Damaged fuel rods are cracked and leaking radioactive gases in Fukushima Unit 4 pool; Wire appears trapped in racks — Another assembly bent when “mishandled during a transfer”

Published: November 14th, 2013 at 10:46 am ET


Japan Times, Nov. 14, 2013:  Earlier this week, Tepco found three damaged assemblies that will be difficult to remove, but officials said the damage appeared to have occurred before the March 11 disasters.

Reuters, Nov. 14, 2013: One of the assemblies was damaged as far back as 1982, when it was mishandled during a transfer, and is bent out of shape, Tepco said in a brief note at the bottom of an 11-page information sheet in August. In a statement from April 2010, Tepco said it found two other spent fuel racks in the reactor’s cooling pool had what appeared to be wire trapped in them. Rods in those assemblies have pin-hole cracks and are leaking low-level radioactive gases, Tepco spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai told Reuters on Thursday. […] Having to deal with the damaged assemblies is likely to make [removing the other fuel] more difficult […]

Tepco spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida: “The three fuel assemblies … cannot be transported by cask […] We are currently reviewing how to transport these fuel assemblies to the common spent fuel pool,” she said.

See also: [intlink id=”multiple-assemblies-deformed-in-fukushima-unit-4-pool-one-bent-at-a-90-degree-angle-tepco-mistake-occurred-when-handling-the-fuel-25-years-ago” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: November 14th, 2013 at 10:46 am ET


Related Posts

  1. Japan Diplomat: Concern fuel rods in Unit 4 pool are damaged — “Have they moved”? — Transfer process could go on for decades, not months October 22, 2013
  2. Nuclear Engineer: Fuel assembly damaged at Fukushima Unit 4 — It’s bent in shape of banana — Unknown if pellets poured into pool during removal — Tepco stopped English translations (AUDIO) December 19, 2013
  3. UK Newspaper: Multiple sets of fuel rods at Unit 4 reportedly damaged AFTER disaster; Explosions to blame? — AP: “Assemblies and their handles may have been damaged when big pieces of debris fell” November 18, 2013
  4. Multiple assemblies ‘deformed’ in Fukushima Unit 4 pool — One “bent at a 90-degree angle” — Tepco: Mistake occurred when handling the fuel… 25 years ago November 13, 2013
  5. Now revealed there’s 80 damaged spent fuel assemblies leaking radioactive materials in Fukushima storage pools — Kyodo: Removal attempt at Unit 4 starts later today — Japan nuclear official ‘nervous’, as one slip could result in monumental chain reaction (AUDIO) November 17, 2013

53 comments to Damaged fuel rods are cracked and leaking radioactive gases in Fukushima Unit 4 pool; Wire appears trapped in racks — Another assembly bent when “mishandled during a transfer”

  • mesa777

    I wonder what "low level" means? What is TEPCO going to do with this pool now that we have bent spent fuel rods? No way to raise them now since they do not fit into the casking used to withdrawl them from the h20….. The entire pool just needs to be "moved" from where it is into some sort of a permanent holding site…

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    It was inevitable that TEPCO must purchase a transfer cask customized for removal of damaged fuel assemblies, entire racks of damaged fuel, leaker fuel assemblies that may break open during the fuel removal process, and any spilled fuel pellets. This cask will lack the built-in rack that is designed to remove fuel assemblies.
    There is no reason that fuel removal can't continue while the specialist cask is on order.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Photos and diagrams:
    Regarding the integrity of the spent fuel pool at unit 4

    “・The investigation of the rubble distribution conditions inside the spent fuel pool was performed.
    “・The results showed that no abnormalities of fuel racks were recognized…”

    • sunpower

      Thanks for the info, Anne. I see they apparently pulled out some fresh fuel with a small crane in July 2012. This is an interesting evidence, after the reports and images from March 2011. The NHK videos show SFP4 steaming or smoking away. What gives–Tepco says fuel was never uncovered or boiling. So hard to believe what they say and do.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Have they already experienced a criticality?

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Investigation Results of Unit 3 Spent Fuel Pool Utilizing an Underwater Camera at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (Performed on February 14, 15, 16 and 18)

    Feb 21,2013

  • LT56

    1982?? Makes me wonder how many other nuclear reactors around the world have damaged fuel rods sitting there in the fuel pool. For who knows how long…

    • Sickputer

      LT56 sez: "how many other nuclear reactors around the world have damaged fuel rods sitting there in the fuel pool."

