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AP: Whereabouts of melted nuclear cores unknown as Japan ready to declare Fukushima in stable condition — Madarame: Reactors are broken, difficult to predict what may occur

Published: December 14th, 2011 at 10:50 am ET
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Japan to declare nuclear plant in stable condition, AP, Dec. 13, 2011 (Emphasis Added):

  • Japan is poised to declare its crippled nuclear plant virtually stable nine months after a devastating tsunami
  • But [...]
  • Facility still leaks some radiation
  • Remains vulnerable to earthquakes
  • Shows no prospect for cleanup for decades
  • Experts caution that the progress so far at Fukushima should not be overstated
  • Problems could still crop up

Cold Shutdown ‘Conditions’

  • Meeting that strict definition [of cold shutdown] is impossible at Fukushima Dai-ichi
  • The damaged reactors’ fuel has melted
  • Its exact whereabouts is unknown
  • Virtually impossible to know the exact temperature of the fuel
  • Because of the educated guesswork involved, Japanese authorities are using the phrase “cold shutdown conditions,” rather than “cold shutdown”

Haruki Madarame, Chairman of Japan’s Nuclear safety commission

“The reactors are broken and we hardly know what it really is like inside the reactors and it’s difficult to predict what may occur”

Satoru Tanaka, nuclear physicist at the University of Tokyo

“But achieving the status does not mean the problem is over — There are so many things that still need to be taken care of and clarified”

Kazuhiko Kudo, nuclear physicist at Kyushu University

“TEPCO and the government are anxious to bring a certain closure to the crisis [...] It would be a problem if the announcement gives an impression that the plant has received an official safety certificate”

The AP may want to double check the following claims in their report

  1. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last week that temperatures inside the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant’s three melted reactor cores are almost consistently below the boiling point
  2. The Fukushima plant disaster, which spewed an estimated one-fifth the amount of radiation as the 1986 accident at Chernobyl

1) The location of the cores is unknown, therefore getting a temperature measurement of the melted reactor cores is not possible. So how is it possible to claim the cores are below the boiling point?

2) “Regarding Cesium-137 [...] the new estimate shows that emissions started earlier and ended later than assumed in most studies so far. The total release amounts to 36 PBq, which equals 40% of the Chernobyl emissions.” (SOURCE)

Published: December 14th, 2011 at 10:50 am ET
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32 comments

32 comments to AP: Whereabouts of melted nuclear cores unknown as Japan ready to declare Fukushima in stable condition — Madarame: Reactors are broken, difficult to predict what may occur