Report: Research shows accelerated failure at Fukushima Daiichi

Published: December 4th, 2012 at 1:36 pm ET


Title: New Corrosion Research Shows Accelerated Failure At Fukushima Daiichi
Source: SimplyInfo
Date: December 3, 2012

New Corrosion Research Shows Accelerated Failure At Fukushima Daiichi

The research team has issued a new set of papers on corrosion factors at Fukushima Daiichi.

The main paper “Spent Fuel Pools At Fukushima; Follow On Report โ€“ Corrosion” looks at corrosion factors in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi, it also looks into the ongoing corrosion of pipes still in use to cool the melted down reactors. This paper also looks at the factors such as the long term impact of sea water injection at the plant and the ongoing uncontrolled water chemistry. […]

The corrosion issues at Fukushima Daiichi are concerning and merit more immediate action to mitigate the potential consequences. […]

Title: Spent Fuel Pools At Fukushima; Follow On Report โ€“ Corrosion
Source: SimplyInfo
Date: December 2, 2012
Emphasis Added

This is a follow up to a report […] We have witnessed several conditions in or around the spent fuel pools since the first report. Foreign material have been introduced into the pools as a result of cleanup on the main floor area, covering spent fuel pool #4 and dropping a large steel beam into the unit 3 SFP. Cooling systems to the SFPs have been shut off many times to make mechanical adjustments causing fluctuations in pool water temperature

Chloride levels in the SFPโ€™s were extremely high (in the 6900โ€™s ppm as opposed to normal of 30 ppm or less) and were left unchecked for months. (10) Every worst case corrosion analysis assumes Chloride levels at least a factor of 10 lower for their extreme conditions. Some corrosion rates have gone from 1mm to 10mm/yr which would suggest potential corrosion of the structural parts of the fuel elements (lattice holders, springs, handling assemblies, pellet holding tubing and fuel pellet cladding. The spent fuel pools have had so many foreign materials introduced that it is very difficult to pinpoint the chemical makeup of the water. Season conditions around Fukushima have contributed to the addition of dust and other foreign materials which can change the chemistry in the pools. […]

See also: [intlink id=”fukushima-daiichi-worker-i-got-worried-about-corrosion-of-pipes-after-seeing-new-video-of-reactor-1-one-day-pipes-will-break-from-slight-quake-after-seeing-how-much-they-corroded-in-only-a-year” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Published: December 4th, 2012 at 1:36 pm ET


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43 comments to Report: Research shows accelerated failure at Fukushima Daiichi

  • Anthony Anthony

    Hence the work speed up….the fan is straight ahead now.

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      Wish I could give a thumbs up to this comment. I'm getting so used to being able to do so on Facebook and You Tube and other news sites… Is there any possibility that the folks here at ENENEWS could program in this feature? (Sorry to add more potential workload). I'd just thumb up or doen more often then talking. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • richard richard

        We do things in a more ad hoc, creative manner round here, none of this thumbs up and the usual platitudes.

        Feel free to make up a number, depending on how inspired someone made you feel, put a plus sign in front of it and we're all good ๐Ÿ™‚ or a negative if it was crap like something I'd write ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Words and adjectives are good too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Centaur Centaur

    "What would the conditions be like around the spent fuel pools if
    the fission products were released to the atmosphere[?]?

    Would the activity levels be too high to work in the vicinity of
    the spent fuel pools if the fuel fission products were released[?]"

    (from the paper)

    Maybe Arnold Gundersen will shed some light onto those questions,
    if he hears about this paper (which he most surely already did).

    • Centaur Centaur

      FYI: "Released" and "released to the atmosphere" means here "[A situation] in which the fission product contents of a single or multiple fuel element pellets is released into the water [of the spent fuel pool] and ultimately to the atmosphere" (from the paper).

  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    Centaur, the levels are already too high and now the pipes are corroding, there goes the cooling. What a bleak report I do hope someone figures out how to stop this runaway disaster and soon.

