The Fire of 14 March 2011 in Spent Fuel Pool, Reactor No. 4 Fukushima.

The record of this is very incomplete. The items are printed in the order in which they appear at the Stars and Stripes site above.

The Stars and Stripes Magazine – the organ of the US Armed Forces – published various items in regard to the fire in the spent fuel pool of reactor number 4 as follows:

10 p.m. Tuesday local Tokyo time, rStars and Stripes eporter: Geoff Ziezulewicz, citing the BBC : …..This latest warnings come after the plant was stricken by a third reactor explosion in four days, the latest of which appears to have damaged one of the reactors’ containment systems for the first time, raising the specter of a more serious radioactive leak.

A fire also briefly broke out at the plant’s reactor 4 Tuesday, BBC reports, although that reactor had been shut down for maintenance before Friday’s 9.0 earthquake.

4:20 p.m. Tuesday local Tokyo time, source: Associated Press:
High levels of radiation leaked from a crippled nuclear plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan after a third reactor was rocked by an explosion Tuesday and a fourth caught fire in a dramatic escalation of the 4-day-old catastrophe. The government warned 140,000 people nearby to stay indoors to avoid exposure.

Tokyo also reported slightly elevated radiation levels, but officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, about 170 miles away.

12:30 p.m. Stars and Stripes reporter – Tim Wightman

Power plant reactor fire extinguished
TOKYO – Japan’s nuclear safety agency says a fire in a reactor at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan has been extinguished, The Associated Press is reporting. The fire broke out Tuesday at the nuclear plant, located in one of the provinces hardest-hit by last week’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

11:45 a.m. Stars and Stripes Reporter – Tim Wrightman

TOKYO – Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors or risk getting radiation sickness, The Associated Press is reporting.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday that a fourth reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex was on fire and that more radiation was released.
Kan also warned that more leaks could occur.

10:55 a.m. Tuesday Stars and Stripes Reporter Tim Wrightman

TOKYO – The early Tuesday explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have damaged a reactor’s container, leading Japan’s nuclear safety agency to suspect a radiation leak, The Associated Press is reporting.
According to agency spokesman Shigekazu Omukai, the nuclear core of Unit 2 of the plant was not damaged in the explosion. But the agency suspects damage to the bottom of the container that surrounds the generator’s nuclear core, which could’ve caused radiation to escape.


The fire at reactor 4 has been poorly described in the sources I have read.

The early releases from the plant have been characterised by nuclear esperts as consisting primarily Iodine isotopes and Cesium isotopes. So officially these substances characterise the nature of the Fukushima fallout clouds which issued from the stricken massed reactors in the early stages of the concealed for 3 months multiple meltdowns. If the experts are to be believed in such a demonstrably and admitted (now, 2 years later) deceptive scenario.

The Stars and stripes repeatedly reported evens regarding the fire at Reactor 4 without describing what, exactly was on fire. However, at the same time as the fire was reported, it was also reported that the Japanese Prime Minister ordered people to stay indoors or “risk getting radiation sickness.”

If we accept that the early clouds were hazardous because of Iodine and Cesium, what was in the clouds produced by the fire at reactor Number 4? We won’t know until we look at what was on fire.
We need to understand though that the danger of the clouds issued from the stricken nuclear plant may have varied according to substances which comprised them. Cesium and Iodine in the quantities released present one set of hazards. Those substances being in the clouds as a result of their chemical natures – cesium for example has a very low melting and a low vaporisation point. (cesium: Melting Point: 301.59 K (28.44°C or 83.19°F) Boiling Point: 944 K (671°C or 1240°F) This is rational reason for imagining cesium isotopes predominated in the early pollution clouds from the stricken massed reactors.

Is there any source which examines the content of later emissions clouds, and any source which explains what precisely was on fire at reactor number 4?

A bundled of documents obtained from the US NRC via FOIA lodged by a US citizen is found at:

Amongst the bundle of documents is the following IAEA alert:

The IAEA alert informs of an event of international consequence. It gives the date of a fuel pool fire at 4:50 hours Universal Time Coordinates, 15 March 2011. The fire occurred in spent fuel pool of Reactor Number 4 at Fukushima Diiachi. The IAEA further advised that this fire was releasing radioactivity direxctly into the atmosphere. This release had international consequences. While it gives a probable cause of the fire as a hydrogen explosion, the fire is not characerised as a hydrogen fire. Hydrogen in the open burns explosively as I understand it. The cause of the fire, exploding hydrogen, is not the fire itself. Something was burning in spent fuel pool 4 and releasing radioactivity directly directly into the air.
And the IAEA issued a global alert to all member states. Atmospheric models were passed to all member states.

Was this release of radioactivity from the fire in fuel pool number 4 of the same nature as the source of the radioactivity in the earlier venting clouds and earlier hydrogen explosion clouds? That is, where the substances released directly into the air from the fuel pool fire simply cesium and iodine?

