Top Official: Fukushima reactors fragile and hazardous — Still don’t know radiation levels by ‘rubble’ around plant, ‘hot spots’ could be anywhere

Published: February 28th, 2013 at 12:22 pm ET
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Title: Nuclear watchdog: No easy task to scrap Fukushima reactors safely
Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
Author: Based on interview by Hisashi Hattori
Date: February 28, 2013

Nuclear watchdog: No easy task to scrap Fukushima reactors safely

Japan could be saddled with fragile and hazardous reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant for years to come, warned an official with the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Atsuhiko Kosaka [head of the agency's Nuclear Regulation Office that is overseeing the early decommissioning efforts] said many challenges remain unresolved and must be dealt with before serious work can begin to scrap the reactors. [...]

[Kosaka:] we are not totally aware of the distribution of radiation levels in areas where no work is under way and where rubble has yet to be cleared. [...]

Radiation hot spots could be lurking anywhere, so it is indispensable to carry dosimeters when you go to areas where little information is available. [...]

TEPCO’s work is like groping in the darkness and has involved an array of problems. [...]

Full report here

See also: NYTimes on "Ejection of Nuclear Material": Confidential US doc suggests pieces of fuel blown up to a mile away -- Some between two units bulldozed over

Published: February 28th, 2013 at 12:22 pm ET
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27 comments to Top Official: Fukushima reactors fragile and hazardous — Still don’t know radiation levels by ‘rubble’ around plant, ‘hot spots’ could be anywhere

  • ftlt

    Just how dangerous are these things in terms of another explosion???

    Thought Arnie had said that after one year that the corium's super reactive threat would be removed and down to a lower threat..

    What is the current conition of the storage pools??? Are there still explosion risks there?? Thought Arnie was saying that seemed Pool 4 had cooked off…

    **** !!!! Please, I understand they are still SUPER toxic !!! ***

    We (the world) need a breakdown on the current condition/status of the fuels from someone who is not a vested paid liar…


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    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      "Thought Arnie had said that after one year that the corium's super reactive threat would be removed and down to a lower threat."

      The ground is still spewing gasses, not to mention what is coming out of the destroyed structures. And every time there is a large earthquake, or swarm of smaller ones, the steam coming out of the ground increases.

      The cores – two years later – are still hot, still experience some level of recriticality (when 'shaken, not stirred') and show every indication that things are getting worse 'down there'.

      We are beyond any known science here. Everything is pure conjecture, with no means of verification. The only verification is increased radiation levels around the globe, and the studies from Chernobyl to 'somewhat' point the way. And it isn't good.

      The mutations are happening waay to early, for starters, along with the children's thyroid cancers.


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      • We Not They Finally

        "Arnie" has actually changed his mind about a lot of things. He came all the way over from pro-nuclear to anti-nuclear, and that was a long haul. He's also said that whatever they did (even some kind of optimal, not-yet-technologically-possible means of "containment"), it would have to be tended to for 300 years, saddling great-great-great-children with tasks they might be unwilling, or even unable, to do.


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    • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

      Great question, ftlt. There are two answers:
      1. Corium1,2,&3 could penetrate through sandstone to a layer of igneous rock, which is a better neutron reflector. The extra neutrons could make the corium go critical. Even then, there wouldn't be much radiation making it back up to the surface. Some had feared a steam explosion when the corium reached groung water. Lots of steam and smoking events from the ground near Units1,2,&3 have been reported, but no explosions. This would be nothing,compared to the Unit3 mushroom cloud, which already has spread enough plutonium all over the world to kill us all. My belief is that the corium has, or soon will, exhaust itself, and stay put. It probably won't reach igneous rock.
      2. SFP1,2,3,4,5,&6, and CSFP, could boil dry, burn, or explode if something happens to drive the workers away from the complex. If SFP4 falls as the building collapses, for instance, radiation levels could drive workers away, resulting in a domino effect that would eventually involve the entire complex. If this happens, humanity is in very serious trouble. I have raised the issue of what happens during fuel removal, as some of the damaged, burned, and corroded spent fuel assemblies dump fuel pellets onto the floors of the spent fuel pools. They will likely have borated sand on hand to pour over dumped fuel pellets.
      One good thing is that the spent fuel is now two years cooler then it was on 3/11/2011. Enjoy your life. Be with your family and…


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      • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

        "Be with your family and friends." :)


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      • We Not They Finally

        Isn't corium, by definition, still fissioning? That's literally TONS of plutonium and other nuclear waste burning through the ground. How can that POSSIBLY be "safe unless it hits the groundwater"? People act like o.k., the fuel isn't contained in the containment vessel anymore, but Mother Earth — She looks like a good "container" for this deadly crap, doesn't She? By the way, if "borated sand" was EVER TEPCO's choice, they would have already done what happened at Chernobyl — boron and concrete over the whole thing. What happened at Chernobyl was terrifying, but the national response there was "humane" compared to TEPCO's reckless downplaying and doing nothing to protect the population.


