Fairewinds Podcast, Dec. 9, 2012:
At ~20:00 in
Nuclear Expert Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education: We know though that the fuel is damaged. And the reason we know that is that the radioactivity in the fuel pool water is extraordinarily high and it hasn’t really come down over the last 18 months.
Originally, people thought that maybe it was deposition from the explosions and it settled on the water, but they’ve been running these fuel pool cooling systems now for months and months and months and we still see high levels of radiation in the spent fuel pools.
So that tells me that the fuel bundles themselves have been damaged either by the earthquake, or the explosion, or by a prompt moderated criticality, or by the aftershocks.
Host: So there’s exposed fuel in the pool right now?
Gundersen: If you think of this thing like long tubes of spaghetti, tubes of zircoloy, those tubes are cracked…. The fuel rods, the individual fuel rods are cracked, from either the seismic motion, or the explosion, or the rattling of the building from the explosion. They may be completely severed, but there’s certainly cracks, we call it a weeper. Depending on the length of the crack, the bigger the weep.
I’m sure you’re going to find when they start pulling that spent fuel that they’ll have a lot of weepers, a lot of damaged fuel.
And it’s compounded because it’s not clean water, its salt water. This stuff was never designed to be in salt water so you have hot warm zircoloy in boron and salt water and there’s all sorts of chemical reactions going.
Published: December 10th, 2012 at 7:44 pm ET