Transcript of Task Force Public Meeting
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
MR. SHADIS: Good afternoon, everyone. Yes, I want to say first this may be a little bit naïve, but members of the public are pretty much limited to what is reported in the press with respect to Fukushima. I was surprised to hear you all say that the fuel in the spent fuel pools was not damaged. Press reports indicate that fuel particles up to a centimeter or more in size had been found a mile or more from the spent fuel pools and that’s my first question. Can you address the disparity here?
MR. GROBE: These are the kinds of details that are going to be evolving over the next months and years and maybe even more than a decade. The — there’s nothing particularly that focuses any deposition on the spent fuel pool, in fact, most of the deposition that has been reported to date appears to have come from the reactors. There are — there’s great difficulty in units one, two and three in actually observing the fuel that’s in the spent fuel pools and what I said earlier was that there’s some level of confidence that the fuel in the spent fuel pools has not been damaged based on looking at the ratios between various radionuclides and by looking at that, you can determine the age of the fuel. And when I say age, I mean the amount of time that it’s been out of the reactor. You can you evaluate the various isotopes and determine whether that fuel was actually being irradiated in the reactor at the time that it was melted and released or whether or not it was in the spent fuel pool and was older fuel. So it — these are — these details have not been definitively identified, but there is information that indicates that the fuel in the spent fuel pools was not damaged. I don’t think any of that influences our recommendations regarding the spent fuel pools. Our recommendations are that should you have instrumentation that tells you what’s going on, that you should have electrical power to make sure that you can run the systems to provide makeup water [spelled phonetically] and if those are not available to you, you should have an alternate means that doesn’t involve dropping water from helicopters to spray water into the spent fuel pools.
MR. SHADIS: [...] Well, you know, following on that question, are you then — is it your preliminary assessment that these large particles of fuel were somehow ejected from the
MR. GROBE: I need to say that the task force did not evaluate this issue or render a conclusion on this issue. What it did was recommend the 12 overarching recommendations and the subordinate implementation details, and that is the extent of our conclusions at this point.
MR. HOLAHAN: Yeah, this is Gary Holahan. You know, although the — we don’t consider this a technical report on the details of what happened at Fukushima. I think, you know, a very reasonable working hypothesis — I don’t want to get too definitive on it, but, you know, ascribing these dispersed radioactive materials in various forms on the site, you know, it most likely appears they were from the reactor cores rather than spent fuel pools. I think we have to wait for a definitive answer, but things like the amount of iodine in the, you know, in the radiological material that was dispersed are generally indicative of core damage as opposed to spent fuel pool damage.
MR. GROBE: Again — I’m sorry, again, just emphasize, these technical details are the kinds of things that are going to be sorted out over the next months to years and really do not impact on the recommendations that the task force has made.
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Published: March 5th, 2012 at 6:31 pm ET
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- Nuclear engineer: NRC now says reactors and containments have breached and released plutonium off-site — “Much worse” than if from spent fuel pools (VIDEO) August 22, 2011
- Experts fear radiation from damaged nuclear fuel has weakened structures of reactors and spent fuel pools at Fukushima September 14, 2011
- NYTimes on “Ejection of Nuclear Material”: Confidential US doc suggests pieces of fuel blown up to a mile away — Some between two units bulldozed over April 6, 2011
- US nuke agency confirms “initial explosions at Fukushima were very likely ejections of core material”: Analyst (VIDEO) August 26, 2011