Nuclear Engineer: Every expert I talked to this week is very concerned about a criticality event during fuel removal at Unit 4 — “There’s good potential for a criticality” (AUDIO)

Published: November 21st, 2013 at 9:58 pm ET


Interview with Chris Harris, Hour 3 of Nutrimedical Report, Nov. 21, 2013:

At 29:30 in

Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer: This week I had the pleasure of talking with some of my colleagues who are in the American Nuclear Society. I broached a few topics with them — ‘What do you think the odds are on a criticality event?’ Every one of them were very concerned with that.

At 48:45 in

Harris: In reality, if they’re really aggressive with the schedule, which seems to be the way they’ve been going […] there’s a good potential for a criticality event. What the best alternative would be to do — and that is use extreme caution, I mean snail’s pace would be fast.

At 49:45 in

Harris: We won’t know until they reach out and grab one of the bad assemblies and watch it fall apart, as to what’s going to happen. There will be a lot of people gritting their teeth; as well they should at that point. It’s not a comfortable situation all around — I understate things. That’s the way I see it going. I see there is a likelihood for some kind of criticality, and how they’re going to respond to that? I actually asked that question […] if there’s a smaller, confined one, they don’t have a lot of time, what would they do? What’s the emergency procedure? I’m going to get that information because like I said I do have some inside folks and I want to know exactly — what is the emergency procedure for that?

Full interview with Harris available here (Choose Hour 3 on Nov. 21)

Published: November 21st, 2013 at 9:58 pm ET


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  3. Nuclear Engineer: New cover on Unit 4 can trap hydrogen gas during criticality in fuel pool — Blast would be close to a nuclear explosion, from a practical standpoint (AUDIO) November 22, 2013
  4. Nuclear Engineer: Fuel assembly damaged at Fukushima Unit 4 — It’s bent in shape of banana — Unknown if pellets poured into pool during removal — Tepco stopped English translations (AUDIO) December 19, 2013
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46 comments to Nuclear Engineer: Every expert I talked to this week is very concerned about a criticality event during fuel removal at Unit 4 — “There’s good potential for a criticality” (AUDIO)

  • retali8 retali8

    my Japanese friend recently applied for "refugee visa" in "Southern Hemisphere", as that's the only visa going for anything radiation related (anyone know others?) and the immigration people just keep saying its not true and jp gov wouldn't do that to its people,, they manged to shock *this person* enough *this person* lost all there words and they couldn't even say there 10 page memo, absolutely dumb founded, i feel so sorry for this person, i even considered giving up a "partner visa" to rescue them(even though its only a friend), what hope is there for Japanese anyway? just to get a skill and work abroad maybe the only chance before they are banned in all countries..

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Hi retali8, how old is your friend (ball park age)? Any chance he or she could get a work visa somewhere? Or a retirement visa for Australia? The Australian government used to grant six month visas for people who planned to retire there permanently. I don't know what the policy is now, but one used to be able to go there for six months at a time. Then a period outside the country is required before one can return. Or, any chance he/she would consider living in one of the smaller island countries where population levels are falling? It might be easier to get a visa to go there. I'm thinking of Fiji, Tuvalu, or somewhere like that.

      So sorry to hear Japanese aren't being allowed to exit Japan. It reminds me of what happened to people living in Hong Kong, shortly before the Communist takeover in the early 1990's.

  • retali8 retali8

    Not a retiree only young but makes you wonder

    • Wyakin Wyakin

      R8-I suspect this probably is not the best site to get visa travel advice from, since the focus here is primarily energy news. There is likely limited exposure to this topic, and some here might consider your inquiry off topic.

      However, I would point out the economics and resulting politics of uranium spreads in predictable ways. Sadly, radiation refugee visas are denied, because their acceptance would be an admission of radiological contamination. Your friend’s case is not the first of its kind:

      From my own observations, the West Coast of the US has had a large influx of Japanese. I’ve engaged in conversation with those I have encountered, and many are on work visas or are family members of individuals here performing work in the states.

      If the strategy is to apply for refugee status, it seems a nation free of all nuclear power related finance or power production related activities would be more likely to approve a refugee visa if they can be convinced the underlying radiological exposure is dangerous.

      As HoT suggests, a work visa or education visa anywhere may provide additional opportunities outside of Japan. Alternatively, your friend should consider moving as far south as possible if the visa option is not possible. Con't

      • Wyakin Wyakin

        There are non-profits who deal with refugee issues outside of Japan which if contacted could likely provide some insights or guidance on some strategies.

