Gundersen: Spent fuel likely to break when pulled from Fukushima Unit 4 pool — Racks have been distorted; Fuel rods overheated — Suspects some will be stuck there for long, long time (AUDIO)

Published: September 9th, 2013 at 8:16 am ET


Title: Fukushima leaking radiation into Pacific
Source: WPFW – Radio Ecoshock
Host: Alex Smith
Date: Sept. 5, 2013

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.

Full interview with Gundersen here

Published: September 9th, 2013 at 8:16 am ET


Related Posts

  1. 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
  2. Source: First try to remove spent fuel from Unit 4 could be next week — Nuclear Engineer: Everyone’s nervous about pulling out used rods that are corroding; Will zircoloy tubes break and spill fuel pellets, leading to a criticality? (AUDIO) November 23, 2013
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Nuclear Expert: Fuel rods in Fukushima Unit 4 “may not be in their original position” — Concern over “way the spent fuel is sitting in pool” (AUDIO) November 1, 2013

21 comments to Gundersen: Spent fuel likely to break when pulled from Fukushima Unit 4 pool — Racks have been distorted; Fuel rods overheated — Suspects some will be stuck there for long, long time (AUDIO)

  • hbjon hbjon

    How many people are lighting a smoke right now contemplating this problems? My Grampa smoked for 70 years and lived to 82. My Dad smoked for 60 years and lived to 72. Do we know what is in that smoke anymore? What falls out of the sky and lands on that tobacco? The salt crust around the fuel is deep and needs to be removed first. Drill hole through the fuel need to be kept open with free flowing water to prevent overheating. Diamond saws then must slice fuel off the big chunks for removal. Cameras and robots have trouble operating in the sfp.

    • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

      I've considered that much of the cancer caused by smoking is not an effect of the tobacco and the ingestion of it's smoke, but rather, the insanity of chemicals that are dumped all over this plant as a CROP. Add to this the insane amount of radioactive fallout onto the crops and there you have it, cancers and other nasty things. Tobacco is not a food crop, but it is big business, and a massive conventional-agriculture endeavor. As a result, pesticides/herbicides/insecticides of all sorts are dumped on them because of poor farming practices. That doesn't count any other polluting factors…

      I also wouldn't be suprised if the chemicals used on tobacco farms are regulated differently because the plant is not "consumed as food". Right? Like, they get away with more toxic, or even banned chemicals because the plant is not being "eaten".

      I used to smoke. I enjoyed it. I'll never smoke another corporate/manufactured thing again. Screw them! Boycott them, like anyone else that doesn't fall into line morally and environmentally. Smokers of the U.S.: Boycott all manufactured cigs until laws are passed allowing everyone, everywhere to grow their own. With a concerted effort, it will happen very fast.

      Oh, but boycott nuke first! Haha, otherwise you can kiss everything else goodbye. All nuclear and military personnel of the world, immediately put into active duty…decommissioning nuke plants.

      There is no other wa

    • gottagetoffthegrid

      Tobacco has lead210 and polonium 210 in it. Both are radioactive
      It largely comes from the phosphate fertilizer.

      Due to soil depletion, growers use more fertilizer now than in the last century.

  • ftlt

    Can these still have nuclear chain reaction explosion??? I cannot remember what he said about it back in the beginning

    Arnie has always been on top of these rods in #4 as the big problem/threat…

    • mairs mairs

      Yes, he said they can. If the pool fell and everything was exposed to air, they would start to burn and water would not put the fire out. There is also plutonium in spent fuel.

      • ftlt

        Mairs, That is the fire risk (which s bad – probably worse) — I was asking about an outright nuclear explosion… Something that would take out all 6 units there and the storage ponds

        • We Not They Finally

          fttt, that's all true. But the reality is also that we still don't know what happened a month or so back when the ocean radiation suddenly spiked 50-fold, then onwards and upwards. And radioactive elements in the air that show new fissioning.

          There are fancy terms that Gundersen uses like "prompt criticality" and "moderated criticality.' In common terms, our distinction is between constant, unheard, unseen radioactive pounding, and an actual BOMB going off.

          And that can give the illusion that somehow we are "still safe" or there is "still hope" so long as there is not a big kaboom and an instant death toll of 100,000 people.

          I understand that we are still tied to our five senses. I just think that that model has become an illusion.

  • flatsville

    This is a giant ipen air experiment…anything can happen and probably will.

  • SusanS

    ☢ Fukushima Petitions to Sign & Share! ☢
    ☢ Japan Needs Worldwide Help NOW! ☢

    ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢

    I think they should spend the $8 billion on fixing fuku instead of the olympics :/

    • MichaelV MichaelV

      Thank you for signing my petition, FIX Fukushima – 300 tons of radiation in ocean DAILY for 2.5 years. This disaster needs Global ATTENTION. ACT NOW!.

      As of now, the petition has received 222 signatures! To really make a difference, we need a lot more people to join in. Can you share this petition with all your friends?

      Click here to share it on Facebook:

      Share on Facebook

      Then, forward the email below to everyone you know.


      —c Rosenthal

      • We Not They Finally

        Appreciate your concern and good-heartedness. It will just not make a whit of difference. At one point, there were 160,000 protesting in the streets of Tokyo and the news was almost entirely blacked out.

        And who are you petitioning? The whole world? The U.N.'s agencies are entirely corrupted. And the so-called "big powers — the U.S., Britain, France — will do nothing.

        "The enemy" is silent, invisible, tasteless, odorless and knows no national boundaries. We're in the middle of a very bad creepy sci-fi flick. Huge numbers of people may already be dead before the public confronts "the monster." Then anyone in power will try to shape-shift the story into something else.

        The best efforts now, I believe, are to EDUCATE. In the sixties, there were teach-ins about the Vietnam War and that really helped. The culture now could not even have Occupy launch teach-ins about the economic system. But we have to keep trying.

        Eventually THE DEATH RATE, and the overwhelming of medical resources will get to people. Way way too late of course.

        • flatsville



          And who are you educating? The whole world?

          So, petitioning is pointless? But your "educating" is not?

          We have to "EDUCATE," but petitioning and political action is pointless? Learn, but not actually do? Do anything?

          You note, >>>Eventually THE DEATH RATE, and the overwhelming of medical resources will get to people. Way way too late of course.<<<

          All that education wasted…

          Why do you post except to yell "Hydrovolcanic Explosion" on occasion?

  • Sol Man

    What a grand defeat of mans' pride and arrogance!

  • weeman

    I want to see a detailed paper on how you are going to proceed with removal of spent fuel.
    I don't trust you with a fishing rod and a hook.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    More radiation to breathe too, as it evaporates into air.

    And yes, it's criminal. Nuclear must be outlawed.

    Does NOT belong in our world.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    The last pictures of the SFP are how old now?
    Add corrosion.

  • We Not They Finally

    I doubt they will even attempt it. In their last little nefarious experiment just the other day, a crane arm broke off. And if they pulled it out, where would they put it? At best it would be removed from the fourth floor down to the ground to join the rest of the molten mess.

    Then we would get another "story," since anyone who gets close enough to check will be dead.

  • These pics are from Mar 20 and 24 of 2011 and are probably the most telling evidence i've seen…they blew the place to kingdom come…
    the water is pouring over the spent fuel bits and pieces they crushed into the ground when they put those huge steel sheets on the area…the place is hot as a fire cracker…….

  • SusanS

    ☢ Fukushima Petitions to Sign & Share! ☢
    ☢ Japan Needs Worldwide Help NOW! ☢

    ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢ ☢