    • Centaur Centaur

      Of course, the levels on site are much higher than normal… that's out of the question. But working within the vicinity of the pool is still possible afaik. The question asked here is: How will rad levels near to SFP's behave, if fuel pellets tumble (due to corroded rod claddings and tube holdings) into the pool water? Important question imho as the corrosion levels of some parts increased by a factor of 10 (!) according to the paper.

  • This could also become an issue soon.

    With time and exposure…

    The Effects of Radiation on Materials:
    See Chapter 2.2

    "Energetic particles and photons can interact with solids to produce atomic displacements, electronic excitations, or both."

    "The principal effect of radiation on metals and alloys is the creation of lattice vacancies and interstitial atoms in an otherwise perfect crystal. This results in an overall dilation that decreases the density of the material."

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      wow! Great PDF. Thank you for sharing it. Now I'm just going to have to spend a day or two trying to read and digest it to understand it better. (warm smile) Seriously. Thank you!

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    It is easy to just throw up your hands and begin running around yelling that the sky is falling. But let's reflect a little before we run. The situation is that seawater corrodes even stainless steel. So the reactor cooling pipes will begin leaking and failing soon. Since the radioactivity is too high to allow workers to repair or replace corroded components, efforts to cool reactors will eventually cease. But this isn't as dire as you might imagine. Simply because there is little corrium remaining inside Containments1,2,&3. (There are no pipes to corrode in the rock underneath the Fukuplex where the corium hisses, spits, and steams in the groundwater.) There is little corium left in the reactors or containment vessels to be cooled. Look at the videos taken inside the Unit2 containment.;_ylt=A0PDoTDIZb5Q8XEAWWCJzbkF?p=fukushima%20endoscope&fr=ipad&fr2=piv-image
    The water is still, gently steaming, not boiling. Even if the pumps and pipes fail entirely, and even though the insides of Buildings1,2,&3 will remain highly radioactive, there will be little additional release into the air.
    Now, if only there was a way to build a closed loop cooling system to keep the corium from contaminating the Pacific Ocean…

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      Emptying spent fuel from SFP1,2,3,&4 must be accomplished, and the sooner, the better. But you could just dump sand into Comtainments and Torus rooms, and forget about pumping water at Buildings1,2,&3. SFPs can be cooled by portable concrete pumps and seawater, as we have seen, even if the pipes and pumps fail.

      • Centaur Centaur

        Problem as i understand is the corrosion of the cladding of the pellets und the _rod_ tubing. If they crumble and pellets get released into the water, there may be pretty high rad levels in the vapor from the pool and in the water itself. Question is then: Can TEPCO assure a (portable) pumping and cooling and water exchanging maintainance in the case, that the pellets "fall wet".

        • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

          Fuel pellets "falling wet", eh Centaur? The floor of SFP4, and probably the floors of SFPs1,2,&3, likely already have puddles of melted and burned fuel, and thousands of scattered fuel pellets scattered about. TEPCO will also find that as they remove damaged spent fuel assemblies, thousands of additional fuel pellets will fall onto the floors of the SFPs. TEPCO will be forced to try to develop technologies to vacuum up these pellets, and to keep them from going critical as they are handled, transported, and stored. I don't believe it is going to prove possible to gather up scattered spent fuel pellets. They are just too hot and dangerous. My guess is that TEPCO will remove intact fuel assemblies from SFP1,2,3,&4, for relocation into the Common SFP. Water flow into the SFPs must be continued until the puddles and pellets are cool enough to get covered with lead, boron, sand, and concrete, and enclosed in the sarcophagus that will eventually be built over Buildings1,2,3,&4.

      • PurpleRain PurpleRain

        What about Boron? Why haven't they used this already — and/or — can they possibly still use it in the future?

        • kez


          Boron was injected with the seawater during early emergency response.

          Tepco releases near daily status updates on their website. I did a quick search because I remember a conversation w another user sometime back.

          Hydrazine seems to be used as maintenance anticorrosive in the reactors now.

          Happy to stand corrected by anyone willing to research further and with more specific knowledge than I have.

          • Isotope Isotope

            Hydrazine?! That's rocket fuel…and is highly toxic if ingested/inhaled.

            Wonder if that will end up in the Pacific Ocean, too.