      SP: You can bet your contaminated lungs that virtually all spent fuel ponds have some anomalies in the rods.

      Ugly industry secret. And there aren't too many that have air filter systems above them. At some countries try to cask those leakers, but it ain't Japan or America. Profits before health.

      Worker in spent fuel pond building: "Hey, those bubbles look strange!"

      Boss: "Just natural cooling…don't worry about it."

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Results of Inside Investigation of the Reactor Well, the RPV and the Spent Fuel Pool at Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

    August 9, 2013
    Tokyo Electric Power Company


  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne


    The REAL Fukushima Danger: Spent Fuel Pools
    September 15, 2013
    via Washington’s Blog / September 14, 2013

    “…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. This is really not surprising given what’s happened in terms of pumping of water, the aftermath of the earthquake and the tsunami, the continuing infusions of water into the groundwater area. This is an immediate problem, and if it is not resolved there is an extraordinary possibility we really could be back at March 2011 again because of the possibility of a fission accident in that spent fuel pond in Unit No. 4.’
    “Xinua writes:
    “’Mitsuhei Murata, a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland has officially called for the withdrawalof Tokyo’s Olympic bid, due to the worsening crisis at Fukushima, which experts believe is not limited to storage tanks, but also potential cracks in the walls of the spent nuclear fuel pools.’…”

  • Nick

    Before Occupy, I used to have what I call the 99/1 rule: 99% of people are stupider than you are. I wish I had patented it before Occupy made it the 1% to 99% with regards to wealth.

    My 99/1 rule worked great in all manner and places during an ordinary day. It's not being arrogant, just my own experience.

    Believe me, it's a life saver in certain circumstances.

    With the Fukushima crisis, I am not convinced that my percentages are that far off.

    How on earth do we have 1,000s of tons of radioactive toxins that CANNOT ever be safely stored?

    Because the 99/1 rule is etched into human ways.

    example A:
    When you drive down a freeway just having the knowledge that 99% of the drivers around you are texting/eating/fiddling with archaic radio knobs/talking on their phones, it will save your life.

    example B:
    Moving spent (damaged) fuel from one precarious pool to another. Now how ridiculous is that?

  • Bones Bones

    Anyone ever thought of a giant pool below the fuel pools and a mechanism to drop the whole pool all of it into this giant pool at ground level with a wall around it. Slowly and controlled with massive equipment. It could be easier to handle then and perhaps safer. Just some different POV.

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Bones that would be too logical…

    • Sickputer

      Bones sez: "Anyone ever thought of a giant pool below the fuel pools and a mechanism to drop the whole pool all of it into this giant pool…"

      SP: The USSR conscripted 10,000 miners to dig underneath Unit 4 at Chernobyl.

      In 34 days they dug a 150 meter tunnel and then an underground room 30 meters square by 2 meters deep. This room was for the liquid nitrogen to cool the descending corium.

      So yes, with enough manpower (maybe 100,000 miners at Fukushima) they could have done the same containment strategy. But the Japanese have different agendas and getting inexpensive slave labor is not available. Most of the miners at Chernobyl are now sick or dead, most long before age 60. Tepco and the Diet don't want to pay death benefits for massive radiation casualties.

      The Japanese nucleorats would have to spend a fortune to pay for a suicide army. They have yet to seriously consider such monetary options. They may wish they had done so if things spiral into a country destroying event. America may also regret not intervening if Fukushima spirals into a hemisphere-destroying event.

  • Seeker

    Awhile back (Japan Expert: “All I can do is pray nothing goes wrong” at Fukushima Unit 4")ftlt posted:
    "Just make sure you and your family have an industrial sized gas-bottle of nitrogen for after the show….
    Nitrogen..is capable of inducing "asphyxiation"….it a painless way to die….In a post thermonuclear war world or multiple meltdown world, it might be handy to have one around for the family….I think this should be discussed… Certainly,in Japan if this FUFU procedure fails and goes on to a worst case level..
    Terminal cancer is an ugly suffering filled way to die"

    I long ago sought out cyanide pills but could not find them: for I will not kill another human being, even one invading my home. And I have long thought about the scenario of ugly Ca death ftlt speaks of. So along with Shaker1 I ask ftlt to explain how the industrial bottle of nitrogen would be utilized (if it came to that; meanwhile I am living life to the fullest, i.e. in service to others).

