Nuclear Physicist on Fukushima: I’m most concerned about a chain reaction happening — Rain leaking in from cracks after a new quake could act as a moderator, and a nuclear reactor will start again (VIDEO)

Published: September 1st, 2012 at 11:38 pm ET


Title: Interview with Nils Bøhmer,
Source: TRU News
Date: August 10, 2012

At ~38:00 in

Nuclear Physicist Nils Bøhmer: Should there be a new earthquake in the region, you could have a dramatic situation once again. You could have new cracks, water entering into reactor core, you could maybe have a nuclear chain reaction starting in the fuel, which means you could have a lot of radioactivity released again


I’m most concerned that a nuclear chain reaction could start in the fuel if you have a lot of water in there because that will be very difficult to control and that will have a lot of heat there that you don’t have control over


If there is a new earthquake, there is leakages, the rain, a lot of rain, that water will get in contact with the fuel and act as a moderator and you will have a nuclear reactor starting again without any control mechanism, and that will be very, very [inaudible] […]

So that is the main thing now, to keep the water out, to keep the cooling running, and build the buildings around the reactors […]

Listen to the report here

Published: September 1st, 2012 at 11:38 pm ET


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26 comments to Nuclear Physicist on Fukushima: I’m most concerned about a chain reaction happening — Rain leaking in from cracks after a new quake could act as a moderator, and a nuclear reactor will start again (VIDEO)

  • charlie3

    I thought that covering everything in water was the only thing stopping the corium from heating and starting a chain reaction.
    And does this guy suggest that the reactors are still intact and waterproof at this point???

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Water levels drop while the nuclear industries of the world sit and watch (100% helpless over their invention-gone bad). Wish this was fiction.

  • tarpus

    LOL!!!! WTF????????????

    • tarpus

      My pappy said "Son your gonna drive me to drinkin'
      If you don't stop driving that hot rod Lincoln"

      • many moons

        I think the "experts" have manage to tell this story in every different way possible.

        I thought to have a sustain chain reaction the fuel rods needed to be perfectly alined, at the right distance from one another and in some kind of a container??

        I also thought that pouring water on the whole battered mess was keeping the fuel cool so it wouldn't burn….and i thought that there was talk of fuel breaching the containment, so wouldn't those cracks where the fuel breached have provided a way for water to get to the corium soon after the accident began…..????

        • Atomfritz Atomfritz

          It depends on the configuration the fuel is in now.

          This configuration is unknown.
          Nobody can say for sure there is no new criticality possible.

          Thus Tepco adds boron to the injected water.

  • Sol Man

    The handling of this Fukushima disaster seems similar to how political campaigns, and politics itself,runs. Say anything, or everything, like so much chaff, confuse all of the issues so that the people do not know what to believe and go do whatever you want in response to this situation, or once you get elected to office. We can't find honest discourse because the truth is so awful.
    The people don't have the full story, all of us.

  • razzz razzz

    It nuclear physics and it is complicated even in a controlled known environment like an intact working reactor.

    Here you have melted run away fuel X3 and nobody seems to know where it is, underwater, being sprayed with water, or loose in the ground with partial watering or all the above. Then are they spread out like taffy, lumped in a big pile, separated or all the above X3.

    If neutrons are traveling at the proper speed and direct hit uranium fuel, a reaction occurs, uranium splits and sends out more random neutrons, could become a chain reaction, it is literally hit or miss in a fuel's melted state.

    Water moderates the speed of neutrons by slowing them down, this makes for a better chance of hitting any uranium present or without water they are traveling to fast.

    So, they poison the water with boron, boron absorbs neutrons, to prevent reactions with any uranium fuel. This is provided the boronated water is surrounding the melted fuel. Of course there is probably a crust on some melted fuels with the inside still very hot and isolated from anything to stop reactions so they inject nitrogen to neutralize any explosive gases caused by reactions they can't prevent.

    Normally water surrounds the fuel keep it cool, preventing rays from escaping and captures debris and gases to be run through filters.

    Fukushima is not normal, it's a frigg'in nightmare. No one is sure how melted fuels will react with itself. No one is sure where the fuel is to treat it.

    • Maggie123

      "poison the water with boron" – flash-thought here – boron was used pre-"chemical industrial age" as a relatively non-toxic pesticide and fungicide plus fire-retardant. Based on my extremely limited knowledge, ingesting/swimming in boron would not be advisable, (even though it's really quite mild – safe around pets, etc., but instructions strongly advise against breathing the powder in.) I assume the boron-treated water finds its way to oceans like all the other water from the wrecked plant?

      Beyond that, when I was researching boron a few years back I think I learned that supplies are limited – there's "lots" but not in very many locations. This would mean it's not likely an "abundant nuke-plant remedy" for this or any other nuke-disaster relief, (i.e. "boron can save us and we can go ahead with all things nuke" would not be a rational argument … although I have no idea why I'd assume pro-nuke thinking would try to be rational!)

