French nuclear specialists agree Fukushima “could still explode”, corium a threat — Reactors remain in meltdown says expert, molten lava could break through at any point

Published: March 11th, 2012 at 4:47 pm ET
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Title: One year after catastrophe, Fukushima remains a threat
Source: FRANCE 24
Author: Charlotte BOITIAUX
Date: 11/03/2012

One year after catastrophe [...] the crippled nuclear plant remains a danger zone. Two specialists tell FRANCE 24 why it could still explode. [...]

Plant director Takeshi Takahashi [...] admitted [last week] the station [...] was still “rather fragile”.

[...] Two French specialists decode Takahashi’s statement. [...]

Stéphane Lhomme, head of the French anti-nuclear organisation l’Observatoire nucléaire

  • [Lhomme] says that TEPCO is seriously playing down potential dangers
  • “Their declarations are over-confident, and moreover, simply not true”
  • “The plant is neither stable nor fragile”
  • Current situation [is] “catastrophic. Even if the thermal power in the four damaged reactors has been considerably reduced, they are still in meltdown and therefore still noxious”
  • Speaking with an alarmed tone, he says “of course the global situation is slightly better than it was a year ago. But the corium, a lava-like fuel-containing material that lies at the bottom of the containers, remains a real problem.”
  • Lhomme argues that at several thousand degrees, this molten lava could break through the cask at any point and destroy the concrete beneath the container, reaching soil and water located beneath the surface
  • “If it comes into contact with water, the corium would spark a series of massive vapour cloud explosions”

Thierry Charles, security director of the French Institute of Radio-Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)

  • [Charles] agrees that the remaining corium could pose a threat
  • “We don’t even know how much corium each cask contains”
  • “Or how much could get through several metres of concrete”
  • Charles is more optimistic than his colleague
  • “The Japanese authorities have already done plenty to tackle the problem. They have injected a cement substance into the floor of the plant, removed the debris, blocked off potential seepage points, cleaned the floors and dressed Reactor 1 in a metal cover in order to limit any fallout”

Read the report here

Published: March 11th, 2012 at 4:47 pm ET
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