Spent fuel Rod fire could be worse than Chernobyl

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posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 01:55 AM
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I made a post today in a thread about this topic..I decided to provide more info and turn it into a thread of it's own
some of it is taken from that post, with new info added in.

In Japan the spent fuel rods are stored mainly at the plant, with a portion sent to another plant to reprocess..

I am sure there is no need to show the diagrams that have been posted many times before..

Spent fuel is stored within the reactor building in a swimming pool-like concrete structure near the top of the reactor vessel


This spent fuel must be kept underwater to prevent severe releases of radioactivity, among other reasons. A meltdown or even a fire could occur if there is a loss of coolant from the spent fuel pool. The water in the spent fuel pool and the roof of the reactor building are the main barriers to release of radioactivity from the spent fuel pool.


source

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant we are missing all sorts of roofs, walls etc..and the plants may or may not be on fire at this point. hard to tell what is going on now.

One of the reasons given early on for the explosions was hydrogen build up from venting.


Hydrogen is generated in a nuclear reactor if the fuel in the reactor loses its cover of cooling water. The tubes that contain the fuel pellets are made of a zirconium alloy. Zirconium reacts with steam to produce zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas. Moreover, the reaction is exothermic – that is, it releases a great deal of heat, and hence creates a positive feedback that aggravates the problem and raises the temperature. The same phenomenon can occur in a spent fuel pool in case of a loss of cooling water


Source

It's hard to know the exact amount of fuel beings stored but


The Fukushima Daiichi plant has seven pools for spent fuel rods. Six of these are (or were) located at the top of six reactor buildings. One “common pool” is at ground level in a separate building. Each “reactor top” pool holds 3450 fuel rod assemblies. The common pool holds 6291 fuel rod assemblies. [The common pool has windows on one wall which were almost certainly destroyed by the tsunami.] Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. This means the Fukushima Daiichi plant may contain over 600,000 spent fuel rods

Source

And


Japanese commercial nuclear power plants began operation in 1970. Currently there are 53 nuclear power plants in operation. To date close to 20,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel has been generated by Japan's nuclear power program



The quantity of fission products (spent nuclear fuel) produced each year at a full-sized commercial nuclear power plants is massive. A total of approximately 50,000 times the fission products of the Hiroshima bomb are created by Japanese nuclear power plants each year, and this for the most part is cumulative, in other words the material remains radioactive. Most of this waste is being temporarily stored at nuclear power plant sites and must remain segregated from the natural environment


Source

Now this info does not apply to the MOX fuel one of the reactors use...spent Mox fuel may or may not be stored on site, I have been unable to find out about that.

Mox is a fuel that contains plutonium. There are Threads here on ATS that explain that better than I could..

Now that the news from Japan shows that we may have a spent fuel rod fire...How bad will it be?

Well this type of thing has been studied before,,just not in Japan..we have some U.S. studies we can use.

If a fire were to break out at the Millstone Reactor Unit 3 spent fuel pond in Connecticut, it would result in a three-fold increase in background exposures. This level triggers the NRC’s evacuation requirement, and could render about 29,000 square miles of land uninhabitable , according to Thompson. Connecticut covers only about 5,000 square miles; an accident at Millstone could severely affect Long Island and even New York City



A 1997 report for the NRC by Brookhaven National Laboratory also found that a severe pool fire could render about 188 square miles uninhabitable, cause as many as 28,000 cancer fatalities, and cost $59 billion in damage. (The Brookhaven study relied on a different standard of uninhabitability than Thompson.) While estimates vary, “the use of a little imagination,” says Thompson, “shows that a pool fire would be a regional and national disaster of historic proportions.”


Source

Again this study was done in the U.S and not based on current Japan population levels around the power plants..
It also does not factor in MOX fuel

Another article says


The consequences of severe spent fuel pool accidents at closed U.S. reactors were studied by the Brookhaven National Laboratory in a 1997 report prepared for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. According to the results, the damages resulting from such accidents for U.S. Boiling Water Reactors could range from $700 million to $546 billion, which would be between roughly $900 million and $700 billion in today’s dollars. The lower figures would apply if there were just one old spent fuel set present in the pool to a full pool in which the spent fuel has been re-racked to maximize storage. Other variables would be whether there was any freshly discharged spent fuel in the pool, which would greatly increase the radioactivity releases. The estimated latent cancer deaths over the years and decades following the accident was estimated at between 1,300 and 31,900 within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the plant and between 1,900 and 138,000 within a radius of 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the plant.



The range of consequences in Japan would be somewhat different from those outlined in the Brookhaven report, since the consequences depend on population density within 50 and 500 kilometers of the plant, the re-racking policy, and several other variables. It should also be noted that Daiichi Unit 1 is about half the power rating of most U.S. reactors, so that the amount of radioactivity in the pool would be about half the typical amount, all other things being equal. But the Brookhaven study can be taken as a general indicator that the scale of the damage could be vast in the most severe case.


