TV: Gov’t seeking to empty Fukushima No. 4 fuel pool much sooner than planned — Worries it could become ‘unsafe’ (VIDEO)

Published: December 3rd, 2012 at 7:53 am ET


Follow-up to: [intlink id=”japan-times-many-experts-remain-alarmed-about-risk-unit-4-collapse-structure-strong-before-work-be-sped-10-years-remove-all-fuel-all-pools” type=”post”] Japan Times: Many experts remain alarmed about risk of Unit 4 collapse — Structure not as strong as it was, work must be sped up[/intlink]

(Subscription Only) Title: TEPCO aims to end Fukushima No. 4 unit’s fuel removal in 2014
Source: Kyodo
Date: Dec. 3, 2012

Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government said Monday they will seek to take out all fuel assemblies inside the No. 4 unit of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by the end of 2014, a year earlier than initially planned.

The schedule was moved up amid lingering concerns over the condition of the unit that stores 1,533 fuel assemblies, the largest number among the four damaged units of the plant. The upper part of the unit’s building was severely damaged by a hydrogen explosion last year.

TEPCO plans to start taking out the fuel in mid-November 2013, one month earlier than initially scheduled, because the clearance of debris from the upper portion of the building went smoothly and it found it can skip some preparatory work deemed necessary earlier. […]

Watch the video here

Published: December 3rd, 2012 at 7:53 am ET


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  1. UPI: Fukushima spent fuel pool a source of growing concern — Calls for more efforts to empty and secure Unit 4 continue in Japan and beyond May 23, 2012
  2. Asahi: Secret cable shows highest-ranking U.S. military officer ‘deeply concerned’ about Fukushima Unit 4 after 3/11 — Fuel pool “might be empty” and needed water from above February 7, 2013
  3. 220 Million Bq/liter of Cesium now in No. 2 Spent Fuel Pool — SFP No. 1, 2, & 3 “clearly have significant spent fuel damage” (VIDEO) August 28, 2011
  4. NHK: Alarm goes off after accident at Fukushima Unit 4 fuel pool — Work suspended after crane trouble — “Workers have been monitoring radiation levels” (VIDEO) March 26, 2014
  5. Japan Gov’t Papers After 3/11: Spent Fuel Pool No. 4 at boiling point — It is empty — Heat caused fire May 16, 2012

20 comments to TV: Gov’t seeking to empty Fukushima No. 4 fuel pool much sooner than planned — Worries it could become ‘unsafe’ (VIDEO)

  • dodge

    Reality Check: I understand their concern to empty this pool – that fuel is still a great danger, even with these plants shutdown, equipment and operations to cool must be kept going. With all our reports what I'm not clear on is just where do they plan to put this fuel they empty from unit 4. Should any major damage occur in a US plant, our reality is that even if we have/had/developed the technology to remove the spent fuel rods — special regulations are required to transport – and no where do we have a long term disposal site. Does anyone know where Japan is constructing long term storage solutions for the fractured fuel rods?

    • apostrophes

      There is no permanent disposal site. Their only options are to put them in the Common Spent Fuel Pool across the road from U4, or some other temporary site in Japan.

      Quite frankly, I will be surprised if they ever get anything out of SFP4, as whatever remains in there will be a tangled mass of wreckage that will need cutting out in small pieces.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Corium from Units1,2,&3 has spread out under Buildings1,2,&3 in the mudrock under the Fukuplex, undermining the foundation of Building4. Building4 is sinking slowly and unevenly, cracking the foundation. When a pump leak drained SFP4 in March, 2011, zirconium cladding in fuel assemblies began to burn. Some of us believe a combination of zirconium and cesium vapors exploded, destroying Building4. Some of us believe most of the 1533 fuel assemblies in SFP4 were destroyed in the fires, their remains melted into puddles of uranium and other goodies on the floor of SFP4. Two of the unused fuel assemblies have been removed and tested by TEPCO to determine the possible condition of the spent fuel assemblies in SFP4. TEPCO had planned to build a Crane Support Structure around and over Building4 to remove intact fuel assemblies in transport containers. Construction of the Crane Support Structure may begin in 2013, although I believe the ground is too unstable to support the new structure. The intact fuel assemblies can be stored in the nearby Common SFP until they are cool enough for dry cask storage. Many are concerned that an earthquake might crack the walls and stainless steel lining of SFP4 (or collapse Building4), draining the water, and releasing large amounts of radiation into the environment.

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      dodge: The Common SFP will serve as temporary storage for the intact fuel assemblies from SFP4. Since the Common Fuel Pool is at near full capacity, fuel assemblies which are cool enough for dry cask storage will have to be removed before fuel assemblies from SFP4 can be accommodated. Ultimately, fuel assemblies from SFP4 will go into permanent dry cask storage at the Fukucomplex. Here are the specifics:

      "The Common (Shared) Storage Pool
      "In addition to these individual pools, there is a larger common spent fuel pool that is used to store spent fuel from all 6 reactors once it has been out of the reactor for 19 months and has cooled down. It has a volume of 3,828 cubic meters (29m x 12m x11m deep) and currently has 6,375 spent fuel assemblies in it. It is located 50 meters west of Unit 4."