      • razzz razzz

        .pdf page 3.9 has boron storage tank at the ready.

        Boron/borax is plentiful enough at least in California. Interesting stuff, articles on anything from a heat source to help make electricity to chelation of heavy metals from the body.

        • razzz razzz

          I forgot to mention that Sec of State Hillary Clinton was babbling early on at a news conference when Fukushima was unfolding about the US delivering some coolant or something, it was boron that the US was supplying to help control the reactors.

          It (boron) is certainly not a panacea for a nuclear meltdown. It can't help stop all the fallout from these meltdowns.

  • And there may be lumps of critical mass in the mess(in the mass of three melted ones and separate uranium mess and lots of sfp matter) waiting to run away like nuclear bombs. Dirty or otherwise. It is nuke hell. And Kudankulam has been given a clean chit citing the experts!

  • dosdos dosdos

    Which alternate dimension does this guy occupy, and how did his voice get over here?

  • CaptD CaptD

    Don't forget all the salt which is adding yet another dimension to the nuclear stew (corium interaction) and the Bucky Balls

    being produced; IMO they have Physics going on their that has never been observed before and they are all able to do nothing about it except to try and limit or distort the news about it so as not to pollute (pun intended) their own nuclear industries future!

    All these "experts" and the Leaders in Japan are all in Nuclear Denial* and receive some amount of Nuclear Payback** from the nuclear for their support.


    The illogical belief that Nature cannot destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!


    Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other "costs" are for others.

    The illogical belief that Nature cannot destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!

  • CaptD CaptD

    Another issue is the effect that the huge amount of radionuclides from Fukushima now in the upper atmosphere is having on the Earth's weather…

    I'd love to see if there are some nuclear chemists who are also trained in meteorology that might be able to discuss this without any bias…

    My thinking is that much of the current changes in weather is not "just" climate change but directly related to these same radionuclides (think charged particles) and their interaction with the upper atmosphere in a process similar to cloud seeding only on a microscopic level…

    BTW: A Huge Solar Flare is now on the way toward Earth, which may greatly "amplify" the above interactions in the upper atmosphere.

  • Maggie123

    Thanks to all posting on this article for the info and ideas you share – I'm grateful. Although I can't say I follow with clear understanding, I think I'm picking up "the gist".

    Interesting! I've no capacity remaining to let myself experience extreme stress at unfolding details/questions, on Fuku or other earth dynamics. But I take your ideas in as "part of what I walk with".

    Am also so mindful – yet again – of the inter-connectedness of everything … the butterfly effect … dynamics and "lessons" at work in every direction.

  • NoNukes NoNukes

    How would we know that the fuel was "starting again without any control mechanism?" Oh, there would be Iodine-131, would there?

    • CaptD CaptD

      Yes, there would be…

      This has been going on and off since 3/11 yet TEPCO and the Japanese post nothing but "fluff" they cannot just avoid talking about!

      What a Nuclear Waste!

    • Atomfritz Atomfritz

      Yes, there would be I-131, Xe-135 and other indicator isotopes.

  • CaptD CaptD

    Two new words to help describe what is happening at SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) and many other places around the World:

    Nuclear Fix*

    The nuclear industries (aka nuclear fascists) policy of donating massive amounts of money to insure that all levels of Government support Nuclear Energy to protect their market share despite it’s enormous environmental RISK of yet another Fukushima, instead of supporting less expensive, NON RISKY Eco Friendly Solar energy.


    Nuclear Conflict of Interest**

    A Nuclear Conflict of Interest happens when elected Leaders give their support to the Nuclear Industry because they have received some form of Nuclear Payback without disclosing it to the public.

  • CaptD CaptD

    I think the "TUBE" problem at SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) is similar to what has happened to many of the Japanese reactors on 3/11/11 which is the "real" reason they have not been restarted; namely there was a huge amount of damage done to not only the piping but other components that are critical to the safe operation of these reactors!

    Regarding the tubes at SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency):

    No they are not the same, in fact SCE tried to "soup up" their 2 reactors to make more money, the new parts are not the same as the old units and those changes should have been disclosed to the NRC who were told instead that it was a"like for like" exchange! Then SCE bragged in a trade magazine that they got away with pulling one over on the NRC; but they are not laughing now, as rate payers are demanding not only a refund of the $65 million a month they are paying for N☢ Energy but the $600+ Million that the rebuild has cost to date.

    Expect to see many lawsuits since the amounts of money are HUGE…

  • CaptD CaptD

    Must read article: The Nuclear Mafia Derails Democracy in Japan

    Is it happening in the USA and other Countries because of Nuclear Payback*?


    Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other "costs" are for others.