Friday, October 21, 2011
New TEPCO Photographs Substantiate Significant Damage to Fukushima Unit 3
Analysis of new Fukushima 3 photographs released last week by TEPCO substantiate Fairewinds’ claim that explosion of Unit 3 began over the spent fuel pool. Fairewinds believes that significant damage has also occurred to the containment system of Fukushima Unit 3, and that the two events (fuel pool explosion and containment breach) did not occur simultaneously. Video also includes brief discussion of tent system being constructed over Fukushima Unit 1.
Hi, I'm Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds. I would like to talk to you today about some new photographs that were just recently released by Tokyo Electric.
First is the cover that was surrounding Fukushima Unit 1 is almost installed. Now that does not mean it is airtight, but it is better than what was there before.
What they will do with that cover when it is completely installed is they will take the gasses that are being created inside the nuclear reactor and they will run them through filters and go up the stack. So it does not eliminate all of the radiation, but it does capture it and send it up a stack to a much higher elevation. But the liquid radiation is not being trapped by this barrier. It is a start and it is a good start, but they are not there yet.
More importantly, TEPCO just released some pictures of Unit 3 which are worth taking a look at. Now, to back up a little bit, you will recall that as the accident began back in March and April, we dissected some videos of the explosion in Unit 1 and compared it to the explosion in Unit 2.
I will show you those right now, and they are quick. The first one blows outward and then Unit 3 on the other hand, after an initial spark, an initial flame front on the south side blows upward. Unit 3 is much more dramatic and much more powerful than Unit 1.
Now Tokyo Electric has released a new photograph. The first photograph is taken from behind the building, so you are still looking out toward the ocean at a slightly different camera angle. The fuel pool is on the south side which is the right of this picture. Look in the center of the building. The roof has collapsed and there is a large kind of grey structure in there. That is the trolley for the overhead crane in the middle of the building. That crane is used to lift heavy components like the nuclear reactor head, and it is also used to lift shield plugs that go over top of the nuclear reactor before it starts up after every refueling. So the crane has collapsed but it is in the center of the building.
Now the next picture will pick up right at that crane again. That centers it in the building. The right side is the south side toward the fuel pool. The center still has the roof girders over it. The roofing is gone, but the roof girders are still in place. The roof has collapsed almost straight down on that crane.
But look over toward the fuel pool now. When you look at the fuel pool, there is no roof left. As a matter of fact, one of the major structural beams is cracked in half. I think that shows what I have been saying since April, that the explosion occurred over the fuel pool initially. That is where the dramatic energy was released, over the fuel pool. The industry's position is that this is just another hydrogen detonation. In fact, it is not. If it were hydrogen gas, that entire building would be uniformly distributed with hydrogen. And the explosion would have just started and moved slowly from one end of the building to the other, but it would have been uniform. This picture clearly shows that the reaction was not uniform and that it started over the fuel pool.
Now related to the fuel pool, of course, is the fact that the rubble has now fallen into the pool. You can see it is obviously disrupted. It will be really hard to determine the exact cause of that fuel pool explosion. I still believe that it was a prompt, moderated, nuclear criticality. Only time will tell. But it is a theory that accounts for the explosion on that side of the building. It accounts for the energy release on that side of the building and the fact that there is no roof there any more. It also accounts for the fact that fuel fragments were found near the building and were bulldozed under. And fuel fragments were found as far as a mile and a half away.
The only way that could happen is if the nuclear reactor fuel that is stored in that pool, were pushed upward by an explosion. That cannot happen with a hydrogen explosion, but it is quite possible with an inadvertent criticality like I postulated.
The last thing I wanted to talk to you about today is a re-analysis of an old Tokyo Electric video, in light of this new photograph. Now this video was taken about 15-16 days after the accident and you will see a large amount of steam coming out of the floor. This is in Unit 3 and above it is that girder for the traveling crane. That means that the steam is in the middle of the building, not over the fuel pool. The fuel pool would not steam like that. The fuel pool would be much more gentle, almost like a lake with fog over it. But this steam is being pushed out and it is occurring in the middle of the building. What that tells me, is that the containment underneath that crane has been damaged. The containment is leaking. There is no way that amount of steam could be getting out were it not for the fact that the containment is leaking.
Since then we have continually seen steam coming out of Unit 3 in the center.
So I think we have two things going on here. I think we had an explosion that occurred on the south side over the fuel pool. And I think there is a damaged containment. I do not believe that they are a simultaneous event. But I think it is important to recognize just how seriously damaged Unit 3 is. I will keep you informed as the situation develops.