Head of Japan Gov’t Committee: “It’s a race against time” at Spent Fuel Pool No. 4

Published: May 26th, 2012 at 12:18 am ET


Subscription Only: Japan Nuclear Operator Conducts Check on Risky Unit
Wall Street Journal
May 25, 2012

[Tepco] said it took extra steps this week to check the soundness of one of its riskiest reactor buildings, in response to growing public unease over the possibility of further accidents at the facility.

The investigation—the first of its kind to take place at Fukushima Daiichi since three reactors spun out of control 14 months ago—also underscores how unclear conditions at the plant remain, and how deep the distrust in Japan’s nuclear industry runs.


even some who think there is little chance of the pool collapsing say the fuel rods should be transferred to a safer place as soon as possible. “It’s a race against time,” said Hajimu Yamana, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University, who heads a government committee on decommissioning the plant.

Tepco says it is pushing to start the removal process by the end of next year.

Published: May 26th, 2012 at 12:18 am ET


Related Posts

  1. Former Japan Ambassador Warns Gov’t Committee: “A global catastrophe like we have never before experienced” if No. 4 collapses — Common Spent Fuel Pool with 6,375 fuel rods in jeopardy — “Would affect us all for centuries” April 6, 2012
  2. TEPCO: Nuclear fuel rods in No. 4 spent fuel pool are “confirmed to be damaged” — First time damage revealed at any pool April 13, 2011
  3. 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) September 9, 2013
  4. Japan Nuclear Expert: There are known to be broken fuel rod assemblies in Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 — Large amount of radioactive material has fallen to bottom — “Many years” to get fuel out (VIDEO) May 7, 2012
  5. NRC March Email: Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 was likely dry enough to lead to catastrophic explosion — Structural damage to pool area known to exist — Pool leakage likely January 7, 2012

28 comments to Head of Japan Gov’t Committee: “It’s a race against time” at Spent Fuel Pool No. 4

  • Sharp2197 Sharp2197

    I feel like they are starting to open up and admit their problems, I hope they have finally realized they can no longer hide this, and will begin to release more details.

  • Sickputer

    It's a race against many, many bad outcomes, not just the spent fuel ponds. Yes they could trigger a domino effect potentially rendering the entire megaplex out of control forever. Possibly dominoing even to nearby Fukushima Daini and beyond.

    But even if the spent fuel ponds are secured… There remains the nasty details of 100 ton coriums burning into the bowels of the subsurface. How far can they go? Could they conceivably burn through 800 meters of sandstone, then through several miles of granite and hit a methane layer that would crack the world? Sounds insane, but then many things at Fukushima have been doing things the Dr. Frankenstein nuclear engineers swore could never happen.

    So yes, the crack in the world would have to be the most extreme possibility. But there are other scenarios that are very disturbing. Top among them that we know is actually happening.. Water is contacting the melt-out coriums and taking intense radiation to the Pacific Ocean. And the Japanese have done practically zero to stop that deadly flow. Experts like Arnie Gundersen suggested they build a steel cofferdam in the ground 360 degrees around the buildings. Nearly 15 months later they have achieved nothing. It may be too late now because parts of at least three 100 ton nuclear coriums may be under the ocean or so far down in the subsurface the cofferdam idea might not even work.

    Tepco's entire strategy all along seems to be they think the fuel will burn out or solidify.

  • fredlvie

    Tepco says it is pushing to start the removal process by the end of next year.


  • 'It’s a race against time' or 'Time is of the essence'

    Means that time is at the very heart of the situation, that time is the most essential element of the problem.

    How much TIME we've got? Nobody knows.

  • Tumrgrwer Tumrgrwer

    I'm thinking Roger Waters had it right. This species has amused itself to death.

    We watched the tragedy unfold
    We did as we were told
    We bought and sold
    It was the greatest show on earth
    But then it was over
    We ohhed and aahed
    We drove our racing cars
    We ate our last few jars of caviar
    And somewhere out there in the stars
    A keen-eyed look-out
    Spied a flickering light
    Our last hurrah
    And when they found our shadows
    Grouped around the TV sets
    They ran down every lead
    They repeated every test
    They checked out all the data on their lists
    And then the alien anthropologists
    Admitted they were still perplexed
    But on eliminating every other reason
    For our sad demise
    They logged the only explanation left
    This species has amused itself to death
    No tears to cry no feelings left
    This species has amused itself to death

    • "How could it come to this?" – lyrics

      A song called "Is It Like Today" by Eliza Gilkyson

      Peace, Out… ChasAha 🙂

      • Tumrgrwer Tumrgrwer

        Yes it has! It has come to this and now what do we do? When I worked at Rancho Seco outside of Sacramento I could not believe nuclear technology actually worked. The plant was literally thrown together, hap hazardly by the lowest bider put on a un doable scedule. Many of the tasks were not completed. Systems installed improperly by one contractor then repaired by another not knowing what the other had completed, on the inside. Gauges and valving was a major cluster-fuk and the electronics were never correct. We have been very lucky to this point. I thought we were gonners in the 70's.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    "start the removal process by the end of next year"

    That's too late. Must start now.

  • One aspect I feeel that is under reported is the comparrison that arnie gunderson made earlier this year. Stating that: Reactor 4 has roughly 800 nuclear bombs worth of cesium alone in the Spent fuel pool water…

    So If im not mistaken. Wouldn't that too be a primary concern…?

    As if the remaining fuel bundles toppeling out werent problematic enough…

    We also must consider just exactly what tepco will do to ensure that the water within the pool's never excapes.

    In my opinion the reactors are leaking this very contaminate via both (leaks & convection). At a staggering rate even worse so on a daily basis… With each and every article sufficing stating Tepco now admits that the amount of radiation is comparapale to 4 chernobyls. Did they manage to estimate the amounts of radioactivity escaping from these pools alone at the constant rate that it is actually leaking….

