New images show all melted fuel is “gone” from Fukushima reactor — Experts: Molten core may have reached outer environment, can’t tell if fuel is still contained — Official: “We presume fuel still in containment vessel… but we need to check one day” (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Published: March 20th, 2015 at 10:52 am ET


NHK, Mar 19, 2015 (emphasis added): Images show no fuel inside No.1 reactor core — Researchers say X-ray-like photos of a crippled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have confirmed that no nuclear fuel remains in the reactor core… extremely high radiation levels have prevented experts from locating and determining the state of the molten fuel. Experts… have succeeded in taking X-ray-like photos of the plant’s No.1 reactor… But they did not find fuel inside the core… Experts say the finding that most of the fuel had leaked out of the reactor core underlines the difficulties faced in scrapping the reactor.

Kyodo News, Mar 20, 2015: Tepco confirms nearly all fuel melted, sank into vessel, in Fukushima No. 1 unit — [TEPCO] said Thursday it has confirmed that nearly all fuel in reactor 1 at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has melted and fallen into the containment vessel… The result marks the first confirmation of a meltdown

Mainichi, Mar 20, 2015: (TEPCO) released a “see-through” image of the No. 1 reactor… on March 19, suggesting that most of the nuclear fuel was no longer in the reactor… The inside of the reactor’s pressure vessel, which holds the nuclear fuel, showed as white, meaning that most of the fuel was gone. The muons should have shown the presence of fuel rods around one meter or longer… It marks the first time the interiors of the Fukushima plant’s reactors have been directly photographed… TEPCO plans to insert a camera-equipped robot into the lower part of the containment vessel to look for the melted fuel.

TEPCO spokesman, Mar 19, 2015: “The latest study provided further data that we like to regard as a progress in our effort to determine the exact locations of the debris.”

AFP, Mar 20, 2015: Nuclear experts said Friday that the test showed the nuclear fuel rods had melted beyond recognition… “But there has been no evidence that the fuel has melted through the nuclear containment buildings and reached the outer environment,” [Hiroshi Miyano, a visiting professor at Hosei University] told AFP. However, the test… did not look at the bottom part of the reactor, with some experts suggesting it was not possible to tell if the fuel was still contained… “Eventually, TEPCO is aiming to scoop out the melted fuel little by little, rather than burying it in concrete“… Miyano said… [The process] reveals exactly where the fuel is — or isn’tlying…  “We presume that despite the meltdown, the fuel is still in the containment vessel,” said Tomohisa Ito, a spokesman for the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning [which includes both TEPCO and Hitachi-GE as members]… “But we still need to directly check the situation one day using remote-controlled robots,” he said.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

Published: March 20th, 2015 at 10:52 am ET


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489 comments to New images show all melted fuel is “gone” from Fukushima reactor — Experts: Molten core may have reached outer environment, can’t tell if fuel is still contained — Official: “We presume fuel still in containment vessel… but we need to check one day” (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

  • rogerthat

    The US Department of Energy (DOE) has built up a momentum for SMRs by throwing hundreds of millions of dollars in cost-shared funding to jump-start the industry…..
    first someone needs to build a massive supply chain.

    Money for that would presumably come from customer orders – if there were any. The problem is it appears that no one actually wants to buy one

    So what are prospects for small reactors, both in the UK and globally?

    Former CoRWM Chair, Professor Gordon Mackerron says no SMR (properly defined) has yet been commercialised anywhere in the world, and work on them has been waning because the developers cannot find a market.

    This is unsurprising as their cost per unit of output is higher than the already expensive conventional, larger reactors, unless hundreds can be sold to give manufacturing economies……

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Oh, my, the soiree has moved.
    What ever shall we do?

  • rogerthat

    Letters to the Editor

    PG&E slights public with Diablo seismic study based on shaky data
    March 23, 2015

    (Bruce Gibson is the 2nd District supervisor for San Luis Obispo County. He holds a Ph.D. in geophysics, having specialized in seismic reflection survey techniques, and serves on the Independent Peer Review Panel.)

