A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

George Washington's picture

You already know that Fukushima’s fuel pool number 4 may be the single greatest threat, but that pool number 3 is very dangerous as well.

You’ve heard that unit 3′s fuel pool contains less radioactive material than unit 4 … but still a tremendous amount of radiation. Scientific American reported last year:

The pools at each reactor are thought to have contained the following amounts of spent fuel, according to The Mainichi Daily News:

• Reactor No. 1: 50 tons of nuclear fuel
• Reactor No. 2: 81 tons
Reactor No. 3: 88 tons
Reactor No. 4: 135 tons
• Reactor No. 5: 142 tons
• Reactor No. 6: 151 tons
• Also, a separate ground-level fuel pool contains 1,097 tons of fuel; and some 70 tons of nuclear materials are kept on the grounds in dry storage.

You’ve learned that unit 3′s reactor was the only one at Fukushima which burned plutonium. As Japan Times notes:

Reactor 3 … uses highly dangerous mixed oxide fuel, Tokyo Electric has reported.


No. 3 reactor is the only one at the crippled power station that was powered by the plutonium-uranium MOX

You’ve gotten the fact that – if the water drains out for any reason – it will cause a fire in the fuel rods, as the zirconium metal jacket on the outside of the fuel rods could very well catch fire within hours or days after being exposed to air. See this, this, this and this. (And that even a large solar flare could knock out the water-circulation systemsfor the pools.)

You’ve listened to experts say that – unless the rods are removed from the fuel pools before a major earthquake strikes (using special equipment which keeps the rods submerged in water the whole time) – they will likely catch fire and release huge amounts of radioactivity. See this and this – starting at 4 minutes into the video.

You’ve read that – after reviewing photos from several different angles – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s initial impressions were that spent fuel pool number 3 might not be there at all, and that nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen said a couple of days ago:

Unit 3 is worse [than No. 4]. It’s mechanically its rubble, the pool is rubble. It’s got less fuel in it. It faces the same problem. Structurally the pool has been dramatically weakened. And, god nobody has even gotten near it yet.

And you may caught the recent headline that a 35-ton machine fell into spent fuel pool 3. As Kyodo News reports:

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Friday found that a 35-ton machine had dropped inside the spent fuel pool of the No. 3 unit, possibly because of a hydrogen explosion that occurred in the early stage of plant’s nuclear accident last year.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., commonly known as TEPCO, reported the finding after placing a camera inside the water-filled pool the same day to prepare for removing, as part of the decommissioning process, the nuclear fuel stored there.

One photo showed part of the machine, originally located above the pool and used to insert and remove fuel, appeared to have dropped onto the nuclear fuel storage racks.

But – until you see pictures – it is hard to get a sense of what all this means.

Here’s a picture just released by Tepco of the giant machine in the fuel pool :

AJ201204140043M A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

And another new Tepco photo showing other tangled wreckage inside the pool:

AJ201204140044M A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

The following graphics from Ashai news show how the crane is normally used to move spent fuel rods in and out of the pool. Here’s the crane bringing in a special container to hold the rods:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Loading spent fuel rods into the container:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

The crane then lifts the rod-carrying container up:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

And then away from the pool:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Keep in mind that the machine which fell into pool number 3 was part of the crane “used to insert and remove fuel”, and so now there is no easy way to remove the fuel from the fuel pool. And the crane at unit 4 is also broken:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Still confused?

Let’s look at some more pictures …

Before the Quake

Here is where the fuel pools are located in the Fukushima reactors:

 Japan Fukushima Spent Fuel A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima
Here are pictures Unit 3′s fuel pool before the earthquake, and the fuel pool crane:

R3 crane A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

R3crane A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

crane2 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

R3 insidebefore A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

R3sfp A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

This shot is during repairs at reactor 4 before the earthquake – but gives a sense of scale:

article 1367524 0B3B48D800000578 106 472x754 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

After the Quake

Here is the green fuel pool crane at unit 4 after the earthquake:

pict7 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

pict32 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

pict21 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

pict32 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

The view from above the crane at fuel pool 4:

R4 sfp4 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

(“SFP” in these photos refers to the spent fuel pool.)

