‘Special Report’: Plutonium levels suggest fuel rods were shattered during hydrogen explosions

Published: June 27th, 2012 at 7:10 pm ET


PDF: Estimating the Potential Impact of Failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool A Local Problem for Japan or a Global Mega Crisis?
Holophi Special Report
Paul C. Gailey, Ph.D., President & CEO, Holophi CH AG
April 2012


Extreme opinions are being voiced about the risk of global catastrophe resulting from a possible collapse of the Fukushima Daiichi unit 4 spent fuel pool. These claims are appearing mostly among the public through internet media and other non-­‐official channels. Officials sources remain largely mute on the subject or downplay the risks. This report provides an approximate bounding of the risks using available data. The results of this analysis suggest that a nominal release of 10% of the SFP 4 inventory of cesium and strontium would represent 3-­‐10 times the March 2011 release amounts, substantially increasing risk levels in Japan and impacting marine life. Release of 100% of the SFP 4 inventory, or 30-­‐100 times the March 2011 release amounts, could result in significant global impact.


Radioactivity releases from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors so far appear to have resulted from a number different processes. For example, the very low plutonium releases (possibly 100,000 times less than Chernobyl as a fraction of plutonium present), suggest that it resulted from shattering of fuel rods during the hydrogen explosions (Zheng et al., 2012). The prolonged fires at Chernobyl may have volatilized plutonium by heating. Although the unit 4 reactor does not use MOX fuel, plutonium is created as a by product of reactor operation and spent fuel is about 1% plutonium isotopes. Extensive studies have been performed to determine the rates and mechanisms of plutonium volatilization (Gelbard et al., 2003). The fraction of plutonium aerosolized can vary over a wide range depending on temperature, air flow, the presence of water vapor, and other factors.

h/t Enformable, Chris Harris

Published: June 27th, 2012 at 7:10 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Just-Published Study: Plutonium being found away from Fukushima is from nuclear fuel fragments blown out after explosions March 9, 2012
  2. NHK Special: Extremely toxic water 4,000,000 times gov’t limit in trenches between Fukushima reactors and ocean — Experts: “Source of contamination for Pacific” — “Levels too high for them to get more precise look at situation” — Reporter: Plutonium leaked out after fuel rods damaged (VIDEO) April 18, 2014
  3. Japan Gov’t-funded Report: MOX fuel particles found over 100 km from Fukushima — Plutonium-239 levels ‘significantly enhanced’ after Reactor 3 explosion — Nuclear fuel material transported in atmosphere across long distances (MAP) December 5, 2014
  4. Fox News: “All of the stricken reactors and spent fuel pools contain plutonium” March 18, 2011
  5. UPDATE: Neutron beams suggest uranium and plutonium have leaked and nuclear fission has occurred March 23, 2011

59 comments to ‘Special Report’: Plutonium levels suggest fuel rods were shattered during hydrogen explosions

  • chrisk9

    Excellent report and suggestions. A quick and dirty outline of the threat of #4 sfp. Basically looks at two scenarios one where 10% of the fuel is released to the environment and the other at a 100% release. The 10% figure would give two times the releases of 3/11 and the 100% release (pool falling down) would have major global impact.

    I doubt if the pool drains we get just 10% unless there is some measure to cover it again with water or concrete. If it falls we will have no way of controlling it, and the report states that humans and even robots will no be able to do any work anywhere on site. I completely agree.

  • cerry24

    just as Laura said I am alarmed that you can earn $5101 in 1 month on the internet. have you read this web site LazyPay10.com

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Plutonium is floating around (right now), with zero warning as to where it is, or where it's going. And zero knowledge as to whether you have already breathed it, or not. All this, thanx to the mistake of using nuclear power.

  • GeoHarvey

    I have to differ with this report on one detail. The author puts says the zirconium cladding begins to crack at 1200 degrees C, and begins to oxidize at 1300 degrees C. We have science that says this is not correct, though the figures are used in the nuclear industry.
    Two years ago, a man named Mark Leyse and the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution filed papers with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that showed that General Electric had done experiments on zircaloy cladding that showed it could begin a rapid oxidation process at a little over 1000 degrees C (actually, 1852 F). It gave off so much heat in the process that the temperature went to 3000 degrees F in less than one minute. The NRC's reaction to this was to say it would think, for about three years, about whether anything had to be done. Of course, if something had to be done, they would think for some more years about exactly what had to be done. And then they would give the industry more years to correct the situation.
    These temperatures are well above what is normal in a nuclear plant. The question is all about what happens in abnormal situations.
    But the bottom line is that things seem to be worse than this report says.