            • many moons

              Not to worry, it will be dispersed!!!

              To Disperse def: To strew or distribute widely

              It will be distributed to all areas of the pacific…the fish, plankton, seaweed…

              Just like the radioactive material, it will be dispersed.
              Like the BP oil and corexit it will be dispersed.
              We will all have to deal with it.

      • moonshellblue moonshellblue

        What concerns me is that once the spent fuel pool goes and that could be from 1234, take your pick,
        a domino effect will occur and you can't run or hide because it will go everywhere riding the jet stream. JMHO I do hope I'm wrong, please let me be wrong and over reacting.

      • moonshellblue moonshellblue

        Remember Reactor four has fresh core in spent fuel pool and if that pool fails the common spent fuel pool will follow. If that should happen as Arnie says you can't run and you can't hide.

        • many moons

          The fuel is already washing into the ocean and getting around that way….even if there is no big fire or explosion, this day to day intoxication of the oceans will be a slow agonizing end.

    • Centaur Centaur

      Most propably yes, Philip. But the consequences on the spent fuel pools may turn out to be the uglier half of that story.

      • Anthony Anthony

        Agreed….and add the common pool combination….

        • moonshellblue moonshellblue

          Yes that is what I meant by a domino effect because if any of them go chances are the entire facility including the common spent fuel pool will go and then the end. I don't mean to sound so bleak but that is the reality as I understand it.

          • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

            You certainly are not alone in your fears, moonshellblue. Arnie Gundersen gave us a briefing early on about the problems with the spent fuel pools at Fukushima.
            In this video, Arnie uses the term "Skyshine" to describe lethal dose of gamma rays that could be reflected off the atmosphere, and back onto the Fukuplex, should spent nuclear fuel remain uncovered. His fear was that a problem with one SFP could cause skyshine that would make working at Fukushima lethal, driving remaining workers from the site, in the domino effect you describe.

            • Centaur Centaur

              Yes. In the end, the question raised by simplyinfo is, if such a 'domino effect scenario' could also be triggered by steady and accelerated but otherwise typical corrosion of the fuel rods in more or less intact SFP's โ€“ and what the expected timeframe for 'critical crumbling' is… i'm pretty sure, that topic will appear again soon. At latest, when TEPCO reaches a phase in there rod rescuing efforts, where they have to ask themselves if the bundles are stable enough to be lifted with the new crane(s)…

              And another question that comes to mind: If bundles of fuel rods are already pretty corroded and friable, how do they react to the steady shaking from the usual all-day-in-Japan earthquakes and the a-little-bigger-than-normal ones?

              • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

                What is the physics of a pile of spent fuel pellets that have tumbled out of a corroded zirconium fuel assembly onto the floor of a spent fuel pool? Won't the water moderate enough neutrons to allow the pile to go critical?
                The purpose of fuel assembly tubes is to keep the fuel pellets separated from each other, so that, at most, each pellet comes into direct contact with only two other pellets, one above and one below the pellet, in a zircalloy tube.
                The purpose of fuel storage racks is to have boron coated steel separate each fuel assembly from neighboring fuel assemblies in the rack, so fuel in each assembly cannot go critical.
                The purpose of cotrol rods in a nuclear reactor is to absorbe neutrons in order to shut down the chain reaction in the fuel assemblies.
                Much effort is made in the nuclear industry to keep fuel pellets separated and the chain reactions under control. What happens in a pile of fuel pellets in water, that are no longer separated, and when their chain reactions are not under control?

                • Centaur Centaur

                  No, as far as i understand it, this one's not about the criticality risk or possible reheating effects. It's about the _direct physical contamination_ and _ordinary evaporation_ of the pool water. Remember: "Highly contaminated water" is coming out of the bottom of the reactors #1 to #3 already. Water which comes in contact only with max. one fuel load blob โ€“ and only for a certain amount of time, before it flows out again.

                  So this should be fully assessed soon imo. The earlier, the better.

            • Thorium Cyclist

              Oddly enough, the term I was researching when I happened upon this site. I have been an avid enthusiast of all things Nuclear since my childhood in the 60s.

