Nuclear Expert on Unit 4: They’re very concerned about what the salt water has been doing to spent fuel — Can they actually even put it in the larger pool? (VIDEO)

Published: July 17th, 2012 at 5:09 am ET


Interview with Nuclear Engineer Chris Harris
Nutrimedical Report
July 13, 2012

At ~35:00 in

Chris Harris, former licensed Senior Reactor Operator and engineer: Unit 4 spent fuel pool… They are going to try and move some of the fuel…

They are concerned about the seawater…

They need to move this to another storage facility. They’re very concerned about what the salt water has been doing to this and whether they can actually even put it in a larger pool…

This is going to be a pretty arduous task.

Published: July 17th, 2012 at 5:09 am ET


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  2. Nuclear Engineer: “You’re done, that’s it” if seal leaks at Unit No. 4 — “You can never pump enough water in to establish a level again in spent fuel pool” (VIDEO) June 27, 2012
  3. Nuclear Engineer: To me it means Tepco knows about a rip in spent fuel pool liner at Fukushima Unit 3 (VIDEO) November 16, 2012
  4. 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
  5. Nuclear Engineer: New fuel is highly reactive, easier to go critical than spent fuel — Bad situation if assemblies are damaged (VIDEO) July 20, 2012

21 comments to Nuclear Expert on Unit 4: They’re very concerned about what the salt water has been doing to spent fuel — Can they actually even put it in the larger pool? (VIDEO)

  • razzz razzz

    I guess I can understand, in a panic, flooding the reactors with seawater but there was a freshwater reservoir nearby for helicopters to fill their buckets for water drops. Of course only one fill up per allowed because everything becomes contaminated on the fly over drop. And people wonder why they don't put out house fires using helicopter drops, the falling water would crush the house or dropped from to high up would disperse the water into the air making it noneffective.

    • Radio VicFromOregon

      They tried the helicopter water drops first to no effect before flooding with seawater. Things just kept getting hotter because, as you say, stuff got more damaged from the falling water, and much of the water simply missed its target or wasn't nearly enough to cool down the reactors. But, they also discontinued the fly-overs because the airspace was too contaminated directly above the reactors which prevented them from getting low enough to make an effective drop. This was one of the reasons that an American scientist with the NRC was advocating an insane idea that we bomb the reactors to try and create an implosion that would seal them. Those were tense, crazy, horrifying days watching every effort and strategy fail one after another, then the explosions. It was obvious to anyone watching or participating that this crisis was way beyond anyone's pay grade.

  • golfinsocal

    perhaps when faced with this one might overlook secondary repercussions….just a thought

  • golfinsocal

    kinda reminds me of the credit card issue of instant gratification, maybe a course in deferred gratification and or delayed gratification…define: "denote a person's ability to wait, to obtain something that he or she wants. "the preference for smaller immediate rewards over larger but delayed rewards and to the well established fact that the subjective value of reward decreases with increasing delay to its receipt."[1] Sociologically, good impulse control is considered a positive personality trait. Moreover, people who lack the psychological trait of being able to delay gratification are said to require instant gratification and might suffer poor impulse control.

  • [quote=Feliks]Nice look at the animation:


    And my animation, showing what you can do in 4 Fourth swimming pool in Fukushimie.
    You need to build a new building, to the basement of the reactor building to insert with three new reactors, only to store the fuel. They manage any guarantees when possible earthquakes.After filling all the water also will be a guarantee of the & span settlement.

    • richard richard

      Thanks Felix. I don't understand it totally as I'm not much of a nuke tech, but I think get it.

    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      Feliks: You may remember that TEPCO put a video camera into Reactor4 to see if they could use the reactor to store some of the spent fuel assemblies. Probably, they wanted to move the hot fuel that was removed from Reactor4 when it was taken out of service for maintenance in November of 2010. They wanted to get this fuel out of SFP4, while the crane frame construction is going on. This hot fuel load would be a real problem if SFP4 is dewatered or collapses before the spent fuel can be removed. My guess is that TEPCO found that Reactor4 is in bad shape, and cannot be used to store spent fuel, even temporarily.

      Fuku has shown that reactors and containments don't do a very good job. Reactors1,2,&3 suffered melt downs and melt throughs. Nice animation, though.

      • Yes I remember. But it should be at the level of the land be burnt or buried three new reactors, to store the fuel. Important to the horizontal ground was the entrance Then build new walls and flood all water…

        Even as the water come with this new part of the basin, and so will remain in these three reactors….

