TEPCO Reports Explosion at Fukushima Nuclear Plant: Did the Reactor 4 Fuel Pool Collapse?

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has reported an explosion at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

There were no reported injuries or spikes in radioactivity around the plant.

Dow Jones Newswires reports that,

The explosion was heard around 0530 GMT as wreckage was being removed by remotely controlled heavy machinery on the southern side of the No. 4 reactor building.

Tepco said it was possible that a machine ruptured a buried gas tank, causing the explosion, the report said.

TEPCO gave the time of the explosion at ~05:30 GMT instead of providing the time in the local time zone. I can do that calculation, but how many people can actually take a time in GMT and convert it into a time in JST – it isn’t even the same day. But OK, it turns out to be about 2:30 in the afternoon if you believe TEPCO. I don’t.

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #4: Click to enlarge

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 4 - click to enlarge

First, I doubt there is an underground fuel tank next to a nuclear reactor. Even if there were, ANY explosion would increase radiation levels because radioactive particles are all over the place. However, I have attached a photo of Reactor 4 in case someone can show me the location and type of the underground fuel tank. Conclusion: The statement is not true.

Secondly, I doubt that people are operating remote-controlled heavy equipment without specific planned routes and copies of blueprints of the facility overlaid on maps in front of them with specific GPS coordinates FOR EXACTLY THE REASON THAT THEY DON’T DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT! Conclusion: The statement is not true.

Third: The ‘live’ feeds have been off for longer than the time the indecent supposedly occurred. Yesterday it was supposedly because heavy ground fog obscured the area. People are not operating heavy tracked equipment around the Reactor 4 fuel pool in zero visibility – I was born at night but it wasn’t LAST night. Conclusion: Everything TEPCO says is molasses.

What DID happen? We’ll have to wait for the picture to come back on but the most likely scenario is that the R4 fuel pool collapsed and the near-term clean-up effort has been set back to the year 2525.

Dr. Tom is a retired scientist who is now farming on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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  • http://www.ecoac.de Bernd Mueller

    Dear Sirs,

    it is absolutely not understandable, why the japanese Authorities as well the international press ignore our help since more than 6 weeks but present one horrible story after the other.

    Since radioactive particles from Fukushima are spread even to the US and Canada Westcoast, the catastrophy is no longer local.

    Due to the situation in Fukushima we tried to help solving the problem with our modest possibilities and constructed an exhausting and filter machine, which could prevent the radioactive particles from spreading around the country.
    The separation rates of the filter elements for particles < 0,5 micro-meters are 99,99 %, so it can be granted, that all particles exhausted, will be stored inside the filter.

    According to TEPCO`s "Code of Ethics of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan preamble", we want to inform , that this construction is able to prevent damage from the peoble and urgently is to be installed except there is a better alternative.

    As You can see below, we are a small german company constructing and dealing since 15 years with industrial environmental protection products.
    We truly believe, that there is a good chance to help the japanese authorities to prevent the area from radioactive contamination.
    Radioactive particles are still ascending and wind directions will change.

    Unfortunately the japanese authorities, the Japanese Embassy Berlin until now (since six weeks) didnt react but time runs short.
    To do nothing would be omission.

    By combination of a truck mounted concrete pump from Schwing , an exhaust arrangement and a filtersystem ECOVAC most of the radioactive particles can be exhausted, led to the filter and separated.
    Due tot he fact, that radiaton comes from particles ascending from the power plant, these particles can be exhausted by special arrangement developed by ECOVAC. Separation rates for particles 0,5 micro-meters are 99,99 %.The filtersystem is self cleaning by compressed air cleaning mechanism.

    The exhaust arrangement covers an area of 25 m².Air volume ~ 15000 m³''/h

    To our opinion, this ist he only possibility to prevent the ascending particles from dispersing over the country.
    We could deliver several units shortly. The first unit within 2-3 weeks.
    Costs: One unit would be around 1.400.000.- € only, later the machne can be used as concrete pump for construction works.
    We believe, that its better to go unconventional ways than to loose numerous lifes.
    We know that this is not the absolute solution, but we believe, that there is a better chance for the people to survive becauseit can lower the radioactive exposure worldwide by tackling the problem at its source.