Source

So how bad could it really get??


“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


Washington Post

Well we could just put a fire out right?


If that fuel were exposed to air and steam, the zirconium cladding would react exothermically, catching fire at about 1,000 degrees Celsius. A fuel pond building would probably not survive, and the fire would likely spread to nearby pools. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concedes that such a fire cannot be extinguished; it could rage for days


Source

Well it won't be as bad as Chernobyl right?


On average, spent fuel ponds hold five to 10 times more long-lived radioactivity than a reactor core. Particularly worrisome is the large amount of cesium 137 in fuel ponds, which contain anywhere from 20 to 50 million curies of this dangerous isotope. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium 137 gives off highly penetrating radiation and is absorbed in the food chain as if it were potassium. According to the NRC, as much as 100 percent of a pool’s cesium 137 would be released into the environment in a fire.



In comparison, the 1986 Chernobyl accident released about 40 percent of the reactor core's 6 million curies. A 1997 report for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by Brookhaven National Laboratory also found that a severe pool fire could render about 188 square miles uninhabitable, cause as many as 28,000 cancer fatalities, and cost $59 billion in damage. A single spent fuel pond holds more cesium-137 than was deposited by all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined.


Source

yeah but Chernobyl had a melt down and explosion and graphite, that helped spread the radiation..

so we need some sort of big plume in Japan to spread the fallout

ABC news reported thick black smoke from the Chiba refinery fire was billowing 3000 ft in the air

ABC News

Last reports were there were 80+ fires burning in the area

so much smoke in fact that it can be seen from space


The photo from NASA's Aqua satellite was taken at 2:46 p.m. Local Japan Time and shows a dark plume of smoke emanating from the Sendai region. The black smoke can be seen blowing far out to sea.


NASA

also have a volcano on the south of the island belching ash as high as 6000 feet in the air
LA TIMES

Okay maybe we should evacuate people then

One of the above reports said up to 29,000 miles could be uninhabitable..but let's just evacuate 500 miles for sake of the post..

but wait a minute..we have important things in that area that have to be tended to and monitered right?

Isn't nuke plant #2 nearby right? and a plant at Onagwa that is already showing trouble..we can's just up and leave. what else is there ?

Anyone remember the Tokai plant? It is a small reconversion plant with a little fame already


The Tokaimura nuclear accident (東海村JCO臨界事故, Tōkai-mura JCO-rinkai-jiko?, "Tōkai Village JCO Criticality Accident") was at the time Japan's worst civilian nuclear radiation accident. It took place on 30 September 1999 at a uranium reprocessing facility located in the village of Tōkai, Naka District, Ibaraki. The accident occurred in a very small fuel preparation plant operated by JCO (formerly Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Co.), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co


Wiki

Remember all that MOX fuel we talked about before,,that may or may not be in storage at the plant?

Well north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Is the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant
Thats where they are making Mox fuel and storing extra spent fuel rods





The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant (六ヶ所村核燃料再処理施設, Rokkasho Kakunenryō Saishori Shisetsu?) is a nuclear reprocessing plant with an annual capacity of 800 tons of uranium or 8 tons of plutonium


Wiki


Rokkasho-mura has the world largest cooling pool (Fig. 4). Spent nuclear fuel transported to the reprocessing plant is stored here and it is ultimately expected to hold 3000 tons of spent fuel


source

That world record spent fuel pool has already had trouble in the past


Other safety problems have plagued Rokkasho. Last year, the cooling system of its spent nuclear fuel storage pool temporarily failed. The ventilation system in the fuel storage building had problems. Last month, the fuel pool, which at that point contained more than 1,000 nuclear fuel assemblies, leaked coolant from a loose valve; it took workers more than 15 hours to identify and fix the problem


Source

So who will be minding the store if everyone evacuates


Remember we have more than one plant in trouble..the news is showing fires, we have 600k spent fuel rods setting there, we have containment vessels leaking and on and on.....

so I leave you with this

Jet Stream




posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:01 AM
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Wow that Jet stream is nuts!! Should we be worried if we are in that area???

This whole incident is really wild... wonder what will be the end of it



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:09 AM
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reply to post by morder1
 


It would be far wrong for me to tell you to worry or not..I can only speak for myself...
If I lived anywhere on the west coast..I would be packing my families bags for a road trip..just in case



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:17 AM
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great break down on this. The BBC said




# 0510: Japan's worsening nuclear crisis will now be compared to the Chernobyl disaster, an editorial in Japan's Asahi Shimbun says. It adds that the unprecedented disaster will test the resilience of Japanese society.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:18 AM
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good yet frightening post.

ive heard on five live that they are going to try and douse the fires by helicopter. this seems like their playing their last cards now.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:24 AM
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reply to post by okiecowboy
 


Thanks, well put together.
Who knows how bad this will get, but worse case senario, this will be many, many times worse than Chernobyl.
I hope Im wrong. But the pitcures are speaking a thousand words,( so to speak)
Take care all



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:27 AM
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Nice summary of what is going on in Japan.

