Yomiuri: Former Japan PM ‘hints’ of recriticality at Fukushima — Found Chlorine-38 in Reactor No. 1 water tested at research institute

Published: December 16th, 2011 at 5:33 am ET


Critical mass, Nature Magazine, Dec. 15, 2011:

More than nine months after the nuclear-reactor disaster at Fukushima, fundamental questions about what happened remain unanswered. Without answers to these questions, Japan, and the rest of the world, is in the dark on what went wrong, what must be done now, and how to avoid similar accidents in future.

A Comment in this week’s issue summarizes these concerns (see page 313). For the Japanese public, one of the most troubling things about the article should be the identity of its authors: two ruling party politicians, including a former prime minister. Surely they should be able to get some answers? […]

Unfortunately the issue is not available online, but Yomiuri summarizes the contents.

Hatoyama: Nationalize Fukushima N-plant, Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 16, 2011 (Emphasis Added):

In the Nature article, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama:

  1. Criticizes Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, for disclosing only limited information to Diet committees
  2. Hints at the possibility of recriticality at the plant
  3. Says there is still much about the crisis that needs clarification, including the state of the molten fuel within the nuclear reactors

Chlorine Detected… “Released During Recriticality”


Hatoyama also says that he and [Tomoyuki Taira, member of the House of Representatives] obtained data on samples of contaminated water TEPCO obtained from the basement of the plant’s No. 1 reactor and asked an outside research institute to reanalyze them.

Results showed that radionuclide chlorine 38, one of the isotopes released during recriticality, “was indeed present,” he claims.

TEPCO reported at one point that it found chlorine 38 in the sampled water, but the utility later retracted that statement, saying there was a mistake in the analysis.

More from Yomiuri

Only by bringing the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into government hands can scientists thoroughly discover what caused the nuclear crisis, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says in an article published in the Dec. 15 issue of the British science journal Nature. […]

Hatoyama said the Fukushima plant “must be nationalized so that information can be gathered openly.” […]

It is extremely rare for a major science journal to carry an article written by a former prime minister as a cover story, according to an official of Nature Japan.

More information on past Chlorine-38 reports at Fukushima

  • “If chlorine-38 was detected that can only mean ‘recriticality’.” –Professor Koide, Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute
  • “Radioactive chlorine found March 25 in the Unit 1 turbine building suggests chain reactions continued after the reactor shut down, physicist Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, wrote” –Source
  • “In order to form CL-38 […] Dalnoki-Verress did some calculations and came to the conclusion [there] was the presence of transient criticalities in pockets of melted fuel in the reactor core” –Source

h/t Anonymous tip

Watch nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen discuss chlorine on April 3 here

Published: December 16th, 2011 at 5:33 am ET


Related Posts

  1. Professor at Kyoto University’s nuclear institute changes mind: I’ve started to think fission has happened again… re-criticality April 6, 2011
  2. “Recriticality? Possibility of recriticality?! IAEA report: a meltdown at Fukushima unit 3?” (JAPAN TV) May 19, 2011
  3. UPI: Active geological fault lies directly beneath Japan reactor — Yomiuri: “Extremely uncertain” if it can be reactivated April 25, 2012
  4. Bloomberg: “Nuclear reaction threat” as temperature rises — Head of Japan nuke institute: “Nobody is sure about the location of melted fuel — A similar incident will probably occur again” February 7, 2012
  5. Radioactive iodine found in Gunma at 3 sewage plants — “Possibility of recriticality again” December 12, 2011

30 comments to Yomiuri: Former Japan PM ‘hints’ of recriticality at Fukushima — Found Chlorine-38 in Reactor No. 1 water tested at research institute

  • In germany Fukushima was back in the news, according to the japanese government the fukishima plant is now SAFE and the temperature below 100 degree centigrade.
    Good News (!!=??? =!) !
    (Without cores the plantes are safe – yes !!!!)

  • Human0815

    Sadly there is no indication when they done this kind of a “private” Check up!

    As far as i know Yomiuri Shimbun this whole Story
    happened maybe one Month ago?

    I will try to Log Inn later!

    • Enenews Admin

      thought the same thing
      probably right after the xenon detection reports in early November
      perhaps someone somewhere has a subscription to Nature and can quote some relevant excerpts

      • I have access to university computer systems that get all the academic joirnals by subscription. Very busy now but i will get to it. Anyone who has access to a major library or university library computer network SHOULD be able to access journal articles… especially since Nature is one of the most widely respected scientific journals.

