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Keith Millea
10-25-2013, 05:45 PM
Published on Thursday, October 24, 2013 by Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org)

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 (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/23/national/tepco-eyes-fuel-removal-from-fukushima-reactor-4-pool-in-early-november/#.Umk9xySoHUU) - "as early as November 8" - at Fukushima's damaged and sinking (http://www.ringoffireradio.com/2013/09/risky-repair-fukushima-spill-15000x-radiation-hiroshima-world-intervene/) 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.
https://www.commondreams.org/sites/commondreams.org/files/imagecache/headline_image/article_images/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. (http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/05/04-0)

The Japan Times explained (http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/19/national/fukushima-2020-will-japan-be-able-to-keep-the-nuclear-situation-under-control/#.UmlQgySoHUU):
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 (http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/A-Mistake-Now-Could-Release-14000-Times-More-Radiation-than-Hiroshima.html) 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 (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/14-6) 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 (http://beyondnuclear.org), 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 (http://enenews.com/gundersen-spent-fuel-rods-break-during-removal-process-fukushima-unit-4-racks-distorted-fuel-overheated-pool-boiled-suspects-will-be-stuck-long-long-time-audio) 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 (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/10/01-4), 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 (http://rt.com/news/fukushima-operation-spent-fuel-618/),
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 (http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/20-1), 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 (http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/) 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.


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.

Magda Hassan
10-25-2013, 10:03 PM
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.

Peter Lemkin
10-26-2013, 05:28 AM
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!

Keith Millea
11-02-2013, 09:06 PM
Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement on Fukushima


by admin (http://www.indigenousaction.org/author/admin/) • October 31, 2013 • 6 Comments (http://www.indigenousaction.org/indigenous-elders-and-medicine-peoples-council-statement-on-fukushima/#comments)


View the original statement with signatures here (PDF): COUNCIL_FUKUSHIMA_STATEMENT_OCT_2013 (http://www.indigenousaction.org/indigenous-elders-and-medicine-peoples-council-statement-on-fukushima/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/ (http://www.indigenousaction.org/indigenous-elders-and-medicine-peoples-council-statement-on-fukushima/)

Peter Lemkin
11-03-2013, 06:40 AM
What's a mere 14,000 X the radiation of Hiroshima's Nuke?....Apocalypse NOW!

David Guyatt
11-05-2013, 12:49 PM
David Suzuki on Fukushima:




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">
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTqzqoKMLEg






http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1442917/thumbs/n-DAVID-SUZUKI-large.jpg?15



David Suzuki has issued a scary warning about Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant (https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=iTqzqoKMLEg#t=171), 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 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/radiation-from-japan-nuclear-plant-arrives-on-alaska-coast-1.2335668), 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.

Tracy Riddle
11-09-2013, 11:02 PM
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/were-in-the-most-dangerous-moment-since-the-cuban-missile-crisis.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.

Peter Lemkin
11-10-2013, 06:26 AM
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 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! ::stampfeet::*Amazing how little attention this is getting in the good 'ol [I]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! :D

Magda Hassan
11-10-2013, 07:39 AM
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.



::stampfeet::*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! :D

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.

Tracy Riddle
11-10-2013, 01:04 PM
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.

Peter Lemkin
11-10-2013, 02:24 PM
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.

True. They are always placed near a large body of water [which they, at minimum pollute thermally; maximally pollute radioactively]. However, these are supposed to be designed by highly trained engineers and other needed scientists [such as geologists for locating them], to prevent accidents. Japan is on the most active seismic belt in the Pacific and has regular large earthquakes. This SHOULD have informed the designers and builders that: 1] extra strong containment would be necessary and it would have to be able to take a magnitude 9 or 10 earthquake; 2] earthquakes cause soil liquifaction, so that extra large foundations and down to bedrock would be needed; 3] nothing should be placed above in the buildings, as they could fall down; 4] earthquakes produce tsunamis and any such reactors should be WELL back from the shore, on high ground, and even then surrounded by a retainment wall; 5] earthquakes and tsunamis cause power outages - so the reactors needed to have earthquake-proof generators and fuel for perhaps two weeks, until main power might be restored. None of this was done. The GE models that were used in non-earthquake zones were used, as is; and the distance from the water was standard. The ONLY precaution they took was a tsunami wall - which was woefully too low...but wouldn't have helped much, as the power would still have gone out and the buildings and the reactors inside damaged from the earthquake, not to mention being without power to cool the fuel rods and reactors. Those engineers and approval agencies and persons should have to work on the cleanup!::doh::

Magda Hassan
11-10-2013, 09:38 PM
2] earthquakes cause soil liquifaction, so that extra large foundations and down to bedrock would be needed
This has been the main cause of damage and ongoing inability (besides political) to reconstruct after the Christchurch earthquake. It is quite something to behold when the ground not only moves but becomes like soup.


Those engineers and approval agencies and persons should have to work on the cleanup!::doh::
And the shareholder and their families.

