Fukushima: "China Syndrome Is Inevitable" ... "Huge Steam Explosions", or "Nuclear Bomb-Type Explosions" May Occur

George Washington's picture

By Washington’s Blog

I've repeatedly noted that we may experience a "China syndrome" type of accident at Fukushima.

For example, I pointed out in September:

Mainichi Dailly News notes:

As a radiation meteorology and nuclear safety expert at Kyoto University's Research Reactor Institute, Hiroaki Koide [says]:

The nuclear disaster is ongoing.


At present, I believe that there is a possibility that massive amounts of radioactive materials will be released into the environment again.

At the No. 1 reactor, there's a chance that melted fuel has burned through the bottom of the pressure vessel, the containment vessel and the floor of the reactor building, and has sunk into the ground. From there, radioactive materials may be seeping into the ocean and groundwater.


The government and plant operator TEPCO are trumpeting the operation of the circulation cooling system, as if it marks a successful resolution to the disaster. However, radiation continues to leak from the reactors. The longer the circulation cooling system keeps running, the more radioactive waste it will accumulate. It isn't really leading us in the direction we need to go.

It's doubtful that there's even a need to keep pouring water into the No.1 reactor, where nuclear fuel is suspected to have burned through the pressure vessel. Meanwhile, it is necessary to keep cooling the No. 2 and 3 reactors, which are believed to still contain some fuel, but the cooling system itself is unstable. If the fuel were to become overheated again and melt, coming into contact with water and trigger a steam explosion, more radioactive materials will be released.


We are now head to head with a situation that mankind has never faced before.

Mainichi also reports:

The Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) and residents of the zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant held an emergency evacuation drill on Sept. 12 ... in preparation for any further large-scale emission of radioactive materials from the plant.


The scenario for the drill presupposed further meltdown of the Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor core, and a local accumulation of radioactive materials emitting 20 millisieverts of radiation within the next four days. ...

And nuclear expert Paul Gunter says that we face a "China Syndrome", where the fuel from the reactor cores at Fukushima have melted through the container vessels, into the ground, and are hitting groundwater and creating highly-radioactive steam:

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said recently that a new built up of hydrogen may cause the reactors to explode again:

Hydrogen buildup at Fukushima? What does it mean & why does it happen? from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.


Nuclear expert Dr. Ian Fairlie - former scientific secretary to the United Kingdom government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters, who advises the European Parliament as well as local and national authorities in several countries - told Dr. Helen Caldicott:

Really it’s just a matter of time before it [the corium] goes through and into the bottom of the actual station itself. And if it ever hits ground, well… there’s a lot of water sloshing around there, if molten fuel gets into that water it will immediately flash to steam and you will have huge steam explosions going on.


I’m not ruling out a nuclear bomb-type explosion”.

And the architect who actually designed Fukushima Reactor No. 3 - Uehara Haruo, former president of Saga University - told popular Japanese news source Live Door on November 17th that (translation courtesy of Fukushima Diary):

In this interview, [Haruo] admitted Tepco’s explanation does not make sense, and that the China syndrome is inevitable.

He stated that considering 8 months have passed since [the March 11th earthquake] without any improvement, it is inevitable that melted fuel went out of the container vessel and sank underground, which is called China syndrome.

He added, if fuel has reaches a underground water vein, it will cause contamination of underground water, soil contamination and sea contamination. Moreover, if the underground water vein keeps being heated for long time, a massive hydrovolcanic explosion will be caused.

(Or see this Google translation or this Babelfish translation).

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Georgesblog's picture

Radioactive material doesn't go away, overnight  Straight answers about the severity of the disaster took months to come out. There is no reason to accept official statements. As for what is being done about it, there is silence.


BandGap's picture

With a decent sized "volcano" you can expect the radiation to circumnavigate the globe several times over.  The main benefit will be some spectacularly beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Why focus on the down side?

Stagflationary's picture

I don't know much, but I do know a thing or two about physics. 

Everything they say is possible, and it's almost certain that some the fuel did find its way into the ground giving the conditions after the tsunami.

However, it would take some miracle of nature for the rods to maintain their shape and size and to have melted into the ground as big, hot, radiant objects. It is far more likely that you have bits and pieces all over the place and that if they do leak out to the environment it'll be a gradual non-dramatic process. 


So, in a sense, I'd say we maybe have Taiwan, Macau, Hong Kong syndromes instead of a big old mainland China syndrome ;) (sorry for the mixed metaphore) 

Furthermore, TEPCO is still observing heating in some of the units, which means at least a lot of the fuel is still somewhere inside the structure or very close to the surface. 

BandGap's picture

The molten metal would tend to coelesce if proximate.  The problem with radiactivity is this thing called critical mass.

divide_by_zero's picture

Core #1 appears to be leaving the building or at least increasing distance from sensor, no wonder they bagged it first.