    This is a mockery of the reality at hand.

    Every day thousands if not millions of gallons of highly irradiated water is escaping these 4 reactors alone (via both the primary containments, and the fuel pools. (both in the air and very foundations of the structures)… Nature will find away to disperse this toxic waste to all corners of the planet.

    Where is the real data. What are the real figures of leaks to this regard.

    Does this mean that the japanese are leaking what equates to one 500kiloton nuclear warhead a day? A week? month…

    • But all is well in fuku town.

      Its only 4 chernobyls.

      You can trust us…

      After all the only thing we can tell you for certainty. Is we ourselves have no certainty as to what the actual situation is in each of our 4 nuclear death machines…

      I am not buying these last press releases for a minute.

      Id bet they know the exact date the reactor will collapse.(super computers do many many many calculations), They have a good idea as to what the structural integrity of those reactors is (this I know for sure)…
      All the while articles like these likely are only sufficing to buy their company time to protect themselves from what (they actually know) is the worst to come….
      &: AS its being reported now by many seismologist's is as an inebitable as the history behind it…

      • typing from a touchscreen phone fyi…

        • Also note that tepco had meltdown models at their disposal for this facility within 24 hours of the beginning of this crisis…

          Them saying uncertainty is their code for = Were uncertain that we would be allowed our freedom should the information we have in our posession ever go into the public realm…

          (hence their pattern of changing nuclear safety limits prior to disclosing the severity of the contamination) In which they knew was above and beyond prior to pursuing the option…

          Thats what I call criminal.

      • There are no exacts, but the probabilities state that no future human should ever be allowed to "play" with nuclear to stroke their godlike ego of turning matter into energy.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    what is TEPCO's story again.
    What is the state of the nuclear fuel?
    Where is the nuclear fuel, again?
    Emphasis on a singular event..distracts completely from the actual condition of the unit and the constitution of the reactors in general.
    Now…the half truths told…are a hinderance.
    (told ya)
    Cohesion of a consensus.?
    It's back to square one.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    It's the same story across the board…isn't it?.
    The Japanese government,TEPCO,NRC,Gundersen,Caldicott, Kaku, etc.
    Let's grab our handerchiefs and wait.
    Here is something to watch while waiting…

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Mine…already wet with tears.

  • jackassrig

    I use FEA programs myself. The FEA programs I use use the equations of basic structural analysis and then arrange these structural equations into a huge matrix. The matrix is solved for deflections and forces. An equation of tension deflection = Force * length / area / Young's Modulus. Young's Modulus is a property of the material. Young's Modulus is a very large number-26.9 million. So you can see from the equation above if the Modulus is off the deflections will be way off. Even in the best of times Young's Modulus is never known to any degree of accuracy. The accuracy is only good to the third number.

    I don't think TEPCO knows what is going on with the structure because the material properties have been compromised by heat, radiation, moisture, and EQ's. The computers are really good at solving matrices but if the properties of the material are compromised who knows what numbers are showing. I think this is the reason TEPCO is taking measurements on the structure because their FEA programs have let them down. TEPCO needs to test this material like it is some new material from outer space and they have no knowledge of the properties. IMHO.

  • jackassrig

    Someone needs to get out there and take soil samples. TEPCO does not have a clue what is under the reactor building. The soil pressure has got to hold the building up. TEPCO does not have a clue to the soil conditions. TEPCO has dumped million of gallons of salt water on the site and turned into a bog.

  • jackassrig

    I was reading the other day about granite. Granite is a mixture of other elements such as iron and guess what uranium. For years researchers were trying to figure a method of extracting the elements from granite. What happens when the corium hits that granite layer. If there was ever a story that needs a twist, this is it.

  • jbvtme

    you figure a logical distance around the facility and pour a concrete wall which surrounds the facility. then you fill it with water until you can figure out a way to deal long term with the situation. the japanese figured out a way during world war 2 to induce kamikaze pilots to give up their lives (methamphetamine). now might be the time to resurrect that strategy on some construction workers.

    • Sickputer

      Building a concrete wall around a megaplex won't solve the runaway 100 ton coriums. Even a circular cofferdam will fail (not that they are building a circular in-ground wall) unless they build it 800 meters deep to the granite layer. Fissures carry corium and corium-contaminated water to the ocean.

      As for speed-freak kamikaze pilots… Big myth perpetuatec by the Allies. The thousands of student pilots were coerced into service with physical abuse by the professional Japanese officers. They sometimes drank sake the night before the missions, but forced drug use was a myth.

      Try reading Kamikaze Diaries or this 1970 French book:

      Morris (1975, 455) quotes French author Bernard Millot's 1970 book L'Epopée Kamikaze to explain the falsity of the belief that kamikaze pilots were forced:

      "Stories that suicide pilots were given alcohol or drugs to provide them with the necessary courage for their last flight, or that they were chained into their cockpits in case they decided to bail out at the last moment, are entirely apocryphal. They run counter to all that we know about the kamikaze psychology and were presumably fabricated by Western journalists in an effort to explain (or denigrate) Japan's suicide tactics."


      SP: Descendants of the same people who started the kamikaze pilot drug myths in 1945 are alive and well working for Big Brother.

  • andii

    This is a footage not supposed to be seen from outside Japan. It's blocked on YT worldwide.

    Another attempt by TEPCO trying to convince us everything is under control. Really shoddy part of this PR is that they measure the water level (450) but the previous official data said 461!? Surely that must indicates that the reactor 4 bulding is not level? Or that they can't see the bottom of the pool anyway so how do they know their measurement is from the bottom of the pool and not something on top of debris?