Magda Hassan
11-10-2013, 10:00 PM
http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=11673 (http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=11673)

Peter Lemkin
11-11-2013, 06:06 AM
Here is a lovely [sic!] photo of the condition of Unit 4, which contains the majority of the fuel rods in the entire facility - because it was used for all of the spent fuel rods. Looks great! Looks like it could easily withstand any earthquake, or even being hit by a crane.....::thumbsdown:: Safe as could be. Not to worry.....

5451

SFP = Spent Fuel Pond...no problems ::cheersdrunk::5452

David Guyatt
11-11-2013, 08:33 AM
If the predictions about wiping out Japan and then lots of the Northern Hemisphere - if things go badly wrong, and they don't look good do they - then this clearly is a catastrophic event waiting to happen.

And it is impossible, as some have suggested, to "evacuate" the northern hemisphere, so in the doomsday scenario above, news won't leak about it via the MSM.

Don't fuck with the King of the Underworld I say.

Peter Lemkin
11-11-2013, 08:39 AM
If the predictions about wiping out Japan and then lots of the Northern Hemisphere - if things go badly wrong, and they don't look good do they - then this clearly is a catastrophic event waiting to happen.

And it is impossible, as some have suggested, to "evacuate" the northern hemisphere, so in the doomsday scenario above, news won't leak about it via the MSM.

Don't fuck with the King of the Underworld I say.

David, On the uhummmm 'positive' side, in the worst case scenario people would be dying quickly only near the plant....those in Tokyo and such would get cancers and radiation sickness in a few months; those around the N. Hemisphere would due to winds and rains vary greatly in the effects and have from a year to many...so you'll get to finish your wine and even order more, finish your readings, and take some nice walks in Nature, etc. It won't be quick, but it won't be pretty either. ::willynilly::

Let's all hope as idiotic as Tepco is, that they somehow pull this off!...as if they don't.... ::violin::

[oh, and by the way, the S. Hemisphere will also be affected, only later and to a somewhat lesser extent - air and water mix between the two, more slowly than within each hemisphere]. :( Palau or Antarctica might be a good places to develop friends.::evilpenguin:: The UK can relocate to the Malvinas....maybe Maggie knew something, eh?!

Statistically, baring another earthquake that collapses building 4, the chances are for only some fuel rod assemblies to break and/or burn and release their radiation. This would increase the worldwide incidence of cancer - already very high and rapidly increasing due to a host of stupid human activities.

David Guyatt
11-11-2013, 09:50 AM
If the predictions about wiping out Japan and then lots of the Northern Hemisphere - if things go badly wrong, and they don't look good do they - then this clearly is a catastrophic event waiting to happen.

And it is impossible, as some have suggested, to "evacuate" the northern hemisphere, so in the doomsday scenario above, news won't leak about it via the MSM.

Don't fuck with the King of the Underworld I say.

David, On the uhummmm 'positive' side, in the worst case scenario people would be dying quickly only near the plant....those in Tokyo and such would get cancers and radiation sickness in a few months; those around the N. Hemisphere would due to winds and rains vary greatly in the effects and have from a year to many...so you'll get to finish your wine and even order more, finish your readings, and take some nice walks in Nature, etc. It won't be quick, but it won't be pretty either. ::willynilly::

Let's all hope as idiotic as Tepco is, that they somehow pull this off!...as if they don't.... ::violin::

[oh, and by the way, the S. Hemisphere will also be affected, only later and to a somewhat lesser extent - air and water mix between the two, more slowly than within each hemisphere]. :( Palau or Antarctica might be a good places to develop friends.::evilpenguin:: The UK can relocate to the Malvinas....maybe Maggie knew something, eh?!

Statistically, baring another earthquake that collapses building 4, the chances are for only some fuel rod assemblies to break and/or burn and release their radiation. This would increase the worldwide incidence of cancer - already very high and rapidly increasing due to a host of stupid human activities.

What you're saying Pete, is that I should relocate my local wine merchant somewhere warm isn't it?

The Malvinas are a bit too bleak for a man of my palate, so how about Oz, or is that too close to Japan?

Magda Hassan
11-11-2013, 10:28 AM
I've got the spare room ready for you all. Your wine cellar welcome too David. Actually you will find a nice drop or two here as well. Assuming climate change doesn't bugger up all the wine growing areas. The fracking is doing fine on its own.

I have several American and Canadian friends who came here in the 1960's and 70's because it wasn't South Africa but as far away from the insane US Cuban nuke crisis and general march to militarism as possible. Short of Antarctica. Where there are not many jobs and huge heating bills.

Peter Lemkin
11-11-2013, 10:48 AM
What you're saying Pete, is that I should relocate my local wine merchant somewhere warm isn't it?

The Malvinas are a bit too bleak for a man of my palate, so how about Oz, or is that too close to Japan?

Oz or N.Z. are not bad places [if you don't mind the blood draining to your head - or the fire storms in Oz; earthquakes in N.Z.]. The prevailing winds would take any radiation from Japan and sent it first heading East by ocean currents and Jet Stream around the N. Hemisphere many times before it slowly eddied into the S. Hemisphere - having lost most of the radiation. The problem is, were something like this to happen, anyone who could afford to, would soon pack up and move South....but there is less landmass there and many to most nations there would soon either make immigration for the highest bidder and/or just restrict it, to exclude not be overrun. Yes, the Malvinas are a bit bleak, cold and windswept. There is the main part of S. America, as well. Let's hope it doesn't come to this......though the odds frightening, and the entities we need to 'rely on' proven as untrustworthy.