Amish Hacker's picture

Imho, the scariest aspect of this whole disaster is the near-total news blackout, except for occasional snippets of disinformation.

What the authorities fear most isn't the China Syndrome, it's the extremely remote possibility that the sheeple will somehow educate themselves as to the facts and then make their own decisions on what actions they should take. 

Cheers to all ZH-ers from the San Francisco Bay Area, also known as The Front Row.

Citxmech's picture

While I appreciate your pov - I'm more afraid of the poisonous radioactive cloud blowing toward my home.

- concerned in Seattle, the other front-row.

GuyJeans's picture

Ive got better seats in Tokyo.  Anyone wanna trade seats?

dlmaniac's picture

So "China syndrome" to beat mega-debt crisis out in destroying Japan. Another disaster, just what this world needs.

blu's picture

You can't call it "China syndrome" in Japan; China is next door.

The opposite side of the world from Japan would be what ... Costa Rica or something? Florida?

So maybe "Florida syndrome" for them.

Amish Hacker's picture

Actually, if you started at Fukushima and went straight down through the center of the earth, you would come out in the south Atlantic, off the coast of Argentina. 

Check it out:  http://www.freemaptools.com/tunnel-to-other-side-of-the-earth.htm

The Big Ching-aso's picture



Ya know, I'm trying to look at the bright side of this whole ordeal.     And I think I see it.     

The bright side is that when most of the Japanese population develops cancer they'll have already been simultaneously receiving radiation therapy.

matrix2012's picture

Fukushima: “China Syndrome Is Inevitable” … “Huge Steam Explosions”, “Massive Hydrovolcanic Explosion” or a “Nuclear Bomb-Type Explosion” May Occur




JW n FL's picture



Media Black Out? on Fukushima? why? How could Japan control the News here in America? that doesnt sound right?


1. NBC, CNBC, MSNBC is Owned by? General Electric (Jack lives in Lost Tree and Golf's at Seminole and Old Marsh)


2. The Containment Vessel at Fukushima was designed and built by? General Electric.


3. That is how you have a news Black Out.


4. This is the same General Electric that made $8 Billion in World Wide Sales and Paid $0.00 Dollars in U.S. Taxes. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/ge-pays-taxes-14-billion-income-ceo-jeffery-immelt-jobs-advisor-president-obama-politics-13224912



5 The Same General Electric with a $40 million dollar lobby +++. http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000125



Clycntct's picture

Now my fraking tinfoil is vibrating so - GE= fukUSAhima.

Hmm it's all about the spelling. Now I'm getting a much clearer siglnal.

Latent dyslexic gene exploitation.

Left is right, up is down, bad is good, subtraction is addition .

I'm seeing clearly now.

Harlequin001's picture

I think the home team is worried about Japanese problems adversely affecting the markets...

Don't want to upset the natives now do we?

blu's picture

The West Coast could be materially impacted by all of this, both via air and by sea. Maybe, already is. I mean it's not like they would tell us, or anything, would they now?

I'm counting on all the nerdy types with their chemistry sets and radiation monitors to break the story on Twitter or Youtube.

Clycntct's picture

Bring ing it home good buddy.

 I was trying to override the only one + controls.

DeltaDawn's picture

Thank you GW. Your critics fail to notice you were quoting experts who express this as unknown territory with potential outcomes which have only been theorized. We know our governments are not behaving rationally or ethically in this case. All we can do is seek the advice of unbiased experts.

Bagbalm's picture

Experts are by definition biased. Only the completely ignorant have formed no bias. It is sufficient if they are right.

HungrySeagull's picture

A Nuclear strike or two against the plant complex days after it blew up would not have allow all of this to happen. I got laughed and jeered for it.


Now they will probably have steam and possibly a boom or two that will make things even worse....


Who knows? A naturally occuring nuclear exlosion under the place will do the job after all. Steam explosions is not welcome given the amount of water underground... there is not enough burn wards in the world to handle the potential casulties.

fourchan's picture

when i hear the words "junk shot" ill know its fucked.

bill1102inf's picture

There is no way anything will happen.

hannah's picture


americanspirit's picture

Volcanos erupt, sometimes quite forcefully sending a column of steam and ash into the stratosphere when magma comes in contact with water. In natural eruptions, that steam/ash column is just that - steam and ash. Inconvenient, even nasty, but not radioactive. In the case of Fukushima simply substitute 'nuclear fuel' for 'magma' in the scenario and there you have it. The bigger the glob of fuel, and the more water, and the tighter the initial containment ( how deep underground this happens) the bigger and higher the blow. Maybe even high enough to reach the cross-pacific jet stream. I think you can approximate the potential northern hemisphere dispersion pattern by looking at a few recent mega-eruptions in the NW Pacific, like Kamchatka.

maddogs's picture

There is one area that will be affected, won't be addressed till it's seen on the side of a can of Tuna. Recommended consumption limited to once a year. Not recommended for women in pregnancy or children under the age of 17.

