Gundersen: M7 quake likely caused damage to spent fuel racks at Fukushima Daiichi (VIDEO)

Published: December 11th, 2012 at 9:42 am ET


Fairewinds Podcast, Dec. 9, 2012:

Nuclear Expert Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education: The fuel racks are going to be damaged. What that means is the box of spaghetti is going to be dented.

So when they go in to try to pull the fuel out, they’re not going to be able to, some of that fuel is going to be stuck, like spaghetti stuck in a box.

An earthquake like this most recent one likely caused more damage, or it caused more crap to fall into the pool. And as particles fall into the pool again it’s going to change the friction that’s required to pull out this spaghetti in the box — to pull out the nuclear fuel.

I think what they’re going to see is they’ll go down with this long handle and try to grab the fuel on the top and if the fuel is undamaged and the rack is undamaged it slides out pretty easily. If the fuel is bent or if the rack is bent, it doesn’t. So what they can do is they can crank up the power and pull a little harder. The problem is that this is spent fuel so it’s brittle, and if they pull too hard they’re likely to snap the fuel and what that can mean is a gaseous release of radiation.

So that was a long prelude to answer your question, why are they building these roofs over the fuel pool? Is that they’re afraid that when they come to pull the nuclear fuel, they’re going to snap some of the bundles and they’re going to release radioactive gases.

Full broadcast here

Published: December 11th, 2012 at 9:42 am ET


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  2. Gundersen: Fukushima Unit 4 fuel racks distorted from quake and roof falling into pool — Nuclear rods likely to snap and won’t be able to be removed (AUDIO) September 12, 2013
  3. Tepco releases video of Spent Fuel Pool No. 4: Debris that fell on racks of fuel rods “apparently” caused no damage (VIDEO) February 10, 2012
  4. Nuclear Industry Report: ‘Reduced stability’ of fuel pool in Fukushima Unit 4; Admits there’s damaged fuel inside? — Gundersen: Fuel racks moved and damaged; Fallen debris distorted tops (AUDIO) September 27, 2013
  5. Gundersen: They may not be able to pull out spent fuel rods — The big problem is are they distorted from heat or quake or fallen rubble? (VIDEO) September 2, 2012

13 comments to Gundersen: M7 quake likely caused damage to spent fuel racks at Fukushima Daiichi (VIDEO)

  • patb2009

    aren't most of the radioactive gases short lived isotopes?

    I agree that if the racks weren't stuck before, some will be stuck now, but corrosion, debris and
    all this are also issues.

    however if they could get whatever they can out, and into casks, and just do a clean up of those pools
    they can reduce the risk of the pools going dry and catching on fire.

    • SATIRE… Newly released Pluto-Kun video states "Radioactive gases are no more troublesome than a misintentioned fart in a crowded subway car." Sorry.. I need to smile so I don't cry 😉

  • "…snap the fuel and what that can mean IS a gaseous release of radiation."

    "…they’re GOING TO snap some of the bundles and they’re GOING TO release radioactive gases."
    – A. Gundersen

    (some words above highlighted for emphasis)

    Side note: Unit #4 has NO ROOF and is crumbling.
    (just thought I would mention that)

    Reading between the lines and based on my observations of the web cams on a regular basis for some time now I would say 'gases' and 'heat' are and have been releasing continuously directly into the atmosphere.

    One can only assume that the gases and steam rising are a radioactive mix at levels probably never seen before.
    (speculation only)

    🙁 However, I can say, that I have personally witnessed and 'documented' birds falling from the sky at the facility.

    Not to mention other ionizing phenomenon that seems to be occurring with more frequency and intensity.

    Not to mention the 'Black Rain' Fallout that keeps hitting the camera. (black snow/foggy stuff too – aka, Fallout!)

    • H.-P. Beaumont H.-P. Beaumont

      Hello ChasAha,
      how come that you were/are around the viccinity of Fukushima – are you a local, etc.? Greetings from Germany

      • Grüße an Euch.

        Sorry for any confusion. Thankfully I'm not located there.

        I observe the the 'live' web cam, which is like being there, except a lot safer.

        FORUM: Fukushima Webcam Discussion Thread
        (There are other cams too.)

  • Mack Mack

    Here's a good chart on radioactive gases (which are far from harmless)

    View the entire page, but here's one quote from it:

    "What very few people know is that some gases emitted by reactors precipitate – outside of the reactor walls – into dangerous carcinogens in the solid form like the 'bone seeker ' strontium 90 (and its daughter a pituitary gland seeker, Yttrium-90). Other gases, like krypton-87, are neutron-activators."

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    Dear Mr. Gundersen,

    Please stop with the food metaphors that conceal more than they reveal. This nano MOX or uranium fuel has almost nothing in common with spaghetti, and by continuing to compare it to a harmless food, it domesticates this poison, this world destroyer.

    You don't need to use a food metaphor to explain the idea that this fuel is "brittle" and can "snap," we all know what brittle and snap means. And what about melted fuel?

    Please discuss the on-going releases that are happening right now, in the present tense, harming children near and far.

    Thank you,

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      No Nukes, geesh. I'm just grateful that someone in the industry is trying to convey to the public just how dangerous this stuff is? He is usually presenting to audiences that have little or no idea, maybe even hostile to his ideas, etc. Using common objects of everyday life are the BEST way for people to get across complex concepts quickly. He is answering a specific question from the interviewer and we just heard a little over 2 minutes of a much longer broadcast. Maybe listen to the entire broadcast to see if he reveals, rather than conceals, the dangers of nuclear energy. The more loudly Arnie, or anyone, says how dangerous nuclear energy is, the fewer people will listen. The message has to be broken down into parts, given simple models, and, usually, understated or it will be lost. We have the luxury here of talking to the true believers. Go out everyday and try to convince strangers of your rightness when they don't even want to know about it.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    TEPCO's attempt to remove spent fuel from SFP4 (and SFP1,2,&3) will spill hundreds of thousands of fuel pellets onto the floor of the SFP. These spilled pellets will undergo numerous criticalities, which will release large amounts of radioactive gasses, gamma rays, and radioactive particulates into the atmosphere over the next 50 years as the'cleanup', or rather, the 'dirtyup', continues. In the end, TEPCO probably won't bother to clean up the spilled fuel pellets, but will cover them with borated sand, and fill the SFPs with concrete. The same will happen to Reactors1,2,&3. Eventually. They won't even bother to remove the domes from the containments. Instead, borated sand and concrete will be shot into the containment through plumbing access pipes located on floors below the containment domes. The world will applaud these 'heroic' efforts. Yet, the truth remains. If TEPCO were truly heroic, this would have already been accomplished many months ago. And even then, there would be more than 200 tons of melted fuel 'corium' in the mudrock beneath Units1,2,&3, for which TEPCO has no answer. Not today. Not in the future. Emitting radioactive gasses and more. Forever. 🙁

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Perhaps..Mr.Gundersen..could do two for the 'Food channel' and one laced with scientific terms.
    He could even mention …corium.
    Just saying…