Tepco: Debris is missing at Unit 3 — May have ‘sunk’ into fuel pool (PHOTOS)

Published: February 7th, 2013 at 11:44 pm ET


Follow-up to: [intlink id=”photos-protection-to-be-installed-over-no-3-fuel-pool-at-fukushima-concern-over-more-debris-falling-in” type=”post”]{{empty}}[/intlink]

Title: Possibility of Debris (Assumed to be the Fuel Handling Machine Mast) Sinking in the Spent Fuel Pool at Debris Removal from the Upper Part of the Unit 3 […]
Source: Tokyo Electric Power Company
Date: February 8, 2013

Possibility of Debris (Assumed to be the Fuel Handling Machine Mast) Sinking in the Spent Fuel Pool at Debris Removal from the Upper Part of the Unit 3 Reactor Building at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

At the steel truss debris removal from the upper part of the spent fuel pool performed on February 6, 2013, the debris assumed to be the fuel handling machine mast* which was present before the steel truss removal was found to be missing in the image taken after the removal work.

On February 7, we judged that there is a possibility that the missing debris has sunk into the pool.

*Fuel handling machine mast: Extendable pole used to lift the grip up and down when moving the fuel assemblies (Length: Approx. 5- 23m, Weight: Approx. 1.5 tons)

Once the preparation is complete, we will investigate the condition of the sunken debris when we perform investigation of the inside of the spent fuel pool utilizing an underwater camera.

See the handout here

Published: February 7th, 2013 at 11:44 pm ET


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  3. TV: Dam gates ‘shifted’ in Fukushima Unit 3 fuel pool — Damaged by massive piece of falling debris — Concern it could trigger drainage from pool — Tepco: It does not ‘appear’ to be leaking March 30, 2015
  4. New images of Unit 3 fuel pool show debris near surface, possibly in danger of falling inside — Tepco investigating “condition of steel members partially immersed in pool” (PHOTOS) September 13, 2012
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41 comments to Tepco: Debris is missing at Unit 3 — May have ‘sunk’ into fuel pool (PHOTOS)

  • guezilla

    Gotta love the conclusion of "may have" though. I wonder, what's their alternative scenarios/explanations for the disappearance of the debris? Employee theft? Copper-thieves? Spontaneous fission? Poor filing practices?
    On the other hand this seemed to have been hinted at in the announcement for the cover construction. On the other, how much more damage can ebris falling in do after the explosion(s) and the building falling down around the pool? Still, seems unbelievable they can't keep debris from falling in, or even keep tabs on what does fall in. If they aren't sure about such a substantial (1.5 ton) piece, what about all the smaller debris around, how much of it has disappeared into the pool?

  • The Blue Light.

    The real worry that this story conveys is "what was under the mast and why as it suddenly collapsed". To me, this is probably highly corroded fuel assembles giving up the ghost under 1.5 tons of steel. This is really bad news, anything which causes the fuel to change geometry and sink into the gap under the fuel racks could prove to be a disaster for cleaning up this mess.

    • guezilla

      While I don't have the TEPCO/Fukushima details in front of me, there's typically at least 26 feet of vater over the tops of the 14 feet tall fuel racks. Hence there is no way anything on the surface would be resting on the fuel racks.

      If one wanted to continue along this line of inquiry, it might be possible to question if the edge of the pool gave in, but there's really no reason or way to conclude any damage as cause – TEPCO themselves states this happened while they were removing steel truss debris around the piece of equipment (and presumably not looking at what happened).

      A far more important observation from the "may have" as I suggested in the first post, that TEPCO is not really keeping tabs on everything that's happening or falling in… well okay they did spot this one missing, but not immediately and not with certainty. If they can miss such a huge piece falling in, how much smaller debris has dropped in to block cooling cicultion and removal of the fuel assemblies without them noticing?