  • or-well

    FORMER politicos-

    Important point – nationalise Tepco OR JUST THE FUKUSHIMA FACILITY ?
    (Loading cost/responsibility on public)

    By the way, “nationalised” companies still have execs…allows for scapegoats and continuance for the rest, follow the revolving door Ind/Gov/Educ/Media.

    The whole criticality debate will continue and be mostly buried in the past in Japan, as the chairs are re-arranged in the boardroom of the nation.

    These guys may be jockeying for jobs on the hatchet committee, (Taira was defeated in ’09).

  • goathead goathead

    Boy does mainstream media SUCK!!

    • Enenews Admin

      in general
      but that is where 90% of the posts on here come from

      • aigeezer aigeezer

        It’s a Catch-22. People try to cite mainstream sources because fringe sources are easily dismissed. Mainstream sources tend to be captive to industry and government. Fringe sources include a lot of junk with occasional nuggets.

        My quick look at msm headlines on awakening today shows a deluge of almost-identical “everything is OK now” stories. The msm have suddenly noticed Fukushima, but only to report identically on a press release from Japan’s current prime minister.

        It reminds me of dubya’s “the fundamentals of the economy are essentially sound” just before it blew.

  • or-well

    Further, by the time the whole “what actually happened” affair is Committee’d, Commissioned and Studied (with great amounts of info too detailed for Joe and Jane Watanabe, all media-belaboured in numbingly boring and stunningly confusing articles with cute graphics) it will be of less concern to most than getting on with their lives and dealing with the crisis of the day.

    • The said also “A cold shutdown is when water used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below boiling point, ” But what about the melted core ?? Is this still declared as a fuel rods – how are fuel rods defined ??? Is there a minimum requirement in terms of how they should look like ? What a mess !

    • Bobby1

      BREAKING NEWS: The Titanic has been declared “stable”. It is now resting on the ocean floor.

  • Fudo

    On top of it, the article states,

    “The declaration of a cold shutdown could have repercussions well beyond the plant. It is a government pre-condition for allowing about 80,000 residents evacuated from within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to go home.”

    That’s insane.

  • or-well

    Even further,
    There’s the issue of independent science being done about what actually happened,and that is quite different from the issue of critical unbiased examination of how this and ALL NPPs there are being operated, then there’s the issue of uncontaminated science being done around the whole issue of nuclear industry in Japan.

    Lots of room for large lies hidden by small truths.

  • Fudo

    Given that Toshiba bought out the Shaw Group’s 20% stake in nuclear-plant designer Westinghouse Electric AFTER the Fukushima disaster, it shows policy has not changed in Japan. Toshiba accounts for billions of dollars in revenue for Nuclear Plant construction, so the government is going to protect this part of the economy at the cost of the lives and safety of it’s citizens.

    very sad.


  • bmurr bmurr

    By declaring the plan in safe cold shutdown state, they can begin returning the residents that were relocated. Once those people are returned, they will find a radiated land where no business will operate. Tepco/Tokyo is creating a recruiting base for future clean up crews. Remember, they need 30 – 40 years worth of workers. And the heavy lifting has not begun.

  • evendine

    Seems very significant that such senior members of the political establishment have chosen to use such a prestigious international journal to report that TEPCO have been lying about re-criticality…

    • aigeezer aigeezer

      Yes, definitely, but I can’t figure out what it means. All of a sudden, within the last few days:

      1. The NRC indulges in a public squabble.

      2. Arnie hints that Fukushima may be settling down after all.

      3. Nature (possibly THE most prestigious scientific mouthpiece) runs a blockbuster saying Fukushima is still big trouble.

      4. The Japanese PM announces cold shutdown.

      5. Today, the MSM parrot the cold shutdown story loudly and in unison.

      Very very mixed messages, but at least we’re suddenly getting messages from sources that have been much too quiet for much too long.

      • The bottom line is that nobody knows the whole truth. Nobody can get close enough. Then you have the “experts” who have competing stories. Some are just shills, and some are giving the best guesses they can. The info/data that comes out passes through Tepco and Government hands first, and can be censored or faked at any point before most “experts” and the public sees it. The other bottom line is that every major happy-talk report has later been disproved. Sooooo…. the only reasonable conclusion is that it is very bad, but we cannot yet be sure HOW bad.

  • or-well

    The shadings (or shadows) in this article are important.