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    • We Not They Finally

      Arnie Gundersen is far from perfect, but when you start calling people "vested paid liars" who are actulaly out there giving real, dire assessments, and working with people like Helen Caldicott, whom surely NO ONE would call "a vested paid liar"…. Then people attack Michio Kaku as "a shill." But he has been out there from the start NOT downplaying this, but saying that the fate of humanity is "hanging on by its fingernails." And he's got enough public credibility through his resume, that maybe some people will listen. So let's take the constructive and helpful where we can find it!


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    • moonshellblue moonshellblue

      I personally think Fukushima has had numerous fissioning or criticality's thus I would assume that some of the corium is still very hot. Perhaps I'm mistaken and do hope so but from what I've read ever time these become critical it's like starting from day one of the accident.


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      • Sickputer

        moonshellblue typed these pixels of light: "I personally think Fukushima has had numerous fissioning or criticality's thus I would assume that some of the corium is still very hot."

        Based on Chernobyl the threat of nuclear fission reoccurring at Daiichi is valid. Here is a 2006 article from National Geographic:
        http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/features/world/europe/ukraine/chernobyl-text

        "Water can also act as a nuclear moderator: a substance that aids a chain reaction. Though the risk is deemed minute, a renewed chain reaction could trigger another steam explosion, blowing open the sarcophagus, scattering chunks of fuel, and releasing tons of fine radioactive dust.

        On the night of June 26, 1990, after two weeks of heavy rain, detectors in one lava-filled room registered a sharp rise in neutrons, a sign of an impending chain reaction. Four days later, a physicist from a technical center in the old town of Chernobyl, ten miles (16 kilometers) away, dashed in to pour neutron-quenching gadolinium nitrate on the lava. The neutrons subsided."

        "In the past two years [2004-2006] a new sprinkler system dispenses gadolinium in the central hall. Most rainwater is pumped out, though some is allowed to linger to suppress dust. But Yuliya Marusych, who works in the nuclear plant's information department, says flatly, "The shelter was and is risky. It's a threat to people working here, to the residents, and to the environment."


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        • moonshellblue moonshellblue

          Thanks Sickputer quite interesting gadolinium things that make ya go hmm.


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          • Sickputer

            Yes…we get a little bit smarter every day about nuclear energy. Here's some information on gadolinium:

            "The existence of gadolinium was first noted by the Swiss chemist Marignac in 1880 in the mineral samarskite. The element was eventually named after Gadolin, a Finnish chemist, whose name was also given to another rare earth mineral, gadolinite.

            Today, gadolinium is primarily obtained from the Chinese ion adsorption clays.."

            "APPLICATIONS OF GADOLINIUM

            Materials and Electronics: Gadolinium is used in making gadolinium yttrium garnets, which have microwave applications, and gadolinium compounds are used for making phosphors for colour TV tubes. Gadolinium is also used for manufacturing compact discs and computer memory."

            "Energy: Gadolinium is used in nuclear marine propulsion systems as a burnable nuclear poison and as a secondary, emergency shut-down measure in some nuclear, particularly CANDU type, reactors."

            http://avalonraremetals.com/rare_earth_metal/rare_earths/gadolinium/

            SP: …and also apparently to help shutdown 40-year old Soviet graphite core reactors that persist in fission rebirth twenty to nearly thirty years after the 1986 accident.

            Oh boy…what a long time frame they will have at Fukushima trying to stop those buried corium monsters that are so much larger than Chernobyl.

            Bechtel's vitrification process at Hanford Site may be finished (in 2070) before Daiichi's buried fuel monsters stop trying to re-fission.


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      • hbjon hbjon

        Imagine a mass of corium a half mile underground with a 20-50 foot thick crust of protective compounds of boron, glass, zirconium, and sodium that insulate an enriched central core of incubating uranium. Fission mania. What do we expect Tepco to do with that? It pays a small price of heat transfer to surrounding matter.