      My interpretation is actually they saw it happen but don't want to talk about it. A conspiracy-theorist might even suggest this and the last ropped debris were slipped in so that when they inevitably find fuel damage they can claim "It wasn't the earthquake, it was the debris removal, our other fuel pools are still perfectly safe". But in the end there's not such much difference between damage from EQ or cleanup after EQ so maybe it's just normal SNAFU.

    • Good to hear from you Blue Light

      Does anyone think there is still an intact fuel pool at 3?

      Asahi recently released new images of unit 3


      That building was very, very, very damaged.

      • Sol Man

        From your article: the company received many more photos than they had decided to be released; 849 pictures were withheld in order to protect sensitive nuclear technology….
        Everybody here already is aware of the worst and the lies. What information could possibly need protection? That there was more Pu than admitted? That more Pu is missing than admitted? That the building is more unstable than the professionals first thought? That the population of the world is in greater jeopardy than the officials had said?
        In the severe seriousness of this worldwide catastrophe the sunlight is truth is most needed,; lies and deceptions do not work to anybody's advantage.

  • We Not They Finally

    At least three complete total meltdowns on site, or as Michio Kaku said, "This has never before happened in history." And now they are quibbling over whether the fuel is missing, sunk, cracked apart, flung miles away, or just "disappeared"? Every time we look at one of these reactors, we are reminded of the bombed-out Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, except that the Murrah Building looked BETTER. It's like twisted metallic sisters of modern art, jutting, crushed, bent, twisting diabolically in the wind. We haven't a clue that these structures can stably hold ANYTHING. So who are we talking to here? It's like getting a live feed from a home for the criminally insane.

  • nedlifromvermont

    All 'scientists' who promoted nuclear power, or who still promote nuclear power, or who were ever silent in the face of the development of nuclear power are and should be treated as criminally insane!

    We need a Manhattan project style commitment to put the Manhattan Project to bed!

    It's maybe not too late, but it soon will be, if we do not square off against this existential threat to all life on Earth.

    When I say that to former classmates, they dismiss my concerns as over-stated, irrational and impossible.

    Number of people around me suddenly dying from one thing or another going up dramatically … could simply be coincidence … or evidence of sudden death syndrome.

    What will it take to convince the brain-washed among us that nuclear power must be abandoned, cleaned up, wound down and put to rest.

    I know we mostly agree on this point on this site …

    … it's the few billion others who need to understand the truth of the matter: nuclear power was never safe, cannot be made safe, was never necessary or green, and the 'good jobs' associated with it are fueled by blood money from higher ups with no conscience.

    Do not stop, enenewsers, in our mutual quest to spread this new gospel to the unwashed masses of our television addicted fellow travelers.

    Nuclear power is a market failure, sustained by crony capitalism, and it must be abolished, shamed, mocked and stopped.

    peace …

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    What goes up..must come down.
    Debris in the SFP..
    Who would have thought it? (sarc)

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Unit 3 explosion:
    TEPCO reported it as a "hydrogen explosion".
    Arnie Gundersen reported it as a "prompt moderated criticality" originating in the SFP.
    Ian Goddard reported it as a "steam explosion", originating in the SFP.
    Later, Goddard discounted SFP3 as the origin of the explosion.
    Terra Hertz reported it as a series of three explosions originating in SFP 3.
    Most people believe the explosion originated in Reactor 3, but the evidence doesn't support this belief.
    SFP3 seems to be filled with sheet metal roofing and roof trusses.
    SFP3 contains the fuel handling machine.
    SFP3 contains lots of pulverized concrete debris.
    But SFP3 was clearly not the origin of the Unit 3 explosion.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Worker at Reactor No. 3 says nuclear fuel gone from Spent Fuel Pool — “Great skepticism” that any pellets remain (VIDEO)
    Dec.14 2011


    Now… they can't find the fuel or the debris.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Hi..majia..I was looking for a link about the missing reactor of unit 3..
    I had a post by you and just lost it..computer froze.
    Anyone ever find it..or is it still missing along with everything else?

    unit 3 steams out, but how without a reactor inside @ 18-19.june after 5.9er quake


    • Hi Heart

      I'm not sure about the link for missing reactor (fuel?)

