast, CBC News reported.
Radiation in Alaskan waters could reach Cold War levels, said Douglas Dasher, a researcher at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, although John Kelley, a professor emeritus at the same university, doesn't seem as certain that it will reach dangerous levels for humans.
"The data they will need is not only past data but current data, and if no one is sampling anything then we won't really know it, will we," he told the network.



The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
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#7
We're In The Most Dangerous Moment Since the Cuban Missile Crisis
Posted on November 8, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Scientists Warn of Extreme Risk
http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/11/w...risis.html

We've long said that the greatest short-term threat to humanity is from the fuel pools at Fukushima.

The Japanese nuclear agency recently green-lighted the removal of the spent fuel rods from Fukushima reactor 4′s spent fuel pool. The operation is scheduled to begin this month.

The head of the U.S. Department of Energy correctly notes:

The success of the cleanup also has global significance. So we all have a direct interest in seeing that the next steps are taken well, efficiently and safely.

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.

Hiroaki Koide a nuclear scientist working at the University of Kyoto says:

I'm worried about whether Tepco can treat all the 1,331 [spent-fuel] assemblies without any problem and how long it will take.

Award-winning scientist David Suzuki says that Fukushima is terrifying, Tepco and the Japanese government are lying through their teeth, and Fukushima is "the most terrifying situation I can imagine".

Suzuki notes that reactor 4 is so badly damaged that if there's another earthquake of 7 or above the building could come down. And the probability of another earthquake of 7 or above in the next 3 years is over 95%.

Suzuki says that he's seen a paper that says that if in fact the 4th reactor comes down, "it's bye bye Japan, and everyone on the West Coast of North America should evacuate. Now if that's not terrifying, I don't know what is."

The Telegraph reports:

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant … will begin a dry run of the procedure at the No. 4 reactor, which experts have warned carries grave risks.

***

"Did you ever play pick up sticks?" asked a foreign nuclear expert who has been monitoring Tepco's efforts to regain control of the plant. "You had 50 sticks, you heaved them into the air and than had to take one off the pile at a time.

"If the pile collapsed when you were picking up a stick, you lost," he said. "There are 1,534 pick-up sticks in a jumble in top of an unsteady reactor 4. What do you think can happen?

"I do not know anyone who is confident that this can be done since it has never been tried."

ABC notes:

One slip-up in the latest step to decommission Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant could trigger a "monumental" chain reaction, experts warn.

***

Experts around the world have warned … that the fuel pool is in a precarious state vulnerable to collapsing in another big earthquake.

Yale University professor Charles Perrow wrote about the number 4 fuel pool this year in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

"This has me very scared," he told the ABC.

"Tokyo would have to be evacuated because [the] caesium and other poisons that are there will spread very rapidly.

Perrow also argues:

Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.

Former Japanese ambassador Akio Matsumura warns that if the operation isn't done right this could one day be considered the start of "the ultimate catastrophe of the world and planet":

(He also argues that removing the fuel rods will take "decades rather than months.)

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.

Harvey Wasserman wrote two months ago:

We are now within two months of what may be humankind's most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

***

Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.

***

A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.

Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima "would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival."

Even Japan's Top Nuclear Regulator Says that The Operation Carries a "Very Large Risk Potential"

Even the head of Japan's nuclear agency is worried. USA Today notes:

Nuclear regulatory chairman Shunichi Tanaka, however, warned that removing the fuel rods from Unit 4 would be difficult because of the risk posed by debris that fell into the pool during the explosions.

"It's a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool," Tanaka said at a regular news conference. "They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break."

He said it would be a disaster if fuel rods are pulled forcibly and are damaged or break open when dropped from the pool, located about 30 meters (100 feet) above ground, releasing highly radioactive material. "I'm much more worried about this than contaminated water," Tanaka said

The same top Japanese nuclear official said:

The process involves a very large risk potential.

BBC reports:

A task of extraordinary delicacy and danger is about to begin at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power station.

***

One senior official told me: "It's going to be very difficult but it has to happen."

Why It's Such a Difficult Operation

CNN notes that debris in the fuel pool might interfere with operations:

South China Morning Post notes:

Nothing remotely similar has been attempted before and … it is feared that any error of judgment could lead to a massive release of radiation into the atmosphere.

***

A spokesman for Tepco … admitted, however, that it was not clear whether any of the rods were damaged or if debris in the pool would complicate the recovery effort.

The Wall Street journal notes:

Among the risks [Hiromitsu Ino, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of Tokyo] and other experts cite is the possibility that a container being used to move the units falls and breaks apart, exposing the fuel to the air.

Similarly, Edwin Lyman a nuclear expert and the chief scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists notes:

The biggest risk with Unit 4 pool unloading is that a spent fuel cask might drop and damage the pool, causing a leak that could expose some fuel and cause overheating.

