IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (15 March 2011, 14:10 UTC)

Scattered throughout the net are many sources which deny that a fire occurred at Reactor four on 14 March 2011 (UTC).

The previous post gives sources for the reports that a fire in Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor did occur.

On March 15 2011 TEPCO issued a Press Release regarding the fire in the reactor 4 building as follows:

The report reads as follows:

Press Release (Mar 15,2011)
Damage to the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station

At approximately 6:00am, a loud explosion was heard from within the
power station. Afterwards, it was confirmed that the 4th floor rooftop
area of the Unit 4 Nuclear Reactor Building had sustained damage.

After usage, fuel is stored in a pool designated for spent fuel.

Plant conditions as well as potential outside radiation effects are
currently under investigation.

TEPCO, along with other involved organizations, is doing its best to
contain the situation. Simultaneously, the surrounding environment is
being kept under constant surveillance. ”

The following link is to the current IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update page for 15 March 2011 : http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2011/fukushima150311.html

The report is a record of the findgins and reports of the IAEA and in relation to the fire, the IAEA states the following:

“A fire at Unit 4 occurred on 14 March 23:54 UTC and lasted two hours. The IAEA is seeking clarification on the nature and consequences of the fire.”

In addition, the IAEA on the same date states:

“After explosions at both Units 1 and 3, the primary containment vessels of both Units are reported to be intact. However, the explosion that occurred at 21:14 UTC on 14 March at the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 may have affected the integrity of its primary containment vessel. All three explosions were due to an accumulation of hydrogen gas.”

This is the best information the IAEA with all its resources and with the backing of the global nuclear industry and member governments was able to provide.

Pathetic really. NRC records released under FOIA include the IAEA alert sent to the NRC and member governments in fact in relation to the fire, which was in the Spent fuel pool 4.

Prior to this alert there was disagreement between Japan and the US NRC over the state of the fuel pool, which was in a state of overheart.

The nature of zirconium is such that rapid oxidation may take place without a flame and the salient facts of interest revolve around the condition of the cladding of the fuel rods. If the cladding fails in fuel rods exposed to the environment as is the case at Fukushima Diiachi, release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere will occur.

Zirconium fails when overheated. Rapid oxidation may occur with or without a flame.

The state of the fuel rods in the wreckage at Fukushima has been a constant concern, as has been the state of the structures which support the fuel pools.

It is my opinion that the IAEA alert reporting a fuel pool fire and radioactivity release was a report of a significant escalation of the nuclear disaster and reveals that the composition the emissions clouds and resultant fallout was far more consequential than previous reports.

The IAEA also report in as a vague a fashion as possible that reactor containment failure also may have occurred.

In the matter of sources, the more conservative the better. The fact is that Fukushima Diiachi watchers both in Japan and abroad have reported ont the hazardous nature of the spent fuel pools for months. The spent fuel pools have boiled dry and or run low water or have suffered coolant system loss several times over the last 2 years. The actual state of the emissions from the spent fuel pools is one of the items of concern of people interested in the progress of the Fukushima Diiachi disaster. And while nuclear authorities such as the IAEA do report, in this matter the reports are conflicting. For instance, on the 15 March 2011, IAEA reports a fire at Fukushima Diiachi. It claims not to know the nature of the fire. On the same day, in the midst of disagreement between the NRC and the Japanese authorities (in which NRC viewed with alarm the water level of the spent fuel pool 4), the IAEA issued its alert to member governments. The alert describes the fuel pool fire in spent fuel pool 4. This document is only known due to an FOIA release in the United States. The next day the IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update report for 16 March 2011 at http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2011/fukushima160311.html

reported the following:

“Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 22:00 UTC)

Temperature of Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Spent fuel that has been removed from a nuclear reactor generates intense heat and is typically stored in a water-filled spent fuel pool to cool it and provide protection from its radioactivity. Water in a spent fuel pool is continuously cooled to remove heat produced by spent fuel assemblies. According to IAEA experts, a typical spent fuel pool temperature is kept below 25 °C under normal operating conditions. The temperature of a spent fuel pool is maintained by constant cooling, which requires a constant power source.

Given the intense heat and radiation that spent fuel assemblies can generate, spent fuel pools must be constantly checked for water level and temperature. If fuel is no longer covered by water or temperatures reach a boiling point, fuel can become exposed and create a risk of radioactive release. The concern about the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Daiichi is that sources of power to cool the pools may have been compromised.

The IAEA can confirm the following information regarding the temperatures of the spent nuclear fuel pools at Units 4, 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:
Unit 4
14 March, 10:08 UTC: 84 °C
15 March, 10:00 UTC: 84 °C
16 March, 05:00 UTC: no data”

The IAEA is continuing to seek further information about the water levels, temperature and condition of all spent fuel pool facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
IAEA Director General to Travel to Japan (16 March 2011, 18:50 UTC)

Director General Yukiya Amano announced the following today in Vienna:

“I plan to fly to Japan as soon as possible, hopefully tomorrow, to see the situation for myself and learn from our Japanese counterparts how best the IAEA can help. I will request that the Board of Governors meet upon my return to discuss the situation. My intention is that the first IAEA experts should leave for Japan as soon as possible.”