      I have to run to a meeting but I will check my files later to see what I have in news reports on reactor 3 rods

      I personally think that 3 has been subject to the most cover-up and mis-direction.

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        Hi..majia..misdirection..is why they have us contemplating where the debris might have 'sunk' too.
        A spent fuel pool is of a definite depth..not a bottomless pit.

        • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

          Typo..where the debris has sunken 'to'.
          Burning bottomless pit..probably closer in describing under the reactors.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    SFP3 had 514 spent fuel assemblies, plus 52 new fuel assemblies, for a total of 566.
    Here is an aerial photo of Unit3 after the explosion.
    Apparently, SFP3 remained filled with water, even after the explosion demolished the building.
    Eventually, sea water was pumped in.
    Heavy roof trusses and roof concrete rained down into the pool after the explosion.
    TEPCO will have to build a metal frame for a new crane, like they are at Unit4, to remove fuel assemblies from Unit3.
    How many fuel assemblies in this pool are undamaged, so that they can be handled for removal?

    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      Just reviewing in my own mind the spent fuel situation at Fukushima.
      I wonder how many dry casks TEPCO now has on order?
      Here is what they are now faced with:
      "Common pool inventory: 6375
      1-4 sfp’s inventory: 3108
      Total plant inventory (not including reactor cores):11417

      Unit 1 SFP: 292 irradiated (used) fuel assemblies and 100 unirradiated new unused assemblies
      Unit 2 SFP: 587 irradiated (used) fuel assemblies and 28 unirradiated new unused assemblies
      Unit 3 SFP: 514 irradiated (used) fuel assemblies and 52 unirradiated new unused assemblies
      Unit 4 SFP: 1331 irradiated (used) fuel assemblies and 204 unirradiated new unused assemblies
      Units 5 and 6 also contain spent fuel though these reactors did not sustain substantial damage and should be able to be removed by normal means when ready to do so. These two units are cooling their fuel pools through the original pool cooling system but both currently use improvised water intake pumps to bring in cooling loop water.
      Unit 5: 946 irradiated (used) and 48 unirradiated new unused assemblies
      Unit 6: 876 irradieated (used) and 64 unirradiated new unused assemblies"

      • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

        Report: Nuclear fuel fragments found over a mile away were “ejected from the reactor cores in those explosions” not spent fuel pools, according to NRC (VIDEO)

        "Paul Gunter, director of Reactor Oversight Project with Beyond Nuclear: We were involved in an Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC] hearing on July 28 of this year where the NRC basically admitted that fuel fragments found over one and a half miles away from the facility did not come from explosions from the spent fuel pools, according to the NRC those fuel fragments were ejected from the reactor cores in those explosions."


      • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

        TEPCO already has a truck and transport container for routine removal of spent fuel from the SFPs to the CSFP, which can be used during the fuel removal process.
        TEPCO will be building a second Common Spent Fuel Pool.
        The Common SFP can be emptied of some of its 6375 fuel assemblies, which have cooled enough to go into dry cask storage.
        It makes sense to me to build a dry storage building to take the place of many very expensive dry storage casks.
        TEPCO plans to eventually have all 11,417 fuel assemblies at Fukushima Diiachi stored in dry casks in secured yards at the site.

        TEPCO hasn't emptied SFP5&6 yet, which kind of surprises me.
        Perhaps they feel they have enough on their plate with three of their units blown up.
        Perhaps the CSFP is full or broken, and cannot accommodate the 1,934 fuel assemblies from Units5&6.
        Perhaps they need the open space in the CSFP to remove the contents of the leaning and unstable SFP4 first.
        If the workers are driven away from the plants, by corium activity or the collapse of Unit4, we may yet hear from SFP5&6, and regret not removing the spent fuel from these buildings.

        • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

          If Fukushima Npp is in cold shutdown..why are they moving the fuel?

          • razzz razzz

            Spent fuel rods can be more dangerous than fresh unused fuel rods.

            New unused fresh fuel rods you can stand next to and even handle without worrying about the fuel rod heating up or irradiating you because they haven't undergone a chain reaction yet in the uranium fuel pellets.

            When fuel rods in the core begin undergoing more and more chain reactions while the uranium is splitting then byproducts are created, about 200 byproducts which built up during their useful lifetime inside the core. Once these waste byproducts build up to a certain level, it interferes with the chain reactions and the fuel rods can't burn as hot (like when new) and must be removed and replaced with fresh fuel.

            Still the radioactive waste byproducts in the used/spent fuel rods continues to decay which produces heat, they need to be water cooled or they will heat up and catch fire for about the first five years after taken out of service. Later on air cooled for centuries.

            If they catch fire and burn, radioactive products and byproducts escape into the atmosphere. That is why they have to remove the fuel ASAP, in case an earthquake comes along and ruins the remaining fuel pools. If the fuel rods did burn the entire site would become unworkable due to fallout and need to be covered in concrete as a last hope.

            Inside cooling pools fuel rods can be monitored and kept in borated water to prevent chain reactions but can't prevent damage from earthquakes.

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Some here have said recently that the CSFP has burned, lost its roof, or been damaged beyond repair. Reporters were given a tour the CSFP on 2/5/2013. Here is a photo.

    • guezilla

      They rebuilt it every time it burned down, duh.



      Which is realtime Cs-137 and Sr-90 fallout data. It's a shame I haven't been found similar from anywhere else in the world, but the graphs are readable. The higher one is off southernmost finland, the lower is northernmos Finland. 1960 – 1980 are atmospheric nuclear tests, huge peak at 1986 is of course Chernobyl.

      The peak at 2011 barely even stands out of the background. Now I'll readily admit location is everything, in this case. Still with each of the spent fuel pools containing tens of times Chernobyl's caesium inventory it's just not believable any of them has lost their inventory (yet).

      http://www.stuk.fi/sateilytietoa/ympariston-sateilyvalvonta/mittaustulokset/fi_FI/mittaustulokset/?date1=2011-03-01&date2=2013-02-28 has weekly fallout graphs which show that there's been no major releases since the first months. Of course, releases straight into Pacific won't really show up on atmospheric monitoring, and I believe that's where most of it is going right now.

      • how do you know the data have not been manipulated?

        We have evidence that EPA radnet data was manipulated at times.

        I'm completely serious about this.

        • guezilla

          I did consider that. I believe the Finnish Radiation Authority does largely serve nuclear industry's interests; for example after the recent uranium mining tailings dam failure, they released a report saying that the uranium leak would block natural background radiation, and therefore actually lead to reduced dose rate. No kidding. Guess we found out what to do with all that nuclear waste after all!

          However, falsifying Cs-137 measurements is not so easy, because the measurements are principally easy to do. Every university generally has the equipment and it's often freshman lab work, a quality gamma-ray spectroscope sells for around $10.000, a cheap one for some hundreds of dollars, so while it's beyond the reach of most amateurs it's not extremely rare item.

          What is missing is as I said sources of real-time/continuous calibrated measurements. But the "official" measurements would be easily falsifiable by any institute, group or individual with somewhat working meter. And because the half-life of Cs-137 is 30 years, it's not like the evidence is going anywhere.

          Still, I'd rather have multiple independent sources, especially since fallout is somewhat dependent on the geographical location. Although as those graphs show, the initial peaks were measured long before TEPCO even admitted there was a problem.

        • EPA RadNet Radiation Data Censoring

          by potrblog 1/3
          June 30th 2011

          IMO – Far too many 'amateur' and 'pro' radiation detectives have shown higher than normal readings throughout Canada and the USA. Now even the southern hemisphere is seeing increases.

