As Market Surges On Latest Deux Ex Machina Straw Man, Kyodo Warns "Chain Reaction Could Restart"

Tyler Durden's picture

While the future of the free market now hinges on some power cord which according to the AP "may solve the crisis", yet which we are a little skeptical is merely the latest deux ex machina that the prevaricating Japanese authorities are pulling out of their collective derrieres (remember the water and boron baths that were supposed to fix everything), a far more troubling report has emerged from the New Scientist (citing Kyodo) which may explain why TEPCO and Japanese authorities have been so tight lipped about the actual truth of what is happening at Fukushima. To wit: "The situation at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has
become extremely unnerving. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has now
admitted that the spent fuel rods could go critical - that is, a nuclear
chain reaction could restart.
" This would be an absolute worst case disaster which would make Chernobyl look like a dress rehearsal. Incidentally while hope and pray (to Ben Bernanke) may have been a viable strategy for stocks over the past two years, it will fail disastrously when dealing with a nuclear catastrophe.

From the report:

We have known since yesterday that the reactors themselves were
coming under control, and that the biggest threat came from the spent
fuel ponds, where the water level has fallen and temperatures have
risen. That could lead to the stored fuel rods breaking open, releasing
their radioactive contents.

Kyodo News reports:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it is considering
spraying boric acid by helicopter to prevent spent nuclear fuel rods
from reaching criticality again, restarting a chain reaction, at the
troubled No. 4 reactor of its quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power
plant. "The possibility of recriticality is not zero," TEPCO said as it
announced the envisaged step against a possible fall in water levels in a
pool storing the rods that would leave them exposed.

This is a real surprise. These ponds are a standard feature of
nuclear reactors, and are typically designed to ensure that nuclear
reactions cannot restart in the fuel rods. Among other things, the rods
should be widely spaced in the pond.

The BBC explains that the company is now "caught between a rock and a hard place":

If the fuel rods are dry and hot, there could be damage to
the cladding and the release of light radioactive nuclei. To prevent
that, you would want to inject water. But water on its own is a neutron
moderator and would enhance the chances, however small, of
criticality... [water] reduces the speed of the neutrons, meaning they
can be captured by uranium nuclei in the fuel rods, inducing them to
split. Without water, the neutrons travel too fast, and are not

Hence the company's proposal to add boric acid, which would mop up
the neutrons and hopefully stave off the reactivation of a nuclear
reaction. If this did happen, it does not mean there would be a
nuclear explosion, but the rods would heat up, the zirconium cladding
would probably split, and the likely release of radioactive material
into the atmosphere would be significantly higher.

In the longer term, questions will be asked about how the ponds wound
up in this condition, when it should have been completely avoidable.

We can only hope this is completely wrong as the alterantive would be total devastation beyond anything seen so far.

h/t Themos Mitsos

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
trav7777's picture

restart of criticality in the SFP means all hell breaks loose...

Quackking's picture

Only *some* hell has broken loose at this time, according to government sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The interview was conducted on horseback as all parties fled for the hells. I mean the hills.

Michael's picture

This makes Al Quaeda look like little school girls.

e_goldstein's picture


"We bring glowing things to life."

Haywood Jablowme's picture


some close-up pics of the reactors....

I would hate to be at that airport right now....

Gotta love/hate the headlines on this one:

  • French minister: 'Let's not beat about the bush, they've essentially lost control'
  • Radioactive steam spews into atmosphere from reactor number three
  • Experts warn that crisis is 'approaching point of no return' as officials run out of options
  • Officials commandeer police water cannon to spray complex
  • Attempts to dump water on reactors by helicopter fail
  • Two more previously stable reactors begin to heat up
  • Rich scramble to book private jets out the country as fleeing passengers pack Tokyo airport
  • Workers battling nuclear meltdown evacuated for hours today after radiation levels increased

Interesting video follow-up coming out of RT today...

e_goldstein's picture

i remember when Chernobyl melted down and all the talk on the MSM was 

"that could never happen here... our reactors are better designed."

(only one level of safety redundancy, really?)

lucky for us, we only have 9 or so nuclear plants on the pacific coast :-/

Bicycle Repairman's picture

We need to move some funding and security assets from Al Queda to nuclear power.  Will someone get the head of DHS on the TV to explain their policy on this.  I'm starting to panic.

Tell me lies's picture

Or gives them new techniques to implement an attack against our freedoms.

Michael, I have read many posts from you. Does this sound like a Neo uoo con headline or what?  Have heard it already.