      After the intact fuel assemblies have been removed from SFP4, all remaining racks and equipment will be removed. The puddles of melted fuel will have to be dealt with. Perhaps the remains of Building4 will first be filled with reinforced concrete. SFP4 will be then be filled with a mixture of boron, lead, and reinforced concrete. If Building4 still continues to spew radiation, then a sarcophagus may have to be built over the ruins to contain the radioactivity.

      • moonshellblue moonshellblue

        Is it mud rock underneath or lava rock as it is my understanding that most of Japan is lava. I don't know if this makes any difference as I'm not a geologist but it seems to me if it is lava rock the corium would follow the flow so to speak thus making it easier for the corium to find the path of less resistance? Just thinking thoughts.

        • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

          "Thus the plant was built on "mudrock"…which is a muddy rock composed of clay and silt (very fine sand). But the term "muddy" does not mean that the rock is soft. It simply means that it is a rock whose matrix is clay; it is also called "argillite".

          Mudrock is a sedimentary rock similar to what we call "sandstone". However, since TEPCO promotes a narrative that insists the corium from Units1,2,&3 is still contained inside the buildings, there has been no effort by TEPCO to determine the true location of the corium. Some believe it to be half a mile deep by now. Some say it has followed the grain of the mudrock, and is now located beneath the ocean. My feeling is that there are three bus-sized corium masses located 50'-75' below ground level. Some spreading out has occurred, and we have observed smoke or steam rising from between the reactor buildings on several occasions. If the human race disappears from Planet Earth as a direct result of Fukushima, I believe it will be because failed to build a closed cooling loop for this underground corium, instead allowing heavily-contaminated ground water to pour into the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the entire biosphere.

  • nedlifromvermont

    I think the first step is to put the used fuel in dry casks and then noodle the problem some more … the volume of waste in a single cask is unable to go critical, and the "sky-shine" from the casks is not nearly so dangerous as from used fuel assemblies without a water cover/shield …

    It's still a useful question … and Allison McFarlane is on the case (not really) …

    There's an awful lot of used fuel in the common fuel pool … and why they haven't started casking up that stuff is another useful question … as is: "Why, nineteen months after the Fukushima melt-outs, our toothless, toadying NRC has not ramped up dry cask campaigns at all sixty-plus sites in the United States of Cancer, Empire, where we have chock-full spent fool pools just waiting to be de-watered by Mother Nature or Terrorist of Opportunity, go critical, and render a new England sized chunk of real estate uninhabitable …

    And these would be areas that have not yet turned in to the all new, read about it here, Great American Desert …

    peace to the 'newsers … fight on to slay the nuclear beast … it turns out, dragons are real …

  • dosdos dosdos

    Dry casks are not cheap, a little over a million dollars each at their cheapest. That is too expensive for TEPCO's tightwad fists to consider.

  • jec jec

    Bet they dump the fuel in the Ocean. So far that's been the major dumping ground….So by "air ground and sea"…they have "got us."

  • 'Unsafe' Now that's an understatement.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    I'm also going to place a link to an Enenews ..recent story.

    What is the real condition of the spent fuel ..Unit 4?

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      “We would go put out the flames if we could, but we don’t have the tools. We have nothing,” Mr. Yoshida pleaded with headquarters. […". From the ENEnews thread referenced by Rose above.

      Operators of the 23 old Fukushima-type GE Mark I plants in the US also do not have any means to put out fires in spent fuel pools located on top of their reactors, should their SFPs suddenly become dewatered, or if spent fuel rods experience excessive heating or criticalities, as occurred in all seven spent fuel pools at Fukushima.

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    "… and it found it can skip some preparatory work deemed necessary earlier."

    There's a real panic there to get something done – whatever can be done. Most likely the acceleration of liquifaction taking the whole facility down, from what is left standing to the destruction of the Common Spent Fuel Pool(s).

    I would assume, based on past reports, that the bulk of the most radioactive material will go in the ocean, and the least radioactive will be stored/shipped on land for PR requirements.

    I will say that while the massive levels of cancers from this disaster will depopulate a major percentage of the planet, the bulk of which many of those alive today may see, mutagenisis will finish off all sentient life within 5 generations.

    There are no words to describe this ultimate horror.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    This nuclear disaster will never be over, the horrid technology must be outlawed.

  • jedi jedi

    I would say 1/3 have been removed by the green thing they been
    working on sfp4 ?20 at a time what they do with it, better not be the ocean!or they will never sell one more car, yesterday was the 1st dayback to work after4-5 day off? Tomiako feed i saw lots of cement-trucks all day long.they need to work 24/7 no hoildays
    Japan put 10x more efford on tsunami clean-up,than fukushima????
    have a good day.

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      You are saying removes spent fuel from SFP4, encases it in concrete, and dumps it into the Pacific Ocean? (Good observations, jedi. If you are right, this is huge!)

      Japan, if you dare to use the Pacific Ocean as a dump for the Fukushima disaster, you have turned into a rogue state. The nations of the Pacific Rim will necessarily band together, invade Japan, and put a quick end to such madness! Japan, beware! The officials responsible for such crimes against humanity can also be encased in concrete and dumped at sea, as is their just deserts.

  • jedi jedi

    No I don't think they are doing that! the cement could be for water tanks or reinforce something?? the truth is we don't know!

  • Andres Arce Andres Arce

    Another lie. They couldn't do a thing about the situation until now, and already both the government and the company are out of money.
    For me, the incompetent officers of the government had awoken the previous day, mulling that after so much time they would have at least to say something (actually impossible) about Fukushima.