New York Times: Experts warn molten fuel may be underground beneath Fukushima reactor buildings — Doubt that it can be extricated

Published: September 4th, 2013 at 11:38 am ET


Title: Errors Cast Doubt on Japan’s Cleanup of Nuclear Accident Site
Source: New York Times
Author: Martin Fackler
Date: Sept. 3, 2013

[…] Nuclear experts also questioned the government’s longer-term plan to extract the fuel cores from the reactors, which if successful would eliminate the major source of contamination. Some doubted whether it was even technically feasible to extricate the fuel because of the extent of the damage during the explosions and subsequent meltdowns.

Even at Three Mile Island, where the reactor vessel remained intact, removing the fuel by remote-controlled machinery was a tricky engineering feat. While great strides have been made in robotics since then, damage to the containment vessels at Fukushima makes the problems there much more complex.

Molten fuel not only piled up like wax from a candle on the vessel floor, as at Three Mile Island, but ran through cracks into the piping and machinery below. Some experts warn that it may even have found its way into the ground beneath the buildings. […]

See also: [intlink id=”uc-berkeley-nuclear-professor-work-to-go-on-for-thousands-of-years-at-fukushima-site-could-be-impossible-to-remove-melted-fuel-containment-vessels-may-not-survive-audio” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: September 4th, 2013 at 11:38 am ET


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  2. Nuclear Expert: Molten fuel may have flowed through cracks in foundations of Fukushima reactor buildings — No one’s been able to go under there and take samples September 11, 2013
  3. Breaking: Nuclear fuel found “beneath containment vessel” at Fukushima plant? — Parts inside reactor “no longer there” — “Search barely begun for fuel that burned through” — Workers probe underwater below plant for molten cores (PICS & VIDEO) January 30, 2017
  4. Asahi: ‘Underground holes’ may be needed to search for Fukushima’s 3 molten cores — Did fuel ‘escape’ via basement? — Experts unsure if Tepco will allow them to search for corium January 25, 2014
  5. Nuclear Expert: We believe molten fuel already melted through floors of Fukushima reactor buildings, or is still in process of melting through (AUDIO) September 18, 2013

25 comments to New York Times: Experts warn molten fuel may be underground beneath Fukushima reactor buildings — Doubt that it can be extricated


    Hate to say it, but I'm thinking corium-induced 'fumaroles'. The time for 'extraction' has likely long passed. No amount of wish-list technology will come into play, before irreversible damage has been done (if it hasn't already occurred) to the surrounding environment. The only option (again, at this time in history) may be long-term implementation of on-site remediation systems; idea being, to reduce the amount of radiation leaking into the ocean. Time for the world-body to get its checkbook out…

    • Gasser Gasser

      I hate to say it also AFTERSHOCK, mark my words; once these runaway Corium's work their way into Earths molten Magma layer, active Volcanoes in the area will start pumping out huge volumes of Plutonium & Cesium smoke and ash vectoring other Atomic highly radioactive evolving concoctions unknown to man into the upper atmosphere.

      In given time the Earths entire fluid Magma will become completely contaminated from hundreds of Nuclear Reactor meltdowns because there will be no one left alive to do shit about it or take one, IMHO… can believe me, because I'm not an “expert or Nuclear professor"


        interesting and valuable point Gasser. I hadn't thought much on the emissions that'll be augmented by the interaction of the coriums with the surrounding media and the potential interaction with existing volcanic structures. Talk about nightmares in the making…

      • soern

        magma could be a solution.
        IF corium reaches Magma, a manmade vulcano will erupt through the tubes corium made before.
        At first corium would come back to surface followed by magma which covers those coriums building up a new mountain.
        The seize of that new vulcano would depend on the local pressure of magma and hopefully covers everything which is a threat for the rest of our world/civilisation.
        Much Dust is not to expect, as there will be already a way for magma to get out.

        I'd like nature to seal that mess before sfp4 gets tumbling down.

    • Bone Idle

      Aftershock I suspect you will be correct. However your use of the term "Fumaroles" has unfortunately unleashed the geologic illiterates.

      "Corium – induced fumaroles are probably an apt literal description.

      There will be no technological solution to the melted cores problems for many years.

      I suspect the plant will become too radioactive to have a human workforce on site, a major breakdown due to the lack of ongoing remedial work, a major fire which will then spread to the whole complex. In short a major open air nuclear furnace.
      When this happens there will be something drastic required. The drastic action will occur over the objection of the Japanese government.

  • Did you know that when Fukushima blew up, 10s of tons of uranium and plutonium were aerosolized and pelted the US including Hawaii. It was also detected in Guam and Saipan. I discovered this in EPA data. This data is still on the EPA site but is VERY hard to find. Shortly afterwards, EPA stopped providing radiation updates, and shut down a bunch of their sites for "maintenance".

    Here is the proof, the sites that picked up these radioactive heavy metals from air sampling. Yep….you breathed in plutonium, and they covered it up. It could have been as easy as them saying….stay out of the rain, you could have reduced your dose by 90%, but instead they were silent.

    Then the USA told Japan to stop being honest as it would hurt corporate nuclear interest. And the USA showed Japan the BP Oil Spill playbook, and in real time I saw the Playbook rolled out, it took several days to get the various Japan monitoring and governmental interest "in line".

    Biggest contributors to Obama? Nuclear and Education. And what are the two things that are blowing up the worst? Just saying.