        Perhaps others have ideas, but for those of us who routinely review ENE articles and recognize that Japan should be evacuated due to radiation levels, it’s a good opportunity to once again reflect on the implications of the international community accepting the radiation levels in Japan as “safe” and the impact on innocent children, women, and men who cannot easily escape its consequences. Peace.

  • Grampybone Grampybone

    Here's the procedure. Run in headlong and concrete. Become a nuclear martyr for the planet. You have 1 week to comply post core breach and the situation is beyond human control. After that it's just waiting until one burns through or they leak for eternity killing all ocean life in 7-8 years. NDAA was Martial law. The Obama Pentagon Memo regarding evacuation of naval vessels and US citizens from the 250km dispersion zone were ordered to stand down. From there it's all down hill into the ground.

  • Oncewaslost Oncewaslost

    I am tired of this messaging blitz on unit 4.

    Its clear to me know, that this effort is about creating "an event" that will be held up as the event, human caused, that resulted in disaster.

    Its an age old issue management techique, especially for this industry.

    what is imperative is that nuclear power plants and engineering be bullet proof. Which is to say, that no event can cause a disaster, only human error can be held responsible.

    this is imperative to the future of Nuclear power. If the official story says that an EQ, or any natural disaster can throw these things into turmoil than that means they are not safe and they can build no more.

    However if they have an event they can blame on human error than that means the engineering and whole notion of nuclear power is safe, and the fault lies with human beings, not the technology, engineering or the science.

    Now that the disaster on 3/11 is to the point that its impacts are impossible to cover up, they need an event point that was due to human error.

    And that is what they are preparing here.

    • Wyakin Wyakin

      Good point. Had similar thoughts about Tepco President, "Be prepared for the worst."

      • Oncewaslost Oncewaslost

        ITs crystal clear that this what is occurring. They have built the infrastructure around this thing and we will never know what really happens in that structure,the whole transfer happens in the pool away from prying eyes, they have complete control of teh narrative, they can say anything happened and we will never know the truth.

        The full impact of the disaster of 3/11 will take a few more years before it is undeniable, even to those completely ignorant to what has occurred there.

        It is pure unadulterated bullshit at this point, all to save their sorry hides.

    • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

      looks like a PR stunt to make TEPCO the fall-guy. Tepco engineers cant be worse than any others, on average, and anyway they have the DOE on it, probably the French and who knows what other interested parties.

      They have ongoing leaks, fuel blown across the land, corium in the ground, endless tanks ready to spring. Its beyond remediation. If there is anything in SFP 4, how can it be the most pressing problem?

      Why not stabilize things as they can, make that upstream impenetrable wall, then back-fill with volcanic ash, diatomacious earth, clay, boron and keep going out into the bay so the whole thing is a huge filter. Make a mountain, cover with rubber sheet. This would buy time and be cheaper and better than concrete, it seems. Build a water treatment plant further inland

      Many power players must know how bad this is, yet they keep up the PR and hope for more nuclear. This is a really powerful indictment on how criminally insane these people are. They are governments and shadow governments. Only a complete exposure and gutting of the world fascist system would really change things. Good luck on those petitions. Enough nuclear poison to kill all the people earth times 400 is already out. Its a mystery that anyone can work at the site.

      • We Not They Finally

        Who needs "a PR stunt to make TEPCO the fall guy"? They are already first-hand criminally responsible. And the time you think they can still "buy" is past now.

        Unclear why you've made these comments. Maybe just because it's overwhelming. That it is.

        • CodeShutdown CodeShutdown

          @WeNotThey, fall guy means to by putting the blame on TEPCO, making them look inept, the rest of the nuclear industry is free from blame. Of course its just a theory, but you can see the repeating news copy that doesnt make sense, i.e. TEPCO is bumbling and incompetent.

          Buying time means slowing the release from the ground, the water flushing past the corium remains etc. They dont seem to making headway on slowing the release into the ocean, and by using natural cheap and effective filtration, they could do this as they develop safer methods to deal with whatever fuel rods they can…. Just thoughts WNTF

      • JKBK

        For me Shinzo Abe is the number 1 villian. Since he was elected I have to assume that the majority of the Japanese supported him. I used to respect Japanese a lot but not anymore.

