NYTimes: Core damage at No. 2 worse than thought? Reactor water could be flowing directly into ocean or under plant — Risk of fuel melting again, says nuclear engineering professor

Published: March 29th, 2012 at 7:37 pm ET


Title: Inquiry Into Fukushima Plant Suggests Worse Damage
Source: NYTimes
Date: March 29, 2012
Emphasis Added

The damage to the core of at least one of the meltdown-stricken reactors at Fukushima could be worse than previously thought, raising new concerns over the plant’s stability and complicating the post-disaster cleanup, a recent internal investigation has shown.

[…] Officials at Tepco had previously said that operation was succeeding, and that the damaged fuel rods were safely submerged in water.

But earlier this week, an examination at one of the reactors showed the water level at its core to be lower than levels previously estimated, raising fears that the broken-down remnants of the uranium fuel rods there may not be completely submerged and in danger of heating up again.

Cooling water at the plant’s No. 2 reactor came up to just two feet from the bottom of the reactor’s containment vessel, a beaker-shaped structure that encases the fuel rods. That was below the 33-foot level estimated by officials when the government declared the plant stable in December. […]

Where’s the Water Going?

The low water levels also raise concerns that radioactive water may be leaking out of the reactor at a higher rate than previously thought, possibly into a part of the reactor known as the suppression chamber, and into a network of pipes and chambers under the plantor into the ocean.

At the No. 2 reactor, workers still pump about nine tons of water an hour into the core to keep it cool.

Kazuhiko Kudo, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University in southwestern Japan

  • [Kudo] said it was now suspect whether the nuclear fuel was being adequately cooled. And if some parts of the fuel remained above water, there was a risk that the fuel could again heat up and melt. That could set off a dangerous spike in the pressure inside the containment vessel, and lead to more radiation escaping the reactor, he said.
  • “The plant is still in a precarious state”
  • “Unfortunately, all we can do is to keep pumping water inside the reactors and hope we don’t have another big earthquake”

Read the report here

Published: March 29th, 2012 at 7:37 pm ET


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29 comments to NYTimes: Core damage at No. 2 worse than thought? Reactor water could be flowing directly into ocean or under plant — Risk of fuel melting again, says nuclear engineering professor

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Nine tons of water an hour into the core, and going out the bottom into Japan.

  • jec jec

    Just a small leak. NYTimes is using all the "soft" words..reminds me of the DRIP DRIP DRIP of information from TEPCO just before they drop a bombshell on the public. Of course, since the USA has been told EVERYTHING IS FINE –this news article is likely to be just the first of several….

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    Oh, just give it some time. There will be a stream of books, whistleblowers wanting to cash in before the end, or wanting to clear their consciences, reporters looking for a Pulitzer/Emmy, not to mention everyone with a vid cam and youtube connection.

    Greg Palast has already published some really horrific nuke whistleblower info. Chapter 10, 'Vulture's Picnic'.

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Nationalize Tepco!

  • dear jones

    Nationalize Japan !

  • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

    Arrests should be made. Some public officials. Some TEPCO management. UN, please step in and stop Coriums from reaching Pacific. ELE can be avoided now, only if we have the will to push Tepgov out of the way and act decisively! This is an international crisis, that will take an international response to begin to address the problem.

  • itsfukncommunism itsfukncommunism

    saddamn insane the government/tepco so that finally children can be saved instead of abused/killed<true story btw

  • itsfukncommunism itsfukncommunism

    I honestly think japan needs an "invasion". This is just heinous.
    When will it stop? when everyone is dead? That's where the rock is rolling…

  • Ha! Ha! Ha! Japan had an invasion back in 1942. Guess what? The invaders still have a large armed presence in Japan for which the Japanese pay 2 billion dollars a year for. The ruined failed reactors were designed and built for the most part by the companies based in the invaders country, namely good old USA. The fuel for these ruined reactors and the 50 odd other reactors is being supplied by Canada (my country) basically a fiefdom of the States.

    What is being reported on this international disaster in USA and Canada is next to nothing.

    From the above article "At the No. 2 reactor, workers still pump about nine tons of water an hour into the core to keep it cool."

    Thats 9 tons an hour pumped into a vessel that should contain at least 20 ft of water not 2 feet of water so 9 tons of radioactive water is leaking from one reactor alone. Don't know about 1 and 3 as they are too radioactive to even test but you could surmise that roughly thirty tons of radioactive water leaking into the ocean every hour. A gallon of fresh water weighs 8.34 pounds

    30 x 2000lb divided by 8.34 =7194.2446 gallons per hour of radioactive water is leaking into the ocean. Lets go 7000 x24 =168000 gallons per day. Then TEPCO has the nerve to report 90 litres of radioactive water leaked through pipes. Thats about 25 gallons. What a joke. No end in sight as its way to radioactive to go near enough to do any meaningful construction work so those leaks will not be repaired any time soon and will worsen over time as another earthquake at least tremors will happen.

    Nothing is going to happen. Cancer rates will increase but….they have been increasing over the years anyway with little public outcry and a shrug of the shoulders from the experts who act as if its a big mystery.

    If you think your living in a democracy you are mistaken my friend.

    • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

      Times change. Now Japan owns GE and Westinghouse. And the head of the IAEA is Japanese.

      • bluebonnet bluebonnet

        Jack Welch, Chairman of GE from 1981 -2001 was named the Manager of the Century by Forbes magazine.
        Some people wanted him to run for political office. I wonder what his role was in GE's nuclear reactor business. Did he or any GE executives brush aside any warnings about reactor designs and safety measures? It would be interesting to know.

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          Part of Forbes' 20+ year long love affair with Jack Welch. You'd think the guy invented sliced bread.

    • gottagetoffthegrid

      If you look at the articles last week or so on the hydrogen levels in unt 2, the tables also list the injection rate for all reactors. They are up to 22,000 litres per hour. 1 ton in this context is 1 cubic metre.

      With 1 usgallon = 3.8L

  • If you think your living in a democracy you are mistaken my friend.

    According to Kevin Phillips, author and political strategist to U.S. President Richard Nixon, the United States is a plutocracy in which there is a "fusion of money and government."

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutocracy

  • itsfukncommunism itsfukncommunism

    Well then… say, I wonder how the decontamination efforts are going/sarcasm

  • PoorDaddy PoorDaddy

    It's about time, NY Times! Fukushima should have been headlines for the last year!
    Now put an investigative reporter on this story, will ya??

    • CB CB

      PoorDaddy! Yaay where have u been!

    • itsfukncommunism itsfukncommunism

      their sauce is WEAK, time to kick it uppanotch BAM!!!!

      • HoTaters HoTaters

        Hey, no offense, but do you think you could write using something like normal U.S. or U.K. English so we can understand what you're trying to tell us? Forgive me for saying so, but this sounds like meaningless GIBBERISH.

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          It's just not clever or funny, and frankly does not add to the discussion at hand. "Their sauce is weak" ? Are you sure you didn't think you were at one of the foodie forums?

  • That's depressing. I'm going to bed, will see what the dogwoods, redbuds, forsythia and phlox look like tomorrow. I'm pretty sure they'll be as beautiful (or more) than today…


  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    On the positive side, there is hope, and a birth is happening… just stay positive and support the birth that is happening…

    Sustainable Energy [R]evolution | Greenpeace Internationalhttp://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/03/sustainable-energy-revolution.html