"If a fire were to break out at the Millstone Reactor Unit 3 spent fuel pond in Connecticut, it would result in a three-fold increase in background exposures. This level triggers the NRC’s evacuation requirement, and could render about 29,000 square miles of land uninhabitable , according to Thompson. Connecticut covers only about 5,000 square miles; an accident at Millstone could severely affect Long Island and even New York City."

That quote if accurate is extraordinarily frightening.

From what I have read this situation is going to get much much worse before it is brought under control



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 02:47 AM
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Just when I thought they may have a lid on this thing the headline from The Daily Mail this morning

A nation in the grip of nuclear panic: Japan disaster spirals out of control amid warnings it could end in 'apocalypse'...

Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk... l#ixzz1GkKTV95J

Japan was consumed by panic last night as the nuclear crisis threatened to spiral out of control.

Fears of 'an apocalypse' were raised as radiation levels soared - and experts warned the crippled Fukushima plant had become a nuclear risk second only to the Chernobyl disaster.

Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk... l#ixzz1GkKdIxNf
Also The Emperor of Japan has just been on live TV to say that he prays for the safety of as many of his people as possible ( sky news live tv banner)
edit on 16-3-2011 by tarifa37 because: (no reason given)


Definition of the word apocalypse

# a cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil
# Revelation: the last book of the New Testament; contains visionary descriptions of heaven and of conflicts between good and evil and of the end of the world; attributed to Saint John the Apostle
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
www.google.co.uk...:apocalypse&sa=X&ei=YGuATfOQFYSHhQeNw9ilBw&sqi=2&ved=0CBYQkAE
edit on 16-3-2011 by tarifa37 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 03:19 AM
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reply to post by tarifa37
 


Do you know where the Emperor is hiding out?
If he is hiding in a bunker or in another country then the worst WILL unfold.

I havent seen what the emperor was wearing, however I have noticed that every other japanese government ministers that have been at a press conferance, have been wearing a BLUE JUMPSUIT

Did anyone else notice that?



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 03:55 AM
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Originally posted by meathed
reply to post by tarifa37
 


Do you know where the Emperor is hiding out?
If he is hiding in a bunker or in another country then the worst WILL unfold.

I havent seen what the emperor was wearing, however I have noticed that every other japanese government ministers that have been at a press conferance, have been wearing a BLUE JUMPSUIT

Did anyone else notice that?


I noticed that as well. Also wonder about where the Emperor is hiding himself out right about now.

One thing on the apocalypse definition, and this one always bugs me (even if I am non-religious lol)

The real translation of apocalypse is a revealing or revelation (i.e. why that last book in the bible is called Revelations.. It was Apocalypse in greek)

Just sayin, it's one of my few pet peeves rofl



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 06:43 AM
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Quote by Jomina I noticed that as well. Also wonder about where the Emperor is hiding himself out right about now.
One thing on the apocalypse definition, and this one always bugs me (even if I am non-religious lol)
The real translation of apocalypse is a revealing or revelation (i.e. why that last book in the bible is called Revelations.. It was Apocalypse in greek)
Just sayin, it's one of my few pet peeves rofl
End Quote

Im not religious either.
I think it has already been revealed. And what it is that has been revealed, is that nuclear power is no good.


But seriously.
Revelations. Just means we are finally going to open our eyes and finally see the lies that Leaders and our Elders have been telling us for hundreds of years.
Then their power over us will be dead. It will be the death of their power, their apocalypse.
We will rise
edit on 16-3-2011 by meathed because: (no reason given)
edit on 16-3-2011 by meathed because: My computer is crap



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 11:23 AM
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In addition to the reactor cores, the storage pool for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel is also at risk. The pool cooling water must be continuously circulated. Without circulation, the still thermally hot irradiated nuclear fuel in the storage pools will begin to boil off the cooling water. Within a day or two, the pool’s water could completely boil away. Without cooling water, the irradiated nuclear fuel could spontaneously combust in an exothermic reaction. Since the storage pools are not located within containment, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur. Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances. Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.” Kamps is a specialist in nuclear waste at Beyond Nuclear and conducted research last year assessing the state of nuclear facilities in Japan.


source



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 11:25 AM
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reply to post by okiecowboy
 

A note to be taken......

