The Fires in Spent Fuel Pool Number 4 15 March 2011

Assessment of individual radionuclide distributions from the Fukushima nuclear accident covering central-east Japan

Norikazu Kinoshitaa,1,2, Keisuke Suekia, Kimikazu Sasaa, Jun-ichi Kitagawaa, Satoshi Ikarashia, Tomohiro Nishimuraa, Ying-Shee Wonga, Yukihiko Satoua, Koji Handaa,Tsutomu Takahashia, Masanori Satob, andTakeyasu Yamagatab

Edited by James E. Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and approved September 29, 2011 (received for review July 24, 2011)


A tremendous amount of radioactivity was discharged because of the damage to cooling systems of nuclear reactors in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. Fukushima and its adjacent prefectures were contaminated with fission products from the accident. Here, we show a geographical distribution of radioactive iodine, tellurium, and cesium in the surface soils of central-east Japan as determined by gamma-ray spectrometry. Especially in Fukushima prefecture, contaminated area spreads around Iitate and Naka-Dori for all the radionuclides we measured. Distributions of the radionuclides were affected by the physical state of each nuclide as well as geographical features. Considering meteorological conditions, it is concluded that the radioactive material transported on March 15 was the major contributor to contamination in Fukushima prefecture, whereas the radioactive material transported on March 21 was the major source in Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures and in Tokyo.

Full text:

Fukushima-derived radionuclides in the ocean and biota off Japan

Ken O. Buesselera,1, Steven R. Jayneb, Nicholas S. Fisherc, Irina I. Rypinab Hannes Baumannc, Zofia Baumannc, Crystaline F. Breiera, Elizabeth M. Douglassb, Jennifer Georgec, Alison M. Macdonaldb, Hiroomi Miyamotod, Jun Nishikawad, Steven M. Pikea, and Sashiko Yoshidab

” The Fukushima accident was characterized by core overheating that led to the venting of radioactive gases, hydrogen explosions, and fires associated with spent fuel rods; this resulted in the preferential release of more volatile radionuclides, such as Cs, and gases to the atmosphere.”

On the basis of the evidence reported by qualified, peer reviewed papers, the Japan Atomic Industry Forum, IAEA reports, coupled with some media reports, and the order for people to stay indoors from 15 March 2011 issued by the Japanese government that fuel rods in spent fuel rods were “burning” (rapidly oxidizing) on 15 March 2011 in spent fuel pool number 4.

This is worst case scenario according to WASH-740. The “fires” for at least part of the time were hard to see and this indicate grave overheating of zirconium. Rapid oxidation of zirconium can occur without flame. The presence or absence of flame being irrelevant to the structural harm done to the rod cladding by extreme overheat. The indications are that the explosion in spent fuel pool 4 of 15 March 2011 was due to Hydrogen release from overheating spent fuel rods. The “burning” continued for some time. The “fire” was “put out” twice. The fuel rods continued to overheat for some time, Fukushima Diary publishing information which indicates overheating continued on and off for a number of weeks.

The main release of radionuclides from Fukushima Diiachi appears to have been on 15 March 2011.

The nuclear industry needs to tell the truth for once.

The fact is that the conventional explanations of “burning zirconium” and the alleged impossibility of “putting out” “burning zirconium” are inaccurate. The issue being one of reducing the temperature of overheating zirconium so as to prevent structural damage and release of radionuclides.

Obviously it is possible to cool overheating zirconium even when it is rapidly oxidizing.

The events of 15 March 2011 indicate that the current program to removed spent fuel rods from Spent Fuel Pool Number 4 will involve the disturbance and removal of fuel rods which were damaged and breached on 15 March 2011.

At the end of this, despite the grave damage suffered by Japan as a result of the events of 15 March 2011, the nuclear industry will turn around and claim reports of the consequences of a spent fuel pool fire are greatly exaggerated even though it was the nuclear authorities who many years ago gave the exaggerated consequences via WASH 740. On this basis, despite the grave harm done to Japan and its people on 15 March 2011, nuclear industry will attempt to use the Fukushima Diiachi disaster as a proof of nuclear safety. Whereas in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The industry has always spoken in extremes. The world is in colour, not in black and white. The harms from the disaster are substantial and almost caused the death of a modern state. People are being placed at risk in order to prevent economic and social chaos in Japan today. The economic and social costs are actually substantial. The medical outcomes yet to be determined.

Nuclear power is not safe.

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