To answer that we need to look at what substances were detected and when.

As readers of this blog over the past years know, I, and many others, have tried to find out the radioactive substances which were carried in and deposited from, the Fukushima nuclear pollution clouds. We all know that radioactive substances are the key to understanding the nature of the nuclear pollution. The nuclear clouds emitted and deposited radioactive substances.

When the USS Ronald Reagan detected the Fukushima fallout clouds, what substances did the ship detect? Did it detect Cesium, the substance we are led to believe was the, by far, predominate radioactive substance being deposited by the clouds?

In a report dated 13 March 2011, the US NRC recorded that the USS Ronald Reagan detected and evaluated the Fukushima fallout cloud it encountered off the coast of Japan.
An image of the relevant page is reproduced in the preceding post.

The NRC states that the USS Ronald Reagan identified iodine, cesium and technectium within the cloud.

The fire in spent fuel pool number 4 is dated 15 March 2011 UTC while Stars and Stripes reports local Japan Time.

The range of fission fuels and fission products potentially released in a fuel rod fire – or in the case of fuel rod cladding failure due to fire – is limited only by the age of the fuel rods. In the case of Fuel Pool 4, in March 2011 the fuel rods were quite fresh. Many different radio-chemicals could be released, and we know that the Japanese government mounted a massive effort to keep the fuel pools effective by various attempts to refill the cooling water which had been lost. Without water, the fuel rods within the pools would overheat and zirconium cladding would rapidly oxidise. Rapid oxidation amounts to fire without flame, for the zirconium would become very hot, leading to lose of cladding, the fuel rods becoming unsealed as a result.

The Stars and Stripes reports that the Japanese Prime Minister ordered people within 30km of the nuclear plant to “stay indoors to avoid radiation sickness” as the same time, or near the same time as Cabinent Secretary Edano was reporting the fire at reactor number 4.

On the 14th of March 2011 Japan time, something happened which changed conditions. And I believe that the event was the loss of cooling to the spent fuel pools, in conjunction with the loss of containment building structures caused by the earlier explosions, had resulted in the controlled release of radio active substances from the spent fuel rods into the atmosphere via rapid oxidation of zirconium fuel rod cladding (a fire).

We know Lanthanum and many other substances were detected by Japanese and European authorities.

I submit that there were at least two different cloud compositions involved in the Fukushima Diiachi reactor failure nuclear releases. One type consisted of substances of low melting points which had been vented with steam during the early pressure releases. There substances are also involved in the clouds which resulted from the reactor explosions.

And then there is the clouds of radioactive substances released due to fuel rod over heating and fires at the reactors. Spent Fuel Pool Number 4 is not the only fuel pool and while the centre of attention, is not the only source of spent fuel products that could have been released a broad range of radioactive fission fuel and fission product to the air.

What is the full range of fission related substances found on the USS Ronald Reagan? Where did the spent fuel pool fire deposit its fallout? It can be expected that the early fallout clouds will differ from the spent fuel pool fire fallout clouds.

If it is assumed that all Fukushima fallout is the same or that there was only one set of cloud components, a wrong estimation has been made. The fallout consists not only cesium and iodine, but of fuel rod contents. And this cloud type is far more of a hazard than a cesium /iodine bearing cloud.

The difficulty with the dates is probably due to international agencies using GMT (UTC) while others used local Japan time. There was a fuel pool fire, this was put out. The fuel rods had been in overheat and in the open for quite some time.

The best I can do for the US military personnel bringing claims for exposure is this: The fallout from a spent fuel pool in overheat, would seem to be of different order than the components of steam in the earlier releases. And so the later clouds were more dangerous than the early ones. We know via the Washington Post, citing the NRC, that fuel rods were found some distance from the spent fuel pool number 4.

Whereas, in contradiction to the fire in fuel pool number 4, experts such as Dr Grimes of Imperial College, London, were still insisting, as late as 17 March 2011 that cesium isotopes and iodine isotopes were the only hazardous components within the fallout clouds. The clouds and fallout created by the fuel pool fire contained more substances of the same or greater hazard than these two.

Contrary to the myths peddled by some sources, the contents of the Fukushima fallout clouds contained many more substances that Iodine and Cesium isotopes. This holds true for the fallout emissions from the TEPCO plant from 14 March 2011, and possibly earlier, if unreported core breach occurred in one or more reactors. It took 3 months of world resistance to the nonsense issued by IAEA and Japan that melt down had not occurred for those authorities to admit that meltdown had begun on day 1 of the disaster.

It would be wise for the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan to look at the isotope list found upon their vessel’s decks and upon their uniforms. imo

Once the actual substances are identified, the hazard will be more clearly known.

The Association formed by the Dugway Survivor Group, where the war potential of the fission isotopes were tested, is here:

Fission fallout is not like a CT scan, its not like radiation from the sun.

radioactive dust particles issue particulate and photon radiation.

Be that as it may, it is authorities who determine risk in the legal setting.