              I was reading when on page 94 I encountered the term skyshine
              radiation. I know know what it refers to but one needs an extensive grasp of nuclear physics to comprehend it.

              So the total release at Fukushima Daiichi has been determined to be 800 petabecquerels (10% the total amount released at Chernobyl)
              I read today a scary monster 50 grams of plutonium 239/240
              But everyone know grams curies & grays are interchangeable, right?

              As it stands today exactly zero people have died due to a Tsunami and earthquake striking the largest reactor complex in Japan. The count is still Castle Bravo one Fukushima Daiichi none. rest easy knowing they didn't shut down the last unit of the three reactors at Chernobyl until 2000.
              Russia is still operating 11 RMBKs with plans to shut down the last one Leningrad – 4 in 2025.

              • Why would one be and "avid enthusiast" of all things nuclear?

                You swallowed the wrong pill. Entrancement by science is one of the big problems with our society right now.

                As we get more toxic and more desperate, more hail Mary type and very dangerous uses of science will occur, accelerating our demise. Count on it.

                And Shame Shame on you and your outrageous lies.

              • danger kitty danger kitty

                Thorium Cyclist : "As it stands today exactly zero people have died due to a Tsunami and
                earthquake striking the largest reactor complex in Japan." ??!

          • Anthony Anthony

            I remain AMAZED (and thankful) nothing catastrophic has happened yet.

  • kez

    One would hope that the failure of the metal bolts contributing to the Sasago tunnel collapse would make engineering inspections and remediations more proactive.

    All over Japan … if the bolts in that tunnel failed due to age corrosion and shoddy inspection protocol …

    What must Fuku really be like?
    But company officials told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun workers only carried out visual checks on whether bolts were securely in place, rather than tapping parts with a hammer to detect signs of corrosion. They also said the September inspection only involved the use of torches and binoculars to check the panels.

    The tunnel opened in 1977 and the collapse has been blamed on the ageing of the metal bolts. Ryoichi Yoshikawa, executive officer of Central Nippon Expressway, said: "Based on the fact that the accident occurred 35 years after the tunnel was completed, we believe ageing was the reason."

    • PurpleRain PurpleRain

      Reminds me of the Boston Tunnel collapse — can't remember the year, maybe 2005? It sure seems like there must be some common contractors that deserve blame – just like with all the cranes that are collapsing world-wide. Too many people and too many businesses cutting corners! They should all be held accountable! We seriously need to restore the entire fabric of trust. Unfortunately, this is where I had hoped that Japan would have been able to teach the rest of the world about such things as honor and trust and dignity. (Ahhh… those rose-colored glasses keep getting in my way).

      • PurpleRain PurpleRain

        oh… if memeory serves me correctly they blamed the boston tunnel collapse on water-ed down cement. Didn't that issue come up in the BP situation too?!

      • kez

        Hi again Purple Rain,

        I didn't really remember about the Boston Tunnel but in my research the failure of the bolts then was blamed as much on the epoxy failing … rather than the integrity of the metal.

        Other alt i'net threads I read today do speculate that Japan *may* have used an epoxy method to affix the bolts … but I didn't find that corroborated in the news media reports.

        I didn't find any specifics about cement either …

        Not to say it wasn't there … just I didn't find it.


      • kez

        Nothing wrong w those glasses either. Hope brings chance of change. Doom brings doom.

    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      Kez, I think all the numerous aftershocks and recent earthquakes are taking a toll on aging infrastructure also the tsunami dosed many buildings, bridges, etc. Wow Japan sure has had a dark ride which continues but I still keep hope in my back pocket but reality is making it harder to reach.

  • kez

    Hi MSB,

    Yes I agree that the shaking so common to Japan and especially 311 would have to have an effect on shearing metal … especially if it is aged and corroded already by their normal damp conditions.

    Japan has some of the most brilliant tech minds out there … sigh .. it's a whole thesis to write here why …

    Money trail again; corruption; arrogance; bought and paid regulatory system.

    Hey .. sounds like …

    Try and keep that precious hope safe in your back pocket.

    Much regards.