  • We Not They Finally

    "What is the emergency procedure in the event of criticality"? Isn't that question three years overdue as of this coming March? There has not even been the gravely needed response of "wide-spread evacuation."

    • Kashiko Kashiko

      Yes that is the question. I want to know so I can evacuate Japan

      • We Not They Finally

        So VERY sorry if you are trapped there. People looking on are absolutely aghast. Cannot even imagine what you're going through. Just know that a lot of people are on your side in spirit. You don't deserve this. I hope that you get to leave. It's the least that that now-insane government should be doing for its own people.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      Probably a metal box on the wall. A metal sign reads, "In case of criticality break glass. Inside of the box there is a ______________.
      You fill in the blank.

      • jump-ball jump-ball

        …bottle of KI potassium iodide tablets, and instructions to take these to your family for immediate use, despite perception-management run government agencies asserting there is no need to do so.

  • UncleCrusty

    Hello E news folks. I took a break for awhile and can see it was a good move. I noticed lots of "press" on 4 SFP. I think the "openness" of TEPCO is simply a cover-thy-ass maneuver. Truly, we wont know how it's going, unless we see a very bright light, then static. Then we know it went badly. Good to see your comments again.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Chernobyl = "Wormwood" from Armageddon = Fukushima

    “Dr. Bill Deagle, Chris Harris (one of the world's top nuclear safety engineers) and myself talked today, on the last half hour of Hour 3 of the NutriMedical Report Show, of the terrible short term dangers from the fuel storage pools (there are 7 of them) at Fukushima. Even though three reactor cores have gone "China Syndrome" and melted into the ground, the greatest danger to the entire planet is from the stored used fuel. Some of the fuel rods are believed to be damaged making the danger of a nuclear fire very high.
    There are indications that the Japanese, who have the only satellite in orbit with imaging technology that can indicate that earthquakes are coming, are moving very fast now to remove the fuel from Reactor #4 Storage Facility. Just removing the newest fuel, which is in good condition, is a major technological feat. Moving that which is damaged is extremely dangerous and has never been done before in history! That they are suddenly moving so fast – they will begin the process NEXT WEEK – is an indication that they know something that they are withholding from the public.

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      “The chances are that moving the fuel, especially the damaged rods, WILL RESULT in a nuclear fire that cannot be put out. The radiation from that event, could will trigger a similar event at the Fuel Storage Unit of Reactor #3 (which is a MOX fuel plant!) and in fact could SPREAD TO ADDITIONAL FUEL STORAGE UNITS, PERHAPS EVEN TO ALL SEVEN FUEL STORAGE UNITS!

      “If this happens, or even partly happens, it will be a ARMAGEDDON EVENT (a Doomsday Event) for life on planet Earth!…”

  • Sol Man

    Aren't satellite(s) (DigitalGlobe and others) parked over this event viewing and rad. monitoring real time? Should be available to the world. Perhaps it is but I search in the wrong place.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      RadSat1 info will probably only be available to the "Elite." Wouldn't want all us "little people" out on the road while they drive their luxury limos and hummers to the underground bunkers. Tempted to throw in some off topic religious comments, but I will refrain. They are out there.

      • Bones Bones

        Well, we know satellites can pick up radiation readings, probably just gamma and neutron, but their resolution is most likely much greater than just bomb detection. We also have drones to get radiation readings and flyovers as well. The entire country of Japan, the entire Pacific, and all of North America could be monitored real-time with current public technology, so I am going to safely assume the military or some division of government has real-time monitoring information that we all want, or they want plausible deniability so they don't get any data. If we had enough money, we could install a network of drones, stations, marine stations or equip boats that travel back and forth and air monitoring stations to keep us all informed of real-time rad readings to those affected.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    Fukushima: Whole Pacific Ocean To Have Cesium Levels 5-10 Times Higher Than At Peak Of Nuclear Bomb Tests
    Radio: Fukushima Daiichi has “contaminated the biggest body of water on the planet” — Radioactive leaks to harm marine and human life — Whole Pacific Ocean likely to have cesium levels 5-10 times higher than at peak of nuclear bomb tests (AUDIO)

  • FXofTruth

    This man's answer to energy creation:
    Find to most expensive fuel to make.
    Find the most deadly fuel to make.
    Find a way to create the most complicate furnace to make.
    Find a way to NOT develop solar energy.
    (even though the SUN powers the ENTIRE PLANET's
    SYSTEMS…Wow, didn't notice that one did anyone?)
    Find the worst place possible to locate a nuclear plant.
    Finally, have no "PLAN-A or B or C" to stop a disaster.

