Radio: Problems looming at Fukushima plant; Soil unstable, risk of liquefaction — CBC: If fuel pool comes down, release could be dozens of times larger than Chernobyl (AUDIO)

Published: September 9th, 2013 at 1:31 am ET


Title: Fukushima Leaks Up the Ante for Japanese Government
Source: PRI’s The World
Date: September 3, 2013

At 1:55 in

Marco Werman, Host: There’s this announcement of this new technology, freezing the radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. […]

Jeff Kingston is Director of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan: […] This is not a radical new technology, the thing that’s different is the scale, and it’s going to have to be maintained for quite a long time. There’s also complicating factors, this technology has never been used in radioactively-contaminated soil. And the other problem is this soil is unstable, so in the event of a large earthquake, this area is prone to liquefaction, which would also create havoc with a frozen wall — so there are problems looming ahead.

Full broadcast here

Title: Interview with Mycle Schneider
Source: CBC Radio’s ‘As It happens’
Date: September 2, 2013

At 7:00 in

Mycle Schneider, Nuclear consultant: There’s still potential for a situation that would bring it into different dimensions. There’s so-called spent fuel, that is, fuel that has been used in those reactors, that’s sitting in cooling ponds. Now these cooling ponds, like a swimming pool, they’re above the reactors, so they’re between 4th and 5th floor — they’re not on the ground. Now, you have to imagine those heavily damaged buildings by earthquake and massive explosions holding this material which contains dozens of times of the quantity of cesium that was released at Chernobyl — it’s a huge quantity of radioactivity. If one of those buildings comes down, or if there’s a massive leak for other reasons from those pools, and the fuel gets exposed to air and is not cooled, they could catch fire. Then the entire inventory of radioactivity, dozens of times Chernobyl, could be released to the environment.

Carol Off, Host: A very distressing scenario you are describing.

Full interview with Schneider here

Published: September 9th, 2013 at 1:31 am ET


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44 comments to Radio: Problems looming at Fukushima plant; Soil unstable, risk of liquefaction — CBC: If fuel pool comes down, release could be dozens of times larger than Chernobyl (AUDIO)

  • CBC's As It Happens is a Canadian institute started in 1968. One of the few things I appreciate thats funded by my tax payers money. Glad to see someone anyone report on the spent fuel pool issue. Personally my biggest concern Interesting that CBC radio reports it but not CBC news on the web. To me the secondary story of Fukushima is the shameless muzzling of news.

  • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

    " in the event of a large earthquake, this area is prone to liquefaction, which would also create havoc with a frozen wall"

    Does anyone think that there won't be another large earthquake? There may be no one left to attend an Olympics in 2020.

    • great point, only a matter of time for the next big one

    • We Not They Finally

      They're not attending events in Japan ANYWAY. Yoichi Shimatsu was there a few months back and he said that the normally WELL-attended arts festival in Kyoto was deserted this year. He said that people are spending no money. And that no one had either any money or power to oppose Abe and that military dictatorship was probably on the way.

      There may not even be any Tokyo as we've known it by 2020. And these clinically insane people have gotten the ball rolling by killing off their own kids.

      I feel very sorry for the people trapped there. They should have been quickly evacuated and now they do not even allow them to move to different prefectures. And that is all truly tragic. But aside from allowing humanitarian help in there, this nation needs to be SHUNNED.

      • Mack Mack

        Japan's population statistics and future estimates are very interesting.

        (1) The population in Japan fell by 282,256 by October 2011

        (2) "Based on the Health and Welfare ministry estimation released in January 2012, Japan's population will keep declining by about one million people every year in the coming decades, which will leave Japan with a population of 87 million in 2060."

        (3) "In 2012, the population for a sixth straight year of declines by 212,000 as the biggest drop on record since 1947 and also a record low of 1.03 million number of births"

        The information is right there for all to see. There will be a huge decline in Japanese population.

        What you'll often see is that they'll release truthful information, but try to explain away it with half-truths.

        They attempt to explain it away with aging, etc.

        While some of that is true; that is not the WHOLE story.

        • We Not They Finally

          These statistics are likely doctored in the first place. Does it include miscarriages, still births, and deformed babies? Increasingly, they cannot produce normal children. Just look at Fallujah, Iraq, with a 80% chance of birth defects, and they were only pounded with ONE deadly isotope, depleted uranium.

          • Mack Mack

            Just the fact that they're admitting/predicting one MILLION less Japanese per year and record low births after Fukushima 2011 is huge.

        • vicky13 vicky13

          One problem is Western civilization countries are NOT reproducing fast enough. To maintain populations each woman needs to have at least 2 children just to maintain.

          The west is below 1 child per couple. Is a problem in all Western countries.