Professor Richard Broinowski former Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Central American Republics and Cuba and author of numerous books on nuclear policy and Fukushima, says some of the fuel rods are probably fused.

Murray E. Jennex, Ph.D., P.E. (Professional Engineer), Professor of MIS, San Diego State University, notes:

The rods in the spent fuel pool may have melted …. I consider it more likely that these rods were breached during the explosions associated with the event and their contents may be in contact with the ground water, probably due to all the seawater that was sprayed on the plant.

Fuel rod expert Arnie Gundersen a nuclear engineer and former senior manager of a nuclear power company which manufactured nuclear fuel rods recently explained the biggest problem with the fuel rods (at 15:45):

I think they're belittling the complexity of the task. If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it's going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we're going to hear that the building's been evacuated, they've broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.

***

I suspect we'll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they'll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated the pool boiled and the net effect is that it's likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.

In another interview, Gundersen provides additional details (at 31:00):

The racks are distorted from the earthquake oh, by the way, the roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks.

The net effect is they've got the bundles of fuel, the cigarettes in these racks, and as they pull them out, they're likely to snap a few. When you snap a nuclear fuel rod, that releases radioactivity again, so my guess is, it's things like krypton-85, which is a gas, cesium will also be released, strontium will be released. They'll probably have to evacuate the building for a couple of days. They'll take that radioactive gas and they'll send it up the stack, up into the air, because xenon can't be scrubbed, it can't be cleaned, so they'll send that radioactive xenon up into the air and purge the building of all the radioactive gases and then go back in and try again.

It's likely that that problem will exist on more than one bundle. So over the next year or two, it wouldn't surprise me that either they don't remove all the fuel because they don't want to pull too hard, or if they do pull to hard, they're likely to damage the fuel and cause a radiation leak inside the building. So that's problem #2 in this process, getting the fuel out of Unit 4 is a top priority I have, but it's not going to be easy. Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it's all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it's a really difficult job. It wouldn't surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can't remove it.

The Japan Times writes:

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.

Reuters notes:

Experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.

***

No one knows how bad it can get, but independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt said recently in their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013: "Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date."

***

Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.

***

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

***

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.]

***

[Here is a visual tour of Fukushima's fuel pools, along with graphics of how the rods will be removed.]

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.

ABC Radio Australia quotes an expert on the situation (at 1:30):

Richard Tanter, expert on nuclear power issues and professor of international relations at the University of Melbourne:

***

Reactor Unit 4, the one which has a very large amount of stored fuel in its fuel storage pool, that is sinking. According to former prime Minister Kan Naoto, that has sunk some 31 inches in places and it's not uneven.

And Chris Harris a, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer notes that it doesn't help that a lot of the rods are in very fragile condition:

Although there are a lot of spent fuel assemblies in there which could achieve criticality there are also 200 new fuel assemblies which have equivalent to a full tank of gas, let's call it that. Those are the ones most likely to go critical first.

***

Some pictures that were released recently show that a lot of fuel is damaged, so when they go ahead and put the grapple on it, and they pull it up, it's going to fall apart. The boreflex has been eaten away; it doesn't take saltwater very good.

Nuclear engineers say that the fuel pool is "distorted", material was blown up into air and came down inside, damaging the fuel, the roof fell in, distorting things inside.

Indeed, Fukushima documents discuss "fuel that is severely damaged" inside cooling pool, and show illustrations of "deformed or leaking fuels".
The Urgent Need: Replace Tepco

Tepco is severely downplaying the risks involved in removing fuel rods. For example, Tepco's head of the Fukushima plant, Akira Ono, says:

We have removed spent fuels many times. Therefore, we don't think we are going to be doing anything that is very dangerous.

That is idiotic given that (as shown above) this is anything but a normal fuel removal operation.

Tepco is incompetent and corrupt, and has been in cover-up mode since day one. As such, it is the last company which should be in charge of the clean-up.

Top scientists and government officials say that Tepco should be removed from all efforts to stabilize Fukushima. They say that an international team of the smartest engineers and scientists should instead handle this difficult mission.

Bloomberg notes:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being told by his own party that Japan's response is failing. Plant operator [Tepco] alone isn't up to the task of managing the cleanup and decommissioning of the atomic station in Fukushima. That's the view of Tadamori Oshima, head of a task force in charge of Fukushima's recovery and former vice president of Abe's Liberal Democratic Party.

***

[There's] a growing recognition that the government needs to take charge at the Fukushima station…. "If we allow the situation to continue, it'll never be resolved" [said Sumio Mabuchi, a government point man on crisis in 2011].