    • weeman

      You are not going to take the easy way out, no way, stand up and face what is coming and do all in your power to delay the enevatable, get a grip, have a kit kat.

    • Gasser Gasser

      Yo Seeker, I have a Party Balloon Helium canister all set up so I don't have to do last minute fiddling around sicker then a dog for my quick exit off this God forsaken prison world and, if I do re-personalize in front of some Judging celestial beings, there going to have a really pissed off mortal on their hands looking to do some spiritual ass kicking for them not managing this nasty wobbling smoking dangerous quaking planet, then again I've turned atheist so forget that rant it's invalid, so lookout TepCo I may go postal.

    • Winterborn

      Helium, plastic bag, plastic tubing. Used to be sold as a suicide kit to terminally ill patients by a 92 year old woman.
      I have to agree with weeman though, I'll be standing on my own until something kicks the feet out from under me.

  • Clyde Scalf

    How in the world do you damage a fuel rod under "normal operations" when they tell us their crane can pick these rods to within 1mm accuracy? TEPCO can't get it right when you have ideal conditions. Now throw into this picture everything that is wrong with building #4, a procedure that has never before being attempted and you have a perfect storm.

    Don't worry because TEPCO has stated they will not allow any media, camera or individual to observe this operation. Why? They don't want you to see the destruction of planet earth.

    TEPCO needs to admit they have these problems and allow an international team involved to chart a proper course.

  • Shaker1

    Well, Seeker, I think you've got the right idea. Myself, I'm confronted daily with a condition that tempers my spirit (hence my handle) and one really hasn't much choice but to go on. I just ask myself who would I burden with my mess? Certainly not those with whom I'm intimate.

    (With tongue in cheek and a grin) But concerning that bottle of nitrogen, they're quite heavy to lug around. There no lack of tall buildings, bridges, or cliffs (Haven't you ever wanted to fly?), all manner of prescription and street drugs (some 'flying' there, too), some quite deadly herbs, the gas stove, stepping into the path of fast traffic or a moving train, walking into the tide, or the exhaust from some engine's tailpipe. Chemicals aren't so difficult to find. For cyanide, try a plating shop, or a mining supply. Oh, and let's not forget the insanely public and I imagine insanely painful act of immolation. (Ugh…)

    Keep living, loving. It always ends too soon. I'd like to be hung in a tree for the birds, not buried, but that's illegal nowadays unless one can do it themselves in some wild place…I guess something has to clean up the mess.

    • vicky13 vicky13

      Hi Shaker1

      >>Keep living, loving. It always ends too soon. I'd like to be hung in a tree for the birds, not buried, but that's illegal nowadays unless one can do it themselves in some wild place…I guess something has to clean up the mess.

      In Tibet it is called a Sky Burial. The vultures and raptors feast on the mortal remains.

      This is how I would like to be disposed of, when my spin on this wheel of life is over.

    • Au Au

      Shaker1, I may be deducing incorrectly the condition of which you speak pertaining to yourself/handle. If I am deducing correctly have a look at this video starting at 13:25. It's about THC eliminating shaking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpVxYA9FF1g
      If I am off on my deduction, and I most certainly could be, it's a good video anyway. Amazing.
      Papaya Leaf tea is also helpful.

  • pkjn

    59 Total Thyroid Tumors In Fukushima Children
    November 13th, 2013 SimplyInfo
    New data has been released from the government study of thyroid abnormalities and cancer in Fukushima children. Of those screened 59 have been found to have tumors. The health survey examined 289,960 children total.
    This becomes 1 cancer per 5000 people. This is far higher than the pre-disaster levels. This raises big questions about the claims that these are increased just due to more screening. The more these numbers grow the harder it is to dismiss the findings are some version of normal.

    • We Not They Finally

      It's not the total at all. As of May, 2012, 36% of the childhood population there already had growths and the parents were prohibited from second opinions and told to just come back in two years. Whatever they're saying, it's higher.