  • SadieDog

    Team develops method to estimate thyroid radiation dosage post Fukushima …

    • SadieDog

      "To assess the amount of exposure of each resident to radioactive iodine, the team used records of external radiation exposure checkups conducted on a total of 42,500 people at Fukushima Medical University and evacuation centers within about a week from the accident.

      The records have not been used for the purpose because the simple test did not specify the radioactive materials they were exposed to."

      • We Not They Finally

        Even if they took whole body counts, the results would be disingenuous. Radioactive iodine is just one of the radionuclides, but/and it will concentrate in the thyroid, not spread out evenly across the body. Plus women are twice as radiosensitive as men, and children all the more so. This is crap science, but Fukushima Medical U. really doesn't care. They are prohibited from talking to their patients about radiation causing disease at all, much less to RELOCATE them out of danger, so what is the point?

        Helen Caldicott (pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist) has said that Fukushima is the worst case of criminal medical neglect of children she has seen in her entire life.

  • Nick

    Lest you think MSM was not aware early on:

    Clearly the game plan was to LIE.

    But at least some of us are reassured that our own suspicions were "dead-on."

    I don't expect the planet to awake from it's slumber just yet……but things are going to
    get nasty. Bet on it.

  • TimV

    I'm sure I won't be liked,but,this site must have been hijacked as all I read is past problems,numbers like quicksand and no apparent attempt to move towards a solution.
    Now there's some happy thoughts.

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    When will they start decommissioning the bananas?

    Why are they waiting? They haven't used bananas for power for a while now?

    -Tribute to Dana Durnford

  • btink

    Maybe there is a small hope that people are starting to learn about or accept this world ending nightmare?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Never mind the tsunami was created by earthquake.
    Japan builds yet another wall.

    The $6.8 Billion Great Wall Of Japan: Fukushima Cleanup Takes On Epic Proportion
    March 23 2015

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Oops, this should probably go here.

    There's A Dead Cat At The Bottom Of Fukushima Unit 1

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    I didn't see this posted, so perhaps a repost.

    Nagoya University confirms Fukushima No. 2 reactor meltdown
    March 21 2015–2-reactor-meltdown

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Corium "has left the building" at Fukushima. 😉
    "…researchers at the Argonne National Lab have created corium in the laboratory […] They found that corium lava can melt upwards of 30 cm (12″) of concrete in 1 hour! This is why it is so important to know if a nuclear reactor accident has gone into true “meltdown” as the corium lava will rapidly melt its way through the inner containment vessels (or more) in a matter of hours unless it can be cooled again. However, results from these CCI (core-concrete interaction) experiments, suggest that cooling with water may not be sufficient to stop corium from melting the concrete."

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    It is a very depressing timeline that begins to emerge for the Fukushima Decommission:

    4 Years: Determination that molten fuel has left reactors1-3.
    8 Years: Determination that molten fuel has left containment1-3.
    12 Years: Determination that molten fuel has left buildings1-3.
    16 Years: Discovery of corium lava tubes under reactor ruins1-3.
    20 Years: Determination of depth of corium lava tubes1-3.
    25 Years: Fill corium lava tubes with concrete.
    30 Years: Fill torus1-3 and torus basements with concrete.
    35 Years: Fill containment1-3 with concrete.
    40 Years: Build Sarcophagus.

    TEPCO says: "Right on Schedule!" 🙂

    Yes, boys and girls. You can lay concrete underwater:

  • Nick

    "Application of Robot Technology

    We apply remote techniques to stabilize the accident and to promote decommissioning process in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
    So far, robots have been taking our place to research inside reactor buildings and to reflect the results to the plans, which contributes to the reduction of operational risk of radiation exposure. "

    It's like this PUN…TEPCon has launched a new radiation hardened robotic technology! Techies all over the world are scrambling to join in the effort. Just think of the spin-offs!

