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


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


Related Posts

  1. Nuclear Expert: Fuel rods in Fukushima Unit 4 “may not be in their original position” — Concern over “way the spent fuel is sitting in pool” (AUDIO) November 1, 2013
  2. Tepco: Bent rod found in spent fuel pool — Nuclear fuel rods touching — “Serious fuel failure accident” risked at Japan plant December 13, 2012
  3. Nuclear consultant examines No. 4 spent fuel pool scenarios: Loss of Water vs. Scattering of Fuel Rods April 23, 2012
  4. NHK: Fuel removal at Unit 4 underway — BBC: Concern casks not watertight, rods would contact air — WSJ: Exposure to air can cause sustained nuclear reaction — AFP: Tokyo evacuations if uncontrolled nuclear conflagration? AP: Rods contain plutonium, experts concerned quake to hit during process November 18, 2013
  5. Japan TV: The Nuclear Waste Curse — Animation shows spent fuel rods being exposed in Fukushima pool (VIDEO) February 23, 2013

43 comments to 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

  • Lion76 Lion76

    Oh there is plenty of evidence to say that containments were breached all across the board. Whatever these guys are smoking, I need some too.

  • farawayfan farawayfan

    Hey Murray, why don't you substitute "inconcevable" for "Not a reasonable or even plausible likelihood", so I can tell you I don't think that word means what you think it means. Thanks for the minimization piece, you lying nuclear shill.

  • End of the Road

    I wish all these professors and other independent so-called experts would talk to each other before opening their pie-hole to the media. Two heads are better than one; perhaps if we got 50 of them together we'd actually end up with a brain.

  • or-well

    Abe issued his English language request publicly.
    He's Prime Minister.
    It doesn't get more "official" than that.
    Has anyone seen/heard any official public response from any elected leaders of countries with nuclear expertise?
    I am asking sincerely. Has anyone heard any response?

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      U.S.A. leader response— shades on windows lowered, sign posted, "closed." Too concerned with citizens health to respond to frivolous request for help. Does Japan have insurance for this disaster? Obama will fine them.

      • bo bo

        Hahaha good one unincredulous
        I never thought abe's plea would get anywhere with Obama.

        I just get this weird feeling that the u.s. is following some kind of a script right now building up to something.

        It could be my ptsd kicking in though. As a boston bombing witness I receive free counseling. And they tell me : it is very natural to feel distrustful of the world around you, feel paranoid. It's just part of ptsd symptoms! Also this : 'Tell me, have you had an experience in your life where you have been severely betrayed? One can project such experiences upob one's world view…'

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      France has offered assistance. Don't know if that's coming from the head of state.

  • Sickputer

    "Regarding Professor Jennex, Burns adds: “He’s a former US Navy Nuclear Power Propulsion officer who […] has expertise in nuclear containment testing…"

    SP: Jennex and Hot Rod have a lot in common (a belief that steel is stronger than 5000 degree molten nuclear lava).

    Rod Adams October 2012:

    "It has always seemed far fetched to me to think that material from a nuclear reactor that melted several hours after fission has stopped contains the power density necessary to melt through carbon steel pressure vessels that are 6-12 inches thick. My basis for making that statement comes from having spent several sleepless nights in a drydock watching people with specially designed torches cutting into submarine hulls to provide maintenance access. I also had the opportunity during at least one repair period to be the guy responsible for signing the requisition chits for the pallets full of gases used to power those torches.
    Melting thick steel is not a job for a mass of metal that is only being heated by radioactive decay whose heat production is falling rapidly."

    SP: If anyone is alive in central Japan in 500 years they might see who is right. But I expect Fukushima Daiichi is going to get buried before then…one way or another.

    • or-well

      Rod Adams is an extremist, a zealot, a fanatic, a True Believer in the Cult of Nukism.

      He is either blind to his lies or lies willingly to defend and promote that which is so much a part of his self-identity.

      There are many like him.
      They are as dangerous as any terrorist fanatic in their obdurate adherence to the tenets of their cult.

      He may think himself a nuclear insider but in reality he is but a useful tool doing the proselytizing missionary work for his cult, preaching to the faithful and attempting to acquire followers or convert those uncertain of the Nuclear Way by using fear, manipulating uncertainty and doubt and promising illusory and untrue benefits.

    • amberlight amberlight

      Adams should talk to the 9/11 Cover-up… I mean, Commission… folks. They could explain to him how jet fuel ignited is capable of melting through massive steel beams in a matter of minutes.

      Yes, indeed, we are in free fall down the rabbit hole, but our landing won't be soft like Alice's…

      • J.

        We are in a situation in which the US National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has sustained a high-level, very public scientific fraud for twelve years. The implications and ramifications are staggering. I believe the mendacity is literally criminal. NIST is the relevant group; the Commission didn't deal directly with the "collapses" issues.