          Call me a 'doubting Thomas', but I don't think the detection data we see, especially regarding Fukushima, is anywhere close to real or accurate. (most of the time) 😉

      • guezilla

        Just a few clarifications, first I just offer those graphs as another data-point, as real-time data is so hard to come by. Sorry I know that's not very welcome on these forums 🙂

        The first graph I posted is the actual fallout, this is Bequerel per square meter. As mentioned location is everything, and that area got significant fallout from Chernobyl, some of that fallout gets constantly disturbed and re-deposited as fallout so the "background" is much higher than in USA for example.

        The Y axis (amount of fallout) is actually logarithmic. This means every horizontal line in the graph means tenfold increase. So the graph DOES indicate about 10-fold increase to the already high fallout from Chernobyl re-deposits. Forest-fires in Russia (again re-depositing fallout from closer to Chernobyl) have caused almost as high fallout spikes, so therefore I say it's barely noticeable. Without Chernobyl background it would be though, so there's no real discrepancy to "higher than normal readings".

        The second link is to isotopes per cubic meter of air. This actually agrees with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization measurements: http://enenews.com/large-spike-radiation-measured-4-higher-levels-march-17-20-charts Stockholm seems to have highest peak in order of 500 µBq; the Helsinki measurements show 300 µBq. Also I found http://www.bfs.de/en/ion/imis/luftradioaktivitaet_vergleich.jpg which seems to be real-time measurements from Germany.

        • Guezilla

          Geneticists in the 1950s warned very clearly that any increase in radioactive atmospheric fallout increases genetic damage.

          Genetic damage is greater for recessive genes.

          Over time, these damaged recessive genes can function like a time bomb because they will gradually erode health (through the effects of genetic mosaicism)…

          until reproductive failure becomes high enough to collapse the population.

          This danger was outlined in 1956. Now proteomics allows us to see how sensitive epigenetic processes are to radiation. Read about delayed and bystander effects.

          Consider what 70 years of fallout from nuclear disasters and radiological contamination of the ocean has done to our genome (as well as every other living organism on the planet).

          And I'm just talking about radiological elements. Add lead, mercury, arsenic, etc.

          Then add the molecules, like the pesticides made by Bayer, now held responsible for the bee collapse.

          We could already have damaged our genome beyond redemption.

          I appreciate that you have technical knowledge and are scientifically literate.

          But, sometimes I wonder whether you appreciate the biological effects of a 10 fold increase in "background" radiation (on top of the medical imaging)?

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    That looks like a stock photo to me.
    Has everyone had a chance to look these new photos over..


    • guezilla

      They're still withholding every fourth image taken due to "protect sensitive data relating to nuclear technology" (such as how easily and badly it can break).

      As such the new images (two years late) are going to be a colossal waste of time, but I'm still looking for easy place to browse them…

      I've seen some on a few sites, but according to the news the latest batch contained 2145 images (849 declared withhold) and I've not seen them all anyhwere easily accessible.

      Ah, Facebook seems to have them, in French… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Les-2145-Photos-de-Fukushima/510648212321300 probably can still find easier site.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    PS..I have to learn to use ..Google imaging app.
    It has capacity to take a photo and search for that same photo all over the web.
    I saw it on an MTV show called 'Catfish'..
    The show is about people involved in internet relationships and finally meeting each other.
    The'investigators' use it..to investigate backgrounds.. and multiple use on Facebook..etc..pops up…AWESOME.
    Seems it might go nicely with research in other areas.

  • Heart of the Rose Heart of the Rose

    Perhaps they will find what they are looking for among the other debris..

    Close-up underwater footage of Fukushima reactor spent fuel pool in debris
    May 11 2011


  • timemachine2020 timemachine2020

    Must see video of debris falling into SPF – huge splash