Hosono visits Fukushima No. 4 reactor amid concern over fuel pool

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  • 7

    wanderlust

    “I could see steady progress being made toward removal of the spent fuel (from the pool), which is the next major goal,”

    If they were building rails and gantries for a moving crane, or constructing a crane capable of lifting the 300~700 kg 4 metro long fuel assemblies without irradiating everyone around, that would be progress. Covering a pool with tarpaulin is not progress.

  • 4

    sillygirl

    does this guy even know what he is talking about? these "ministers of ..." change chairs like some people change their socks.

  • 6

    Rick Kisa

    the minister said

    appeared to have been reinforced.

    this only means the poor guy is also not sure. I hear he only visited the corner specifically spruced for his visit. He did not go to the bulged side! secondly, the authentic source of safety and security information should come from a group of mixed skills experts(hydrologists, seismic experts, geologists, nuclear physicists, chemists, etc), not a lonely politician

  • 7

    smithinjapan

    "The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has reinforced the structure and says it now can withstand temblors as strong as last year’s quake."

    Yeah, we believe you. An all but destroyed structure that was not fit before being so badly damaged, and can hardly be approached (and this is the first time journalists were allowed!) has been reinforced enough to withstand a similar earthquake. How about a similar tsunami?

    Hosono doesn't know his butt from a hole in the ground and this is just politicking. He's but another of the rotating politicians that help make this government the joke it is. And now that said government is set to own the majority of a corrupt company you can bet tooth and nail they'll fight for all the NPPs TEPCO runs. I'm only surprised there wasn't a "no harm to human health" soundbite thrown into his comments on the matter of the #4 reactor.

  • 1

    Tigerta9

    I don't think those suits are as safe as people think. Even one trip there seems like Russian roulette. Any thoughts on this Zichi?

  • 0

    saru_au

    Ted Barrera, I agree 100%

    Hosono, why the protective gear ? wasn't it mission accomplished ! yes ? no ?

  • 4

    Herve Nmn L'Eisa

    It is absolutely unsafe by any international standards. Please ask the French for assistance.

  • 3

    wanderlust

    @tigerta9 - those Tyvek suits are for preventing contaminated materials or radioactive particles, such as metal dust, micronised concrete entering or having contact with the body. Swirls of wind, from walking, driving vehicles, clearing operations are enough to move these very fine particles into the air.

    The closely-woven man-made fibres are only good for preventing alpha radiation entering the body, beta and gamma go straight through it. The concrete and steel of SFP#4, plus the 11 meter depth of water prevent everyone getting fried by neutrons from the spent fuel.

    Lose that water, through a crack in the pool, or even by damaging the pool structure and losing the safe storage configuration of the fuel assemblies, and Eastern Japan is in deep trouble, along with the rest of the world, as the spent fuel rods overheat and combust, vaporizing literally kilograms of radioactive Cesium, Strontium, Iodine, and other fission products.

  • 4

    zichi

    About 40 Japanese and foreign journalists or reporters visited the Fukushima plant. To limit exposure to radiation, 4 journalists and cameramen were chosen to visit the No4 reactor with minister Goshi Hosono. The visit lasted about 30 minutes. At least one policeman also accompanied the minister. Those four journalists were from the Cabinet Press Office.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=8N_cnt37Pok

    TEPCO released 5 video's, mostly concentrating on the minister. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/date/2012/201205-j/120526-01j.html

    Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday it denounces the discriminatory measures taken by the TEPCO and the Japanese government against freelance journalists. http://www.eurasiareview.com/24052012-japan-freelance-journalists-face-discrimination-fukushima-plant-visit/

    An official of Tokyo Electric Power Company cautioned the 4 visitors to hurry while walking along the corridor on the 2nd floor. The radioactive reading was 500 microsieverts per hour at the time. This level of radiation amounts to 1 milisievert after 2 hours, the annual permissible level for a person. (NHK World)

    The radioactive reading on the 5th floor, were the pool is, was 330 microsieverts per hour. The radiation levels in reactors 1-3 are measured in millisieverts and sieverts. Why are the readings so high in reactor No4?

    The 2nd floor is were TEPCO reinforced the base of the spent fuel pool to prevent collapse. Nuclear workers can be exposed to 50 millisieverts, or 100 hours working on the 2nd floor. Guess they used up many workers?

    I don't think the purpose of the visit was to show "how safe the plant is" but to show TEPCO's progress at the No4 reactor, but maybe also to counter some of the recent articles and blog posts which started following the visit to the site by the U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. http://www.wyden.senate.gov/news/press-releases/after-tour-of-fukushima-nuclear-power-station-wyden-says-situation-worse-than-reported

    Wyden's principal concern is the relocation of spent fuel rods currently being stored in unsound structures immediately adjacent to the ocean. He strongly urged the Japanese Ambassador to accept international help to prevent dangerous nuclear material from being released into the environment.