        The relevance to the Fukushima issue is that those who have followed the NIST deception closely know that the scientific process has been subverted and perverted at the highest levels of government for a very long time, abetted by corporate media complicity. The scientific fraud is at the national level, in a very large and influential organization. This is in fact a global issue, given the failure of other national bureaucracies to object.

        This reality makes it easy to accept that there are any number of individuals who are carrying on similar sustained deceptions and coverups. We have very good reason to distrust experts whose claims run counter to evidence and common sense.

      • unincredulous unincredulous

        Yeah, we sure are lucky they aren't trying to keep a jet fuel reactor contained. We would really be in trouble.

        Probably would have turned all of japan into nothing but dust, at free fall speed, no less.

  • MichaelV MichaelV


    The following email came this morning:

    HELLO EVERYONE:     TODAY and TOMORROW there are powerful events in New York and Boston with great experts focussing on Fukushima.  Please attend if you can and let others know:     DR. HELEN CALDICOTT has appeared on my Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show at the Progressive Radio Network.  She was absolutely riveting.  For a truly educational hour:     WE HAVE PASSED THE 70,000 MARK on our petition.  Please do keep spreading it around.  It is having an amazing impact and will change the world!     MORE THAN 6,300 HAVE VIEWED OUR FUKUSHIMA YOUTUBE:     Tomorrow I will have an article on Prime Minister Abe's request for global help at Fukushima.  
    Until then….we WILL heal our home….HarveyW  

    • MichaelV MichaelV

      There are many media outlets today: social media, MSM, alternative media. Only here on ENENews has the demand for international intervention been clearly articulated.

      Good work is being done here and I would encourage you to remain firm in seeing this problem solved. The bickering and infighting is idiosyncratic among mammals and more so with certain primate groups; I only ask it be kept to a minimum.

      Otherwise, floggings will be instituted and won't end until morale improves

    • bo bo

      It says it starts at 10 am but doesn't say how long…
      If it's still going in the afternoon I am definitely there!

      • MichaelV MichaelV

        Let us know how it turns out…
        … I'm in California and my Lear is out of gas, otherwise I'd take a bunch of people.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Dr. Jennex: If the corium is inside containment, why is the steam whispy, and the water still? If corium were present, the water should be boiling. If containment was not breached, why can't containment hold water?

    Dr. Jennex: If the corium is inside the reactor buildings, why did TEPCO drill in the ground to try to locate it?

    TEPCO: Where is the damn corium?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    "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."

    The guy is in total denial of the concrete-corium interaction.

    The Most Dangerous (Man-Made) Lava Flow

    How about steam coming up from the ground…? That count?

    Breaking News: #Fukushima splashing steam from the cracks in the ground
    Aug. 15 2011

    TV: Workers say ground under Fukushima plant is cracking and radioactive steam is coming up — Melted core may be moving out of building (VIDEO)
    Aug 17 2011

  • jackassrig

    He Haw He Haw He Haw He Haw.

  • wetpwcas1 wetpwcas1

    Another nukist nut on the pay roll of the nuclear complex makes a damn fool of himselve, taking one for the team when all reports show the opposite of what he thinks!
    More storms on the way & they plan to start to TRY to remove fuel rods in Nov, the world seems to be asleep to the dangers.

    The US NRC will be out of funds tomorrow & people will be sent home, we not only have government run by lawyers who dont crap about economics they know nothing about what is killing millions each year, Radiation, they never look for the cause but will spend trillion for a cure when the answer is right in front their nose! End nukes for good! Now it's to late to stop the suffwering that comes our way!

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Heart sends Jennex ..a couple of 'purdy' pictures.

    A year ago..

    2012 10 17

    Oct.1 2013

    2013/10/01 fuku steam clouds part 2


    Oct6/7 2013

    Thanks you..purewater.

    The corium has left the building.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    N U C L E A R . P O W E R . P L A N T

    The spewing radiation is a direct assault on life: kids, nieces, nephews, friends, everyone.

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    on October 8, 2013 at 9:19 am said:
    Spike of radiation in Fukushima prefecture, Oct. 7 & 8

    Reply ↓

    on October 8, 2013 at 9:56 am said:
    Tritium spiking

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    "Besides the billions of gallons of radioactive water spilling from the abandoned Fukushima Nuclear Energy Plant every day, there is also a steady plume of radio nuclides including Cesium, Cobalt, Uranium and Plutonium, which are steadily being carried across the Pacific via trade winds, with the lion's share landing (usually, along with the rain) in communities within the US and Canada – and in places beyond, throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Ironically, more fallout is presently occurring in North America than in Japan, the scene of the disaster, due to the trade winds, off the Japanese coast.

    It has been calculated that in 1 day, there are 666,733.717599549 bequerels of radiation emitted in every cubic foot of the Pacific, per mile.

