Nuclear Expert: “Rods in the spent fuel pool may have melted… breached during the explosions… and their contents may be in contact with groundwater” at Fukushima

Published: October 8th, 2013 at 9:07 am ET
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Title: Japanese Prime Minister Issues International Plea for Help Containing Radiation Leaks
Source: Huffington Post
Author: Alison Winfield Burns
Date: Oct. 7, 2013

Murray E. Jennex, Ph.D., P.E. (Professional Engineer), Professor of MIS, San Diego State University:

The active fuel rods at the time of the accident would have to have melted and then caused the reactor vessel to breach followed by the containment structure to breach. Not a reasonable or even plausible likelihood. I expect parts of the active fuel rods melted, but this has been contained in the reactor vessel and containment as I’ve seen no evidence to support breaches of those two barriers. On the other hand, the rods in the spent fuel pool may have melted, they are much less active but the most recent still may have had decay heat sufficient to melt them. I consider it more likely that these rods were breached during the explosions associated with the event and their contents may be in contact with the ground water, probably due to all the seawater that was sprayed on the plant.

Burns posted a more thorough version of the above quote by Jennex in the comment section of a previous report on the Fukushima disaster:

I asked: “Do you think that the rods can really have reached earth and be in contact with ground water?”

I am answered: “No for those active fuel rods that were in the core, and maybe for those used fuel rods that were in the spent fuel pool. [The remainder of the quote is posted above]“

Regarding Professor Jennex, Burns adds: “He’s a former US Navy Nuclear Power Propulsion officer who [...] has expertise in nuclear containment testing and his work is associated with Homeland Security.”

Watch Jennex defend the nuclear industry during the saga at San Onofre here (Pay close attention at 2:22 into the video).

Jennex claims there’s “not a reasonable or even plausible likelihood” that “fuel rods… caused… the containment structure to breach”. He may want to consult the plant’s operator, TEPCO, on the matter: “Molten fuel rods… may have eaten two-thirds of the way through a concrete containment base, the plant’s operator says… just 37 centimetres [15 inches] short of an outer steel casing… The operator’s assessment comes about six months after international nuclear experts warned that molten fuel could eat through containment vessels below the reactors.”

Published: October 8th, 2013 at 9:07 am ET
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