      And any claims that more were discovered "just because of screening" is criminally insane. Does that mean that kids might just die of thyroid cancer and no one, including their parents, would even notice because they weren't "screened"? It's a new level of "adding insult to injury."

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Soon there will be 5900 thyroid cancers, since all you have to do is give it (Radiation Contamination) some time… 🙁

    33% of all people now living in Japan will die from cancer! That is not diagnosed with cancer… that is death from cancer! 🙁

  • Socrates

    We have to hope for the best outcome.

    I faced a potentially life threatening diagnosis before. They have a good shot at getting the rods out of SFP 4.

    Sure, make plans for an early exit as a.plan "B" but never Gove up hope.

    By the way, the NRC will be meeting in Carlsbad, California on the 18th of November to decide what to do with the fuel from SONGS.

    There could be a criticality at Fukushima but they will be boronating to moderate that.

    Stay positive!

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Socrates, This Fukushima Multiple Nuclear Core Melt Down China Syndromes should be very positive news for the civilized world!

    This should be the "final death blow" to this entire Nuclear Industry Technology Path and if it is not and the industry is not shut down worldwide?

    Well then:

    We all deserve to die from very painful cancer filled deaths in the near future… 🙁

    • We Not They Finally

      A) we personally have no power to shut it down. It's genie already out of the bottle. And B) I'm NOT personally optimistic, but people, even realistic people, can do better when they can still hope. So why not just let that be? IMHO, the poster above you did NOT deserve a rash of cynical comments. Just continue to EDUCATE.

  • Grampybone Grampybone

    SFP4 Is far worse off than I had imagined. Xenon reactions are happening to the Zirconium assemblies. If they drop boron into the pool and attempt to move wire from broken fuel it could upset the pellets causing mass radiation release. Small radiation release in the SFP4 is bad enough because now it can't be removed without releasing. Broken rods = volatile. Playing Jenga with life on earth at stake.

  • We Not They Finally

    Is TEPCO now offering the "O.k. So we did a few bad things decades ago" defense? Or is it the, "Oh, by the way, proceed at your own risk, we've already fessed up" defense? Or is it the, "Don't blame us, we told you it was dangerous" defense?

    The psychopathic behavior never seems to end.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    This is a clear move on TEPCO"s part to provide distraction.
    The blame for the difficulty that TEPCO is now having..in the removal is being blamed..on past mechanical issues.
    This detracting from the fact that the damage incurred in Unit 4 was due to an explosion.

    It is not possible for the building to have suffered severe damage without the SFP incurring the same amount of damage.
    Considering..it was the origin point………


    Images of the explosion..


    Another cowardly mind game…on the part of TEPCO.
    To think…they pay PR toadies for this.

  • VoIPEng VoIPEng

    I am not sure if anyone has seen this:


    Could all of this simply be a PR stunt for an event that has already taken place?

  • ftlt

    Wonder, around the world, how many other pools have damaged fuel packages in them??… Probably, plenty..

    Do you think, you are going to hear about before their particular disaster??? No way…

    The MODERN world of energy is killing us quickly – after 100,000 years and more of doing just fine without it…

    We are so smart…

    Live well not better..

  • VoIPEng VoIPEng

    November 14, 2013 at 7:55 pm · Reply

    About 51 min. into the interview Canuck1 references above, Gunderson begins to discuss zirc fires in SFPs, their pyrophoric characteristics, the chemicals which can be used for fire suppression.

    “Tepco has chosen not to have chemicals on site as a just in case…”[a zirc fire occurs]. He describes an interview with a Tepco panel of 5 engineers “a year ago” in which they state there is nothing in the pools to burn. He refers them to the Sandia labs study showing nuclear spent fuel zircoly rods do catch fire when exposed to air.

    Note to Tepco-in addition to substantial Boron stores, you may want to keep the required extinguishing agents to fight a zircoly fire. Something tells me you may need a few planeloads of this as well.

    Report comment

    November 14, 2013 at 7:59 pm · Reply
    So basically…the worst has already happened and they are now trying to cover it up. Goes right along with the lies they have been spewing since the beginning doesn't it? Does it really shock anyone?

  • VoIPEng VoIPEng

    Hope you don't mind me copying and pasting your post Wakin.

