Nuclear Chemist: Fukushima plant “like a minefield” — Now 1,800 milliseiverts per hour detected in four different spots

Published: September 1st, 2013 at 2:58 pm ET
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Title: Fukushima radiation levels ’18 times higher’ than thought
Source: Channel 4 News
Author: Tom Clarke, Science Editor
Date: Sept. 1, 2013

[...] But when the plants owners TEPCO used sensors capable of measuring higher levels of radiation, they found it: four patches contaminated with 1800 miliseiverts per hour.

This amount is high enough to kill a person receiving a full body dose in just a few hours. [...]

“It makes the area a bit like a minefield because they will have to find and work around the hotspots,” said Professor Neil Hyatt, a nuclear materials chemist at the University of Sheffield.

The far greater problem facing TEPCO is how to prevent cooling water that has leaked from meeting groundwater beneath the site and heading out to sea. [...]

See also: Contamination levels skyrocket at Fukushima plant, up nearly 2,000% -- NHK: Quadrillions of becquerels already released; "Gov't needs to take charge entirely" (VIDEO)

Published: September 1st, 2013 at 2:58 pm ET
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91 comments

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91 comments to Nuclear Chemist: Fukushima plant “like a minefield” — Now 1,800 milliseiverts per hour detected in four different spots

  • VyseLegendaire VyseLegendaire

    "This amount is high enough to kill a person receiving a full body dose in just a few hours. [...]"

    This isn't accurate. Gamma radiation can do this but not Beta, and the leaked measurement of the recent water leak refers to Beta. This won't help the movement to spread knowledge about Fukushima is this type of report gets popularized.


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  • razzz razzz

    What conditions lead to beta particle emission?

    Beta particle emission occurs when the ratio of neutrons to protons in the nucleus is too high. In this case, an excess neutron transforms into a proton and an electron. The proton stays in the nucleus and the electron is ejected energetically.

    This process decreases the number of neutrons by one and increases the number of protons by one. Since the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom determines the element, the conversion of a neutron to a proton actually changes the radionuclide to a different element.

    Often, gamma ray emission accompanies the emission of a beta particle. When the beta particle ejection doesn't rid the nucleus of the extra energy, the nucleus releases the remaining excess energy in the form of a gamma photon.

    The decay of technetium-99, which has too many neutrons to be stable, is an example of beta decay. A neutron in the nucleus converts to a proton and a beta particle. The nucleus ejects the beta particle and some gamma radiation. The new atom retains the same mass number, but the number of protons increases to 44. The atom is now a ruthenium atom.

    Other examples of beta emitters are phosphorous-32, tritium (H-3), carbon-14, strontium-90, and lead-210.

    http://www.epa.gov/radiation/understand/beta.html

    Continued…


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  • We Not They Finally

    "The far greater problem facing TEPCO is how to prevent cooling water that has leaked from meeting groundwater beneath the site and heading out to sea."

    He thinks that THAT'S what they are so freaked out about these days? Doesn't he have maybe 2-1/2 years to catch up with? Like the part about the cores having melted through all containment? And that maybe THAT reaching the water table might be just a tad more concerning?

    Good God!!


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    • InfoPest InfoPest

      I disagree, the problems are are anything that causes a large, unstoppable atmospheric release, for instance, anything that forces the evacuation of the workers from the site leaving all the melted and spent fuel unattended; ie; a structural failure of any Spent Fuel Pool or a structural failure of one or more coolant storage tanks. Any earthquake can cause this at any time. It may be that the site just becomes increasingly unworkable due to a steady rise in radiation exposure as we are seeing every day. If workers start dropping like flies what makes you think the rest are not going to get on the bus and not come back. Self sacrifice has it's limits on anyone, even the Japanese.


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    • They will not be admitting that anytime soon, not unless they hit bottom in their addiction to covering up ALL nuclear accidents, and minimizing every one of them.

      It will be interesting to see if they hit bottom on this one, or whether it will be something worse that causes it.

      Maybe they never will and humanity will have to suffer via an ELE.

      Certainly, so far, they are showing very little inclination or interest in FULL disclosure and transparency.

      The industry now has TRILLIONS invested in this… money talks.


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  • wetpwcas1 wetpwcas1

    Hiding the facts has been what the nuclear industrial complex & governments have engaged in from day one. Do you think they will change now? This is bad & it will only get worse!


