NHK: Fukushima spent fuel to go in “pool built above ground” (PHOTO)

Published: February 4th, 2013 at 3:46 pm ET


Title: Nuclear Watch: Inside Fukushima
Source: NHK
Date: Feb. 1 2013

At 3:00 in

Once the spent fuel is removed it will be transferred to a fuel pool built above ground.

But the pool is not big enough to store all the spent fuel.

So Tepco plans to build a new facility that relies on helium instead of water as a coolant.

Watch the video here

Published: February 4th, 2013 at 3:46 pm ET


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22 comments to NHK: Fukushima spent fuel to go in “pool built above ground” (PHOTO)

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    "So Tepco plans to build a new facility that relies on helium instead of water as a coolant"

    There is a worldwide helium shortage, with no more reserves to be plundered:

    The Japanese are complete buffoons with their lies.

    • And they will then contain a "Coolant LEAK" just HOW!?!?!


        we touched on this issue, PattieB, two weeks ago. Curious as to how long (decades?) that you'd guesstimate they'd need to be reliably operate the hydrogen-cooled pool? I'm putting this question to you, as you seem to have a good handle on these issues…

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      This is just a fancy way to say, air cooled. The Closed Fort St Vrain NPP not far from me is air cooled. This is probably one of the many reasons why we have spikes in the radiation measurements to the 10,000s cpm. It is the cheapest way to store live and spent nuclear fuel from a non-working nuclear reactor. It not a safe way. Hanford in Washington is also not safe. There are no safe ways to store nuclear fuel. Some ways are cheaper than others. Helium cooled is probably the cheapest. If there are no filters on the vents… You guessed it. More mutations and death. These air cooled pools have to be vented continually as do all nuclear reactors. If they run out of helium…

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        Here's a short explanation of water-cooling vs. air-cooling (dry cask) storage:

        I get the impression that the Japanese are thinking of using helium in a liquid-cooled system, similar to liquid nitrogen-cooled computer systems.

        I don't know if dry cask storage is really safer than liquid-cooling, other than the danger of pool leaks resulting in fires, but the cost involved with dry cask storage is very high, especially with the amount of waste to be stored. With many of the plants on the verge of bankruptcy, who is going to pay these new expenses?

        Oh, sorry . . . What was I thinking?

      • guezilla

        Nuclear fuel rods and dry casks are already filled with helium. It's a great heat conductor, it's inert and it doesn't get radioactive itself (although it's chemically alpha particle to begin with…). Also, it can be cooled to near absolute zero so at least they've got the cooling range covered.

        It's easy to see why, from the technical standpoint, this woul be a good choice for long-term storage of nuclear fuel much of which will be damaged. With water you get to deal with activation (tritium) and radioactive materials leaching from the damaged rods, causing a mix of chemicals that could cause all sorts of havoc.

        Of course the potential problems to helium suggest itself as well, as has been said here. Some of the concerns are (mostly?) non-issues, if helium did run out it'd first get too expensive and they'd be sure to switch to some other cooling medium to save costs. There's no reason to suppose they won't have a "plan B" of for example flooding the storage with water in event of helium leak, though this being TEPCO I guess we're right to stay vigilant.

        It does seem like a maintenance nightmare, and although this is not a complete plan but a concept that's been thrown out without much detail (perhaps they will be helium filled canisters in water? Just plain old dry cask storage? who knows, in this I'm assuming it isn't just a fancy name for dry cask storage though) But it is hard to see how this kind of system would fare against their old enemy:…

      • guezilla

        ….and that would be earthquakes, that character limit is a little off.

        Anyway it's a long subject altogether. Whatever this is it isn't intended to become final disposal of the fuel. Japan still has great ambitions for closing the fuel cycle ie. re-using the fuel, but those have been set back I think at least another few decades. So this would likely become semi-permanent. You'd think they'd be working on solutions that are as passive and self-healing as possible by now though, but admittedly there aren't really good ideas around.

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

          I think it would be wise to accept that if scientists can split the atom, but haven't yet figured out how to close the fuel cycle, they never will be able to. In several decades all the present nuclear waste, the nuclear reactors, the future nuclear reactors will have destroyed all life on the planet forever. It is a deadly hubris that thinks that it is possible to close the fuel cycle. All the experiments so far have ended in death, more nuclear waste, and huge amounts of money and resources wasted. All the radiation vented into the water and air alone is destroying everything.

          To take the resources that were freely available on the earth initially and to destroy them totally is evidence of the frailty and evil of mankind.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            The closed fuel cycle is a myth to justify the continuation of nuclear power. It is a myth that is in the process of killing billions of people. With everyone dead, there will be no need for energy.

            Vicious nuclear fuel cycle proving difficult to break

            “More than half a century has passed since the government committed to setting up the cycle in the 1950s, but implementation has dragged on for decades.
            “Fast-breeder reactors, while experimental, are a crucial piece of the plan. Japan has been betting on the Monju, a prototype fast breeder in Fukui Prefecture run by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, to pave the way. Since it was built in 1991, however, the Monju has run into several problems, including a major fire triggered by a sodium-coolant leak that was later the subject of a coverup attempt. When sodium reacts with water, it catches fire.
            “Monju has never reached full-scale operation despite the ¥960 billion or so the government has poured into it.
            “In addition to fast breeders, reprocessing facilities are another key part of the cycle. But a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, another experimental facility run by the Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., has experienced several problems in its quest for full operations and has cost more than ¥2 trillion so far.
            “Rokkasho is also building a plant to make MOX, an alternative reprocessed fuel made of mixed uranium oxides and weapons-grade plutonium that is designed for fast-breeder reactors.

            • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

              “Opponents of nuclear power have been pressuring the government to give up its fuel cycle quest in light of the prolonged failures of these two facilities.
              “Was the nuclear fuel cycle expected to take this long to set up when the policy was drafted?
              “No. According to the long-term nuclear power policy Japan compiled in 1961, a fast-breeder reactor was to be developed and in engaged in practical use by the late 1970s. That now looks unlikely to happen until the 2050s.
              “Hiroshi Tasaka, who was a special adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan during the Fukushima crisis, said it is obvious that the bureaucrats who drafted the fuel cycle plan were uninformed about the feasibility of the project.
              “In the planning stages, it is often difficult to say a project is scientifically impossible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s feasible, said Tasaka, who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering and is a professor of business at Tama University.
              “’Seeing that the plan has been delayed this long, it means the policymakers didn’t thoroughly examine its feasibility or that it is too difficult to achieve because of technological challenges. . . . I think it’s a combination of both factors,’ Tasaka said.

            • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

              “On an NHK program about the fuel cycle in June, a former bureaucrat involved in the initial stages of drafting the fuel cycle policy said that because the United States was already developing a fast-breeder reactor for research in the 1950s, officials believed it would soon be put into practical use.
              “Meanwhile, professor Minoru Takahashi of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, an expert on fast-breeder reactors, said that Japan has the knowhow to build fast breeders for commercial use but that its safety technology needs further development before it can pass public muster….”

          • guezilla

            I was going to link to the article you pasted 🙂 It is not so much that "scientists […] haven't yet figured out how to close the fuel cycle" but that as Japan is finding out it's proving much harder than anticipated.

            On the other hand, as stated elsewhere, their current hurdle with the fast breeded reactor is that they somehow managed to drop the refueling machine into the reactor. It can hardly be argued this is the fault of the scientists, or shows the unworkability of the theory, but it's a pure mechanical issue which unfortunately shows problems at much more fundamental level.

        • Why would any corporation want a passive, self-healing system? Such a system would likely be cheap to run and too stable for maximum profits. Any corp will happily sell things to people that they don't need (or are even toxic), and T3PC0 is no exception. (cough tobacco cough)
          Charge the J-gov every time their expen$ive system breaks down, mark up the increasingly expensive helium as it leaks away (and some of it will), because profits are the goal.

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

          Even if it were possible to close the fuel cycle, the radiation would still kill off everything on the planet. Nuclear is a sure fire death machine.

          • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

            It is also bankrupting every economy that is dependent on nuclear energy. Why keep throwing so much money away all the time?

            • SwimsWithGators

              I'm with you Anne. There is no long term good that can come from this. And now, even in the short we are killing off life as we know it. Sometimes I wonder how it is that I can cope with the reality. Guess if there was no ENEnews I would have gone crazy by now. Wait, maybe I am crazy? That's what the pro-nukes call me. But really, they are damned idiots.

        • kez

          Guezilla, once again I am prompted to thank you for your smart balanced views.

          I was talking to a friend's young son (junior in HS) and asked him what his ambitions for college are.

          Berkeley as a nuclear engineer.

          Before the rest of the crowd around here hisses I will tell you that I congratulated him on the choice. If every single NPP powered down tonight this world so needs trained experts to deal with waste for the next 100K years or so.

          It's naive IMO to just post here the shut em down mantra without recognizing that isn't going to solve the problem … yet and not for a long time.

          So much step by step work to be done. So I am glad my friend B is going to be a nuclear engineer.

          If I steered him to read any opinions here they would be yours.

          Thanks … please keep up the good effort.

          • guezilla

            Sorry, didn't mean to be balanced, I'll have to work harder 🙂 I come here for information, as the coverup and media blackout are a fact, and this is probably best clearinghouse for related issues right now.

            With regards to nucler engineering, nuclear science isn't just reactors and power production of course. There's nuclear medicine in diagnosis and treatment, food production and preservation, radiation protection and hardening, measurement and detection just to name a few. Almost every home now has a fire-alarm using a small amount of nuclear reactor produced isotope.

            And in the large-scale uses, the nuclear cat is definitely long out of the bag. Even if somehow every country in the world agreed to stop using NPP's for power production, militaries of the world are never going to go back to coal-powered submarines. For deep space and interplanetary exploration, nuclear power is the only viable option (and being stuck on a single planet is the only surefire "extinction-level event").

            Nuclear weapons are in fact currently prohibitively expensive to dispose of, oftentimes near impossible. And there's never going to be an end to regimes wishing to join the exlusive club of nuclear deterrent wielding countries, doubly so if other countries somehow gave up theirs. This in turn will ensure a steady flow of reactors as countries flex their nuclear muscle and learn to harness the atom.

            Although the post length limit is a bitch 🙂

            • kez

              You don't seek a balanced view?

              So sorry then … my very bad misread.

              I'll not bother by responding again.

              Take care. 🙂

  • amberlight amberlight

    And there is the question of how will they maintain circulation of the coolant when there is a serious disruption of the power grid?

    There is simply no safe management of nuclear power generation. Sooner or later there had to be a catastrophic event because presumptuous humans were intent on "harnessing" the atom—as if a team of oxen were an apt metaphor for nuclear fission!

    I'm not against progress, but when the things go terribly awry in the lab it's time to halt the experiment. It was evident to scientists and engineers from square one that nuclear proliferation of any kind was a suicidal undertaking, even when used for peaceful purposes. They ignored the Prime Maxim—Do No Harm!—just so their/our guys could be the first on the block with the new technology.

  • pcjensen

    yes, there is a line which is never crossed on most science projects which have proven invaluable, n go, financially infeasible… but, por que no | nunca dejar que las finanzas son demasiado grandes

  • pcjensen

    industry never stops when finances are too big