  • GeoHarvey

    The idea that the amount of plutonium released is much smaller than what came from Chernobyl is at least some comfort out of all of this. It might indicate that the fuel that was thrown about was not MOX, and instead came from a criticality event in the Unit 4 spent fuel pool.
    Plutonium is nasty stuff, and its half-life is half of forever.
    I keep trying to look at the hopeful sides of things – but this is not so much unrealistic as what may be needed to pull through this.

  • retali8 retali8

    Chernobyl didn't use mox fuel or plutonium at all, if they did, MANY wouldn't be here now.

  • Jebus Jebus

    Although a good article, reading between the lines of this is in everyone's best interests. Critical thinking about the direction this article attempts to steer is essential. Minimize and distract are the tools. Stand way back, in time too, and take another look. This is a very craftily designed article.
    Again no mention of what has already happened. #4 SFP already released some of it's fuel load into the environment. It burned already. No one knows, except Tepco, if #4 was getting MOX at the time. Why wouldn't they, #3 got it and everything was going to plan. Also #3 released unknown amounts of MOX fuel from the reactor and the SFP. Sky high! Mox, approximatly 16% PLUTONIUM. Gone with the wind!
    The only two mentions of MOX in this article…
    Quote – "Some assemblies included MOX fuel which contains a higher percentage of plutonium."
    Quote – "Although the unit 4 reactor does not use MOX fuel"
    Sure,it doesn't now and did not get the chance to.
    I refuse to be brainwashed, distracted, cowtowed by a ORNL connected, Non Ionizining radiation, (microwaves) "specialiast" about what possibly could happen at Fuku #4 without a mention of what has already happened. Think about it. What do you already know?
    You decide…

      • Jebus Jebus

        I'm just suggesting that there is the possibility that the article possibly infers that there is the potential that it could be speculated that if possibly the possible collapse of almost all of the fuel pool in the possibly compromised building could maybe lead to significant releases of potentially harmful substances and might cause a possible global discomfort, maybe….

        • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

          Agreed Jebus. And they have an somehow irritating website. Where's aigeezer?

        • TheBowRiver TheBowRiver

          Hi Jebus

          I have watched this ongoing crisis actively ignored by anyone with the clout to stem the disaster, The bright light that I can see is the population of Japan standing in ever larger numbers in opposition.

          It has been my observation, that just about every expert who stood at the beginning in strong opposition, to the IAEA, NRC, etc., have been attacked and placed on the fringes of academia.

          The wording of the report by Dr. Paul Gailey, seems to infer that the experts who I trust and have been consistent in their expert opinion are lumped in with the rest us. We are all just deluded.

          Dr. Gailey and his company has close associations with powerful groups throughout the world. One of them being the EPRI. Between the lines of his report, I hear the following.

          1} We, the people of ENENEWS, should not be taken seriously.
          2} Great experts like Dr. Gordon Edwards, Dr. Chris Busby, Dr. Helen Caldicott, and Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds are not to be relied on.
          3) Holophi CH is the sole reliable voice of truth.

          Holophi and Dr. Gailey may be correct, and he certainly has impressive credentials.

          That being said, unless I hear one of the experts I trust coming out in support for all items in his report, I can only conclude that this is an attack by the shills.

          • Jebus Jebus

            TheBowRiver & the light of hope says, "The bright light that I can see is the population of Japan standing in ever larger numbers in opposition."

            I am with you on that, and the hope that I have is that, Friday brings the protest of at least 100,000 cheated, lied to, and spit on, very vocal and cohesive Japanese people, demanding their government listens to their one voice in opposition of the kamakazi restart at Ohi. When I see that spirit of life come alive, breaking the chains of nuclear power, I will know that, hope for these people's future is possible. May the power of mother earths fury amplify their voices, till they are heard around the world.

        • Hemisfear311 Hemisfear311

          Following the events at Fukushima over a long period of time allows you to somehow see past the BS and get a glimpse of what really lies behind the facade of lies and distractions.

          A bit like peering through dense foliage, while driving by.

          Being aware of the methods used to downplay the severity of the disaster helps to recognise what is probably going on.

          Tepco's sleight of hand with disinformation and distractions has lost much of its impact on those of us who have been following the events for a long time.

          Like having watched the same magician performing the same show every night for weeks and weeks. Eventually you are able to see what he is really doing: Distracting attention while doing something unseen to the audience. Tepco has it's act well rehearsed when it comes to misinformation.

          As time goes by, more and more people are able to recognize the BS for what it is.

          Time to bring out the rotten tomatoes.

    • pierre

      agreed too, any partial (incomplete and seemingly biased) reports, add a ton of salt and a handfull of MOX.

    • Max1 Max1

      My thoughts exactly.