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  • m a x l i

    Exactly 1,800 mSv/h in four different spots? Did they replace the devices recently used that can measure up to 100 mSv/h by devices that can measure up to 1,800 mSv/h?


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    • Anthony Anthony

      Sadly The Truth of it is probably more likely they LIED about having the low level equipment the whole time. That way they could CHOSE when to let the public know what the TRUE reading really are. The weekend after 311 they reported then retracted THEN redacted their 10 million bq leak announcement… remember that? Don't forget it. How did they measure at that time and report such a high I work the numbers backwards from there.


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  • razzz razzz

    According to Fuk-us Diaries, these leaking tanks are holding captured radioactive cooling waters that has undergone initial RO (reverse osmosis) treatment. Still very radioactively 'hot' so you can imagine how radioactive it was after coming in contact with the melts. Seems one way or another, it is finding its way to the Pacific.


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    That is what the claim is..

    Fukushima leak: 'Wrong equipment' used to measure radiation
    Sept.1 2013

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-23919150

    Oh..gee..the wrong equipment..
    So…how many other hotspots are there..now that proper equipment is found?

    Rather a side thought..except in contemplation of the effect on the immediate environment…(half sarc)

    Fukushima radiation levels spike, company says

    "There's been a sharp spike in radiation levels measured in the pipes and containers holding water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

    But the company in charge of cleaning it up says that only a single drop of the highly contaminated water escaped the holding tank".

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/01/world/asia/japan-fukushima-radiation-spike

    Seems to me that the groundwater is starting to present itself..around the bases of the containers do to the excess weight.
    This water being extremely radioactive.


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    • It only took 2 years after this mega disaster for them to find the RIGHT equipment?

      Another boner of a loner lie…

      Every nuclear power plant has at LEAST one meter that can read high levels of radiation, if not more.

      Saying they say that they do not own any, or did not use them, it only shows their incompetence, or worse.

      No professional nuclear plant anywhere in the world would operate without Geiger Counters of all kinds, including those that measure high levels of radiation.

      Maybe these are the 'new' recruits, and all of the old guard took off after 3/11? Maybe they just handed them shovels and badges and told them to get to work, without any meters at all?

      Wouldn't be surprising if that was the case..

      After all, this is the same nation that warehoused thousands of Geiger Counters donated by other nations, and never released them to the intended victims of FU YU


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    • Anthony Anthony

      Hell in Canada our equipment went down as Fuku emerged…. and apparently has never been repaired. Yeah make total sense when a nuclear accident is underway to NOT fix the equipment.

      Right?

      A few months ago I begged the universe to reincarnate me to another planet and be done with this mess once and for all. I mean, who the hell wants to live in a polluted toxic paradise?

      The universe did answer me back on this. The planet will be healed. I changed my mind and decided that after what WE have done to this beautiful place, I will be happy to help in the healing of her. Our chapter as we wrote it is done.

      These are new times and if you cant feel it, you cant I guess! As painful as Fuku is to live through, I believe it will ultimately serve as our greatest lesson about Nuclear Energy.

      Nuclear wont be a part of the new world of ours by choice.


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    • Anthony Anthony

      Hell in Canada our equipment went down as Fuku emerged…. and apparently has never been repaired. Yeah makes total sense when a nuclear accident is underway to NOT fix the equipment.

      Right?

      A few months ago I begged the universe to reincarnate me to another planet and be done with this mess once and for all. I mean, who the hell wants to live in a polluted toxic paradise?

      The universe did answer me back on this. The planet will be healed. I changed my mind and decided that after what WE have done to this beautiful place, I will be happy to help in the healing of her. Our chapter as we wrote it is done.

      These are new times and if you cant feel it, you cant I guess! As painful as Fuku is to live through, I believe it will ultimately serve as our greatest lesson about Nuclear Energy.

      Nuclear wont be a part of the new world of ours by choice.