    Yours sincerely

    Dipl. Ing. Bernd Müller, http://www.ecovac.de /aktuelles

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  • Ralph

    “The US government has been working on this technology for over 10 years.
    Please take 15 min and explore the links provided. Why the US media is reluctant to cover this is astounding.”

    Aloha Ralph.

    I appreciate the effort but the reason no one has picked up this story is that it’s total nonsense. The Greek power plant will never be built because the technology doesn’t work. If that changes, I will have no problem supporting it. But as of now it’s a story about an old professor who wanted to imprint his name in the history books and will….for all the wrong reasons.

    T

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  • bfly

    short lived …they just readjusted it. towards two. Seems like number four still stands. at least on the outside.

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  • bfly

    The camera is starting to clear!

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  • AtomicZombie

    Fairewinds might think Unit 4 spent fuel pool had a criticality accident. Problem with that scenario is that radiation detectors would show up. No spike in radiation rules out a criticality accident.

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  • bfly

    I really value your forthrightness during this on going crisis.It has been really hard to find someone in the know, to tell it like it is.After reading your first article concerning the fuel hitting the groundwater, ive been frightened. At first was hard to believe. Then I watched an old documentary about Chernobyl,Gorbachav(?)explained about the secondary blast that could of happened..Do you think we are now past that possibility?albeit the situation remains horrible, no matter what. Thankyou

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    • Tom Burnett

      Aloha Butterfly,

      We are not past the possibility that the cores will melt down and hit groundwater but it seems less likely than before. It’s hard to tell exactly because TEPCO can’t tell the truth about anything. They say there was no spike in radiation – but I no longer believe them. The explosion at R4 could have been fuel and we won’t know until the fallout gets here and people start dying of cancer.

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      • bfly

        thankyou !

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        • Tom Burnett

          ;-)

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      • Aurelius

        Why is it “less likely”?

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        • Tom Burnett

          Because the fuel has melted into an amorphous blob of Corium and had spread withing the limits of it’s available space. Portions of it can and do continue to go fissile if they are allowed to heat up but the core masses are being cooled at least enough to keep the entire fuel load from going at once. If they can continue to provide at least some cooling, they can minimize the reactions. If, however, something occurs which prevents a continued supply of water, it will all begin again. But, because it did spread out, it will be harder for isolated fissile reactions to generate enough heat to involve the entire Corium mass. It CAN still happen – and it may. But there is less likely to be a full-scale China syndrome at this point IF they can keep a little water on it.

          That doesn’t solve the problem, though. The impurities in the water become highly irradiated and pour through containment cracks into the ocean. That process doesn’t ‘dilute’ the radioactive potential of the fuel mass – it simply creates MORE radioactivity and releases it into the wild.

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  • john

    “First, I doubt there is an underground fuel tank next to a nuclear reactor.” Why is that unbelievable? What do you think the giant Diesel backup generators run on?

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    • Tom Burnett

      I think they run on fuel from the giant above-ground diesel tanks you can see adjacent to them in the pictures of Fukushima. Diesel fuel isn’t explosive. If a tracked vehicle ran over a diesel tank it wouldn’t explode. Think again and get back to me.

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      • John

        I said nothing about diesel being the source of the explosion, just wondering why you doubt their existence. On further thought, they might be referencing a natural gas tank. Also, what evidence do you have of a spent fuel pool collapse anyway? This situation is grave enough without baseless speculation adding noise to the news out there. Time will tell in any case.

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        • Tom Burnett

          I made the case that I doubted the existence of buried explosive fuel tanks immediately adjacent to nuclear reactors.

          I doubt their existence for the obvious reasons and I further doubt that, if they existed at all, they would not be protected by steel posts set in concrete to prevent tracked vehicles from driving over them – and marked well on maps.

          We were discussing an explosion and you mentioned diesel fuel tanks. After we settled that, you switched to natural gas. If I explain that running over a natural gas tank will typically not cause it to explode, even if it is ruptured. The fuel-to-air mixture is too high to support it.

          I comment because there isn’t any news out there and mine has been spot-on. That is why people read it.

          I suggested that it was possible that the fuel pool collapsed, but didn’t state it as a fact. I still haven’t seen the pictures since it happen. If it was a LNG tank, the pictures ought to still be streaming.

          They aren’t, so it probably wasn’t.

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  • MathMajor314

    There is no situation at Fukushima so bad that it cannot get worse. Saved by the seaward wind so far, the seasonal winds are about to change.

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