    • PhilipUpNorth philipupnorth

      Jebus: I stand with you, uh, because I like what you are saying. Philip

  • alpha-tracker

    Japan is coated with cesium-137 because that radiochemical was released into the air from Fukushima via volatilization (aka vaporization) from the extreme heat generated during the meltdowns. The heat that turned cesium-137 from solid to a gas was high enough to also volatilize plutonium and other 'low volatile' radioisotopes like strontium-89 and-90. Plutonium's boiling point (B.P.) need not be reached for it to vaporize. Water is vaporizing below its B.P. all of the time. This is what we aren't supposed to know. It doesn't take a hydrogen explosion or a steam explosion to expose us all to deadly radiotoxins from a meltdown. All it takes is a meltdown with zero containment. This is what is deadly about Fukushima even though there is nothing dramatic visually going on – the assault is invisible even though in fact the radiation emitted is as bad as many megaton hydrogen bombs going off in Japan. http://enenews.com/fukushima-meltdowns-caused-plutonium-be-evaporated-spread-around-gas

  • Tepco reported finding fuel rod fragments on site in late march 2011. How is this new news? Even if the majority of the fuel was uranium based there would still be a staggering amount of plutonium released via the uranium decay chain…

  • Sickputer

    I agree with Jeebs and TG… This report is suspect about the plutonium releases… The 100,000 less quote seems like a ten-fold increase of the equally suspect Zheng study:


    Excerpt: "According to Zheng, the total amount of plutonium-241 released from the power plant was about 10,000 times less than that from the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine."

    SP: I don't accept these studies any more than I accept the fish off Fukushima beach are safe to eat. Big frigging liars.

    Majia has a great blog article on the plutonium issues:


  • From above excerpt, "The fraction of plutonium aerosolized can vary over a wide range depending on temperature, air flow, the presence of water vapor, and other factors." From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium "When exposed to moist air, it forms oxides and hydrides that expand the sample up to 70% in volume, which in turn flake off as a powder that can spontaneously ignite." I would say a melting fuel core with water being poured on it would create moist air. I think this article is downplaying the MOX fuel. Why? Follow the money. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savannah_River_Site They are spending nearly $5 billion on a MOX factory. But the whole site, established in the 50's for the nuclear arms race employs 10,000 people on a site of 310 square miles. Huge money. It was the MOX fueled reactor that exploded. I think they have too much money to lose to turn back now but I think this MOX fuel thing is something to be stopped. Which is why nothing is spoken about it in mainstream and every time MOX or plutonium is discussed here enenews gets trolled. We all know MOX fuel rods were vaporized….

    • richard richard

      that's what we're up against folks, billions and billions of dollars and tens of thousands in a job. Just for MOX.

      Uranium mining will be little different.

      These people wont just pack up and walk away on our say so .. not meaning to bring you down. We'll need to figure out a better tactic than simply asking nicely .. cos it ain't gonna work.

      (On a side note Mark, I followed your avatar link – I thought that was a cow with a gun, but no.. no .. that was a 'man'. That's sick, how do people get like that ?)

      • Hi Richard, yes this is the thing while joe citizens are all raising families, partying or whatever, those in the nuclear industry (or any other industry) are promoting the industry, lobbying government etc. If you actually vote every four years that is generally the extent of the average citizens involvement in politics. The internet helps educate some people. However since March 2011, lots of people here me included have written about the situation but nobody seems to have an answer. Generally you will meet few people wanting to talk about Fukushima outside of enenews.
        It is macabre but I'm hoping the disaster gets worse so that some real dialogue concerning nuclear will happen or we are just waiting for the next nuclear "accident".

    • HoTaters HoTaters

      Mark, I agree. Tep/Gov still trying to protect real estate and "assets." Tepco has been thinking about how they could recover their assets since Day 1 ….

      'Remember when they were discussing how they could wait a few years and recover fuel assemblies to put them back into use?

      That would most likely be the new, unused fuel bundles in SFP #4, which hadn't gone into use, yet.

  • Sickputer

    +1000 Mark! Big money could care less about human consequences…they just want to crush opposition and in many cases they spend money controverting scientists to be their little bitch.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Speaking of MOX in reactor 3..I am posting this thread from Above Top Secret.
    The link it involves..has been removed by a copyrights claim from the Fukushima Central Television.
    But the posters managed to record the important aspects..
    (hopefully Ene has done a bit of the same for other data that has been removed)
    "Tokyo Electric Power Company's (Tepco's) Fukushima I unit 3 is set to become the third Japanese nuclear reactor to load mixed oxide (MOX) fuel after receiving approval from the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Yukei Sato.

    Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has so far approved the use of MOX fuel in ten reactors, but utilities must also secure approval from prefectural governments before they can go ahead and use the fuel, which contains plutonium recovered from spent nuclear fuel."

