Guardian: 2 years later and “still no closer to gauging state of damaged fuel” at Fukushima — Reuters: “Little useful data on fuel debris”

Published: March 6th, 2013 at 12:57 pm ET
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Guardian, March 6, 2013: Although Tepco has managed to insert remote-controlled cameras into the damaged reactors’ outer vessels, it is still no closer to gauging the state of the damaged fuel – a prerequisite for removing it.

Reuters: So far, Tepco has only managed to insert remote controlled cameras, similar to endoscopes, into outer vessels of the reactors. The effort has obtained little useful data on the fuel debris, a vital first step before technology to remove it can be developed.

See also: Top Japan official: Very strong possibility there is nuclear fuel outside containment vessel (VIDEO)

Published: March 6th, 2013 at 12:57 pm ET
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11 comments

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11 comments to Guardian: 2 years later and “still no closer to gauging state of damaged fuel” at Fukushima — Reuters: “Little useful data on fuel debris”

  • HoTaters HoTaters

    "Reuters: … The effort has obtained little useful data on the fuel debris, a vital first step before technology to remove it can be developed."

    IMHO the use of the word "technology" is incorrect. The technology probably already exists. The engineers and physicists working on this problem likely need to design & build specific types of MACHINES. Or the technology can be developed using models on a small scale. Melt some mini fuel bundles, subject them to stress (a mini crane lifting the model fuel bundles) and see what happens. This assumes the work can be done in a lab with adequate shielding & protection for those working on the project. Simulate the real world problem on a small scale. If that's meaningful.

    'Seems to me they are not applying the proper problem solving skills to tackle the issue of moving the fuel. But what do I know? I'm "only an egg." Some of you Heinlein readers might grok the fullness of that statement.

    Argument: why not use applied materials research & physical modeling in an engineering lab to develop some sort of machine for moving the fuel? EX: University of Nevada, Reno, has a huge tilt machine which simulates earthquakes. On it are placed facsimiles of structures, and the behavior of such structures under shear stress, etc., are modeled.

    There must be some knowledge of how the fuel might behave if part of a clump of fuel is broken up. They need to stop looking at the mess at Fukushima and start seeing the bigger picture of…


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    • HoTaters HoTaters

      That is (truncated above), they need to stop looking at the mess at Fukushima (the trees), and start looking at the bigger picture (the forest). But since no one can adequately visualize what the fuel looks like, perhaps my "argument" is a moot point. Still, I'd argue they can get some idea of how the fuel will behave if they do a simulation in miniature.

      Am guessing the "problem" is how to handle all the radiation that would be released by breaking up clumps of fuel, avoid criticalities, explosions, other fun and exciting possibilities. What is the chemical and physical behavior of fuel when subjected to the kind of forces needed to break up clumps of melted fuel? Maybe better to encapsulate it, as many here have suggested, instead of trying to move it.

      Where is the problem solving? Where? It just seems there is no thinking outside the box, no creativity happening here to spur a developing a solution. They can't do the same old, same old, and expect a new solution.

      This kind of makes Hanford look like a playground. Am glad I'm not the one responsible for heading up the fuel removal team. Ugh. What a nightmare.


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    • Wreedles Wreedles

      I grok, and I concur, even though I, too, am 'only an egg.'

      A Fair Witness might also question the use of the words 'damaged' and 'debris' in the above article.

      In my lexicon, 'damaged' implies repairable, so 'destroyed' or a suitable synonym would be a better choice.

      The Free Online Dictionary defines 'debris' as follows: 1. fragments or remnants of something destroyed or broken; rubble
      2. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Environmental Science) a collection of loose material derived from rocks, or an accumulation of animal or vegetable matter.

      Since they're talking about the congealed deadly blobs of corium that almost certainly exist somewhere below the reactors, it appears that 'debris' isn't strictly accurate either.

      To me, the use of these words are semi-subtle attempts to minimize this disaster; they're yet more examples of the ubiquitous global spin given to this story.


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  • We Not They Finally

    We thought that the state of the "damaged fuel" was CORIUM = MELTED fuel = no distinct separate fuel rods to pull out at all. Is this a little like saying, let's go rescue the residents of the World Trade Towers? But it's nice that HoTaters is thinking about how to do the impossible. We have to "think outside the box"? How about just facing reality? There is no "box" left to think outside of.


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  • One of the men who worked on the tracking of the coriums in the ground… before he quit in frustration over the mess, said publicly that #3's was down over 4km into the earth as of April 2012.

    The other two are not moving as fast and are not as hot due to less Plutonium being present in the mixture.

    That's the facts.

    Recovery of them…? Not likely !! Yes, they have much debris still down in there from its passage, but that's about it. Water was about the worst thing available to pour on the cores at post-meltdown.

    Now add in the new evidence out of Chernobyl that even GLASS encasement turns to dust before the 30 years mark…?

    The entire glassification process they are build out at Hanford is now known to be a farce! It doesn't work long term!

    It cost the team the lives of 2 men to gather this information.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II8lDN4ufI4&feature=player_detailpage

    SO..?! We are now back to square one with not one damned thing we know of to contain it over the long term


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Nuclear is unmanageable and uncontrollable, as the leaking continues in Russia, Japan, and U.S.A.


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  • Mack Mack

    >> rad level outside unit 3 is 1,710 microsieverts an hour
    >> 500 spent fuel rods in Unit 3 pool
    >> 6,300 fuel rods in common pool nearby
    >> over 930 water tanks, each containing 1,000 tons of water
    >> Toshiba water filtering tries to remove 62 types of radioactive materials

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/two-years-on-the-deadly-battle-to-save-fukushima-from-an-invisible-odourless-enemy-goes-on-8523247.html


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  • byron byron

    Are they still pumping in water? Early on they were pumping water in and switched to fresh water. Then some time later we saw photos of round tanks for storing water. Probably no way to find out. Pumping water would of course help little except for fuel pools. Kids song: "There's a Hole in the bucket".
    With the recent news do we now know that number 4 SFP is more or less empty of fuel and is now watered more as a preventive measure? We never hear about the other SFPs.


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