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    • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

      I'd just read something about R1 or R2 still producing hydrogen possibly from "things" going on that they'd thought would no longer be occurring at the levels that would continuously produce hydrogen levels approaching or exceeding the 2% mark that raises the possibility of another hydrogen explosion greatly(?)!! They also stated that they'd begin "purging with nitrogen" in response to the threat which will likely have forced high-level contaminants out into the atmosphere resulting in alarmingly high numbers being found locally and presumably "downwind" as well INCLUDING the USA(?). If there is another massive release event resulting from another explosion I would probably give up & stop wasting precious time researching,ranting,etc. about nukes & their worshiper pukes,TPTB,etc. and just follow good advice & be surrounded with those I love after thanking & bidding farewell & logging out of ENE for the last time prior to meeting up in the Afterlife "if" I've "earned" admission to the place where "good" souls like all of you go when we die and when debilitating illness & symptoms become too painful & our surroundings are too grotesquely fouled to sustain survival or even the will to live-I'd have "options" available for family to painlessly,comfortably,even pleasantly(?)"Cross The River" together via narcotic-based"hotshot" syringes or IV's rather than the bullet meant for the day "I" became a "burden" to them & can't even wipe my own ass!…some…


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      • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

        cont'd-"PLAN" huh??!!…what a crap way to start & end ones day thinking about depressing shit like this amongst other things-almost none of it "good"!!…"THANKS G.E."!!~for bringing such "good" things to my "life"(?) :( ~**


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  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    "…any increase in human disease after the partial meltdown triggered by the March 2011 tsunami is "likely to remain below detectable levels," the WHO said in its report." CNN Report
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/28/world/asia/japan-who-radiation/index.html?hpt=hp_bn2
    The World Health Organization, and their CNN apologists, should get a load of the thyroid problems children all over Japan are having right now. Could this "whitewash" get any whiter?


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    • We Not They Finally

      42% of kids with thyroid growths, and 60% with diabetes, is "not detectable"? — and those figures are even outdated by now. This is a CRIMINAL assessment. This is the World Death Organization, courtesy of the nuclear industry.


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    • Sickputer

      PuN sez…"The World Health Organization, and their CNN apologists, should get a load of the thyroid problems children all over Japan are having right now. Could this "whitewash" get any whiter?"

      SP: They got a lot of practice from the Chernobyl whitewash hatchet jobs. From the Richard Stone 2006 National Geographic article:

      "Wild creatures such as boar, deer, and fish are thriving in the zone."

      {SP: Can animals speak about their aches and pains?]

      "Yet Chernobyl's most insidious legacy may be the psychological wounds …The psychological effects have been devastating," says Mikhail Malko, a physicist in Minsk. "Many women feel they will give birth to unhealthy babies or babies with no future. Many people feel they will die from Chernobyl." {SP: Because they will!}

      "About 4,000 people who were children at the time of the disaster have contracted thyroid cancer …the disease is rarely fatal."…at least nine children died when their tumors spread, and survivors must spend a lifetime on medication"

      "we never anticipated the psychological toll on the survivors," says Mikhail Balonov, the Chernobyl Forum's scientific secretary. Believing they are doomed, some live in fear, while others pursue a devil-may-care lifestyle: eating mushrooms and berries from contaminated soil, abusing alcohol, or engaging in unprotected promiscuous sex."

      http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/print/features/world/europe/ukraine/chernobyl-text


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      • Sickputer

        "eating mushrooms and berries from contaminated soil"

        SP: So they admit at least SOMETHING is dangerous in Belarus! Two-faced miscreants.


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      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "About 4,000 people who were children at the time of the disaster have contracted thyroid cancer… at least nine children died when their tumors spread, and survivors must spend a lifetime on medication"

        What happens when there is no medication? Greece, a 1st world country, can't get any:

        'Panic in Greek pharmacies as hundreds of medicines run short'

        "Around 300 drugs are in very short supply and they include innovative drugs, medications for cancer patients and people suffering from clinical depression," said Karageorgiou. "It's a disgrace…"

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/27/greece-blames-drug-companies-shortages?INTCMP=SRCH

        As the 1st world countries' economies crash, as unemployment rises above 50%, as the insurance companies all go broke (they are now, living on government bailouts), who is going to pay for our cancer medicines? Once we get sick, and are no longer working, then what?

        This whole situation is going to get worse. Much, much worse.


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        • Time Is Short Time Is Short

          And more from the NatGeo article:

          "Luckily, the isotope has only an eight-day half-life, so it quickly diminished to negligible levels in the environment, limiting the health damage. For those stricken, the disease is rarely fatal."

          Not a mention of poisoning with enriched uranium or plutonium. Why do all the shills only write about the isotopes with the short half-lives?

          And I love this one:

          "Jacov Kenigsberg, the chairman of the National Commission of Radiation Protection of Belarus, notes that it took 20 to 25 years for some radiation-induced cancers to appear in the atom-bomb survivors."

          Well, we know that several people have already died from massive cancers from working on-site at Fukushima. And now that it's been documented a few children have converted their thyroid nodules to full blown cancer, we're 18 to 23 years ahead of schedule. A nuclear timeline no one has ever seen. Brilliant.

          Don't believe a word from National Geographic. Their funding depends almost entirely on the US government, and they won't do a thing to jeopardize that.


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      • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

        +311 S.P.!! :) I think at least one of the countries hardest hit by Chernobyl STILL pays hunters compensation for the value of the meat they can't put on the table thanks to the nuclear disaster displaced & downgraded to #2 "all-time FUK Ups" in the short,but not so sweet history of Atomic Apathy-I mean Energy(?)!! I talked in great length to Polish & Ukrainian friends of my mom about Chernobyl since one of them had stood on what she called the "Bridge of Death" and she was saddened by the thoughts when reminded of over 300 others who were related to her or friends who'd also gotten sick but recovered only to be diagnosed with cancers and nearly all had died by 1997! I was a bit surprised she'd heard of Fukushima via Polish & Russian cable news channels and didn't need to be told to be careful of what they eat since they understood how much worse the implications of Fukushima were and are and WILL be for every living thing regardless of species or distance from the release/disaster site!! Apparently there IS an awareness in the European immigrant community of the dangers & implications posed by nukes,but they also remembered what happens to people who "say too much" about "things" they're not supposed to when they were under Soviet rule and they understand the "risks" involved with speaking out against the allegedly "freedom-loving" govt. & industries as they become more repressive & controlling with every victory over the peasants achieved!~ :| ~**


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  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    "Radiation hot spots could be lurking anywhere, so it is indispensable to carry dosimeters when you go to areas where little information is available."

    Yes, the dosimeters with the lead shielding. Asohole.


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  • We Not They Finally

    Really inmportant that everyone logs into the Fukushima Symposium being held at the New York Academy of Medicine this coming March 11-12. Organized by Helen Caldicott,and you can find it at The Helen Caldicott Foundation, or just google the symposium directly. YOU CAN LOG IN FOR FREE, AND IN REAL TIME. Two whole days of presentations. Don't miss it!


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  • moonshellblue moonshellblue

    My spouse, who happens to be a brilliant chemist (I'm not being bias) thinks they should pour borated sand in every crease and crevice at the plant thus creating vitrification. Yes it would take enormous amounts but that would handle the concern over the spent fuel pools. Vitrification for the entire facility. Could it work? I don't know but TEPCO seems to be spinning their wheels with absolutely no positive outcomes and something must be done. IMHO


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  • Sickputer

    From the article at THE ASAHI SHIMBUN:

    "Lighting has yet to be restored inside buildings, so we have installed temporary lighting for construction work, but in other areas, we need to use flashlights to proceed with our work."

    SP: Something I mentioned from that article in a comment at Fukushima Diary today:

    "Both the situations on the ground and the conditions of radiation are constantly changing. For example, rubble on the top floor of the No. 4 reactor building used to shield radiation from the No. 3 reactor, but the rubble has been cleared and the shield is gone. Radiation levels are higher now."

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201302280070

    SP: They can't afford to relight the buildings (or it is too dangerous perhaps to accomplish that task) and they have compromised the safety of the workers on top of Unit 4.

    Supposedly 4 is the "safest" of the blown reactors because it did not have fissile fuel loaded during the earthquake with no meltdown (of fissile fuel anyway…the spent fuel pond seemed to burn out of control).

    What does this dangerous worker situation tell us? Constructing multiple unit complexes with buildings less than 50 yards apart is a STUPID idea! And not just at Fukushima…look at every multiplex in the world and you will see most of them have reactor buildings that are too close together in case of a nuclear accident.

    NONE of the multiplexes in the world will make any concessions for that fact.


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  • NoNukes NoNukes

    There are on-going criticalities as indicated by on-going detections of Iodine-131 in Japan, as well as the fact that there are 3-6+ corium running loose at Fukushima Daiichi alone.

    Tepco's actions may postpone the most dramatic visuals, but it is still pumping out deathly toxins at a record rate, the Northern Hemisphere is being saturated with radiation, and it is coming down in Atlanta, Boston, St. Louis, Paris, etc. and killing innocent old people, and babies, and everyone in between.

    We have every reason to believe that Reactor 4 was loaded with fuel, and that reactor 5 and 6 are also in meltdown, along with a number of other reactors in Japan, yet to be determined.


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