It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Originally posted by GoldenRuled
Obama will save us! I'll bet he's drawing up an executive order to lock us up for our own protection as we speak.
Originally posted by boymonkey74
Sigh...do some of you want the world to end? cos it sure seems like it, once again another doom and gloom thread with no real substance nor any real facts.
I suggest people do a bit of research before claiming we are all doomed.
Yes it isn't the best situation over in Fukushima but it isn't as bad as some of you try to make out.
I give it another week before someone else makes a thread saying reactor 4 will kill us all.
Originally posted by SmertSpionam1
reply to post by GoldenRuled
Actually Obumer is going to send in what is left of seal team six to get the spent fuel rods and then dump them at sea.
I have a degree in nuclear engineering, although it isn't my current area of study (i.e. my tag).
I imagine you are talking about the current hysteria over the reactor 4 spent fuel pool? A sitting US Senator visited the site, saw the extent of the damage, and wrote a letter to various Japanese and US officials urging them to look for a quicker solution to the problem of re-locating the spent fuel. For reference, the current plan is to transition the fuel to dry-cask storage on a ~10 year timeline.
So what is dangerous about the spent fuel pool? As we all probably know, when fuel is burned in a nuclear reactor the leftover material is highly radioactive. In fact, it is so radioactive that it requires cooling for ~4-6 years after being removed from the reactor. However, so-called "passive cooling" is sufficient - the fuel bundles are placed in a large pool of water, and natural convection keeps them cool. After some time has passed, and the radioactivity has subsided somewhat, the fuel bundles can be transferred to "dry-cask" storage - basically encased in a large concrete container.
So that is where we are. The fuel rods are sitting in their pool. The problem is that the earthquake destroyed all the cranes that are used to transfer fuel out of the SFP. So, in the near-term, there isn't much we can do to the fuel bundles.
Now here is where the controversy starts, and it requires several leaps of logic. You may have read many recent articles that claim that the SFP#4 is a threat to humanity - here is one such article. This story was picked up by the alternative media and promoted in anti-nuclear circles. And it is a real eye-catching headline - I can't blame people for being worried after reading an article like that. I've even seen some articles that claim that the radioactivity in the rods could cause the deaths of billions of people, although I haven't seen any credible calculations to back that up.
The articles all seem to reference the same scenario - an earthquake (somehow) drains the SFP, and from there every last bit of radioactivity in the rods is released into the air, travels across the ocean, and causes mass extinction in the US.
This scenario is so implausible that it still boggles my mind that it gets any coverage at all. If an earthquake happened and if the fuel pool drained, all that is needed is to pump water from the ocean, 30 meters away. SFP are at atmospheric pressure, so there aren't pumping problems like what led to the original accident. And even then, if there was no water and if the debris in the pool caught fire, they are still encased in zirconium cladding, which holds the fission products within. The release of radioactivity from the original accident and chernobyl were because the cladding melted inside the heat of the reactor. In chernobyl especially, the large cesium release was due to burning graphite, which can undergo self-sustained combustion at very high temperatures. The SFP#4 rods are radioactive, but there isn't any mechanism that can cause that kind of release. If you are skeptical, you can watch this video of a zirc rod being hit with a blowtorch, and not burning.
I'm not saying the SFP is something we can just forget about - there are rods there that need to be dealt with in the long term. But the hyperbole about this pool causing the extinction of the human race is ridiculous. The mainstream media doesn't cover it because it is a non-story - "fuel pool somewhat dangerous but not that bad" isn't a winning headline. But the story circulates with even wilder and wilder predictions in the alternative media, and then people start thinking it's some kind of conspiracy or cover-up - "why isn't anyone talking about this horrible threat?!" I think the echo chamber is building up so loud that we will see organizations like the IAEA or the NRC try to address it publicly.
someone better invest a few billion into the project, send in the worlds greatest scientists and get going, eh?