Gundersen: Major problem inside pool at Fukushima Unit 3 — Pieces of nuclear fuel rods were blown out during criticality explosion — Building could ‘shatter’ if another big quake hits (VIDEO)

Published: October 5th, 2013 at 4:54 pm ET


Title: Tour of Fukushima Daiichi
Source: Fairewinds Energy Education
Date: October 3, 2013

At 10:15 in

Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Chief Engineer: Also outside [the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3] building, fuel pellets were found in the aftermath of the accident. Now, those were bulldozed under, but that should be an indication of a major problem inside the fuel pool. I’ve been saying all along that I think Unit 3 had something called a prompt moderated criticality in the fuel pool and that particles of fuel would be found lying outside Unit 3 is an indication that that happened. If the fuel had come from inside the nuclear reactor, it would have had to go through the containment and through a very circuitous path, so to my mind its very unlikely […] we do know that very high sources were covered up with bulldozers early on after the accident and are likely still there.

My biggest fear on Unit 3 is that another earthquake will happen […] this building has been so damaged that it could topple and shatter from another significant earthquake.

Watch the video here

Published: October 5th, 2013 at 4:54 pm ET


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  1. Nuclear expert: Powerful explosion at reactor No. 3 may have been from “prompt criticality” in spent fuel pool (VIDEO) April 27, 2011
  2. Nuclear Engineers: Fukushima pool is “distorted” — Material blown up into air and came down heavy inside, damaging fuel — The roof fell in, of course things were distorted (VIDEOS) October 4, 2013
  3. Experts particularly concerned about weight of fuel in No. 4 pool in building with possible quake damage — Destruction blamed on Reactor No. 3 explosion February 20, 2012
  4. Nuclear Expert: Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 likely to shatter or collapse onto its side in a M7.0 quake (AUDIO) April 11, 2012
  5. Gov’t Report: Criticality suspected to have occurred in Fukushima fuel pool — Nuclear chain reaction after massive explosion at Unit 3 compressed fuel together? Concerned about ‘substantial damage’ to fuel (VIDEO) July 4, 2014

19 comments to Gundersen: Major problem inside pool at Fukushima Unit 3 — Pieces of nuclear fuel rods were blown out during criticality explosion — Building could ‘shatter’ if another big quake hits (VIDEO)

  • MichaelV MichaelV

    Arnie is made of some tough fibre; at present he's rendering humankind a service while risking his own health, and most of them don't know it.

    Gundersen could well go down in history as the New Messiah(or the Old one we love to fight over).

    Stay focused people…!

  • MichaelV MichaelV

    I think Vonnegut would say that ENENews is the modern jump-off newsroom/city desk: others stop here first to find out what's fresh.

    The contributors on enenews find information, and prep it for circulation and dissemination.

    Thanks to ENENews, and to everyone who gives a hoot.


    • rakingmuck

      Such a good point. I don't just "stop here everyday" anymore. In addition I stay up till 4:00am PST "everyday" for the latest update. In this ongoing horror show every update is "must read" material as are the comments.

    • one of my most favorites…

      "…..if you can do a half assed job of anything…
      you're a one eyed man in the kingdom of the blind…."K.Vonnegut
      a one eye'd man…gee …how prophetic of Kurt…
      the radiation is probably gonna' produce one soon…….

  • Jebus Jebus

    "If the fuel had come from inside the nuclear reactor, it would have had to go through the containment and through a very circuitous path, so to my mind its very unlikely"

    Ya, up, then down…

    It is clearly evident that a blast of that force could have only originated from a vessel strong enough to act like a cannon. The spent fuel pools bottom, 80 feet in the air, would have blown out with a blast like the video evidence shows…

    • I agree. SFP#3 did not have a nuclear explosion.

      Arnie G and others have described a pressure wave that they feel could have caused a prompt criticality / nuclear explosion in SFP3, and they feel that the notorious black cloud at reactor #3 was the visible result. Their point of view remain instructive.

      If during fuel rod extraction, a criticality occurs in SFP#4, it could result in a pressure wave, and an explosion as severe as that which destroyed the upper floors of reactor #3 back in 311.

      This is because there are no control rods, and there is no self limiting nuclear chemistry to moderate the criticality should 2 fuel rods touch during extraction. The criticality is not asymptotic, it's exponential, in the absence of moderation. To me, that means it's explosive in so much as the water in the vicinity of the criticality would be the sudden recipient of a large amount of heat energy, instantly vaporizing it, increasing its volume by 1000x or more. Then a shock wave would propagate across the pool in microseconds, deforming the other rods, causing more rods to touch, more shock waves, and so on, and on, and on. This is similar to what Arnie has hypothesized about SFP3.

      Such an explosion remains a possibility for SFP4.

  • Sickputer

    The whole plant complex has so many issues that finding the "flavor of the day" issue is easy pickings.

    What a rogue's gallery of vicious radiation issues. Building multiple reactors so close together was a time and cost cutter, but when things go wrong the containment efforts are multiplied by each sick building. Even a 1,000 yard distance between reactors would have made it much easier to come up with better plans for slowing the meltdowns and removing at least some of the spent fuel that is physically intact (if there is any intact at the seven spent fuel areas.

    But they keep running into side issues that are just incredibly complex to solve. Since they seem to fixate on the complex problems they never get to any progress for things that could be done…like remove Unit 5 and 6 fuel in dry casks.