    There are about 63,800,000 square miles of Pacific Ocean.
    Average depth is about 2.28 miles.
    There are 145,464,000 cubic miles in the Pacific Ocean.
    Cesium-137 has a double decay process 94.6% of the time; first beta rays, then gamma rays.

    So each cubic foot of the entire Pacific Ocean will have 218.174056838937 Beta radiation events per day and each cubic foot of the entire Pacific Ocean will have 206.392657769635 Gamma radiation events per day.

    34 is the average background radiation of the N. American continent.

    The Pacific Ocean will have a "radiation fog" in every cubic foot of water that is 12.47 times HIGHER than the average background radiation count of North american continent."


    You can find the link on the Nuclear General Discussion Thread at 2:23 p.m. here:

  • sangell

    I'm not going to say this man doesn't know what he is talking about but cutting through a submarine hull or even "6 to 12 inches of carbon steel" may be difficult for a man with a welding torch because the welder is limited by how much energy he can apply and live. OTOH a shaped explosive charge can create a hot gas jet that can cut a hole through inches of the finest tank armor in a fraction of a second and it only takes a kilogram or so of chemical explosives to do this.

    My knowledge of nuclear reactors is rather limited but I know the energy output of a 500 or 1000 MW reactor is considerably greater than what a few pounds of C-4 explosive generates which is why the reactor pressure vessel is made of 6 to 12 inches of high strength steel that is carefully inspected for any flaws. I also know that those reactors were dry for many hours and the fuel( thousands of pounds of it) melted. I find it hard to believe that a mass of molten fuel with enough energy to generate 500 to 1000MW did not have the sufficient energy to breach a reactor vessel over a period of hours. Not a millisecond or two but hours.

  • sangell

    For those who want to do the calculation to see what the relative energy output is between a 1000MW reactor and a Main battle tank gun capable of piercing 6 inches of armor plate at say 1km to see if Jennex is right a 120mm tank gun releases about 10 million joules of energy in a millisecond. watt = joule / second so 1000 watts per second is equal to 1 joule per millisecond. Scale that up if you want to fool around with a lot of zeroes and compare a chemical explosion with kilowatt hours but I think you will find there is plenty enough energy in a nuclear reactor to make any general wish he could mount one to his tank turret.

  • rogerthat

    I have a few questions about SFP4. As I understand it, it lost all coolant water, and was completely dry for about two weeks. It contained the unused core from reactor 4, about 100 tonnes, inserted as a single unit, as well as thousands of spent fuel rods. A fresh core, exposed to the air, melts down and explodes in a zirconium fire within about 10 hours. This occurred, blowing out the walls of the building. Tepco and the NRC initially said this was the case. There is no doubt about this, its in the NRC transcripts. The pool had no walls, no containment, and was presumably largely gone – mostly into the atmosphere or scattered about the immediate vicinity, or melted down on the floor, completely exposed to the air, dry, emitting no steam, and presumably at 3000 to 5000 degrees centigrade. For two weeks. Transcripts show Tepco began putting water on it at the end of March. There was also a picture of what looked like molten corium flowing out the side of the building on about the first floor – does anyone remember Tepco's doctored pictures of unit 4 where they painted this out? Then Tepco changed its position, and said that SFP 4 was still intact, and the fuel rods were still in it. The NRC stuck to its view that 100 per cent of the SFP 4 was gone, and then quietly changed its position about three weeks after it first caught fire and exploded. As I recall, Tepco has never released film or pictures of the Unit 4 explosion and fires. So what is the real position?

    • sunpower

      Roger that, RT. You have presented the $24K question. I wonder how and when we will find out which view of what happened is right. My gut feeling is zirconium fire would have spread throughout the dry pool. But they sure are staging up a stunt with this fuel rod retrieval business. Guess we will soon find out more.

  • Socrates

    To answer the question one must be a metallurgical engineer who does a proper failure analysis.

    We know the composition of the metal alloys in the reactor vessels themselves. We also know their design characteristics, according to blueprints.

    Without being able to directly observe the failed surfaces of the reactor vessel with a visual or scanning electron microscopy, one must calculate by heat, time and design charateristics. Throw in a detonation and the reactor vessel could fail.

    I would want to have only a team consisting of a metallurgical engineer working with a mathematician doing the calculations and a nuclear engineer who have reviewed all of the photographs and documentary evidence.

    This is a huge failure analysis project few are qualified to perform. Few have access to the necessary photos and documents. Therefore, this expert lacks the necessary foundation for his opinion, in my opinion. Maybe he has failed to provide us with the documents he reviewed and with the consultations he relied upon. Too much radiation and heat to make direct observations and not enough information to evaluate his approach to a metallurgical failure analysis- I am not convinced….

  • Wooster

    It's just like weather forecasting. A bucket load of guesswork lightly seasoned with a pinch of science.