Fukushima reactor cores may have had “Melt Through to China Syndrome” and went into the earth itself — Includes over 1,500 pounds of plutonium

Published: September 15th, 2013 at 9:05 am ET
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72 comments


Title: Endless Fukushima catastrophe: Many generations’ health at stake
Source: RT
Author: Dr. Helen Caldicott, MD
Date: September 13, 2013

[…] It is becoming apparent that the three molten cores, each weighing 120 to 130 tons have not only melted their way through 6 inches of steel in the reactor vessels, but they now either sit on concrete floors of the severely cracked containment buildings or they have melted their way into the earth itself – this, in nuclear parlance, is called ‘A Melt Through to China Syndrome’.

[…] Each reactor core contains 500lbs of plutonium, but Reactor 3 contains even more, because it also contained plutonium/uranium fuel rods which were placed inside the core as an experiment.

[…] The whole reactor site sits on sodden ground, which has now become unstable, muddy and possibly liquefied. The site itself experiences many minor earthquakes each day, but should a quake greater than 6 or 7 on the Richter scale occur, it is likely that one or several of the buildings could collapse with absolutely disastrous consequences. […]

See also: [intlink id=”gundersen-fukushima-reactor-cores-crisis-bad-china-syndrome-audio” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: September 15th, 2013 at 9:05 am ET
By

72 comments

Related Posts

  1. Gundersen: Fukushima cores in crisis just as bad as ‘China Syndrome’ — Water is contaminated by nuclear fuel and leaking out all over and into groundwater, it melting into earth isn’t necessary (AUDIO) September 8, 2013
  2. Fukushima Nuclear Chief after 3/11: It will be like ‘China Syndrome’ film, fuel to melt away — “We’re imagining collapse of eastern Japan… going to be more than Chernobyl” — “Could be Plutonium… all substances from fuel are going to be released” June 2, 2014
  3. Nuclear Expert: Fukushima is a pretty close approximation of ‘The China Syndrome’; Melted fuel cores burned through containment vessels and material is below reactor structures mixing with groundwater — Essentially it’s a machine that’s washing radioactivity into the sea (AUDIO) November 4, 2014
  4. Top U.S. Official: “The reality is, no technology exists anywhere to solve problem” of Fukushima’s melted fuel — TV: Molten mass “will scorch into the earth” if not cooled, a ‘China Syndrome’; Geysers of radioactive steam shooting up for miles around (VIDEOS) July 3, 2014
  5. Scientist back from Japan: Melt-through of Fukushima containment vessels being discussed — They can’t locate any of the 3 molten reactor cores — “It’s bad, it’s definitely not over” November 25, 2013

72 comments to Fukushima reactor cores may have had “Melt Through to China Syndrome” and went into the earth itself — Includes over 1,500 pounds of plutonium

  • Wooster

    It's quite incredible that no one seems to really know what has happened to the coriums at Fukushima – not least the nuclear professionals.

    Until very recently the Argonne Nuclear Laboratory inferred on their website that the coriums had caused damage to the concrete bases below the reactors, but the page was rewritten when it was flagged up:

    “We perform experiments simulating reactor core melt accidents in which molten core debris (“corium”) erodes the concrete floor of a containment building. This occurred during the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.”

    http://www.ne.anl.gov/capabilities/rsta/cci/

    World-nuclear.org ("representing the people and organisations of the global nuclear profession") say on their website:

    "In unit 1 most of the core – as corium comprised of melted fuel and control rods – was assumed to be in the bottom of the RPV, but later it appeared that it had mostly gone through the bottom of the RPV and eroded about 65 cm into the drywell concrete below (which is 2.6 m thick)."

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Safety-of-Plants/Fukushima-Accident-2011/

    There is no certainty that there are three concurrent China syndromes at Fukushima yet, but an indication that there might be is found in Tepco's data for groundwater contamination. The data shows that the deeper the test sample comes from the more contaminated it is. And I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the explanation that this is caused by gravity.