David Guyatt
11-11-2013, 11:21 AM
What you're saying Pete, is that I should relocate my local wine merchant somewhere warm isn't it?

The Malvinas are a bit too bleak for a man of my palate, so how about Oz, or is that too close to Japan?

Oz or N.Z. are not bad places [if you don't mind the blood draining to your head

I once watched a guy drink a pint of beer while standing on his head, so I know it's possible.

Phew!

::face.palm::

[/QUOTE]

Tracy Riddle
11-11-2013, 05:36 PM
Or we can re-watch On the Beach while we're waiting.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upg2eqNbF3w

Keith Millea
11-11-2013, 06:33 PM
Or "The Sacrifice"......Andrei Tarkovsky


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&amp;v=k0stXu60iVE



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=41DL96LsQWQ

Keith Millea
11-18-2013, 05:24 PM
Published on Sunday, November 17, 2013 by Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org)

Highly Dangerous Fukushima 4 Fuel Removal Begins Monday

- Common Dreams staff

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/spent-fuel-pool-fukushima-unit-4-540px_0.jpg

The highly dangerous and unprecedented removal of the highly radioactive nuclear fuel rods in Fukushima Unit 4 will begin on Monday, November 18.

The Unit 4 fuel rod removal is like to trying to pull cigarettes from a crushed pack.The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had previously said the process would begin in mid-November but kept the exact date secret 'for security reasons.' TEPCO has now confirmed that the operation will begin Monday.

The NRA said that it will provide 'enhanced oversight' to TEPCO as the company begins the hugely delicate process of removing 1,331 spent fuel assemblies and 202 unused assemblies. The fuel rods are brittle, potentially damaged, and still located high above the ground in a badly damaged building that has buckled and tilted and could collapse if another quake strikes.

The fuel assemblies are in a 32 x 40 feet concrete pool, the base of which is on the fourth story of the damaged reactor building. The assemblies - which contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances known - are under 23 feet of water.

If the fuel rods - there are 50-70 in each of the assemblies, which weigh around 661 pounds and are 15 feet long - are exposed to air or if they break, catastrophic amounts of radioactive gases could be released into the atmosphere.

Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, says the Unit 4 fuel rod removal is like to trying to pull cigarettes from a crushed pack.

The 1,331 used fuel rod assemblies contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima.

“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,” say independent consultants Mycle Schneider and
Antony Froggatt in a recent World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

(http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/-2013-.html)http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/17-0

Peter Lemkin
11-18-2013, 08:43 PM
Ahhh! Nothing to worry about.............:alberteinstein:

Keith Millea
11-18-2013, 09:01 PM
Ahhh! Nothing to worry about.............:alberteinstein:

Published on Monday, November 18, 2013 by Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org)

Developing: Earthquake Hits Japan Amid Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal


The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquake has 5.7 magnitude, with details still unfolding

- Common Dreams staff

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/screen_shot_cropped.jpgAn image from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the approximate location of the earthquake.Developing:

A strong earthquake has struck Japan's coast south of the Fukushima nuclear plant currently undergoing a dangerous removal of highly radioactive Unit 4 fuel rods (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/17-0), according to online reports.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usb000l1hk#summary) that a 5.7 magnitude earthquake has struck Japan 25 kilometers southeast of Toba, releasing the following tweet:
Strong earthquake, NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN, Nov-18 19:10 UTC, 0 #quake (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23quake&src=hash) tweets/min, http://t.co/jAAXkTfU5k

Reports of the earthquake are still emerging. The following Twitter feed has news and updates.

Peter Lemkin
11-18-2013, 09:31 PM
Ahhh! Nothing to worry about.............:alberteinstein:

Published on Monday, November 18, 2013 by Common Dreams (http://www.commondreams.org)

Developing: Earthquake Hits Japan Amid Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal


The U.S. Geological Survey says earthquake has 5.7 magnitude, with details still unfolding

- Common Dreams staff

http://www.commondreams.org/sites/commondreams.org/files/imce-images/screen_shot_cropped.jpgAn image from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the approximate location of the earthquake.Developing:

A strong earthquake has struck Japan's coast south of the Fukushima nuclear plant currently undergoing a dangerous removal of highly radioactive Unit 4 fuel rods (http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/17-0), according to online reports.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/usb000l1hk#summary) that a 5.7 magnitude earthquake has struck Japan 25 kilometers southeast of Toba, releasing the following tweet:
Strong earthquake, NEAR S. COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN, Nov-18 19:10 UTC, 0 #quake (https://twitter.com/search?q=%23quake&src=hash) tweets/min, http://t.co/jAAXkTfU5k

Reports of the earthquake are still emerging. The following Twitter feed has news and updates.