Golden monkey's picture

Is that the freedom to go to work, to make monthly payments or to stop at red lights?

No. It's the freedom to do endless Muslims wars.

So many time in history slaves work was use to finance wars...

redpill's picture

Is a pool still a pool if it has no water? Or is it now just a radioactive skate park?

But more broadly, even if the spent rods achieve criticality, it will probably mean high levels of localized radiation. Unless there are substantial explosions, it probably won't generate a Chernobyl-style plume that would travel vast distances.


bingaling's picture

The spent rods are stored over the reactor I believe.


redpill's picture

6 of them are, there is one outside that is not, but because it's in the ground and not losing water, it's not as big of a deal.

The problematic one is in Reactor 4, where they had densely packed the pool with spent fuel rods because the reactor itself was not in operation.

Paul Bogdanich's picture

"The problematic one is in Reactor 4, where they had densely packed the pool with spent fuel rods because the reactor itself was not in operation."


Not precisely.  # 4 was down for maintenance when the quake struck.  The speculation is that the rods from the core (not spent rods but live ones) were in the pool with the spent rods awaiting re-isertion as part of the maintenance cycle.  Then the quake happened, the tsunami wiped out the aux generators, the pool went dry and so now you have live fuel reacting with the spent rods and that is why they are worried about the mass reaching criticality.  Now it would not explode unless it hit some water but the amount of radiation released would be very large indeed.

slewie the pi-rat's picture

hey red!  wanna bet???

this is gonna get way worse b4 it gets better, and it is not gonna get better while any of us are still pretending to enjoy planetary existence here.

i have set the over/under for this event at Chernobyl X5, with March 31, 2011 as "settlement day in green stamps" and vegas is getting more action than on March Madness, so far.  in case of any disagreement regading the quantification vis-a-vis chernobyl, slewie will make the decision, which will be final AND binding on all playaZ.

after the shit i went thru here, yest, no one else is qualified..., but in the event i am too fuked up to e on the 31st, tyler can make the call @  4 PM eastern, and we'll just let the green-stamp-based chips fall wherever tf they fall, 'k?

redpill's picture

Chernobyl was a nuclear inferno burning uncontrolled for days, I'm hopeful this situation does not get to that point, but I certainly don't discount the possibility.


Haywood Jablowme's picture

I'll put 10 packs of IOSAT on the under.  Within the next 7 days I speculate major cluster-fuck FUBAR.


taraxias's picture

what happened to you man, did you find religion?


Oh regional Indian's picture

taraxias, I think it's called blowing with the wind. It's what light-weights do.

They still manage to pee on their feet, consistently.


trav7777's picture

huh?  No, I respond to the facts as they become available.

I am not one of the many people here who actually WANT this to be an apocalypse so that they can feel self-righteous.

Cleverbot's picture

You would after awhile, if not immediately. Once your number starts dwindling.

The Profit Prophet's picture're back!  Still trying to defend yourself I see.  Is there anything you would like to say to the people you were calling hysterical idiots yesterday?....or do you have some more sweet smelling disinfo for us today? 

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

They might need new units of measure for this if those spent rods melt together.

"Ch"== 1 x Chernobyl.

From what I can tell, we could get to 2 or 3 on that scale.

Please pray now if you think it will do some good.

malikai's picture

This is exactly what I've been saying about the pools. From what I've read, unit 4 has about 5 years of spent fuel rods in it. Should they melt, whatever water may be left in the pool will serve as a moderator, causing criticality. Once it becomes critical, they will melt further, and the game is up, as it will probably be large enough to remain critical without moderation. From there, it's china syndrome as the blob melts through the relatively thin pool floor on its way to the water table, where it will promptly explode once in contact with water, giving us the feared "20 Megaton" thermal explosion and will probably double the total worldwide fallout since nuclear testing began in the 40s.

Pal's picture

This the post I found just mins. ago "The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant says it has almost completed a new power line that could restore electricity to the complex and solve the crisis that has threatened a meltdown. The new line would revive electric-powered pumps, allowing a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds, keeping them cool."

redpill's picture

Yeah, that's the AP story, the problem is if there are still leaks in the pipes (which would not be surprising, especially in Reactor 2 where there was an explosion directly by the suppression pool and Reactor 3 where they had a big badaboom) it doesn't matter if you have the electric pumps going (also assuming the pumps themselves are not damaged).

They won't know if that "solves the crisis" until they actually get the power on and see if the stuff works. Also restoring power could increase the potential for fires. Cross your fingers.