  • SS4U SS4U

    Each reactor core contains 500lbs of plutonium, but Reactor 3 contains even more, because it also contained plutonium/uranium fuel rods which were placed inside the core as an experiment.<end>
    ~~~~
    what sort of experiment ?

    now that we know there is plutonium underground, can we expect plutonium explosions and plutonium contamination of the Pacific Ocean ?

    • Cisco Cisco

      Based on what I'm reading and the chatter, I suspect the "experiment" was to substitute plutonium for regular fuel in a measure to, 1. reduce fuel costs and 2. dispose of large French plutonium stocks that were accumulating from regular operations.

      As to where are the coriums, I believe that the US NRC has them pegged to within 1000' of where they actually are. If the world thought they were a few miles into the earth, it would be reasonable to assume they would not be recoverable.

      If the coriums were unrecoverable that would start a whole new dialogue about the futility of their operations and prove the event was out of control, something even the MSM would have to report. As long as the coriums' location remain unreported, they can continue to pretend they are in control the disaster.

      • Cisco Cisco

        What would happen if two of the corium blobs were to meet?

        • Cisco Cisco

          To date, TEPCO is in control of the testing, data and reporting.

          That's like BP controlled and manipulated the data on Deep Horizon (for weeks), minimizing the true conditions. It wasn't until the cameras got to view what was really happening at the wellhead and independent scientists got a view, that another much more serious condition unfolded. The Obama administration in concert with responsible US government regulating agencies/departments, and the oil & gas industry were okay with that, just as their same counterparts in Japan are okay with TEPCO in charge.

          As long as TEPCO controls the data, the public will never know the true conditions. And, that's their strategy. The time they buy gives them more time to create the next rabbit hole for public consumption.

        • because of their extreme weight relative to their environment (who knows what) it's even likely that they would all three get together for a chat….

        • We Not They Finally

          What happens even when corium meets aquifer?? The coriums are not just radioactive hot, but THERMALLY outlandishly hot. That makes steam. That makes a pressure cooker under the earth.

      • Wooster

        "I believe that the US NRC has [the coriums] pegged to within 1000' of where they actually are"

        That's interesting, do you have a source for that figure?

        As the coriums are only going to head south, that is still 300 metres below the plant and a long way into the bedrock.

        I wonder when Tepco are planning to announce where the coriums are?

        • Cisco Cisco

          No Wooster, I don't have a specific source. Based on my secondary research, it is my opinion that the coriums are a few miles below the surface. I should have opined that, the US NRC as do some others, have a reasonable scientific estimate how far the coriums have penetrated the earth, plus or minus 1000 feet.

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

          There is no bedrock there at all. Also the corium is also going into the ocean and west down the fault line into the volcanic magma.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            The Geology of Fukushima
            A suspicious fault

            In several of these cross-sections, an ancient fault, predating the later Miocene, is clearly visible under the nuclear site. Whereas the geological survey conducted prior to the construction of the plant does not reveal this fault (drilling did not go beyond a depth of 200 meters at the time), it is clear from the documents dated 2009 and 2010 that Tepco and the NSC have known about it for several years. The following cross-section shows this fault with even greater depth (- 1300 m):

            Fukushima Daiichi fault
            (source NSC: http://www.nsc.go.jp/shinsa/shidai/touden_fukushima/3/siryo2.pdf , p. 13)

            http://fukushima.over-blog.fr/article-the-geology-of-fukushima-88575278.html
            This photo with a crack is actually of Fukushima Daini
            http://preparator.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/newnwe-crack-kooste-a.jpg?w=700

            Man Standing on roof of Fukushima Daini = Collapsed pillar from a ? reactor… “From this crack spilled thousands of tons radioactive water into the sea” (!?)
            http://preparator.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/japan-tsunami-reactor-gallery/

            http://fukushima.over-blog.fr/article-the-geology-of-fukushima-88575278.html

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            The Geology of Fukushima. Porous ground, lowered 10 metres, built over an aquifer with a fault line present, with basements below sea level
            August 18, 2013, Paul Langley