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  • I report .11 µSv/hr background radiation here on Eagle Mountain near Vancouver BC. They are reporting hotspots of 1,800,000.00 µSv/hr or 16,363,636 times background level. Unfortunately we didn't study the differences between beta alpha or gamma radiation at the University of Pinball Dynamics but common sense tells me that any type of radiation over 16 million times my background is bad. Tom Clarke, the Science Director has what most News Shows require. A man with a British Accent which for the North American ear denotes authoratative intelligence. However he dismisses the radiation leak as not a problem as it will be diluted by the Pacific. No mention of bio accumulation. Please feel free to post links criticizing my synopsis as I am time pressed with other projects today.
    The water in the tanks has cycled through the various cooling systems at the site and gets filtered for mostly cesium but they can't filter strontium and the myriad of other radio isotopes the cooling water picks up from the melted out reactors and spent fuel. Therefore at some point they put fresh water in the cooling system and store the used coolant in these not welded cheap tanks they built. That is why the water is so radio active. I doubt there is technology available to decontaminate this water. Please tell me I'm wrong. That is why they want to dump the water. If site becomes too radioactive they wont be able to maintain cooling system. This is the real danger. Clarke lies.


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    • We Not They Finally

      Oh, "Clarke" is the reporter cited above? He seems under-educated, at best. He seems to be way under-estimating everything.

      As for your analysis (and this is no criticism), it's probably yes, AND…. whatever the radioactivity on site, they have no PLACE to put more water. If they don't let it gush out of there, they have a sinking marshland.

      But I also suspect that saying that they have been "maintaining the cooling system" may be a fiction by now. Maybe over SFP 4, let's say. But not over the melted-through coriums. If they were MAINTAINING cooling, then why would the radiation be spiking by a factor of thousands??!!

      What I'd like (anyone out there) is for someone scientifically knowledgable (and in no way discounting you, Mark) is to spell out for us all the issues of "Damned if you do, damn if you don't."

      People post constantly about how they are sure this is fixable. Impermeable walls, graphene, etc. And not saying that the ideas are without merit. But the parameters may be way too big by now — so that anything that still CAN be done, may cause "unintended consequences" in other ways.


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  • razzz razzz

    Even James Bond in 'Dr No' had to undergo decontamination back in 1962.

    http://youtu.be/gaiFD64nDjw?t=2m23s


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  • Mats

    Not that Sv/h…. the other one.

    > http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2013/1230191_5502.html

    a littel bit tricky, those doses.

    "The effective dose replaces the former effective dose equivalent, and is sometimes incorrectly called the dose equivalent, but should not be confused with the equivalent dose."

    > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalent_dose


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  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    This ongoing triple meltdown is new territory for nuclear scientists. Good luck.


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  • We Not They Finally

    The article cited above is still BS. "18 times as much." Is he taking into account the "50-fold spike" from a month back? Every few days we get added MULTIPLICATIONS of some new base number. Are we just supposed to be shielded from some outrageously shockingly high number?

    Oh, I forgot. 1,800 millisieverts an hour IS shocking high!!


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  • dosdos dosdos

    They have digital cameras that measure emissions, false color allows them to mark an emission within a certain range. The numbers are all rounded off and labeled as the range number (average, center of range). These cameras are most sensitive to gamma, being the most energetic.

    Many beta decays are not single step decays, but often include several decays in rapid sequence, as some of these isotopes have a half life in milliseconds. While strontium 90 is almost pure beta decay, strontium is not the only isotope in the water. Seventeen isotopes, plus the core base, is in high concentration. To assume the water being stored is gamma free is a fool's logic.


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    • Agreed.. there is no way to filter out only gamma radiation elements. According to reports, they only filtered out cesium, and concentrated the rest, then put it in either large tanks, or in HIGHLY CONCENTRATED FORMS in much smaller containers that NO ONE is talking about. Nor are they giving any radiation readings for these smaller containers where the SUPER CONCENTRATED radiation is stored.

      Are those leaking too? Are those also held together with duct tape and baling wire? Are those made out of used kiddie pools or some worn out fishing bait containers?

      Again, just about everything at FUKU is minimized, denied or covered up. Only 1% has been revealed or talked about. 99% is still under deep cover, maybe even more.

      No sense having arguments about the 1% they do disclose.. It is just chicken scratch, for the clucking hens of the press to fight over.


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      • If the government is truly after the truth, they will have to bring in someone completely different and open, whose job will be to tell the truth about FUKU, and disclose everything.

        Only then can Japan truly heal and deal with this mega disaster.

        To keep calling this 10% of Chernobyl, no plutonium released, and no melt through, is the highest order of deception. They need to work on that FIRST. This fake story and lies that nuclear experts keep spreading is a betrayal of the whole nuclear 'scientific' industry, the Japanese people, and the human race, which may yet be asked to sacrifice via an ELE event.


