Buckling at Unit No. 4 was likely caused by a quake — Indications that building didn’t ride it out anywhere near as well as we thought (AUDIO & VIDEO)

Published: June 29th, 2012 at 3:03 pm ET


Interview with Arnie Gundersen
June 26, 2012

At 9:15 in

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: Where that bulge [in Unit 4] is located indicates it’s something called a first mode Euler strut buckle defect. That means it’s likely a seismic problem that came with the initial earthquake or perhaps one of the ones after that.

Five O’Clock Shadow with Robert Knight
June 28, 2012

At ~18:45 in

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: When you see a building buckle like that, it’s actually called a first mode Euler strut buckle. And it’s caused by seismic induced stress. So of course the industry the has been saying all along, “Well these plants withstood the earthquake perfectly well.” But buckling like we are seeing in unit 4 is an indication that perhaps they didn’t ride out the earthquake anywhere near as well as we thought.

Listen to the broadcast here

Published: June 29th, 2012 at 3:03 pm ET


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  3. Gundersen: “The real apocalyptic thing would be an earthquake” at Fukushima — We’ve got to move quickly on Unit 3, it’s by far the worst structurally — Unit 4 a walk in the park comparatively (AUDIO) December 20, 2013
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16 comments to Buckling at Unit No. 4 was likely caused by a quake — Indications that building didn’t ride it out anywhere near as well as we thought (AUDIO & VIDEO)

  • Confirmation that unit 4 actually exploded here

    AEC chairman: major change needed in reprocessing nuclear fuel June 29

    • Thank you, Majia. You're blog and work for Fukushima is indespensable.

      For those new to Fukushima… tools gathered for you

      Hurrah! May peeps in the US streets also follow!

      Current world-wide Fukushima fallout forecasts

      Other rad monitoring links and mitigation protocols

      AGreenRoad also has an excellent nuke primer

      Thanks for sharing the rad word everyone!

    • Some very informative conversation. Thanks majia.

      from AEC chairman article:
      "There are two ways of thinking about how to respond to accidents in the world."
      – Shunsuke Kondo, chairman, Japan AEC

      1. "One way of thinking is that an accident will occur no matter what kinds of measures are implemented."

      2. "The other is that an accident will not occur if a highly dependable system is constructed."

      Okay, no brainer, number 1 of course.
      But, if that's true, then why build them in the first place. 🙂

      Obviously, number 2 is standard procedure.
      A setup for failure in more ways than we can count. 🙁

    • razzz razzz

      Well majia, once the Japanese learn to understand what they are reading, like the interview you linked to, there will be millions not thousands protesting against nuclear power.

      He's in the industry and they don't even tell him everything. I would bet that TEPCO was trying to save the reactors to restart them after the Great Quake but realized to late the road to meltdowns already started as soon as the quake struck.

      With a total loss of power to the site, the venting valves were in 'closed' position, the US had already figured out that venting (fallout) was more important than trying to save a reactor hence had special tools to crack open any venting valves, manually. Controlled venting Units 1,2 & 3 would have sent radioactive elements into the atmosphere but would have bought more time to try and get water to the reactor cores.

      In the end, all the reactors self-vented in an uncontrolled manner including Unit 4's SPF pond. Only Unit 2 had a panel blow out that allowed it to vent itself to the atmosphere and not build up pressure to explode the building. Unit's 5 & 6, they manually cut holes in their roofs for any necessary venting, better late than never.

      • richard richard

        @razz – do you mean "self-vented in an uncontrolled manner" as an explosion ? .. just curious.

        and, "Unit's 5 & 6, they manually cut holes in their roofs" – i hadn't come across that, was curious about where that info comes from. thanks.

        • razzz razzz

          I don't remember the timeline but TEPCO sent workers out to remove either part of the roof(s) or an upper floor side wall panel to allow the remaining buildings to vent and found a panel already missing from Unit 2 (last pic here>>> http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp/daiichi-photos.htm).

          Units 5 & 6, they cut and chopped holes in the roofs (Wasn't caused by falling debris).

          If I remember correctly, some of those side panels (blue with clouds painted on them) are actually hinged and spring loaded to flap open when pressure begins building up inside. TEPCO, in their infinite wisdom, welded them shut so typhoon winds wouldn't affect them.

          I was making the point that the unit's reactors would vent: Controlled or Uncontrolled. Could lead to explosions. Unit 2 never suffered a serve explosion because it self-vented.

          Not to take away from the fact that all (3) reactors continuously release radioactive byproducts into the air, land and sea. You just can't see it but the sensors record it like with the spikes in readings during recent quakes.`

          Speculation is that the intact Unit 2 has produced the most fallout as compared to say, Unit3, where the core was ejected and prevents any further nuclear reactions between the rods…at least the one laying around on the ground outside the core. Now, just left to decay and leave their poisons behind.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Thanks, Majia. My nose, throat, and lungs tell me you are probably correct. Sigh.

  • jackassrig

    HAHA. It's Euler not oiler.

  • jackassrig

    It's pronounced oiler. If there was ever a name that has been butchered, it's Euler name. That one name has been pronounced every way possible. The only one that comes close is Pitot-pitot tube.

  • voltscommissar

    Gundersen on DemocracyNow.org (July 6th) again emphasises GOOD EVIDENCE that the buildings failed before the tsunami and before the "hydrogen explosions" (massive containment failures). http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/6/as_japan_says_fukushima_disaster_man

    "first mode Euler strut bulge" is not getting many hits on a Google search, but there is good technical info around, such as http://richter.uprm.edu/~jclinton/Lectures/9/9buildings.htm [snip] "generally referred to box/shear-wall construction. This type of construction is very common. It has the advantage of very high yield strength. Furthermore, if the walls are properly reinforced, the ductility is also high. This type of construction has the disadvantage that it tends to lead to very stiff buildings. …this can lead to high stresses in a building." [/snip]

    …see also there the amazing Japanese apartment buildings that 'fell over' but were later jacked upright again, and re-occupied! (Niigata 1964 quake)

    • voltscommissar

      if a box/shear-wall building containing a nuclear fission reactor topples over but remains intact, maintaining emergency core cooling might just be technically "tricky" to maintain.

      "tricky" = IMPOSSIBLE!! 😉