  • nedlifromvermont

    "arduous" hardly does justice here … same sort of 'throw a word at it and we're done here' mentality of the nuclear Nazis (a little harsh on the historical Nazis, maybe)


  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    TEPCO is removing 2 "new fuel assemblies" from SFP4.
    "Tepco and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency are going to take out 2 of the 204 new fuel assemblies soon in order to check the damage on cladding tube caused by sea water injected just after 311…" Fukushima Diary

    The new fuel assemblies give off very little radiation, and can be handled in air without a problem.
    Zirconium will not have burned in new fuel assemblies, since there was no internal decay heat to ignite it.
    I had been thinking that they wanted to check some of the burned spent fuel assemblies to see if these could be moved at all. But they will be checking only for corrosion of the zirconium cladding caused by sea water, which will be extensive.

    IMHO they are going to have real difficulty later on removing spent fuel assemblies from SFP4 that were burned in the fire on 3/15/11. Some of these may spill their fuel pellets on the floor of SFP4 when they are moved. It might be better if the containers could accommodate one or more storage racks, and they could move an entire rack of spent fuel assemblies at a time, instead of trying to remove each spent fuel assembly from the rack. In any case, they might have to clean up burned or melted fuel pellets and debris from the floor of SFP4 after removal of the fuel assemblies.

  • chrisk9

    There will be multiple issues with moving the fuel that would not be encountered in a normal fuel pool. The fuel pool fires that reignited or lasted for days. The refueling bridge that fell into the pool along with other debris. The salt water used for cooling and the resultant corrosion. And the possibility that parts of the pool went critical during the fires.

    Even the new fuel bundles may not be that easy to remove. They will certainly be contaminated by particles of fuel that were caused by the zirconium fires. There will be lethal flakes of fuel particles throughout the pool, although a large amount has most likely settled on the bottom. But there will be some of these flakes everywhere, and some will get stuck in places like the new fuel handling machine. If the pool went critical the new bundles may have been activated.

    The corrosion from the sea water has probably caused extensive damage to everything in the pool,which probably caused more lethal hot particles to flake off. And there will most likely be a collection of fuel pellets on the floor of the pool caused by all these abnormalities. And the fires could have fused parts of fuel bundles or racks together where they will need to cut pieces apart.

    They will not be able to move an entire rack of fuel-it is too big and heavy, they will be very difficult to unbolt from the floor, and a big enough cask to do it would be monumental size.

    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      "…an entire rack of fuel assemblies is too big and too heavry [to move]". 🙁
      Too bad, but you are probably correct. chrisk9: Great post! 🙂
      I wouldn't have thought that the new fuel could have been activated by the criticalities going on elsewhere in the burning, seething, steaming SFP4. But come to think of it, this is sort of what happens in a nuclear reactor. You learn something every day.
      They will have to remove the steel cover from SFP4. Hope those watching the cameras night and day spot this. We will know that the removal of the fuel assemblies is coming next.

      • chrisk9

        Without much data I am just making a semi educated guess about the activated fuel assemblies. But if the "hot" assemblies became critical, and neutron emitting particles (and fuel pellets)were floating about the pool, activation of the new assemblies would seem possible.

        As soon as they take the cover off the pool I would imagine the first task would taking a survey with a camera of the spent fuel pool, and taking a radiation survey throughout. If dose rates on the operating floor are high, and for protection of the workers for anything (particles)coming out of the pool, they should be installing shielding around the entire area. If they try to move any fuel before doing these things they would just be stupid. OH poop they have already proved that haven't they.

        • richard richard

          thanks chrisk9 for being here on enenews, I for one appreciate your perspective, not that I always understand the details 😉

          do you let your collegues know your on enenews ?

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    All this while the world waits for the next nuclear accident. We must outlaw them. Now.

  • HoTaters HoTaters

    Given the anal retentive Tep-Gov mentality (see Centaur's diagram, link below), just deep doo-doo even some doo is invisible. No getting around it. Humor intended in a pretty humorless situation.

    Pls. see second link below, article on "Unit 4 Refueling Configuration" in the 6/27/12 article re: the seal at Unit 4 and SFP. In that article, a diagram of the Mark 1 reactor and spent fuel pool is shown.

    That configuation (reactor with SFP sitting almost on top of it) is all that's needed to illustrate the insanity of this reactor and SFP design. Reminds me of the "fail" videos on YouTube, or the YouTube video entitled, "Monkey With a Death Wish." Give those Fukushima designers a banana!

    Centaur's diagram (humor)

    Enenews article, shows diagram of Mark 1 reactor and spent fuel pool design:

    Nuclear Engineer: “You’re done, that’s it” if seal leaks at Unit No. 4 — “You can never pump enough water in to establish a level again in spent fuel pool” (VIDEO)

    Published: June 27th, 2012

    Monkey With A Death Wish (from YouTube) grainy but funny nonetheless. A good analogy to "try to grab and hold the nuclear tiger by the tail"

    (Actually the "monkey" is a gibbon)