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  • truthseek truthseek

    It is like a decent lab technician not owning a multi-meter or 2 or 3 or 4.
    A geiger counter is like a light socket checker in a light bulb factory…
    pretty damned basic tools for the workspace, Nuclear Power Plant.

    TEPclowns run a first rate 3 ring meltdown
    with the ineptitude of nutty professor…
    like in the movies.

    BTW, who's on first??? (the skit)


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  • mairs mairs

    Arnie Gundersen, as reported on enenews, July 18, 2013:

    Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds’ chief engineer: The condition of the site right now is precarious. [...] there’s 3 problems with the site right now. The first is the enormous amount of water that’s stored on the site in hundreds of tanks. Tokyo Electric isn’t letting us know exactly what the radioactive material is in those sites but there’s so much radiation in those tanks, we do know that the exposure to people who are outside of the plant boundary is very, very high. That tells us – there’s this phenomenon called Bremsstrahlung and the decay of radioactive material in those tanks is releasing x-rays in very high quantities off site. That means that those tanks are extraordinarily radioactive and if there is an earthquake, none of them are seismically qualified. So we could easily have a situation where 700 tanks spring leaks, it runs across the surface of the site and into the Pacific Ocean. That’s more contamination in those tanks than has already been released into the Pacific Ocean. So number one is an earthquake destroying the tanks and causing them to leak.


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  • Jack Jack

    The leaking tanks, although serious problems, are actually a convenient distraction from the more overwhelming situations in spent fuel pool #4 and the problem of 300+ tons of corium. Also, I hope that the debris containing plutonium which was blown up to two miles from the plant in the initial explosion and then bulldozed into the ground (insanity) is retrieved rather than forgotten.


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  • Mikey Mose, pretending to be the sorcerer that can harness the energy of the sun, but not having the foggiest clue how to actually be one and do that safely, has created an overwhelming deluge of radioactive monsters, which even now threaten to overwhelm not only this Mikie Mose operation, the but the whole planet.

    Bring in the sorcerer!


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    • The next news release?

      Watch out for the radioactive water bucket carrying broom people!

      They are the REAL problem….:)


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      • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

        Are the broom people something like the munchkins in the Wizard of Oz?

        Wasn't that a Yellow Brick/Cake Road they had to sweep up in that fantasy too?

        No wonder they were so tiny/small!

        But then they too were/looked happy! :)

        Very powerful Wizard that was.. I say!


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    • Anthony Anthony

      When I was a kid it was the tail end of pollution. Circa the Native(actor) who wept at the sight of a dead eagle in the river. It meant everything to really everybody to not pollute. We were fined even if we dared to. It seemed like a bright time to me for our humanity. We turned it around it seemed. The citizens have carried this essence and way of thinking forward and it continues today throughout societies as a whole. Yes there are exceptions, but most of us care deeply about our planet, our home.

      We have lost that. As upsetting as the horrific BP spill is, I cant help but fathom that this radiation contamination can be here for centuries.

      What has been done? Was everything going too good that it had to end? I just feel like the polar opposite to anyone who thinks pollution of any kind is acceptable. At the very least I consider pollution as disrespectful to the Earth we live on.


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  • VanneV anne

    This very shallow earthquake is close to 3 active volcanoeslast eruptions: 1) 1963, 2) 1977, 3) 1990. PattieB said that the corium was traveling west, in danger of hitting volcanic magma. Has the corium hit the magma?

    2013/08/30,07:36
    37.7 N 139.9 E shallow Mj 4.0 WESTERN_FUKUSHIMA_PREF
    90.39

    http://www.fnet.bosai.go.jp/event/joho.php?tm=201308&LANG=en

    Fukushima #1 37.422972N 141.032917E

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    anne anne
    September 1, 2013 at 5:06 pm · Reply

    16:36 JST 30 Aug 2013 37.7N 139.9E very shallow 4.0 Fukushima-ken Aizu
    http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/20130830164118395-301636.html

    Name Elevation
    (m) Elevation
    (ft) Coordinates
    Last eruption
    Mount Nasu
    1917 6283 37.12°N 139.97°E
    1963
    Mount Azuma
    1705 5594 37.73°N 140.25°E
    1977
    Mount Adatara
    1718 5635 37.62°N 140.28°E
    1990


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  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Mine field…indeed..