Hmmm....that's moderately large.....likely not large enough to cause a major problem unless these are foreshocks of a larger earthquake...however, they show how seismically active Japan is [if memory serves, last major quake was only a month ago!] and the dangers at hand.....

It will take a few years to remove these fuel rods and about 30-40 years to 'clean up' [bury] the entire site.....even then, a large earthquake could un-bury it and cause catastrophic damage, worldwide. There is NO good solution - only less bad ones. Nuclear Energy was always a bad idea and getting worse by the day....as these reactors [damaged or not] age, they become more and more dangerous...they are dangerous at 'conception'. 'Ya likely 'ain't seen nothing yet, sadly......

David Guyatt
11-19-2013, 10:22 AM
There is NO good solution - only less bad ones. Nuclear Energy was always a bad idea and getting worse by the day....as these reactors [damaged or not] age, they become more and more dangerous...they are dangerous at 'conception'. 'Ya likely 'ain't seen nothing yet, sadly......

Agreed.

It's the case now that we're damned if they do try something, and damned if they don't.

As a grumpy old bastard, I can only say that we sow the seeds of our own destruction - through arrogance and the accompanying blind ignorance.


The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. CW 9: AION: 126

David Guyatt
12-03-2013, 02:46 PM
From Phys.org (http://phys.org/news/2013-12-decontamination-japan-fukushima.html):




Water decontamination system in trouble at Japan's FukushimaDec 01, 2013http://cdn.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/2013/11-membersofthe.jpg
Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees wearing protective suits and masks walk past storage tanks for radioactive water at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan on November 7, 2013A trouble-prone system used to decontaminate radioactive water at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant was switched off Sunday because of a chemical leak, the plant's operator said.

Hydrochloric acid, used to neutralise alkaline water being decontaminated, was found seeping from a pipe joint, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement.
The joint was wrapped in a vinyl bag to contain the leakage, TEPCO said, adding it was investigating the cause of the trouble.
About one litre of hydrochloric acid has been contained in the bag.
The leak was found at one of three Advanced Liquid Processing System units designed to remove radioactivity from contaminated water (http://phys.org/tags/contaminated+water/) at the plant, where a massive earthquake (http://phys.org/tags/massive+earthquake/) and tsunami in March 2011 sent nuclear reactors into meltdown.
The systems are expected to play a crucial role in treating huge amounts of toxic water accumulating at the plant.
The troubled system was one of two units that had been in trial operation and were scheduled to go into full operation Sunday.
In late September plastic padding clogged up a drain in the same system, causing it to shut down. In October, it was halted due to a programming mistake.
Thousands of tonnes of water, used since the meltdown to cool reactors or polluted by other radioactive material, are being stored in huge tanks at the site on Japan's northeast coast.
A series of setbacks, including radioactive water (http://phys.org/tags/radioactive+water/) leaks into the Pacific Ocean, have eroded confidence that Asia's largest utility can tame the world's worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.

Peter Lemkin
12-03-2013, 06:20 PM
Glad to hear the whole procedure::bicyclebully:: is going so well!

David Guyatt
12-04-2013, 08:22 AM
Glad to hear the whole procedure::bicyclebully:: is going so well!

Yes. Almost every week brings more reasons for supreme confidence that everything will work out well. Like the endings of Hollywood films.

David Guyatt
12-04-2013, 08:41 AM
Fukushima two years on: a dirty job with no end in sight

The tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has led to the toughest nuclear cleanup ever. Radioactive water is still poisoning the sea – and it could take 40 years to fix the mess. Is Japan up to the challenge?



http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/contributor/2007/09/28/ian_sample_140x140.jpg (http://www.theguardian.com/profile/iansample)


Ian Sample (http://www.theguardian.com/profile/iansample)
The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian), Tuesday 3 December 2013 19.22 GMT
Jump to comments (207) (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/03/fukushima-daiichi-tsunami-nuclear-cleanup-japan#start-of-comments)


http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/3/1386086357599/Fukushima-reactor-number--009.jpgThe effects of the tsunami on the building containing Fukushima Daiichi's reactor three. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