            “…I finally have a coherent picture. 2.5 years of obstruction by nuclear industry aimed at preventing people from having any coherent picture of the sequence of decisions which resulted in this nuclear disaster. 1. They lowered the Fukushima coast by 10 metres to make it cheaper to pump cooling water to the proposed power plant. 2. They built the power plant over an aquifer and on ground with a fault line present 3. They built the basements below sea level. 4. The quake diverted the underground river of the aquifer through the basements 5. Being below sea level the emergency generators and switchgear were doomed to be flooded. 6. cooling failed, the reactors melted down, the 70 holes in each reactor bottom (design of control rod entry) meant fuel and water leaked from bottom of reactors. 7. TEPCO decision to put emergency generators and switchgear in basements. to save money in 1966. 8. 400 tons of water must be poured into reactors per day to keep them cool. 9. this water enters the underground river and flows to the sea. 10. fuel is too radioactive to approach and remove and will remain so for years. 11. the flow of radioactive water to the sea will continue. 12. No nuclear expert on earth knows the disposition of the fuel inside and outside the reactors.

            • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

              [cont.]
              13. Japan and the world must live with this disaster for a long time to come. 14. There is insufficient knowledge and no technology which will stop lthis disaster soon. 15. The past 2.5 years have seen a river of lies and with holding of information about these facts. The idea that freezing the soil will stop the flow of water to the sea is insufficient to work. Can they freeze enough and go down deep enough to freeze the aquifer? I doubt it. They have not started yet. 16. If all the known facts of this had been disclosed in March 2011, the people of Japan and the world would have turned with very great anger against the people who did this and defend this. The delay in information has actually made this anger worse….”
              https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/the-geology-of-fukushima-porous-ground-lowered-10-metres-built-over-an-aquifer-with-a-fault-line-present-with-basements-below-sea-level/

              • Wooster

                Thanks Anne, those links are really useful.

                So, we now know form those papers that underneath Fukushima we have:

                0-50 mtrs: muddy and sandy rock
                50-150 mtrs: sandstone with some inclusion of tuff
                150-200 mtrs: sandstone with heavy inclusion of tuff
                200-300 mtrs: clayey sandstone
                300-700 mtrs : alternating muddy and sandy rocks
                700mtrs: hard sandstone and muddy rocks

                We also know that the base of the concrete dry well beneath the pressure vessels at Fukushima is about 8 metres.

                The Argonne Nuclear Lab found that corium lava can melt <b>upwards</b> of 30 cm of concrete in 1 hour. That 8 metre base might have been burnt through in just over ONE DAY.

                We also know that little cooling was achieved to reactor 1 in the first two days after the accident because of high pressure in the reactor and the later explosion. The meltdown has estimated to have begun just five hours after the accident in that reactor.

                Was there time for the corium to melt through the concrete before cooling was restored? It seems to me that in Unit 1 at least, there was.

                Even after cooling was restored, would it have cooled a corium that could have been several metres deep into the concrete by then?

                And what would happen once the corium was beneath the reactor?

                You can only imagine how quickly it would melt it's way through the material under the reactor indicated above. All of it is much softer than concrete.

            • mairs mairs

              The pumps for the cooling systems wouldn't have worked anyway. They are near the water and were destroyed by the tsunami.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            Why Underground Entombment At
            Fukushima Daiichi Won’t Succeed
            By Yoichi Shimatsu, 7-28-11
            “Fukushima No.1 rests on landfill comprising loose rock and sand over the natural seabed and is positioned only a couple of meters above the high tide mark. Water seepage and earthquake-caused liquefaction have seriously disturbed this rather weak soil structure….
            “Much of the danger comes from simpler processes. Extremely hot magma, consisting of nuclear residues mixed with soil minerals, will boil any sea water seeping underground, creating pressurized steam.Think of oatmeal cooking in a pot and how bubbles create blow holes. The same is happening inside the landfill.
            “The steam-created tubes harden when they cool, leaving lines of structural weakness. Eventually, these air pockets will collapse, and the massive weight of the water-filled reactors, piles of spent rods and their supporting structures will drop into deep sinkholes.
            “If the magma tubes become filled with sea water, the landfill will resemble a gigantic sponge, prone to liquefaction and collapse under earthquake motion. Even the resonance vibrations from large machines could trigger the sudden opening of new sinkholes.

            • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

              [cont.]
              “Water holds other dangers as well, since it is a better medium for nuclear fission than the mix of stones, dirt and concrete now under the reactors. Once sea water seeps into the newly opened underground channels, the fissile particles will become free-floating and fire neutrons into bits of uranium, plutonium and other isotopes, triggering cascades of fission. The resulting steam pressure is volcanic, bursting out of the ground and spewing vast amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The oatmeal spatters across the stove top. …”
              http://www.rense.com/general94/whyf.htm

            • We Not They Finally

              Yes, and Shimatsu is still giving warnings currently about the key risk of hydrovolcanic explosion. Apparently that could wreck northern Japan. I mean overtly wreck it, tumble the land mass.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            1
            The Geology of Fukushima
            By Pierre Fetet, posted in
            Le blog de Fukushima
            Translation from French: Robert Ash

            “This cross-section shows a ground discontinuity at a depth of around 200 m, corresponding to a change in the nature of the rock. Between ground level and – 200 m, we find the geological layer of Tomioka, dating from the Neogene; the layer below it is older, it is labeled as belonging to the
            Paleogene – Neogene and corresponds to the Taga layer.
            The third paper presents a detailed analysis, also shown in two cross-sections, of the various geological strata inside this thick Cenozoic sedimentary coating. This is the list of the main strata, identified by letters, from the closest to the surface ground, down to the deepest. It is followed by
            maps, cross-sections and an analytical table:
            -T3: muddy and sandy rock (Tomioka layer, Neogene)
            -T2: sandstone with some inclusion of tuff (Tomioka layer, Neogene)
            -T1: sandstone with heavy inclusion of tuff (Tomioka layer, Neogene)
            -TI: clayey sandstone (Taga layer, Paleogene-Neogene)
            -Yu: alternating muddy and sandy rocks (Yunagawa layer, Early Miocene)
            -Sr: hard sandstone and muddy rocks (Shiramizu layer, intermediate between the Oligocene and Miocene)
            http://a397.idata.over-blog.com/580×537/4/37/62/00/geologie/geology/tabeau.jpg

            http://ddata.over-blog.com/4/37/62/00/The-Geology-of-Fukushima.pdf

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            Earthquake at Fukushima 2011: giant material shift also in the deep sea
            http://www.stone-ideas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/enTsunami13-1.jpg
            (September 2013) The earth shook for 150 seconds off the coast of Japan’s Tohoku region on the afternoon of March 11, 2011: The magnitude 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated vast stretches of coastline. More than 15,000 people lost their lives. At least 28 square kilometers of seafloor slumped suddenly down the slope of the 7.5 kilometer-deep Japan Trench. Consequently, the near-surface boundary between the two tectonic plates shifted as much as two or three kilometers to the east!
            http://www.stone-ideas.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/enTsunami13-1.jpg

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            PavewayIII
            April 27, 2013 at 1:47 am
            “Daiichi was build on a fluvial fan (the mouth or delta) of an ancient river. Dig down and there's sand and clay layers deposited there millions of years ago.”

          • guinness69

            WTF
            Nuclear / TEPCO-Power Plants
            TEPCO owns 17 nuclear reactors, 10 in Fukushima Prefecture and 7 in Niigata Kashiwazaki Kariwa, and the total capacity is 17,308 MW. Nuclear power is considered as a base load energy and it accounts for approximately 40% of TEPCO's total electricity output.
            For in – depth data, please click here (PDF/35.4KB)
            Fukushima Daiichi
            img01
            Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, in Fukushima Prefecture, began operation in 1971 and has six nuclear reactors, the capacity of which is 4,696 MW. The power station is located approximately 250 km (155 miles) north of Tokyo in the towns of Futaba and Ohkuma, facing the Pacific Ocean. The site of the station covers about 3.5 million square meters (865 acres) and the plants are built on solid bedrock.
            http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/challenge/energy/nuclear/plants-e.html

      • mairs mairs

        If they were a few miles into the earth then they wouldn't need to be recovered.