    As you see, Goshi Hosono climbing up the narrow stairs to the operation floor of the Reactor 4 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant or TEPCO releasing data on the Reactor 4 building not tilting didn't impress anyone at all. (ex-SKF blog)

    Here's an article on New York Times, written by its Japan-based reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and published on May 26, 2012, highlighting that the "public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe". (ex-SKF blog) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/world/asia/concerns-grow-about-spent-fuel-rods-at-damaged-nuclear-plant-in-japan.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&hp&pagewanted=all

  • 3

    zichi

    The No4 spent fuel pool is safer than what is was following the 3/11 nuclear disaster, but won't be totally save until the fuel rods are removed sometime in 2014. hen the debris clearing is finished, TEPCO will cover the building with a temporary structure but different than the one used on No1 reactor.

    I think TEPCO have made good progress on the No4 reactor, but like all major events at the plant, progress will be very slow. TEPCO nor anyone else knows how to remove the melted fuel in reactors 1-3 and it will take many more years than 20.

    A hole has been discovered in No1 reactor containment vessel about a cm or so which has been leaking cooling water. Instead of the 2m TEPCO thought was in the vessel, it might now only be 40cms. Because of high rad levels they can't repeair the leak. This probably explains all the waste water in the basement, or at least part of it?

    Since 3/11 there have been more than 6,000 quakes, and 1,000 stronger than mag 5 and the No4 pool hasn't collapsed. I think there are some wishing for that to happen?

  • 3

    zichi

    the_harper,

    the fuel rods can't be removed until then?

  • 1

    zichi

    the_harper

    Why not? Surely it's a question of money and manpower not time?

    Actually it's a question of time because moving highly irradiated nuclear fuel isn't the same has moving bags of rice. They need time to cool down. The fuel in the reactor was removed in Dec. 2010 and needs at least two years before being moved. In America the rule is 10 years.

    Another problem is they need a special kind of crane to move them, that was destroyed by the explosions. TEPCO will need to build a new building next to the present reactor building to house a new crane. Please read the New York Times link in my previous comment.

    The explosion in No4 happened according to TEPCO, and others because hydrogen leaked into the building via a vent from No3.

  • 1

    zichi

    the_harper

    I think the situation with the No3 reactor is far more serious than what's happening at the No4. It was totally destroyed by hydrogen and probably steam explosions. Infrared photos have shown nuclear fuel mixed in the debris. The 35 ton nuclear fuel crane is inside the spent fuel pool. The radiation level is measured in millisieverts and too high for any worker to spend time inside. The massive door to the containment vessel is struck open. Some experts have stated melted fuel is outside of the reactor and containment vessel.

  • 1

    zichi

    the_harper, I understand what you saying. About one third of the fuel in the pool would hav come from the reactor when it was emptied in Dec. 2010. Another one third would be new fuel which would have gone into the reactor had the 3/11 disaster hadn't happened. The final one third, well I don't know long that has been in the pool.

    Normally the spent fuel would spend "x" amount of time in the spent fuel pool. From there it would be moved to a larger common pool for "y". After that it would be moved into dry casks and placed into a special storage down on the docks.

    The overhead crane at the common pool was damaged and will have to be replaced before any new fuel can go in here. That is also quite full so some fuel will have to be moved into dry casks after the crane is repaired. The storage for the dry casks is full, so before any more fuel can be put into dry casks, a new storage buildings will also have to be built.

    Like I sais no fuel can be removed from the No4 pool until a new building is constructed to house a new fuel crane. The working environment at the No4 reactor is at least 350 to 500 microsieverts per hours which lmits the time a single worker can spend time there.

    The fuel in the pool isn't 1,500 nuclear fuel rods. They are 1,500 fuel assemblies which contain about 400 fuel rods each. the rods are about 1/2 inch in dia and about 12 feet long.

  • 1

    wanderlust

    @harper - the explosive blast that damaged reactor 4 came through shared piping with reactor 3. Unlike many overseas reactors, the units at Fukushima and other parts of Japan share many facilities, such as controls, power, piping, and other infrastructure. In the case of reactors 5 and 6, they were able to share power for cooling through the joint electrical bus. a positive outcome, but in the case of 3 and 4, the explosion was shared.

  • 1

    zichi

    the_harper,

    I'm sure everyone, especially those of us living in Japan, would like the Fukushima disaster to be resolved ASAP but unfortunately when it comes to nuclear energy, time is measured in decades and even 10,000 years. I'm already old enough to know that in the remaining time of my life, I won't see that much progress.

    At the Fukushima plant, both American and French companies are working there. Others are working in Tokyo to try and come up with solutions to the many problems. TEPCO should take the lead for the work, because they known the plant best and it would be too easy if it was allowed to hand over the work to another company. TEPCO have a large part of the responsibility for the disaster happening in the first place.

  • 0

    Tigerta9

    Thanks @the_harper, @wanderlust

  • 1

    zichi

    TEPCO will have to have a crane made to remove the fuel from the No4 pool but will also have to ensure that the floor can carry the weight of a 35 ton crane.

  • 1

    zichi

    the_harper

    Amen to that, along with whoever thought that backup generators in a basement in a tsunami risk location was a good idea.

    That was part of the reactor design from General Electric of America who insisted at the time that they would only build the reactors if TEPCO accepted the design 100%. Basically, there are many flaws in this GE reactor design including putting huge pool of water 100 feet above ground.

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