Gundersen: White haze in photo of Unit 3 is coming from spent fuel pool — Almost as dangerous as Unit 4 (PHOTOS)

Published: July 12th, 2012 at 11:50 am ET


Follow-up to: [intlink id=”tepco-releases-labeled-image-indicating-location-3-spent-fuel-pool-photo” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink] which noted “what appears to be a whitish haze” in the location above the spent fuel pool.

According to an email from Fairewinds nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen:

Yes, the white haze is water evaporating off the SFP. There is a 1/3 core off load of hot nuclear fuel in the U3 SFP, so there is a lot of decay heat. That’s why U3 is almost as dangerous as U4.

Published: July 12th, 2012 at 11:50 am ET


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37 comments to Gundersen: White haze in photo of Unit 3 is coming from spent fuel pool — Almost as dangerous as Unit 4 (PHOTOS)

  • Sickputer

    Sharp eyes Arnie! Thanks. It looked like possibly smoke, but steam is nearly as bad.

    Bioaccumulation… The mantra word for the day now over 16 months into the disaster that few people realize is the most dangerous threat to humans in recorded history. The news will spread as slowly as the radiation creeps through the ocean and soars through the air much faster.

    Nuclear scientists have known for decades if a multiplex nuclear power blew up the entire Northern Hemisphere would be in serious jeopardy. Fukushima Daiichi is that nightmare come true.

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Hi SP,

      The steam coming from this part of #3 has been issuing from the same spot for a long time.

      Will do some research on the pictures from #3 to try to ascertain when we were first seeing it. If I'm not mistaken (and my memory for visual things is usually very good) we have been seeing this steam (or whatever it is) for a very long time. It was in the first pictures made public, sometime after May 2011 or so (if memory serves).

      Will do a search and will post link or links if I can find the picture(s) and/or video(s).

      Sorry guys, I hope no one is disappointed by this news, but this has been going on since #3 blew up.

      But don't take my word for it, do some research on your own. Fukushima Diary, Enenews archives, and Enformable are all good sources. There have been some very good videos posted at YouTube, some having screen shots of the damage to #3.

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        March 30 2011.."back in the days"..same spot..a very long time.

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        From a browser search using these search terms: steam smoke #3 spent fuel pool photos

        From 5/12/11, published here at

        "Color-corrected image shows constant flow of smoke/steam from Reactor Units No. 2, 3, 4 (PHOTOS & VIDEOS)"

        From Reuters U.S.:
        "White smoke or steam coming from 3 reactors at Japan nuclear plant

        March 18 | Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:38pm EDT

        (Reuters) – White smoke or steam was rising from three reactors, Nos. 2, 3 and 4, at a quake-damaged nucelar plant in northeaster Japan, the nuclear safety agency said on Friday.

        It said it believed there was still water in the spent fuel pool at reactor No.3. (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Nick Macfie) "

        IAEA report on status of #3. Revealing.

        Note the lovely Atoms for Peace slogan on the logo. Dated 4/27/12

        This is re: #4 boiled dry, in LA Times, 4/17/11. Slightly OT but relevant:×280134

        Photos of SFP #3 from 4/16/12:

        Early report, picture after explosion at #4. At first glance, well written and well researched article:

        Can't find the one I'm seeking, but know it…

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          Here's a video which (I think) shows a shot of smoke or steam issuing from #3. Maybe someone more familiar with the plant layout can tell us if the smoke is coming from the SFP area. (I think it is but I'm not 100% sure).

          Here's another one showing lots of steam or smoke coming from #3.

          Spent Fuel Pool(s) Near Boiling Point (Again)
          by Thomas Roche on March 22nd, 2011

          From 3/15/11:

          "NHK Shows Live Coverage Of Smoke Billowing From Fukushima Reactor 3, US Military Assistance May Be Requested

          NHK is currently broadcasting live footage from its helicopter showing white smoke from the Fukushima #3 reactor. As we reported earlier, fire was earlier observed in the 8 by 8 meter hole in the outer shell of Reactor 4,which had since extinguished itself. However, that it has been replaced with billowing smoke from a new reactor is not good. Reuters speculates that the smoke is emerging from the fuel pool which is now overheating. It is highly probable that the smoke is radioactive. In a press conference that just concluded Edano said that the area around reactor 1 is too radioactive for TEPCO workers to approach and as such all have been withdrawn. He also said the US military will likely be called in for assistance.