Carefully, gently, one-by-one. The removal of nuclear fuel rod assemblies from a badly damaged building at the Fukushima (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/fukushima) Daiichi power plant is finally under way. Months in the planning, the job is risky, complex, and crucial. Here begins the first major step in the toughest decommissioning project ever attempted.
Fukushima is home to six nuclear reactors, three of which were running when the giant tsunami swept across the site on 11 March 2011. The defuelling operation centres on the building for reactor four. Though the reactor was shut down for maintenance when the towering wave struck, all its radioactive fuel, and more from earlier runs, was held in a storage pool on an upper floor of the building.
Under normal conditions, the storage pool above the reactor was a safe haven. But four days into the crisis a hydrogen explosion tore through the structure and blew the walls and roof off. Moving the radioactive fuel from the wrecked building to a more secure site became a high priority. Some fuel assemblies have already been moved. Workers use a crane to reach down into the pool, lift an assembly from its rack, then lower it into a waiting cask that sits upright on the pool floor. When a cask is full – each can take 22 fuel assemblies – a second crane hoists it from the pool and places it on a trailer. Filled casks are then transported to a more secure storage facility on the site.
The procedure sounds straightforward enough. But there are 1,533 fuel assemblies in the pool at building four. Each is 4m long, and holds up to 80 individual fuel rods. The team of 36 workers that are responsible for the job will work in six shifts around the clock. The job will take until the end of 2014. And that is with no glitches.
But the work at reactor four is only the start. Once the fuel is removed to a safer place, workers will turn their attention to a further 1,573 fuel rod assemblies held in similar pools in the buildings for reactors one, two and three. All were running when the tsunami struck; all suffered meltdowns. The radiation in these buildings is still intense, and access inside is limited.
Though delicate and painstaking, retrieving the fuel rod assemblies from the pools is not the toughest job the workers face. More challenging by far will be digging out the molten cores in the reactors themselves. Some of the fuel burned through its primary containment and is now mixed with cladding, steel and concrete. The mixture will have to be broken up, sealed in steel containers and moved to a nuclear waste storage site. That work will not start until some time after 2020.
To fully decommission Fukushima Daiichi might take 40 years and no one expects a cakewalk. Independent researchers point to the litany of mishaps that has blighted the cleanup. They doubt the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) is up to the task, and want a global team of experts to take over. Even high-level advisers signed up by Tepco describe the decommissioning project as an "unprecedented" challenge. At stake is Tepco's reputation, the health and livelihoods of local communities, and the future direction of the industry worldwide.
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/3/1386087536616/Fukushima-damage-inspecto-008.jpgAn IAEA inspection of the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photograph: Iaea/AFP/Getty Images"With the sheer number of things that are going wrong, they should be more openly bringing in help," says Ken Buesseler (http://www.whoi.edu/profile/kbuesseler/), a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, who has analysed seawater for radiation directly offshore from Fukushima. "Tepco is anuclear power (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/nuclearpower) producer, not a cleanup operation. There are people with expertise in decommissioning reactors, and they need to be brought in whether they are Japanese, European or American. Every time they have a problem, they come up with a solution that takes a long time to bring in, and then doesn't even solve the problem. "
Tepco does have international advisers. In the wake of criticisms over its handling of the crisis, the company set up an independent Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee. The committee is led by Dale Klein, former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). His deputy is Lady Barbara Judge, former head of the UK Atomic Energy (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/energy) Authority. They do not underestimate the long job ahead: this is make or break time for Tepco.
Who should the public trust? In nuclear issues it can be hard to know. The engineers with most experience, those best placed to make a dangerous site safe, are industry insiders. Nuclear is their livelihood. But who does not have biases? Are anti-nuclear activists better qualified, more honest? Are academics more independent? University staff who work on nuclear technology are often funded by, or have close links to the industry. Perceived biases can be just as harmful to trust as real ones.
John Large (http://www.largeassociates.com/), a UK-based nuclear consultant, says Tepco needs more outside help to decommission the plant. He wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to arrange for a team of engineers with hands-on experience to assess the site, and come up with a fresh plan of action. But he concedes there are problems with the idea. Industry engineers will defend the industry, he says. "They need to be told: 'Forget the fact that you design these reactors, right now we need your expertise.'"