    Meanwhile, the coriums sizzle and zap their way deeper into the bowels of the earth, possibly into neverland…never to be scooped up with
    the robo-pooper-scooper (yet to be invented).

    I wish it were all just a joke…..

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    The Fukushima Cleanup Wasted Half a Billion Dollars on Bad Technology
    March 25 2015

    "Yes, mam, we went into town, gambling, and blew all the money for fresh cattle and horses ".
    Why do they still work on the ranch?

  • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

    Because they get paid/are being paid by the citizen slave wage garnishing who by force have to cough up massive amounts of tax money today and then their/any future offspring slave generations will do the same forever.. 🙁

    Ancient feudal concepts still promoted and still in play worldwide today…growing in leaps and bounds based on worldwide and individual country current 2015 debt numbers.

    It's a great big Party! 🙂

  • Nick

    TEPCon's stock price rose recently.

    THAT is infuriating to say the least.

    This corporate beast needs to die before it kills 1/2 of Japan. (oh wait, it's already doing that!)

  • rogerthat

    In the same week as Japan unveils its Pacific-Rim-esque anti-tsunami wall public works project, and Japanese government auditors say the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has wasted more than a third of the 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in taxpayer money allocated for cleaning up the plant after it was destroyed by a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami; Science Journal reports, Fukushima won't be truly safe until engineers can remove the reactors' nuclear fuel. But first, they have to find it… And so, in February of this year two muon detectors were installed outside the Fukushima Daiichi unit-1 ruins at reactor vessel height for the purpose of finding that ‘missing’ reactor fuel.

    First, as AP reports, Japanese government auditors say the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant has wasted more than a third of the 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in taxpayer money allocated for cleaning up the plant after it was destroyed by a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    A Board of Audit report describes various expensive machines and untested measures that ended in failure. It also says the cleanup work has been dominated by one group of Japanese utility, construction and electronics giants despite repeated calls for more transparency and greater access for international bidders. …

    • rogerthat

      Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Teruaki Kobayashi said all of the equipment contributed to stabilizing the plant, even though some operated only briefly.

      Some of the failures cited in the report:

      FRENCH IMPORT: Among the costliest failures was a 32 billion yen ($270 million) machine made by French nuclear giant Areva SA to remove radioactive cesium from water leaking from the three wrecked reactors. The trouble-plagued machine lasted just three months and treated only 77,000 tons of water, a tiny fraction of the volume leaking every day. It has since been replaced with Japanese and American machines.

      SALT REMOVAL: Sea water was used early in the crisis to cool the reactors after the normal cooling systems failed. Machines costing 18.4 billion yen ($150 million) from several companies including Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, Toshiba Corp. and Areva were supposed to remove the salt from the contaminated water at the plant. One of the machines functioned only five days, and the longest lasted just six weeks.

      SHODDY TANKS: TEPCO hurriedly built dozens of storage tanks for the contaminated water at a cost of 16 billion yen ($134 million). The shoddy tanks, using rubber seals and assembled by unskilled workers, began leaking and some water seeped into the ground and then into the ocean. The tanks are now being replaced with more durable welded ones.

      GIANT UNDERGROUND POOLS: A total of 2.1 billion yen ($18 million) was spent on seven huge underground pools …

      • rogerthat

        built by Maeda Corp. to store the contaminated water. They leaked within weeks, and the water had to be transferred to steel tanks.

        UNFROZEN TRENCH: A 100 million yen ($840,000) project to contain highly contaminated water in a maintenance tunnel by freezing it failed because the water never completely froze. TEPCO subsidiary Tokyo Power Technology even threw in chunks of ice, but eventually had to pour in cement to seal the trench.
        * * *
        So it is even more distressing that, as Science Journal reports, Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, destroyed 4 years ago in explosions and meltdowns triggered by an earthquake and tsunami, won't be truly safe until engineers can remove the reactors' nuclear fuel. But first, they have to find it…

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