A Detailed Look At The Spent Fuel Rod Containment Pools At Fukushima

With the latest headline from Reuters that TEPCO workers are preparing to spray water at the spent fuel pool in Reactor 3 which has been overheating and spreading radioactive steam into the atmosphere, it is time to present the details of how dry casks and spent fuel are contained at Fukuchima. For that we go to a presentation by TEPCO from November 2010 titled "Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuels at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." It is no surprise that, as the introduction states, in Japan's 54 NPP, the strategy is "to store spent fuels safely until being reprocessed." Unfortunately for everyone involved, the existing spent fuel is store in a manner that is anything but "safe." Should these structures fail, the fallout that will enter the atmosphere will be unprecedented. So where and how are they stored? We find out, in detail, below.

Summary of storage capacity and utilization at the various TEPCO NPPs:

Probably the most important chart: this is the most recent status of spent fuel rods at Fukushima:

This is what a typical storage pool looks like. This is the area that supposedly has no water left in it in Reactor 3. Notable is that a spent fuel rods have a 19 month cooling life.

And below is the actual pool that is supposed to have water in it. It is now most likely empty in Reactor 4 and probably does not exist in the other ones.

And while irrelevant for the current discussion, below we present some details about Dry Cask storage facilities:

Below is the schematic of the containment pod.

On the chart below Alarm Monitor 4 would be going apeshit. If only it worked.

The charts above are very nice in theory. After all the conclusion of the presentation indicated there was no "significance of defect /degradation of the system." Until one of those magnitude 9 earthquakes that nobody tested for, and a 30 foot Tsunami that nobody predicted, destroyed everything. And now the only thing left is to spray water in hopes of refilling pools full of thousand of spent, and lethally radioactive, fuel rods. Surely, this will end great.