4 Responses to “The Fire of 14 March 2011 in Spent Fuel Pool, Reactor No. 4 Fukushima.”

  1. CaptD Says:

    I find it SAD that you have to depend upon Stars & Stripes for nuclear information…

    Many others have posted information on the makeup of the radioactive clouds but as far as I know, no US Gov’t. listing of what was observed, the amounts and when have been released to the Public, which is a major Failure in trust of the US Gov’t.

    Greenpeace was the first International Org. on the scene and they have posted much information on Fukushima:
    and: and and here is yet another listing from another source: and I found this:

    So interested parties might query them to see what listings of radionuclides they have…

    • nuclearhistory Says:

      The reason I used Stars and Stripes Capt D is because the information on the condition of the spent fuel pool 4 and its fire is very hard to come by, and the Stars and Stripes gives several reports of it on the day, quoting in some cases other sources. If you search for the information, you find denials of it and basically nothing else. Stars and Stripes, being conservative, is a reasonsable source. I and many others spent hours and hours trying compile lists of radionuclides in the clouds in 2011. My little list is on blog, and given the complexity of the situation, and the number of substances, and the myriad sources one has to use, it is not an easy task for anyone. Given what did occur, its reasonable to conclude that the clouds were far more dangerous than presented by officials and the hack media. I would much rather Stars and Stripes in this matter than many other sites. I say also that the condition of the sfp4 on 14 March 2011 is ignored of most retrospective TV programs regarding the events at Fukushima.

      It is the function of this blog to look at official reports and compare them with reports to the contrary. From there, one goes to the reference texts to find the state of knowledge held by competant authorities. What was known and when. If one is to ignore the official statements as confirmed by conservative sources, one cannot discern what authorities actually said. In this event, the fire in spent fuel pool number 4 was reported by BBC and AAP, and IAEA released an alert.

      It is true Captain D that for the whole period the isotope list of substances released from Fukushima Diiachi has not been fully disclosed in one place, by authorities.

      As stated, I have spent hours compiling my list of radionuclide lists. In the matter at hand, the USS Ronald Reagan is well equipped to detect, identify and measure the nature of the radioacity which fell upon its decks. As stated in the article. My list, any list from any other place or authority in any location other than the place in question, the USS Ronald Reagan, is insufficient in the court case brought by the sailors. The US Navy knows precisely what fell upon the vessel and the crew. The USS Ronald Reagan is a self contained RADIAC capable vessel capable of fighting a nuclear war. It is therefore well suited and able to determine precisely what the substances which contaminated the ship are.

      When are you going to start your own blog?

  2. Anon Says:

    Unit 3 blew up while Malcolm Grimes was being interviewed in person in the BBC TV studio, and he had to improvise a hasty “nothing to worry about” response live to the clip of the explosion being repeated ad nauseam.

    While we’re all familiar with the footage of the Unit 3 explosion,
    I’ve never seen any TV footage said to be of the Unit 4 fire, and there was very little explanation about why the Unit 4 building suddenly looked as devastated as Unit 3 adjacent to it – the mantra was “hydrogen”, and that was about it.

    Nevertheless, the IAEA, in its Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log, Updates as of 16 March 2011,… states that according to info received from Japan, Unit 4 had two fires:

    1) one fire began just before midnight UTC on 14 March 2011, and lasted for around two hours, that is, until about 2am UTC, on 15 March 2011 (which concurs with Wikipedia notion that fire broke out early in the morning in Unit 4, at around 7am, local time on 15 March); and

    2) a second fire was noticed that same day, 15 March, at around 8.45pm UTC; but it “could no longer be observed” 30 mins later; whether this means it was extinguished, or simply too dangerous to “observe” at this point, who knows?

    The IAEA info reads as follows:
    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.

    • nuclearhistory Says:

      Thanks for this Aaron. I need all the information I can get on this.

      Eventually, I hope to have some sort of coherent picture of the R4 fires. I’m pretty certain that there was a massive radiation release from the spent fuel pool resultant from the fires.

      A key thing I hold in mind is that fire is a form of rapid oxidation, but of course, one can have rapid oxidation without a flame. Especially in overheated metal such as zircalloy.

      I think the emergency took on a much more urgent official tone from the time of those fires, and as far as I can figure, it looks to me like the order to stay indoors with windows and doors shut was issued just about as the time as the R4 fires.

      Grimes was interviewed on Australian TV, ABC, and the interviewer tried very hard to get an answer to the question “What substances are in the radiation clouds”. Twenty minutes later Grimes was still crapping on about ground shine when the interviewer interrupted as he was running out of time. The interviewer suggested there could be cesium and iodine in the “clouds of radiation”. Grimes agreed and left the isotopes list at that provided by the journalist.

      Whereas it’s Grimes duty to tell the whole truth and not merely parrot journalists. Imperial college London may be a repository of all there is to know, but it sure ain’t a place dedicated to enlightening the public.

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