Wait'll the oceons food chain uptakes this mess. Since only one in 20,000 marine animals are not cosumed by another, very likely the fish markets will hand out gloves and geigers.

barliman's picture



There is perhaps a problem with the translation. It is NOT POSSIBLE to form a super critical mass that would establish a GROWING chain reaction in any of the current scenarios.

The released material may achieve critical mass and release radiactive iodine and other by products. These byproducts might be released into the atmosphere by steam explosions.

The released core material will be contaminating the area until someone starts an effort to recover the core material and remediate the contamination.


Bagbalm's picture

Yes core materials can reform a critical mass. They can even cycle - blowing apart from the heat and moderating effects of water and then when they cool forming a critical mass again and the water seeping back in.

ORE BODIES have formed critical masses before in nature.

(I chose not to have an icon.)


barliman's picture


We are in agreement regarding critical masses.

Super critical masses do not occur without weapons grade material being brought together wery quickly under high pressure.

The one "expert"  referring to "nuclear explosions" is misleading the layperson. I think the reality of this situation is bad enough without adding mis-statements into the discussion.


Whoa Dammit's picture


What are the "other by products" that could be released? I assume these by products diifer from those typically found in cat and dog food.

barliman's picture



Radioactive isotopes dependent on what the core material encounters. If people want something to worry about with regard to Fukushima it can be stated very succinctly:

  • A large, unquantified amount of radioactive core material has exited its containment area.
  • We don't know what it will encounter ... an underground aquifer (river) emptying into the ocean?
  • We have NEVER had this scope of release in a completely unknown manner.
  • And there doesn't seem to be any effort being made to get get ahead of the curve (right hand side) rather than being so behind the curve we can only react to whatever happens.


tmosley's picture

I was not aware that corium was the same as highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

This guy utterly shatters his credibility by claiming that such an event is possible.

There might be an explosion, but it certainly won't be a nuclear one.  Even before it melted the containment vessel and mixed with it, the fuel was no-where near pure enough to sustain a nuclear explosion.

BetTheHouse's picture

Agree with you entirely, taking exception only with your statement that GW has any credibility to shatter. He's the original conspiracy monger. In prior years he's the guy who would be seen in a public park wearing sandwich boards mumbling predictions about the end of the world and CIA mind control programs. Thanks to technology, however, we get to read him here. The Internet: boon to society, but also a megaphone for the stupid.

Ron Real's picture

It is truely amazing how the "sophisticated" alternative media types, go right along with the genocist line on nuclear power. Solar, wind and cow shit don't work unless as massive scams to collect government subsides. Nuclear power is absolutely necessary if the world is to have a future.

Now, I'm not saying that there isn't Japanese government lying, and Telco lying about Fukushima. The entire political class in Japan as elsewhere is rotten, so what do you expect?

And, I'm not saying that nuclear power is not dangerous. Sure, it's dangerous, but so are all forms of power, and without power we are just animals. Fire kills far, far more people ever year than nulear ever could. If you want to be "safe," get rid of fire. Leaving all else aside; no heat, no autos, no electricity, no Iphones, without fire you would strave. Man can not live on raw, uncooked food.


I know that many children like to be scared by horror movies, but the time is now to grow up.

bjennings's picture

You seem to imply that we have only two options -- 1) our current course of action, consume energy as fast as humanly possible continuing to find ever increasing ways of consuming energy  (I'm sure we can come up with a more luxurious ride than a hummer to negotiate those nasty speed bumps while dropping off the kids at school) or 2) cut off all energy consumption all together.

Do you think maybe there is an in between somwhere? 


Citxmech's picture

One would hope - though TPTB seem dead set on forcing option 2 after running option 1 into the ground.

Clycntct's picture

Hey Ron, duck and cover.

It worked so good in  Hiroshima.

Whoa Dammit's picture

Read up the enormous cost of the government subsidies that are given to nuclear power plants-without these subsidies the nuclear industry would not exist. Example: The still uncompleted Savannah River MOX fuel fabrication plant has cost $10 billion in construction alone so far.

Hohum's picture

Without power, we're animals?  Heck, WITH power we're animals!

buyingsterling's picture

Power = a radical amplification of all of mankind's potentials, good and bad. It's no surprise that the first century of power also saw the biggest wars and genocides in history, as well as the greatest number of inventions. It makes possible both limitless possibility and complete control. A true catch 22.

Smiddywesson's picture

Fusion is the future, not fission.  We will have it.

DogSlime's picture

We Do have it.  We can generate enormous amounts of energy using fusion already.  There are lots of fusion generators nicely packaged at the tip of rockets in silos and submarines and we have large aircraft that can deliver fusion packages.

Hang around a major city for the next few years and you'll probably see just how popular these fusion generators can be - given the right economic/political conditions.

Slow-release fusion still seems to elude us, though.

BetTheHouse's picture

Fusion. Its the power of the future and always will be.