Former fuel pool nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen notes that – for at least some period after the earthquake – the fuel pool had insufficient water, and the nuclear rods were sticking out into the air:


Here is water later being poured into fuel pool 4:

9 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Reactor 3 is a mess:

 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of FukushimaLARGE3 4 A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

HouseofOust notes of this picture:

Oval is the reactor well location. Lines on the left side of the image outline the crane that seems to have fallen over or been crushed. Spent fuel pool outlined in the foreground.

LARGE3 4b A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

And of this picture:

Perspective lines are drawn to show where the deck should be and how much is gone. A circle shows the beam apex to appoximate the reactor well. Spent fuel pool is again seen off to the right and outlined. Marked structure in the foreground is the end of the refueling crane.

LARGE3 5b A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

Now can you see what’s going on?

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Lmo Mutton's picture

Nuke it from orbit.

Problem solved.

Lapri's picture

There are photos of Reactor 3 spent fuel pool that show fuel bundles in the fuel rack.



More recent photos of Reactor 4, systematic dismantling of the upper floors:



Reactor 3's spent fuel pool does not have any MOX fuel by the way, in case people are not aware of that. None of the spent fuel pools at Fukushima has MOX fuel.

Jim in MN's picture

Somehow our senior management finds the time to roll around Latin America partying instead of FIXING THIS GODDAMN MESS

Hillary and Joe should be stationed in a tramp steamer anchored in the Fukushima loading docks overseeing this effort.

goldfish1's picture

Hillary and Joe should be stationed in a tramp steamer anchored in the Fukushima loading docks overseeing this effort.


flattrader's picture

I will help pack their bags.

mt paul's picture

spare the rod

spoil the reactor ..

Revert_Back_to_1792_Act's picture

A nuclear plant, a windmill and a solar panel are at a party, and the nuclear plant is getting all the attention from the hottest girls. Jealous, the windmill and solar panel ask the nuclear power what his secret is. Naturally, the atomic power player says "Well, Mr. Windmill, you're just spinning your wheels in place and blowing a lot of air getting nowhere, and you Mr. Solar Panel, you suck up all the light and your character is very flat. On the other hand, I am the bad boy every hottie loves: I'm dangerous, I'm toxic to the core, I'm hard to handle, and my charm is radioactive.


flattrader's picture

Needed to thread jump.

If this is real, this is a game changer.

Russia Stunned After Japanese Plan To Evacuate 40 Million Revealed




A new report circulating in the Kremlin today prepared by the Foreign Ministry on the planned re-opening of talks with Japan over the disputed Kuril Islands during the next fortnight states that Russian diplomats were “stunned” after being told by their Japanese counterparts that upwards of 40 million of their peoples were in “extreme danger” of life threatening radiation poisoning and could very well likely be faced with forced evacuations away from their countries eastern most located cities… including the world’s largest one, Tokyo.

Whats that smell's picture

I drive a 1976 Chevy on a daily basis, there is no better design. Why would I ever need to upgrade?

My neighbor is a 1974 Fukashima Mark 1


The Heart's picture

Many thanks for all the positive and constructive input here.

This Event is ongoing with no end in sight. It was a purposely caused disaster beyond comparison to any other as planned and part of the overall population reduction agenda. Is it prudent to prepare for even worse fallout than we are already receiving? Would the fallout from another false flag surprise EMP, or nuke attack be something else to prepare for?

As always, much appreciation for your great works all.

Please excuse this important channel change, but one man could stop all this and possibly have the time to stop the catastrophe at fukushima.

Please contribute today to the Ron Paul money bomb. One anonymous donor could be the one stick on the camels back that would tilt the cart of liberty and truth into the saving direction it needs to go. Invest in your future and donate now! It is your one way to save all you have.


Everyone loves a winner, so hop on the bandwagon and contribute more than you think you would like to give. Ron Paul is America's LAST CHANCE to survive barring any planned events to create the false justification to go get mean ol Iran. More fallout that will come to the USA on top of the fukushima soup. Ponder that.

Ron Paul won Colorado and a lot of Washington last night, so the steady march towards a mind-blowing convention is moving on strong. The train kept on a rollin!