    If a sizable earthquake comes in the next year the lack of progress is really going to be revealed.
    Madness in Japan…

    • mairs mairs

      Yes yes! Remove the fuel from 5 and 6. What if they had to evacuate the entire site down the road, including 5 and 6? Why haven't they removed it?

  • rakingmuck

    I agree that is doing mankind a tremendous service and will do down in history as such. What an achievement in a time of imperiled journalism and journalists.And to Arne who has now put his own life on the line. And to everyone here that educates the world everyday no matter what. Thank and bless you all.

  • dka

    "now those pellets were bulldozed under"

    let's hope there aren't too many left in hard to access places.
    I once read that some flew as far as a few miles from the plant.
    Was 3 kilometers a conservative number? Or could there be pellets even further than 3 km away from the plant?

    I doubt that, with no money available to manage the gravely collapsing reactor remains, TEPCO engaged in an inch by inch search of possible lost pellets from and around the plant.
    I am not sure how one worker would react finding and getting near a pellet.

  • sangell

    Something I haven't seen much discussed is the issue of 'hot' animals. Those reactor buildings were and still are open to the weather, though #1 has a makeshift covering over it now. We know rodents went in and chewed some power cables shorting out critical electric power for a time. Then we here of 10 Sieverts per hour hot spots on #1 vent tower. Birds don't wear dosimeters, neither do rats, feral dogs and cats ( lots of those now in Fukushima) as well as barnyard animals, deer and whatever other wildlife as exists in Japan. All those critters find derelict structure like the Fukushima power plant excellent places to nest, breed and wander in and out of. Where do they go? Do they enter the hunan food chain at some point? Having a seagull defecate on your car is unpleasant but if it roosted on a 10 Sievert hot spot the night before that crap is going to be more than just nasty!

    • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

      some work has been done documenting effects of Fukushima on wildlife. Birds are reduced in number, and show genetic abnormality and smaller brain. Something like 40% of the butterflies had deformity. This doesnt have to "enter the human food chain" to be a horrendous result on its own. But it illustrates the obvious; the same fate awaits humans and other animals. The sea life…this is beyond tragic

  • i've been curious about the same thing…
    but a little more leaning towards the issue of documenting the disease and radiation sickness evident in the animals about the no man's zone at fukushima…

    they have shorter lifespans and are far easier to study…

    not to mention they don't all have suicide skills like those frisky rats that went after the electrical gizmos…
    and how would we have known that stuff they were using to run the facility was sitting in the back of an open bed pick up truck…
    we found out ONLY because of those sweet little rats….
    which share 98 per cent of our genome…wow…

  • mairs mairs

    Since fuel pellets were found offsite, they obviously fell into the ocean as well. No mention of them as a source of contamination in the water however. Well of course, what am I thinking… that they would be honest?

  • W8R W8R

    Plankton dies, we quit breathing.
    Problem solved.

  • FXofTruth

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, in the time frame they are saying it will take to cold shutdown this mess….dozens of earthquakes will hit this place.

    How many earthquakes will it take to totally collapse this power station? One, two, three? It is sitting on the most active seismic zone in the World! The fact that a very serious earthquake has reoccurred has been amazing, up to now. But time is not on our side. All the time wasted between quakes is going to turn this disaster that has been expanding from 3/11 into a Worldwide Nuclear Apocalypse when it is hit with another major earthquake.

    Since there is no precedent for this event, people are slow to act in the best interest of the World's survival. This nuclear war being waged by Japan on the World is the most deadly because of the lasting affects it is causing. By pouring ocean water on the melting nuclear "bombs" it has created, it is spreading a deadly radiation attack in the most sinister way…. through the water, air and the food. So Japan will win it's nuclear war with the World but, it is sacrificing it's own citizens to win it.

  • sunpower

    Just wanted to repost on SFP3-

    Note the overhead photo of unit 3, where the damage is. My gut feeling originally was the explosion occurred inside the RPV, but the overhead photo disproves that. SFP reinforced concrete shell was sufficient to direct explosion upward…a steam and fission related event.

    The only other thing I wanted to comment on was that Terra Hertz is saying there could be remaining unignited and undamaged fuel rods in SFP3, which I find hard to believe. My gut feeling is still different, in line with Hatrick Penry's idea about SFP 4 that if an intense 'zirc fire' and 'catastrophe' involving 'no water…no steam' and 'white smoke from burning concrete' occurred at SFP4 (according to NRC investigators), it would be logical the entire dry pool of tightly packed rod bundles burned up. But maybe not. We will soon see.
    Meanwhile, the pix of the new Hitachi crane at SFP4 look surreal for some reason. Inside shots look very sanitary like a new factory built under high sievert exposure. Like the moon landing set, maybe? From the outside the place looks like a shanty. Go figure. I don't really know.
    Crane fishing maybe….but no 'crane fission' one hopes.
    Time to bury this whole Daiichi folly where the sun don't shine. Bring in the grout pumps. Blub blub blub. On top of Daiichi yama they can put a concrete statue of Pumpy the cartoon grout…

  • Jebus Jebus

    Just felt a need to say that until there is a true picture of the reactor pressure vessel #3 showing the top and bottom intact, there is no way that I can ignore what the video shows me…

    Boom, big round steel cannon…

    Fukushima Unit 3 Fuel Pool Did Not Explode

    The nucliar industry absolutely wants the public to believe that #3 reactor pressure vessel was not breached. If the lie stays in the SFP, eventually the spent fuel pools will be unstocked everywhere and the industry will say, look we got rid of the overstock in the SFP's and everything's safe now…

    Watch the video again…