        • Cisco Cisco

          Possibly? I believe that's their current thinking and strategy. But, they continue to pump 100's of tons of seawater into the corium holes/tubes…why?

          Where is the radioactive steam going, back up the tubes, or has it found a less pressurized exit, like thru fractured rock to the sea floor?

        • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

          mairs would that make a difference for a failed technology that is now spreading like a plaque all over this planet we call Earth?

          Right out of/from the mouth of the babes of science..
          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120522134942.htm

    • Wreedles Wreedles

      Reactor 3 contained MOX fuel assemblies. That's the 'experiment.'

    • Sickputer

      The MOX madness (using military grade plutonium powder in commercial reactors) is an insane "experiment" that numerous reactor owners around the world have tried (and some are still in operation).

      America tried it at least once we know of…scared the hell out of Duke Energy:

      http://www.heraldonline.com/2008/08/05/726267/duke-halts-mox-testing-at-catawba.html

  • Wooster

    "now that we know there is plutonium underground, can we expect plutonium explosions and plutonium contamination of the Pacific Ocean?"

    If there is plutonium underground, then the answer to your questions is:

    * Can we expect plutonium explosions: Probablyt not.
    * Can we expect plutonium contamination of the Pacific Ocean? Yes.

  • hbjon hbjon

    Oh c'mon, your making it sound so dangerous. It's not like there is pure plutonium flowing around in the matrix of molten corium. More than likely, it's dispersed throughout many millions of tons of other materials that the corium has borrowed as it snowballs its way to China.

    • Wooster

      Looking at Google Earth, I believe that China is not accurate destination for corium melt-through accidents occuring in Japan.

      If the coriums kept on going right through the mantle and core of the earth from Japan it looks like they would reappear somewhere in the south Atlantic to me (can anyone else with a globe confirm this?)

      It could be a novel way of solving the Falklands/Malvinas problem if they suddenly reappear in Port Stanley harbour though.

      • mopar69 mopar69

        B.A., Argentina I believe.

      • soern

        @wooster:
        Cores won't come out at another location.
        They'd forced back to surface by magma's pressure through that glassified chanels they melted before!
        There are 3 bad scenarios:

        1. Cores detonate by contact with even hotter magma 60 miles deep which causes Japan to vanish from all maps and will trigger a worldwide Tsunami 300m high.
        2. Cores detonate after been thrown back to surface by magma (followong to surface an creating a new vulcano) and destroy most live on earth.
        3. Cores don't detonate at all after meeting magma but beeing pushed back on surface by magma pressure and beeing covered some hundred meters high by that following magma/lava.

        I'd prefer version 3.

        Schedule:
        Melt through concrete 30cm/h
        Melt through concrete 8 metres thick = 26.6h (1 day)

        Melt through sandstone/tuff 90cm/h (estimated/maybe quicker)
        90 m/10h
        or per year: 8736 x 0,9m = 7862m =7,8km
        Distance surface – magma at Daiichi: about 80 km
        Meeting Posssible 03.21

        Result – Unknown but probably bad.

  • Cisco Cisco

    Tropical storm Man-Yi should be hitting the FukuDaiichi plant about now. Heavy rainfall will present new and more challenging events.

    The soil under Daiichi is nearly liquid now…building and tank collapse now a good possibility. Even if they escape that, more radionuclides will be incorporated into the storm and spread across more of Japan and the sea.

  • Combine huge storm, high water table, and an earthquake..

    Hmmm, soil liquidation anyone?

    The bookies are taking bets… odds are 2 to 1 in favor of liquid goo side of things.

    • Sickputer

      The heavy rain could spread out those hot spots evenly near the leaking tanks. Fukushima workers facd a very dangerous terrain when the storm leaves and a new work week begins.