Money Squid's picture

TEPCO stated they would achieve cold shutdown within one year, and they did. No more explosions, what else do you want. The facility is not producing any power, therefore it is shutdown. What's with all the doom and gloom. TEPCO can use this as a basis for designing new nuclear plants, which Japan needs many off to power its first world industrical economy into the future. What, you want to live the like the Amish?

hangman's picture

Japanese people are known in Asia as the “two faced people.”  I think our President Bill Clinton once acknowledged that when he said on our national TV, “for Japanese people, yes means no and no means yes.” 


People in Asia, unfortunately, have been known Japanese people for thousands more years than the people in the West and definitely thousands more years than current American generations.  And until we dropped coupler atomic bombs and cut off their balls, for the most of Japanese history they were nothing more than bunch of pirates and war mongering bandits.  Japanese military that invaded Asia and bomb Pearl Harbor during WWII and later fought with our ally forces in the pacific arena grew from this pirating and war mongering bandit beginning.  Most people forget that as a result of Japanese invasion of greater Asia during WWII, 20 million Asian people perished, countless more raped, tortured, and oppressed.


For countless centuries, Japan benefited from major flow of culture advancements and friendship from mainland Asia, especially from Korea.  After opening a new route of advanced culture from the West, Japan really started modernizing their military from bandits and pirates into major military power (some of the other Asian countries rejected overtures of western culture as “being barbaric,” history shows, “especially Korea).


Japan had clear choice of using this learned advanced scientific culture from the West to help rest of the Asia (lead) out of dire poverty and old ways, instead Japanese chose to use that new found power to colonized the rest of Asia by force as roughly outlined above that in which ended up killing 20 million Asian people and pilfering, destroying, and scorching priceless and irreplaceable cultural artifacts and ways of life for people.


Most of the countries in Asia are more than 5000 years old civilizations, most Westerners judge Asia by last two hundred years, however.  It is true that Japan embraced western culture first and therefore came out of Asia first out onto the world stage and took credit for whatever and whenever claiming anything Asian as their own.  Even during the era when major Western powers were colonizing and humiliating much of Asia, Japan was the only Asian country to join them instead of helping Asia. 


Today, Japan is the only country with no meaningful friends in Asia (may be Taiwan) and any pretended friendship in Asia is bought with money.  Now days, Japan is selling more diapers to elders than to babies and rest of the Asia is catching up really fast.  People of Japan still thinks that they are above all Asians even today but they freak out more than any other country (even more than South Korea), every time North Korea try to test fire any type of missiles and when there are military skirmishes in Korean peninsula.  The reason is obvious!


Japan’s been changing their text books they teach to next generation a sanitized version of WWII and even justifies it and in certain circles glorifies it.  Japan unlike Italy and German people never owned up to their wrong doings and still insist on trying to justify invasion and killing of 20 million Asian people and countless more raped and tortured, etc.  They even glorified war criminals by paying tribute to them and in growing numbers glorify them.  It would be akin to nothing less than German people paying tribute to Hitler.


We like to use numbers because it is easy to understand in concrete terms.  Japan is known to the West for less than 4% of Asian history.  We buy their cars, electronics, love their sushi, many Westerners became quite attached to Japanese way of life.  However, rightfully so, we will find out that Asia does not equal Japan.  And when rest of Asia can garner courage and strength to speak out, that’s when we will realize that there are more to Asia than Japan.


Most of Americans, especially current generation forget that Korea (both south and north) and China, for example, fought on the side of the allies (America) during WWII.  It is therefore only ironic that every time when there appears to be any kind of conflict between other Asian nations and Japan, Japan’s closest friend from over 5000 miles away steams full power to take the side of the Japan. 


I realize that there are things that I failed to see and understand such as politics, etc. but it is my prediction that we will come see an another day that Japan for what they are; I guess seeing them in action once is not good enough for us but 20 million dead will never forget.  However, all these “think tank” people in the US are turning our friends into potential foes and foe as friends; I think that’s a short sighted mistake-ironically although they look at it that way perhaps as a long-term strategic view.  I think it is time for us to embrace rest of Asia as friends in equal terms with respect and in spirit of cooperation and not make the same mistake that Japan made in Asia.  Much of Asia has been pissed on by western nations in the last coupler hundred years and merda mucho by Japanese.  In my opinion, it is good as any other times to take a fresh look at our history and our relationship with greater Asia (minus island nation of Japan).