On 15 March, Japan requested the IAEA for assistance in the areas of environmental monitoring and the effects of radiation on human health, asking for IAEA teams of experts to be sent to Japan to assist local experts.

Given the fast-changing situation in Japan, the Director General was unable to announce the itinerary for his trip. He expects to be in Japan for a short amount of time and then return to Vienna.

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 14:55 UTC)

Japanese authorities have reported concerns about the condition of the spent nuclear fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 and Unit 4. Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa announced Wednesday that Special Defence Forces helicopters planned to drop water onto Unit 3, and officials are also preparing to spray water into Unit 4 from ground positions, and possibly later into Unit 3. Some debris on the ground from the 14 March explosion at Unit 3 may need to be removed before the spraying can begin.
Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (16 March 2011, 03:55 UTC)

Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that a fire in the reactor building of Unit 4 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was visually observed at 20:45 UTC of 15 March. As of 21:15 UTC of the same day, the fire could no longer be observed.

Fire of 14 March

As previously reported, at 23:54 UTC of 14 March a fire had occurred at Unit 4. The fire lasted around two hours and was confirmed to be extinguished at 02:00 UTC of 15 March.” end quote.

Given the world wide governmental and organisational concern and attention focussed upon the condition of the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Diiachi, for the pre-eminent nuclear body on the planet to report “NO DATA” for spent fuel pool four on 16 March 2011 is a very heavy indictment.

There is copious evidence to confirm that a fire occurred at Reactor building number four. IAEA document on the previous page confirms the fire to be in the spent fuel pool number 4.

In terms of the word “fire” in the context of chemical and metallic fires, flame is not always present. Fire is a state of rapid oxidation, heat is produced and the structural integrity of the material is affected.

The fire of the 14 March 2011 (local Japan time) caused a shift in response. The Japanese Prime Minister ordered people within a radius to “stay indoors to avoid radiation sickness”. Radiation Sickness is an immediate effect of exposure. Up to this point, the claim by the Japanese authorities was that there was no immediate danger.

In relation to Japan, all I am primarily doing is following the public releases and whatever else I can find by way of reasonably well provenanced information.

The fact is that the situation regarding emissions from Fukushima Diiachi marked a very great shift in urgency, such that the head of IAEA flew back to his homeland to look and see and demonstrate to the world that, at least in my view, the fire was out, and that if you are cocooned in a rad suite and respirator, and an old man like he is, you will be ok. Specially as he flew back to Europe a few hours later.

There was a fire at reactor 4. IAEA says so.

It was in the spent fuel pool 4, and the IAEA issued a government level global alert which was only released to the public as the result of a US FOIA.

Meanwhile,I ponder the 16 March 2011 “no data” status for spent fuel pool Number 4.

The events described 2011 show that what is described as a fire by the IAEA burned and was extinguished in spent fuel pool number 4. As much as these events run contrary to the narrative of both the NRC regarding zirconium – the position of the impossiblity of zirconium fire, and counter to the position of many that once started a zirconium fire cannot be extinguished.

The reality is the fuel rods in at least spent fuel pool 4 have been fire affected and no information on this available. What is the state of the fuel rods at Fukushima Diiachi is the seminal question. Whether the question is about the spent fuel, or the fuel remaining at the base of the reactors. This is a simple technical question for which those in authority cannot given a clear answer. In the case of the fuel pools, the situation is not clear, in the case of the reactor fuel, authorities took 3 months to admit it was molten, and the disposition of the molten fuel is not disclosed.

This is the best the nuclear industry appears to be able to do. In other words, authorities claim ignorance while issuing reassurances.

5 Responses to “IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (15 March 2011, 14:10 UTC)”

  1. CaptD Says:

    The more data the better, IF IT IS FACTUAL!

  2. nuclearhistory Says:

    Information is omitted by nuclear authorities whenever they choose.

  3. March 15 2011 Fukushima Diiachi (again) | Paul Langley's Nuclear History Blog Says:

    […] See also https://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/iaea-fukushima-nuclear-accident-update-15-march-2011… […]

  4. Anon Says:

    I found this TV news report by Tim Maguire of Associated Press, which uses NHK footage with text superimposed in Japanese concerning Unit 4. The clip was uploaded to AP’s channel on YouTube, 15 March 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWVEhjl53I8:

    “A new fire has broken out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant one day after the facility admitted a burst of radiation that left the government struggling to contain the spiralling crisis.

    “The latest blaze happened early Wednesday morning, local time, in the number 4 unit.

    “The plant’s operator says the fire occurred in the outer housing of that unit’s containment vessel – but it’s not clear what caused the fire.

    “Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor’s fuel storage pond – that’s an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool – and radioactivity was released into the atmosphere.

    “Tokyo electric power said the new blaze erupted early Wednesday because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished, and firefighters were trying to put it out.”

    • nuclearhistory Says:

      Thanks Anon, that’s really helpful. I have been watching hours of Australian news reports I recorded at the time, and they are, of course, as clear as mud, with the issues of the explosions totally confused with the events relating to Unit 4. So the clip you have found is very good information. Thanks. i must wear my glasses when working on a dell mini 10.

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