Tepco has planned heavily to reduce the danger of another high-profile mishap while it removes fuel from the storage pool at unit four. Engineers have beefed up the cranes that will move the fuel. If a fuel assembly jams in its rack, the crane should stop pulling immediately, to reduce the risk of breakage. A second crane that lifts the cask is designed to hold its load even if power is lost. All these will help. A dropped nuclear fuel assembly will not go critical, but more radiation might escape. That may not be dangerous beyond the site, but it could be the final straw for Tepco's reputation.
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/3/1386087045950/Workers-in-Fukushima--001.jpgWorkers on a crane for a huge container that will transport fuel rods. Photograph: Tomohiro Ohsumi/AP"We haven't had a problem of this magnitude before in decommissioning," says Lady Judge (http://www.nrmc.jp/en/member/detail/1224355_5228.html). "When you're dealing with decommissioning a reactor where there's been an accident you have to respond to difficulties. When you're dealing with decommissioning a reactor that's reached the end of its productive life, you are being proactive and you can do it in a much more slow and methodical manner."
Good news is hard to find around Fukushima. In the earliest days of the crisis, a plume of radioactive material blew northwest from the site and settled as a teardrop scar reaching more than 30km across the land. From the coastline, through the towns of Okuma, Futaba and Namie, are huge patches of ground where the additional annual dose of radiation is more than 50 millisieverts. Natural background radiation, from cosmic rays and sources in the air and rock, reaches 2 to 3 millisieverts per year.
A preliminary IAEA report in October on efforts to clean up the contaminated land was full of praise for the remediation work so far, and made a handful of gentle suggestions for improvement. Yet the work is far behind schedule in seven of 11 selected towns and villages; the deadline of March 2014 is now unachievable. This month, officials in Japan (http://www.theguardian.com/world/japan)admitted for the first time that thousands of evacuees from the worst affected areas may never return home. The governing Liberal Democratic party says a more realistic approach is needed: it wants compensation for the 160,000 people displaced by the radioactive leak, so they can rebuild their lives elsewhere.
Up on the cliff overlooking the Fukushima plant is a bleak reminder of an ongoing battle at the site. This strip of land was once filled with trees, a place for workers to go walking. Tepco has cut the trees down now, to make room for 1,000 huge metal storage tanks. They hold more than 360,000 tonnes of radioactive water, enough to fill 140 Olympic swimming pools. The volume rises every day. Over the next three years, Tepco wants to add storage for another 270,000 tonnes of radioactive wastewater. Ultimately, the water must be returned to the Pacific. There is nowhere else for it to go.
The steady accumulation of contaminated water is in part down to geology. The three reactors that were running when the tsunami struck are kept cool by flushing them with 400 tonnes of water each day. The process leaves the cooling water laced with radioactive contamination. But Fukushima sits at the bottom of a hill, on land with a high water table. Hundreds of tonnes of water drain down the hill every day, quietly beneath the surface. When this subterranean flow reaches the power plant, it enters the cracked reactor buildings and mixes with the contaminated cooling water. Much is pumped out and passed through a filter made with zeolite clay, which removes dangerous caesium isotopes. But the other radioactive substances remain. This water, around 300 tonnes a day, is pumped into the storage tanks up on the hill.
Some scientists questioned from the start Tepco's decision to store contaminated water. Another earthquake could rupture the tanks and see another major radioactive release from the site, they feared. So far, Tepco has been spared that particular disaster, but the concerns are still justified. Smaller accidents have been rife. In August, workers discovered that 300 tonnes of radioactive water had leaked from one of the tanks. The radiation emanating from the puddle left on the ground was enough to give a bystander the industry's five-year maximum permissible dose in just one hour. In October, half a tonne of contaminated water spilled on to the ground and may have drained to the sea, when tanks overflowed with rainwater.
"It's clearly something they need to get a handle on," Allison Macfarlane, chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told the Guardian. "Water is a big issue for them, but they've also got to keep the reactor cores cool, and they've got to clean it up."
Tepco has taken on a US consultant, Lake Barrett (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1232158_5130.html), who led the NRC's cleanup of Three Mile Island, the worst commercial nuclear power accident in the nation's history. "It's certainly confidence-shaking to hear about spills and inadvertent releases from the plant. Even though the radioactivity levels are quite small, the public certainly don't have trust and confidence in Tepco's ability to do the more important things like the defuelling, and that is a problem for them," he says.





