Nuclear Engineer: “I think it will make a whirlpool” in No. 4 fuel pool if seal tears — You can get a seal failure on a good day… now we have saltwater, quakes, and stresses from a destroyed building (VIDEO)

Published: June 28th, 2012 at 1:52 pm ET
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Interview with Nuclear Engineer Chris Harris
Nutrimedical Report
June 14, 2012

Transcript Summary at ~25:00 in

Source: Enformable

Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer: The entire spent fuel inventory is basically hanging it’s hat on [the refueling cavity] seal… basically a thin piece of stainless steel with rubber on both sides…

If gasket tears/rips… you won’t even need to puncture or collapse the fuel pool itself… I like to look at the most critical path, the one thing that could really ruin your day… In my opinion it would be that seal… To support that, Lucas Hixson (www.enformable.com) and I documented prior seal failures… Yes, you can get a seal failure on a good day… So now we are talking about a really bad day, you have got saltwater, earthquakes, and a building falling down around it transferring all kinds of stresses… I think it will make a whirlpool [if the seal breaks]…

For a more in-depth explanation by Harris, see: Nuclear engineer identifies 'weakest link' at Unit No. 4 -- "Potential catastrophic drain down" of fuel pool (PHOTOS)

Published: June 28th, 2012 at 1:52 pm ET
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19 comments

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19 comments to Nuclear Engineer: “I think it will make a whirlpool” in No. 4 fuel pool if seal tears — You can get a seal failure on a good day… now we have saltwater, quakes, and stresses from a destroyed building (VIDEO)

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    You need to "come up to speed"..Chris Harris.


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  • Sickputer

    The Maytag repairman is not going to repair that whirlpool!

    Bad pun, but I think we are just numb from the continued bad news of so many possible scenarios that could unlease the apocalypse for Japan and beyond.

    I hear the pitter-patter of feet in Tokyo scurrying to pick up their bare essentials and headed for the airport. They are fortunate to flee. I just have a sick sense that anyone within 1,000 miles of Fukushambles is going to be in grave distress very soon. The poor inhabitants have had nearly 16 months mostly (not all) dodging the fatal radioactive bullet, but the hammer is poised to fall again. I hope I am wrong. Time will tell.


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  • TomSmall

    I closed my eyes and tried to picture the day after Spent Fuel Pool #4 exploded in flames, and it's simple really. People would refuse to believe. They would go on the same as they did the day before. Only a few would try to escape, and fewer still would be able to.

    Evacuate Tokyo? It's impossible. 35,000,000 souls will not be moved because even a million people are impossible to "move". It's an island, you can only walk so far. What else? You going to put them on an aircraft carrier? You couldn't get 100,000 people on one of those, and it would take a month.

    So if the wind blew south from Fukushima, how long would it take before symptoms began to appear? I don't know. Someone tell me please, I want to be "prepared".


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  • nedlifromvermont

    If it goes, and wind is right, immediate evacuation would be indicated, not only of eastern Honshu, but possibly west coast areas of North America …

    That is what nuclear power has bequeathed to us …

    It is about the militarization of the national grid, to fatten the waistlines of the bomb makers, and Big Nuclear, America's version of Japan's "Nuclear Village" …. evacuation from your home and land … forever … to benefit exactly whom????

    Shout it from the rooftops, mention it casually in your book groups, tell your children, your uncle, your enemy and your spouse: Big Nuclear is trying to kill you … and we all know it!!!

    Shut them all down now … we can and we will … we do not need them … this is a chimera.

    Bad evil nuclear evildoers … George W. Bush almost had it right!

    Peace to the 'newsers …


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    • GeoHarvey

      I'm with you Nedli. We should all shout! But why go to the rooftop? Stand out in the street and shout! Slow down traffic to a crawl and make them listen!


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  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    No. The seal will not break. Reactor4 does not have fuel inside. Reactor4 is filled with water up to the level of SFP4. Full. So level of water in Reactor4 is same as water level in SFP4. Chris Harris is simply mistaken. Really LOOK at the drawing. This is not something to be alarmed about.