At cernobyl the workers had no idea where they were going to.
They covered the reactor in dirt with their own hands, they all died within weeks.
Now that they know, who is going to do the same ? If they don't the fuel rods will burn for months.
Someone has to do the dirty work and die after that. Who is going to cover contain the reactors I wonder.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 11:31 AM
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Excellent point that seems to evade the mainscream's Orwellian propaganda news. Number 3 reactor has been said that its spent fuel pool is already on fire and releasing radioactive smoke/steam, plus they suspect the core is breached.


Why Fukushima’s “spent” fuel rods will continue to catch fire
Firedoglake


The spent fuel rod pool at reactor 4 is one of seven pools for spent fuel rods at Fukushima Daichii. These pools are designed to store the intensively radioactive fuel rods that were already used in nuclear reactors. These “used” fuel rods still contain uranium (or in the case of fuel rods from reactor 3, they contain both uranium and plutonium from the MOX fuel used in that reactor). In addition to the uranium and plutonium, the rods also contain other radioactive elements. These radioactive elements are created in the rods by the intense radiation around the rods when they are in the reactor core (before they are moved to the spent fuel pools).

Six of the spent fuel rod pools are (or were) located at the top of six reactor buildings. One “common pool” is at ground level in a separate building. Each “reactor top” pool holds up to 3450 fuel rod assemblies. The common pool holds up to 6291 fuel rod assemblies. [The common pool has windows on one wall which were almost certainly destroyed by the tsunami.] Each assembly holds sixty-three fuel rods. This means the Fukushima Daiichi plant may contain over 600,000 spent fuel rods. The fuel rods once stored atop reactor 3 may no longer be there: one of the several explosions at the Fukushima reactors may have damaged that pool.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 11:36 AM
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Question: Some people have said that most of the radioactivity won't make it into the jetstream because it would need to reach 30,000ft and would be dispersed more locally long before it reached that height. Also, even if it were to make it into the jetstream it would be dispersed/diluted as it traveled the thousands of miles over the vast Pacific. Is this the case? Thanks.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 12:13 PM
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Take a look at the fallout map from chernobyl



It all depends on the amount that will be released....yes there will be dilution, and the wind...



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 12:13 PM
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Originally posted by morder1
Wow that Jet stream is nuts!! Should we be worried if we are in that area???

This whole incident is really wild... wonder what will be the end of it
It never ends. Disasters will happen again and again until either they kill you or you die of natural or unnatural causes. I wouldn't worry about the jet stream. It's unlikely to impact us, but even if it does you can't spend your life running from the boogieman. The reality is that what's happening today will happen again in the not too distant future. Everything has momentum. Everything is conserved. Change is slow and painful. So if you're going to be running now you'll be running for the rest of your life. If you want to live your life, then do it now. If this event turns truly horrible and it turns out that it'll impact us in a big way, then I agree, it's time to leave. But until then live your life, don't panic.

This guy knows a lot about particles and how they move in the atmosphere:
Favorable winds over Japan carrying radioactivity out to sea

That may give you some relief. I'm giving no guarantee. This could turn bad. But the reality is that we don't have near the control we think we have over our lives. So don't get paranoid. It's pointless.

I'm worried about the people in japan and how they're going to cope. They're injecting trillions of yen into the economy to keep it afloat. There're rolling black outs across the country. Nuclear power I think provides over 30% of their electrical usage. I saw a post elsewhere on here suggesting that there's 1/10 less usage because of the deep losses from the tsunami. But even then they're still having blackouts because of troubles with moving things around and because of the nuke plants that're shutdown right now. Several reactors are shutdown and if i'm right they have 53 according to wiki. They've lost 10's of thousands of people. They have over 127 million people living on a landmass smaller than California. California only has 37 million people. Put that into perspective. What happens in one corner is felt in another. It would be very stressful to be living there right now.
edit on 16-3-2011 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)
edit on 16-3-2011 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 12:21 PM
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reply to post by Curio
 


It all depends on how much radiation is released.

In this case, most likely a lot more than we'd like....a whole lot more.

I hate to say it, but I think this is where physics takes over and nothing more can really be done to stop complete meltdowns: the ripple effects will be immense.



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 12:27 PM
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Originally posted by originunknown
good yet frightening post.

ive heard on five live that they are going to try and douse the fires by helicopter. this seems like their playing their last cards now.


I got a Rueters Flash this morning stating: "Japan police will attempt to cool no.4 reactor spent nuclear fuel pool using a water cannon truck"

I'm no expert but is this all they have? This is the last ditch effort?



posted on Mar, 16 2011 @ 12:34 PM
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reply to post by okiecowboy
 


There is no way to get rid of the radioactive poop made by the nuclear "power plants". All they can do is keep it around until an "accident" happens.

The more I look at these installations doting the planet, the more I am convinced they are just extermination machines disguised as friendly power plants.

Shut them down.





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