Link to video: Fukushima nuclear rods' removal begins (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2013/nov/21/fukushima-nuclear-rods-removal-begins-video)In a November report (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1231860_5130.html), Tepco said it had set up 15 specialised teams to replace old bolt-fastened tanks with welded ones, install water level gauges, and up the number of patrols that inspect the tanks for leaks. While two thirds of the storage tanks are welded steel vessels, more than 300 are makeshift, added in haste to increase capacity at the site. They are made from steel sheets that are bolted together and sealed with plastic packing.
Water stored in the tanks is contaminated with a host of radioactive substances. One of the most troubling is strontium-90, which mimics calcium when it gets into the body. The substance concentrates in bones, so even low levels in the environment can build up over time and become harmful. When released into the ocean, strontium works its way into fish bones, which can make catches unfit for consumption. The hazard will last a long time: strontium's radioactivity takes 30 years to fall by half.
Tepco is trying to decontaminate the water with an "advanced liquid processing system" (Alps). In principle, the technology can strip all radioactive substances from the water, except tritium, one of the less dangerous radioactive substances, which was spread widely through the environment by nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Tepco claims the system will ultimately decontaminate more than 500 tonnes of water a day. But that may be optimistic. The equipment has suffered multiple failures. In the latest setback on Sunday, an ALPS unit was shut down when a pipe began to leak acid. Workers wrapped a vinyl bag around the joint to stem the flow while Tepco investigates.
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/3/1386087266124/Nuclear-fuel-rod-008.jpgA nuclear fuel rod being lifted from a pool in reactor four. Photograph: TEPCO / HANDOUT/EPAEven at a rate of 500 tonnes a day, cleaning the stored water will take many years. But Tepco must get Alps up and running. The company then needs to arrange disposal of the treated water, and the radioactive material filtered out by the system. The radioactive waste will go into containers and be sent for long-term storage. The tritium-laced water will be released into the Pacific, but Tepco has yet to get public support for the move.
"The problem hasn't gone away," says Macfarlane (http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/organization/commission/macfarlane.html). "The water is cleaner, but you still end up with tritium in there, so they're going to have some tough decisions about what to do."
Fukushima is the first nuclear accident to release large amounts of radioactive material directly into the ocean. Radiation levels surged in seawater after the tsunami struck, with concentrations of caesium-137 recorded at 60 million becquerels per cubic metre near the plant. The nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima released 89 trillion becquerels of caesium-137. The levels in the waters off Fukushima fell sharply though, as the caesium dissolved and dispersed on the ocean's currents.
Tepco estimates that around 300 tonnes of contaminated groundwater still flow into the Pacific each day. The levels of radioactivity are small compared with the releases in 2011. Buesseler has measured contamination in water, fish and other organisms from a ship off the coast of Fukushima since the accident unfurled. He is not worried about the immediate health risk, but says fish and other marine life will concentrate radioactive substances, making them unsuitable for consumption for years. "We're not talking about levels that cause direct harm when I'm one kilometre offshore," says Buesseler. "But through the uptake into the seafood and fisheries, you end up having to keep those closed, and that's a billion dollar industry and a cultural loss for Japan."
Buesseler is critical of what he sees as false reassurances from the Japanese government. "They have said some silly things, that it's largely under control. That doesn't really mean anything when you are out on a ship and you are seeing elevated levels of these isotopes. 'Under control' is not a good phrase for the situation right now," he says.
Tepco's latest plan to stem the flow of radioactive groundwater into the ocean is to solidify the soil around the site to form an impermeable "icewall". This should divert groundwater around the site, and stop it mixing with contaminated cooling water. The project will not be cheap. The Japanese government has pledged £300m to help build the barrier, insisting that the danger of leaks and spills make the wall essential. Ice wall technology has been effective in the construction and mining industries, but has never been tried on the scale planned at Fukushima. Lake Barrett, the US consultant brought in by Tepco, is sceptical of the plan. "I don't think it'll make that big a difference. It's several hundred million dollars, and some of that might be better spent on an integrated water plan," he says.
Even if the ice wall works, it could cause fresh problems. Groundwater flowing out to the ocean keeps seawater from seeping inland at Fukushima. Block that flow, or divert it, and saltwater is sure to encroach. Normally, this would not be a problem. But the soil around Fukushima is laden with radioactive caesium. The substance binds to clay in freshwater conditions, but crucially is released again by saltwater.
"If you stop the fresh water flowing out, that would very likely cause the caesium in the ground to be released. You then have a pulse, of what is currently in some way safely buried, going back into the ocean," says Buesseler. "It is certainly something they should think about."
More mishaps are inevitable at Fukushima. The plant is wrecked and decommissioning will take decades of arduous, complex work. In Japan and in other countries, the crisis has already dented public confidence in nuclear power. That has harmed their economies, says Judge.
"Many countries, not just Japan, overreacted to Fukushima and they are suffering. In Germany they are buying gas from Russia, they're buying nuclear energy from France. The Poles are planning, right on the German border, a nuclear power plant to service the German market. They're burning coal, which is really amazing, because their emissions are also going up. So what was a political decision has turned out to be detrimental to the entire economy and particularly to the people," she says.
The media have not helped. "Two years ago there was a huge earthquake and tsunami that killed around 20,000 people. But every day when I read the paper, it said, 'nuclear disaster, nuclear disaster, nuclear disaster'. In actual fact, not one person has died of radiation, nor is anyone likely to.
"The straight story is the Japanese didn't have a nuclear response plan. There were a lot of human errors during what happened at Fukushima. It was old technology, badly maintained, and the regulator was not respected. Those are the facts. They have to be faced and dealt with."




