Japan has told the UN nuclear watchdog a spent fuel storage pond was on fire at an earthquake-stricken reactor and radioactivity was being released "directly" into the atmosphere, the Vienna-based agency said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), citing information it had received from Japanese authorities, said dose rates of up to 400 millisievert per hour have been reported at the Fukushima power plant site.
"The Japanese authorities are saying that there is a possibility that the fire was caused by a hydrogen explosion," it said in a statement.
At the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, where an explosion Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor, the spent fuel pool, in accordance with General Electric’s design, is placed above the reactor. Tokyo Electric said it was trying to figure out how to maintain water levels in the pools, indicating that the normal safety systems there had failed, too. Failure to keep adequate water levels in a pool would lead to a catastrophic fire, said nuclear experts, some of whom think that unit 1’s pool may now be outside.
“That would be like Chernobyl on steroids,” said Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Associates and a member of the public oversight panel for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, which is identical to the Fukushima Daiichi unit 1.
People familiar with the plant said there are seven spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi, many of them densely packed.
Gundersen said the unit 1 pool could have as much as 20 years of spent fuel rods, which are still radioactive.
Originally posted by Daughter2
What I don't understand is why there aren't at least some evacuations to places outside Japan.
Sure they can't save everyone but what about trying to get at least some children out?
Originally posted by this_is_who_we_are
And the" World News Now" anchors on ABC are still reporting that there's no immediate danger to public health for those living in Tokyo. Deliberately downplaying, or just idiots? You decide.
I never thought a nuclear power plant could explode from a fission reaction but this is what they are saying:
Both United States and Japanese governments have for decades allowed re-racking of the pools to reduce the originally-designed minimum safe distance between the assemblies so that more rods can be stored in each pool. Utilities complained they were running out of storage space on site at the reactors. The problem is if the spent fuel gets too close, they will produce a fission reaction and explode with a force much larger than any fission bomb given the total amount of fuel on the site. All the fuel in all the reactors and all the storage pools at this site (1760 tons of Uranium per slide #4) would be consumed in such a mega-explosion. In comparison, Fat Man and Little Boy weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki contained less than a hundred pounds each of fissile material.
It is my understanding the pool at the top of reactor #4 overheated, created hydrogen and exploded.
Donnay said, “If these pools are breached (as could have happened in the explosions, Fukushima #3 looks worse than #1) and can no longer hold water, the spent fuel racked inside them will start to overheat, and eventually melt and burn. And since there is no longer any roof above these pools in reactors 1 and 3, all the radioactivity they contain is directly open to the atmosphere.”
Originally posted by muse7
Why the hell do I keep reading that engineers have succesfully cooled down the rods and the danger seems to be subsiding then I read this?!?!
Water in a pool storing spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor that caught fire Tuesday morning at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may be boiling, causing the water level to drop, an official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
The reactor was not in service when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake jolted Fukushima Prefecture and other areas in northeastern Japan on Friday, the official in charge of the facility said.
A massive emergency response operation is under way in northern Japan, with world governments and international aid groups coming together to bring relief to the beleaguered island nation. Ninety-one countries and regions and six international organizations have offered assistance, according to the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry.