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Here We Go Again: NHK Reports Fire At Fukushima Reactor #4

Tyler Durden's picture


Just headlines for now. We can only hope that the containment pool is not involved.


From AP:

A new fire broke out at a nuclear reactor early Wednesday, a day after the power plant emitted a burst of radiation that panicked an already edgy Japan and left the government struggling to contain a spiraling crisis caused by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

The latest blaze erupted in the outer housing of the containment vessel at the No. 4 unit at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, said Hajimi Motujuku, a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Japan's nuclear safety agency also confirmed the fire, whose cause was not immediately known.

On Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor's fuel storage pond - an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool - causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere.

Radiation levels in areas around the nuclear plant, which rose early Tuesday afternoon, appeared to subside by evening, officials said. But the unease remained in a country trying to recover from the massive disasters that are believed to have killed more than 10,000 people and battered the world's third-largest economy.

The radiation leak caused the government to order 140,000 people living within 20 miles (30 kilometers) of the plant to seal themselves indoors to avoid exposure, and authorities declared a ban on commercial air traffic through the area. Worries about radiation rippled through Tokyo and other areas far beyond that cordon. The stock market plunged for a second day, dropping 10 percent.

NHK is currently reporting live on Reactor 4 developments (click on picture for live stream):


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Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:50 | 1057407 astartes09
astartes09's picture

does NHK stream content?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:02 | 1057462 Cammy Le Flage
Cammy Le Flage's picture

This link to NHK works really well also.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:28 | 1057797 financeguru500
financeguru500's picture

Here's the question that everyone should be asking.

Who the hell builds a spent fuel rod storage pool directly above a reactor? That is like designing a car with the fuel tank sitting directly on top of the engine. There has to be some kind of common sense when dealing with something this dangerous.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:07 | 1057952 Bob Dobbs
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Before this happened I would have said that the area above the reactor was a great place to store the fuel rods.  Really, the analogy of a car & fuel is quite out of place in this case.  Nuclear problems are not really easy to find equivalent comparisons for.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:56 | 1058196 yipcarl
yipcarl's picture

It's a great analogy.  The point is it's the most retarded thing ever. 

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:29 | 1058381 Bob
Bob's picture

I was thinking that storing your nitroclycerin over your dynamite would be a better analogy.  One could design for temperature and motion stability, and call that addressing the safety parameters, but the principle is very much the same . . . if you place them in a train station.  Except for the power generation upside, of course. 

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 23:41 | 1059119 invention13
invention13's picture

It might make perfect sense.

They are within the same containment vessel and it minimizes the distance they have to be transported once they are removed.

Where should they be stored?

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 18:57 | 1063864 Bob Dobbs
Bob Dobbs's picture

Exactly.  The refueling of a reactor is difficult under any circumstances.  Why truck the stuff around at all.  It's all hot, keep it together.  No one could have foreseen what happened Friday.  The Monday morning quarterbacks are really getting their rocks off on this one.  The problems over there in Japan are very real, and those folks are doing what they can.  Lay off.  It is what it is.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:58 | 1058202 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

 GE designed it; the NRC (US) approved it; a professional association of nuclear engineers objected to the NRC that they should not approve it; The NRC ignored them. The reason they call it a pool or a pond is that it is supposed to be a thing like a swimming pool, outdoors, in the dirt. This abortion is unbelievable. it's not a pool; it's a room in a concrete building, on the third floor; this way you don't need to have the crane gantry extend out thru the wall to the outside world to lower and raise fuel elements from the swimming pool. But, there is no consideration of anything unusual happening; like a hydrogen burp in the building; It's very difficult to believe these little rooms still hold water after the building blew up; it seems likely that at least one of the little rooms isn't there anymore. It went away. I never had any idea such a "design" existed; it completely invalidates the safety engineering of the reactor itself; because right next to it is many times as many fuel elements; protected by---nothing. I suppose they saved $3.57; I hope they're proud of themself.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:30 | 1058397 Bob
Bob's picture

Is there a fucking government regulatory agency on Earth that isn't owned by the industry it is supposed to supervise?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:46 | 1058475 Dane Bramage
Dane Bramage's picture

Nuclear Nail Bomb?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:52 | 1057408 Cistercian
Cistercian's picture

 Great...more epic disaster.

  God help them, every one.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:46 | 1057639 bankrupt JPM bu...
bankrupt JPM buy silver's picture

Ben said he has all this covered.  he can print another $4 trillion and re build Japan to save the recovery.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:52 | 1057409 tekhneek
tekhneek's picture


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:51 | 1057414 tekhneek
tekhneek's picture

That one had the MOX fuel. 1 micron sized particle from that can kill you in seconds.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:54 | 1057427 redpill
redpill's picture

Incorrect, it was Reactor 3 with the MOX fuel.  But of course the roof already blew off Reactor 3, so I have a hard time believing some of that hasn't gotten out too.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:55 | 1057431 tekhneek
tekhneek's picture

Ah. Thanks for correcting me. But reactor 3 already blew up didn't it? Reactor 4 has the spent fuel rods atop it.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:58 | 1057443 redpill
redpill's picture

1) Yes Reactor 3 really blew its top, which is why I'm concerned about the MOX fuel storage.

2) All the reactors have spent fuel rods atop them.  In fact there are 7 storage pools at this plant.  One is in the ground a ways away from the actual reactors, and there is one of each of the reactor buildings, each one is above the reactor.

3) The dirty secret with Reactor 4 is that it was going through maintenance when the earthquake struck, so it's very possible that not all of the fuel rods in that storage pool are spent!!


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:08 | 1057489 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Unit 3 was just loaded with MOX fuel for the first time last year so there shouldn't be any MOX fuel in the spent fuel pool of unit three. The unit 3 spent fuel pool should only contain "normal" reactor fuel. 

The local authorities prevented TOPEC from loading the MOX fuel for 10 years because of local concerns about the toxicity if........well, if this happened. TOPEC just received approval early in 2010 to load the MOX fuel and they did.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:22 | 1057550 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture The used fuel assemblies are staked on end in the little chamber near the reactor head; un-believably, but that's the way the thing is made. The requirement for distance between the bundles has been reduced twice over the operating life time; "for economic reasons".  I don't understand how these water filled rooms are going to be water tight, or how they're going to be topped up; either one. Last time I looked at a power plant drawing the cool down pond was outside; like a swimming pool, more or less. This thing is just completely crazy. Anything could happen here; including an uncontrolled chain reaction; I'm sorry to say. I hope they put a lot of boron in that water.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:32 | 1057588 sushi
sushi's picture

An uncontrolled chain reaction is unlikely. You really have to work hard to make this stuff bang. If it were easy a lot of nasty folks would already have the capability.

The problem is not going critical but the evaporation of all coolant leaving the fuel bundles exposed to the atmosphere. They will continue to heat and release H2 and the H2 will go bang and the consequent fire and debris cloud constitutes a "dirty bomb."

The 36 million people of Tokyo live just 100 miles downwind. This is the reason the Japanese government invoked Article 15 preventing disclosure to the public. We are at the scene in Titanic where the Captain and his officers are aware the ship is doomed but they devote their time to telling the passengers to have another brandy.

Too bad that in the real life movie there are no lifeboats in Tokyo, no way to move 36 million people out of the way of the plume. The best that can be hoped for is that the winds to continue to blow offshore for the next four of five years.


Another tell of the severity of this event is to watch what the Bejing and area civil defence people do. They are also potentially downwind of this and they are not entirely stupid.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:40 | 1057621 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

No discussion of "going bang" you don't understand. a supercritical mass generates an enormous amount of heat; and this is obvously bad; vaporized materials, upward thermal plumes; etc. Not about going bang.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:51 | 1057664 sushi
sushi's picture

Please explain "uncontrolled chain reaction."

Your words.

A "supercritical mass" does not constitute an "uncontrolled chain reaction."

I objected and you changed your words and tried to extricate yourself from your prior statement.

I think you have inverted your IQ number.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:39 | 1057842 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

From what I can tell you are the one who is confused. A meltdown without an explosion is still an uncontrolled chain reaction.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 03:26 | 1058908 sushi
sushi's picture



"Meltdown" is your term. It is not a recognized term in nuclear engineering.

A "meltdown" is exactly that. Some material reaches a temperature at which it begins to melt. There is no explosion involved.

A nuclear "meltdown" refers to melting of the fuel assemblies which sit within the core of the reactor vessel. There is no explosion involved.

The melted fuel assemblies will fall to a catch basin beneath the reactor. This catch basin forms part of the containment. It is designed to retain the melted material and protect it from exposure to the atmosphere to preclude radiation exposure to the surrounding area.

The only form of "uncontrolled chain reaction" is that of a nuclear explosive device. Once initiated it cannot be stopped. It is beyond human control.

The glow in the dark radium watch dial on your wrist is a consequence of a chain reaction. It is this reaction that creates the glow. But the amount of radium is carefully calculated to ensure that you are not exposed to radiation hazard.

Reactor cores are also controlled reactions. They are specifically designed to ensure that they cannot go supercritical and initiate a nuclear explosion (the uncontrolled chain reaction).

As I expressed in my response to IQxxx a nuclear explosion at this facility is extremely improbable. It aint gonna happen.

What is likely to happen is heating of the cladding, release of H2, the explosion of the H2 and a consequent fire. Fire produces lots of hot debris which rises in the atmosphere and travels with the winds. This presents a danger to anyone downwind.

Since Unit 4 is experiencing a boil off of the coolant in the SFP the heat will rise, H2 will be produced and there will be a fire and a radioactive plume. This produces the same effects as a dirty bomb. This is the danger.

All the crap in the melted core is is unlikely to go anywhere apart from a molten mass on the bottom of the boron infused concerete sub-pan.

The crap lifted into the atmosphere by the fire is going to result in significant health impacts on those downwind.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:40 | 1057854 let-them-eat-cake
let-them-eat-cake's picture


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057466 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

They all store spent fuel in pools in the upper area of the containment building. And yes, unit 3 had an explosion but (at least we are told) the reactor itself was not breached. I have found it interesting that only the spent fuel pool in unit 4 has been discussed. Considering the magnitude of the explosion from unit 3 I have assumed that pool is now exposed.

This is all turning into a one armed paperhanger joke that isn't funny in the least.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:25 | 1057562 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

Yes. yes. all the same design. but it's crazy; it takes no account of partial failure modes at all; it's like, just put all your risk in one nice tight little area. The core itself is enormously portected; this cooling pond isn't protected, and it's in a blown up building now. I'm sorry, I should have looked for a diagram earlier.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:04 | 1057715 VinniPukh
VinniPukh's picture

I was wondering the same thing when these SFP's started to become the centre of conclusion - they're constrained by the off-the-shelf design they purchased a generation ago but I would expect as a hedge, some sort of regulation putting a heavy limit on the number of rods to be stored onsite. & that number would reflect contemporary safety policy.

That'll be buried in public record somewhere for sure (my Kanji sucks & I'm inherently lazy)

That said, if/when this storage pool does attempt orbit, a cynical punter might bet someone's not been telling the truth 'bout the number of rods stored onsite. There might even be a clever quant out there who, given the right data & case of beer, can infer with some degree of confidence the number of rods stored prior to meltdown

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:42 | 1057863 Cognitive Dissonance
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It is my understanding that as the world has refused to deal with the issue of long term disposal of high level nuclear waste Japan has followed the lead of the USA when dealing with the spent fuel in their pools.

What the US industry has done over the last 25 years is receive industry requested approval on two occasions that I can remember of to pack the spent fuel rods tighter in the pool in order to allow that much more insanity into the pool. The last time was when Yucca Mountain was abandoned as a long tern storage facility. My understanding is that Japan has done the same thing though I didn't take the time to find a reference or citation. 

Bottom line......since the Fukushima reactors have been running 30-40 years the pools are very very full. I don't believe TOPEC uses dry cask storage so it's everybody into the pool. Imagine that, a very bad decision by all involved coming back to bite you in the ass.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:51 | 1057897 Confuchius
Confuchius's picture


It would seem that the posters with all the answers (NUKE the reactors!) must be refugees from the US Treasury, who want to cure the problem of too much debt by simply borrowing more. LOL!

Didn't their mama ever tell them that some problems have no solution. Even in theory.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:01 | 1057936 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

My hand moved the mouse to the reply button but I wisely decided that nothing was going to talk any sense into them. Too many assumptions needed to be unwound before we could even begin to discuss blasting holes under reactors, then another blast to dump/push the reactor into said hole, then letting the sea cool them down. Too funny by several orders of magnitude. :>)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:57 | 1057917 Confuchius
Confuchius's picture


as a postscript to the long lived waste disposal; it does not take too much thought to come up with the simplest solution. Encapsulate the waste and sink it into the ocean's deepest trenches (8,000 to 12,000 meters deep) where it will be transported back into the earth's crust from whence it came.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:03 | 1057949 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

The space aliens didn't want us dumping our nuclear waste where they had their secret bases located (don't piss in our back yard friendo) so they nixed the idea.

At least I think that was why it was never done. :>)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:23 | 1058034 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

Confuchius: deep ocean entombment been well studied; proponent in "Power to Save the World" had serious involvement in that, plus good discussion of PRA techniques. e.g.:

Lots of discussion about the in-unit swimming pool, but that is an interim stopping point.  Big poolz outside.

- Ned


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:18 | 1058010 davepowers
davepowers's picture


so CD, do you think that the pools at #1 and #3 were disrupted by the explosions there? Could they have been 'blown out?'

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:01 | 1058227 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I suspect Unit one pool is not "blown out". The explosion, while violent, didn't appear to be that destructive. Almost all the steel structure framework remained in place in the blast area on top of the actual containment building. Unit three is a different story. I asked a question elsewhere if the pools were open or covered when the units were running, as they were running when the earthquake hit.

No one had an actual answer though someone said he's seen then open in some plants and covered in others. If they were covered they may be OK, if they were open God only knows the condition after the horrendous explosion from unit three. Who really knows is the proper answer from me.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:30 | 1058386 davepowers
davepowers's picture

thanks for that reply

I asked because you seem to be careful in acknowledging the limits of your expertise.

There's a lot to be said for that these days, IMO.

I take hope in the appearance of the steel structure laying flat on #3, suggesting hopefully that the bigger event there limited itself to folding that over. More damage but not exposure.

The symphony of problems at multiple reactors doesn't inspire a lot of optimism here. though.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:19 | 1058327 TerraHertz
TerraHertz's picture

In all the good-resolution shots of the big 'speckled blue' containment buildings, and the diagrams of the structures, I see no barndoors and extendable crane from the upper part of the building. Spent rods are too radioactive and thermally hot to move at all for a few years, so they stay in the pools for that long at least. But I'm thinking that perhaps the design of these buildings assumed the spent fuel would stay in the pools for the entire operating lifetime of the reactors. In other words, possibly there's no means to transport it out of the building, and it's expected to only be removed when the building is eventually dismantled.

This fits with reports the pools contain spent rods from the entire life of the reactors, with more rods even than originally designed for.

Nuclear fission power - such a brilliant idea.

It's pretty clear the no-fly-zone around the reactors is to stop anyone taking good resolution pictures of the damage. Then applied an equivalent of a D Notice to the media. Such a great confidence builder, not.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:27 | 1058372 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm certain the US has already taken half meter resolution satellite shots of the entire campus including the tops of all 4 units. And if I remember correctly Japan (along with several other countries) also has a satellite in orbit with a high resolution camera snapping away. So the only ones who don't know what's going on are the citizen's who will be directly affected.

Same ole same old.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:29 | 1057580 Dabale arroz a ...
Dabale arroz a la zorra el abad's picture

It looks to me that not only the pool is exposed. Rather, that it was blown away with the explosion. But I haven't seen yet good enough pictures of reactor 3 that may confirm (or better, refute) this. The only one, that satellite image.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:36 | 1057603 J.B. Books
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CD, given the size of the explosions I can't believe that the cooling ponds have NOT been breached...  

J.B. Books.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:45 | 1057633 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

 I don't believe it either; if all these little rooms are still water tight; then angels must be watching over Tokyo Electric. This design was protested by an Industry Engineering group in the US to the NRC; to the effect that you can't do that, you can't put tons and tons of fuel in the building next to the reactor; the NRC ignored the request for re-regulation. It's cheaper than running the overhead crane thru the curtain wall and lowering and picking bundles into and out of an outdoor swimming pool. But it completely ignores safety principles. Amazing.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:57 | 1057689 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I agree. As I said above I am assuming the pool is now exposed to the atmosphere. How much water if any is in the pool or if it was actually breached would just be speculation on my part. I don't know if these pools are covered during normal operations.  

Considering the magnitude of the explosion from unit 3 I have assumed that pool is now exposed.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:14 | 1057748 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

Some of the US type 1's I have been at cover the spent fuel pool except during refuel ops. But, I do not think it is required, since I have worked at plants where they left them open....which was kind of nice, we could look over into them and admire the Cerenkov radiation.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:48 | 1057877 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Dude, pretty colors. :>)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:59 | 1057929 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

The deep blue sea of Cerenkov. I love the taste of fission in the morning. Slightly acidic lead.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:33 | 1057816 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture might find this interesting, it from a retired TVA Engineer responding to a MSM article about the dangers of spent fuel it old - 1994, but those reactors have not changed much. It has a lot of details about the issue. BTW, His opinions are not nessessarily shared by me in every respect.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:54 | 1057907 SWCroaker
SWCroaker's picture

Aristarchan - thanks for that link.  It was *interesting*, and I too can see the guy's points, but not agree with them.  I'm not sure the sizes and capabilities that he mentions for spent fuel pools applies to the pools in the reactor designs in question; they don't look to be football field in size.

As an engineer (Aerospace, and no I don't stay at Holiday Inn Express), I see all kinds of red flags associated with SFP located above grade, above the containment vessel, in close proximity to any hydrogen gas buildup events that might occur.  You're just asking to complicate any bad situation that happens with that setup.  Somebody is going to really have to work to convince me that this is in any way optimal, and safe.  Cost effective I can see, but if that is the driving factor in running nuclear plants, then we blew it somewhere...

Thanks again.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 22:18 | 1058637 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

The boiling reactor of this type was always known as a compromise that in no way was fail-safe (impossible to achieve anyway). The spent pool arrangement is based on several things, not the least of which is ease and safety of refueling. When you pull a bundle of fuel rods out of a reactor vessel, you do not really want to mess around with them a lot trying to transfer them to a location outside the building until they cool down. Plus, this gives you a close  location to defuel a reactor quickly if you need to. I have never worked on a reactor that did NOT have a pool close to the vessel. Of course, in PWR's the pool is inside a very large and very heavy containment shell.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:55 | 1057918 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Thank you. Interesting read. The guy knows how to be snarky, that's for sure. But it appears he's talking about a newer reactor design and not these 40 year old GE's Japan is dealing with. And he was not addressing the catastrophe Japan is now dealing with because......well, it was considered nearly impossible until Friday or Saturday.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:15 | 1058002 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

Like I say...I do not agree with everything...but he is right in some respects: they do rotate the fuel bundles in-and-out, and the do separate newer from older bundles, and, they do send divers down in the fuel pools quite often. I have been on many refuel ops in both boilers and pressurized units, and have even been on a refuel deck when a rod bundle partially fell apart and crapped up the deck (I don't think they have ever chased all the fleas off that deck, even now). he is, BTW, talking about type 1 GE boilers...and, I am not sure if you have ever been in one of these things, but they are really big......the Torus is a 20 ft. diameter pipe (depending on which of 3 torus styles are available). The internal diameter of the reactor chamber is roughly 20 feet, the vent pipes from the shield wall to the torus are maybe 7 - 8 feet in diameter, and the fuel pool is huge.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:33 | 1058042 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I have been in a newer design when it was being built in 78, but never this one. But the GE approved cutaway drawing doesn't leave me with the impression of a football field sized spent fuel pool. Maybe the scale is off. There is a tiny little human in the torus for scale.


Alex Kintner below provided this smaller cutaway.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:34 | 1058414 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

I am going from memory here, but I think the pool in these reactors is about 35 feet wide, and maybe 40 feet long, and 40 feet deep. Maybe holding 400,000 gallons of water. I do know that the maximum heat decay load in the pool from a  1/3 offload can be no more than 3.9 megawatts. This can be exceeded with a full core off-load.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:08 | 1057728 Alex Kintner
Alex Kintner's picture

Here's a cutaway view of the reactor design.

Hard to imagine the spent fuel reseviors were not blown sky high when Reactor #1 and #3 exploded.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:07 | 1057774 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

If you could blow the spent fuel rods all over the place they wouldn't overheat and the cladding would keep the short-lived emitters contained.  Later you could buy a rad-hard Roomba to run around and collect it all.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:15 | 1057999 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Later you could buy a rad-hard Roomba to run around and collect it all.

Too f**king funny. Laughing too hard to type correctly. :>)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:13 | 1057742 Kaiser Zose
Kaiser Zose's picture

Agee about unit 1 & 3 spent fuel pool concerns. It is very possible that the time to boil off the U4 pool was less due to a recent full core offload. During refuelimgs this is common practice and the time to boil is reduced as fuel recently at power gives off more heat. So this may explain why U4 pool was a more immediate problem. Same concern would exist at U5 and U6. The only saving grace (?) for U1, U2, and U3 SFPs is that they may not have recently used fuel in them as they were at power. U4 could also have pool leakage problems. No info as to that...but of course with 50 people on site they are spead too thin and remember these plants are likely dark inside now with no ac and dc backup lighting probably spent....gruesome situation.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:25 | 1057787 davepowers
davepowers's picture

Saw blurb from someone on Reuters that 5 and 6's pools were only 1/3 full vs. 4 whose pool was full in connection with the inspection. I have no clue how credible the claimant was, but it would be consistent with what you just explained.

And/or perhaps #4 took a hit from the blast at #3. 

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:31 | 1058008 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

....and remember these plants are likely dark inside now with no ac and dc backup lighting probably spent....gruesome situation.

I would say with some degree of certainty that the darkened spaces are now "naturally" glowing. :>)

</sarc and humor in case it's not obvious.>

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:01 | 1057709's picture

No reactors have blown yet, perhaps a little melting goin' on but not to worry and it was it was just the silly old outer containment building that blew up, the steel reactor containment vessel is well ah, maybe still uncompromised, though that seems less likely as time goes on and radiation releases are detected.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:09 | 1057737 TomJoad
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The Japanese have been dancing all around the possibility of a core/primary/secondary containment breach at reactor #2. They have done everything but directly state it is fact.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:18 | 1057761 Stuck on Zero
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There's one thing great about MOX.  It's not only radioactive it's very toxic and bioactive. 



Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:57 | 1057430 papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

Don't worry it is being volatilized and pushed into the atmosphere for all to enjoy.

Crank out your own jet stream map and see how things progress across the pacific...

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:34 | 1057594 Dabale arroz a ...
Dabale arroz a la zorra el abad's picture

They could call BP to shower all the area with the absolutely non toxic Corexit so all radiactive substances can magically disappear, as did the oil.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:01 | 1057447 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Unit 3 was loaded with MOX in fall 2010.  Unit 4 standard fuel.  Unless there is some MOX in the Unit 4 storage pool; unclear if there is a stockpile for future use on site. 

However plutonium is slowly created in standard fuel rods.  So depending on how long they were used, quite a lot is in the normal rods too.


The way things are going all these units are going down.  Need entombment for all units immediately.  Only a bit of water from a helicopter being discussed. 

International community seems unable to mount a coherent discussion let alone response.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:15 | 1057515 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

At end of life, Uranium fuel rods typically contain about 1% plutonium conversion. However, in the MOX unit, they will typically start out with around 30% plutonium, which in many cases, is totally consumed over time by the thermal process. I am not sure what the MOX makeup is on that particular plant, but it can't go higher than 50% with out plant redesign. So, the spent rods in the MOX plant may have 0, or up to 20% plutonium left in them. The problem with the spent rods is more of a volume one, the pools typically hold several times the number of rods as do the reactor cores. And, all of them have the potential - if not cooled properly - to ignite the Zirconium cladding.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:27 | 1058051 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

"...potential - if not cooled properly..."

which means that there is no water around.  Steam-Zirc is at like 2,300 DegF.  Keep the pool flooded==things OK.

- Ned

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:37 | 1058432 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

Typically just keeping the pool topped off will work, as long as you keep up with evaporation. However, some plants have license to store rods in such density that circulation is required. I am not aware of any reactors that old needing circulation for the rod loads in the pool.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:17 | 1057527 hungrydweller
hungrydweller's picture

I see that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about when it comes to nuclear technology.  Irradiatiated fuel is irradiated fuel, regardless whether it is MOX.  MOX just means that some of the fissile content of the fuel is plutonium-239 versus uranium-235.  The fuel is dangerous primarily because of the fission products which are highly radioactive.  In any case, a 1 micron particle of any reactor fuel, green or irradiated, will not kill you "in seconds". 

Quit posting crap.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:28 | 1058057 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

+1.  {although Pu is chemically poison to humans}

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:26 | 1057568 sabra1
sabra1's picture

can we let the bernank test one, so we can verify your claim?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:46 | 1057640 williambanzai7
williambanzai7's picture

Good idea +

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:54 | 1057677 Brutlstrudl
Brutlstrudl's picture

Gimme a lingering death anyday

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:06 | 1057955 malek
malek's picture

1 micron sized particle from that can kill you in seconds.

Really? How does it do that??

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:10 | 1057973 destiny
destiny's picture


while we build nuclear monsters, why have we NOT thought, designed, tested potential failings before ?  I mean right now, they actually bring sea water using trucks  !!!!! ??? unthinkable, why isn't there any underground/above ground emergency pumps to relay when cooling systems are down ?   


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:56 | 1057420 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

I am thinking now to drop a low yeild nuke directly onto that damn FU plant and deal with the one time burst of radiation instead of trying to contain this monster that is gaining strength by the hour.


The more I think about it, the more I want them to absolutely NUKE that goddamn plant before it irradiates the world.


Maybe a penetrator striking below the complex, exploding to create a crater for the plant to fall into followed moments later by a second nuclear bomb that will wipe out the rest of the stuff.

What does it matter if a few more bricks and dirt fall from the sky for miles around. It will nip this disaster in the bud so clean up can begin.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:55 | 1057436 camaro68ss
camaro68ss's picture

let me get this Strait, you want to nuke a nuclear plant…. I really don’t see any good in that. haha

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:57 | 1057440 tekhneek
tekhneek's picture

A low radiating nuke is designed to eat up the majority of the radiation it produces in the blast. He's saying destroy the material with a nuke in hopes that the resulting blast would wipe out the remaining radioactive fuel.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:00 | 1057446 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

And the penetrator nuke can dig a cavern for the earth plus entire plant complex can collapse into.

If the crater is proper big, (Another quake, big fucking deal...) the ocean can spill into the hole and quench it. Simple fix. No second nuke needed.


All we need is some one who has the Balls to order such a strike.


If we cannot put the fucking plant complex onto a rocket and throw it to the Sun itself to burn up... we throw a missile with several suns aboard TO the plant yah?

Goddamn it, I wish I was president... I would have made this happen.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:12 | 1057499 iDealMeat
iDealMeat's picture

That wouldn't trigger another earth quake..  or tsunami..


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:11 | 1057503 Ray1968
Ray1968's picture

all hubris aside, I don't think that is the solution.

Probably would be better to just dump as much cement as you can find into the containment chamber.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:19 | 1057520 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

You could not make, air lift enough cement in time to seal the place.

Remember Chenobyl? That cement that FINALLY sealed it years ago needs to be replaced now I think. And it is STILL hot.


The entire plant is ALREADY concrete for crissakes. Just drop it into a nice big fat cavern with a nuclear strike underneath. The ocean will take care of the rest. The people are already out of the area for the most part and the winds are right.


And thank you to the other poster who mentioned a special kind of nuke that will create much fire to BURN up the radioactive material and reduce it to basic atoms to be buried first by earth then by ocean and the wind will disperse the rest.

We have a Carrier nearby. After a time today, this afternoon.. the plant can be gone erased forever and a few days later, clean up can begin.

Why are we wasting time fooling with dabs of water from helicopters and concrete? Hanh?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:50 | 1057654 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

 No. no. no. that's no good. Hopefully the people on the ground there will continue putting water in there, if there is an "in there" to put it. Other than that, I don know. President Obama just gave a contract to Tokyo Electric Co., (these same goofballs), to build two nuclear power plants in Texas; I wish I was joking; but I think this bright idea will probably be cancelled.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:13 | 1057746 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

TEPCO itself will not survive the year the way things are going.

The plant is already scrap material once they expend sufficient lives, resources and irradiate the west coast of the USA. That makes it personal.

Wipe it clean, smooth it over with dozers and get the Nation back up and running. No more new breaking about fires here, fires there explosions here and there for days. Damn it.


Enough. Nuke, bury and fill it up with wadder and be done with it. Maybe the Battle Group Admiral can make it happen, but it will be the end of his Job. I doubt Obama will do it and I dont think the Japanese have any nukes... or do they?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:52 | 1057667 randocalrissian
randocalrissian's picture

All we need is some one who has the Balls to order such a strike.


Where's Buck Turgidson when you need him?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:01 | 1057706 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:54 | 1057910 THE DORK OF CORK
THE DORK OF CORK's picture

If that nuke plant had a city of parasitical alien bankers to the south I would recommend the Ripley sanction.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:38 | 1058087 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit."


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:22 | 1058022 Muir
Muir's picture




General "Buck" Turgidson: Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.


Tue, 03/15/2011 - 21:05 | 1058242 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Banzai7 and I were talking about Dr. Strange-love about two weeks ago and I decided to purchase the Blu-Ray version (it was on sale for $14 delivered) and I watched it again last week. Then the earthquake and tsunami and then the nuclear plants. So the movie is still very fresh in my mind and somewhat ironic given the present day insanity.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 23:45 | 1059146 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Dr. Strangelove. I think I recall that one. I have to get a DVD of it soon.



Wed, 03/16/2011 - 00:00 | 1059209 Aristarchan
Aristarchan's picture

Oddly enough, that is one of my favorite movies.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:39 | 1057841 SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

A penetrator wont dig the nuke deep enough.  


To make that idea work you would need a US / Chinese or Russian strategi city busting nuke and one hellaciously deep drill hole.   [side note: anyone know how fact they can drill a 15,000 foot hole?]

Once it does go off it would have to collapse the entire facility and then stand by with the biggest earthmoving platforms you got.

CAT / Komatsu / Deere and CASE all go to massive BUY as they will be building the crap out of bulldozers.



Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:15 | 1057984 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Fine, so be it.


Light one off, big crater.

Land number two at the bottom of crater, make it deeper and cut a hole at the edge where the ocean is. The water will go in there both from the sky and also from the ocean.

Land number three near the ocean edge of new crater at water.


Hell two should be enough.


CAT in North Little Rock is already cranking out heavy equiptment as fast as the plant can work.


Water pours in, light show over and now we have beach front property once the shaking, hellfire and drama is over in a few hours.


What? Don't believe me? Look up Bravo and other Tests on you tube.


Or better jest set a small nukie at in the water a half mile from the plant and let the water rain down on the place. No one will know a nuke ever went off down there.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057460 ArgentDawn
ArgentDawn's picture

Fight fire with fire.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:06 | 1057482 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Precisely. If we leave that plant alone to sit, burn and spew radiation then we have a gigantic mess for weeks.

So. Pop the damn thing, vaporize it and let the ocean fill the hole.

Poof, a week or few days later no more fall out.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:10 | 1057498 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

I no longer give a shit how they get entombed.  ENTOMB THE FUCKING THINGS!

Hell, the USS Ronald Reagan could take care of it in one 'semi-authorized' mission.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:27 | 1057567 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

I agree.

I dont give a shit about that stupid plant that had me up sitting day and night for damn days watching it get from bad to worse towards end of days.

Let's do it!


Gawd, I cannot stand the hand wringing going on all over the world from the namby pansies too scared to do something like a little demo proper.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:32 | 1057585 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Yeah that's what my uncle kept saying until he was thrown out the London fire brigade.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:30 | 1057581 sabra1
sabra1's picture

nuke the bernank!

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:28 | 1057575 Michael
Michael's picture

Brave man HS, I and thousand of others thought the same thing, but refused to touch the subject for good reason.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:17 | 1057758 HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

There is a first time for everything?

Have we forgotten so soon one of our Warships firing a missile to shoot a satellite or something out of space before it falls on something or someone important?

We have quakes in Iran all the time, who cared then? No one.

But this.... this... marvel of weaponry capable of creating a sun for a brief time that will eliminate this ... this... bedsore from the soil of the land of Rising Sun once and for all.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 22:58 | 1058109 Stormdancer
Stormdancer's picture

What is the "good reason" nobody touched the subject?
Might it be that nuking nuclear materials doesn't destroy them...but does a good job of distributing them far and wide...

Could be a reason to avoid the idea...

Dude...this isn't like a pile of gun powder where you can throw a firecracker at it and watch the whole pile go up in kind.

Throwing a nuke at a power plant will not "burn" up the nuclear fuel in the plant. Sustaining a nuclear reaction for power production requires precise attention to purity, concentration, shape, proximity....a myriad of factors. Initiating an explosive nuclear reaction requires even greater purity and precision. Detonating a nuclear blast on top of a pile of nuclear plant fuel doesn't make a bigger nuclear explosion. It just makes a very big mess with VERY hot fallout...and lots of it.

This is an incredibly naive idea and would amount to one of the quickest ways to ensure that significant amounts of radiation did actually reach California.

Blast it straight up into the jet stream....yup....that's the ticket.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 00:37 | 1059319 Matt
Matt's picture

omg this is like removing a dead whale with dynamite. such an awesome plan, it HAS to be tried! 

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:44 | 1057628 Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

Is this covered by any of the internet related paradoxes? Like the Hitler paradox?

In any given internet discussion regarding disaster or war, eventually someone will say "Hey, we should just drop a nuke on it!"



Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:47 | 1057647 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

You know who else liked discussing internet related paradoxes?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:52 | 1057421 etrader
etrader's picture

Are NHK now direcly now disobeying artical 15....?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:54 | 1057423 r101958
r101958's picture

Try this....not sure how up to date.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:54 | 1057424 ReallySparky
ReallySparky's picture

Good Grief.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:55 | 1057426 Racer
Racer's picture

What an unfortunate name for the reactor that is in danger, I just hope it doesn't live up to it for everyone's sake

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:58 | 1057444 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

What an unfortunate way to endanger a reactor by laying it smack dab in the middle of an area called "the ring of fire"

The brain children of Yucca mountain didn't think that through either.

Come on guys...

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057455 Racer
Racer's picture

Yes I keep thinking that over and over again, WHY?

Were they brain dead or something? Or Bernanke wannabes?


And maybe it was named that because some sadistic planner thought this would be the conclusion. And no body realised until now it zaps them in the face

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:39 | 1057617 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

Need was put before risk, it was a tragic roll of the die..

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:19 | 1057538 iDealMeat
iDealMeat's picture

We need an audit of that place..  Probably find some lavish long term living quarters for a "select" group...

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:01 | 1057700 Thorlyx
Thorlyx's picture

... or the US gold from Fort Knox......

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:53 | 1057428 Innocent Bystander
Innocent Bystander's picture

Europe's energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger dubbed Japan's nuclear disaster an "apocalypse", saying Tokyo had almost lost control of events at the Fukushima power plant.


Now this guy obviously has no degree from MIT, but is there any merit to his statement. No Bid?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:54 | 1057679 IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

 Unfortunately there is merit to his statement. It's not because of the Earthquake, or even the Tsunami; but because of the crazy design of the plant. It has a built-in failure mechanism. Cheese, Gromit, it's all Cheese!

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:55 | 1057433 John Law Lives
John Law Lives's picture

Maybe its time to airdrop cement etc. on the site and bury it whilst they devise a permanent containment plan.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:00 | 1057441 Roscoe
Roscoe's picture

Here's DigitalGlobe's flickr page with the Fukushima photos. The highest resolution pics are amazingly clear: 

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:04 | 1057463 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Sadly, the above is incorrect as has been discussed extensively here in the past few days.  Please read more of the site before repeating discredited stories.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:11 | 1057495 Cammy Le Flage
Cammy Le Flage's picture

Thank you! People should keep up. This situation is quite dire. In my humble opinion, that facility is literally falling apart. Whoever said just entomb it (is that possible?) is probably the most correct. Further, I do not trust anyone from MIT. That has been schill disinformation for quite a long time. Sad but true.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:12 | 1057500 Cammy Le Flage
Cammy Le Flage's picture

And as I was typing the above the whole post disappeared. Am I smoking something or is it gone?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:37 | 1057607 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I would say yes, you are smoking something (don't Bogart that joint bro) and the post appears to have disappeared.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:05 | 1057470 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture


Harry, welcome back.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 17:59 | 1057449 goldfish1
goldfish1's picture

"Another explosion at nuclear reactor #4 kills 2 and cracks the reactor roof.

NHK is reporting holes in the containment structure have now been confirmed in reactor #1 and reactor #4 following the explosion." - M. Rivero

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:01 | 1057451 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

So much for Article 15.. fuck the censorship Police in Japan!

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057464 AssFire
AssFire's picture

Yea, I was just about to say the same thing.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:07 | 1057467 sushi
sushi's picture

This dude Dr Josef Oehmen, research scientist at MIT is an MIT idiot and or an industry paid flack.

Please see this mornings ZH post which debunks Omen's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" assertions.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:05 | 1057473 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

Sadly, the above is incorrect as has been discussed extensively here in the past few days.  Please read more of the site before repeating discredited stories.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:08 | 1057486 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

Harry, got enough handles? Stay informed by watching live feed from nhk. So you're stating we should ignore Japan and all is well. Only 7k missing, according to you that's bullish.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057456 reader2010
reader2010's picture


By the way the best return for the day turns out to KI sold on Amazon. Price increased from $35 last night to $440 today on Amazon.



Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:12 | 1057509 RmcAZ
RmcAZ's picture

This is bullish for AMZN stock... BUY BUY BUY.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:19 | 1057541 Harmonious_Diss...
Harmonious_Dissonance's picture

And NFLX!!   Watch a movie to take your mind off the Apocalypse unfolding in real time!

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:36 | 1057584 mynhair
mynhair's picture

More like get your ass handed to you for shorting that POS.

Never short a most shorted dog.  But please continue.

Bought 20 shares last week to profit off this squeeze.  Sold today and still LMAO.

Ewww, an extra buck each way on commission!

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:16 | 1057524 Ray1968
Ray1968's picture

Get some old fashioned Lugol's solution.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:18 | 1057532 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Acute radiation poisoning leads to bleading of the anus.

May I suggest people load up on prepH?

Better be safe than sorry

For the record, if it gets to that point I'm pulling the trigger.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:01 | 1057459 sushi
sushi's picture


At around 0800 this morning I made a  forecast in a ZH posting of a further fire in unit #4.

This is all physics and is much easier than trying to forecast the market especially one that feels the weight of the Bernanks thumb.

Next prediction:

Within 48 hours there will be fires/explosions/ radiation releases from the SFP in units # 5 and #6


If the wind is blowing from the wrong quarter it will be Gojiro time for Tokyo.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057471 honestann
honestann's picture

Very bad news.

But that's nothing compared to what very well may have happened when reactor #3 blew up.  The #3 reactor is a MOX reactor that has plutonium and uranium rods.  If you think uranium is bad for people, that's nothing compared to plutonium.

Well here's the deal.  The design of reactor #3 puts the "spent" fuel rods on top of the reactor, but outside the innermost containment vessel.

In the best photos of the reactor #3 building explosion it appears like parts of the reactor itself we flung 3000 feet into the air.  However, reports claimed that was not the innermost vessel (if we can believe anything being reported, any more).

But even if that's true, if what we saw being flung up into the air were the "spent" plutonium-uranium rods, then "game over".  The material in that specific reactor (including its "spent" rods) is so massively poisonous that a single fleck of dust will kill you, and microscopic pieces of dust will likely give you cancer.

So if what we saw were hundreds of thousands of plutonium-uranium rods being blasted to bits and flung into the atmosphere, and then falling back to the ground, this disaster will be vastly worse than Chernobyl, and not just for Japan.  Seriously poisonous materials will reach the USA, circle the globe for years, and probably render a huge area of Japan unfit for human habitation for decades, if not forever.

Whether they could ever even cover up this hyper poisonous debris with concrete or who-knows-what is unknown to me.  But even if something like that can be done, and succeeds in trapping the bulk beneath the concrete forever, the consequences will be dire, and not only in Japan.

Maybe this is why official information seems to have dried up.  This could be very, very bad, and the officials need to immediately reveal exactly where are ALL active and "spent" rods for all reactors, but especially from reactor #3.

I hope I'm wrong.  But go look at the evidence.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:08 | 1057485 Jim in MN
Jim in MN's picture

I hold out hope that because Unit 3 only went commercial with MOX last October that the initial MOX load is still in there and there is no onsite stockpile. 

I have fear because there has been so much pressure on the industry to utilize MOX in order to 'prove that it's safe' and provide a band-aid to the waste storage issue, that there may be an onsite stockpile of new MOX rods for future use.

But the old standard fuel rods get enough plutonium in them to be nearly the same level of threat.

Wed, 03/16/2011 - 09:30 | 1057537 honestann
honestann's picture

That's either good news, bad news or terrible news.

#1: If they had nothing stored above reactor #3, that's good news.  But that seems very unlikely, since reactor #3 has been in operation for many years.  Furthermore, TEPCO says the cooling pond had "heated up" from 30C to 60C, which almost certainly indicates the pond does contain fuel rods.

#2: I have heard that it is possible they operated reactor #3 with plutonium-free rods until sometime in 2010, which should mean the rods in the pond above the inner steel containment shell were "old style" uranium rods.  These would still contain dangerous quantities of plutonium due to natural "enrichment" processes that take place during operation, but still, they'd be much lower levels than plutonium-uranium rods currently in the reactor itself (assuming the inner steel containment vessel was not breached, which everyone hopes is the case).

#3: If they had the next load of plutonium-uranium rods stored above reactor #3, that's the worst possible news, because then the most radioactive plutonium-uranium got launched into the atmosphere.

Sadly, you are quite correct that some uranium in "spent" rods has been converted to plutonium by natural enrichment processes.  So the first explosion in the #1 reactor possibly blew those into the air.  However, I am hopeful that did not happen, since far less debris went flying straight up into the air when #1 exploded.  Sadly, the other big explosion (besides #1 and #3) was not so "clean looking".

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:42 | 1057998 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

It seems like a good news / bad news situation. If #3 was operating at the time of the quake then mox plants are notoriously hard to shut down quickly. The good news is that they don't likely have much if any spent mox fuel in the tank which takes longer to cool and needs more space.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:49 | 1058146 davepowers
davepowers's picture

I have fear because there has been so much pressure on the industry to utilize MOX in order to 'prove that it's safe' and provide a band-aid to the waste storage issue, that there may be an onsite stockpile of new MOX rods for future use.



I've seen references that there are 7 pools there. One for each of the reactors and one just 'over there.'

what's in 'over there?'

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:17 | 1057536 Backspin
Backspin's picture

If the scenario you posit (plutonium already dispersed into the atmosphere) is correct, woudn't we be seeing some results from it by now?  Like people with severe radiation sickness, and instruments registering higher levels of radiation?  Thanks, and still hoping for the best.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:31 | 1057578 honestann
honestann's picture

I think we are seeing results.  For example, I've heard on three Japanese news broadcasts that they cannot send anyone into the area any longer.

Also, specific information no longer seems to be flowing correctly.  What we hear is now more general and non-specific.

I also read two translated reports from Japan that the government has now told news outlets they cannot report anything any longer without getting approval first.  In other words, they are censoring news outlets to prevent facts from being distributed.  Why do you think they are doing that?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:40 | 1057615 mynhair
mynhair's picture

Replace 'cannot' with 'will not'.  See the litigious difference?

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 19:16 | 1057757 honestann
honestann's picture

Actually, one source said they tried to send them in to make futile efforts to save what remains, assuming honorable Japanese will obediently walk right into suicide situations on request... but they all refused.

Obviously I don't know whether that report was correct, but if they knew they would be walking to their deaths and also knew they wouldn't be able to save anything anyway, probably even the most honorable Japanese would "just say no".  At least I hope so.

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:03 | 1057472 onlooker
onlooker's picture

5:00pm cst radio said there is a 20 mile no fly zone over the meltdowns

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 18:04 | 1057474 Amish Pirate
Amish Pirate's picture

Cramer just assured us the plants have fail safes for these kind of things, so just BTFD (whats left).

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!