          In the middle east they are reproducing at approx 5 children per couple.

        • MichaelV MichaelV

          That was good info…


        • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

          Good brain candy Mack and your on the right track!

      • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

        WNTF: When you say the nation needs to be shunned, you miss the fact that the large majority of the people in Japan are completely innocent of the nuclear agenda. Call it what you like, most people–even intelligent and informed ones–had no idea that they were inadvertantly supporting such a monster as nuclear with their lifestyles…and HAD they known it, many of them would have changed their ways prior to 3/11.

        If anything, the country needs absolution from prior mistakes and global assistance and support…moral support most of all. They need ENCOURAGEMENT to face the issue at hand. The fact is, the only people truly responsible for Daiichi and those in the industry and supporting industries. If you grouped them all together (all in the world), you might have enough for a solid first wave into Daiichi. We can't do that, though, because many of those people are "maintaining" systems at other facilities that would crash if they weren't present. So, who makes up the army that crashes, wave upon wave into Daiichi? It has to be the civilian–the man who had nothing to do with the construction and support of the site (aside from mis-guided consumerism). In the end, very few if any of them will volunteer to go. Would you be kamikaze to close a valve at Daiichi to fix some fat-cat bastard's conscience? I love the world and its people, but I would do it unless I was terminal. Even then…why should I sack myself for trecherous men?

        • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

          Ergo: Thus Bobby's dilemma!

          • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

            If by "Bobby" you mean civilians (regular Joes), then yes. And quite a dilemma it is. But it isn't looking good…an extremely small percentage of the population would be willing to volunteer for such work/sacrifice, and anyone who WOULD volunteer is much more valuable for humanity to stay around rather than go up in smoke to close a valve…

            You'll get more people going if you pay them, but these aren't really the people you want. These are people mostly signing their lives away for money, and only a few shillings, at that. You'll get more people with higher payments, but you're still just getting drones. You need specialists.

            You'll probably get the most people with slavery, right? Uh-oh…what other options?

            Screw Occupy: Boycott

            boy·cott/ verb (used with object)
            1. to combine in abstaining from, or preventing dealings with, as a means of intimidation or coercion: to boycott a store.
            2. to abstain from buying or using: to boycott foreign products.
            3. the practice of boycotting.
            4. an instance of boycotting.

            • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

              Yes sir?
              Bobby are you a regular joe?
              Sir what do you mean a regular joe?
              Bobby do you know anything about radiation contamination?
              Sir, no sir, I do not.
              Yes sir?
              Then you "are" a regular joe!
              Yes, of course sir, I agree.
              Yes Bobby.
              What is Nuclear Radiation Contamination?
              Bobby report to incinerator #4 and they will show you.
              Yes sir, right away sir, thank you sir!

  • Wooster

    ..these cooling ponds.. they’re between 4th and 5th floor.

    Perhaps someone with indepth knowledge might let us know why you would design a reactor with a spent fuel pool on the 4th and 5th floor?

    Isn't that a bit like storing explosives in your cooker for safety purposes?

    • J.

      I read once that the design is an almost exact replica of a submarine propulsion reactor. Iin a sub there's no other place to put the fuel. It's logical.

      On land, it's insane. Why copy? I don't know. To save money? Faith in USNR engineering prowess? Someone somewhere knows I'm sure.

    • We Not They Finally

      Actually, they are stored in a PRESSURE cooker. These people are completely nuts.

    • Sickputer

      The nuclear industry puts fresh spent fuel assemblies in upper level ponds for several reasons, but mainly to save money.

      The refueling of the reactor vessel is much easier moving dangerous assemblies a short distance as opposed to moving them four floors below. Later as they cool over years and are less dangerous to move the older assemblies are lowered to the the huge Common Spent Fuel Pond building which is at ground level. Major complexes with several reactor buildings need such long term pools as they accumulate fuel rod assemblies over decades and the governments do not provide a central national waste dump. The rods are highly dangerous for 10,000 years.

      In theory upper building ponds are safer from natural flooding events (dams breaking and ocean waves). Ft. Calhoun NPP outside Omaha, Nebraska has a ground level spent pool that was in danger of river flooding two years ago and came close to having a major accident.

      Upper floor or ground level spent fuel ponds are extremely hazardous and subject to a disastrous accident from many types of human or natural events such airliner crashes, terrorist attacks, floods, fires, typhoons or hurricanes, flooding, tornados, and of course earthquakes.

      • Anthony Anthony

        **…but mainly to save money.**

        Nuclear Mission Statement

        **Saving Money not Lives.**

        Brings new meaning to Too cheap to meter.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      Check the janitors closets. They keep the chlorine bleach in an open container sitting on top of a broom handle right over a pool of ammonia. Safety first.