  • Shaker1

    VoIPEng, I would have liked to have seen Tepco make some effort to atmosphericly control the structure they built over Unit 4. Zirc fires require oxygen. Mainting a nitrogen atmosphere even if there is steam present would help. If I were doing that job as a worker, I would want some kind of breathing apparatus of uncommon supply anyway. It would make sense to me. I don't see that control as so difficult, as cracks can be filled with sprayed foam. Also, at that point, because there would have to be flow to maintain that atmosphere, they could scrub whatever flows out.

    Japan has this vaunted reputation (or used to, anyway) of engineering and production management. Remember the '80s when every outfit was attempting just-in-time and kanban systems of kitting for processes with even written procedural specs for the simplest operations? I do. There's none of that in evidence here. Too much time has gone by to claim expediency in planning and as we all complain about here excuses of money or manpower are just plain silly in relation to the facts and their impacts.

    As for rods being damaged with mistakes in normal operations, I read long ago that the mistakes such as this are 'normal'. It's pretty obvious that this particular type of technology is quite old. I wonder if anyone at Tepco or any regulatory agencies have thought about that aspect when they simply mirrored what was there in the past with the new systems in Unit 4.

    • sunpower

      What VolPEng is saying is not that measures need to be taken to avoid a zirc fire during Tepco's grand scheme. We all know what zirc fires do and how hard they are to put out with water. Tepco claims nothing much happened to the SFP4 and the fuel is intact. HP is saying the fuel likely all burned in 2011. Tepco also said this to John Monager of NRC, but recanted when Jazcko testified in Congress, which must have been humiliating to Japan. I agree Tepco has obviously built this structure at unit four and installed a new crane, but that info alone does not prove there is intact fuel in the pool as they say. They have confirmation from an outside observer but unfortunately that person may be a person involved in covering up TMI. Since Tepco will not allow observers for its grand charade, and is illogically training amateurs, I have decided to state my own position as agnostic until real proof arrives re fuel in the pool. I do not agree with people who believe the major effort Tepco is making re SFP4 validates their claim that the pool is intact and virtually undamaged. Past hoaxes have also involved major events and we are in the age of universal deception. Tepco should be assumed to be lying unless proven honest, based on their track record and damage to the planet which they refuse to even remedy with entombment and isolation of the point source. Thanks to all who post their info here no matter what hypothesis they work with.

      • Naha Johari

        No matter how elaborate the cover-up, wouldn't we know by now if SFP4's fuel have completely burned? Wouldn't you and I be vomiting blood in the throngs of pain now after how many times the jet stream have spread several times the fallout of Chernobyl all over the northern hemisphere since the pre-tsunami quake? Did many TEPCO employees and local residents die right after this event? Granted this hypothesis is supported by an FOIA NRA document. Until real proof arrives I will remain an agnostic. Then people can brand me sheeple to their heart's content as we face death by nuclear ELE together.

        The scenario played out by TEPCO et al is that the pellets/rods in their assemblies are still in that tank teetering in the air, cantilevered over by a crane support behemoth. Once again they announced that they are halting removal operations. It sure sounds like further delaying tactics if you are convinced it's theatrics over an empty tank.

        There is also the SFP4 fuel having partially burned/vapourised hypothesis. Despite it possibly tying in with local radiation spikes, it's problematic if the warnings of spreading criticality from adjacent burning fuel is correct. Or did I misunderstand this? Did they put a fire out? When and how?

        We will know eventually. I'm not questioning that there is a seaborne radiation plume heading towards the US west coast, but there is little good in belittling those who are not convinced due to lack of concrete proof. Do debate but keep…

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Time out is advisable..

  • pkjn

    Fukushima: Tokyo Electric Admits Total 80 Spent Fuel Assemblies Had Damages Before the Nuclear Accident
    NOVEMBER 16, 2013 EX-SKF
    It was revealed that 70 fuel assemblies in the Reactor 1 at Fukushima had had damages before the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami.
    The damaged assemblies are about one-quarter of the 292 spent fuel assemblies stored in the pool.
    There are three damaged fuel assemblies inside the Reactor 4.
    The Reactor 2 has three damaged fuel assemblies, and the Reactor 3 has four, making the total of damaged fuel assemblies 80.
    Technologies to remove damaged fuel haven't been established.
    Tokyo Electric has postponed the removal of the damaged assemblies as it is difficult to remove them in a normal manner.

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