    Former PM calls for better science AND
    the station to be “brought into government hands”.

    We’ve seen the general quality of publicly announced science around this.

    Does closer gov’t control mean better science or more “on message” science?

    Will better science finger the fall guy(s) and “clear” the culpable ?

    Certainly Japanese bodies of higher learning need more independence from Gov’t/Industry.

    But will greater Gov’t responsibility for the plant bring that about, or put the science under stricter watch?

    Does Hatoyama mean ALL of Tepcos’ assets or just the Fukushima facility ?

    And whos’ science ? Tepcos’, NISAs’,

    All very interesting and soon to be swept away by the tide of speculation about concrete nappies etc. (except behind the scenes from where Hatoyama has peaked through the curtain.)

    • aigeezer aigeezer

      Those questions seem very appropriate, or-well.

      Add to the mix: TEPCO is effectively bankrupt, Japan is effectively bankrupt (well before March 11), the US is effectively bankrupt, Europe is effectively bankrupt. (I’m not citing sources because they are so widespread).

      Most “assets” in this environment turn out to be someone else’s IOUs.

      We live in interesting times, even if there were no molten cores near the water table in an earthquake zone beside the ocean in the land that gave the tsunami its name. Tick, tick, tick.

      • or-well


        well, as you mentioned it {:-)}…

        bringing the plant into Gov’t hands could also involve “relieving” Tepco of some financial responsibility, furthering their existence as a corporate entity.

        AND (!) if “independent science” determines the earthquake itself (not solely the tsunami) caused damage, then by applying something similar to NISAs’ Orwellian wordplay future costs for compensation and “cleanup” could possibly be offloaded onto the public treasury if the plant was in Gov’t hands.

        Pure speculation, I know.

        I do believe the criticality issue, in this particular instance, is a sidebar story, in that it’s already “out”, a convenient “hook” on which to hang – someone(?)- while manoeuvreing politically and financially.

  • evendine

    It’s certainly confusing…

    Sounds like a political takeover, where the Old Guard are being overhauled by a new, even more aggressive, corporate group (backed by US interests who want to avoid negligent liability?). The new lot want to avoid paying out for the disaster – hence the continuation of the ‘cold shutdown – safe to go home – spread the radiation around’ bullshit and the former, since they are losing power are perhaps trying to undermine the incoming group with some facts?

    Not sure where Arnie’s coming from with his latest – my feeling is that he’s off the mark.

    [excerpted] “… Proof that re-criticality has occurred hinges on the detection of certain isotopes. The radionuclide chlorine-38, for example, has a short half-life of about 37 minutes and can be generated only if neutrons are available.

    Its presence would therefore indicate current nuclear activity.
    Reports of such a detection have been mixed… We concluded that 38Cl was indeed present, and at a level close to that initially reported (1.6 million becquerels per milliliter…

    …Another indicator is xenon-135…On 1 November, TEPCO detected 135Xe in unit 2. But, because the concentration was low, NISA concluded that the nuclide could have been produced by spontaneous fission of the dormant fuel, so was not necessarily caused by continuing nuclear reactions. The evidence for re-criticality is therefore still inconclusive….

    “…Initially, TEPCO claimed that the explosion in unit 3 generated white smoke; on re-examination, the smoke was black, and therefore unlikely to have been caused by a pure hydrogen explosion. So a nuclear explosion is a possibility…

    “Similarly unconfirmed is how much of the concrete base of the reactor has been breached by molten fuel. …

    “…However, two weeks ago, TEPCO admitted that molten fuel may have eaten through three-quarters of the concrete under unit 1, and damaged the bases of two of the other reactors. But again, caution is required. No one has actually looked at the fuel inside the reactor core. So the extent of the leakage is yet to be established….”

    • or-well

      “…on re-examination, the smoke was black,…”

      white, black, heck anyone might have made the same mistake…

  • tons of nuclear fuel confirmed in an unknown state and someone is astonished to see current nuclear activity

    thats so sick …

  • evendine


    ‘Reports of such a detection have been mixed’ – yes, but an ex-Japanense-PM got the chlorine-38 samples tested independently and confirmed the original findings, despite TEPCO’s assertions to the contrary. Nature published the findings. This surely means re-criticality must be credible and that TEPCO are lying again…

    Even TEPCO admit the fuel has been out of 3 reactor vessels since March 12th and is now eating through the basement concrete.

    Let me know if you need links, but they are all here or on EX-SKF if you look…