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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Trust Us': World's Most Perilous Nuclear Operation Set To Begin

Nuclear fuel rods are seen in the spent fuel pool inside the No.4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture. (Credit: REUTERS/Tomohiro Ohsumi)
From Reuters: "The hazardous removal operation has been likened by Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, to trying to pull cigarettes from a crushed pack. When the time comes, extracting spent fuel from the plant's other reactors, where radiation levels are much higher because of core meltdowns, will be even more challenging. Reactors No. 1 and No. 3 sustained heavier damage than No. 4 as a result of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out power and cooling at the Fukushima station, triggering three meltdowns that sent a plume of radiation into the air and nearby Pacific Ocean.
The urgency to clear Reactor No. 4 of the fuel assemblies is because of the risk in having spent fuel stored at such a height - some 18 meters above ground level - in a building that has buckled and tilted and could collapse if another quake strikes. Also, if the pool housing the fuel assemblies is punctured and the water drains away, there could be a fire that releases more radiation than during the 2011 disaster, threatening Tokyo, some 200 kms (125 miles) to the south. "Full release from the Unit-4 spent fuel pool, without any containment or control, could cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date," independent consultants Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt wrote in a recent World Nuclear Industry Status Report."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/12/us-japan-fukushima-removal-idUSBRE9AB15L20131112
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/13-0