  • We Not They Finally

    I'm not an engineer but this whole scheme sounds nuts purely by logic. You can freeze an enclosed lake. You can freeze a stagnant pond. How do you freeze a thousand tons of rushing water every day? Will they also freeze the harbor? And what about the mountains? What about the aquifer underneath the plant? What about their own brains? Kryogenics until there is a fix for all this? Oh, I forgot. There is no fix forever….

    • We Not They Finally

      What equipment would even be used to burrow down into the earth for this lunatic non-starter that they cannot possibly have the intention to actually do in any case? The remotely-operated cranes that they have just proven fall apart under extreme radioactive stress?

      • MoonlightEmpire MoonlightEmpire

        I believe it's a huge number of boring holes with pipes that are all connected. A cold substance is run through the pipes to freeze the surrounding soil, itself. When ground water makes contact with the frozen soil, it too sould freeze, to an extent. I'm sure there are other details as well.

        First thing: Duh, it's not going to freeze out everything, and most likely will have the effect of the "impervious wall" that did nothing to prevent contaminated water flow, but rather just pushed it to the surface and made it flow faster.

        Next, even if they did accomplish the establishment of the ice wall, it screams to me of "dis-continuity of the soil". When you have sudden, dramatic–and especially non-climatic–changes in soil structure and composition, the ground begins to act strangely. I consider it impossible to completely isolate the Daiichi complex (around and below) with this ice wall, but even if they did, what would they do in a quake? Imagine, the ground is frozen solid, a meter or more thick…and even just a moderate quake provides lateral movement of the soil. SNAP, right? All those pipes…or at least sections of them, snapped. They would need valve systems to make sure that if a pipe broke they could isolate the section, or the whole wall would melt away. Further, how do you fix the section? How to get the broken pipe out?

        I don't believe it.

        REAL work at Daiichi starts 100 miles out, at least.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      I think they tried to freeze their brains first. It worked.

  • razzz razzz

    Apparently Unit 2's overloaded pool boiled off enough for some of the fuel rods to catch fire so there has already been a huge release of nuclear poisons there. TEPCO's description of the event was "a large noise was heard" when that building blew. A nighttime event with no video released.

    Unit 1 blew with the wind blowing inland.

    Wonder when the news media puts 2&2 together and reports the real events and justifies fear.

    A boycott of Tokyo's Olympics by athletes themselves would bring the attention needed to this disaster. Always could compete somewhere else. Probably asking to much.

  • vital1 vital1

    With the situation in the Middle East heating up, and the situation at the Fukushima Nuclear disaster site deteriorating, it would be wise to keep a close eye on these events. Here is a list of International radiation monitoring sites, from all over the world.

    • Mack Mack

      That's a great source, vital 1, thank you for compiling it.

      It's interesting to see what the rad levels are around the world.

      For example:

      (1) Ireland still finds Strontium-90 in RAW milk.

      (Is this why the the U.S. cracks down on raw milk; because of higher amounts of radioisotopes still found in it?)

      Iodine-131, Cesium-134 +137 were also found in Ireland's raw milk after Fukushima.

      (2) South New Zealand counts-per-minute hover at about 60 CPM

      (3) Australia = 0.10 to 0.160 uSv/hr

      (4) Paris = normal background radiation is supposed to be 0.1 uSv/hr

      (5) Romania = gamma hovers at around 0.1 uSv/hr

      (6) Most of Switzerland hovers at around 0.1 uSv/hr; except for a southeast area, Vicosoprano, which shows 0.2 uSv/hr

      (7) Take a look at how many radiation monitoring sites Germany has!

      It looks like far-Northern Germany has the lowest radiation levels

      Germany ranges from .08 to .17 uSv/hr

      (8) South Spain = around .13 uSv/hr; the same for Poland

      It gets confusing because some places report in nanosieverts; others in microsieverts, etc.

      Good radiation converter to bookmark:

  • eatliesndie eatliesndie

    I wonder how big the earthquake would have to be to cause liquefaction?

      • eatliesndie eatliesndie

        yeah, but with the ground at Daiichi absolutely saturated – ie water table mere inches from the surface, maybe it would take a lot less than a 6.0 to turn things to……total shit for the entire planet? seems logical to me….

    • Anthony Anthony

      New website offers peace of mind on liquefaction risk
      September 25, 2011

      By SUSUMU YOSHIDA / Staff Writer
      **Due to the huge damage caused by liquefaction triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Architectural Institute of Japan has set up a website that allows the public some peace of mind on whether their homes are potential victims.

      "We hope it can be useful to people now facing problems or who are worried about whether they are vulnerable," said Masayuki Kohiyama, an associate professor of system design engineering at Keio University, who was involved in bringing together the website.