How ironic, those Japanese automobiles that we love today and many of the industrial giants are in fact the one and the same companies that used to produce tanks and guns that killed 20 million people and burned and pilfered countless Asian nations.  Some changed their names and some still go by the same name.  We Americans perceive our Japanese counterparts as reserved and rather discreet people.  They weren’t always that way.  It actually, in my opinion, started becoming that way after we cut their balls off after the WWII.  If we look at Japanese history and culture, yes, cruelty against their own people and subservience (obeying) expected of their own.


Hollywood has glorified blood and cruel swore welding Japanese culture and obeying and voiceless Japanese women as something that should be look up to, etc.  However, in my opinion, it is terribly misinterpreted, misrepresented and misunderstood by vast majority of the American public.


The reason that Japan is sinking into the pacific ocean is that they are cling to all the stolen goods from the rest of the Asia- often proudly displaying their war memorabilia’s.  In my opinion, Japan should return all the treasures and artifacts they stole from greater Asia, from digging up graves at midnight to steal ancestral treasures to blatant whole sale confiscation of other nations treasures and history.  I think most of Americans’ would agree that Japan should return all the stolen treasures back to rightful owners.  And that will be a good start to owning up to their atrocities committed before and during the WWII.






donsluck's picture

Personally, I would like to see global health not threatened by Tepco's persuit of profits. Are you ignoring the spent fuel storage in favor of "no more explosions"?

Canaduh's picture

I don't think we will have much of a choice in a few years.

4/5 for the trolling though, your entry needs more work.

Freddie's picture

How much radiation is reaching Hawaii and the US west coast.  I heard pineapples in HI, apples in WA and grapes and wine in CA are already showing trace elements.  I am not buying any food from those states.

hungrydweller's picture

Cool. Maybe prices will start o come down then.  I eat 'em everyday.  Not glowing yet.

George Washington's picture

The formatting and photos are readable at my site:

A Visual Tour of the Fuel Pools of Fukushima

I'm not sure why it looks good to some - and unreadable to others - here at ZH.

disabledvet's picture

not for nothin' but i'd prefer an additional "action Jackson" sequence as well GW. Something with Hollywood...and perhaps even Bollywood...stars. Something to "add a little color" to the amazing glow in those parts. We'll need music...something dramatic...perhaps a simple house with a white picket fence and a family BBQ'ing as a backdrop. I'm thinkin' "Major Payne meets Godzilla"...you dig, brau? After the "dramatis ridiculae" we'll pan over to some type of "Ethiopian people in need" varietal. We'll bring out the ageless and still amazingly firmly busted Suzanne Sommers to "pull a little Tin Cup for the mutantcy" moment. (I think a "wink to weirdness" might be too much...we'd better be careful with "the money shot" on this one.) We'll throw in some quality product placement (Ban de Solei? Cirque to Solei? Perhaps just "Solei" itself?) We'll finish it off with "Arnie Gunderson and The Boys" and his "Banjo of Brothers." I don't know about all of you but i'm FEELING it here! I'm FEELING IT!

Errol's picture

George, FWIW my computer won't display photos 3-7 on ZH or on your site either; the rest are fine.

The Navigator's picture

George - if you could collaborate with William Banzai7 and depict Bernanke and the other TBTF Banksters inspecting the site and taste-testing the waters it would really make my day.

BTW, images on page 1 all worked for me; on page 2 about 1/2 were working.

vintageyz's picture

What is impressive is how many intelligent folks populate ZH.  The detailed responses explaining the nuclear problems here taught me a great deal.  Plus, it gave me the idea to start shopping for an old missile silo to live in.

Curt W's picture

This link has lots of info, at the top of the story you mentioned the tons of nuclear material in reactors but there is a simular amount in the spent fuel pools.  Great overview here:





Sathington Willougby's picture

Send in Ann Coulter.  She knows how to eat the stuff.

ItsDanger's picture

i thought they were going to incase the whole thing in a massive amount of concrete by now.

engineertheeconomy's picture







honestann's picture

predators DBA government
predators DBA corporations
predators DBA central banks

Arnold Ziffel's picture

But the Japanese gub'ment told its people,"it's only a tiny leak?!"

lolmao500's picture

I doubt this will ever be fixed... And by ever, I mean EVER.

steve from virginia's picture


First of all:

 - Energized fuel rod exposed to the air catches fire in seconds.