Raymond K Hassel's picture

Pumps back on line is great news - now where did all the piping land?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

To assume that the pumps, pipes, valves and electrical controllers are all still functioning properly in the three units that have suffered explosions is similar to wishing on a star. I guess it's possible and I hope they are able to start the cooling system back up. But for the news story to report it like it's a no brainer is nothing but hope and prayer spinning.

If it does save the day, it will mean TEPOC electric division will have saved TEPOC nuclear division.

kinetik's picture

I wouldn't be too concerned about valves, they're pretty tough but operator stations are not. From what I understand is that the control room for the blown out reactors are all distasters, in that they are experiencing "lost of view" on the HMI and that nothing actually works from a control standpoint.

If you can't see what's happening to your process you can't control that process, simple as that.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I was trying to cover all the bases. I agree that the valves are pretty hearty. But the controllers and electric motors on the values, vents, switches etc is another matter. And who knows how the piping has survived the explosions. Some of this is 30 to 40 year old stuff that has just been pushed way beyond design.

I was assuming the control rooms were "OK". If not all they might do is make things worse if they don't know what is or is not working when they push buttons.

What a nightmare.

spanish inquisition's picture

I believe you are leaving behind 1lb of salt for every 4 gallons of steam. It could be collecting anywhere and I think you can't eliminate any possibility at this point.

spartan117's picture

trav, per your request from another thread where you were called out as a racist.

by trav7777
on Thu, 03/03/2011 - 13:30

I personally think this whole China gold thing is overstated and misleading.  Chinks are buying gold because it's a symbol of wealth and it is an asset, the same as indians do.

There just aren't that many assets out there with comparable attributes in this regard.  I don't think that the average chinaman understands "inflation" all that well nor the broader concepts of monetary policy or the yuan peg.  They just know that gold is worthful, they desire it, and with all the money flowing in China they are buying symbols of affluence, gold, cars, etc.

LFMayor's picture

I'm at a loss here.  Is this supposed to buttress the case for his racism?  Or absolve him.

Because I can think of a complete litany of shit to call Chinese and Indians that you'd have no doubt of recognizing as racist, i slept at holiday inn and watched blazing saddles last night.

spartan117's picture

Take it for what it's worth.  He's an ass, and adds little value to discussions on ZH.  He denies being a racist, and asked for proof.  So there it is.  And there are many more posts similar to that one.  All you have to do is search.  I calls em as I sees em.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture


Watching Blazing Saddles is what pushed your credibility over the top from my point of view. Nice move. :>)

trav7777's picture

you had all this time and that's the best you could come up with?  One use of "chinks"?

Cleverbot's picture

How could you see it? You could not have found it if it was invisible.

sushi's picture


Well, you did post about chinks in the primary containment on #4.


Don't let the bastards get you down.


Tell me lies's picture

Plus, did not they say a good portion of the rods in the pool were only 6 months old. This  meaning, they are still very "hot".

max2205's picture

CNBC just alerted power to be restored to that Fuckme power plant...end of story?   sure....

DonnieD's picture

CNBC PPT. Doing God's work.

akak's picture

CNBC PPT. Doing God's work.

You fail to mention which God that might be.

Baal, maybe, or perhaps Quetzalcoatl?

LFMayor's picture

Nice.  Tlalloc was the rain maker they burned kids for wasn't it?  More tears = more rains.

tmosley's picture

Quetzalcoatl was the nice guy of that particular pantheon.  He demanded that no human sacrifices be made to him.

That didn't stop their bloodthirsty priests, though.

slewie the pi-rat's picture

did they:

a) fire up a coal plant?

b) use diesel generators?

c) bring in a ship and an extension cord?

d) use tesla "wireless electric delivery", long-suppressed by, uh, GE?

e) something else?

f) lie?

slewie the pi-rat's picture


i hope the correct answer is e) something else, and that the "something else" was get reactor #6 from non-producing to producing electric.  turn the puppy "on". use the juice to run the complex, or what is left of it.

actually, this idea came to the minds of japanese nukuler engineers on the 11th, but their bosses were so busy getting screamed at by the pols, and the engineers and operators were too polite to interrupt.  now, they have answer the question which was directed them this morning:  "Doyou have any suggestions?"  the answer was only delayed by the obligatory bowing, at that point.

Cdad's picture

One of the most shocking things about the last three just how blatant it is that the Ministry of Truth [CNBC] has indeed been revealed as an arm of the new American Marxist/banker party.

And so as this stock market falls away...perhaps consideration on whether or not this network should be allowed to renew its license would be in order.

Short COMCAST, and buy the VXX.