Because the U.S. controls Japanese nuclear policy, Americans should demand of our political representatives that they pressure Japan to kick Tepco off the job … and let an international team of scientists and engineers take over.

Postscript: As challenging as removing the fuel rods from the pool at unit 4 will be, it will be even harder at units 1 through 3. Specifically, it's too radioactive for Tepco to even get a look at what's going on in those 3 reactor pools, and they have no idea how to do it. Indeed, the technology does not even exist to approach those reactors, as the high radiation levels quickly destroy even robots.

Nuclear fuel rod expert Gundersen says the pool at unit 3 is in much worse shape than at 4:

Unit 3 is worse [than No. 4]. Mechanically its rubble, the pool is rubble. It's got less fuel in it [than unit 4, but] structurally the pool has been dramatically weakened. And, god nobody has even gotten near it yet.

Tepco's not up to it … we need a focused, well-funded international effort to fix this mess.
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#8
Just to add some explanation to those dire [and likely correct!] warnings of how easily/likely something horrible will go wrong.

The spent fuel rod assembly pool for unknown reasons was built near the TOP of the building....i.e. it is way above ground, supported by steel beams. All of the supports have been weakened, bent, maybe corroded by the earthquake, tsunami and the explosions in the building and nearby buildings. That's bad enough and could collapse [the entire containment pool - if it does - bye bye Tokyo and most of the N. Hemisphere]. Another earthquake could happen at ANY time and I've heard TEPCO say nothing about reinforcing the structure. Next, there is the problem of keeping all the fuel rods under water. This is for two reasons. The first is to keep them cool - so the water must be circulating with cool water coming in. If they overheat [the radioactivity produces heat] they will melt and either release their radiation or if many melt they may produce a meltdown situation - the later is almost too horrible to think about and again bye bye Tokyo and much of the N. Hemisphere. Also, if the rod assemblies are exposed to the air for more than a few minutes the metal cladding is a VERY special metal [zirconium] that spontaneously ignites in air - burning furiously and melting the radioactive pellets inside - releasing more radiation and perhaps damaging surrounding rods or the containment pool. There are other possible problems mentioned - the physical breakage of a rod assembly [I think they have 5-6 rods in each assembly] when moving them from the containment pool to what amounts to a giant water-filled coffin, to then be moved by crane to the ground and then to burial somewhere where the reverse process must again take place and there is a second chance to break the rods or set them on fire. Gundersen is likely correct - some of the fuel rods, which are many meters long, are bent and can not be pulled out like a single piece of spaghetti in a bundle of spaghetti. What they do when one jams or is broken when pulled, I really don't know. They have few choices and all are bad. At best, all the radiation in those rods will be released; at worst it could ignite and melt and melt others and the entire pool could go into meltdown. Add to this another earthquake [likely] collapsing the pool, and one has the makings of wonderful horror film...but it will be real......and bad - almost beyond imagination. Its a game of nuclear pick-up-sticks! :Confusedtampfeet::*Amazing how little attention this is getting in the good 'ol reliable MSM! The BBC had an interview with a man from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Comission [which is 100% pro-nuke] say how sure he was it would go off without a hitch..they had no one counter that statement - such evenhanded journalism! Big Grin
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
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#9
Peter Lemkin Wrote:The spent fuel rod assembly pool for unknown reasons was built near the TOP of the building....i.e. it is way above ground, supported by steel beams.

For some unknown reason, but probably something to do with vast amounts of greasy money, they built a nuclear power station in an earthquake zone and next to the sea in a place known for huge earthquakes and tsunamis. Dozen of them all over Japan. How stupid do you have to be? Not that I blame the poor Japanese people who just have to wear what their idiot leaders do.


Peter Lemkin Wrote::Confusedtampfeet::*Amazing how little attention this is getting in the good 'ol reliable MSM! The BBC had an interview with a man from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission [which is 100% pro-nuke] say how sure he was it would go off without a hitch..they had no one counter that statement - such evenhanded journalism! Big Grin

That's the corporate media for you. We are on the edge of an apocalyptic environmental nightmare but the show must go on. No other business model is to be considered.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#10
Magda Hassan Wrote:
Peter Lemkin Wrote:The spent fuel rod assembly pool for unknown reasons was built near the TOP of the building....i.e. it is way above ground, supported by steel beams.

For some unknown reason, but probably something to do with vast amounts of greasy money, they built a nuclear power station in an earthquake zone and next to the sea in a place known for huge earthquakes and tsunamis. Dozen of them all over Japan. How stupid do you have to be? Not that I blame the poor Japanese people who just have to wear what their idiot leaders do.

I'm pretty sure every nuclear reactor in the world is built next to a coastline, river or lake. They need a constant water supply to keep the reactors and fuel rods cool. Doomsday machines, every one of them.
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