 - de-energized spent fuel rod is radioactive but not lethal.

 - ALL spent fuel contains plutonium. From the factory the fuel rods are 95- 96% U-238 the rest is U-235. The U-238 captures 1 neutron and becomes Pu-239. As the Uranium fuel is burned a small percentage of the U-238 becomes plutonium, about 3%. (Some also becomes Pu-240 and other isotopes.)

3% of fifty tons is 1.5 tons of plutonium, which is a lot. (Reactor unit 1.)

Used MOX fuel has a slightly higher level of plutonium. The real difference is between new uranium fuel and new MOX fuel. The new fuel that was to be loaded into reactor unit 4 has no plutonium while the fuel recently loaded into unit 3 contained plutonium, older uranium and MOX fuels had varying amounts of plutonium.

 - The Tepco briefing photo is incorrect (this is the 7th photo from the top). The large crane is laying on top of the reactor core shield plugs and can be seen in this video:


There are two gantry-type cranes on the refueling- or service deck. The large gantry extends from one side of the building (short side) to the other, it runs on tracks that are built onto the wall supports.

The smaller gantry operates under the large unit. It runs on tracks that are set into the service floor. Where the large gantry runs from one end of the building to the other, the small gantry is used to insert fuel into the reactor core and retrieve it into the spent fuel pool so it runs from the core to the pools (SFP and dryer pool on other side of the core). The '35 tons' represents the capacity of the crane, not its weight. It likely weighs a couple of tons.

The large gantry capacity is probably 200 tons.

It appears the operating part of the gantry is in the pool, the gantry itself is mangled or was blown out of the building. It appeared that a crane was blown into the air when the reactor exploded last March.

A reactor cleanup company (Halliburton) would measure the radioactivity of the spent fuel pool. (There are four remotely operated 500 ton cranes on site). This would involve lowering a geiger counter into the SFP. I suspect the rads in the water are fairly high but not lethal. Removing the gantry would not be extraordinarily hazardous.

The site crane can then lift the small gantry out of the pool using a magnet or claw -- the kind used at junkyards around the world. The gantry can be removed from the site and buried as radioactive waste (sent over to Lloyd Blankfein's house).

The area around the SFP needs to be cleared with the same claw and a relay of 'biorobots'. A small crane or industrial robot set up next to the spent fuel pool.

The robot/crane would be operated hydraulically. Hydraulics are not effected by radiation. Old-school videcon cameras and strain gauges would be used for feedback. (Charge-coupled devices are saturated by gamma rays, vacuum tubes are not).

The refueling cannister (or rod-carrying container) is sunk into the pool w/ the 500 ton crane, then loaded by the industrial robot. The refueling cannister is seen in action in the Tepco photos above.

Once the cannister is filled the 500 ton crane can remove it and load onto special tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. These can then be taken to other reactors or Rokkasho for storage. It's that simple, there is no reason why it hasn't been done already! It's also very dangerous which is a reason why it hasn't been don already!

 - Reactor units 5 and 6 should have been emptied out already. Heads should roll for this. All the fuel handling equipment is on site and functioning in these two reactors. They could be 'test beds' to learn the techniques required to move 'hot fuel'.

There is simply no room for error because they would have to handle very hot fuel outside a reactor building with ordinary constuction equipment.

The big problem is that new fuel installed into the reactor buildings is not radioactive. Fuel ordinarily sent to common pool outside the reactor buildings is also not particularly radiocative. Fuel rod-container is not used to handle energized fuel. No energized fuel is handled outside the core/spent fuel pool. The Japanese would have to learn how to do so which is why there should be use of reactors 5 and 6.

 - US Navy handles hot fuel. So does nuclear weapons industry. This is why the best nuclear scientists must be involved, not Tepco.

If Tepco/Japgov do nothing:

 - Reactor site becomes more radioactive daily.

 - Leakage out of pools, earthquake damage, core runaway criticality (explosion) or other failure takes place and site cannot be approached at all. Then all fuel on site becomes fallout material. 

 - Japan is more broke tomorrow that it is right now. Tepco/Japgov can afford today what it will dream of tomorrow. What will that dream be?