    3 months ago, USA was saying that Japan's restart of all its nuclear plants is vital to national security of Japan AND USA, no joke.

    Here is the proof that you been dosed with heavy metals, and it could have been avoided with simple warnings.

    • We Not They Finally

      If by "Education" contributing to Obama, you mean the teacher's unions, please just consider that so far as they could tell, they had no place else to go! The Repubs had things locked up with "right to work" (or to starve, or whatever) States.

      And we've just celebrated "Labor Day" but with vastly reduced influence of labor, which is MOST OF US. People died in the streets of America for the likes of a 40-hour work week and decent benefits, but that promise is now gone.

      Understand, we voted for Obama twice and we are gravely disappointed. We think he's a fraud! But us, like the labor unions, have no place to go.

      Whereas the corporations and the nuclear cabal, they DID "have a place to go" with Obama. It's just a shame on America. A once great nation who cared about its own people, seems to be gone.

      I just wouldn't be putting teachers and the nuclear cabal in the same box. Teachers have gotten shafted all over America, whereas the nuclear crowd seems to be doing quite well.

      Oh, and you forgot about Goldman Sachs. HUGE contributor to Obama.

      Just filling in some of the edges here, that's all.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Giant molten globs, hundreds of tons, thousands of degrees, won't be touched for hundreds of years. Or is this an underestimation?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Some experts warn that it may even have found its way into the ground beneath the buildings. […]

    Early reports..spoke and showed serious destruction at and below ground level..including the fault motion..but also fissures..broken piping etc.
    After melt down..I doubt there would be undamaged containment contain melt-through.
    I consider the same for the SFPs.

    • We Not They Finally

      That's what melt-THROUGH is. Beneath the buildings. Obviously. And by now, WAY down under the building. Probably down to the aquifer.

      People seem to get ruffled that I've mentioned the chance of hydrovolcanic explosion several times now. But it just seems like common sense that aquifer and coriums can't exist in the same space without some big kaboom to come!

      But if someone can dissect the science of it, go right to it!

      • Bone Idle

        Hydrovolcanic explosions – Phreatic eruptions are generally caused by a large volume of water suddenly coming into contact with a large chemically rich volume of magma. The extremely hot magma has it's own gases which interact with the chemical composition of the water.

        There are many underwater volcanos. They don't always explode when the molten material is ejected into the water.

        The lava that enters the ocean ex Kiluea mostly just steams.

    • Bone Idle

      If the coriums were out of the containment we would already know about it. The site would not be habitable.
      Things may have changed though. The Japanese government making plans to freeze the ground around and underneath the plant maybe a sign that this has started to occur.
      Freezing the ground is a stopgap method.

  • ftlt

    It is not the first and there are plenty more to come – and sooner rather than later…

    ENENEWS should be hopping for decades to come – if we're all still here, that is???

  • pkjn

    40-year timeline for decommissioning and cleanup at Tokyo Electric Fukushima
    Sep 4, 2013 National Broadcasting Company
    How long will Tokyo Electric Fukushima barrier have to hold? Japan has set a 40-year timeline for decommissioning and cleanup at Tokyo Electric Fukushima. Underground water experts told that ice-barrier technology has not been proven to last that long.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    NYT: Your friends in the gobbamint & nuclear industry aren't going to be happy with you.
    But we ENEnewsers tip our hats to you. 😉

    "Some experts warn that it [corium] may even have found its way into the ground beneath the buildings."

    (Now you can begin to understand why the groundwater & Pacific Ocean is so heavily contaminated.)

  • May have found'

    as in the coriums got lost, waylaid, delayed, hoodwinked, snookered, and splashed.

    But now they have found their way, hallelulah…

    Every lost corium is now found.

    The God of RA-diation is happy.

    No more virgins need to be sacrificed.

    On second thought,

    he changed his mind…

    he wants a couple more million over the next 50 years.

    All those willing to be sacrificed, breathe deeply outdoors and stand in the rain as much as possible.

  • I wonder if any of these experts have ever considered using ground penetrating radar to locate the corium? Or have they already done that???

  • 3 coriums on the run, unit 4 ever a fear, lies upon lies…

    Recent Report by Yoichi Shimatsu…Radio Interview Aug 26th


    Secret Facilities, Thousands Dead…

    The information about the real activities resulting in soaring radiation levels has been available since apr of 2011 as readable in this article by Shimatsu…
    The underground nuclear weapons refinement facilities are leaking pure uranium and plutonium into the environment…
    Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?
    US – Japan security treaty fatally delayed nuclear worker's fight against meltdown
    by Yoichi Shimatsu Apr 12 2011

  • Robin of Loxley

    Wow. Check out this comment I found on that New York Times article:

    "Studying on my master degree in soil mechanics as civil engineer, I learned about the serious problems created by freezing grounds. It may seem attractive but freezing grounds increases lateral groundwater flow (it sucks all the surroundings water) leaving empty spaces between soil grains. This increases soil stress and settling. Settling of fundations will produce large cracks and eventually collapse of the building. This is basic 1-year of master class in soil mechanics, but with Tepco doing quick fixes without thinking, I wonder if they just thought about it, and even care."

    Not good.

  • Some of you may have seen this before, but I think it is real useful, I keep referring to it all the time when trying to assess the real danger of radiation levels.

    here is the cheat sheet chart to radiation levels. Enjoy and comment.