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