In addition to under reporting the fires at Fukushima, the Japanese government has not told the people about the ominous fact that the nuclear plant site is a hellish repository where a staggering number of spent fuel rods have accumulated for 40 years.
A contributor to the Occupational and Environmental Medicine list who once worked on nuclear waste issues provided additional information about Fukushima’s spent fuel rod assemblies, according to a post on the FDL website.
“NIRS has a Nov 2010 powerpoint from Tokyo Electric Power Company (in english) detailing the modes and quantities of spent fuel stored at the Fukushima Daiichi plant where containment buildings #1 and #3 have exploded,” he wrote on March 14.
The Powerpoint is entitled Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuels at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and can be read in full here. The document adds a new and frightening dimension to the unfolding disaster.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools dedicated to spent fuel rods. These are located at the top of six reactor buildings – or were until explosions and fires ravaged the plant. On the ground level there is a common pool in a separate building that was critically damaged by the tsunami. Each reactor building pool holds 3,450 fuel rod assemblies and the common pool holds 6,291 fuel rod assemblies. Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. In short, the Fukushima Daiichi plant contains over 600,000 spent fuel rods – a massive amount of radiation that will soon be released into the atmosphere.
It should be obvious by now that the authorities in Japan are lying about the effort to contain the situation in order to avoid panic. It is highly likely there are no workers on the site attempting to contain the disaster.
Earlier today, a report was issued indicating that over 70% of these spent fuel rods are now damaged – in other words, they are emitting radiation or will soon.
It cannot be stressed enough that the situation at Fukushima represents the greatest environmental disaster in the history of humanity, far more dangerous that Chernobyl.
Perhaps the most underreported and deadliest aspect of the three explosions and numerous fires to hit the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor since Saturday is the fact that highly radioactive spent fuel rods which are stored outside of the active nuclear rod containment facility are likely to have been massively compromised by the blasts, an elevation in the crisis that would represent “Chernobyl on steroids,” according to nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen.
As you can see from the NPR graphic below, the spent fuel rods are stored outside of the active nuclear rod containment casing and close to the roof of the reactor complex. Video from Saturday’s explosion and subsequent images clearly indicate that the spent fuel rods at Fukushima unit number one could easily have been compromised by the blast.
The BBC is now reporting that “spent fuel rods in reactors five and six are also now believed to be heating up,” with a new fire at reactor 4, where more spent rods are stored, causing smoke to pour from the facility.
“Japanese news agency Kyodo reports that the storage pool in reactor four – where the spent fuel rods are kept – may be boiling. Tepco says readings are showing high levels of radiation in the building, so it is inaccessible,” adds the report.
The rods must be kept cool because otherwise they start to burn and, in the case of reactor number 3, would release plutonium and uranium in the form of vapor into the atmosphere.
That’s bad news, because plutonium scattered into the atmosphere is even more dangerous that the combustion products of rods without plutonium.
related articles: http://www.thenation.com/article/159234/fukushimas-spent-fuel-rods-pose-grave-danger