Fukushima’s wrecked Reactor 3 is the most worrisome, as its spent fuel pools contain 89 tons of MOX fuel, which contains plutonium. The reactor began steaming intermittently over a month ago, but the steam events are increasing and lengthening:
The steam was first spotted on December 19 for a short period of time, then again on December 24, 25, 27, according to a report TEPCO published on its website.
The company, responsible for the cleanup of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, has not explained the source of the steam or the reason it is rising from the reactor building. High levels of radiation have complicated entry into the building and further inspection of the situation.
There are three likely scenarios:
- A meltdown is taking place.
- The molten fuel, the “corium,” has reached ground water.
- Stray fuel pellets inside the reactor building are reacting to rain water.
Some are more concerned than others:
Turner Radio Network (TRN) has issued a report regarding Fukushima Diachi Nuclear Plant that is expected to affect the entire Northern Hemisphere.
According to the report: ‘Persons residing on the west coast of North America should IMMEDIATELY begin preparing for another possible onslaught of dangerous atmospheric radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan.’
Through ENENews reports, TEPCO has confirmed via camera surveillance, that steam has begun to pour from Reactor 3, although they have ‘not been identified abnormal plant conditions.’
TEPCO are reporting that ‘radioactive steam has suddenly begun emanating from previously exploded nuclear reactor building #3 at the Fukuishima disaster site in Japan.’
The corporation is not clear on the details of the sudden change at Reactor 3 because of ‘lethal radiation levels in that building.’
I’ve long felt that we are in store for the worst of what this disaster will dish out. However, I think that Fairewinds may have a better handle on this than the Turner Radio Network. Fairewinds posted this yesterday:
Beginning on Monday December 30, 2013, the Internet has been flooded with conjecture claiming that Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 is ready to explode. Fairewinds Energy Education has been inundated with questions about the very visible steam emanating from Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3. Our research, and discussions with other scientists, confirms that what we are seeing is a phenomenon that has been occurring at the Daiichi site since the March 2011 accident.
It is winter and it is cold through out much of the northern hemisphere. Hot water vapor has been released daily by each of the four Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants since the accident. We believe that is one of the reasons TEPCO placed covers over Daiichi 4 and 1. Sometimes the steam [hot water vapor] is visible and sometimes it is not. If you have been outside on a cold winter day, you have personally experienced that phenomenon when you see the breath you exhale form a cloud in the cold air. The technical explanation is that hot water vapor becomes visible when it comes in contact with cold air and condenses. During the winter months in the Fukushima Prefecture, the sea air is cold and moist, thus forming the ideal conditions to see the released steam.
Why is there still steam coming from the plants especially since TEPCO says that they are in cold shutdown? As we at Fairewinds have discussed in our many videos, podcasts, and reports, radioactive rubble (fission products) was left in each unit following the triple meltdowns. While the plants are shutdown in nuke speak, there is no method of achieving cold shut down in any nuclear reactor. While the reactor can stop generating the actual nuclear chain reaction, the atoms left over from the original nuclear chain reaction continue to give off heat that is called the decay of the radioactive rubble (fission products). The heat from this ongoing decay of radioactive rubble is constantly releasing moisture (steam) and radioactive products into the environment. The radioactive decay is gradually slowing down, as fission products decay away. The cold moist winter air at this time of year is making steam from the ongoing decay easily visible.
How much radiation is escaping? When Unit 3 was operating, it was producing more than 2,000 megawatts of heat from the nuclear fission process (chain reaction in the reactor). Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami, it shut down and the chain reaction stopped, but Unit 3 was still producing about 160 megawatts of decay heat. Now, 30 months later, it is still producing slightly less than 1 megawatt (one million watts) of decay heat.
What does that figure mean; is it an inconsequential amount? 1 megawatt of decay heat is a lot of heat even today, and it is creating radioactive steam, but it is not a new phenomenon. These hot radioactive releases [not physically hot, but radioactive hot – meaning they contain radioactive fission products] have occurring for the entire 33 months following the triple meltdown. The difference now is that the only time we visibly notice these ongoing releases is on the cold days with atmospheric conditions cold enough to condense hot vapor into steam.
We will see whether or not this is cold weather steam over the next few weeks. Read the rest of this entry →