    NHK Newsline TEPCO Finds Over 340 Faults Around Fukushima
    May 31 2011

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6bkk6CjIro

    Groundwater upwelling below the tanks..think of the corrosion potential.


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    • pure water

      May be a new evacuation plan is needed, and urgent measures for water testing in a larger area.


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      • Sickputer

        PW writes: "Maybe a new evacuation plan is needed, and urgent measures for water testing in a larger area."

        SP: Testing seems sporadic and inefficient for sure at Fukushima Daiichi. But it may be too late to improve those protocols. I think a new evacuation is about to occur, but it will involve Tepco workers, not civilians.

        The water filtering system may be abandoned already based on recent reports. That water filtering into high level radioactive sludge is a huge part of onsite activities. If the overflow water on the site is too toxic on the ground for those workers, then the building workers at Unit 4 may also leave the complex. They are about the only workers working in the fuel rod areas. If they leave things in Japan will take a huge turn for the worse.


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    • Anthony Anthony

      Have you seen how huge those tanks are?

      Seat-belts people!

      This is gonna be a bumpy ride.


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  • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

    I never got this 1800 millisievert/hr stuff. Do people use this to see a high number? So we're seeing 1,8 Sievert/hr, a dose which will be deadly after just 4 hours. This means noone can work at this place to do repairs. They'll just have to let it continue leaking. They can mark all the hotspots on their pretty drawings of the site, until the whole map is one red spot (which it already is, in reality). This is unfixable.


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    • Sickputer

      I agree my German "cousin" :-) …the place appears to be pretty well abandoned now except for Kamikaze workers. Very few workers spotted at Unit 4 it appears from the video feeds. But I doubt more than scores of workers ever ventured close to Units 1-3 in the past 2 years. It has been an exercise in onsite futility and offsite deception.


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    • flatsville

      Unfixable, yes. Unmamanageable (to some degree) no.

      However, site work, except by air, may soon become impossible due to water-logging of the site and subsidence.

      Site work by air will limit options severely.


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    • Kassandra

      Daiichi appears un-fixable because it is cloaked in secrecy.

      Full transparency would greatly facilitate collective problem-solving and remediation.

      The conditions at the plant are rapidly deteriorating.

      There is no time left to stall. Tepco and the Japanese government need to disclose the 'worst case scenario' and act now to remove people still living close to the plant.

      US and Canadian officials better disclosing their monitoring data and begin making recommendations for avoid wet deposition and the most contaminated food and water.

      This cannot be hidden. Daiichi is spiraling out of control, and fires and/or massive eruptions seem inevitable in the absence of some sort of SUPER-HUMAN cooperative action to regain control of the site.

      The human genome is at risk.

      Bread and Butter and Nuckelchen
      http://www.zeit.de/wirtschaft/2013-08/fukushima-tepco-shinzo-abe


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  • eatliesndie eatliesndie

    yes, the groundwater is beginning to reach the surface.


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  • NeverAnyDanger

    Finally – a mention of fission!

    Christopher Busby

    "This huge radiation increase, in my mind means something going on outside the tanks, some radioactive fission is occurring, like an open air reactor, if you like, under the ground."

    http://rt.com/op-edge/fukushima-radiation-threat-level-288/

    http://rt.com/op-edge/chernobyl-fukushima-crisis-catastrophe-715/

    And I think this means that soon? – or now? workers can't continue to monitor the tanks or look for 'leaks' because the radiation levels are too high.

    "Nobody can go in to measure where these leaks are or do anything about them, because anybody who is to approach that sort of area would be dead quite quickly."

    And because conditions are deteriorating so rapidly they've moved up the date to remove the 'fuel' from Reactor 4. Good luck.


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    • Jebus Jebus

      The way the tanks are filled will have a great bearing on how the heavier radionuclide particles "stack up", inside the tanks.
      High pressure flow into the water in the tanks will create vortices that allow centrifugal force to pile up that heavier elements…

      Ah heck, maybe they thought of that…


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  • Recent Report by Yoichi Shimatsu…Radio Interview Aug 26th

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1an7TQKDmL4

    Transcript http://wyynd.tripod.com/Shimatsu.txt

    Secret Facilities, Thousands Dead…
    What's really going on at Fukushima? Thousands of cars, trucks, buses, what are they working on. Trucks and trains all day and night removing radioactive waste, from where?…to where?….


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