At 15:45 in
Alex Smith, Host: In a previous Radio Ecoshock interview you said that the Japanese should start unloading nuclear fuel bundles from Reactor 4 as a priority before that building collapses. Are they doing it?
Arnie Gundersen, Nuclear expert with Fairewinds Energy Education: Well, they’re planning as of November to begin to do it, so they’ve made some progress on that. I think they’re belittling the complexity of the task. If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing. […]
I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.
Smith: I should point out to listeners that you were a fuel rack expert in the nuclear industry, so you know what you’re talking about.
Published: September 9th, 2013 at 8:16 am ET