.

David Guyatt
12-19-2013, 11:51 AM
From The Slog:




FUKUSHIMA “BREAKING”…..75 US NAVY SAILORS HAVE CANCER AFTER BRIEF VISIT TO LEAKAGE SITE (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/fukushima-breaking-75-us-navy-sailors-have-cancer-after-brief-visit-to-leakage-site/)

BY JOHN WARD (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/author/hat4uk/) DECEMBER 18, 2013 (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/fukushima-breaking-75-us-navy-sailors-have-cancer-after-brief-visit-to-leakage-site/) FUKUSHIMA DISASTER (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/fukushima-disaster/) FUKUSHIMA IS NOT ANOTHER NEEDLESS PANIC (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/fukushima-is-not-another-needless-panic/) MURDER BY COVER-UP (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/murder-by-cover-up/) NOT A CONSPIRACY MYTH: A FACT (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/not-a-conspiracy-myth-a-fact/)USS RONALD REAGAN (http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/tag/uss-ronald-reagan/)
MURDER BY COVER-UP


http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ussreagan.jpg?w=812 (http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/ussreagan.jpg)
Nimitz class carrier USS Ronald Reagan
http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/bonner.jpg?w=812 (http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/bonner.jpg)
Veteran human rights lawyer Charles Bonner (left) has practiced law for 27 years, so by now he’s pretty good at it. Mr Bonner has been the lead attorney in over sixty-five jury trials involving civil rights cases, police misconduct, child protection and a myriad other attempts to protect the vulnerable poor from the mendacious rich. Now he is leading a class action lawsuit against TEPCO, the regulator/owner of the Fukushima nuclear energy plant.
He’s unlikely to lose it, because he represents 75 sailors who came down with a host of medical problems, including cancers and leukemias, all kinds of gynaecological problems, and tumors on the brain. These service men and women are mainly young people in their early to mid twenties, and no one in their family had ever any of these kinds of illnesses before. Just since Bonner took the case, another 21 sailors have begun to show the same dire symptoms….of radiation sickness.
Their common link? They were all serving on board USS Ronald Reagan during a brief visit to the waters around Fukushima three years ago. As the Ronald Reagan desalinates all its water from the sea for drinking, bathing and other cleaning purposes, all the sailors were multiply exposed to radiation from the Fukushima accident. Calmed by the bollocks being put out about how “harmless” the radiation leakage was, these 75 service men and women now face death.
I’ve just been to eighteen internet sites. I have verified who Bonner is, checked the case credentials (“Cooper et al v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. et. al. (http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/casdce/3:2013cv00773/410815) case number 3:2013cv00773, filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California”) – and confirmed the case’s existence with Bonner’s law firm. This is not left-of-centre urban myth: this is the best indication so far, in my view, of just how serious the Fukushima disaster is going to be.
But not a single mainstream medium I can find within the US, UK or European mainstream has gone near it.
Al Jazzeera, Russia Today, and every eco-site you can find is crawling with the story. At first – obviously – that made me suspicious. I am always wary of any site with an agenda.
But this is not anti-Americanism gone mad. This is the Establishment in the dock, not the rogue sites.
The story is just beginning to leak into the more “respectable” questioning sites like silver doctors (http://www.silverdoctors.com/update-51-sailors-suffering-fukushima-related-medical-issues-is-not-an-internet-conspiracy-theory/), which concluded yesterday:
‘Three days ago, The News Doctors published a story (http://thenewsdoctors.com/51-sailors-from-uss-ronald-reagan-suffering-thyroid-cancer-leukemia-brain-tumors-after-participating-in-fukushima-nuclear-rescue-efforts/) that drew some skepticism within social media. Unfortunately, the story is not an internet conspiracy theory. 51 US sailors are reportedly suffering from Fukushima-radiation related medial issues, and have filed suit in US District Court against TEPCO.
Upon further investigation, this is NOT a conspiracy, and appears to be the sort of story that needs to go through multiple rounds of “distribution” before the mainstream media is forced to cover the story.’
Yet the compainants being represented by Charles Bonner filed their case last April.
We should not be under any illusions: had this case come to light in China or Russia, the western media would be giving us daily 24/7 coverage and analysis of such serious, mass evidence of radioactive danger to human life.
The MSM loves to ridicule the blogosphere as consisting entirely of naive dupes and madcap amateurs. Well, I’d rather be an amateur investigator than a professional whore.
CP Snow said facts are sacred. They’re also inconvenient. I prefer George Orwell’s definition of being a good reporter:

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/orwell.png?w=812 (http://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/orwell.png)
Still my hero after all these years

David Guyatt
12-22-2013, 08:24 AM
Do these people who make these decisions live in a void? Seriously?




Fifty new nuclear plants could be goal in official energy plans

Documents submitted to Department of Energy and Climate Change raise questions regarding future energy policy



Jamie Doward (http://www.theguardian.com/profile/jamiedoward)
The Observer (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/), Saturday 21 December 2013 20.19 GMT

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/21/1387656644133/Hinkley-Point-nuclear-pow-008.jpgHinkley Point C in Somerset aims to provide 7% of the country’s electricity. Photograph: SWNS.com

Up to 50 nuclear power (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/nuclearpower) stations could be built under plans being looked at by the government. The remarkable figure – 10 times the number the government is openly discussing – is revealed in documents submitted to the Department of Energy (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/energy) and Climate Change by one of its own advisory bodies.
The documents are likely to raise questions as to what extent the government's energy policy is weighted in favour of nuclear and away from renewables such as wind turbines. It comes as Brussels begins an investigation into whether Britain is providing up to £17bn of potentially illegal public guarantees for the first nuclear power plant in a generation, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, which aims to provide 7% of the country's electricity.
In a submission to a consultation on geological waste disposal, the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management has said an upper limit of 75 gigawatts of nuclear power is "being examined" by the DECC in London.
The current programme announced by ministers is to build 12 reactors to supply 16 gigawatts at five sites. The higher figure equates to more than 50 new large-scale modern reactors. The committee has been given the task of assessing the number of disposal facilities that might be required for the waste that will be produced by new nuclear power stations. It notes that the 16-gigawatt programme is only the "first tranche" and is "substantially below the 75 gigawatts upper limit being examined in [the Department of Energy and Climate Change]".
The upper limit echoes a scenario outlined by the energy department in a 2011 report, outlining its vision for a low-carbon future. It suggested 75 gigawatts of nuclear power – enough to provide 86% of UK electricity – could be brought on line by 2050. "Nuclear energy is vital for our energy security and we want it to be part of the energy mix in the future, alongside renewables and clean coal and gas," a department spokeswoman said. "It's important to model potential scenarios to plan for our future energy needs, but we haven't set any targets for the amount of new nuclear to be developed."
But Dr David Lowry, an environmental policy consultant and nuclear specialist, said the 75-gigawatt scenario was a "nuclear fantasia at it worst", and failed to explain how huge amounts of radioactive waste generated by the plants would be stored.