      Liquefaction, which occurs when soil loses its strength and firmness and takes on a liquid form, occurred over a wide area as far as the Kanto region, even though the quake was centered off the Tohoku region.**

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What is the condition of the spent fuel pools?
    Are they saying none were involved in the original explosions?
    All the SFPs kept proper cooling?

    What is the condition of the CSFP?

    Liquifaction..subsidence..groundwater saturation..corrosion of materials due to radiation…etc.

    "If fuel pool comes down"..which one?

    Oh..4 ..the rest are fine?
    Sure they are…(sarc)

    The 'shock and awe' tour goes on and on.

  • Sickputer

    Yes, it is alarming that little hard news has developed regarding the conditions of the fuel rod ponds and the missing cores. Also no news or video of units 5 and 6 which supposedly are in decent condition.

    They have done multiple crane drops of monitor probes into Units 1-3 and workers seem to work freely above Unit 4 (which had no fuel running at the time of the earthquake (same was true for Units 5 and 6).

    Unit 4 is a big puzzle to me because they have allowed many visitors to access the roof platform. If the contents mostly burned up in the fires of 2011-2012 then that might explain why it is a popular tourist attraction for foreign and government vistors. It may be the distractor from the true monsters at Units 1-3. Nobody visits the perimeters or go inside this buildings except for robots (which all expired inside) and several one minute suicide incursions by a couple of Tepco nuclear workers.

  • mungo mungo

    TOKYO, Sept. 9, Kyodo

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it has detected 3,200 becquerels per liter of radioactive substances in a well near a leaky water storage tank at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

    The radioactive substances emitting strontium and other beta rays were detected in samples taken Sunday from a well about 20 meters north of the water storage tank in the H4 area where toxic water had leaked. On Thursday, TEPCO said it had detected 650 becquerels per liter of such radioactive substances in another well located about 20 south of the storage tank.

    The latest finding raises the possibility that leaked toxic water has reached groundwater at the power plant, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

  • Sickputer, interesting point, yes I remember pictures of visitors atop the #4 spent fuel pool. Did the contents burn up? If so why are they announcing fuel rod removal? Whatever is inside the pool is now covered in water so the radiation won't drop you dead like it will in units 1,2 and 3.

    Liquification happens under certain soil conditions. Probably Fukushima had that risk before the accident. The extra tons of water added to the soil through leaks in the cooling system would make conditions even better for this phenomena.

    • Sickputer

      "Sickputer, interesting point, yes I remember pictures of visitors atop the #4 spent fuel pool. Did the contents burn up? If so why are they announcing fuel rod removal…"

      SP: Video from the web cams in 2011, 2012, and 2013 showed black smoke pouring from Units 3 and 4 on a number of days. It's unknown to us what percentage of the assemblies incinerated their uranium pellets. Used rods are deadly to humans without shielding and have a small percentage of plutonium generated from fission processes when they were in the fuel vessel in active use.

      Tepco removed successfully 2 fuel rod assemblies last year at Unit 4 pond (each assembly is a hefty block of metal containing 63 12.5 foot slender zirconium rods filled with bullet-shaped uranium fuel pellets).

      Those removed rods were from unused fuel assemblies (never been in fission use) so the radiation on them was not as risky, mainly from the collateral effects of the used assemblies when they were smoking or on fire.

      I am going to guess like Arnie that the removal of the really hazardous fuel assemblies will be a nightmare and lead to worker evacuations of the Unit 4 building. The process is a suicide mission never attempted under such hazardous conditions. The potential for an atomic explosion during the extraction is another consideration besides just intense radiation bombardment.

      If their efforts blow up Unit 4 the entire complex will be in dire straits.

  • weeman

    Let's get one thing straight you can not freeze radioactive water, as fission produces heat.
    Same as if you achieved absolute zero, it would not stop fission, laws of physics do not apply to radioactive substances, as I have always said mankind is out of his league.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Just shows what idiots we have, nuclear industry and governments, for having nuclear around in the first place.

    I D I O T S

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      Electrolytes. Flood the site with electrolytes. Everything a body needs. Dumbass nucular governments.

  • unincredulous unincredulous

    The cost to benefit analysis included such a scenario. Live for today. To hell with tomorrow. Release the hounds. —Montgomery Burns.

  • W8R W8R

    The water is radioactive.
    Not undergoing fission.

  • Abbass Abbass

    Oh good we're still in Wonderland. Freezing the soil, for hundred years or more, no worries. Sounds sensible. Maybe I could suggest jello your majesties? Huge amounts of gelatine added to the plant and we make a jello of it all. Then we can all dance around it and have a jolly party.