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    "According to a comparative analysis of possible consequences of a core meltdown accident in the German Kruemmel nuclear power plant with and without the use of MOX fuel.38

    * The radiation exposure from inhalation of radioactive materials during the passage of the radioactive cloud is higher by several dozen percentages than if U fuel elements were exclusively used.
    * Radiation exposure through the route of inhalation of remobilized long-lived actinide isotopes is more than doubled.
    * The land areas to become out of use by long-term contamination increases as the re-suspension pathway is a limiting factor and the greater part of the dose resulting from the pathway comes from the actinides."
    Lots of info in the thread…

  • Grampybone Grampybone

    I find it ironic how each report of stated amounts of plutonium continue to decrease after each press release. The reality of where the majority of MOX landed is key here. Black dust seem to be more concentrated pieces of fuel that has changed in raw atmosphere. Weighing MOX reactor 3 against Chernobyl and saying less plutonium was released during Fukushima than Chernobyl is a bit of a contradiction considering the evidence. The truth is in the dust samples that may still be collecting within 80 km of the plant.

    • Grampybone

      I tried to agree with you, but accidentally hit the "report comment" button. Sorry!

      Not reporting!!! Agreeing.

      This report in the headline above is, in my strong opinion, absolutely wrong about the plutonium.

      Spent fuel pool 3 and unit 3 core probably lost a lot more than 10% into the atmosphere.

      We still do not know whether mox was in the spent fuel pool in unit 3; but, irrespective of whether it was mox, there would have been plutonium in the spent fuel.

      Japan has hidden the results of their plutonium studies.

      A few early media reports came out about findings of plutonium and other heavy fission-produced isotopes.

      No follow up occurred.

      Blogger Ex-SKF even wrote about a scientist who had found americium or neptunium and was silenced.

      I believe the cover up isn't just about the health effects but also relates to their military "security."

      my latest post on this aspect of the disaster

  • This report is pure Public Relations and Advertising

    Look at the home page http://www.holophi.ch/

    look here

    This is some sort of knowledge consulting practice, I believe.

    Anyone could have payed them to write this report.

    Or they might have done it simply for the advertising exposure.

  • mikael

    Is the Plut, in granuals or solid state, i belived it was a sort of granuals, filled into a casket(rod).

    Ones again drivel is been served, and to shift the focus away from the rest of the fu..up in the site, nothing of this is werifyable, the number are, what, from where, and they have been lying all the time, and so now.
    And suddenly, some of the scum, demands credibility, are they delutional/idiots, or do they belive we are Idiots.
    There was messured Plut in the Baltics and Europa a year ago, that only indicates that the numbers we are been feed is pure bullshitt.

    And do notise the angle in this article, the way its focus is not the site(react. 1.2.3..5.6. and SFP?, Daiini?, Tokai?) no its highlihting The Altnets and their/our way of "scearing" people with "sceary" senarios. So far fu… we have been 100%, and thats based on the litle "messurments and results" we are/is been feed, and based on previous messurments, before "TEPCO" and the other did notise Enenews, where the lies where expoced, regarding the Meltouts and the Isotoprange it creates, thrue decade a.s.o.

    This is a descrase, and utter drivel, the number are noting more than what THEY tell us it is, an so far, they all are lying all the time.
    About every thing.
    Not once have they been close to the truth.
    This is infact getting to be really bad, and climbing. And this pice of shitt is what we gett as Info.


  • Bobby1

    "A limited hangout, or partial hangout, is a public relations or propaganda technique that involves the release of previously hidden information in order to prevent a greater exposure of more important details. It takes the form of deception, misdirection, or coverup often associated with intelligence agencies involving a release or "mea culpa" type of confession of only part of a set of previously hidden sensitive information, that establishes credibility for the one releasing the information who by the very act of confession appears to be "coming clean" and acting with integrity; but in actuality, by withholding key facts, is protecting a deeper operation and those who could be exposed if the whole truth came out. In effect, if an array of offenses or misdeeds is suspected, this confession admits to a lesser offense while covering up the greater ones."


    Gailey admits and warns about the very real possibility of the destruction of the #4 SFP, while downplaying plutonium. One-one hundred thousandth of Chernobyl? Really? When both the #3 reactor and spent fuel had plutonium-enriched MOX in it, and it went up in a nuclear explosion? Really?

  • aaroneousus

    I find it a little suspicious, but would also encourage everyone to read carefully. The report says 100,000x less "as a fraction of plutonium present". That statement isn't absurd on its face, although I find it evasive.

  • glowfus

    thanks for the laugh! "extreme opinions being voiced about spf #4" there is no such thing as a extreme opinion about fuku. only a extreme catastrophe.