          Coverage can be watched after the jump (click on the picture).'

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          My conclusion having looked at all this? The SFP's have been a mess since mid-March to mid-April, 2011. #3 and #4 for sure; we may not know the status of the others.

          RE: #2 the video link I posted (You Tube video above re: where is Reactor #3?) shows some fairly good shots of #2. Can anyone tell from watching that video whether or not they see any smoke or steam coming from the area of the #2 SFP?

          It's probably a good idea if we all collectively begin to think about the status of the other SFP's too (at least #1 and #2). IMHO anyway.

          • HoTaters HoTaters


            The impact of just how badly damaged the SFP's were just began to sink in with me today. I figured #3 was at least partially vaporized and probably burned. And figured (I now agree with Majia's position on this) SFP #4 has been burning more or less continuously since 3/11.

            Somehow it has a different impact when you realize smoke may mean the pools are burning. We may not need to have flames to have burning.

            Does anyone know the behavior of spent fuel?

          • HoTaters HoTaters

            Yeesh, no wonder the nuke industry wants to keep the truth from coming out. Too late for me and probably everyone in the Northern Hemisphere if it's true #3 and #4 have been burning since shortly after 3/11/11.

            'Guess I'll give up my plans for Uruguayan retirement. Might not be bad to die there, though.

            • Robert Alvarez says:

              "The total spent reactor fuel inventory at the Fukushima-Daichi site contains nearly half of the total amount of Cs-137 estimated by the NCRP to have been released by all atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, Chernobyl, and world-wide reprocessing plants (~270 million curies or ~9.9 E+18 Becquerel). (cited at Akio Matsumura"

              [end quote]

              So, if everything burned at Fukushima, an additional volume of radiation would be added to our atmosphere totaling 1/2 of all the cesium 137 released by Chernobyl, atmospheric testing, and reprocessing plants.

              Who knows how much uranium and plutonium would be added?

              It may not kill us in 1 generation. It might take many generations for the genetic errors to bio-magnify and bio-accumulate.

              Maybe we will manage to survive it as a species.

              This is most certainly our last chance for making the changes necessary for survival.

        • Ho-Taters

          Thanks for all the great links.

  • If there are as many rods stored as they say, they must be rather densely packed.

    Does anyone have the SFP dimensions?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What is a 1/3 core off load???

    • I seem to recall that it means they off-loaded 1/3 of the active core (as opposed to a regular refueling when they'd off-load and replace just the oldest assemblies) so they could reconfigure and install the MOX assemblies. The #4 pool had the entire core off-loaded into it, so it's hotter.

    • Sickputer

      I think it means prior to the disaster unit 3 had 1/3 of the older expended fissile fuel offloaded to the spent fuel pond. Presumably the core assemblies were refilled with fresh rods (maybe MOX) and then the containment vessel was restarted for steam production.

  • Jon_NY Jon_NY

    I believe this is an old photo. Here is a link to Tepco's photo and video page. There is no date provided for this picture while there is for the rest. Also, it looks a lot sunnier in this photo than the rest.

  • lam335 lam335

    Thanks for noting Gundersen's assessment of this picture. However, no source is cited for this quote. Where did he say this?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Thanks for noting this..Iam335..we need the source story here.

  • Andres Arce Andres Arce

    In the world, has someone been scanning the emission of radioactive particles from the orbit of the planet, so to build accurate statistics of the event ?

  • Here's how you can do a little organize with the scrap on 3 reactor.

    You need to hire such a tool for cutting of metal from BP, hung it on the lift along with the camera, take the handle of the solenoid.



    Also imaginative works underwater he have … also I have seen them.


  • Here's how you can do a little organize with the scrap on 3 reactor.

    You need to hire such a tool for cutting of metal from BP, hung it on the lift along with the camera, take the handle of the solenoid.

    Also imaginative works underwater he have … also I have seen them.


  • datura17

    am i mistaken or does the steel? in the upper left quadrant have the same coloring as the 10 sievert exhaust pipe noted months back?

    • datura17

      oh, in the upper left quadrant of the highlighted circular area, is what i should have said.

  • Multiple Fukushima Spent Fuel Pools Burned And Vaporized, 600 – 6000 Pounds Plutonium Released; via @AGreenRoad

  • Radioactive Smoke/Steam Coming Out Of Ground And #3 Reactor Building At Fukushima 2011- 2013 via @AGreenRoad