    This proves beyond any shadow of a doubt….Man has no brain.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    "Every expert I talked to.."
    None of them ..I see can think outside the box.
    None can understand they are being spoon-fed.
    None of them can deduce from viewing the destruction of the reactor..that the SFP was severely damaged..and the SFP can not be in the condition that TEPCO is showing to be Unit 4…considering there is no other origin for the explosions/fires.
    Someone mentioned to me..look at the rebar.. it's like spaghetti.
    Yes, it does..
    Tremendous destruction.
    Leak=burn…in the case of nuclear material.

  • jackassrig

    The plants operate at all most the critical point of steam. The critical point of steam is almost or at the design limit of the materials. These plants were built with very little safety factor. This would be a bust of the nuclear code. GE knew these plants were of piss poor design from the start. There will be no way escaping this fact when the powers decide to get the ropes and linch these bastards. The decisions were made at the top – management. The psychopathic management of industry, government, and education is going to have to be removed if the human race is to survive. We know how to spot you bastards so time is short.

    • nedlifromvermont

      You right on jackassrig!!!

      GE knew from the start, because they were told so by the engineers in charge, including Dale Bridenbaugh … of the GE Three …

      Somebody upstairs, GE Chairman??, made the stupid call to make a "management decision" to overrule the "engineer's decision" … same mentality that led to the Challenger disaster, when Morton Thiokol's engineer, Beausoleil(?)insisted upon not doing the cold weather launch … in fact the description of what would likely happen in the case of such a decision was spelled out in the engineering reports from previous cold weather launches, that had resulted in primary O-ring failure and secondary O-ring insult, and which included the wording: "catastophic failure of superstructure, loss of vehicle and crew" … (before the fatal launch!!!)

      They knew at Thiokol, and GE also knew about the Mark One series of Boiling Water Reactors, but the money's the thing …

      Damn management bastards!

      Brilliant, Coffin.

      peace …

      • unincredulous unincredulous

        I bet some sick psychopath paid management in a backroom deal.
        Hey, Bob, I'll give you a hundred grand to do this. I wanna see a shuttle go boom.

  • Sol Man

    Our societies are only as strong, and safe, as our weakest link, and so, with human's frailty of cleaving to whichever brand supplies the most money cheaply, this eventuality was guaranteed.
    This is what has been accomplished through the love of mammon, instead of our progeny and our common home.

  • jackassrig

    I watched an interview with the engineer who designed the O-rings on the Discovery channel. I don't remember his name probably the same engineer you have mentioned. He said that he practically got down on his hands and knees and begged not to launch because he knew the rings would not hold. I believe from the interview the President was on the phone talking to him. To Reagan it was political. This is a man who didn't graduate from college in anything and was not even a mediocre actor running this country. He would have been a flop in the movies if it hadn't been for his wife. Running our country. It's enough to gag a maggot. You know what happened the management fired this honorable man. Only American managers would do such a dastardly thing. I have been a practicing engineer for over 45 years – registered – and I have some of most chicken sh*t deeds done to me trying to stop a piss poor design. These damn thugs need their comeuppance. Thugs need to be prosecuted and thrown into the federal pens. They are management THUGS make no mistake. These damn same nincompoops are destroying this earth and here we sit once again letting it happen.

    • or-well

      Make it a crime
      to remain in silence
      and give whistleblowers
      a double "0" license.

      Just a thought.
      They did murder those astronauts.

  • jackassrig

    Reagan walked away. To me the man was murderer. Never held accountable. Disgusting.

  • GW

    As MagnaBSP and Stuxnet created this ELE, Japanese should all be allowed to emigrate to Israel, all work and payment handled by Zionists.

  • Tung Jen Tung Jen

    I have found a refuge in Belize, you can come here live for one year on tourist visa and then apply for residence, I hope to have a web page up and running giving more information to other environmental refugee from Japan.

  • Socrates

    People are very upset to even think that they are not safe on the West Coast.

    In the book, Yorba the Greek, Zorba says, "Boss, why do you always try to open people's yes? It just makes them unhappy!"

    indeed! People on the West Coast want to believe that their government will protect them. What is the basis for this belief? What control does the government have over the ultimate fate of the reactors and spent fuel.

    Many people are angry to even think that anything bad could happen. They want to shoot the messenger. There is no use warning these people.