    Sickputer: "Fukushambles". :)


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    • GeoHarvey

      I think the point is, water running out of the seals can drain from the spent fuel pool because it communicates with the water over the reactor core.
      Of course, if this is so, there is the valid question of whether the seals are higher or lower than the tops of the fuel assemblies. If they are lower, then the cladding on the assemblies will catch fire and boil out the remaining water, and such a fire cannot be put out with water, because the zirconium robs oxygen atoms from the water. So the water does not have to be drawn down to expose all that much of the fuel.


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    • Nigwil

      Because #4 reactor was unloaded at the time of the 'quake it is probably still watertight, even 'though its lid is off. There are two seals holding the water in the reactor pool and spent fuel pond. The first is a big circular seal around the top of the reactor refuelling cavity. That holds water above the open reactor, and against the back of the refuelling gate.

      The second is the seal on the refuelling gate itself. For this mode of failure to eventuate would require firstly a failure in the seal around the reactor to drain the refuelling cavity, and secondly then the refuelling gate seal has to go to drain the SFP.

      It might be a jolly fine idea to fill the refuelling cavity with concrete upto deck level, and so eliminate that unhappy possibility. That's unless they are going to use the refuelling cavity as part of the fuel extraction method.


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  • GeoHarvey

    Where I live we have something called "cow power." If you want to, you can pay a little extra on your electric bill to ensure that the power you are buying is supplied by renewables, largely, in this case, by methane from biodigesters on farms. I called the local utility and suggested that for a smaller increase over standard rates, a customer should be allowed to buy electricity that was all from non-nuclear sources. Believe it or not, they were interested.
    And yes, I know I am getting electricity from the grid, and the actual electrons come from a nearby nuclear plant. But as and accounting matter, if enough customers said they wanted to get off nuclear altogether, and the movement spread, the nuclear industry would have to sell at deeper and deeper discounts to retain their own customers and maintain their income. They already are in a bad position to compete, and they could be put out of business by a consumer boycott.


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    • GeoHarvey

      And by the way, if we all do this, we will end up with lower bills than if we use nuclear, and more people will be employed than nuclear employs.


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  • GeoHarvey

    Seals are just one more possibly weak link in a long, rusty chain of things that can go wrong.
    Even if the seals cannot fail (sounds like nuke-talk) several dozen other things can.
    What was the possibility of a tsunami topping that 5.7 meter sea wall. "What? Do you have any idea how tall a 5.7 meter sea wall is? What wave could go over that?" I guess only the one that eventually did – or the one in 1933 – or the one in 1896 – or the one in …
    It doesn't matter how it might fail. It might fail. And if it does, the damage done will very likely exceed the value of all the electricity the nuclear industry ever generated.
    And the damage that is done will be the gift that goes on giving, Godzilla, rising from the sea.
    … "Great God! I'd rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
    So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
    Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
    Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
    Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn."
    Shelley's wife may be better remembered than he is – for giving us Frankenstein's Monster. Either image fits.


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    • GeoHarvey

      Sorry for clogging this thread with all the commentary. Venting. It may help me sleep, but it probably doesn't help anyone else much.


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      • richard richard

        @gh, i can relate.

        i sometimes wonder if i rave on too much. in fact, i'm sure i do :)


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      • nonuke nonuke

        @GeoHarvey … It does help to know that people care and are aware. Most times I feel like NO ONE is even paying any attention at all. It's like they live in a different world. It's truly insane. At least TMI and Chernobyl were acknowledged . It seems Fuku is swept under the rug !!! We use cow Pow too BTW :-)


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      • demo demo

        CowPow is great! As is idea of nuke boycott via demanding that our utility co.'s and public utiltiy commissions offer us a nuke-free option. GeoH, keep publicly venting!


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  • [REMOVED. DUPLICATE POST. OFF-TOPIC.]


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  • chrisk9

    With the news that they were doing feedwater piping replacement this cavity seal was not even in use since the cavity was drained. That means the only thing holding the water in the fuel pool are the seals on the fuel pool gate. This makes the situation even worse, if that is possible.


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