      Work of any kind with boots on the ground may become impossible soon. Perhaps they need some advice from John Kerry. >;->

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Love the words liquidation and liquefaction!

      Happens every time in a very personal way inside a very special room/place when I consume any kind of glowing radioactive dairy and corn at the same time..

      I will have to tell Bobby to bring lots more sponges and mops!

  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Coriums are now estimated to be a mile from the plant. Probably traveling down the old path of the underground river that was rerouted that this facility was built directly over. The coriums are more than likely under the ocean now hence the boiling bay effect. Traveling sideways as much as downward. Some really good info here.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr8SE67PbBg

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Nice .. 🙂

  • Wooster

    "TEPCO's Matsumoto was unable to convey too much optimism in the NISA presentation…

    Because the simulation suggests that heat released as a result of radioactive decay "far overwhelmed" the effect of the cooling water, he said, and because temperatures in the inner pressure vessel that originally housed the fuel are thought to have dropped quickly, Tepco now assumes that "100 percent of the fuel at Unit 1 has slumped" into the outer primary containment vessel.

    ** In addition, the simulation suggests that the fuel bored more than two feet into the concrete, Mr. Matsumoto said.**

    But Tepco's simulation also underlined the severity of the accident at Fukushima No. 1 plant, as the results indicated that the nuclear fuel in reactor 1 likely penetrated through as much as 65 cm of the containment vessel's concrete floor, reaching as close as 37 cm to the vessel's outer steel shell, the last line of defense. Reactor 1 suffered the worst damage from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

    The simulation did not follow the corium past the first days of the disaster to tell us where it might be now..

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/02/1041766/-Let-s-Play-Where-s-the-Corium

  • jackassrig

    Steel’s basic allowable stress varies with temperature. A516, plate a common steel used in the fabrication of pressure vessels, has the following allowable stresses:

    100 °F 23300 psi
    200 °F 23300
    300°F 22500
    400°F 21700
    500°F 20500
    600°F 18700
    650°F 18400
    700°F 18300
    750°F 14700
    800°F 12000
    850°F 9200

    The stress that can be developed in the steel determines the amount of loading on the shell and head of the vessel. The reactors at Fuku failed long before the steel reached its melting temperature. If the corium is at a temperature of 2500°F then the vessel would have failed somewhere around 850°F. When I say failed I mean a catastrophic collapse. The head which is about 12 inches thick is probably at the bottom of the containment vessel. These are enormous heavy vessels. I’m not sure why TEPCO was so worried about the corium melting through the vessel. The steel collapsed long before the melting temperature.

    Concrete’s stress level varies with temperature. So the corium didn’t melt though the containment vessel, the concrete failed long before the melting temperature reached melting.
    Add to to this the chlorides-from salt water-that were injected to cool the reactor and you have a recipe for disaster. Chlorides, temperature and steel do not mix.
    Zirconium is not any better.

  • CaptD CaptD

    Expect increased radiation (aka The Fuky Effect) because of additional rainfall and increased groundwater!
    +
    Save #4 SFP …

    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

      Maybe they wanted to lower everyones IQ very quickly since too many are waking up and not drinking the fluoride added to their water supplies and/or are now on deep spring wells in the heartland.

  • Vorith

    It would be nice with post notifications. So all this is due to shoddy sets up – for profit? Seems to me they, or anyone, is at least smart enough to set up a bomb in careful ways, as it were.
    Get my meaning?
    And a huge btw, and sorry no links, is that they found a way to recycle this waste back in the 70's!! President Ford (was likely told to) canned the technology.
    So this is (will be) the epitome of needless suffering. Note no mention of boron, Still.
    Don't forget haarp can both generate and steer storms….
    All combined, this appears more than an accident.

  • ftlt

    Not to mention the rumored possible stored weapon ready nuclear bomb components store there…

    That would certainly add to the total

  • Mega Nuclear Volcanic Explosion Possible Due to 3+ Molten Coriums Melting Down To Magma at Fukushima; via @AGreenRoad
    http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2014/01/shimatsu-mega-nuclear-explosion.html